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The Best Places to Live in California in 2024

By Alex Moretti


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The Golden State has always been referred to as the gold standard of living in the US, but even though the number of people moving in here has dropped a few digits as of late, it continues to be one of the best and most attractive options you may have.

If you are looking for a great deal through and through you shouldn’t skip out on California as it has a little of everything you could ever ask for.

It is the home of some of the largest companies in the world, such as Apple, Netflix, Wells Fargo and even Alphabet have their headquarters here.

San Francisco, California
San Francisco / Photo by Robert Bye / unsplash.com

So, it doesn’t matter if you are on the looking for a professional opportunity or if you’re just interested in the safe and fun outdoors where you can hike around with your friends or family, California is always well worth it. It’s true that you’ll have to pay more taxes, but a lot of people who live here know it’s totally worth it.

The only problem is that there are a lot of amazing cities around the Golden State that you should consider before actually making your final choice. This is why for today we decided to give you a list of the top 20 best places you can live in California.

So, let’s just start our list up with none other than:

20. Folsom

Folsom, California
via kreegerlaw.com

Folsom is a perfect example of everything about it being amazing, especially when you consider that it is located only 20 miles east of Sacramento of all places.

On top of that it is also a very modern suburban neighborhood, that comes with all of the amenities you could ever ask for, and let’s not forget about the fact that you are also a few steps away from the Folsom Farmers Market, in which you can dine on top quality fresh produce every Saturday.

The median home price is a bit steep though, standing at $409,400, but then again this is California that we’re talking about, so you can’t expect premium service without that premium price tag too.

19. Newport Beach

Newport Beach, California

If you are more so interested in moving to a seaside location then you may want to consider Newport Beach, because it is one of the most luxurious and exquisite places you could live in the United States.

It is an absolute joy to visit as well, although actually living here may be a bit out of range for most people, with the average home price being of around $1.5 million or so.

Needless to say, this is not exactly meant for the casual home looker, but if you do happen to earn enough and you want to make sure that you and your family are set to have fun every day of your life, you may want to consider Newport Beach.

18. Santa Clara

Santa Clara, California
Photo by TilTul / Wikipedia.org

Commonly referred to as an All-America City, Santa Clara is a great all-around option if you want to live a good and eventful life, in a busier and friendlier environment than most other places here.

The reason as to why we said that is because it does come with a lot of restaurants and top shopping destinations, including the amazing Westfield Valley Fair mall, which is always a pleasure to visit, unless you love saving money, of course.

This is also the home of the Santa Clara University, one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the state, and you can also visit the amazing and illustrious Levi’s Stadium if you have the time for it every now and then too.

17. Long Beach

Long Beach, California
Photo by Ed g2s / Wikipedia.org

You may know Long Beach as the “Aquatic Capital of America”, and for good reason too, since it is an absolute joy to check out the amazing 5.5 miles of Pacific Ocean waterfront that it has to offer.

Interestingly enough though, over the past couple of years now it actually gained a whole new nickname for itself as people now also refer to Long Beach as the most bicycle friendly urban city in the country, so if that sounds like your cup of tea definitely consider checking it out.

You can also find a plethora of attractions here including the Long Beach Performing Arts Center and the tons of whale watching tours.

16. Clovis

Clovis, California
Photo by City of Clovis, California – Government / Facebook.com

If you’re specifically looking for a northern city to live in you may want to consider Clovis because it’s almost always ranked as one of the top places to live in there.

It features a total population of over 100,000 residents, mostly due to its incredible public school system, its low crime and increased safety statistics and let’s not forget about the overall high-quality life that families have here.

The nightlife is absolutely livid too, and if you do want to just check it out first before you make your final decision, we do recommend visiting it during summer because that’s when over 285 acres of trails and parks are open to the public.

15. Salinas

Salinas, California

Salinas may be one of the smaller California metro areas around, but that doesn’t make it any less amazing. It has a total population of less than 500,000 residents sure, but the people that live here all swear by the fact that this is one of the best options you may have.

The average annual salary is a bit on the lower side sure, standing at around $52,060, but the crime rates are also extremely low and the school system never fails to impress either.

The average home price here will fetch you a good $628,350 or so, depending on the area you want to go for, but overall, as long as you can afford that we don’t see why you shouldn’t at least check it out for yourself.

14. Fresno

Fresno, California
Photo by City of Fresno, California / Facebook.com

Fresno can be found in the San Joaquin Valley, around two hours away from the coast. It is considered to be one of the best metro areas in California, specifically for its close connection to agriculture.

If you love eating healthy and fresh fruits and veggies all day long you will be happy with your choice here, and on top of that the agricultural industry also offers plenty of job opportunities which is why the unemployment rate is so low.

You can get yourself a home here in Fresno for around $368,850 or so, which is not that bad of a deal considering just how much bang you get for your buck.

13. Yuba City

Yuba City, California

Yuba City may very well be one of the most often times slept on locations in the Sutter County, which is a real shame considering just how good of an option it really is.

You can find it just 45 miles north of Sacramento, and if that weren’t enough, getting yourself a home here will only rack up to around $197,100 or so per average.

That makes this one of the most affordable options you may have, but just keep in mind that the prices are steadily rising as more and more people start to move into Yuba City.

Other than the prices though, the town is known for its cultural diversity, and if you are a lover of the outdoor there’s nothing quite like it around the Sutter County.

12. Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, California
Photo by santabarbaraca.com

With a total population of 435,000 people, the Santa Barbara County is an absolute treat of a place to live in. If you want to experience the county’s best though, you can always just move into the small city of Santa Barbara which has it all.

The city features some of the most picturesque scenery in the state, and not only that but you also have some amazing coastal plains to look down upon, and of course the amazing Santa Ynez Mountains, which spread out for as far as the eye can see.

Renting a place here will fetch you a pretty penny, costing you just around $1,400 per month on average, and if you do want something a little more permanent you could always just go with $465,300 instead.

11. Vallejo and Fairfield

Vallejo, California
Photo by visitvallejo.com

This metro area is known for its high-quality health care and of course, just the overall amazing sense of community that everyone has here.

It is not a cheap place to live in though, as the average home here costs you around $440,550 which in itself doesn’t sound like too much until you realize that the average annual salary is of $57,640 too.

Still, this is one of the most populated metro areas in the US, with its morning commute average standing at around 33.2 minutes or so which is not fun in the slightest.

10. Murrieta

Murrieta, California
Photo by murrietachamber.org

With a total population of around a hundred thousand people or so, Murrieta is the best place for families, if you are looking for both affordable housing and a metric ton of activities for you to take part in together.

Purchasing your very own home will cost you around $310,000 or so, and while that is a bit higher than the national average of $178,000, it is still well worth it if you want to move into a top-quality town.

The average monthly income here is of around $74,000, which is great news considering the fact that this is also a bit over the national average.

You get access to two full-service hospitals here, three major golf courses and a ton of amenities which perfectly mirror the town’s economy to what it is today.

9. Oakland

Oakland, California
Photo by visitoakland.com

Oakland is often times cited as the fifth busiest port in the nation, and while that may be a good selling point for them, we would also like to mention the fact that this in itself might be good news to you, since it does mean that there are well over 200,000 jobs for you to apply for in the marine cargo industry alone.

On op of that, there is also a huge concentration of artists in the US, especially so around the nightclub and music genres as they are thriving mediums for you to take part in while in Oakland.

It is one of the most diverse places in the US for sure and if you want to get your hands on some exquisite international dishes you may want to check out the amazing selection of ethnic markets and restaurants around.

8. Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California
Photo by Adoramassey / Wikipedia.org

Los Angeles is often times cited as the peak of living conditions while in the US, and for good reason too as this is one of the best options you may have when it comes to the quality of life you’ll experience.

The only real downside to it though is the fact that you will need to hash out as much as $950,000 to get a home here, which is not exactly all that enticing.

But hey, if you can do it you’ll be happy to hear that you will get to live the rockstar lifestyle that everybody always preaches about on the news, since Los Angeles is nothing short of perfect when it comes to its living conditions.

7. Redlands

Redlands, California
Photo by Don Graham / Wikipedia.org

With a total population of 70,000 and a median home value of around $310,200, Redlands is definitely one cut above most other towns around since it just never stops giving when it comes to its opportunities.

The education levels here are way above average and not only that but the public school system is also known for being one of the best around.

Most of the town dwellers here are professionals, service providers or just office workers doing the best they can to stay afloat.

Finding a good job here is definitely not a problem either as the ratio of white to blue collar jobs is pretty much spread down the middle.

The communities here are also very friendly and acceptive, and the crime rate is always on the lower side which is amazing to see.

6. Sacramento

Sacramento, California
Photo by Andre m / Wikipedia.org

Sacramento is pretty much everyone’s top choice since it does serve as the inland capital of California and it’s by far one of its most affordable options all around.

The average home here will only cost you as little as $238,500, making this a very accessible town to move into right now, and let’s not forget about the amazing food quality here either.

There are less than 500,000 people living here in Sacramento sure, but despite that it still manages to have a very quiet and subdued ambiance to it as not a lot of people like to stand out too much.

5. Davis

Davis, California
Photo by visitdavis.org

Let’s just get it out of the way but places here are anything but cheap, with the average home in Davis raking up as much as $537,500 or so.

Interestingly enough, if you want to rent out a place, you’ll be happy to hear that this will only cost you around $1,249 per month.

Besides that though, Davis features an amazing university campus to roam around on, and not only that but you also get access to one of the best education systems in the state.

4. San Francisco

San Francisco, California
Photo by britannica.com

San Francisco is often times referred to as one of the most fun cities for you to live in, and honestly, we do have to agree with this, while also adding in that it does also feature a very strong job market too.

Getting a home here is going to cost you an arm and a leg though, as the average price for that will still half your savings in no time, with the median home price resting carefully around the $1 million mark.

The average income here is around $75,000, which is way above national average. On top of that, San Francisco also features one of the best public-school systems that we’ve ever seen, so that’s great news as long as you can afford to actually send your child here in the first place.

Overall though San Francisco is a great metro to live in, just keep in mind that the home prices here are no laughing matter.

3. Palo Alto

Palo Alto, California
Photo by visitcalifornia.com

Often times cited as the Birthplace of Silicon Valley, Palo Alto is the home of dozens upon dozens of high-tech companies and entrepreneurs that pretty much rule the world as we know it.

On top of that, living here is how you can get yourself a seat in the Stanford University which is pretty much the only way you can ensure your life and your child’s for good.

Let’s not forget that Palo Alto’s nightlife is also absolutely crazy too as the city goes ballistic every night of the week at every club you can find here.

2. Victorville

Victorville, California
Photo by Thomas / Wikipedia.org

Being the largest metro area that you can find between San Bernardino and Las Vegas, Victorville is a great middle of the road option for those that want a great place to live in with their family, while also not breaking the bank as you would for a place like Palo Alto.

Its affordable housing market makes it a top tier choice alone, but you can also look into the dozens of amenities that you can find around every corner around here too and the low crime rate which makes this one of the safest places to raise a family in while in California.

1. San Diego

San Diego, California
Photo by visittheusa.com

Did you expect anything else from the number one slot? Honestly this should always be one of your top choices regardless of whether you have the budget for it or not, simply because it is worth it at the end of the day.

San Diego is by far one of the best places to live in the world, not only in California but in the entire United States as well, and that shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone, considering just how many amenities and opportunities you can find here.

The Gaslamp Quarter for example is world-famous for a reason, and let’s not forget about the fact that the climate here is by far one of the best in the country.

Getting yourself a home here will cost you around $463,300 too, which may not sound like a positive but trust us when we tell you that it is worth it.


Places to Live in California
Los Angeles sunset / Photo by Venti Views / unsplash.com

California really is one of a kind, it is the liveliest state in the US for sure and if you are looking to really have the time of your life you can’t go wrong with any place you choose from this list.

So, regardless of whether your city or town is on this list or not, just know that you can’t go wrong with any place you choose as long as you choose one from the Golden State.

For more interesting places to live in, check out California’s neighboring states: Oregon, Nevada and Arizona.

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About Alex Moretti

Adventure junkie, content creator and storyteller, Alex left his nine-to-five career lifestyle to become a full time world traveler. He started his journey to the unknown 5 years ago and visited more than 30 countries and 400 cities ever since. Learn more about Placeaholic's Editorial Process.

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