Whether the newer generations heard of the California Dream or not, the fact of the matter is that to some extent we all think about the beautiful life on the West Coast. The promise of gold didn’t change much. What changed is what people understand through it. Gold, nowadays, stands for success, achieving your dreams, and thriving in your field, whatever that might be. So is California as good as it used to be? Is it better? Are people less attracted to that laid-back way of life that Californians cherish so much or is that lifestyle gone?
The state of California was affected by the pandemic, but it still managed to evolve despite it. While housing prices appreciated, the job industry thrived and while people shied away from the largest cities in the state, other smaller cities managed to grow in popularity. Nobody can muster anything bad to say about California’s weather and the multitude and quality of outdoor activities are unparalleled by any other state or place in the world.
Further on, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most popular places to live in California and see what they have to offer. The following cities are among the biggest and most attractive for potential new residents, but also, they manage to remain at the top of the best places to live in California. We’ll take a look at the relevant information for those thinking about moving to the Golden State, which could be called the Blue State seeing its political affinities. Read on if you’re interested in the housing market, job market, and overall livability scores, so that you can make an informed decision about the next chapter in your life.
Median home value: $484,000
Median rent: $1,800
Median household income: $83,000
The state capital of California isn’t as easily outshined by more popular cities in the state. Still, one of the first things people think of when considering relocating to Sacramento is its proximity to both Lake Tahoe and San Francisco. We can’t argue with that. Those are some great attributes, but still, cultural and technological developments are taking place in Sacramento, breathing new life into the state capital.
Another important quality for Sacramento is its incredible diversity both from an ethnic perspective and the level of comfort provided for the big LGBTQIA+ community. Sacramento’s demographics show that about 32% of the population are white, 29% comes from Hispanic or Latino backgrounds, 19% have Asian roots, 13% have African American heritage, 2% have Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander ancestry, less than 1% have American Indian or Alaskan origins, while the remaining 4% are two or more races. But there’s one other thing that makes Sacramento be at the top of our list. The housing cost, when compared with the median household income makes it the most affordable city on our list.
Due to an influx of young professionals and young families, the city’s population experienced a boom in recent years. The city’s economic development can be the cause of this as it provides attractive opportunities for both locals and newcomers. Industries like technology, health care, and construction have been growing lately, and government jobs are also available in the state’s capital. The hospitality industry is also thriving and tourism ensures that Sacramento remains a foodie’s heaven. Just contact real estate agents in Sacramento CA for more information.
San Diego, CA
Median home value: $918,000
Median rent: $2,600
Median household income: $109,000
Residents of San Diego are aware of the lucky hand they were dealt. It’s difficult not to be when you get to look outside and see your little slice of heaven spread before your eyes. Couple the incredible San Diego weather with the astounding San Diego beaches and you have heaven on earth. Still, that’s not all that San Diego has to boast about.
There are three types of lifestyles that you can adhere to in San Diego, California. Firstly, there’s the beach life that we all like to adopt when we’re on our holiday. Well, some San Diego residents get to live like that 25/7. Secondly, there’s the urban lifestyle, living the glamour life downtown in the middle of everything. Lastly, suburban life fits best with young families that want to protect their children from the hustle and bustle of big city life.
Still, whichever lifestyle you choose, in San Diego you'll have access to world-class dining, incredible entertainment options, and plenty of professional sports to maintain a high level of excitement throughout the year. The number of job opportunities is beckoning for people to relocate there as technology, health care, military and research are the largest industries.
Los Angeles, CA
Median home value: $934,000
Median rent: $2,600
Median household income: $96,000
Welcome to the City of Angels, characterized by many as a glamorous packed business town, but also as a traffic jam of a metropolis. Still, those that live there have a go-to phrase to characterize the city. “Los Angeles is the place where dreams come true.” Outsiders may not be able to understand this mix of free-spirited hope, but Los Angeles residents know that while hope can leave one disappointed if you couple it with relentless determination, you’re on a fast track to success. It’s truly intoxicating, but the path to success is never easy or simple.
Angelenos, the name Los Angeles residents call themselves, are aware that all those good attributes of their city, come with serious negatives. Those traffic jams we mentioned constitute the biggest drawback, but, just consider the fact that the LA highways make it possible to drive between rugged mountains, coastal beaches, secular forests, and scorched deserts within one hour's distance from the city.
The constantly shifting demographics make the city’s job market quite versatile. You can’t say that there’s one industry that’s light years ahead of the others. They all developed organically. Still, the entertainment industry, known only as “the industry” isn’t the only one that’s large. From trade to transportation, utilities, and manufacturing, you’re bound to find a job in Los Angeles regardless of your field of experience. Plenty of real estate agents in Los Angeles CA will be happy to tell you a few tales about their industry if you have time to talk about anything else except housing.
San Francisco, CA
Median home value: $1,545,000
Median rent: $3,200
Median household income: $160,000
From its rich history boasting of relevance for the bohemian lifestyle, LGBTQIA+ rights, and technological advancements, San Francisco managed to become its own universe. There is a different personality exuding from each neighborhood and each comes with its own story. Just take a look at some of them: Mission District has its historic streets, Embarcadero has its bustling piers, Presidio comes with its grassy hills, etc.
The city’s demographics are matched by its multifaceted personality welcoming everyone from any walk of life. From students to retirees, old-time bankers, and young entrepreneurs, they all find their niche, their industry, and their passions. Still, the growing technology industry is attracting more young professionals and their high incomes drive housing prices and rental rates sky-high. This, unfortunately, also impacts the city’s cost of living, but those that live there are highly unlikely to move elsewhere. See what realtors in San Francisco CA can tell you about their housing industry.
San Francisco’s job market is bustling with opportunities. If you take a closer look at the median household income mentioned above it’s easy to see a significant difference between San Francisco and the other cities on our list. It’s simply the fact that most professionals earn significantly more than in other metropolitan areas. While technology made this city expand, grow and thrive, the biggest industry in the city is tourism.
Median home value: $961,000
Median rent: $2.900
Median household income: $108,000
While every other city on this list has its own unique thing that makes it stand out, for Oakland it’s sports. Whether you’re a baseball, basketball, or football fan, you’ll have three professional sports teams to root for: the Warriors, the Raiders, and the A’s. With year-round sports events, you won’t get the chance to cheer your home team in one of the best places to live in California.
But moving away from sports, if that’s not your thing, Oakland is full of diversity, culture, and history as the largest city in the East Bay Region of San Francisco. The mixture of advantageous positioning for import and export through the busiest port in North California and many start-ups, make Oakland the ideal place for many young professionals and entrepreneurs at the start of their careers. The nightlife matches the level of excitement and excitability of the population so no young adult will be disappointed by the quality of entertainment.
If you take into account everything that the state of California has to offer, the opportunities, the entertainment, the quality of life, and the geographical and topological make-up of the state, you can’t help but long to live there. Even if you only own a small holiday home by the beach or in the woods, or maybe you take a rental and spend your winters there. The point is, the amount of charm and splendor visible throughout the state is undeniable. The biggest downturn is the risk of wildfires and the effect they have on the whole state.
Your aspirations may lead you there, but your financial situation will determine whether you get to stay there or not. It’s a tough realization, but yes, California isn’t the most affordable place to live, to say the least. Still, if you find a job there that pays sufficiently to allow for you to live there, go at it. Enjoy the best quality of life available in the Golden State! You earned it.