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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
|Rank||City||State||Average 1BR Rent||Average YoY Rent % Change|
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.
|Rank||City||State||Average 1BR Rent||Average YoY Rent % Change|
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.
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.