California has the third-highest cost of living in the United States, behind only Hawaii and the District of Columbia. However, you can still find some surprisingly affordable options in the state. If you know where to look, you can locate moderately priced apartments in everything from a small quiet town to a bustling metropolis. Explore the
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California has the third-highest cost of living in the United States, behind only Hawaii and the District of Columbia. However, you can still find some surprisingly affordable options in the state. If you know where to look, you can locate moderately priced apartments in everything from a small quiet town to a bustling metropolis. Explore the following cheap places to live in California.
Average rent prices in California
Before searching for the cheapest rent in California, knowing the average rental rates for an apartment in some of the biggest cities can be helpful. This allows you to compare prices among cities and neighborhoods to help you find one within your budget.
Average price of a studio in California: $2,075 per month (Los Angeles), $2,200 per month (San Francisco)Average price of a 1-bedroom in California: $2,595 per month (Los Angeles), $3,045 per month (San Francisco)Average price of a 2-bedroom in California: $3,470 per month (Los Angeles), $4,095 per month (San Francisco)
Living within Los Angeles or San Francisco tends to be the most expensive. You can find the cheapest rent in California in other cities like Bakersfield, Chico, Clearlake, or Clovis.
Median household income: $65,687 per yearAverage price of a studio apartment: $1,050 per monthAverage rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $1,150 per monthAverage rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $1,430 per month
Bakersfield has a population of more than 400,000 people, which ensures that you’ll have access to all your favorite urban amenities, including museums, music venues, shopping, dining, and nightlife, in one of the cheapest areas to live in California. Popular entertainment in Bakersfield includes the California Living Museum and Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace.
Fun Fact: Bakersfield offers the largest concentration of Basque restaurants in the United States. Basque (Euskaldunak) people immigrated from northern Spain and southwestern France, but their language and culture are different from both.
Bakersfield is at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley. Average highs are in the 90s from June to September. In December and January, the average high is 59, with lows in the upper 30s.
Median household income: $57,357 per yearAverage rent for a studio apartment: $895 per monthAverage rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $1,200 per monthAverage rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $1,500 per month
Chico, California, is home to about 100,000 residents and is among the good cheap places to live in California. A mecca of public art, Chico is a beautiful city to explore. Discover massive building murals, dancing fountains, and an abundance of mosaic tile features, including arches, benches, and seats. Known as the “City of Trees,” Chico also offers a lush natural landscape. The city’s culinary delights include Mexican, Sicilian, Chinese, Thai, Mediterranean, Indian, and more.
Theaters, museums, art galleries, and antique shops offer many places to explore in downtown Chico. The Chico Certified Farmers Market and the Bidwell Mansion are both great sources of entertainment in the area.
Chico is also home to California State University-Chico, which brings the distinctive atmosphere of a college town. It’s also home to the original Sierra Nevada Brewery, one of the country’s biggest breweries.
Chico is about 90 miles north of Sacramento in the northern Sacramento Valley. Between July and September, summer highs climb into the 90s. Between December and February, lows dip into the mid-to-upper 30s.
Median household income: $36,339 per yearAverage rent for a studio apartment: $550 per monthAverage rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $965 per monthAverage rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $1,250 per month
Clearlake is home to over 16,000 residents and offers low-cost living in California. San Francisco, about 2.5 miles away, is the nearest metropolitan city. Clearlake is great for those who love to spend time outdoors, as it’s great for boating and fishing. Clear Lake State Park offers hiking, kayaking, and fishing opportunities. Clearlake is part of Lake County, California, with more than 9,000 acres of vineyards and more than 30 wineries.
You can also fill your time in Clearlake playing mini golf at the Tatonka Land Mini Golf. This town experiences a diverse range of seasons. Average highs are in the 90s during July and August, and lows are in the 30s from November through March.
Median household income:$84,119 per yearAverage rent for a studio apartment: $1,100 per monthAverage rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $1,725 per monthAverager rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $1,630 per month
The 125,000 residents of Clovis enjoy the San Joaquin Valley’s rich soil, creating prime agricultural opportunities throughout the year. Clovis is among some of the nicest and cheapest places to live in California, offering access to the Clovis Botanical Garden, Wild Water Adventure Park, and the MB2 Raceway. If you’re an antique enthusiast, you’ll appreciate Old Town Clovis. You can find coffee shops, art galleries, and dining options downtown as well.
Clovis is also home to the Sierra National Forest and Dan Rouit’s Flat Track Museum, both popular attractions in the area. The average high temperatures in Clovis range from the upper 50s in winter to the upper 90s in summer. Lows only dip into the 60s in summer and reach the upper 30s in December and January.
Median household income: $43,119 per yearAverage rent for a studio apartment: $703 per monthAverage rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $900 per monthAverage rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $1,350 per month
Eureka, California, has about 26,000 people, giving it a friendly, small-town feel with a low cost of living. California’s rich geography is present in Eureka’s natural highlights with access to the Redwood Highway and Humboldt Redwoods State Park, home to the Avenue of the Giants.
People also enjoy spending their time in Eureka at the Carson Mansion and the Sequoia Park Zoo. Other nearby highlights include Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, Azalea State Natural Reserve, and Little River State Beach. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll adore hiking, camping, and picnicking opportunities here. With average highs between 50 and 60 degrees and lows between 40 and 50 throughout the year, you won’t find a bad time to be outdoors.
Median household income: $57,109 per yearAverage rent for a studio apartment: $950 per monthAverage rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $1,459 per monthAverage rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $1,689 per month
Fresno is an appealing option if you’re looking for a major metropolis that offers cheap living in California. The city has a population of more than 1 million people and provides a variety of diverse neighborhoods. This significant agricultural hub serves up to 90% of the produce grown in the United States. The location isn’t all farmland, however.
Fresno has a thriving nightlife centered in the Tower District. With access to the Fashion Fair Mall and River Park Shopping Center, you can easily find nearly anything you’re shopping for here. Other top entertainment attractions in Fresno to enjoy include the Forestiere Underground Gardens and the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.
Fresno has long, hot summers with average highs in the 90s from June through September. In winter, average highs are in the 50s and 60s, with lows in the upper 30s.
Median household income: $77,050 per yearAverage rent for a studio apartment: $1,600 per monthAverage rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $2,100 per monthAverager rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $2,882 per month
Compared to other cities in southern California, Oxnard is an affordable option. This city has a thriving population of more than 200,000 people. Residents enjoy access to more than 7 miles of stunning white-sand beaches ranging from the famous Hollywood Beach to the family-friendly Kiddie Beach Park. Oxnard’s Mandalay Beach has been home to Sonny, Cher, and Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters and Nirvana. You can find live music events taking place in the city throughout the year.
The Channel Islands Harbor is where many people in the Oxnard area spend their weekends, especially during the summer months. Oxnard State Beach and Park is also a great way to spend a warm day. Los Angeles is only 70 minutes away, making Oxnard a fabulous destination whether you’re in the entertainment business or hoping to catch glimpses of the rich and famous. You’re also just a short drive to some of California’s best restaurants and bars.
Median household income: $66,926 per yearAverage rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $995 per monthAverage rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $2,250 per month
Perris is a midsize city with 80,000 residents. When you explore Perris, you’ll find a peaceful community providing entertaining outdoor recreation available at destinations like Lake Perris State Recreation Area. Perris is only an hour from Disneyland, making it a perfect place for families. Families can easily justify an annual pass without having to have this tourist mecca in their backyard. Temperatures are warm throughout the year.
Other popular entertainment attractions in Perris include the Southern California Railway Museum and the Perris Auto Speedway. Both are great options for weekend fun in Perris. Highs reach the upper 60s during the winter and the upper 90s during the summer.
Median household income: $52,694 per yearAverage rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $1,595 per monthAverage rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $1,750 per month
Arden-Arcade is located within Sacramento County, California. The census-designated place (CDP) is home to around 95,000 residents. The city itself sits just east of Sacramento, meaning you’re close enough to entertainment and dining without the hustle and bustle of the big city.
Popular attractions to enjoy in Arden-Arcade include the Hot Tub Cinemas and nearby Tree Top Sac. If you’re more outdoorsy, you’ll definitely want to check out the Black Chasm Cavern. The average weather in Arden-Arcade is similar to that of the Sacramento area, with summer highs in the 90s and winter days in the 60s.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to live in California. These cities are great, cheap places to live in California that are worth considering. If you’re thinking of relocating to the West Coast, these cities can provide attractive, cost-effective places to start. Browse thousands of California apartments for rent on Zumper and find your perfect one.
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