When people think of the most desirable places to live in the US, California is often at the top of their list. The Golden State has something for everyone, whether you prefer the beach, beautiful cities, or national parks.
However, California has also become notorious for its high-priced housing market, which leads many to conclude the state is entirely unaffordable to move into.
Some parts of California fit this picture, but not everywhere. True, you aren’t apt to find homes for the same price as rural Nebraska or even parts of urban Texas, but some regions are still affordable.
Here are some places in California where you can still find an inexpensive home without sacrificing quality or amenities.
Often regarded as Northern California, though it’s four and a half hours from the state’s border with Oregon, Sacramento features an attractive housing market with a lower cost of living than many other parts of the state. The city boasts a thriving job market, cultural attractions, and a family-friendly environment.
Of all the big cities in California, Sacramento offers the most for its price, with houses often going for half the amount they do in Los Angeles. Overall, the state capital is excellent for people who seek the California culture and amenities without Southern Cal’s traffic, pace, and crowds.
Located in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, Fresno is another city worth considering for affordable home ownership. The cost of living there is significantly lower than in the larger metropolitan areas, which can make it an attractive choice for homebuyers.
Fresno is also appealing because of where it’s located in the state. Admittedly, there isn’t much to do in town, but the city is only a few hours from Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, beaches, and even ski resorts.
If you want moderately priced housing in Southern California, try exploring Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, sometimes known as the Inland Empire. These areas east of Los Angeles will balance affordability with proximity to the major cities.
The homes are more expensive than anywhere else on this list, but the Inland Empire is your best bet to get close to LA without paying an arm and a leg for your residence. Cities like Riverside, Moreno Valley, and Ontario offer a range of selections, from modest single-family homes to new developments.
Given the lower cost of living, ample job opportunities, and a relaxed suburban atmosphere, these counties have become popular among people who yearn for affordable home ownership.
One serious caveat is the traffic getting into and out of LA. Many residents commute from these cities, which often makes traffic a nightmare.
The High Desert region, which includes Victorville, Hesperia, and Lancaster, is a unique housing market in California. While these communities feature a hot desert climate, they also support affordable housing options and a quieter lifestyle.
The high desert may be the best place to get a fine chunk of land at a bargain price in Southern California. During the Covid lockdowns, the High Desert became a popular destination for remote workers who no longer commute.
Since then, many companies have continued to offer remote working options, which preserve the appeal of this alternative.
A Thought on Construction
If you want to build in California, construction costs in different parts of the state could be a vital factor. The overall price to build will be lower the farther you get from the metro centers, because companies routinely charge more to bring big machinery into the city.
Look into which companies are using advanced techniques and technologies. Outfits that use state-of-the-art tech, such as maintenance software or drones for better perspective, are more likely to give you a quality and sturdy home.
California isn’t getting a lot of national love in terms of its housing market. Just reading the headlines would make you believe there is nowhere you can afford to purchase a home.
But as this article has explained, several regions continue to host a competitive housing market with affordable options. Whether you’re looking to build, a first-time homebuyer, or just yearning for a new place, California still offers great options if you look in the right spots.
Be patient, do some research, and always be willing to compromise. If you do this, you will find the perfect home.