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Cheapest Places to Live in California

cheapest places to live in california

Are you planning to move to a new part of the United States?

With endless days of flawless sunshine, it should come as no surprise that California is the top tourist state in the USA. Combining stunning natural beauty with vibrant cities, this is a great place to soak up the sun.

California is home to many fascinating cities, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles. However, although these are great places to explore and have fun, the cost of living tends to be quite high.

So, let’s take a look at the cheapest places to live in California and what they have to offer.

Great Cheap Places to Live in California


Clearlake is set on the shores of Clear Lake, which is the largest natural freshwater lake in the state. This small city has just over 16,600 residents and is a haven for nature lovers. Clearlake also boasts a thriving wine scene, and wine tasting is also a very popular activity here.

Not only is this one of the most affordable places to live in California, but it’s also one of the prettiest. The median home price is around $200,000. Plus, there is a range of accommodation options and styles. With San Francisco just 2.5 hours away by car, the big city is also within easy reach.


Other attractions of Clearlake to know about…

Exploring the scenic trails that run through Clear Lake State Park is a popular activity among both visitors and residents. Fishing is also a popular pastime, and the lake is teeming with crappie, largemouth bass, and bluegill. The tranquil waters are also perfect for swimming and other aquatic activities, such as kayaking. 

Several gourmet restaurants can be found in the historic downtown district, which also includes an eclectic collection of shops.


Situated in the Central Valley, this small city has a population of just over 400,000 residents. The median home price is around $315,000. And there are plenty of affordable options available. The bright lights of Los Angeles can be found just a two-hour drive from Bakersfield.

The city includes a rapidly growing arts and cultural scene, which showcases Basque cuisine and culture. Food lovers will find plenty to explore here, while the Arts District boasts interesting museums and antique shops. A large number of cultural events are held in the downtown district throughout the year to celebrate the city’s cultural diversity.

And nature lovers?

Yes, nature lovers will also feel right at home here as the area is surrounded by intense natural beauty. Wind Wolves Preserve has scenic hiking trails that are just waiting to be explored. Plus, the lakeside campgrounds beckon residents who want to unwind in nature.


Fresno is located in the heart of California in the fertile Central Valley area. It’s a fast-growing city that still maintains its rural charm. The Sierra Nevada Mountains and Yosemite, King’s Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks are all located within a 90-minute drive from the city center.

The city has several excellent museums. These include the Fresno Art Museum and the Fresno Metropolitan Museum of Art, History, and Science. Forestiere Underground Gardens is the life work of a former New York Subway worker. It contains more than ten acres of elaborate subterranean rooms and gardens. 


Any nightlife?

Oh yes, the Tower District has a vibrant nightlife scene and is packed with shops, bars, and restaurants. The Tower Theater screens free movies on the lawn every Tuesday night. It is a popular place for residents to gather. 

Fresno is also a popular and affordable location for nature lovers. Just 45 miles northeast of the city is the Sierra National Forest. It’s dotted with lakes, wildflower meadows, peaks, and deep canyons. This is the perfect place to take part in activities like hiking, skiing, and kayaking. Or even sailing, fishing, swimming, and camping!

The population of Fresno is just over half a million. And the median home price is $300,000, and there is a wide range of available properties. Plus, the city of Los Angeles can be reached in less than two hours by car. 


The historic town of Eureka is famous for its enchanting Queen Anne Victorian homes, such as the Carson House. With its population of just over 26,600 people, Eureka enjoys a close-knit community. The median home price here is around $360,000. 

Eureka is set in Humboldt Country between the vibrant Oregano city of Portland and San Francisco. Both these cities make excellent day trip destinations and are packed with interesting attractions. Lush hiking trails also surround Eureka, and hiking and camping are popular activities among residents.

The best part?

The waterfront area is filled with interesting attractions, including maritime museums and curiosity shops. Taking a boat tour is a popular activity among both visitors to Eureka and seasoned residents. And people who have a sweet tooth are sure to enjoy checking out the town’s artisanal chocolate shops. 

The charming town of Arcata is located just across Humboldt Bay from Eureka. The town is home to Humboldt State University as well as the 154-acre Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. Arcata is surrounded by rivers, lakes, and towering trees and is the perfect place to unwind for a while. There are also numerous opportunities for year-round recreation, from golfing to camping to extreme sports.


With a population of just under 400,000 people, Stockton is a relatively small city located just seventy miles from the coast. While the city is steeped in history, it is also a haven for nature lovers. The median home price here is around $400,000. 

One of the main features of the city is the vibrant Stockton Marina. The waterfront area is a great place to take a stroll and pause to listen to live music. Regular farmers’ markets are held here. And there are numerous other attractions to explore there. For example, Oak Grove Regional Park is the perfect place to hang out on a sunny day. 


A great place for music lovers…

Lovers of live music are sure to feel right at home in Stockton. The city is also home to the Stockton Symphony, which is the state’s third-oldest professional orchestral. While Stockton Arena is frequented by several sports teams, entertainers like Bob Dylan, Carrie Underwood, and Gwen Stefani also regularly perform here. 


Established in 1890 as a freight town, Clovis is also known as the Gateway to the Sierra. The small city is set at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which beckon outdoor adventurers. The population of Clovis is just 120,000, and the median home price is around $420,000. 

Clovis is a great affordable relocation option for young families with its wide range of family-friendly entertainment options to enjoy. The downtown district is scattered with museums and theaters, as well as excellent shopping opportunities. There are also plenty of pretty parks for families to discover. 

Love family waterfall visits?

Yosemite National Park is just a short drive away, and this is a popular day trip destination among residents. This large and lovely park includes an impressive area of mountains and valleys filled with waterfalls, meadows, and forests of giant sequoias. Typified by towering cliffs, lofty peaks, and high waterfalls, the park is world-famous for its breathtaking natural scenery.  

A visit to Yosemite can easily be combined with a trip to King’s Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Featuring similar forests and breathtaking views, these parks tend to be much less crowded. 


Can you believe that the capital of California is still one of the cheapest places to live in California?

That’s right!

Sacramento is a rapidly expanding city that somehow manages to retain its relaxed atmosphere. The city’s art deco and post-modern skyscrapers blend magnificently with the leafy, tree-lined streets. As well as the refined Victorian-era edifices. Sacramento is also the gateway to Gold Country. A number of museums and living monuments pay tribute to the era.

Sacramento is surrounded by rivers and dikes and is split into downtown, Midtown, and East Sacramento. Old Sacramento is sandwiched between downtown and the Sacramento River. Front Street is also part of Old Sacramento and hosts vibrant museums, shops, and charming cobbled streets.

Old Sacramento stretches along the river and contains historic buildings, shops, and restaurants. There are also saloons and cobbled streets complete with horse-drawn carriages. Here, you can cruise down the river or cycle along its shady banks. Rafting on the clear, blue water of the American River is also a popular activity.

And the cost of a house?

The average home price in Sacramento is $435,000. The city houses just over half a million people and boasts excellent schools and amenities. San Francisco can be reached in around ninety minutes by car and makes an excellent day trip destination. 


Next, on my rundown of the Cheapest Places to Live in California, Chico is one of the fastest-growing cities in the state and has a population of a little over 102,000. There are still plenty of affordable accommodation options here, with the median home price being around $425,000. 

The city is home to Chico State University, and the downtown district has a lovely vibrant atmosphere. There are plenty of college-style bars, reasonably-priced eateries, and foodie hotspots to check out. Lovers of live music will also find a diverse music scene that is just waiting to be enjoyed. 

Lassen Volcanic National Park is just a short drive away and is just waiting to be explored. The park includes a landscape of volcanic wonders, including mud pots, steam vents, boiling pools, lava flows, and pinnacles. The landscape is also set with scenic mountain peaks, peaceful forests, and pristine lakes.

Are there active volcanos?

No, Lassen Peak erupted in 1915, and minor eruptions continued only until 1921, shaping the unique and dramatic landscape of the park today. More than 150 miles of trails run through the park, ranging from challenging overnight hikes to half-hour gentle strolls. You can hike to the summit of Lassen Peak, climb up Cinder Cone, and wander through enchanting thermal areas. 


With a population of just 212,000 people, the small city of Fontana has a strong community feel. It was established as a rural town and became a flourishing community just after World War II. The city is surrounded by intense natural beauty and is a great place to take waterfall hikes. Route 66 runs past the edge of Fontana, and one of the most famous features is Bono’s Historic Orange. 


One of the great things about choosing to move to Fontana is that Los Angeles is located just 46 miles away. So, if you work in the big city, you can easily commute each day. The median home price in Fontana is $500,000, which makes it much more affordable than living in Los Angeles. 


Set on the edge of the stunning Lagoon Valley Park, Vacaville welcomes nature lovers from all walks of life. The historic downtown area is packed with diverse restaurants, museums, and other interesting attractions. There are also numerous attractions to explore in nearby Wine Country and Walnut Creek. 

The city of San Francisco can be reached in less than an hour, which makes it possible to commute. This makes it easy to enjoy all that this vibrant city has to offer without paying sky-high housing prices. The median home price in Vacaville is around $500,000, while there are also much cheaper options available


Located just 60 miles west of downtown LA, Oxnard is another popular place for commuters to choose to make their home. This is one of the most affordable places to live on the West Coast, and the median home price is $635,000. The population is around 207,000 and is steadily increasing.

This small coastal city reveals seven miles of pure white sand beaches to unwind on. The picturesque harbor provides quick and easy access to the stunning Channel Islands National Park. And wandering through Oxnard’s Heritage Square is the perfect way to explore the city’s Victorian-era architecture. 


Day trips?

The coastal city of Santa Barbara is a popular day trip destination. Santa Barbara’s Spanish-Mexican heritage can be seen in the architectural style of the mission, courthouse, and many homes and public buildings. This is the perfect place to relax on white-sand beaches and soak up the sun.

Planning to Relocate to California?

If so, we have a lot more to share with you! Find out How to Get a Work Permit in California and How Long Does USPS Forward Mail after you’ve moved homes.

Then, if you’re going to need to find a job in California, we have comprehensive guides to the California Family Fitness Application and California’s Great America Application processes if you’re interested.

But many California residents prefer flexible or remote work in 2023…

Find out How Flexible Work Benefits Companies and Employees, and then take advantage of our in-depth guide to using LinkedIn Cold Messages: How to Reach Out About a Job.

Or perhaps you’d like to browse Government Agencies With Remote Jobs and Flexible WorkCompanies That Hire for Remote Software Engineer Jobs, the Best Remote Transcription Jobs That Pay WellCompanies That Hire for Remote Editing Jobs, and the Best Remote Job Boards?

We can even answer, Can A Felon Move to Another State? Simply use our search facility to find the best answers to your California relocation questions.

Ok, back to today’s relocation query…

Final Thoughts

One of the great things about choosing to live in a cheaper part of the state is that you’ll have a travel budget!

 California boasts a number of interesting national parks to explore, such as the Joshua Tree National Park. Yosemite National Park is another great place to get back to nature and unwind for a while.

The state is also blessed with a large number of beautiful sandy beaches and amusement parks. So, if you have kids, they are sure to love spending the day at one of the state’s world-famous theme parks. Los Angeles and San Francisco also make great day trip destinations, and there is plenty to see and do.

Happy home hunting!

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