The last two years spent in a pandemic drove many people eastward. The move to online work allowed employees to spread their wings and explore other pastures. Whether it was taking their work on the road, or seeking new opportunities, many Californians headed out of the state.
That left a changing housing market to those remaining or finally ready to make their California Dream a reality. With low inventory and mortgage rates, the market is booming in The Golden State. If it feels a bit overwhelming – don’t give up. Your perfect home is out there! We’ll help you find the best city for you.
A list of the best cities in California would never be complete without San Francisco. Diverse, vibrant, and culturally rich, SF has won the hearts of many around the globe. This city has it all: history, art, architecture, technology, great food and coffee, nightlife, outdoor activities, and so much more, you can find it all in San Francisco.
With a deep and important history in the LGBTQ rights movements, this is one of the most open and friendly cities in the country. You’ll find progressive perspectives and an embracing social scene paving the way for a lot of diversity. Top that off with great schools and a thriving job market, and it’s easy to see why many people find favor with SF.
Despite being one of the most popular cities in California, San Francisco has strict zoning laws. While protecting the city from an influx of new buildings leading to more congestion, it has increased housing scarcity and kept prices high. Sure, you’ll earn more in SF than in other cities, but your dollar won’t go as far as it might in other places.
The capital of the state is a best-kept secret. While many people flock to major coastal cities, Sacramento holds its mix of modern and old-world charm. Sacramento spans the banks of the confluence between two rivers and hearkens back to the Gold Rush era. Wooden walkways and wagon rides span the city with several museums to take you (and your visitors, once you become a local) on a journey through the history of gold and railways in the area.
Here, you’ll find a lot of fitness-minded people who embrace the outdoors and have a down-to-earth attitude. Go for a stroll along the riverbank, hit up one of the many farmers’ markets, and check out some live local music. With a cost of living lower than many other major Californian cities, you can enjoy the laidback outdoorsy lifestyle without breaking the bank.
Ahh, the “American Riviera”. Santa Barbara is truly a paradise. With a coastal vibe and great weather all year round, there’s little more you could ask for. And it’s all within a couple of hours of Los Angeles.
This beautiful place has all you want from a city, with all of the comforts of the California coast. To the west is the Pacific Ocean. To the east, the Santa Ynez mountains. There are great events year-round in Santa Barbara, including the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and the Old Spanish Days Fiesta. With less than 100,000 people, you can get a small-town vibe from this popular city.
Of course, you’ll also find Californian city prices when it comes to house hunting. The median home sale price is above $1 million, and many golf- or ocean-loving people make this their second home. Great weather, great food, plenty of outdoor activities, and great schools make this an excellent place for families.
Heading south from Santa Barbara is a city that needs little introduction: Los Angeles. Think LA is just Hollywood, celebrities, and sports teams? If that’s your idea of this vibrant city, you’re missing out.
Ever-changing, there’s never a dull moment in this city. No matter what you’re after, you’ll find it here. Unless, of course, you’re into rough weather. With 284 days of sun per year, you’ll have to love the warm weather – or learn to.
LA is a massive city with all of the variety, charm, and frustrations (hello, traffic jams!) that come along with it. But it’s not all urban sprawl. Head to the gorgeous beaches to enjoy the sun, surf, and people-watching. Feel like hiking? Head to Runyon Canyon, Griffith Park, or even get further out of town for a wide variety of trails for any fitness level.
You’ll find cuisines from cultures around the world, reflecting the diversity in the population. LA attracts people from every corner of the globe, whether it’s to make it big in the film or TV industry, or just to blend in amongst the diverse and accepting social atmosphere here. Whatever you are, you can be it in Los Angeles.
Originally little more than a stop along the Central Pacific Railroad, Fresno has flourished as a city with a lot to offer. This metropolitan area is surrounded by farmland, bringing a unique mix of city vibes and agricultural work.
You don’t have to be a farmer to move to Fresno, however. You’ll find a wide-ranging job market here, with lower house and rental prices than in other metro areas in the state. As the city has gotten more popular, recreational activities have grown as well. There are outdoor spaces, plenty of nightlife, and a vibrant dining scene.
Like to spend time close to nature? You won’t have to travel far. The northern border of Fresno has the San Joaquin River where you can enjoy time in natural surroundings. Head 20 miles north and you reach Millerton Lake, a popular spot for boating, fishing, and picnicking. Housing costs are below the national average and the hunt is less cutthroat than in other parts of California.
Napa Valley may be the place that comes to mind when you think of California wine country, but there’s more to it than that. The city of Temecula is located inland, an hour from San Diego and ninety minutes from LA. If you’re looking for massive modern high rises or bustling subway stations, you’re looking in the wrong place. If vineyards, rolling hills, and beautiful weather is your style, you’ve come to the right place.
There’s a low unemployment rate here, and a thriving leisure scene. Living in Temecula, you’re sure to get a lot of visitors ready to go for wine tastings, play a round of golf, or even check out the landscape from above on a hot air balloon trip. There are great schools for families looking to be near the city but away from the hustle.
This is the other Dublin, though it holds on to its connection to its Irish roots. Here, you’ll find shamrocks displayed throughout the city, and each year the St Patrick’s Day festival draws people from all around to have authentic Irish food.
More than Irish influence, Dublin is a haven for outdoorsy types. There are many parks and walking trails to choose from, offering opportunities for families and individuals to enjoy the great outdoors. Feel like soaking up the city vibes, or venturing in for some interesting events? Dubliners can easily hop on public transport and venture into San Francisco within an hour’s train ride.