California Cities Where it’s Getting Cheaper to Live

California dreamin' of cheaper rent? Consider these cities.

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California dreamin' of cheaper rent? Consider these cities.

From sunny beaches and vineyards to Hollywood and Disneyland, California is home to some of the nation's most iconic landmarks. It's also home to 39.5 million people. While the Golden State is a great place to live, it can also be very expensive.

When choosing a place to live, you look at a variety of metrics — location, safety ratings and cost of living. Ideally, you find a city to move to that offers everything you're looking for, including decent rent prices. Multiple cities in California have seen rent reductions recently and we'll show you where you can find the cheapest cities in California.

Rancho Cordova CA

Source: Blairmore Apartments
  • Average rent price decrease: 16.38 percent
  • Average 1-BR rental price: $1,217

Located in the eastern area of Sacramento County, Rancho Cordova is one of the cheapest cities in California. This city is steeped in history as it was a prominent area during the California Gold Rush. Now, it's a great city to work and live.

Frequently rated one of the best places to work, it attracts and employs more than 50,000 commuters. If you're looking for a California city that has work options and a decent cost of living, this city is for you.

Cupertino CA

  • Average rent price decrease: 17.42 percent
  • Average 1-BR rental price: $3,235

Hey, Siri, ever heard of Apple? Well, the tech giant's headquarters are located in Cupertino, CA. This city is part of Silicon Valley, a place known for innovations in tech and science. It's a highly educated and diverse city that draws in people who are looking to work in the booming tech industry.

If you value education, technology and growth, this is a city where you'd be happy to call home. Plus, rent has decreased in the last year, making it a great place to settle down.

La Mirada CA

Image: Cerritos Apartments
  • Average rent price decrease: 17.54 percent
  • Average 1-BR rental price: $1,785

Part of the “Gateway Cities," La Mirada is a city in southeast Los Angeles County that bridges between L.A. and Orange County. If you're looking for a place to live that offers old-town beach vibes and an urban city feel, this place is worth considering.

Home to about 50,000 people, you'll find a wide variety of parks, walking trails and outdoor festivities. You'll also find affordable housing for single families or seniors. This city has seen an almost 20 percent decrease in rent, making it a viable option to live in.

Santa Rosa CA

  • Average rent price decrease: 19.19 percent
  • Average 1-BR rental price: $1,980

If you like to eat, drink wine and explore, Santa Rosa is the perfect city to call home. Located in the heart of wine country, or Sonoma, CA, Santa Rosa is surrounded by lush vineyards and is a wine aficionados dream town.

Not a wine drinker? That's OK! You may like to know that Santa Rosa is also home to Charles M. Schulz, better known as the creator of the adorable "Peanuts" cartoon. Each year, the city hosts a “Peanuts on Parade" event that's fun for adults and children alike.

santa cruz ca

  • Average rent price decrease: 19.95 percent
  • Average 1-BR rental price: $2,325

When you think of a beach city, you often picture long stretches of sand and water complete with a boardwalk carnival. Santa Cruz is just that. Located in central California near Monterey Bay, the city is full of small boutiques, local eateries and galleries.

If you're looking for a beach town that's affordable, consider Santa Cruz as it is one of the cheapest cities in California.

huntington beach ca

  • Average rent price decrease: 22.01 percent
  • Average 1-BR rental price: $2,194

Looking to Hang 10? Well, Huntington Beach is the perfect city to surf and ride waves all along the coast. After a day in the water, you can eat at a variety of local restaurants or grab a drink at the local bar.

Huntington Beach offers a coastal experience but is also close to LA for city-dwellers. With rent decreasing just shy of 25 percent each year, you can live out your surfer's dream and still afford a decent place in town.

Berkeley ca

  • Average rent price decrease: 22.58 percent
  • Average 1-BR rental price: $2,457

Berkeley is a city just east of San Francisco Bay in the northern part of California. This city is home to one of California's most famous colleges, University of California, Berkeley.

Whether you're attending school here or just looking to meander around the campus, you'll find a diverse group of people who are interested in free speech, art and education. While the cost of tuition may be increasing, rent prices have actually decreased.

oceanside ca

  • Average rent price decrease: 26.08 percent
  • Average 1-BR rental price: $1,958

Oceanside is a coastal town located between San Diego and Los Angeles. Filled with beaches, galleries and restaurants, this affordable spot offers all the perks of an ocean city on a smaller, less crowded scale.

You might recognize a few streets from "Top Gun," which was filmed in Oceanside and other areas in San Diego County, including nearby Camp Pendleton.

Alta Loma ca

Source: Heritage Park Alta Loma Senior Living
  • Average rent price decrease: 39.81 percent
  • Average 1-BR rental price: $1,740

Alta Loma is a great place to live if you're looking for a residential city with affordable housing options. One of the cheapest cities in California, you'll find great hiking trails here, too.

west sacramento ca

  • Average rent price decrease: 43.49 percent
  • Average 1-BR rental price: $2,115

Ranked as the No. 1 city where rent is decreasing the most, West Sacramento offers people a great place to live at a very affordable price. It's separated from Sacramento itself by the Sacramento River.

The city offers plenty of work opportunities, has great schools and is one of the fastest-growing cities in the state. If you're looking to settle down in a place that'll eventually boom, this is a great place to consider.

Top 50 California cities where it's getting cheaper to live

While these 10 cities have seen the sharpest decrease in rent prices year over year, there are plenty of other cities in California that are seeing rent decreases, making it more affordable compared to previous years.

California is one of the most desirable states to live in, so when you can find a city that's lowering rent prices instead of increasing them, you'll want to seriously consider if living in one of the cheapest cities in California is right for you.

RankCityStateAverage 1BR RentAverage YoY Rent % Change
1West SacramentoCA$2,115 -43.49%
2Alta LomaCA$1,740 -39.81%
3OceansideCA$1,958 -26.08%
4BerkeleyCA$2,457 -22.58%
5Huntington BeachCA$2,194 -22.01%
6Santa CruzCA$2,325 -19.95%
7Santa RosaCA$1,980 -19.19%
8La MiradaCA$1,785 -17.54%
9CupertinoCA$3,235 -17.42%
10Rancho CordovaCA$1,217 -16.38%
11FosterCA$3,916 -14.37%
12Foster CityCA$3,165 -14.25%
13CampbellCA$2,829 -13.79%
14Valley VillageCA$2,055 -12.28%
15FairfieldCA$1,739 -12.24%
16Santa ClaraCA$3,387 -10.37%
17PlacentiaCA$1,884 -10.32%
18EncinoCA$2,200 -9.77%
19Pleasant HillCA$2,144 -9.21%
20ConcordCA$2,156 -9.02%
21La VerneCA$1,567 -8.47%
22Costa MesaCA$2,456 -7.96%
23West HollywoodCA$3,645 -7.60%
24Culver CityCA$3,540 -7.38%
25AlamedaCA$2,648 -7.18%
26Newport CoastCA$2,898 -7.13%
27Fair OaksCA$1,794 -6.40%
28Lake ElsinoreCA$1,619 -6.02%
29La JollaCA$2,872 -5.68%
30BelmontCA$2,589 -5.32%
31El CajonCA$1,615 -5.30%
32San BrunoCA$3,175 -5.26%
33San LeandroCA$1,968 -4.83%
34Thousand OaksCA$2,287 -4.73%
35FremontCA$2,338 -4.68%
36LarkspurCA$3,095 -4.08%
37Simi ValleyCA$2,001 -3.99%
38PacificaCA$3,176 -3.78%
39Long BeachCA$2,429 -3.54%
40Walnut CreekCA$2,541 -3.47%
41San DiegoCA$2,503 -3.44%
42San RafaelCA$2,383 -3.42%
43Newport BeachCA$2,945 -3.06%
44Anaheim HillsCA$3,009 -3.03%
45Agoura HillsCA$2,415 -2.95%
46Redwood CityCA$4,373 -2.95%
47TemeculaCA$1,749 -2.80%
48BrentwoodCA$3,399 -2.77%
49EscondidoCA$2,063 -2.47%
50La QuintaCA$1,256 -2.06%

The cheapest cities in California

Finding a place to live can be both exciting and daunting. After all, your city becomes your hometown where you'll work, make friends, find a partner and raise a family. You want to find a city that fits your personality and works with your budget.

If you know you want to live in California but are open to which city, consider one of the cheapest cities in California.

RankCityStateAverage 1BR RentAverage YoY Rent % Change
1TurlockCA$1,045 -1.29%
2IndioCA$1,143 14.82%
3HemetCA$1,181 11.38%
4FresnoCA$1,182 2.06%
5VictorvilleCA$1,212 -0.79%
6Rancho CordovaCA$1,217 -16.38%
7San BernardinoCA$1,220 10.55%
8La QuintaCA$1,256 -2.06%
9CarmichaelCA$1,263 -0.06%
10FontanaCA$1,268 15.33%
11HighlandCA$1,293 6.59%
12Palm SpringsCA$1,321 8.83%
13PalmdaleCA$1,333 9.67%
14AntelopeCA$1,400 2.55%
15ColtonCA$1,424 -1.06%
16LancasterCA$1,451 5.87%
17Citrus HeightsCA$1,473 1.33%
18PomonaCA$1,489 2.85%
19Grand TerraceCA$1,490 2.11%
20WinchesterCA$1,527 -2.02%
21OrangevaleCA$1,548 13.26%
22La VerneCA$1,567 -8.47%
23MenifeeCA$1,577 2.49%
24DowneyCA$1,582 -0.71%
25Lake BalboaCA$1,591 1.82%

California average rent changes in the past year

It's rare and exciting to find cities that are decreasing rent prices. Overall, across the state of California, rent prices have changed when comparing 2019 to 2020. For example, in 2020, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is $2,657. In 2019, the average cost was $2,634, which is a 0.86 percent increase in just one year.

Rent prices vary drastically across the nation, state to state and even city to city. Prices that are considered reasonable in a large metro city will look astronomically high in a smaller town. For example, you can rent an apartment in Turlock, CA, for $1,045 a month, but in Venice Beach, you'd pay $5,589 a month for the same amount of space.

So, if you're looking for the cheapest cities in California, consider any of the places listed in this article.

Methodology

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com's multifamily rental property inventory from April 2019 to April 2020. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets. Cities were excluded if they did not have an average of at least 20 units in our available inventory during that time period.

The data contained herein does not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.


Source: rent.com