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Soak Up the Sun in the Golden State: 10 Cheapest Cities to Live in California

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California’s charm is indescribable. California is not a place, it’s a feeling. It is almost as if God has conspired California to be a window to the heavens. It is bestowed with the best of nature’s allure; redwood jungles in the north to the sun-kissed beaches in the south, California is the place which everyone dreams of.

California has also been the forbearer of the next big thing, be it in tech, fashion or cinema. No matter in what part of America you live, you have always dreamt of living in California. However, living the dream could cost you a fortune

The sad part is that California is also the costliest state to live in the U.S.A. But it is not that you can’t live in California unless you are filthy rich.

You may also like: Pay Less and Enjoy More: 15 Cities With Healthy Job Markets and Affordable Rents

We have browsed through various sources mainly the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and the AreaVibes, and have come up with a run-down of cheapest places to live in California.

All the below-listed places were evaluated on these parameters; the cost of living, housing, amenities, and employment.

1. Irvine

Irvine not only tops the chart of most livable cities of California but it is arguably the most livable city in all of US. Its livability score on Areavibes is 82 which places it in the 96 percentile slab when compared to all other cities of America. Moreover, Irvine has got an ‘A’ across various parameters such as amenities, employment, housing, and schools, etc.

The cost of living is a touch too edgy for anyone’s liking, however, this city has got relentless support or public schools and higher education which is a gem amid contemporary student loan debt crisis. Further, the 4% unemployment rate compared to the Californian average of 5.5% makes it one of the favorite cities of the Golden State.

2. Fullerton

Fullerton embraces diversity like no other. With about a quarter of the population as Hispanic and well over 30% people familiar with Spanish, you would for once believe that you have been teleported to the boulevards of medieval Madrid.

The essence of the name Fullerton has trickled down to its qualities; it is denser than most cities in California, it has got nine different plush green parks within a distance of 1 mile from each other.

The city is dotted with at least a dozen libraries and many book shops. With good scores (on Area Vibes) for education, weather and employment, and a lower median housing value than the most Orange County cities, Fullerton is one of the cheapest cities in California to live in.

3. Costa Mesa

Living in Costa Mesa can be a quite rewarding experience. The city of Costa Mesa is in close proximity to Orange County Fair, South Coast Plaza, and Pacific Amphitheatre. The list of amazing local amenities and interesting things to do runs long for Costa Mesa.

With considerably lower crime rates than the like of Los Angeles and San Francisco and a higher median household income compared to the most of the cities of California, Costa Mesa could easily top the charts of most livable cities on the west coast.

4. Seal Beach

Seal Beach, is more of a retirement friendly place than one of the cheapest place to live in California. The average age of residents of Seal Beach is 58 and if you are looking for a family-friendly city, look no further.

Besides being home to the global giant Boeing, Seal Beach also boasts about having one of the lowest median housing values in California i.e. $300,400 which is 25% lower than the rest of California (combined median).

Seal Beach boasts a tight-knit local community. When the pier needed major renovation, the community interceded and raised the required amount.

Further, the Area Vibes rates Seal Beach as A+ in terms of Schools.

5. Cypress

You won’t find a list of Cheapest places to live in California without Cypress in it. Cypress ranks high on AreaVibes livability scale. The weather here is best of both the worlds with green enclosures all around nullifying the effect of the Californian heat. Cypress has lower crime rates than most of the places in this list and a relatively higher median household income.

6. Placentia

With a 46% lower crime rate than other cities in the Golden State, Placentia is undisputedly the most family-friendly city in the region. It has a high average household income of around $80,000 which is considerably higher than San Diego.

It was deemed as the second -best place to live according to The Orange County Register. Placentia has several beautiful lakes on the outskirts and soothingly warm weather.

7. Rancho Santa Margarita

Rancho Santa Margarita has a whopping 94% graduation rate. Despite the unbelievingly high median household income of $100,000, it still holds its small-town feel. The city’s local business has played a pivotal role in its development since the dawn of the 21st century.

Rancho Santa Margarita ranks very well for amenities (A+), crime (A+), weather (A+), education (A) and employment (A-). However, the cost of living is a sphere the city needs to buck up.

8. Murrieta

Murrieta is a bustling town in Riverside County. Its population doubled up over the last decade which means that many people are relocating to Murrieta. It had to make to our list because its housing value is extremely low at an average of $286,600.

It also has a lower crime rate compared to the most cities of California and the cost of living isn’t bad either. The median home income of $76.167 suggests that the locals here have decent enough avenues to make money.

9. Bakersfield

The 9th largest city of California is a two-hour drive from Hollywood. Bakersfield is being swarmed by families which seek affordable living and jobs in the areas mushrooming agriculture sector.

The city not only boasts about its family-friendly vibe but it takes much pride in the Bakersfield sound which rose to the surface after Merle Haggard graced it.

10. Anaheim

Home to the Disneyland, Anaheim barely needs any introduction. With beautiful summer temperatures and great sightseeing opportunities nearby, Anaheim has got a lot to offer than what you can think of.

Further, one of the lowest housing values in the Orange County cities, Anaheim stands out as a fairly affordable place to live in.

Now that you know that dancing to beats of California Dreamin’ doesn’t have to cost a fortune, you should do your homework before making a move to any of the above-listed cities. Your choice would depend on the requirements of your family and you would weigh different aspects depending on how critical they are to your family. For instance, if you have young lads/lasses in your family, you would want to move to a city which is rated A or an A+ in terms of schooling.


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