When you think about moving to California, you’re likely considering one of the “big three” areas for your new home: Los Angeles, San Diego, or the Bay Area.

Although these cities are massive population hubs with plenty of incredible opportunities to consider, they’re not always the best place to live for each person or household.

Here are some alternative communities to consider if you have some flexibility available for your home shopping or rental hunting needs.

Where Are the Best Places to Live in California?

1. Sacramento

If you want to have an affordable home in California, one of the best places to live in the state is Sacramento. Although you won’t get an oceanside view here, the current housing market is approximately 40% cheaper than what you’ll find in New York City. Since the cost of living is lower, the city is growing rapidly. You’ll also find festivals, concerts, and art walks to enjoy with numerous employment opportunities.

2. Bakersfield

Unless you plan to live in a rural community like Alturas, which sits just outside the Modoc National Forest, this city is the most affordable place to live in the state. Home prices continue to be under $300,000, keeping your property taxes and other costs down. The oil industry serves as the city’s primary economic generator, while healthcare jobs are also abundant. It’s the perfect spot if you love whitewater rafting!

3. Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa

This community gives you the best of all worlds when you move to California. It’s an extended bedroom community for the Bay Area, sitting north of San Francisco on the 101. You’ll be living in the heart of Sonoma County with all its vineyards, and the ocean is only a short trip away. You’ll enjoy walking along the trails at Annadel State Park, especially in the spring when the wildflowers start blooming. The climate is also one of its best benefits.

4. Palm Springs

Palm Springs

If you don’t mind the desert heat, living in this California city can positively experience it. It delivers a resort-like atmosphere with its spas, golfing, and stylish hotels. You’ll also find numerous homes that use the mid-century modern look, creating a vintage vibe with the different boutiques and restaurants in the area. You’ll find lots of outdoor opportunities to enjoy, including horseback riding and cycling in the Coachella Valley.

5. Modesto


If you decide to live in Stanislaus County, this city is the place to be. You’re connected to the state’s highway corridors that can take you to Sacramento or the Bay Area, while Yosemite and several national forests are to the east. The downtown area has recently revitalized itself, and there’s a performing arts center with an established symphony that regularly offers performances.

6. Eureka


This city is the largest coastal community between San Francisco and Portland. It’s also the biggest, with 25,000 or more residents in the lower 48 states. You’ll have an excellent climate to enjoy, a commercial district built in the 19th century to explore, and the oldest zoo in the state to visit. It’s a place where small businesses can get their start, and you’ll have access to a community college and a state university.

7. Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta

You’ll find this historic community right on I-5 in the northern part of the state. You can continue down the highway to Redding or enjoy numerous outdoor activities in the mountains as you travel into the Sierra Nevadas on the 89. It’s the perfect spot for anyone who wants to enjoy small-town living while visitors come through to support the economy as they plant trout fishing trips in the surrounding rivers. Cross-country and alpine skiing are available, along with hiking and biking to local waterfalls.

8. Santa Maria

This community is known for its local wineries and a unique take on barbecue. Agriculture is a significant portion of the economy, especially as winemakers come to the area from other parts of the state. Farmers grow everything from strawberries to lettuce here, and you’ll find more than a few cattle ranches. The primary employer is the local Air Force base, but there are also airline, healthcare, and educational opportunities to find.

When you’re ready to live in California, choosing from one of the state’s best cities can help you start the next chapter in your life. If you’re contemplating a cross-country move from NYC, contact our team today to discuss the logistics of your unique situation.

Quality Starts Here

Trust Expo Movers for a hassle-free moving experience.

By Published On: May 4, 2021Categories: Real Estate