10 Most Affordable Places to Live in California

California is one of the most diverse and beautiful states in the US. From its world-renowned wine regions and stunning natural landscapes to its bustling and cosmopolitan cities, California has it all. With a rich and fascinating history that stretches back over centuries, this state has experienced and seen it all. Whether you’re interested in soaking up some sun on the beaches of Southern California or exploring the majestic mountains and forests of the north, there’s something for everyone in this great state. 

California has a Cost of Living Index of 149.9, which is considerably higher than the national average of 100, yet there are certain locations where you may live comfortably on a budget. If you’re looking for a place that offers good value for your money, here are ten of the most affordable places in California.

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1. Bakersfield

Located in the sunny state of California, Bakersfield is a thriving city known for its abundant natural resources and robust economy. With plentiful farmland, fresh local produce is easily accessible to residents, and there are numerous local farms and markets that provide a wide variety of quality foods. Additionally, thanks to Bakersfield’s central location, residents can easily take advantage of the many cultural attractions and outdoor activities that nearby cities have to offer. Families relocating to California may locate low-cost housing and employment in Bakersfield’s oil and agricultural sectors. 

  • Population – 367,555
  • Median Value Of Home – $214,600
  • Median Rent – $1005
  • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 102.6
  • Employability Rate – 93.0
  • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 44.33 (4.99 Violent and 39.34 Property)
  • Manufacturing, agricultural, and education Institutions are among the city’s major employers.
  • Best Neighborhoods- Old Stockdale, Quailwood, Amberton

Things to Do in Bakersfield

  • At Fox Theater, you may purchase tickets for cult-classic films, country performances, and foreign ballet presentations.
  • At Timeless Antique Gallery, you’ll discover fascinating antiques and vintage treasures.
  • Take a trip to the California Living Museum (CALM) to support conservation and research efforts.

Also See: Leaving San Francisco? 5 Best Places to Move from San Francisco | 5 Best Neighborhoods in Bakersfield for Families

2. Chico

Chico, CA is a beautiful city located in Northern California. The city is home to many different businesses and organizations and numerous parks and recreational areas. Chico is also home to California State University, Chico, which is a large university with over 17,000 students. The city has a variety of different housing options, ranging from apartments and condos to single-family homes. There are also many different types of stores and restaurants in the city, so there is something for everyone. In addition, Chico has a lively nightlife scene, with many bars and clubs located throughout the city. Overall, Chico is a great place to live, work, and play.

  • Population -89,377
  • Median Value Of Home – $270,900
  • Median Rent – $955
  • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 117.4
  • Employability Rate – 94.0
  • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 27.65 (5.35 Violent and 22.30 Property)
  • The government, education, social services, arts and entertainment, leisure, healthcare, and accommodation are just a few of the businesses that employ people.
  • Best Neighborhoods- Chapmantown, Arroyo Chico

Things to Do in Chico

  • Hike, ride horses, or look at the stars in Bidwell Park’s 3,670 acres.
  • To learn more about the Bidwell family, explore the Victorian home that once belonged to John and Annie Bidwell, a pair of California pioneers.
  • The National Yo-Yo Museum houses an extensive collection of yo-yos and unique yo-yo memorabilia.

See Also: Leaving Los Angeles? 5 Best Places to Move from Los Angeles

3. Clovis

Located in the heart of California’s Central Valley, Clovis is a vibrant and welcoming community. With a population of just over 100,000, it offers all the advantages of a small town while still being within easy reach of major cities like Fresno and San Francisco. The city’s history dates back to the early days of the Gold Rush, when it was founded as a stagecoach stop. Today, Clovis is best known for its annual Big league Dreams Sports Complex Tournament, which attracts teams from all over the country. Clovis has experienced rapid growth, with several new housing developments and businesses springing up throughout the city. Despite this growth, Clovis still retains its small-town feel, with tree-lined streets and a sense of community that is evident in its many parks and recreation facilities.

  • Population – 102,148
  • Median Value Of Home – $263,500
  • Median Rent – $1,093
  • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 115.7
  • Employability Rate – 95.0
  • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 21.91 (2.24 Violent and 19.67 Property)
  • The city’s biggest employers are educational, healthcare, and government institutions.
  • Best Neighborhoods- Harlan Ranch, Fort Washington, Loma Vista

Things to Do in Clovis

  • Take the family to Wild Water Adventure Park, California’s largest water park.
  • To enjoy the volunteer-tended flowers, visit the Clovis Botanical Garden.
  • For go-karting on a high-speed track, get your excitement going at MB2 Raceway.

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Also read: Leaving San Diego? 5 Best Places to Move from San Diego

4. Eureka

Eureka is a city located in Humboldt County, California. With a population of 27,191, it is the county seat of Humboldt County. Eureka is the principal city and commercial center of the region. It is the largest coastal city between Oregon and Mendocino, and its port serves both cargo ships and recreational vessels. Today, the city retains much of its historic charm, with many well-preserved buildings throughout the downtown district. Surprisingly, Eureka is also home to several eclectic shops and restaurants. The Old Town district, in particular, is worth exploring. 

  • Population – 27,002
  • Median Value Of Home – $241,700
  • Median Rent – $844
  • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 98.9
  • Employability Rate – 93.0
  • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 48.62 (6.94 Violent and 41.68 Property)
  • Servicing, automobile, and tourism are among the city’s major employers.
  • Best Neighborhoods- Lundbar Hills, Old Town, Eureka Valley.

Things to Do in Eureka:

  • At Samoa Beach, embrace your inner surfer or go on a harbor cruise in Humboldt Bay.
  • The Queen Anne-style architecture of the Carson Mansion may be seen on tour.
  • To see red pandas, gibbons, and peccaries, go to Sequoia Park Zoo.

See Also: 7 Cheapest Beach Towns in the US to Move to

5. Fontana

Nestled at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains, Fontana is a city with a unique history and a bright future. Founded in 1913 by Walter Knott, Fontana was originally a small rural community. Today, it is the tenth-largest city in Los Angeles County, with a population of over 200,000. While it has retained its small-town feel, Fontana has also become a major regional center for logistics and transportation. The city has also seen a surge in cultural activity in recent years, with new art galleries, performance spaces, and restaurants opening up downtown. With its diverse population and vibrant culture, Fontana is a city on the rise that is well worth exploring.

  • Population – 205,228
  • Median Value Of Home – $289,400
  • Median Rent – $1,167
  • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 125.6
  • Employability Rate – 93.3
  • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 15.61 (3.23 Violent and 12.37 Property)
  • The government is the city’s largest employer, followed by manufacturing, information technology, and education.
  • Best Neighborhoods- North Fontana, Rancho Fontana, Hunter’s Ridge

Things to Do in Fontana

  • The Art Depot Gallery presents artwork from up-and-coming artists, such as photographs, paintings, and other works of art.
  • Hit the links at Sierra Lakes Golf Club, then head to The Lakes Bar & Grill afterward.
  • During dinner, enjoy a murder mystery show at Center Stage Theater.

6. Oxnard

Located on the coast of southern California, Oxnard is a thriving metropolis best known for its rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty. With its bustling downtown area, vibrant arts scene, and well-maintained parks and nature preserves, Oxnard offers something for everyone. The city’s economy is based largely on agriculture and tourism. The main crops grown in the area are strawberries, celery, garlic, sugar beets, and lima beans. With its convenient location just minutes away from downtown Los Angeles, this dynamic coastal community provides residents with the perfect blend of big-city excitement and small-town charm.

  • Population – 204,752
  • Median Value Of Home – $362,900
  • Median Rent – $1,396
  • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 138.5
  • Employability Rate – 94.3
  • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 25.29 (3.68 Violent and 21.61 Property)
  • The city’s primary industries are agriculture, automobiles, and tourism.
  • Best Neighborhoods- La Colonia, West village, Via Marina

Things to Do in Oxnard

  • Hook’s Landing is a great place to go if you’re looking for something to do in Cortez. You can surf, whale watch, swim, or fish here.
  • At the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, you’ll discover more about marine species.
  • Take a look at the changing exhibits at Carnegie Art Cornerstones.

7. Redlands

Redlands is a city in southern California, located about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. The city is well-known for its historic downtown, which features a number of Victorian-style buildings. The town is also home to the University of Redlands, a private liberal arts school. The university’s campus covers more than 160 acres and includes several historic buildings. In recent years, the city has been working to revitalize its downtown area and has seen a significant increase in tourism. In addition to its academic programs, the university also offers a number of athletic facilities, including a golf course and tennis courts. Redlands is a beautiful city with much to offer residents.

  • Population – 70,442
  • Median Value Of Home – $326,800
  • Median Rent – $1,177
  • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 125.1
  • Employability Rate – 95.9
  • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 28.87 (3.27 Violent and 25.60 Property)
  • Manufacturing, construction, and retail are some of the city’s major employers.
  • Best Neighborhoods- Mentone, Loma Linda, High Land

Things to Do in Redlands

  • Backtrack to the 19th century with the must-see Lincoln Memorial Shrine and Historical Glass Museum.
  • Take a walking tour of the city’s haunted places, such as Mariposa Elementary School and Morey Mansion.
  • Enjoy a concert from the renowned Redlands Symphony.

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8. Vacaville

Located just outside of San Francisco, Vacaville is an up-and-coming city that has seen rapid growth in recent years. The city is mostly agricultural with some light industry. Major crops produced in the area include tomatoes, peaches, and walnuts. The city is home to the Vacaville Premium Outlets, one of the largest outlet malls in Northern California. The city also has a vibrant downtown area with many shops and restaurants. Vacaville is a family-friendly city with a variety of parks and recreation facilities. With its proximity to the Bay Area, abundant natural resources, and strong business community, Vacaville has become a popular destination for entrepreneurs and families alike. Whether you are looking for a place to start a new business or raise your kids in a safe and vibrant community, there is no better place than Vacaville. 

  • Population – 95,607
  • Median Value Of Home – $322,600
  • Median Rent – $1,416
  • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 134.8
  • Employability Rate – 96.0
  • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 19.74 (2.41 Violent and 17.33 Property)
  • Among the city’s primary employers are automobile, agricultural, and education agencies.
  • Best Neighborhoods- Leisure Town, Ulatis Park, Vanden Estates

Things to Do in Vacaville

  • At Lagoon Valley, stretch your legs on the paths.
  • To discover more about botany and nature, visit Morningsun Herb Farm.
  • Parades, costumes, and street vendors will all be part of Fiesta Days, a Vacaville institution.

9. Clearlake

Clearlake is a thriving city located in northern California. The city of Clearlake sits on the shores of Clear Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake wholly within the state of California. Clearlake is home to a number of different businesses and industries, including tourism, fishing, agriculture, and forestry. The city is also home to a number of different educational institutions, including a community college and a vocational school. With its beautiful natural scenery and warm, welcoming community, it has become an ideal destination for people looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. In addition to its stunning natural landscape, Clearlake also offers a wide range of recreational activities and amenities. 

  • Population – 15003
  • Median Value Of Home – $235,058
  • Median Rent – $650
  • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 91.9
  • Employability Rate – 92.1
  • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 31.87 (3.77 Violent and 28.10 Property)
  • Tourism, agriculture, and healthcare are among the city’s major employers.
  • Best Neighborhoods- Nassau Bay, Edgewater, Bay Pointe, Brookwood

Things to Do in Clearlake

  • Camp, Hike, or Bicycle near Borax Lake.
  • Enjoy the boating at Redbud Park.
  • Taste wines at the Vigilance Vineyards & Shannon Ridge Winery, Cache Creek Vineyards.

10. Fresno

Fresno, California, is a thriving city known for its sunny climate and strong economic opportunities. Fresno is the fifth-largest city in California and is the county seat of Fresno County. Fresno is the economic hub of the San Joaquin Valley – one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country. Known as the “Raisin Capital of the World,” Fresno is home to numerous raisin processing plants and vineyards. The city’s economy also relies heavily on manufacturing, agriculture, and healthcare. The city is home to a diverse population, with residents from all walks of life. Fresno is also known for its scenic beauty, with rolling hills, lush gardens, and beautiful parks. Fresno is listed as one of the top 10 US cities with best parks. The city is an ideal place to live, work, and raise a family. 

  • Population – 546,770
  • Median Value Of Home – $365,650
  • Median Rent – $1427
  • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 102.6
  • Employability Rate – 92.3
  • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 37.69 (6.80 Violent and 30.89 Property)
  • Among the city’s major employers are healthcare, agriculture, and transportation.
  • Best Neighborhoods- Tower District, Downtown, North Growth Area

Things to Do in Fresno

  • The grandest of its kind in the Central Valley area, Woodward Regional Park is a popular draw for tourists.
  • Visit Forestiere Underground Gardens, which is truly unique and manually built.
  • At Fresno Art Museum, you can find different art and artistic expression.

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking for vibrant city life, scenic natural landscapes, or strong economic opportunities, California has something to offer everyone. With its diverse array of cities and towns, it’s no wonder that California is consistently ranked as one of the most desirable places to live in the country. Whether you’re looking for affordable housing, a strong job market, or a thriving community, there’s a California city that’s perfect for you. Thanks for Reading!

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Also See: Moving from New York to California | Best Interstate Movers in the USA

Frequently Asked Questions

What city in California has the lowest crime rate?

Some of the cities in California with the lowest crime rates include Vacaville and Fontana.

What are the most affordable places to live in California?

The most affordable places to live in California include Fresno, Bakersfield, Clearlake, and Eureka.

Why is California a great place to live?

California is a great place to live for many reasons, including its sunny climate, strong economy, and diverse population. Whether you’re looking for affordable housing, a booming job market, or an active and vibrant community, there’s a city in California that’s perfect for you. With its stunning natural scenery, year-round sunshine, and endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, it’s no wonder that California is consistently ranked as one of the best states to live in. 

How do I choose the best city to live in, California?

Some factors you may want to consider while choosing include the cost of living, job market, climate, and amenities.

Written by


Rostislav Shetman is the founder of 9Kilo Moving. He has been in the moving and relocation industry for more than 25 years, making him an expert in his field. Rostislav started as a helper, dispatcher and driver and has worked his way up to owning his own company. He takes great pride in his work and enjoys helping people relocate across the United States of America. When he's not working, Rostislav enjoys spending time with his family and friends. They are the light of his life and bring him happiness every day.