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10 Best Places to Live in California

October 24th, 2019 - 2:39 PM

The Best Cities in California: 2019

Whether you’re looking for sunny days, rolling Pacific waves, a vibrant cultural scene, savory international cuisine, or endless entertainment possibilities — California has it. You just have to look in the right place. Take a look at the 10 best places to live in California in 2019 (in alphabetical order). Some made the list because of things like amenities and activities, while others offer affordability and a healthy job market. 

  1. Davis
  2. El Dorado Hills
  3. Fresno
  4. Laguna Hills
  5. Los Angeles
  6. Palo Alto
  7. Sacramento
  8. San Diego
  9. San Francisco
  10. Santa Monica

 

Garden in Davis, California during fall.

Davis

Davis is a budding technology hub that’s a ripe location for those seeking work in that field. It’s a tightly-knit community that’s home to the University of California-Davis and a several tech-based companies. Davis boasts more than 50 miles of bike paths, 31 public parks and 450-plus acres of developed landscaping, which enhances the city’s overall beauty. Neighborhoods here are safe and there are plenty of kid-friendly activities to choose from, making it an excellent place for families. Plus, Davis’ art galleries and performing arts venues make it a pleasant spot for creatives and cultural entertainment seekers. 

Biggest draws

  • Great weather
  • Appealing to those seeking tech-centered employment
  • Culturally rich
  • Small-town feel with big-city refinement

 

The sun sets over Lake Folsom in El Dorado Hills, California.

El Dorado Hills

El Dorado Hills is a picturesque city located 40 minutes east of Sacramento. It’s one of the most popular places in Northern California to work and raise a family. Residents here enjoy the lush hillside beauty and a comfortable way of life. This is thanks in part to a low crime rate and a high median household income of around $126,500. The city has three school districts and offers more than 200 acres of public parks and recreational spaces. 

Biggest draws 

  • Lots of outdoor recreational space
  • High median household income
  • Good schools
  • Low crime rate 

 

The skyline of downtown Fresno is seen here on an overcast spring afternoon.

Fresno

Attention, adventure seekers: Don’t sleep on Fresno! Take advantage of the area’s natural surroundings, with an abundance of mountain ranges and national parks at your disposal. The city has affordable home prices, good schools and lighter traffic than in larger surrounding metros. While Fresno sits midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles (and is within roughly 200 miles of each), it offers a more laid-back lifestyle than those cities. Fresnans work in a variety of industries from agriculture and forestry to manufacturing and textiles. 

Biggest draws

  • Easy access to outdoor adventure
  • Reasonably-priced alternative to bigger cities
  • Strong job market
  • Appealing to young families

 

Homes in Laguna beach are seen in the distance behind wildflowers growing in a field.

Laguna Hills

In this Orange County city, you’ll get the signature California weather, but will enjoy lower crime rates, a slower way of life, shorter commutes and a closer-knit community than some of the other cities in the surrounding area. Laguna Hills has a population of only around 31,000, so you can escape from the crowds and the big city hustle and bustle, while still being within driving distance to the amenities there. The city is also home to a large retirement community, but is good for families, too (Disneyland is only a half-hour away). It has a growing job market, a low unemployment rate, and lots of natural beauty which provides picturesque views year-round. Residents in Laguna Hills work in a variety of fields like innovative technology, agriculture and bioscience, and health care, to name a few. 

Biggest draws

  • Small town with access to big city amenities
  • Just a few minutes away from Laguna Beach and Dana Point Harbor
  • Great weather all year long
  • Family- and retiree-friendly location

 

Skyscrapers in downtown Los Angeles, with palm trees lining Pershing Square in the foreground, are seen on a clear, sunny California day.

Los Angeles

L.A. is the second-largest city in the country and home to nearly 4 million people. Its diverse culture and economy makes it a great place to live and work if you’re a fashionista, a creative or just a dreamer! The city has a seemingly endless amount of food, dining and entertainment options, so there’s no shortage of things to do. Residents work in the entertainment and service sectors, along with fields like aerospace technology, agriculture and biosciences, and transportation, to name a few.

Biggest draws

  • Plenty of entertainment and dining options
  • Deep, diverse job market
  • A variety of housing options
  • Good weather year-round

 

Palm trees line the streets of Palo Alto, California.

Palo Alto

Palo Alto is a beautiful city located in the heart of Silicon Valley. Many leading tech companies (including Tesla and Hewlett Packard) have headquarters here. That means Palo Alto is another choice landing spot if you work in the tech field. If you’re moving with kids, it’s worth noting that the area’s school district often receives high rankings. Looking for higher education opportunities? Palo Alto is home to prestigious Stanford University. It’s one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. (with median home prices averaging $1.7 million), but residents here are among the highest educated in the country.  

Biggest draws

  • A prime location for tech industry workers
  • Beautiful weather
  • Highly-ranked public school system
  • Offers scenic views and a suburban feel

 

The well-lit Tower Bridge crosses over the Sacramento River, which shows the reflection of the city lights at night into the heart of downtown Sacramento.

Sacramento

Sacramento, California’s capital city, has a population of more than 500,000 people. The city has a moderate climate, with mild winters and hot summers. Residents here work in a variety of fields, from federal and local government to health care and education. With a median home price of around $287,600 and an average household income of about $54,600, the cost of living here is manageable by California standards. Sacramento has an emerging food scene, and there are many cultural activities and other things to see and do. If you’re looking for a quick getaway, Sacramento’s proximity to the Bay Area, the Napa Valley and Lake Tahoe make it an attractive option. 

Biggest draws

  • Good quality of life
  • Centrally located
  • Family-oriented environment
  • Healthy economy and job market

 

A sailboat glides across the water in the foreground, with the skyline of San Diego in the background, set against a cloudy day.

San Diego

San Diego is the second-largest city in California with a population of nearly 1.5 million. The city sees beautiful, sunny days year-round, and offers residents many enjoyable leisure options. If you’re moving for work, San Diego has become a hotbed for biotech and computer science; many of the city’s leading employers are in those fields, as well as defense and engineering. For entertainment, watch the Padres play downtown at Petco Park, walk the harbor at the Embarcadero, or take a stroll along the beautiful coastline. While it’s a stretch to call San Diego affordable — median home prices hover around $590,000 and rent tops out around $2,000 a month — there are many housing opportunities and high-paying jobs in the area. 

Biggest draws

  • Good job market
  • Plentiful housing opportunities
  • Lots of amenities
  • Diverse shopping and dining options

 

Two cable cars travel along a hilly street in San Francisco on a hazy morning, as the sun rises in the background.

San Francisco

San Francisco is home to 885,000 people. This hilly city has a temperate climate in which you’ll regularly experience fog and cool breezes off the bay, mixed in with mild weather. It has some well-known tourist attractions and more than 3,400 restaurants. San Francisco also has great kid-friendly activities like museums, the aquarium, the zoo, the beach, hiking and skiing. Home prices and rent here can be steep, but the city offers many housing options and plenty of picturesque, family-friendly neighborhoods. Popular industries here include insurance and financial services, international trade, tourism and service. 

Biggest draws

  • Family-friendly city
  • Robust job market
  • Safe neighborhoods
  • Great dining and entertainment options

 

The Ferris wheel and other attractions are lit up on the Santa Monica Pier with the lights reflecting off of the ocean and the beach at night.

Santa Monica

Santa Monica is a coastal city west of downtown L.A. It offers ideal weather, fun nightlife and a lot of outdoor activities. It’s also known for an excellent public school system and great neighborhoods. Residents here work in fields like tourism, hospitality and creative services, so you’ll love it if you’re raising a young family or are a sociable young professional. The city is also environmentally progressive with its “Go Green in Santa Monica” initiative that helps promote eco-friendliness and environmental sustainability. People here are active and enjoy biking, surfing and running. 

Biggest draws

  • A physically active community
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Unique, diverse job market
  • Great weather 

Which city in California do you think is the best place to live?

Let us know in the comments what city appeals most to you! 

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