What's it like to live in Bakersfield, CA?


Michele Wilbert

Profile written by local expert:

Michele Wilbert

Bakersfield has long been known as a stopover for those traveling between Los Angeles and San Francisco. But people who consider putting down roots in the area will find a healthy job market and an affordable place to raise a family. In fact, it's Bakersfield's strong sense of community and family and its booming oil and agriculture industries that keep the region thriving.

In some ways, Bakersfield feels like Texas: Oil rigs dot the horizon, and honky-tonks are easy to come by. But the metro area's location in the fertile San Joaquin Valley has instilled in residents the love of fresh, locally sourced foods, which is at the heart of California culture.

Bakersfield has hundreds of miles of bike paths and lanes and nearly 60 parks, offering locals plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Plus, residents are a short drive from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and some of California's expansive national forests.

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Bakersfield, California is ranked:

#123 in Best Places to Live

#100 in Best Places to Retire

5.4

Overall

Scorecard

Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
    5.6
  • Value
    5.8
  • Job Market
    4.0
  • Quality of Life
    5.7
  • Net Migration
    5.4

Read how we rank places

Bakersfield, CA Quick Stats

  • 871,337

    Metro Population

  • $47,410

    Average Annual Salary

  • 76.8° / 53.5°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 31.2

    Median Age

  • $210,300

    Median Home Price

  • 6.5 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 9.3%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $905

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 23.5 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in Bakersfield, CA?

Bakersfield is more affordable than most other parts of California, though the cost of living in the area is still higher than what the average American encounters. Purchasing a home in Bakersfield will cost nearly three times less than in Los Angeles. Additionally, Bakersfield residents spend more than the average American on everyday expenses like food, utilities and transportation, but that amount pales in comparison to what Los Angeles residents spend. As a result, some of L.A. County's workforce opts to live in the Bakersfield area.

Value Index

Index Score: 5.8 /10

How we calculate this.


Bakersfield offers a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs this Year


Bakersfield
$210,300

USA
$222,408

Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Bakersfield, CA.

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What's the weather like in Bakersfield, CA?

The Bakersfield area features a dry climate and experiences hot summers and mild winters. Spring arrives as early as February or March, with tulips peeking out of the ground.

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)

49.4°F


Winter

63.6°F


Spring

81.2°F


Summer

66.4°F


Fall

Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

1.2 in


Winter

1.2 in


Spring

0.1 in


Summer

0.6 in


Fall

Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Bakersfield, CA?

Given the size of the metro area and the distance of some commutes, many people living in Bakersfield drive to work. Biking is also a popular commuting option and hobby, as the region features numerous bike lanes throughout the downtown area, not to mention a 30-mile bike path.

The Golden Empire Transit District operates public buses servicing the greater Bakersfield area, including nearby communities like Oildale and Stockdale.

Bakersfield's Meadows Field Airport is serviced by American Airlines and United Airlines, and offers short-haul flights to destinations like Phoenix and Denver. Amtrak trains stop in downtown Bakersfield on their daily route between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Bakersfield is also serviced by charter bus companies like Greyhound.

Commuting in Bakersfield, CA

Means of Transportation
Driving
92%
Above national average

Bicycling
0%
Equal to national average

Walking
1%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
1%
Below national average
Average Commute Time

23.5 minutes

2.6 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Bakersfield, CA?

Bakersfield is home to a multigenerational, multicultural population. Diversity can be seen throughout the region from the wide variety of small mom-and-pop restaurants and shops selling international foods and goods. The metro area is known for its Basque restaurants, which have remained in the area long after people from the Pyrenees region of France and Spain first came to Bakersfield in search of gold.  

Much of Bakersfield's population is of working age, with about 10 percent of residents older than 65 and almost a third of the population younger than 20. Because of high-performing schools, neighborhoods in the northwest part of the metro area are particularly attractive to families.

Catholicism and Evangelical Protestant are the predominant religions here.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


About the same number of single people in Bakersfield as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in Bakersfield, CA?

Bakersfield residents find plenty of ways to enjoy the region's pleasant weather, from parks within the city limits to trails in the nearby Sequoia and Los Padres national forests.

Although major league sports don't have a presence in the area, hometown fans cheer on their minor league favorite, the Bakersfield Condors hockey team. Racing fans can take their pick of asphalt, dirt, autocross or drag racing at nearby tracks.

If museums are more your scene, the award-winning Bakersfield Museum of Art is a must-see, as is the California Living Museum, known as CALM, which exhibits animals and plants native to California.