Overview: Good Places to Live in California
Looking to move to California? This western US state stretches 900 miles and is filled with diverse terrains, including rugged mountain ranges, dry deserts, lush valleys and coastal cities.
From small towns to bustling city centres, California has a lot to offer. Whether you are just starting out or are looking to settle down, California is one of the top states to live in the USA.
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Now it is just a matter of figuring out which California city is right for you!
Most Affordable City to live in California
Named “one of the most affordable areas in the state”, Wasco is a small city located only 2 hours north of Los Angeles.
|Median Household Income:||$40,532|
|Median Home Price:||$390,000|
|Median Monthly Rent:||$1,097|
|Crime Rate:||27.40 (per 1000 residents)|
|Industry:||Agricultural, Oil, Gas|
Known as the city of roses, Wasco is where 55% of all roses are grown in the USA.
This growing city has attracted new residents every year and is the perfect location for young homeowners and families looking for an affordable investment. Wasco’s downtown core is also very walkable, and can be traversed in about an hour, reducing commute time and transportation costs.
Pros of Living in Wasco
- Affordable living
- Beautiful landscape
- Sunny weather, little rain or snow
- Low transportation costs
Cons of Living in Wasco
- Moderate crime rate
- Densely populated
If you are looking for an affordable place to live in California, Bakersfield is a great option. A decent median household income and favourable home prices make Bakerfield an excellent choice for those entering the housing market.
|Median Household Income:||$69,014|
|Median Home Price:||$379,000|
|Median Monthly Rent:||$1,095|
|Crime Rate:||47 (per 1000 residents)|
|Industry:||Agricultural, Refinery, Manufacturing|
Known for its contribution to the country music scene and its location by the Sequoia National Forest, Bakerfield has a rich local culture and connection to nature. Overall, Bakersfield can offer a high quality of living, has access to many outdoor activities, bustling entertainment industry, and affordable living.
Pros of living in Bakersfield
- Affordable housing prices
- Only 2 hour drive from Los Angeles
- Mild climate
Cons of living in Bakersfield
- High crime rate
- High wildfire risk
Best Cities to live in California for Young Adults
The capital of California, Sacramento combines the old with the new. Historic monuments, parks, museums, a thriving arts scene and Sacramentos famous farm to table cuisine attract visitors and residents alike.
|Median Household Income:||$76,422|
|Median Home Price:||$465,000|
|Median Monthly Rent:||$1,624|
|Crime Rate:||36.14 (per 1000 residents)|
|Industry:||Government, Real Estate, Health Care, Education, Technology|
One of America’s most diverse cities, Sacramento is brimming with innovation, think tanks and is a hub for political lobbying. Looking for a stable government job with excellent benefits or ready to explore a job in healthcare, education or history? Then Sacramento is for you.
Pros of Living in Sacramento
- Low unemployment
- Moderate home prices
- Thriving culture and arts sector
Cons of Living in Sacramento
- Moderate crime rate
- Hot summers (frequently 100°F)
- Traffic congestion
Palo Alto is filled with smart, driven and outgoing young professional looking to connect.
|Median Household Income:||$194,782|
|Median Home Price:||$3,552,531|
|Median Monthly Rent:||$3,950|
|Crime Rate:||29.49 (per 1000 residents)|
|Industry:||Technology, Education, Banking|
The location of the world-famous Stanford University, Palo Alto attracts young adults seeking to change the world and climb the corporate ladder.
Famously known as the “birthplace of the Silicon Valley ”, Palo Alto is the centre of innovative companies, such as Tesla, Hewlett-Packard and VMWare. Landing a job at one of these companies may be challenging, but once obtained you can expect a decent paycheck and health benefits.
Being at the centre of innovation and creative minds though comes at a high price, as home and rent prices are higher than average. The 300 sunny days a year though help soften the blow, as outdoor activities are popular draw for visitors and locals.
Pros of living in Palo Alto
- The headquarters of the top tech companies in the USA
- Smart and ambitious peers and mentors
- Beautiful outdoors: hiking trails and parks
Cons of Living in Palo Alto
- High cost of living
- High-end lifestyle
- Traffic congestion
Best City to Live in California for Families
Located on the Pacific Coast, San Diego is known for its family friendly beaches, epic parks and playgrounds, and the world famous San Diego Zoo.
|Median Household Income:||$89,457|
|Median Home Price:||$899,700|
|Median Monthly Rent:||$2,295|
|Crime Rate:||21.98 (per 1000 residents)|
|Industry:||Military, Aerospace, Sports, Manufacturing, Software|
Discount passes make it easy to explore various sites and save money, so family day is that much easier. San Diego is also known for having excellent public and private schools, with the highest rated school district Coronado Unified.
For San Diego’s size, it is safer than most big cities, with crime rates 15% lower than the national average. Meaning that you have access to big city amenities, but can feel safe taking a stroll at night.
Pros of living in San Diego
- Excellent school districts
- Safer communities
- Waterfront beach access
Cons of living in San Diego
- Higher cost of living
- Low sports interest
A massive tech hub, San Jose is the biggest city located in California’s Silicon Valley. Innovation, opportunity, and ample landmarks and activities make San Jose a great place for those looking to settle down.
|Median Household Income:||$125,075|
|Median Home Price:||$1,300,000|
|Median Monthly Rent:||$2,500|
|Crime Rate:||28.18 (per 1000 residents)|
|Industry:||Agriculture, Oil, Gas, Manufacturing, Technology|
Known as one of the safest cities in California, San Jose has been ranked the 10th safest city in the USA. Ample employment opportunities means job security, medical benefits and a comfortable lifestyle for you and your family.
Year round warm weather is also a massive bonus! This means you won’t be cooped up inside and can spend your days outdoors, enjoying the sunshine.
Pros of living in San Jose
- Rated number 8 for where Americans are Happiest
- Great employment opportunities
- Warm weather year round
Cons of living in San Jose
- High housing prices
- Homeless crisis
Best City to Live in California for Retirees
Famously a snowbird destination, for a century Palm Springs has been attracting retirees and celebrities from around the world.
This desert escape has excellent resorts, spas, hot springs, golf courses, shopping and cultural events to entertain visitors and locals alike. The dry desert heat is also favored by many retirees, who feel achy in humid and rainy weather.
|Median Household Income:||$61,597|
|Median Home Price:||$704,606|
|Median Monthly Rent:||$1,800|
|Crime Rate:||43.75(per 1000 residents)|
|Industry:||Hospitality, Tourism, Art|
Palm Springs also has first-class health care, with many health clinics ready to assist you when needed. A smaller population in comparison to many California cities means less traffic and cleaner air. Allowing you to get from one place to the next without spending your day stuck in a traffic jam.
Pros of living in Palm Springs
- Great resort style amenities
- More affordable than other major California cities
- Excellent weather
Cons of living in Palm Springs
- Busy during Coachella music festival
- High crime rate
Looking for an affordable place to retire? Eureka is perfect for those looking to retire on a modest budget. In this coastal community you will experience mild year round temperatures, and access to the largest medical acute care hospital in the region.
|Median Household Income:||$46,926|
|Median Home Price:||$461,626|
|Median Monthly Rent:||$950|
|Crime Rate:||48.62(per 1000 residents)|
|Industry:||Tourism, Lumber, Health Care|
Museums, annual cultural festivals and a large shopping centre allow you to access everything you need without commuting to the next major hub. The beautiful Eureka Waterfront Trail also allows you to stroll along the waterway with ease, before dining at one of the many excellent local restaurants or cafes.
Eureka is filled with art from local and non-local artists, and its famous redwood forest can be visited nearby.
Pros of living in Eureka
- Affordable living
- Excellent health care
- Coastal community
Cons of living in Eureka
- Higher crime rate
- Lack of nightlife
Deciding where to live can be challenging. Employment opportunities, amenities, cost, and other personal factors have a huge influence on where we choose to live. Hopefully this list of the top places to live in California will help you decide. Let us know in the comments section below: Where is the best place to live in California and why?
FAQ: Good Places to Live in California
What is the most affordable place to live in California?
Wasco city is the most affordable place to live in California. Low housing and rent costs, and a condensed town size means low cost transportation.
What is the safest place to live in California?
Danville is the safest place to live in California, but its high cost of living and property prices mean it is not a realistic option for the average American.
Where is the best place to buy a home in California?
San Diego, Sacramento and San Franscico are all popular locations for purchasing a home in 2023. Keep an eye on factors such as low inventory, inflation and rising rent costs that may affect cost.
What city has the best transportation in California?
San Francisco has the best transportation system in California. The Bay Area Rapid Transit System or BART, allows travelers to get around the city with ease.
What city in California has the highest crime rate?
San Bernadino city has the highest crime rate (43.09) in California. A housing crisis, poverty, and high unemployment has correlated to higher crime rates in this region of California.
What is the best beach town in California?
San Diego is the best beach town in California. San Diego’s pristine beaches have crystal clear blue waters and are the perfect place for a beach day. Plus with many different beaches to choose from, you can find the waterfront destination for you.