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

David Scheuber

Profile written by local expert:

David Scheuber

Modesto, California, attracts those looking for the balance created by a culturally rich city center surrounded by quiet residential neighborhoods. Downtown offers lots of entertainment, from concerts to comedy showcases, in both large and intimate venues. The residential areas were the childhood homes of several big-name entertainers like filmmaker George Lucas and actors Jeremy Renner and Timothy Olyphant.

The region's thriving agriculture industry and pleasant weather have influenced the landscaping everywhere. Neighborhoods are lined with towering old trees, and numerous parks provide peaceful settings for walks and jogs. Modesto is also encircled by farmland that's focused on feeding the nation and the world with lettuce, grapes, almonds and dairy products.

Modesto's central valley location puts residents in close proximity to the grandeur of Yosemite National Park, the snow sports of Lake Tahoe and the cultural attractions of San Francisco.

See all the best places to live in California.


U.S. News analyzed 150 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.

Modesto, California is ranked:

#146 in Best Places to Live

#149 in Best Places to Retire

#12 in Best Places to Live in California

#16 in Most Expensive Places to Live




Best Places to Live

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

Read how we rank places

Modesto, CA Quick Stats

  • 808,376

    Metro Population

  • $47,087

    Average Annual Salary

  • 76.0° / 51.3°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 33.0

    Median Age

  • $298,690

    Median Home Price

  • 13.1 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 6.7%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $1,057

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 28.5 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What is there to do in Modesto, CA?

Those with an athletic lifestyle will find a number of outlets for activity, including local gyms, yoga studios and golf courses. A path for biking and running weaves through the scenic Dry Creek area. Nearby reservoirs, lakes and rivers make for great opportunities to swim, water ski and boat.

Modesto also offers plenty for lovers of the performing arts. The Gallo Center for the Arts, home to the Modesto Symphony Orchestra, hosts a variety of performances, as do the Prospect Theater Project and the Sankofa Theatre Company. 

Families can find go-karts and mini golf at Boomers, a rock climbing wall at Stonehenge Indoor Climbing Gym and trampolines at Rockin' Jump. For the 21 and older set, downtown's restaurants, bars and dance clubs are a great way to spend the evenings.

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

The cost of living in Modesto is far less than that of California's coastal metro areas, though it is higher than the national average. The region's median home sale price is slightly higher than the national median. Additionally, Modesto residents tend to spend more on daily expenses like groceries, transportation and utilities. 

Looking for financial advice? Find a local financial advisor in Modesto, California.

Value Index

Index Score: 4.8 /10

How we calculate this.

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

Housing Costs 2019



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 Modesto, CA.

What's the weather like in Modesto, CA?

Modesto experiences a mild winter with some rain and a few below-freezing nights. Spring is pleasant and summer is hot and dry. Fall ushers in cooler weather and brings colorful foliage to the urban forest.

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)









Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

2.6 in


2.0 in


0.1 in


1.4 in


Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

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

Modesto Area Express, or MAX, is the primary city bus system with more than a dozen routes. Although public transit is available, most residents use their personal vehicle to get around.

To travel out of town, locals book flights out of Sacramento, Oakland or San Francisco airports. Amtrak provides rail service from Modesto, and Greyhound provides bus transit to other cities.

Commuting in Modesto, CA

Means of Transportation
Above national average

Equal to national average

Equal to national average

Public Transit
Below national average
Average Commute Time

28.5 minutes

1.9 minutes more than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

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

Who lives in Modesto, CA?

Families make up an especially large chunk of Modesto's population, and their presence is reflected in the multitude of single-family homes found in many neighborhoods.

Modesto's population is fairly diverse, with residents from other parts of the world sharing their culture with the community in a number of ways. 

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown

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

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