10 Best Places to Live in California
Wondering where to live in California?
Over 39 million people call California home, and it’s easy to see why. There’s something for everyone in The Golden State — beaches, mountains, Silicon Valley, small towns, big cities. With beautiful scenery and endless opportunities, California is a great place to call home. If you dream of living in California, one of these 10 places might be the perfect place to settle down.
10 of the best places to live in California
California is a big state with over 163,000 square miles, so there are a lot of cities to choose from. But after looking at climates, attractions and other attributes, a few really stand out. In no particular order, here are 10 of the best areas to live in California:
San Diego is a major metro area, with around 1.3 million people living in the city. It’s known for sunny weather with average temps in the mid-50s to mid-70s, so outdoor adventurers will have plenty of opportunity to spend time outside. Explore major attractions like LEGOLAND, Balboa Park, SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo, and enjoy a craft beer in the Gaslamp District — an area popular with young families, college students and beach goers.
Los Angeles is the biggest city in California, with a population around 3.8 million. It looks like it does in movies — sunny and warm — but you can also expect a rainy season in the winter and mid-spring. The entertainment capital of the world is home to Hollywood, but it’s also a major center for fashion, business and manufacturing. Several professional sports teams call L.A. home including the Lakers, Dodgers, Clippers and Kings. Locals can be found at the Los Angeles Farmer’s Market, since it’s usually tourist free and offers bargain shopping. Creatives, singles, fashionistas and dreamers will fit right in here.
The nearby city of Cypress has one of the best schools in California — Oxford Academy. So it’s a good place to live for a great education and all of the benefits of Los Angeles.
San Francisco is a beautiful mid-size city with a population of around 805,000. Located on the bay, you’ll regularly find fog and cool breezes accentuating the mild weather. Many well-known areas are scattered around the city including Alcatraz, Chinatown, Lombard Street and the Golden Gate Bridge. With over 200 parks nearby, it’s an ideal spot for fitness and nature lovers. If you plan on moving to San Francisco, start training now. It’s built on over 40 hills, so the terrain can be challenging.
Shape Magazine ranked it best for women — the women there are well-educated, have longer life expectancy, and make more money overall. For men, it’s ranked well by Maxim because of a top score for many factors including recreational and dating opportunities.
4. Berkeley, CA
Around 112,000 people call Berkeley home. The temps are mild here, with average highs in the 70s, but you do get some seasonal precipitation with wet winters. This area is known to be progressive and diverse, and the city has policies in place to promote small businesses, so many people find it to have a small-town feel. If you plan to move here, check out unique festivals including the Arts Festival, Kite Festival, Juggling and Unicycling Festival and even a “How Berkeley Can You Be” festival.
Looking for a job here? Zippia came up with a list of the best places for jobs, and nearby Orinda is near the top of the list!
5. Irvine, CA
Irvine is another mid-size city with around 212,000 residents. Its coastal location brings mild winters and warm, sometimes humid, summers. Home to the University of California at Irvine and several other great schools, the city is one of the best places for families in California. And since more than 1/3 of the city is green space (parks, trails and natural open space), outdoor lovers will enjoy living there as well.
6. San Jose, CA
One of the largest cities in the Bay Area, San Jose has a population around 945,000. There’s plenty of sunshine with over 300 average sunny days a year. It’s known as the Capital of Silicon Valley with an educated workforce and many tech jobs.
If you want to live in this area, but are looking for top notch schools, consider nearby Cupertino!
7. Fresno, CA
Fresno is home to around 494,000 people, and is near Yosemite National Park. The cost of living is lower here, so it’s one of the more affordable places to live in California. The Tower District is a hotspot for locals with popular dining, arts and entertainment options — many of them locally owned. The weather here is more seasonal than many California spots with some colder winter temps, as low averages dip into the 30s and 40s.
Santa Barbara is known for beautiful scenery and Spanish architecture and is one of the smaller cities on the list at around 88,000 residents. The warm, coastal breezes keep temps moderate in the summer, but cooler winds blow in some winter precipitation. This is a great spot to move to if you love to surf or hike, and with over 300 days of sunshine per year, there are plenty of opportunities to get outside. One of the most exciting activities each year is the Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival where over 150 beautiful (but temporary) images are created in the streets.
If you want the luxuries of Santa Barbara with a lower cost of living, check out nearby Oxnard. The cost of living here is below the state average with cheaper groceries and utilities.
9. San Mateo County, CA (includes San Mateo, Palo Alto, Redwood City, and Half Moon Bay…just to name a few).
San Mateo has a population of around 97,000, and the other surrounding towns are a bit smaller. As a part of the Bay Area, the weather is similar to San Francisco, with dryer summers and afternoon fog. This area is known for many things including tech jobs, proximity to San Francisco and San Jose, a low unemployment rate and Stanford University. If you want to enjoy the nearby bigger cities but want a little slower pace, then check out San Mateo County.
10. Sacramento, CA
Over 466,000 residents enjoy hot summers with cool evening breezes in Sacramento. Winter is a wetter season, but temps stay moderate. As the capital of California, it’s the center of California politics. Many students and medical professionals call this area home, as California State University at Sacramento and the UC David Medical Center are located here. If you move here, you can spend long weekends at nearby Lake Tahoe or catch a Kings game. Residents also enjoy amazing cuisine at one of the more than 1,200 restaurants in the city.
One of the best places for families is nearby Folsom, where you’ll find a good median income, top-rated schools and more affordable home values. Or for a lower cost of living, move to Yuba City where the cost of living is below the state average.
Where are all of these cities located?
Want to see where each of these cities is located in the state? Check out this infographic to see them mapped with interesting facts about each place.
What do you think is the best place to live in California?
Does one of the places on this list stand out? We’d love to know which appeals most to you. Do you live in one of these cities? Share why you love living there in the comments.
If you’re planning a move to California, 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 to see how you can move to one of these great places (or wherever you decide!), or call a moving consultant at 800-413-4799 to learn more. Let us do the driving as you take the scenic route to your new home in California.