9 Insanely Cheap Places to Live in the Bay Area in 2023

Looking for the cheapest place to live in the Bay Area? The Bay Area is an incredible and gorgeous destination to reside and start a family. With endless things to do in the Bay area, from strolling through beautiful streets, and communicating with strangers to exploring adorable towns, and coastal hikes in Bay Area, it is indeed the best place to reside.

The Bay Area offers a vast cultural diversity, a good standard of living, beautiful scenic parks, numerous job opportunities, and most importantly a happy place. The Bay Area has booming textile industries, shipbuilding, electronic industries, and aerospace providing ample job opportunities to its residents.

cheapest places to live in the Bay Area

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The median sale price is around $1.2 million but affordable living in the Bay Area is only possible if you choose the North Bay. So, here we’ve scoured the area to bring you the most lively, exciting and budget-friendly neighborhoods for young professionals, students, families and retired people too. 

How much money do you need to live comfortably in the Bay Area?

The Bay Area of California is reasonably an expensive place to live in and you need a moderate income to settle down. I don’t work in Silicon Valley but still can afford a good life by the bay area and it is only because I planned it very wisely. I moved to the Bay Area from Lithuania(one of the cheapest European countries to live in) in 2018 and since then I have been living the best days of my life. I’m a freelance blogger and I want to prove to you that the Bay Area can also be your place too. 

But if you are the one who is earning around $115k a year then you have enough on your plate and you can afford a moderate house in any part of the city. For comfortable living in the Bay Area, you have to earn at least $250k excluding the tax. Fortunately, the Bay area is vast and if you earn around $100k you can afford the basic standard of living

I am living in this area for a few years, from my point of view; I am going to offer the best places to live in the Bay Area for cheap. With reasonable expenses and an affordable budget, you can live a good lifestyle in the towns of the Bay Area. 

Most Affordable Places to Live in The Bay Area

1. Sonoma County

  • Population: 481,415
  • Median home cost: $829K
  • Crime rate: 2.05 (Per 1,000 residents) 
  • Unemployment rate: 3.7 %

Sonoma County is in the North Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area and it seems very enchanting to me. Sonoma County is magnificently glorious and one of the laid-back sisters of Napa Valley which is also itself glorious. The place is known for its rustic down-to-earth vibes and this is also a budget-friendly place to live in California.

The whole county of Sonoma is filled with opportunities both to rejuvenate and unwind. A little walk through the redwoods can offer you the best moment to catch something beautiful outside of the location. However, when I moved to the town at the beginning of 2018, it completely offered all the commodities within a limited budget.

Medical facilities, schools, colleges, and other necessary things are also very affordable. I often used to go to Banshee Wines for wine tasting. However, drinking and driving are strictly prohibited by the government of the town. 

You have to earn around $115,000 per year for a modest yet adequate standard of living. Your housing expense will be around $2500 per month, $913 per month for food, $1,200 per month for health, and including other expenses, it will sum up to around the above amount. 

If you are a foodie person just like me then Sonoma County is the best place to visit. You can enjoy delicious dishes on a pocket-friendly budget. I will especially recommend the name of the restaurant’s backyard to take some delicious dishes and the specialty of the restaurant. Hence, all of these things make the place one of the cheapest places in the Bay Area to live

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Nearby Sightseeing in Sonoma County

Safari West, Graton Resort & Casino, Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park, B. Bryan Preserve and California Missions Museum

Lake Sonoma
Lake Sonoma

2. Modesto

  • Population: 219,396
  • Median home cost: $480,006
  • Crime rate: 34.72 (Per 1,000 residents) 
  • Unemployment rate: 7.1 %

Modesto, located in California’s Central Valley, is an affordable and charming city that offers a great quality of life. I’ve had the pleasure of living in Modesto for several years and have found it to be a fantastic place to call home.

One of the main benefits of living in Modesto is its affordability. The cost of living is much lower compared to other areas in the Bay Area, making it an ideal option for those on a budget. Housing costs, in particular, are much more reasonable, allowing individuals and families to find comfortable homes without breaking the bank.

Aside from its affordability, Modesto also offers a great community atmosphere. The city is filled with friendly people who are welcoming to newcomers. There are plenty of community events and activities to participate in, from farmers’ markets to music festivals.

Modesto also boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene. There are many local theaters, museums, and galleries to visit, and the city is home to a diverse range of restaurants and cafes that cater to all tastes and budgets.

One of my favorite things about living in Modesto is its proximity to natural beauty. The city is surrounded by stunning landscapes, including Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, and the Pacific Coast. It’s easy to take a day trip to one of these beautiful locations and explore the great outdoors.

In summary, Modesto is an excellent choice for those seeking an affordable and community-oriented place to live in the Bay Area. With its charming atmosphere, cultural offerings, and proximity to natural beauty, it’s no surprise that I have thoroughly enjoyed my time living here.

Modesto Certified Farmers’ Market
Modesto Certified Farmers’ Market

3. Benicia

  • Population: 28,200
  • Median home cost: $ 780,000
  • Crime rate: 17.19 (Per 1,000 residents) 
  • Unemployment rate: 3.4%

Benicia, a hidden gem in the Bay Area, is a charming and historic city located in Solano County, California. It’s a city that offers a peaceful and serene lifestyle that’s perfect for families, retirees, or anyone who wants to escape the hustle and bustle of the big cities.

One of the main reasons why Benicia is such a great place to live is its affordability. The cost of living is much lower than other cities in the Bay Area, and the housing market is much more accessible. This means that you can find a great home without breaking the bank.

Another great aspect of Benicia is its small-town charm. The city has a population of just over 28,000 people, which creates a tight-knit community where everyone knows each other. This is evident in the various community events and festivals that take place throughout the year, such as the Benicia Waterfront Festival and the Benicia Farmers Market.

Nearby Sightseeing of Benicia

Benicia also offers a great quality of life. The city is surrounded by beautiful parks, hiking trails, and scenic views of the Carquinez Strait. Residents can enjoy outdoor activities such as kayaking, fishing, and hiking in the nearby Benicia State Recreation Area.

Lastly, Benicia offers a thriving arts and culture scene. The city is home to many art galleries, studios, and theaters that showcase local talent. The Benicia Art Walk is a monthly event that showcases the work of local artists, and the Benicia Plein Air Gallery features works of art inspired by the city’s natural beauty.

In conclusion, this charming and historic city is one of the best places to settle with the family that offers an affordable and peaceful lifestyle with a tight-knit community, scenic views, and plenty of cultural activities. It’s the perfect place for anyone who wants to live in a small town with big city amenities.

4. San Rafael 

  • Population: 58,775 
  • Median home cost: $ 1,437,500
  • Crime rate: 3.74 (Per 1,000 residents) 
  • Unemployment rate: 2.50 %

San Rafael is one of the gorgeous places in San Francisco, named after Archangel Raphael. The town of San Rafael is not one of the cheapest places to live in the Bay Area, but still the home price and cost of living are affordable compared to San Francisco. The place offers middle-class vibes and nature lovers can find the place one of the perfect destinations. During the summer night, you can explore all the nearby farmer’s markets.

The average price of a home in San Rafael is $1,240,000. Therefore, you can’t term it as one of the cheapest places to live in the Bay Area but for a cheap area, you can definitely choose San Rafael Hill. This place has cheap homes with beautiful hiking trails and a perfect neighborhood.  

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Plenty of coffee shops, restaurants, and book stalls are available in this town. Essential commodities including hospitals, schools, colleges, and job opportunities are also very much widely available. The government also brings a lot of interesting infrastructures to make the place more attractive for visitors. Hence, all these things make the town one of the safest places to live around the Bay Area

Subsequently, you can also enjoy warm weather with the beautiful surroundings of the place. Every time you will be surprised to see the enchanting view with eye attractive sightseeing. Thus, San Rafael becomes one of the most inexpensive places to live in the Bay Area.

Nearby Sightseeing in San Rafael

China Camp State Park, County of Marin, Mission San Rafael Arcángel 1817, Art Works Downtown, and Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.

Read Also: 10 Best Places to Live in Southern California

Cheapest Places to Live in the Bay Area_San Rafael 
San Rafael 

5. Vallejo 

  • Population: 121,737 
  • Median home cost: $ 540,000 
  • Crime rate: 9.61 (Per 1,000 residents) 
  • Unemployment rate: 5.90 %

Vallejo, located in Solano County is one of the largest and one of the cheapest towns in the Bay Area of San Francisco. This is one of the most budget-friendly places to live in California which is nearly 31.9 miles away from San Francisco. The affordability of the place is much cheaper than any other place in San Francisco near the bay area. 

My colleagues used to stay in the place, I have been to this place a lot and I know how it feels to stay in this place. The price of the necessary commodities is pocket-friendly and Smart Assest study ranks Vallejo as the 8th most favorable cost of living in California.

If you are planning your retirement from your job then this is one of the perfect affordable places to retire in the Bay Area. The crime cases are also lower in the place; hence, the place becomes much safer for senior citizens and for those who want to remain in a peaceful location. 

Subsequently, the facilities of transport, medical, institutions, marketplaces, and others are quickly accessed. Moreover, the local surroundings and local inhabitants are much more pleasant and attractive for the visitors. You can spend your maximum time of yours by enjoying the sightseeing, local attractions and the weather of the town equally. This is one of the cheap towns to live in the Bay Area. 

Nearby Sightseeing in Vallejo

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Benicia State Recreation Area, Chardonnay Golf Club, Medusa, and Carquinez Bridge.

6. San Pablo  

  • Population: 30,967 
  • Median home cost: $575,000 
  • Crime rate: 5.26 (Per 1,000 residents) 
  • Unemployment rate: 8.2 %

San Pablo is a world-class city with ample opportunities, gorgeous views, rich culture, and a unique place to live.  If you want to be a part of old Spanish settlements you can shift to the town. Interestingly, San Pablo is ranked 7 out of 273 cities in the US in respect of the cost of living making it one of the most affordable places to live in the Bay Area. 

The destination is one of the perfect locations for cheap rental houses in Northern California. Besides that, it is also known for growing the residential and business community. You need to earn a minimum of around $ 160,821 to afford to live in San Pablo. The median household income should be around $28,831. 

Along with all the above things you can also explore the best healthcare institutions, public schools, colleges, and job opportunities. The local marketplace offers all the necessary commodities at affordable prices. The infrastructure of the location is growing with time which is one of the main attractions for the visitors. And this makes the place affordable living in the Bay Area.  

Subsequently, the warm weather of the town makes the inhabitants enjoy all the seasons throughout the year. Additionally, the surroundings of the town are much more interesting and entertaining. The local shops, cafes, and restaurants are also available to enjoy some quality time with friends and colleagues. Certainly, there are many pros and cons of living in California and San Pablo is the town where you will be able to collect both experiences.

Nearby Sightseeing of San Pablo

Point Pinole, Albany Aquarium, Pinole Farmer’s Market, San Pablo Reservoir and Davis Park.

Point Pinole
Point Pinole

Read Also: 26 Amazing Things To Do In South Bay

7. Concord 

  • Population:127.951
  • Median home cost: $700,000 
  • Crime rate: 3.40 (Per 1,000 residents) 
  • Unemployment rate: 4.5% 

Welcome to my area, Concord is 29 miles east of San Francisco and one of the cheapest and most affordable areas to live in San Francisco near the Bay area. A bunch of shopping centers and farmer markets are some of the main attractions for the visitor. Even I like the whole surroundings of the farmer markets along with my friends when we visit there for the first time.

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Multiple historical spots are there to entertain the audiences and people should visit the places to find out the secrets. The average rent in Concord is around $2,200 per month and the cost of living is 50 % higher than the national average. 

If you ever visit San Francisco and want to settle down near the Bay Area then this particular Concord town will be the best option for settling down. Not only that the necessary commodities but also the availability of transportation are very much highlighted. The Institutions, medical facilities, and job locations are easily available at cheap prices.

Nearby Sightseeing of Concord

deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Minute Man National Historical Park, Walden Pond, Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, and The Old Manse.

8. Oakland

  • Population: 444,956
  • Median home cost: $785,000
  • Crime rate:12.96 (Per 1,000 residents) 
  • Unemployment rate: 8.2%

Oakland is another one on the list of the safest places in the Bay Area near San Francisco. This is one of the perfect destinations for all the singles. The majority of the roads of Oakland are aligned with Beautiful craftsman houses, shopping centers, and College Avenues. Is it affordable to live in the Bay Area? Yes! Within an average rental price, you can choose any one of the apartments for yourself to live in the town.

Additionally, it is also easy to find out all the significant commodities like medical facilities, colleges, local Institutions, and transportation. No crime cases will be found in the place as the government pays for their strict restrictions. You and your friends can enjoy a pleasant atmosphere with all the adventurous outsourcers. 

The minimum salary you need to live in Oakland is around $42,345 because upon this you have to spend on food, transportation, healthcare, and housing.

The place is also perfect for road tripping and cycling. Significantly, you can take a car to visit all the nearest surroundings or attractive places to visit in Oakland. The town is just a few minutes away from San Francisco and you can enjoy the best road traveling experience. 

Nearby Sightseeing of Oakland

Angel Island, Tilden Regional Park, Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, Chabot Space & Science Center, and the University of California Botanical Garden.

Housing in Oakland
Housing in Oakland

9. Berkeley 

  • Population: 12,463
  • Median home cost: $ 1,519,800
  • Crime rate: 5.03 (Per 1,000 residents) 
  • Unemployment rate: 5.4 %

Located near San Francisco, Berkeley is one of the most inexpensive places to live in the Bay Area. It is the centerpiece of a liberal learning city. Driving in a car will take 30 to 40 minutes to reach San Francisco. You can enjoy all the sightseeing and attractions with a pleasant atmosphere by staying in the town.

The integral commodities like transportation, medical facilities, school colleges and Hospitals everything is affordable on a pocket-friendly budget. You can stay at any one of the one apartment rental houses at an affordable price. 

The neighborhood community of the town offers the friendliest ambiance while staying in the town. Additionally, you can explore all the nearest farmer markets, fish markets, coffee shops, shopping centers, and Book Stalls on the roads. You will be able to purchase any one of your favorite things on the most inexpensive budget. 

Nearby Sightseeing of Berkeley

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Lawrence Hall of Science, Adventure Playground, Museum of Paleontology, and the Greek Theatre.

Final Words

In conclusion, the Bay Area offers many affordable neighborhoods to live in without sacrificing quality of life. From diverse cultural experiences to beautiful natural landscapes, there’s something for everyone. By doing your research and exploring the different neighborhoods, you can find a great place to call home at a reasonable price. So go ahead and start your search for your next affordable Bay Area home today!

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FAQ – Cheapest Places to Live in the Bay Area

1. Where should I not live in the Bay Area?

A: In terms of expense, Atherton and Ross are the two places where you should not reside. These 11 places are considered the worst places in California where you should not live in.

2. What are the best and safest places in the Bay Area to live in?

A: Berkeley is the safest place in the Bay Area and is great for retirees.

3. Which city in the Bay Area has the lowest cost of living?

A: Live Oak in the Bay Area has the lowest cost of living. 

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One Comment

  1. It is pretty hard to find an affordable place in the Bay Area. Thanks for the article.

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