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Top 10 Cheapest places to live in California with the Best quality of life – 2023

People move to California to experience its cosmopolitan cities, amazing sunny weather, elegant national parks, and much more. Despite the influx of people, which leads to increased demand and prices, there are still places to get affordable housing in California. Before moving to California, you might want to know the cheapest places to live in California in 2023 with the best quality of life. These places were chosen based on their quality of life, access to essential facilities nearby and the average house and apartment prices.

Cheapest Places to live in California - infographic

Featured in this article

1. Holtville

Best place to enjoy the quality of life

  • Population: 5,582
  • Average monthly cost of living: $3,315

Holtville, formerly known as Holton, is a city in Imperial County, California. In this city, you can find many restaurants, bars, and stores with everyday essentials. If you have children, you will be glad to know that public schools in Holtville are excellent as they are rated above average. If you plan to live in the area, the average home price in Holtville is around $150,900. As for an apartment, the average price of rent in Holtville is around $716 per month. Holtville is definitely one of the cheapest places to live in California. 

(*AreaVibes, Niche, Holtville, Neighborhoodscout & Census.gov)

Holtville, California

2. Clovis

Best for quality healthcare and schools

  • Population: 122,989 
  • Average monthly cost of living: $1,953

Clovis is one of the cheapest places to live in California in Fresno County, California’s  San Joaquin Valley. Clovis’s economy is fueled by retail sales and services and light manufacturing. It is also famous for its quality hospital care, responsive safety services, a mild climate, excellent schools with modern facilities, varied recreational opportunities, strong community identity, and affordable housing. All these make it one of the best cities to live in California. You can find a house in Clovis, California, for $263,500. While the rent in Clovis is an average of $1,093 per month.

(*AreaVibes, Neighborhoodscout, Census.gov and Living Cost Org)

Clovis, California


3. Coalinga

Best for job opportunities in the agriculture and industries

  • Population: 17,465
  • Average monthly cost of living: $3,014

Situated in Fresno County and the western San Joaquin Valley, Coalinga is one of the cheapest places to live in California. It is a relatively small city in California’s central valley. The city’s primary industries are oil and agriculture, offering many job opportunities to people in these sectors. Coalinga is also home to West Hills College. You can find affordable housing in Coalinga for $284,028. At the same time, the average rent in Coalinga is $1,058 per month. 

(*AreaVibes, Census.gov and 24/7 Wall St)

Coalinga, California

4. Imperial

Best for new business opportunities

  • Population: 21,017
  • Average monthly cost of living: $1,939

Imperial is located in Imperial County, California, close to the Mexican border. It is 4 miles north of El Centro, the largest city in the Imperial Valley. The community is considered one of the safest in California. The Imperial city and all Imperial County are known for their agriculture. Its cattle raising and feed industries are vital contributors to its economy. This is fascinating considering the scorching climate. The city is a budding city with plenty of room for development and growth, an excellent opportunity to own affordable homes. You can get affordable housing in Imperial for $369,950. The average rent in Imperial per month is $1,137, making it one of the cheapest places to live in California.

(*AreaVibes, Census.gov and Living Cost Org)

Imperial, California

5. Williams

Best for families

  • Population: 5,615 
  • Average monthly cost of living: $2,959

Williams, formerly known as Central, is a city in Colusa County, California. Williams has many parks, playgrounds and recreational facilities that make it a great place to spend time with family. For residents, they get to enjoy their free time, and more at North View Park, Redinger Park, Venice Park, public pools, and more. You can find affordable housing in Williams for $399,000. At the same time, the average rent in Williams is $1,255 per month. 

(*AreaVibes, Census.gov and 24/7 Wall St)

Williams, California

6. Lakeview

Best for nature lovers

  • Population: 14,460
  • Average monthly cost of living: $3,146

Lakeview is a suburban community in the San Fernando Valley region in Los Angeles. It is surrounded by nature and parks, such as the Angeles National Forest, Little Tujunga Canyon, Big Tujunga Canyon, Kagel Canyon Park, and a portion of the Verdugo Mountains. So, if hiking and long walks are your things, Lakeview presents you with excellent locations. You also do not have to worry about transportation in Lakeview since it has many stores, schools, restaurants, and more within walking distance from most houses. If you consider living here, you can find affordable housing in Lakeview for $499,900. The average monthly rent in Lakeview is $1,603.

(*AreaVibes, Census.gov and 24/7 Wall St)

Lake View, California

7. Mendocino

Best for quality schools

  • Population: 707
  • Average monthly cost of living: $3,039

The last cheapest place to live in California is Mendocino. Located 129 miles from San Francisco, the city is an unincorporated community in Mendocino County, California. Mendocino is famous for its natural beauty, from its cliffside trails to Mendocino Headlands State Park beaches. The city has several retail shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Public schools and job opportunities in Mendocino are also excellent. You can get affordable housing in Mendocino for $560,625. The average monthly rent in Mendocino is $1,173.

(*Census.govAreaVibes & Niche)

Mendocino, California

8. Roseville

Best for high-paying jobs

  • Population: 151,901
  • Average monthly cost of living: $2,551

Roseville was ranked as one of the best places to live in the United States in 2020. Roseville is an excellent place to live in with its high-paying jobs, vast retail opportunities, and reliable and low-cost utilities. It is the most populous city in Placer County, California, located within the Sacramento metropolitan area. Asides from the other fun amenities like parks, restaurants, and social events, Roseville is considered a regional shopping destination. The Westfield Galleria at Roseville is the main shopping center in the city and the second-largest shopping mall in Northern California. You can get good and affordable housing in Roseville for $634,781. The average cost of rent in Roseville is $2,250 every month.

(*AreaVibesWorld Population Review, Census.gov and Living Cost Org)

Roseville, California

9. Auburn

Best for families and outdoor activities

  • Population: 13,845
  • Average monthly cost of living: $3,603

Auburn is located Northeast of Sacramento and Southwest of Lake Tahoe. Auburn has a very family-friendly community. It also has a lot of great parks, movie theaters, and tons of hiking trails. Popular hiking trails in Auburn include Chewacla State Park and Lake Wilmore trail. Auburn is also a great place to raise a family as it ranked in the top 100 places to live in the United States. If you plan to live in the area, the average home price in Auburn is around $699,000. As for an apartment, the average price of rent in Auburn is around $1,424 per month.

(*AreaVibesOpelika-Auburn News, Census.gov and 24/7 Wall St)

Auburn, California

10. Oceanside

Best for beach lovers

  • Population: 172,982
  • Average monthly cost of living: $4,309

Oceanside is another beautiful coastal city and one of the cheapest cities to live in California. From beaches to parks, there are plenty of activities you can do in the city. The city also has excellent schools and excellent job opportunities, especially if you work in engineering. Housing in Oceanside is quite affordable. You can find a house in Oceanside for $700,000. You can also rent an apartment in Oceanside for an average of $2,507 monthly. 

(*AreaVibes, Niche, Glassdoor, Census.gov and 24/7 Wall St)

Oceanside, California

Affordable Housing Options in California

Even though we’ve looked at some of the cheapest places to live in California, you might want to know other affordable housing options. To avoid breaking the bank, check out the affordable housing options below.

Tiny Houses in California

Tiny houses are gaining popularity globally, with many states making them legal and allowing several tiny house communities to spring up. California is not excluded from this. Tiny house communities are found in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, Fresno, San Luis Obispo, California City, and a recent addition Santa Cruz. There are certain conditions that tiny houses in California must meet before they can exist with their communities. California has a peculiar land operation policy where the local government controls land use, and they make use of regulations contained in zoning codes, otherwise called “zoning ordinances” or “development codes.” Ensure to check all rules before getting a tiny house. Below are some of the tiny house communities in California:

  • Tiny House Block
  • Delta Bay Tiny House Resort
  • Highland Park

Getting Roommates in California

Even if we listed some of the cheapest places to live in California, getting roommates comes with significant advantages. The primary benefit is that it helps you save money on rent and utility. This is particularly helpful for students and young career professionals. It also provides a helping hand with chores. Roommates can also keep you entertained, so you aren’t bored and lonely. It also comes with downsides such as conflicts. When getting a roommate, it’s important to consider the legal implications and requirements to avoid future issues with payments and other responsibilities.


How Much Mortgage Can I Afford in America?

Mortgages given to you by a bank depend on the amount of money you earn, debts incurred, and your general living expenses. The higher the mortgage you can afford, the more expensive a home you can afford to purchase. 

The price of homes can vary depending on which states you are living in the United States. However, you might want to find out how much mortgage you can afford with this mortgage calculator based on your household income, debts, and down payment amount. 

Household Income 

before taxes, no debts 

Down Payment

Maximum Mortgage You Can Afford in America

Term length: 30 years fixed

Interest rate: 3.500%











Why Do People Move to California?

  • Great weather
  • More job opportunities
  • Better pay
  • Top-quality education
  • Thrilling nightlife
  • Diverse communities 



From beautiful beaches to hiking trails, California has a lot to offer. With this list of the 10 cheapest places to live in California, you should be able to make a choice after determining what type of housing you can afford based on your income and lifestyle. If you are planning to move to California, you might want to look for the safest cities in the U.S. with the best quality of life

Last year's ranking (2022)

1. Holtville
2. Coalinga
3. Williams
4. Imperial
5. Lake View
6. Clovis
7. Roseville
8. Auburn
9. Oceanside
10. Mendocino

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