10 Best Places To Live In California

The "Golden State" of California is one of the richest places in America, both culturally and geographically. With a population of just under 40 million inhabitants, it is the most populated in all of the United States and has one of the largest sub-national economies in the world. From its unique Spanish colonial history and stunning natural wonders to the modern-day Hollywood empire and tech industry innovation, California is one of the world's best destinations to call home. This article looks at the 10 Best Places to live in California. 

San Diego 

San diego
The gorgrous skyline of downtown Los Angeles.

Just a 30-minute drive from the border with Mexico, San Diego is California's second largest urban center and is unofficially known as "America's Finest City." San Diego is a historical and culturally rich city called the "Birthplace of California" and is home to a world-famous surfing scene and miles of golden sandy beaches. First settled by Spanish colonists in the 16th century, the city was formally established in 1769 and maintains a unique historical ambiance. With a bevy of museums, historical sights, and world-class festivals, San Diego is the perfect place to enjoy both natural wonders and human achievement. Visit such sites like Balboa Park (site of the San Diego Zoo) and the Sea World Aquarium and theme park, or just marvel at the plethora of historic buildings, tasty restaurants, and great shopping outlets. And, of course, going for a swim, a surf ride, or sailing with the breezes is always a welcome activity for the adventurous!  

Los Angeles 

Los Angeles, california
Traffic and pedestrians on Hollywood Boulevard at dusk in Los Angeles.

California's largest city and the second largest in the United States, Los Angeles, is one of the most exciting metropolises in North America. Home to a population of just under four million residents, LA is surrounded by the Pacific Coast, valleys, and mountains and is a central hub for great parks, beaches, museums, restaurants, tours, shopping, and so much more! Widely known as the nerve center of Hollywood and the American film industry, LA also hosts world-class theme parks like Disneyland (in nearby Anaheim) and Universal Studios Hollywood. Tourists and residents of the "City of Angels" can also sit back and enjoy the famed California sun, exotic palm trees, and hot climate in a bustling city that never rests. Stay in residential neighborhoods like Beverly Hills or take a stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Living in Los Angeles is a new adventure every day. 


Sacramento, California
Aerial view of the beautiful city of Sacramento, California.

Sacramento is California's capital city and is home to a population of 524,943 residents. Frequently cited by publications as one of the most diverse cities in the United States, Sacramento is more than just a government town. The fastest growing metropolis in California, this city boasts a relatively affordable housing market and a sunny and warm climate that makes it desirable year-round. Sacramento is a wonderful place to live and work and is home to a wide variety of museums, galleries, beautiful green spaces, and vibrant downtown. Attracting students with the campus of Sacramento State University, this capital is also home to the Sacramento Kings basketball team and its passionate fan base. 

Santa Clara 

Santa Clara, California
Sunset view of the street and surrounding buildings near Levi's Stadium in south San Francisco bay area.

A short one-hour drive from San Francisco, the city of Santa Clara, is one of California's most beautiful places. With delightful weather year-round, this city of 127,647 residents lies at the heart of Silicon Valley near San Jose, making it one of the wealthiest urban centers in the Golden State. Founded in 1852, the modern Santa Clara is home to companies like Intel and the campus of Santa Clara University. Full of great cultural diversity, this city also ranks highly for its quality education, low crime rate, and low unemployment rate. Indeed "The Mission City" has something for people of all ages and is a beautiful place to live and work. 


Clovis, California
Aerial view of Clovis. Editorial credit: Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com

Located just 10 kilometers from the city of Fresno, Clovis is a fantastic mid-sized metropolis of 120,000 residents. Known for its affordable housing market, this city offers some of the best living accommodations in California, with a mild climate and high-quality health care services. Situated within the San Joaquin Valley at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Clovis also offers its inhabitants highly ranked primary schooling, with the Clovis Unified School District frequently lauded by education professionals. Indeed for those looking to live in a comfortable community with some of the best amenities around, Clovis may just be the perfect spot. 


German-Swiss settlers founded Holtville in the early 20th century, and today, it is a mid-size town of just under 6,000 inhabitants. Just a short 30-minute drive from the Mexican border, this Southern California city ranks as one of the most affordable places in the State, with plenty of great shopping outlets, restaurants, and cultural institutes. Home to such events like the annual winter Carrot Festival, Holtville also lies on the banks of the Alamo River, and residents can enjoy great weather and plenty of sunshine throughout the year. 


Irvine, California
Aerial view of Irvine, California.

A planned city developed in the 1960s, Irvine forms part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area and is home to a population of 307,670. Its vibrant economy and stable housing market make Irvine attractive for young working professionals and retirees. Irvine is also the site of higher learning institutions like the University of California, Irvine and Irvine Valley College. It has also frequently been used as a filming location for TV and motion pictures. And with more than 40 neighborhood parks, Irvine has plenty of green spaces and relaxing locales where all ages can enjoy a beautiful and charming community. 


Fresno, California
People walk in a park in Fresno, California. Editorial credit: Tupungato / Shutterstock.com

Situated within the San Joaquin Valley, the city of Fresno covers an area of some 300 square kilometers. With an affordable housing market and lower cost of living, Fresno attracts people from all walks of life and is an excellent place for both retirees and young working professionals. Known for its hot summers and mild winter temperatures, this city of 542,000 residents also houses a diverse cultural scene. Fresno is California's fifth largest city and home to a good range of galleries, museums, theatres, tasty diners, and restaurants. Indeed this "Ash Tree" city is a wonderful place to visit, live in, and explore no matter one's background.

San Jose 

San Jose, California
Pedestrian area in downtown San Jose. Editorial credit: Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com

San Jose is indeed a nerve center for Northern California's Silicon Valley, where some of the best in human ingenuity and high-tech innovation come face to face. Spanning an area of 466 square kilometers, San Jose lies on the southern shores of San Francisco Bay and is well known for its cultural diversity, affluent neighborhoods, and year-round warm climate. With a thriving job market, San Jose is also home to some of California's best institutes of higher learning, like San Jose State University. Coupled with great access to modern amenities and a vibrant social scene and sports scene, San Jose is not just a business and tech center but a nice place to potentially call home. 

San Francisco 

San francisco
Historic traditional Cable Cars in a street in San Francisco.

One of the world's most famous cities, San Francisco is widely renowned for its vast natural beauty, iconic landmarks, and even its notoriously cool weather. Situated between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, the city is well known for its charming architecture, steep hills, and historic cable cars. Indeed, whether it is driving or walking, traveling through San Francisco is a delightful experience for the young and old. Residents and visitors can enjoy a wide variety of cultural offerings here, from museums to theatres, to unique restaurants, plenty of shopping, and of course, open park spaces. And when not at iconic sites like the Fisherman's Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, or the famed Alcatraz Island Penitentiary, one can comfortably plan their living here. A major center of economic activity, San Francisco is the proud home of great post-secondary institutes, high-tech innovation, and quality healthcare providers.

Choosing to live in California could be the best decision one decides to make, and with its unique natural beauty and rich cultural offerings, the "Golden State" surely entices many. The most populated State in America, California's cities reflect a wide diversity of goods for the modern 21st-century citizen while still reflecting a most special tie to the past. These cities are amongst the best places to explore, visit, and possibly call home for anyone looking to make California their permanent abode.