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Moving Out West: Your Guide to Affordable Housing in California

California is the second most expensive state to live in the US after Hawaii. People have been dreaming of moving to California ever since the Gold Rush began in 1848, and the story of the state has always been about a lucky few striking it rich while the rest struggle to get ahead.

It is harder than ever to make ends meet in California. The state has been experiencing a housing shortage since 1970 that has only gotten worse over time.

How expensive is it really, though, to live in the Golden State? Are there places you can find affordable housing in California still?

Let’s take a look at what you need to know.

Is It Expensive to Live in California?

When talking about the fact that it’s expensive to California, it’s important to remember just how big the state is. It is the third-largest state in the country after Alaska and Texas, and the cost of living is going to vary dramatically between Californian cities.

That being said, the average city in California has a cost of living that is 30% higher than the average American city.


Housing in California is quite expensive. In fact, the median home prices in California as of March 2020 were almost 88% higher than the national median. The median home price in California is $600,000, while the national median is $320,000.

There are major differences between cities, though. For example, the average home price in San Francisco is around $1.29 million, while the average home price in Bakersfield is $330,317. Similarly, the average apartment in SF is going to cost you $4,200 a month, while a Bakersfield rental is only about $979.

If you’re wondering how to live in a high cost of living California city without going broke, you might consider the benefits of ADUs. To learn more, check out Actonadu.com.


Utilities are also a bit higher in California than in other places in the U.S. You can also expect to spend more money at the grocery store depending on which city you live in.

Transportation, Health Care, and Taxes

If all of this hasn’t gotten you reconsidering your California dreaming, consider that the transportation costs are highest in California out of all U.S. states. Expect to spend more on maintenance and gas than you would anywhere else.

The cost of health care is going to vary depending on the city, but it is generally going to be above the average U.S. city cost.

Another factor when it comes to the cost of living is taxes. Depending on how much you make, the tax rate can be stifling.

Miscellaneous Goods

On top of all of this, the cost of things like entertainment, restaurants, clothing, and personal care can cost quite a bit more than in other states.

Why is CA so expensive to live in?

There are a lot of factors that contribute to this question. Common answers include high demand, high taxes, progressive regulations, high incomes in the tech sector, and more.

The Cheapest Places to Live in California

California is an enormous state that houses 12% of the U.S. population. Some cities are a lot more affordable than others. Let’s take a look at some of the places you can find the cheapest real estate in CA and generally a lower cost of living.


About two hours from LA, Bakersfield is growing quickly because it offers some of the most affordable housing in CA. The median purchase price for homes here is $214,600.


Chico is less than two hours away from Sacramento. With median home purchase prices of $270,900,  this might be the place to call home!


Clovis is a part of the Fresno metro area. It’s one of the cheapest places to live in California, with a median home purchase price of $263,500.


If you’re looking to be on the ocean but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg, take a look at Eureka. The median monthly rent here is $844, while the median home purchase price is $241,700.


Fontana is a city right outside the Los Angeles metro area. The median monthly rent is $1,167. The median home purchase price is $289,400.


This coastal town northwest of Los Angeles is another affordable option. The median home purchase price in Oxnard is $362,900, while the median monthly rent is $1,396.


Another affordable choice outside of the Los Angeles metro, the median price you can buy a house for here is $326,800. Close to the San Bernardino Mountains, this is a great spot for people who want the conveniences of a city but also access to the great outdoors.


Another place to find affordable housing in CA is Vacaville. With the median monthly rent at $1,416 and the median purchase price of homes $322,600, you won’t have to pay San Francisco prices.

Affordable Housing California: Is the Golden State the Right Place For You?

Finding affordable housing in California might take some research and planning, but it is possible. There are also options when you start thinking more creatively, like building an ADU to rent out or use as a home office.

If living in an affordable place is your highest priority, California might not be the state for you. However, if the perfect weather, vibrant culture, and natural beauty have you hooked, there are definitely some cities and options that are more affordable than others.

Did you find this article on affordable housing in California interesting? If so, be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more fascinating and informative content!