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Best Places to Live in California

California is the most populous state in the country. See why so many people flock to these cities below.

For more information on how we rank, read the Best Places to Live methodology.

Real Estate Rankings


Rankings Category


Population Size


Average Rent


Median Home Price


Commute Time


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12 place matches

San Francisco, CA

badge #1 in Best Places to Live in California

A beautiful region filled with iconic landmarks, independently owned businesses and trendsetting residents, San Francisco has long fo… more

  • 7.3 Overall Score
  • 6.8 Quality of Life
  • 4.9 Value

San Jose, CA

badge #2 in Best Places to Live in California

Nicknamed the capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose is a diverse area with an innovative spirit. While it has a distinct downtown, San … more

  • 7.1 Overall Score
  • 7.6 Quality of Life
  • 5.4 Value

San Diego, CA

badge #3 in Best Places to Live in California

San Diego residents recognize how fortunate they are to live in an area famous for its sunny weather and impressive beaches. But ther… more

  • 6.8 Overall Score
  • 7.5 Quality of Life
  • 3.7 Value

Santa Barbara, CA

badge #4 in Best Places to Live in California

It has been described as the "American Riviera," a "playground for the rich and famous" and, quite simply, "paradise." Situated betwe… more

  • 6.5 Overall Score
  • 7.8 Quality of Life
  • 3.7 Value

Santa Rosa, CA

badge #5 in Best Places to Live in California

Santa Rosa, the hub of economic activity in northern California's wine country, welcomes artists of all ages, as well as young people… more

  • 6.5 Overall Score
  • 7.5 Quality of Life
  • 4.3 Value

Sacramento, CA

badge #6 in Best Places to Live in California

Many people think Sacramento's best attribute is that it's located a few hours from exciting destinations like San Francisco and Lake… more

  • 6.3 Overall Score
  • 6.7 Quality of Life
  • 5.2 Value

Los Angeles, CA

badge #7 in Best Places to Live in California

Although the City of Angels is characterized as both a glamorous show business town and a traffic-gnarled metropolis, the truth about… more

  • 6.1 Overall Score
  • 6.6 Quality of Life
  • 3.3 Value

Salinas, CA

badge #8 in Best Places to Live in California

Salinas, California, promotes itself as the "Salad Bowl of the World" as tribute to the area's huge farming business that produces le… more

  • 5.6 Overall Score
  • 6.8 Quality of Life
  • 3.8 Value

Fresno, CA

badge #9 in Best Places to Live in California

Fresno started out as a small stop along the Central Pacific Railroad, but it has blossomed into a magnetic metropolis that draws agr… more

  • 5.5 Overall Score
  • 6.2 Quality of Life
  • 4.9 Value

Modesto, CA

badge #10 in Best Places to Live in California

Modesto, California, attracts those looking for the balance created by a culturally rich city center that's surrounded by quiet resid… more

  • 5.5 Overall Score
  • 5.9 Quality of Life
  • 4.8 Value
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