10 Best Places to Live in California
Thinking about moving to California?
There’s a reason why 38.8 million people call California home. The Golden State has the size, the beauty, and the opportunity that the other 49 states just can’t compete with. If you’re thinking about living in California, one of these 10 places might be the right spot for you.
What are the best places to live in California?
These Californian cities are simply some of the best to call home, and aren’t listed in any particular order.
1. San Diego, CA
This photo perfectly captures a daily view of the San Diego Bay.
What it’s known for: Beautiful beaches, year-round sunny weather, Mexican food, the U.S. Navy (largest naval fleet in the world), proximity to Tijuana, major attractions (San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, Legoland, Balboa Park), Comic-Con, craft beer, the Gaslamp District, Coronado, and healthy values.
Who should move there: beach goers, young families, college students, and health enthusiasts
You’ll find locals outside – the weather is always perfect for outdoor recreation!
Fun fact: San Diego is the birthplace of California!
2. Los Angeles, CA
A stunning photo of the downtown Los Angeles skyline
What it’s known for: Hollywood, Beverly Hills, ethnic diversity (more than 140 ethnicities in the city), fashion, business, manufacturing, mild temps, Santa Monica Pier, museums, and pro sports teams (Lakers, Dodgers, Clippers, and Kings).
Who should move there: Creatives, singles, fashionistas, and sports fanatics
You’ll find locals at the Los Angeles Famer’s Market. You can bargain shop, people watch, and maybe run into a celebrity or two. Plus, it’s usually tourist-free.
Fun fact: The city’s original name was “The Town of Our Lady the Queen of Angels of the River Porciúncula.” As the population grew, the city name shrunk to “L.A.”
3. San Francisco, CA
A picturesque view of the houses in San Francisco, CA
What it’s known for: The San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Chinatown, Lombard Street, pro sports (49ers and Giants), coffee, fog, cable cars, Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Chocolate, progressiveness, theater, finance, cool weather, and steep hills.
Who should move there: Techies, fitness fanatics, nature lovers, and dog people
You’ll find locals at the parks (there are more than 200 parks in the city). Going to the park is the best way to avoid tourists. Dolores Park and Golden Gate Park are local faves.
Fun fact: The city was built on 43 hills!
4. Berkeley, CA
The UC Berkeley Sather Tower overlooks the San Francisco Bay
What it’s known for: the University of California at Berkeley, diversity, progressive government, more locally-owned shops than big box stores and chains, San Francisco Bay views, hub for the arts, Berkeley Rose Garden, and Tilden Regional Park.
Who should move there: College students and teachers, bicyclists, and outdoor enthusiasts
You’ll find locals at the festivals. Berkeley hosts many festivals throughout the year, including the Arts Festival, Kite Festival, Juggling and Unicycling Festival, and even a “How Berkeley Can You Be” Festival.
Fun fact: Since 2000, the city has gained more than 4,470 street and park trees. It’s all part of the city’s goal to improve air quality and reduce local air temps.
5. Irvine, CA
A photo of the Ferris wheel in Irvine, CA
What it’s known for: Good public schools, notable company headquarters (Taco Bell, In-N-Out Burger, Kia Motors, Toshiba), community and neighborhood parks, Irvine Spectrum Center, the University of California at Irvine, filming, bike trails, and the Irvine Museum.
Who should move there: families, skilled workers, bicyclists, actors, and college students
You’ll find locals at the parks, on the beach, or on the trails.
Fun fact: There are more than 44 miles of bike trails and 200,000 acres of park and preserves for outdoor sports and recreation.
6. San Jose, CA
A photo of beautiful downtown San Jose, CA
What it’s known for: the Capital of Silicon Valley, The Tech Museum, Winchester Mystery House, Santana Row, warm weather, diversity, festivals, educated workforce, parks, and San Jose State University.
Who should move there: Tech whizzes, college students, and families
You’ll find locals cheering on the Sharks (NHL), the Giants (Minor League Baseball), the Earthquakes (Major League Soccer), and the Spartans (San Jose State athletics).
Fun fact: San Jose was the state’s capital before the switch to Sacramento in 1854.
7. Fresno, CA
Fresno, CA is close to Yosemite National Park
What it’s known for: Close proximity to Yosemite National Park, lower cost of living, California State University at Fresno, raisins (it’s the Raisin Capital of the World), fine arts, agriculture, nice weather, and community parks.
Who should move there: Outdoor explorers, budget-conscious people, farmers, and people who really love raisins!
You’ll find locals in the Tower District. It’s the spot in Fresno for dining, arts, and entertainment. Most restaurants and retail shops are locally-owned, too.
Fun fact: Fresno is the Spanish name for Ash tree.
8. Santa Barbara, CA
Palm trees dot the landscape in Santa Barbara, CA.
What it’s known for: Beautiful scenery, Spanish architecture, wine, healthy values, sunny weather, guacamole, home of Jack Johnson and Katy Perry, The Channel Islands National Park, hiking, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and State Street.
Who should move there: People who love community, college students, shopaholics, hikers, and wine connoisseurs
You’ll find locals exploring the outdoors. With about 300 days of sunshine per year, the hardest part of living in Santa Barbara will be staying inside.
Fun fact: The city is often referred to as the “American Riviera” because its climate feels Mediterranean.
9. San Mateo County, CA (includes San Mateo, Palo Alto, Redwood City, and Half Moon Bay…just to name a few).
Flowers and shoreline in San Mateo County, CA
What it’s known for: Close proximity to San Francisco and San Jose, friendly people, Coyote Point Park, Pillar Point Harbor, low unemployment rate, technology, slower pace, Stanford University, healthiness, cool weather, and the Filoli Gardens.
Who should move there: job seekers, students, and those who want a short commute to San Jose or San Francisco
You’ll find locals on the golf course. The county is located on a 60-mile peninsula, providing great ocean/bay views and breezy weather.
Fun fact: YouTube was a startup company that originated in San Mateo.
10. Sacramento, CA
A photo of the Sacramento, CA skyline at dusk
What it’s known for: the capital of California, trees, California State University at Sacramento, the UC Davis Medical Center, festivals, bike-friendly streets, Crocker Art Museum, locally-grown food, the Kings (NBA), proximity to Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, and Yosemite.
Who should move there: bicyclists, outdoor adventurers, families, and college students
You’ll find locals at one of the many restaurants in the city. There are more than 1,200 to choose from!
Fun fact: Sacramento is known as “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital” because many restaurants get their food directly from local farms surrounding the city.
What do you think is the best place to live in California?
If you live in California and don’t see your city on the list – let us know! We’d love to know more about your city and why you love living there. And, if you’re moving to California soon, give U-Pack® a call. We’re a “you pack, we drive” moving company with affordable rates, fast transit times, and convenient service.
Get a free moving quote now or call a helpful moving consultant at 800-413-4799. Let us do the driving while you take the scenic route to your new home in California.