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Affordable Places to Live in California: 7 Best Places For 2024

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most affordable places to live in california

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If you know anything about California, you know that it’s one of the most expensive places to live in the entire United States. This is particularly true in areas like San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, where residents regularly pay over $776,600 to live in small houses with small yards. 

But just because many parts of California are expensive doesn’t mean that they all are. There are cheap places to live in California, and they’re not all out in the boonies either. 

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Curious as to the best and most affordable places to live in California? Where is the most affordable place to live in California, you ask? These are the cheapest places to live in California:

  1. Eureka
  2. Bakersfield
  3. Blythe
  4. Clearlake
  5. Chico
  6. Oxnard
  7. Temecula

1. Eureka

Located in northern California, about 270 miles north of San Francisco and about 150 miles south of Oregon’s southern border, Eureka is a coastal city that’s just as beautiful as any California city you’ll find south of it. Much smaller in population than those other cities, it’s home to around 25,781 people. 

The median listing home price in Eureka is around $419,360, a small price to pay compared to the prices in many other California cities. Offering a variety of single-family homes, multiple-family homes, and condos, it has a little something for everyone. 

But you might be wondering: what does Eureka have to offer? Why would you want to live there? 

Well, for one, it’s right on the ocean, sitting next to both the Humboldt and Arcata Bays. As such, it offers beautiful views, not to mention a myriad of aquatic and seaside wildlife. 

It’s also home to Sequoia Park (not to be confused with Sequoia National Park), which consists of humongous redwood trees. Within the park is the Sequoia Park Zoo, the oldest zoo in the state of California. 

There’s also Old Town Eureka, an urban neighborhood consisting of various shops, bars, cafes, coffee shops, restaurants, and Victorian-era homes. This is a great place to walk around while enjoying a pleasant day. 

In truth, Eureka is an outdoors enthusiast’s dream. With its rocky coastline, its massive redwoods, and its ample hiking trails, it’s natural living at its best. 

2. Bakersfield

Located around 115 miles north of Los Angeles, Bakersfield is a city of 416,1131 that’s growing at a rapid rate. Situated on the Kern River, it’s much more rural than cities like Los Angeles or San Diego. 

Most importantly, Bakersfield is cheap . . . really cheap. At present, its median housing cost is just $352,329. That’s staggeringly low for the Golden State, especially for a city that’s so close to Los Angeles County. 

But don’t let that low price tag fool you. Bakersfield is a solid city with plenty for residents to do. In fact, for many, it’s an ideal alternative to California’s bigger cities. 

One of the more interesting attractions in Bakersfield is the California Area Living Museum, a zoo containing animals that are native to the Bakersfield area. 

There’s also the Park at River Walk, a park located on the Kern River, complete with picnic tables, running trails, and the like. This is a great place to exercise, people watch, or just relax on a sunny day. 

For the arts, there’s the Fox Theater. This has everything from musicals to concerts to plays and more. 

On the outskirts of town is a series of mountains. These are covered in hiking trails and lead up to Sequoia National Park, a natural park with otherwordly redwood trees. 

All in all, Bakersfield is a great place to live. It lacks many of the amenities of places like LA but is right on par with nature and outdoor activity. For those who like the outdoors, Bakersfield is a solid choice. 

3. Blythe

Located on the border of California and Arizona, Blythe is a small town situated 225 miles east of Los Angeles and 150 miles west of Phoenix. It has a population of around 16,696

The median housing cost in Blythe is extremely low, especially by California’s standards. At present, it’s around $226,864. 

The best way to describe Blythe would be to call it a desert city. It’s positioned in the Palo Verde Valley, an agricultural region within the Colorado Desert. As such, it’s characterized by desolate, dusty land that is intermittently interrupted by deep blue bodies of water. 

A place like Blythe isn’t for everyone. However, if you’re into outdoor life, it might be right up your alley. It’s certainly a great place to hike as well as a great place to look up at the stars. 

Featuring a few different parks, it offers playgrounds, bodies of water, and scenic views of distant mountains. It also provides a local pool and recreation center. 

Now, Blythe has nowhere near the amenities of a place like Los Angeles. And it’s a good 4 hours to the ocean. But, for its exceedingly low price, it still has quite a bit to offer its residents. 

If you like a slower pace of life and don’t like being surrounded by people all of the time, this could be the ideal town for you. The only trouble you might have is finding a job in the area. 

4. Clearlake

Another exceedingly low-cost place to live in California is the city of Clearlake. Located on Clear Lake, Clearlake is in Lake County, around 110 miles north of San Francisco. 

At present, the median house sale price is around $213,750. That’s an absurdly low price for any home in California and especially for a home that’s located miles away from a beautiful lake. 

Wondering what there is to do in Clearlake? Well, the majority of the activity revolves around the lake itself. This runs the gamut from boating to kayaking to swimming to fishing and more. 

However, there is also some good hiking in Clearlake, as well as in the surrounding communities. Some of the places to hike include Redbud Park, Anderson Marsh State Historic Park, and Konoci County Park. 

Clearlake also offers an attractive downtown area, which is filled with restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops. It’s a great place to walk, relax, and just people watch. 

It’s important to note, though, that Clearlake has more of a town vibe than a city vibe. It’s home to just
16,684 residents
, though it does see some tourist attention year-round. 

If you like a small-town atmosphere and being outside, Clearlake is a great place to live. Like in Blythe, however, the key is to find a job in the area. There isn’t tons of work in Clearlake or the surrounding communities. 

5. Chico

Hometown to NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Chico is a city of around 100,463located in northern California. Located around 85 miles north of Sacramento and around 150 miles northeast of San Francisco, it offers an interesting mix of urban and rural, making it a great spot for people who love the outdoors but don’t want to give up city amenities entirely. 

The median house sale price in Chico is around $465,277. For a relatively large urban area in California, that’s downright low. 

And the job market in and around Chico is nothing to shake a stick at. Not only does Chico itself provide a good number of high-earning jobs but so too do surrounding Chico and Sacramento (though there is a decent commute involved with both). 

As far as things to do in Chico go, there are many. Chico is home to ample restaurants, breweries, cafes, and coffee shops. It’s also home to attractions like the Gateway Science Museum and the Chico Air Museum. 

Natural attractions include Bidwell-Sacramento State Park, Bidwell Park, and Sycamore Pool. These include everything from rock formations to bodies of water to desert areas and more. 

There is also several parks located throughout the city, in addition to a dirt-track auto speedway and a variety of historic sites. 

In short, Chico is a great place to live. It has a bit of everything and is safe and friendly to boot. If you can find employment in the area, it’s an excellent place to call home. 

6. Oxnard 

Another of many affordable places to buy a home in California is Oxnard, a coastal city of 198,586 located about an hour northwest of Los Angeles. While it’s not cheap by most standards, it’s a steal by coastal Southern California standards. 

The median home sale price in Oxnard is around $741,282. Note, though, that you can find homes as low as $450,000 and condos for even less than that. That’s about as affordable as you’re going to get for a residence next to the ocean just an hour from Los Angeles. 

Wondering what there is to do in Oxnard? Well, there’s the ocean, obviously. It’s great for fishing, boating, swimming, and sunbathing, to name just a few activities. 

In addition to that, Oxnard offers a variety of museums, parks, eateries, and drinking establishments. These drinking establishments include bars, breweries, and wine cellars. 

Downtown Oxnard has a classic feel, characterized by houses and buildings from a variety of eras. For instance, you might see a Victorian-era home on one corner and a 50s-era department store on the other. 

Extremely safe and laid-back, Oxnard is a terrific place to call home. So, while it might still err on the expensive side, it’s well worth the cost, especially when you compare it to some of the other towns and cities in Southern California.

7. Temecula

We’ll end our list with Temecula, a city of 113,4911 located around 85 miles southeast of Los Angeles and around 60 miles north of San Diego. A popular resort destination, it’s famous for its wine. 

Like Oxnard, Temecula can still be fairly expensive. Its median house sale price is around $707,000. However, it has 2-bedroom homes for as little as $350,000 and 3-bedroom homes for as little as $450,000. 

That’s a small price to pay for a home that’s in close proximity to both Los Angeles and San Diego. The ocean’s not far away either and can be reached in about an hour. 

The median household income in Temecula is approximately $112,000, and there is a good amount of decent and high-paying jobs to support families and individuals. 

Curious about things to do in Temecula? Well, it’s located in the heart of Southern California’s Wine Country. As such, there are countless wine cellars, wineries, and vineyards to frequent. 

There’s also Old Town Temecula, a preserved area of the city that allows you to catch a glimpse of its Old West past. It’s lined with shops and restaurants.

Additional attractions include Pechanga Casino, a children’s museum, and a variety of parks. There is also a bevy of places to hike in the area, including at the Temecula Creek Trail Park and the Temecula to DeLuz Lookout Trail. 

So, if you’re a wine aficionado, or if you’re looking to get into the wine industry, come to Temecula. It offers an exceedingly high standard of living while keeping you close to all that Southern California has to offer. 

Take advantage of the most affordable places to live in California

California is a beautiful state characterized by tons of amenities and near-perfect weather. Even its cheapest locales have a lot to offer. As such, if you’re seeking out a new town or city, you would be wise to take advantage of the most affordable places to live in California. 

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