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Top 10 Places to Live in California

Written by: Lindsay Shugerman

April 20, 2012
Filed Under Places 

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Contributed by Lindsay Shugerman, Catalogs.com Top 10 Guru

Top 10 places to live in California State Capital Building

Ah, the California lifestyle. Beaches. Stars. Hollywood.

Wait! There’s a lot more to California than Hollywood! This is actually a great state for people who don’t have their sights on the silver screen, too. Whether you’re a techie, a lover of the outdoors, a business person or just a family looking for a great state to call home, California has the right city for you.

Here’s our top ten list of places to live in California no matter what your star quality might be.

10. Saratoga

Top 10 places to live in California. Saratoga

Combine the hip vibe of Northern California, great wineries, amazing shopping and a decidedly small town feel, and you’ll have Saratoga, California.

First settled by Europeans back in the late 1840′s, this once industrial and mill-based town is now the bedroom community of choice for many of San Jose’s well-paid technology professionals. Crime is low, and schools are rated as some of the best in the state. But with CNN’s rating of this as one of the highest earning communities in the U.S., housing is expensive. A single family home in this geeky, trendy suburb averages $979,880.

Population: 29,926
Median resident age: 47.8 years
Median household income: $140,283
Median house or condo value: over $916,644

9. Hesperia

Top 10 places to live in California Hesperia

Imagine a city in California that’s withing 25 miles of several major universities and colleges, offers stunning scenery, has a good selection of shopping, good schools, and single family homes just over $300,000. If that sounds too good to be true, you haven’t checked out Hesperia. Located in the Mojave Desert, about 25 miles from Loma Linda and about 17 miles from San Bernadino,

No, this is not one of the towns that readily comes to mind when people talk about where to live in California. But that’s probably one of the reasons it’s still affordable. Unemployment is high here, so make sure you have a solid source of income before moving to Hesperia…this is not a town to choose if job-hunting is in your future.

Population: 90,173
Median resident age: 30.5 years
Median household income: $47,307
Median house or condo value: $169,700

8. Los Altos Hills

Top 10 places to live in California los altos hills

Just 35 miles from San Francisco and 17 miles from San Jose lies the community of Los Altos Hills. This suburban community to the nearby tech industry offers residents a smaller town feel while remaining within easy commuting distance to major employers.

Top schools, low crime and exceptional access to world-class shopping, arts, and the wine country make this one of the top 10 places to live in California. But living in this town demands the high salaries of the nearby Silicon Valley companies. An average single family home now goes for $1,190,097.

Population: 7,922
Median resident age: 50.2 years
Median household income: $218,016
Median house or condo value: over $916,644

7. San Marino

Top 10 places to live in California San Marino

If you love historic architecture and breath-taking gardens, San Marino might just be the perfect California town for you. No track houses or cookie-cutter developments here. Most of the homes in San Marino were built between 1920 and the late 1950′s and residents take pride in keeping them true to their historic roots.

Located near Los Angeles, this town of about 13,000 has none of the plastic feel of its glitzy neighbor. Crime is low, and neighbors know each other…a unique experience for the L.A. area. But as with most of California, housing is high. A single family home here just brushes the million dollar mark. No Dorothy. we’re definitely not in Kansas any more!

Population: 13,147
Median resident age: 45.3 years
Median household income: $159,424
Median house or condo value: $845,757

6. El Centro

Top 10 places to live in California el centro

This California town bills itself as the place where the sun spends its winter. This town on the California and Mexican border blends two cultures in its lifestyle and special events.

Outdoor enthusiasts will love the nearby sand dunes at the BLM’s Imperial Sand Sand Dunes, a favorite of off-road fans. Housing is very affordable by California standards, with a single family home averaging only $239,352.

Population: 42,598
Median resident age: 31.8 years
Median household income: $39,330
Median house or condo value: $173,775

5. Modesto

Top 10 places to live in California modesto

About 90 miles from the City by the Bay, lies the number five choice on our list of the best places to live in California. Modesto offers residents a small town, friendly lifestyle with affordable housing (the average single family home is about $350,840…a fraction of the cost of cities only an hour or so away.)

The surrounding agricultural community means fresh produce is abundant at area farmer’s markets — a plus for health conscious residents or foodies who like using “just picked” ingredients.

Population: 201,165
Median resident age: 34.2 years
Median household income: $46,316
Median house or condo value: $182,500

4. California City

Top 10 places to live in California california city

Housing under $200,000 for a single family home…in California? Yup! It’s a reality in this Southern California town located about 87 miles from L.A. and just north of Edwards Air Force Base.

This is serious desert living, just on the edge of the Mojave. In the past few years, the town has gone from one with few businesses and services to a community with all the basics, from shops and services to churches and dance schools. With L.A. under an hour and a half away, California City is becoming a highly livable town, and for now, quite affordable.

Population: 14,120
Median resident age: 34.8 years
Median household income: $45,889
Median house or condo value: $145,501

3. San Diego

Top 10 places to live in California San Diego

If you’ve ever been to San Diego, you know what it’s like to fall in love with a city at first sight. From the waterfront parks to the zoo to the clean and beautiful city itself, this is Southern California at its very best. It’s a fair sized city (over 1,000,000 residents) with the feel of a much smaller town.

San Diego is also home to a large number of employers in the tech industry, so unemployment is typically low. The weather is mild, thanks to the cooling Pacific, and the days are sunny. A single family house averages $588,046, but there are lower cost homes available too, and rentals are surprisingly affordable.

Population: 1,307,402
Median resident age: 33.6 years
Median household income: $59,901
Median house or condo value: $445,500

2. San Luis Obispo

Top 10 places to live in California San Luis Obispo

I almost hate to put this central California town on the list because it’s my favorite of all the places to live in California. It’s a college town, with a great dose of artsy-ness. It’s friendly, not near enough to the L.A. bustle or the Northern California prices to be affected by either. And it’s close to San Simeon and Morro Bay.

It’s sunny, never too hot or too cold, and unemployment and the crime rate are very low. The downside? It’s still pricey to live here, with the average single family home coming it at about $586,066.

Population: 45,119
Median resident age: 26.5 years
Median household income: $38,031
Median house or condo value: $507,510

1. Santa Barbara

Top 10 places to live in California Santa Barbara

Yes, it is expensive. But oh what a lifestyle this city offers! From the elegant Spanish architecture to the laid-back attitude, this Southern California town has it all. Close enough to Los Angeles to allow visits for shopping or business. And far enough away to feel like another world. Add in amazing restaurants and darn-near perfect weather, and you have what has to be the one of the very best places to live in California.

But buyer beware…there is a price for all this perfection. A single family home here averages about $956,125! Save your pennies, boys and girls. This town is not for the faint of pocketbook!

Population: 88,410
Median resident age: 36.8 years
Median household income: $59,016
Median house or condo value: $898,500

Source: all statistics from city-data.com



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