What's it like to live in Vallejo & Fairfield, CA?


Profile written by local expert:

Richard Freedman

Two California cities 18 miles apart, Fairfield and Vallejo have become the great escape for San Franciscans and other Bay Area residents fleeing high costs of housing. 

Vallejo’s ethnic and cultural diversity, mild climate, relatively low housing costs and burgeoning artist community make the twice-former state capital attractive. The city also has a ferry system that transports commuters on a one-hour bay journey to San Francisco and is a 20-minute drive to the Napa Valley. Some parts of Vallejo see a higher incidence of crime than others, but police are working to regain public trust and make the city safer for everyone.

Fairfield, the county seat, is home to Travis Air Force Base, the city’s main employer and economic foundation, as well as the Jelly Belly Candy Co. factory, a major local attraction. 

See all the best places to live in California.

Rankings

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.

Vallejo & Fairfield, California is ranked:

#101 in Best Places to Live

#120 in Best Places to Retire

#6 in Best Places to Live in California

#18 in Most Expensive Places to Live

6.3

Overall

Scorecard

Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
    6.8
  • Value
    4.9
  • Job Market
    7.0
  • Quality of Life
    6.3
  • Net Migration
    7.1

Read how we rank places

Vallejo & Fairfield, CA Quick Stats

  • 438,530

    Metro Population

  • $54,890

    Average Annual Salary

  • N/A

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 37.9

    Median Age

  • $426,408

    Median Home Price

  • N/A

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 3.8%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $1,498

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 32.6 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What is there to do in Vallejo & Fairfield, CA?

Vallejo is home to the Solano County Fair and, across the street, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. 

The Empress Theatre in Vallejo and Downtown Theatre in Fairfield feature live music, comedy, plays and other events.  

Annual festivals in Vallejo include the Northern California Pirate Festival, the Filipino celebration Pista sa Nayon, Juneteenth and the eclectic steampunk-oriented Mad Hatter Holiday Festival in December. Fairfield’s Tomato & Vine Festival draws around 25,000 visitors to the downtown every year. The popular NorthBay Wine, Brew & Food Jubilee benefits the NorthBay Medical Center’s hospice and bereavement programs. 

Vallejo is home to the Mare Island Museum and the downtown Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum. Those with a sweet tooth can take advantage of Jelly Belly factory tours in Fairfield.

The second Friday Art Walk in downtown Vallejo is year-round, uniting the arts community and businesses. The Downtown Vallejo Farmers Market is also year-round. 

Children’s Wonderland is a low-cost family-friendly attraction, featuring Alice in Wonderland characters and summer concerts. The venue is operated by the Greater Vallejo Recreation District. The Scandia Family Center features mini-golf, an arcade, laser tag, batting cages and bumper boats. 

For adults, there’s The Wet Mile, a short stroll on Mare Island with stops at the Mare Island Brewing Co., Savage & Cooke distillery and Vino Godfather Winery.

Vallejo is also the home to independent minor league baseball team the Vallejo Admirals. 

Travis Air Force Base hosts public air shows.


What's the cost of living in Vallejo & Fairfield, CA?

While the cost of living in much of California is higher than in the rest of the country, Solano County, which includes both Vallejo and Fairfield, is one of the most affordable parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. 

The cost of living in Vallejo is lower than the California average but higher than the national average.

Vallejo and Fairfield residents pay a property tax at fair market value, sales tax and state income tax.


Looking for financial advice? Find a local financial advisor in Vallejo, California, or Fairfield, California.

Value Index

Index Score: 4.9 /10

How we calculate this.


Vallejo & Fairfield offer a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs 2019


Vallejo & Fairfield
$426,408

USA
$232,933

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 Fairfield, CA and Vallejo, CA.

What's the weather like in Vallejo & Fairfield, CA?

Vallejo rarely gets the San Francisco-like fog or the searing 100 degree heat of north Solano County and Sacramento. September is the warmest month in Vallejo.

Fairfield is typically 5 to 10 degrees warmer than Vallejo on any given day. The most pleasant months in Fairfield are October, May and April. July is the hottest month. Snow in Fairfield is extremely rare.


What's the best way to get around Vallejo & Fairfield, CA?

A ferry system links Vallejo with other Bay Area cities, including San Francisco.

The SolTrans bus system takes locals around town and over the Benicia-Martinez Bridge to the closest Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART, train stop, another connection for commuters. Evans Transportation is a shuttle option for those going to the Oakland and San Francisco airports. 

Vallejo is 43 miles from San Francisco International Airport and 35 miles from Oakland International Airport, while Fairfield is 47 miles from Sacramento International Airport. 

Though the hilly terrain makes Vallejo challenging for bicyclists, the waterfront is the most popular – and scenic – area for cyclists and walkers. 

In Fairfield, most commuters drive to work. A much smaller percentage take mass transit, bike or walk.  

Fairfield and Suisun Transit, known as FAST, is the bus service in Fairfield, with eight local routes operating six days a week. SolTrans makes a stop in Fairfield and takes commuters to the Vallejo Transit Center, a short walk to the ferry terminal that feeds San Francisco. 

Fairfield also is a stop for Capitol Corridor trains that run north to Sacramento or south to San Jose. The Fairfield Transportation Center is the major hub for commuters using the bus system, van pools and park-and-ride. 

Recreationally, there are three main bicycle trails in Fairfield, with one, the Linear Bike Trail, going throughout the city to Solano Community College.

Commuting in Vallejo & Fairfield, CA

Means of Transportation
Driving
90%
Above national average

Bicycling
0%
Equal to national average

Walking
1%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
3%
Below national average
Average Commute Time

32.6 minutes

6.0 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 Vallejo & Fairfield, CA?

With the high cost of living chasing many professionals out of San Francisco and its surrounding communities, Vallejo and Fairfield are becoming more attractive because of housing affordability, transportation options and proximity to the Napa Valley wine country. 

Mare Island is an up-and-coming section of Vallejo with a sports complex and waterfront retail. Victorian homes built in the 1890s around downtown attract singles and childless couples. Downtown is the city’s arts hub, diverse socially, economically and ethnically, with numerous restaurants and the renovated Empress Theatre, a more than 100-year-old entertainment venue.


Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


About the same number of single people in Vallejo & Fairfield as national average

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