The 7 cheapest cities to live in California

California has a reputation for having a high cost of living. Housing is generally expensive in California when compared to the rest of the country, and taxes are on the high end. However, there are many beautiful Californian cities where it is possible to live the good life without breaking the bank. Here are the 7 cheapest cities in California, ranked by their overall cost of living.

7. Vacaville

Vacaville is one of the hidden gems of Northern California and California’s 7th cheapest city. Located conveniently in between the Sacramento Valley and the Bay Area, Vacaville has the best of both worlds. Schools are high-quality, and there is a vibrant local community with family-friendly roots.

Demographic Facts

According to the United States Census Bureau, Vacaville has a population of 100,154. Its population grew over 8 percent between 2010 and 2018.

The median household income was $77,807 in 2017. The median value of homes in the area is $354,600. Median gross rent in 2017 was $1,470.

The crime rate is safer than 50 percent of all cities in the U.S. The unemployment rate is only 4.4 percent, and the city is located an easy 65-mile drive from Baker Beach.

Cost of Living

According to, Vacaville has a cost of living index of 127, compared to the California average of 138. Utilities, groceries, and goods and services are lower than the California average, along with housing and health care.

Local Amenities

Vacaville has a vibrant local community with many fairs and festivals. Fiesta Days is a family-friendly celebration with many local celebrations and events. Locals enjoy shopping and relaxing at the Vacaville Premium Outlets. Vacaville has a great blend of restaurants, from Mexican to Thai.

6. Redlands

Redlands is a beautiful city located just south of the Los Angeles metro area and the 6th cheapest city in California. Redlands has many exquisite historic homes that have been featured on television shows like America’s Castles. The University of Redlands draws a student population as well as a well-educated base.

Population Facts

According to the Census Bureau, Redlands has 71,586 people. The population grew by 4.2 percent between 2010 and 2018. The median value of homes in the area is $350,900, and the median gross rent is $1,213.

The median household income for all Redlands residents is $68,956. According to, the cost of living in Redlands is significantly lower than the California average. Redlands’s cost of living index adds up to 127, compared to California’s 138.

Redlands is safer than 25% of all United States cities. The unemployment rate is a low 4.1 percent. Redlands residents are only 63 miles from Laguna Beach.

Living in Redlands

Redlands is home to the longest-running music festival in the United States, the Redlands Bowl Summer Music Festival. Splash Kingdom Waterpark provides fun for the kids and the whole family. There are several historical museums including the Lincoln Memorial Shrine and the Historical Glass Museum.

Redlands also has well-known restaurants and bakeries that bring delicious local and international flavors to its residents and visitors.

5. Oxnard

Oxnard is located just northwest of Los Angeles and is California’s 5th cheapest city. It is a charming city with a great many amenities for residents and visitors. It is close to the beach, and it boasts its own institute of higher learning, Oxnard College. Agriculture and forestry are two standout areas of employment in Oxnard.

About Oxnard

The U.S. Census Bureau states that Oxnard has a population of 209,877. Median home values are at $390,000, and the local median gross rent is $1,444. Population growth statistics for Oxnard are at 6 percent, in keeping with the national average.

The median household income in Oxnard is $64,837. The cost of living in Oxnard is cheaper than the California average, at 133 versus 138.

Oxnard is safer than 23 percent of the United States. Its unemployment rate is 5.7 percent.

Living in Oxnard

Oxnard has a beautiful natural shoreline offering whale watching, swimming, fishing, and surfing. Oxnard is also home to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, an important preserve that protects local plants and animals.

The Carnegie Art Museum provides a historical background to the city, along with the many gorgeous Victorian homes in the area. There are wineries and excellent restaurants as well.

4. Fontana

Fontana is an exciting city located outside the L.A. metro area and is number four on our list of the cheapest cities in California. It is the proud home of the Auto Club Speedway, home of NASCAR and IndyCar races. There are job opportunities in healthcare as well as in trucking and transportation. Fontana is an inexpensive city that allows residents to take advantage of the cultural opportunities in Los Angeles.

The area around Fontana has been home to filming sites for many classic movies such as Terminator 2. Fontana is a safe and inexpensive place to live and raise a family.


Fontana has a population of 213,719 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The median home value in Fontana is $323,300. The median gross rent is $1,224.

The population grew by 8.8 percent between 2010 and 2018, beating the United States average at 6 percent.

According to, the cost of living index in the Fontana area is 122, significantly lower than the California cost of living index at 138.

The median household income in Fontana is $68,304. Crime statistics find that Fontana is safer than 31 percent of American cities. The unemployment rate is 6.7 percent.

Local Attractions in Fontana

In addition to the Auto Club Speedway, there are many exciting things to do in the Fontana area. The area has excellent shopping and dining opportunities, and it is filled with quality American and international food options.

3. Clovis

Clovis is located in the Fresno metro area and is the third cheapest city in California. It is only three hours from San Jose and from Yosemite National Park. It has fertile soil so it is part of the vibrant California agricultural industry. The year-round farmers’ market showcases the best of the local produce. Clovis is a friendly small city with good schools and a safe atmosphere.


The Census Bureau states that Clovis has 112,022 people. The population has been consistently growing at a high rate. Between 2010 and 2018, the latest year for which estimates are available, the population grew 16.9 percent.

Median home values are $284,200. Median gross rent is lower than the California average at $1,140. found that the cost of living index was only 116, compared to California’s 138.

The local median household income is $68,682. As far as crime is concerned, Clovis is safer than 40 percent of cities in the United States. The unemployment rate is 5.4 percent.

Clovis Attractions

Clovis has the largest water park in California, Wild Water Adventure Park. The Clovis Botanical Garden provides a respite from the fast-paced life of the city. The MB2 Raceway gives people the thrill of go-kart racing. Clovis has a number of interesting local festivals, from ClovisFest to Glorious Junk Days. It is a quirky community with a great deal of charm.

2. Chico

Chico is located two hours from Sacramento and is the second cheapest city in California. While Chico is inexpensive, it is also a safe city with good schools and many local amenities, including the California State University at Chico. The school has excellent programs in fine arts and nursing.

Chico is another city where outstanding Victorian architecture can be found. Bidwell Mansion State Park provides a home that visitors can tour and enjoy.

Demographics in Chico

Chico has 94,776 people according to the Census Bureau. The city has grown 9.2 percent since 2010. The local median home value is $286,700. Median rent is lower than the United States average at $977.

The cost of living index, according to, ties with Clovis at 116.

Chico’s local median household income is $45,337. This is lower than the national average of $57,652. The city has a crime rate lower than 27 percent of all United States cities. The unemployment rate is 5.8 percent.

Chico Attractions

Outdoor activities are popular in Chico. Hiking and horseback riding through Bidwell Park is one of the highlights. Quirky activities include the National Yo-Yo Museum. The college community brings a special quality to Chico, and affords local residents many cultural and social opportunities.

1. Eureka

Eureka takes the top spot on our list of the 7 cheapest cities in California. Eureka is a surprisingly affordable city located near the Redwood National and State Parks. Eureka is a hotbed of oyster farming, and it has beautiful Victorian architecture. This charming seaside town is located halfway between Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco.

Demographics in Eureka

The Census Bureau states that Eureka has 26,998 people. This is down 0.7 percent from 2010.

The median value of owner-occupied homes is $249,300. Median gross rent is an affordable $847, lower than the United States average of $982.

Eureka’s median household income is $39,720, significantly lower than most of California. AreaVibes’s figures for the cost of living index find that Eureka is much cheaper to live in than many other areas in California. The cost of living is only 112 on their scale, compared to 138 for the rest of California.

Eureka is safer than 2 percent of other cities around the United States. Its unemployment rate is 5.7 percent.

Living in Eureka

Eureka affords the unique opportunity to live inexpensively in California while enjoying amazing natural surroundings. The average temperature in the area is in the fifties, meaning that the stereotypes of California being hot and dry do not apply.

There are many fun activities around Eureka, including surfing at Samoa Beach. Harbor cruises on Humboldt Bay give a different view of the city. Sequoia Park Zoo provides fun for children and adults alike.

The local oysters are outstanding, and seafood fans will be able to enjoy the local bounty of the ocean.

7 Cheapest Cities in California

These 7 cities prove that living in California doesn’t have to be expensive. With an affordable cost of living, low crime, good schools and vibrant local communities, these California cities are great places to live.

When comparing these different cities, the demographics, cost of living, and crime rates have to be taken into account. When you understand more about California, you will be able to choose the best city for your family.