Best Cities to Live in California

The state of California has had its fair share of challenges recently, with the wildfire season and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, these challenges did nothing to diminish the fact that California remains the land of opportunity. Whether you are looking to launch a groundbreaking new tech, become a Hollywood star, or cash in on the fifth-largest economy in the world, California is where you can make all of that happen. But before you get into touch with one of the best cross country movers California can offer, you will want to select among the best cities to live in California. We are going to provide you with information to make that decision easier.

The best cities to live in California

The “best” city is different for everyone. There is not a city in the world that is perfect for everybody. However, with that being said, there are some factors that contribute to the overall appeal. And the cities that combine most of those factors are:

  • Los Angeles
  • Sacramento
  • San Jose
  • San Diego
  • Santa Rosa
  • Bakersfield

The key statistics that we’ve taken into account are safety, affordability, job market, culture, and education.

a city in California
California is full of amazing places to live.

Safety was analyzed by looking at per-capita statistics on crimes, both property and violent. Affordability represents the amount of money that goes toward essential costs and it goes hand-in-hand with median income. We also looked at the job market statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at a city-wide level. This tells us how each of the cities has recovered from the initial shock that the pandemic caused. It also represents the availability of services, such as interstate movers Los Angeles, for example. Furthermore, each city on our list was analyzed for its culture. Conventions, music, food, nature, and similar, were all taken into account.

Lastly, we included educational census data on the number of residents that have a bachelor’s degree. This shows us the overall educational level of the city, as well as opportunities when it comes to higher education.

All of this data will be represented in a numerical value (e.g. 7/10).

But each city is a lot more than statistics might show. There are unique considerations that no statistic can represent. We also took those into account when we created the list. So, without any further ado, let’s take a deeper look into some of the best cities to live in California.

Los Angeles

The largest upside of Los Angeles lies in its cultural scene. It is no wonder that the city gets 10/10 in this regard. After all, L.A. is associated with Hollywood. However, there is a lot more than movies and TV shows in Los Angeles. There’s the amazing food scene, with delicacies from all around the world, the newly built stadium, as well as an amazing downtown that is undergoing a “renaissance” period. It is no wonder that interstate movers Los Angeles has on offer are experiencing an extremely busy season. More and more people are relocating to the city, on an hourly basis.

All in all, the City of Angels is one of the best places to live in California. And the future is looking really good, too. With all the preparation for the 2028 Summer Olympic Games, numerous expansions have also been announced. While this is something yet to come, it still paints a bright picture for the area in the future.

a beachfront street
Come for the beaches, stay for the entertainment.

The biggest downside of Los Angeles, however, lies in its safety (or lack thereof) and in its struggling job market. The job market has been hit extremely hard with the advent of the pandemic, and the streets of LA get only a 5/10 in safety rating. There are safe neighborhoods, of course, but those tend to be outside most people’s price range. But affordability gets a strong 8/10 and education gets a “passable” 7/10.


The main draw of Sacramento is its “affordable” housing market. While the prices are quite high, it is still one of the most affordable cities on our list. There might not be any oceanfront views but the fact that you “only” need to spend, on average, around $400,000 on a house speaks for itself. Overall, Sacramento gets 8/10 in affordability score, much the same as Los Angeles. Most cross country moving companies Sacramento has on offer will provide great deals for out-of-state relocations, as well. After all, cheaper living means that the population is growing at a higher rate. In fact, the greater Sacramento area is one of the fastest-growing regions in the entire state, according to some of the recent estimates.

The major employer in the region is government, of course, but there are numerous other opportunities for employment. Of particular note are renewable energy, healthcare, and life sciences. While Sacramento might not have the same cultural appeal as Los Angeles or even San Francisco, the art scene is blossoming and its yearly calendar is full of festivals, concerts, and art walks.

Overall, Sacramento is on this list due to an amazing balance of factors. Every single factor gets at least 7/10, with affordability being a notch higher. And that is exactly what makes it so great of a city. With no downsides to speak of, apart from a somewhat small cultural scene, Best Cross Country Movers name the city as one of the best cities in California. Thousands of people who are searching for top movers daily are a testament to this fact.

Sacramento - one of the best cities to live in California
With great overall rankings, Sacramento is definitely one of the best cities to live in California.

San Jose

The city of San Jose features incredible educational statistics, as well as an amazing job market. Both of these get a 9/10, making San Jose one of the best cities to live in California. The list of employers in the city is absolutely staggering. With names such as Cisco, Adobe, SAP, and eBay, Silicon Valley city provides some of the highest salaries in the entire state.

But this comes with a cost, as it usually does. The housing market in San Jose is prohibitively expensive for most people. And the overall costs are also “through the roof”, even if we discount the house prices. But if you can afford to live there, you will find just about everything in the city. And, most importantly, you will feel safe. San Jose has some of the lowest crime rates in California where large cities are concerned. This fact alone drives a lot of business toward interstate movers San Jose has. The most important factor is safety, after all, and San Jose is one of the safest cities on our list, with an 8/10 grade.

Affordability, naturally, gets a low 4/10 mark, while Culture gets a decent grade with 7/10. But with the job market being in the shape that it is, and educational institutions doing as well as they are, San Jose basically overcomes the affordability issues. After all, all those statistics have to have a price somewhere.

San Diego

Another city where affordability is a concern, San Diego excels in most other statistics. The greatest upside of the city is an extremely low unemployment rate and very high educational attainment. Furthermore, salaries on average are quite high and commute times are exceedingly short. Moving services are both in high demand and in high supply in the city. All of these factors combined make San Diego one of the best places to call home.

Most of the work in the city is connected to the large naval base and government jobs but there are other opportunities as well. For example, SeaWorld, Kaiser Permanente, and General Dynamics have large-scale operations in the city. And, as you can expect from a city that has a naval base nearby, the nightlife is absolutely phenomenal. You can expect top-notch nightclubs, bars, and similar venues. But if you are looking for a somewhat slower pace, you can always settle near the coast.

a city street
San Diego might be pricey, but things are looking up.

The main drawback of San Diego lies in the cost of living. Everything is pricey in the city. But even that is looking to change in the following years. The new development along the river is sure to send many people in a scurry to hire one of the best interstate moving companies San Diego has to offer. There are around 4,300 new properties to be added, which will definitely bring some of the prices down. But with the whole housing market being as it is, this is never certain. 

Overall, affordability gets a 6/10. This is not San Jose, after all. Safety gets an excellent 8/10 rating while education and job market both get a 7/10. Culturally, due to numerous entertainment venues, San Jose gets an 8/10. Basically, if you can find a way to deal with the overall high living and housing costs, there are few cities that can offer more than San Jose.

Santa Rosa

If you are looking for a small-city vibe, and a place that exudes a laid-back attitude, while still keeping in line with most of the important statistics, Santa Rosa might be the answer. In fact, there has been an increasing trend of people hiring one of the interstate movers Fresno has on offer to relocate to Santa Rosa, in search of better living conditions. Most people look to profit from the very low unemployment rates and to get away from all the hustle and bustle of large cities.

There are no skyscrapers to speak of in Santa Rosa, nor are there any subway lines or large crowds of people. But there is good wine (some of the best in the entire world) and high household incomes. Santa Rosa is only 55 miles away from San Francisco, as well, meaning that you will have an easy time getting to the amenities that large cities can offer. But for the most part, you will not have to. With easy access to amazing outdoor activities, an engrossing food scene, and incredible wine, you may soon find that you don’t need much more in life.

The only major downside to Santa Rosa is something that comes with being a small city. There is a limited number of major employers, meaning that commute times might be quite long. This is definitely something to consider before you create a packing checklist for your relocation, for example. Even so, we simply had to include Santa Rosa as an alternative to larger cities. And if you can find a high-income job that is close to your home, this city can become your own slice of heaven.

one of the best cities to live in California - Santa Rosa
If you are looking to settle down, Santa Rosa might be the place for it.


The last city on our list, the city of Bakersfield, is the affordable option you’ve all been waiting for. While the other statistics might not be in line with some of the other cities on our list, a 9/10 in affordability speaks for itself. As you might have guessed, extreme affordability has to come with significant downsides. In Bakersfield’s case, it is the high unemployment rate as well as somewhat lower educational statistics. But as an exception to the rule that you have to be wealthy to live in California, Bakersfield still made it into our list of top cities to live in. 

With the median home price of “only” $300,000, the city draws in more and more people to its fold. The state’s Department of Finance reports that this city has been growing steadily in recent years. The foundation of Bakersfield’s economy lies in the oil industry but there are ample opportunities in healthcare as well. But aside from those two sectors, there is nothing to write home about. While there are jobs in every sector, as in every larger city, there are fewer opportunities than in Los Angeles or San Diego.

Also, you might be surprised at the nightlife options in Bakersfield. While they can’t rival the larger cities, the arts culture is rapidly growing and there are numerous avenues to have an amazing adventure. Even so, culture gets a passable 6/10.

Bakersfield, one of the best cities to live in California
The most affordable city on our list.

As for other statistics, safety leaves something to be desired, with a 6/10 grade. Job market and education are middling, with 5/10 each, as well. Even so, the extreme affordability and a promise of a better future drive more and more people to one of the best cities to live in California, Bakersfield.

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