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

Lloyd Gardner

Profile written by local expert:

Lloyd Gardner

Fresno started out as a small stop along the Central Pacific Railroad, but it has blossomed into a magnetic metropolis that draws agriculture-minded people from around the world. The metro area is surrounded by Fresno County's farms, which produce a variety of organic foods, from almonds and pistachios to tomatoes and peaches.

But the area isn't just a haven for farmers. Now part of a bustling metropolitan area of nearly a million people, Fresno attracts residents with its diverse job market, inexpensive housing and array of cultural attractions.

A venture inside this central California region reveals a multitude of unique cultural surprises. The Tower District is famous for its artsy Rogue Festival, classic car show, regular film festival and lineup of restaurants that plate various cuisines. The minor league Fresno Grizzlies hit homers to the cheers of loyal fans downtown, while beloved events like the annual Civil War Revisited reenactment and the Kearney Renaissance Faire take place on Fresno’s west side. 


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.

Fresno, California is ranked:

#119 in Best Places to Live

#94 in Best Places to Retire




Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
  • Value
  • Job Market
  • Quality of Life
  • Net Migration

Read how we rank places

Fresno, CA Quick Stats

  • 971,616

    Metro Population

  • $45,510

    Average Annual Salary

  • 76.7° / 51.9°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 31.8

    Median Age

  • $260,733

    Median Home Price

  • 11.5 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 7.4%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $931

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 22.4 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

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

Affordability is one of Fresno’s most attractive assets. The cost of living and median home sale price are way below the state average. Housing costs are higher than the national average, though.

Value Index

Index Score: 4.9 /10

How we calculate this.

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

Housing Costs 2018



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 Fresno, CA.

What's the weather like in Fresno, CA?

Fresno’s climate is typical of the San Joaquin Valley: hot summers and relatively mild (albeit rainy) winters. The Tule fog, common to the central valley, is especially thick on winter mornings. 

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)









Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

2.2 in


2.0 in


0.2 in


1.1 in


Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

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

Although there is public bus service throughout the area, Fresno is a car-oriented region. But the wide streets make walking and biking convenient too.

Fresno Yosemite International Airport is the nearest airport, and it services eight airlines that connect to larger airports like Los Angeles International Airport. Amtrak runs a regular schedule through its downtown station, and Greyhound has a downtown bus terminal as well.

Commuting in Fresno, CA

Means of Transportation
Above national average

Equal to national average

Equal to national average

Public Transit
Below national average
Average Commute Time

22.4 minutes

4.0 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 Fresno, CA?

Rapid economic growth has created a vibrant community that’s attracting both young singles and family oriented, upwardly mobile professionals. As a result, Fresno’s population skews young.

More than half of Fresno residents affiliate with some religion, with most people identifying as Evangelical Protestant or Catholic.

Fresno’s community comprises a significant low- to middle-income population that is attracted to the metro area for its low cost of living and diverse job opportunities. However, the metro area also exhibits a noticeable wage gap thanks to a growing affluent population resulting from the growth of professional ventures. But around 30 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown

More single people in Fresno than
national average

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

What is there to do in Fresno, CA?

Housing costs have triggered a population growth that has prompted the development of new recreational areas, nightlife venues and a diverse and eclectic dining scene.

Parks are peppered throughout Fresno, and the San Joaquin River, which runs along the metro region’s northern boundary, is another place to enjoy natural beauty. Just 20 miles north of the area is Millerton Lake, a popular recreational area with fishing, boating and picnic areas. There are bike lanes through much of Fresno, as well as a new pedestrian trail in the works.