10 Best Places to Live in California in 2023

What makes California unique? Golden Gate Bridge, Wine Country, Silicon Valley, Coachella, Disneyland, hippie age, and brimming with décor style cities and neighborhoods make California a diverse place. The Golden State has a place for all your crew from young professionals, to retirees, and children. 

Every year the city attracts hundreds of people because of its beautiful marine, and mountain landscape and excellent job opportunities. Hence, this blog is for people who want to relocate to California and search for the best places to live in California.

Best Places to Live in California

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Think of a place where you can feel at home and afford to live in California. Without further ado let’s get started. 

Things You Should Know Before Moving to California

  • California stretches from the State of Oregon to the Mexican border spanning 163,696 square miles. This span has gorgeous mountains, pristine beaches, rivers, lakes, cliffs, hot desserts, redwood forests and natural wonders. Just imagine, you have huge options to stay as per your dream. 
  • California is ranked the third most expensive state due to its robust economy and ample opportunities. Its policy to reduce carbon emissions for environmental protection and incorporation of other technological programs has driven up the cost of living. 
  • Government policy has resulted in a housing shortage and an increase in the cost of production. Since less housing availability resulted in a high price tag of houses in California. For instance, the home price in Santa Clara is near about $1. 3 million whereas in Los Angeles it is around $560,000.
  • Northern California and Southern California are different. Northern California is home to Silicon Valley and Southern California is home to celebrities, beaches, and Hollywood. Southern California public transportation is a nightmare. 

Best Places to Live in California

From youngsters to adults, California is a dream place for all. The beautiful coastline, thriving economy, puddles of job opportunities and higher education make California one of the most desired places to settle down. Hence, keeping in mind the healthy living, cleanliness, affordability, and robust economy here are the best and safest places to live in California. 

1. Vacaville

  • Population: 102,833
  • Cost of Living Index:  134.8
  • Median Home Value:  $640,451
  • Crime Rate/1,000 Residents: 19.74 
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.00%

Vacaville is nested in Solano County in Northern California between the rolling hills of San Francisco and Sacramento. Family travels are full of interactive adventures of all ages, hence environmental sustainability, and cultural diversity makes Vacaville a great place to live in California with families. 

Vacaville Unified School District offers career opportunities to career-focused students and believes in uplighting the talents of the children. The average cost of living is a bit high, however, the excellent air quality and vibrant cultural community make Vacaville 258th most liveable city in California. 

Moreover, if you are planning to live in Vacaville then know that the average cost of living is $3254 and your medium after-tax salary should be around $3763. Additionally, a one-bedroom apartment in Vacaville is around $2410. Vacaville is easily accessible from Napa (28 miles) and Walnut Creek (37 miles). 

Things to do in Vacaville:  

Visit Lucky Ones Ranch, a weekend trip to the Jelly Belly Factory. Peace Love and Boba, jump and splash at Graham Aquatic Center, explore The Rock Shop on the West Coast, Lagoon Valley Park, Sit at Nut Tree, and take part in Vacaville Fiesta Days. 


  • Vacaville is one of the best cities to live in northern California, you can consider neighborhoods named Brighton Landing, North Village, Ulatis Park, and Leisure Town for the best experience
  • Beautiful weather and has a lot of parks like Lagoon Valley Park, Andrew Park and more to enjoy. 

Con: The living standard in Vacaville is 15% higher than the average California living standard.

Lagoon Valley Park
Lagoon Valley Park

2. El Dorado Hills

  • Population: 46,593
  • Cost of Living Index:  141.5
  • Median Home Value:  $984,718
  • Crime Rate/1,000 Residents:  9.81
  • Unemployment Rate: 6.3%

El Dorado Hills is surrounded by history riddle stories with gold that is located in El Dorado County in the Sacramento region. With the rural slow-paced life with low levels of anxiety and a great sense of relaxation, El Dorado Hills is the best place to retire in California

El Dorado Hills has good elementary, middle and high schools that ensure that each student becomes proficient in Math, language, art and reading. Moreover, El Dorado Hills has good access to healthcare services making the system more affordable and accessible to people. 

In El Dorado, the average household income should be $137,726 and the median home value ranges from $830,000 to $998,500. Hence, a relaxing environment may be attractive but retirees should consider the cost of expenses before moving. Additionally, this place is considered one of the safer regions in California for retired people and senior citizens. 

Things to do in El Dorado: 

Go for a scenic drive along the open green space between the Hills, visit Folsom Lake, a historical visit to Gold Bug Park and Mine to learn about the history of gold, and must-visit at award-winning wineries. 


  • Wonderful communities at Pinnacle at Blackstone, Heritage El Dorado Hills, and Four Seasons. 
  • The weather is mild throughout the year ranging from 92 degrees F in summer and 52 degrees F in winter.

Con: The cost of living is high compared to the average income in the USA

El Dorado Hills
El Dorado Hills

3. Laguna Hills

  • Population: 30,643
  • Cost of Living Index:  171.7
  • Median Home Value:  $1,151,330
  • Crime Rate/1,000 Residents:  15.20
  • Unemployment Rate: 5.7%

Laguna Hills shares proximity with Laguna Canyon, located in Orange County, California. Laguna Hills is bordered by Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, and Laguna Woods. If you are tired of the densely packed city life then live your peaceful life in Laguna Hills, the best city to live in California.

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The city has high ranks in state-wide and nationwide schools, enrolments rate, and graduation rates as education are controlled by the Saddleback Valley Unified School District. In Laguna Hills, about 71% of people are house owners, which is higher than the national average of 63%. Moreover, the common jobs available in Laguna Hills are administrative support, management, sales, architecture, healthcare system, and government jobs.

Laguna Hills, California is expensive. The income of medium households in Laguna Hills must be $100,985, 34% higher than average for California. Real estate prices are nearly around $649,700, and be prepared to pay property tax of about $400 annually. If you plan to rent a 900 square feet apartment then be ready to spend a minimum of $2,000. 

Things to do in Laguna Hills: 

Take your kid to Big Air Laguna Hills Trampoline Park, spend a peaceful time at crystal Cove State Park, Mythea Castle, Sheep Hills Park and Pretend City – Children’s Museum, and learn about history from Moulton museum.


  • To enjoy the real California weather, visit Laguna Hills. The summer temperature is around 90 degrees and in winter, it is 48. 
  • Presence of a dynamic and close-knit neighborhood in Laguna Hills. Consider some famous neighborhoods: Nellie Gail Ranch, Acacia Knolls, and Vista Firenza. 
  • Walk to reach Dana Point Harbor to enjoy beach life every weekend.

Con: In terms of diversity, Laguna Hills ranks 572 at the state level and 9726 at the national level which is below the state and national levels respectively. 

best places to live in California_Laguna Hills
Laguna Hills

4. Palo Alto

  • Population: 62,682
  • Cost of Living Index:  471.0
  • Median Home Value:  $3,981,878
  • Crime Rate/1,000 Residents:  29.49
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.60%

Palo Alto nests in the County of Santa Clara, San Francisco bay area. It is one of the best places to live in California for young adults. The city of Palo Alto offers a thriving yet quiet environment to enjoy California’s most career elevation place

Palo Alto is within the Silicon Valley area and is home to Tesla Motors, HP, PARC, Apple, Google, and Stanford University. The education culture is notably empowering and considered to attract top-tier talents to guide students. The healthy economy and a lot of green space make Palo Alto a dream location to move in the Golden State. 

Palo Alto is the best city to live in California only if you can afford the average cost of living which is $2883. You will be amazed to know that Palo Alto ranks 103rd most liveable city in California. Again, the air quality is excellent and you can enjoy it only if you are ready to spend around $2000 for a one-bedroom apartment. 

Things to do in Palo Alto

Explore the Stanford Dish, Cantor Art Center, Palo Alto Baylands nature preserves, visit the Junior Museum, Elisabeth F. Gamble garden, walking tour to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hanna House, or spend time at Stanford theatre, look at Hoover Tower and many more.


  • Great location, near to Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Napa Valley, Yosemite National Park, and Lake Tahoe
  • Lots of parks like Mitchell Park, and Magical Bridge Playground to enjoy peace of mind at the end of the day. 


  • Home of giant companies as it attracts a lot of young population that impose a threat on the environment. 
  • In terms of traffic, Palo Alto has become horrendous.
Palo Alto
Palo Alto

5. Davis 

  • Population: 69,992
  • Cost of Living Index: 161 
  • Median Home Value:  $917,372
  • Crime Rate/1,000 Residents:  48.75
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.9%

Davis sits in the Sacramento Valley of Northern California in Yolo County. Davis is also known as a pulsating university town because it is a prime hotspot for budding technology hubs, high-tech organizations and the home of the University of California. Hence, Davis is the best place to live in California with kids for thriving opportunities to grab. 

In 2021, Davis was ranked as the best city to work remotely getting positioned itself on #99 and ranked #18 on the list of the top 100 best places to raise a family in the west. Additionally, Davis also ranked #28 on the list of top 100 healthy counties in the USA. The prime location of Davis makes it easily accessible from the main town to the airport as the road network is strong. 

In Davis, the median household income is around $69,379 and the average cost of living is $2060. To rent a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Davis is around $1389. Moreover, you can cut the transportation cost as Davis is also known as the “bicycle capital of America”. It has earned the Platinum Bicycle Friendly Community award. 

Things to do in Davis: 

Stroll at UC Davis Arboretum, walk through the North Channel of Putah Creek, shop in downtown Davis, and have food at Farmer’s Kitchen Café.


  • Davis is a dog-friendly town, a perfect city for dog owners.
  • Proximity to Lake Tahoe, Sonoma, Napa, and San Francisco. 
  • Standardized bike lanes all through the town

Con: Too hot in the summer

6. Oxnard

  • Population: 207,711
  • Cost of Living Index: 138.5 
  • Median Home Value: $880,688 
  • Crime Rate/1,000 Residents: 25.29 
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.5

Oxnard sits in the county of Ventura and shares proximity to the Oak Ridge Fault and San Andreas Fault. The city is a dream for nature lovers as one can enjoy cute coastal life and explore sandy beaches, balmy weather, and bountiful farm stands. 

Oxnard is the best place to live in California near the beach as it has plenty of good colleges and universities to pursue higher studies. Students all over the world come here to earn a degree from Santa Barbara Business College, Ventura.  Additionally, there are strong knitted neighborhoods across Mandalay Bay. Choose the Port Hueneme neighborhood to be part of the surfing. 

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The average salary earned by residents of Oxnard is around $47,941 and the popular job opportunities available are mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, accounting jobs and more. However, the salary range varies from job positions and ranks.  

In Oxnard, the average cost of living is $2605 making it only 1% more expensive compared to the world. The cost of mortgage and insurance is affordable and you have to spend $1745 on renting a one-room apartment in downtown Oxnard.

Things to do in Oxnard: 

Trip to Channel Island National Park, Channel National Marine Sanctuary, shopping at Malibu and Santa Barbara. 


  • Oxnard annually celebrates the Strawberry Festival – enjoy strawberry pizza, strawberry sundaes, strawberry beer, and strawberry funnel cake.
  • 20-mile-long renowned uncrowded beaches and home of Mandalay State Beach, Hollywood Beach and Silver Strand Beach
  • The famous Nawlinz Bistro is where you can taste Alligator Andouille Po Boyz.  

Con: Limited public transport


7. Bakersfield

  • Population: 391,438
  • Cost of Living Index: 102.6 
  • Median Home Value:  $380,504
  • Crime Rate/1,000 Residents: 44.33
  • Unemployment Rate: 8.8

In Kern County of Southern California sits the quietest industrial and agricultural town, Bakersfield, just near Sequoia National Forest. From Los Angeles, it takes two hours to reach “Bako” another name for Bakersfield. Additionally, Bakersfield is known as “the country music capital of the West Coast” as well as famous for producing oil in California. Hence, if you’re looking for a great place to move to Southern California, Bakersfield could be an ideal option to choose.

Bakersfield has a good education system with a mission of positive, enriched, safe learning. For graduate degrees, Bakersfield College, California State University, Bakersfield is the best option. 

Moreover, because of its upgrading economy, employment opportunities in Bakersfield are on the horizon. The young population gets jobs from Amazon center, Allied Universal, schools, colleges, hospitals, Aera Energy, Esparza Enterprise and more. If you are searching for the best affordable place to live in California then no place can be better than Bakersfield. 

In Bakersfield, the average cost of living is $1707, although this is not cheap but affordable compared to other towns in California. The one-bedroom apartment rent is around $991, 11% less expensive than average. The average annual salary of the residents is around $70, 000.

Things to do in Bakersfield: 

Spend time at Hart Memorial Park, enjoy music and food at Buck Owens Crystal Palace, walk along the Kern River Parkway trails or take a walking tour and get to know the city. 


  • Bakersfield offers relatively low tax rates compared to other cities in California
  • The sales tax is 8.5% and property tax is low too


  • The high crime rate, as per the records it records 20% higher
  • You have to bear with extremely uncomfortable hot summers
  • Bakersfield is tagged as one of the “most polluted cities in the USA”. A significant producer of fossil fuels, and natural gas. 

8. Truckee

  • Population: 17,329
  • Cost of Living Index: 154.9 
  • Median Home Value: $1,124,418 
  • Crime Rate/1,000 Residents: 8.85 
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.50%

Nested in the County of Nevada Truckee is popular for skiing, hiking, river rafting and mountain biking. Truckee shares proximity with the San Francisco Bay Area, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, and the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Truckee has a healthy economy and attracts a lot of young people because of its job availability. The city is fog friendly and has a lot of green space and parks to relax. Seki Restaurants and 7 Mehmet are one of my favorite places to eat food in Truckee. 

However, Truckee is one of the most expensive places to live in California. The gas price on average is $5 a gallon, the median home price is around $897,187 and the median rent is around $2,741. As per the research, transportation and gas prices in Truckee are 32% higher than the national average.

Things to do in Truckee: 

Go to Soda Springs during snowtime, and visit Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake in Truckee. 


  • The liability score in Truckee is above average
  • Low poverty rates

Con: The city is growing fast, making it one of the most populous towns in California. 


Best Places to Live in California for Young Adult

9. San Diego

  • Population: 1,429,650
  • Cost of Living Index:  160.1
  • Median Home Value:  $1,007,875
  • Crime Rate/1,000 Residents: 21.98 
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.7%

For a beach lover, check out this spectacular paradise and beautiful coastline of San Diego, the most romantic destination in California. San Diego is the 8th largest city in the USA and is considered “America’s finest city“. The weather is seldom considered the biggest perk of staying here, absolutely no super cool winters. 

Schools in San Diego are ranked as offering the best school system in the USA. Every kid is taught Spanish, and English at school respecting its diversity. As per the research, San Diego is termed “the most inventive city in the world“. It has blended the technology service sector as well as the tourism sector and made its economy strong and thriving. Hence for the young population, San Diego is an amazing place in California to live.

As expected, the cost of living in San Diego is high if you decide to stay in the posh areas. However, if you choose to stay in suburban areas the price can be curtailed a lot. A medium home price in San Diego is around $878,058 and if you think of renting a medium apartment it will cost you a minimum of $2,682 per month. 

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Things to do in San Diego: 

Visit the famous AleSmith Brewing Company to taste the best beer, enjoy Mexican food at local stores in San Diego, sit at Balboa Park, visit Torrey Pines Nature Reserve, and explore Carlsbad Ranch, or absorb Vitamin D at Coronado Beach.


  • Best place to learn surfing and enjoy the beach life
  • Plenty of biking trails
  • San Diego Zoo is one of the most beautiful zoos in California


  • High-income tax rates
  • Irritating traffic congestion

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10. Sacramento

  • Population: 531,285
  • Cost of Living Index: 121.6 
  • Median Home Value:  $517,612
  • Crime Rate/1,000 Residents: 36.14
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.5%

In the county of Sacramento sits the capital city of California, one of the most budget-friendly cities in the Golden State. Sacramento is also considered the most affordable city in California making it one of the hot moving destinations for families and youngsters. Sacramento is home to many rivers, ponds, lakes and the hidden gem to rest and enjoy peace. 

The streets are lined with trees making it so perfect for evening walks. South Land Park is featured by ranch homes from the ’50s hence it is also called “cowtown“. Moreover, Sacramento’s economy is robust and offers huge economic opportunities. Also, the healthcare sector is very promising. 

The cost of living is very affordable. By only paying $2,344 you can get a monthly rent of 900 sqft furnished accommodation in posh areas. For a higher lifestyle choose downtown Creekside and Campus Common and for affordable living choose Robla or Boulevard Park. 

Again, in Sacramento, the cost of electricity is just $119 per month and on the other hand, the average cost of groceries is 20% higher than average. 

Things to do in Sacramento: 

Visit McKinley Park, Go for indoor skydiving, have food at the Downtown Sacramento Historical Food Tour, take a walking tour and learn about the history, click a photo in front of the murals and more. 


  • From Sacramento hopping to wine country like Yosemite, Lassen National Park, Sonoma, Tahoe, Reno or Apple Hills is a quick drive. You can go for an easy day hike in Yosemite for fun!
  • Plenty of trees and parks to enjoy nature
  • Be part of cultural events like the annual Carnival, Cinco de Mayo, and professional sports like the Philharmonic. 
  • Positive initiative for recycling and reducing of use of fossil fuels and making the place environmentally friendly


  • Extremely hot during summer
  • Crime is a serious issue

Is it Better to Live in California or Florida?

  • The housing price and cost of living in Florida are significantly low compared to California. Everything is cheaper in Florida compared to California
  • Florida experiences rain whereas California is dryer and practically witnesses less distinction between the climatic changes
  • California is the hub of technology in the Western US hence it is easier to get a job in California compared to Florida
  • If you compare the cost of living in California vs Florida, you will always find Florida as cheaper compared to California.

Some people regret after moving to California, but overall, it’s a great place for families, young adults, students, expats and retirees.

 Final Words

Need a place to lay your weary head in California? The above 10 suggestions are the best for rejuvenating as well as resting your soul. Do not panic or sign up for any of these places, rather sit down with a balance and expense sheet and make a sound decision based on your income and requirements. 

This blog on the best places to live in California is a guide to your worries. Due to the thriving economy, the cost of living in California is high. The city is fuelled with resources to offer you the best source of income. So, believe me, with proper planning you can live in the best cities to live in California. 

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FAQ – Best Places to Live in California

1. What are the best small towns to live in California?

A: For peaceful retreats reside in Ojai, Nevada City, Eureka, Lone Pine, Oxnard, Davis, Tahoe city, and Sonoma. 

2. Where should I not live in California?

A: Lacking amenities, safety, personal growth and development, try not to live in West Hollywood, Barstow, Red Bluff, Emeryville, and San Jacinto. 

3. Is California still a good place to move to?

A: Although California is becoming more expensive day by day, the Golden State is still a good place to move in for appealing career opportunities, warm weather, a variety of food tastings, and access to the best beaches.

4. What is the safest place to live in California?

A: El Dorado witnesses no crime to speak of and is one of the safest places to live in California. 

5. What city in California has the lowest cost of living?

A: For nature lovers, a convenient affordable location considers residing in Eureka, and Oxnard because they offer the lowest cost of living. 

6. What’s bad about living in California?

A: No place is bad without good. High tax rates, expensive costs and traffic jams are bad about living in California. 

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