Many people dream of moving to California because of the warm weather and palm trees. But some are also are scared to make the move because the best places to live in California tend to have an extremely high cost of living. While cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco can be expensive compared to the national average, there are cheaper places to live in California if you know where to look. Here is a look at the cities in California that offer the highest quality of life for the lowest cost.
Cheapest Places to Live in Southern California
Southern California is one of the most expensive areas in the country. But you can always find affordable pockets if you look in the right places. Here are some of the most affordable places in Southern California that offer a lot of value for your money.
Long Beach: Long Beach is a coastal city in the Southern part of Los Angeles County. It’s the seventh-largest city in California, and it’s a quiet beach town about 30 minutes from downtown LA. Long Beach is perfect for those who want to be close to the city but avoid city prices. The median property value in Long Beach is about $630,000. While you can find some expensive real estate near the beach, the inland neighborhoods are more suburban, and the cost of living is low. It’s a great city or those who want to be close to the action, but don’t want to be in the center of town.
Costa Mesa: Costa Mesa is a sleepy suburb in Orange County, sandwiched between Santa Ana, Irvine, and the Pacific Ocean. Costa Mesa is one of the cheapest places to live in all of Orange County – an area is known for affluence. The median property value is just under $900,000. It’s a quiet suburban area that is a hub for retail and manufacturing. It’s a great area for those who want the peace and amenities of a Southern California suburb without the exorbitant costs. It’s a perfect area for families and young professionals who want to be close to the beach.
Placentia: Placentia is another quiet town in Orange County, a bit more inland than Costa Mesa. Placentia is sandwiched between Anaheim and Yorba Linda and offers residents a slow pace of life, a low crime rate, and affordable living. The median property value is around $750,000. It’s a great city for those who love the California weather but don’t mind being a bit removed from the beach. It offers residents a plethora of entertainment and shopping options. Plus, the ocean is only a quick drive away if you want to go on the weekends.
Anaheim: Right next door to Placentia, Anaheim is another great area for those who want a bit more of an urban feel but want to live somewhere more affordable than Los Angeles. Home to Disneyland, the Honda Center, and Angel Stadium, Anaheim has a lot going on. Plus, The median property value is around $660,000, making it much more affordable than other areas in Orange County.
Murrieta: Murrieta is a quiet landlocked city in Riverside County that is part of the Inland Empire. It’s one of the fastest-growing cities in the state and offers quality public schools, a sparse suburban atmosphere, and a low crime rate. Median property values are around $480,000, and the area has a low cost of living. It’s a great city for families and those who don’t mind being a bit removed from the beaches and tourist areas.
Cheapest Places to Live in Northern California
Northern California is considerably cheaper than its southern counterpart, as long as you stay out of San Francisco and the Bay Area. Here is a look at some of the cheapest places to live in Northern California that still offer a high standard of living.
Clovis: A quiet, medium-sized city in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, Clovis is just outside of Fresno. Known as the gateway to the Sierra’s, Clovis is positioned at the bottom of the Sierra Mountains. It’s a quaint city with gorgeous natural beauty. Median property values are just over $375,000, making it quite affordable by California standards. It’s a quiet residential area that’s great for families and working professionals who like the affordability and slow pace of life. Yosemite and Death Valley are both just a quick drive from Clovis, making it a great town for nature lovers.
Sacramento: Sacramento is the capital of California and one of its most diverse cities. It has been its own funky local culture and also features easy access to popular destinations like San Francisco and Lake Tahoe. Life in Sacramento is also much more affordable than some of California’s other major cities, and the median home value is only about $370,000. What Sacramento lacks in glitz and glam is more than makes up for in authentic local culture and high quality of life. It’s one of California’s overlooked gems, and it’s great for young adults and families looking to save money.
San Pablo: San Pablo is a suburb of San Francisco that is an affordable pocket in a notoriously expensive city. It’s a great area for those who are looking to move to San Francisco for work or other opportunities and need an affordable place to live. Median property values are only around $500,000. It’s another hidden gem that features great schools and a low crime rate. It’s a quiet, suburban area that is perfect for those who want easy access to Berkley and San Francisco but don’t want to pay the prices.
Stockton: Stockton is a quaint Northern California city on the San Joaquin Valley. It’s a low-key, suburban city with a warm feel. Median property values are only $325,000. Stockton is known for social problems like crime and homelessness, although residents report that there are plenty of good areas, in addition to the rougher parts. It’s maybe not the best city for families, but it’s fine for young or single adults looking to save money and still live in a city with opportunities and a suburban ambiance.
Vallejo: Vallejo is a waterfront city in the San Francisco Bay area. Home to a variety of tourist destinations like Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and the 1911 Empress Theatre, Vallejo has a lot going on. Median property values are only around $440,000, and the cost of living is much lower than in other parts of the Bay area. It’s a great place to raise a family and provides easy access to San Francisco and other attractions.
Best Affordable Places to Live in California
Sometimes the cheapest option doesn’t offer the most value. Although all of the places on this list are great places to live for those on a budget, these have consistently been ranked the best places to live in California, despite being more affordable than most of its major cities.
Oxnard: Oxnard is a quiet seaside community in Ventura County. It’s an agricultural community that offers residents peace and tranquility without the exorbitant costs of many beach cities in the area. Median property values in Oxnard are around $530,000, and has a small-town charm many residents love.
Eureka: Eureka is a gorgeous port city in Northern California. It has a unique charm and features a quaint old town full of Victorian mansions and other historic attractions. Median property values are just over $300,000, so it's one of the most affordable places to live in California. It's also often rated as one of the best places to live in California.
Vacaville: Vacaville is a mid-sized city in Solano County, Northern California. It’s positioned half way in-between San Francisco and Sacramento, providing residents easy access to either city. There are plenty of shopping and entertainment options in the city’s historic downtown. With median property values around $485,000 and a laid back semi-urban atmosphere, Vacaville is a great bet for those looking to save some money without sacrificing the quality of life.
Redlands: Redlands is a small residential city in the heart of San Bernardino County’s Inland Empire. It’s a low-key, suburban area with quaint charm. With property values around $458,000, Redlands is a great neighborhood for those who want a safe suburban area with easy access to Los Angeles.
Temecula: Temecula is a quint city in Riverside County, California. Right in the heart of the wine country, Temecula is surrounded by gorgeous rolling hills and vineyards. It’s a popular tourist destination because of its spectacular scenery and mild weather. Yet, with property values around $520,000, it’s much more affordable than other Southern California towns. Temecula is great for young families who want a safe, affordable city with a high quality of life in SoCal.
While LA and SF are Pricey, California Has Plenty of More Affordable Places to Live
California certainly isn’t the cheapest state in America, but you can always find affordable pockets if you’re willing to do your homework. All of these cities not only offer a low cost of living compared to others in the state, they also a lot of value to residents.