Top 7 Best places to live in California with the Best quality of life – 2024

California offers a diverse array of places to live for those seeking the best quality of life. Whether you crave the energy of big cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, the tranquility of coastal retreats such as San Diego, or the small-town charm of the San Joaquin Valley with its picturesque landscapes, California has it all. This makes The Golden State one of the most beautiful and desirable places to live in the United States.

In this list, you’ll discover the best places to live in California, taking into account factors such as cost of living, home prices, and overall quality of life. Before making the big decision, it’s always good to research on things to know and do before moving to California.

Read on to explore the top 7 best places to live in California with the best quality of life.

Top 7 Best places to live in California with the Best quality of life – 2024

Methodology

Based on “Best” being a subjective word, below is our methodology to compile the best places.

Using our existing ranking of the safest and cheapest places to live in California, we based our ranking on 3 criteria: safety, affordability and quality of life. 

Our ranking methodology is based on a careful analysis of the total number of crimes, which consist of violent crimes, property crimes and arson. To ensure accuracy, we calculated the average number of various crimes per 1000 people. The data was gathered from the FBI UCR California for the year 2019. 

Affordability takes into account the prices of housing and renting. Statistics come from Rocket homes’ median pricing for December 2023 and Zillow’s 1-bedroom median cost for January 2024.

The “Best quality of life” aspect is measured based on feedback from real people who have moved to this area in our database or real people from trusted online forums. More specifically, we look for positive feedback on job opportunities, quality of education, quality of healthcare, feeling of safety, public transportation, the environment (cleanliness), as well as the availability of recreational facilities and parks.

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1. Rancho Santa Margarita

Apartment in Rancho-Santa-Margarita
  • Population: 47,442
  • Crimes: 6.87 crimes per 1,000 people
  • Median 1-bed apt rent: $2,965
  • Median property buying cost: $914,900

Rancho Santa Margarita is a small city with a cozy village vibe, and a family-oriented community where safety is a top priority. The residents collaborate through various programs, and the presence of law enforcement ensures the maintenance of a safe city, evidenced by a low crime rate of 6.87 crimes per 1,000 people, making it one of the best places to live in California.

Most of the residents here are in their 30s, living in large condominiums and houses. As of January 2024, the median property price stands at $914,900, while the median rent for 1-bedroom apartments is $2,965. They consider it an ideal place to raise a family, with a friendly community and high quality of life. Residents have access to amenities like parks, including Lake Santa Margarita parks, pools, pedestrian and bicycle trails, and nearby public schools.

City of RSM (Jan 2024), Local Logic (Jan 2024), Zillow (Jan 2024) & Rocket Homes (Jan 2024)

Rancho Santa Margarita, California

2. Moorpark

Apartment in Moorpark
  • Population: 35,975
  • Crimes: 7.06 crimes per 1000 people
  • Median 1-bed apt rent: $3,900
  • Median property buying cost: $841,250

Moorpark, a small city in Southern California and home to 35,975 residents, most ranging in their 30s. Conveniently located near to universities, like California State University (30-minute drive), California Lutheran University (15-minute drive), and major institutions like UC Santa Barbara, Pepperdine, UCLA, and USC, all within a 50-minute drive, ideal for young professionals seeking to further their education.

Commuting here is easy, the city has its own Metrolink Station, with stops from Oxnard to Los Angeles Union Station, as well as bus services. It is also recognized with a long history of being the safest city in Ventura County, with a reported crime rate of 7.06 crimes per 1,000 people, providing a secure environment for its residents. As of January 2024, the median property price is $841,250, with 1-bedroom apartments renting for an average of $3,900.

Moonpark City (De 2023),  Local Logic (Jan 2024), Zillow (Jan 2024) & Rocket Homes (Jan 2024)

Moorpark, California

3. Danville

Apartment in Danville
  • Population: 43,240
  • Crimes: 7.38 crimes per 1000 people
  • Median 1-bed apt rent: $3,043
  • Median property buying cost: $1,882,166

Danville is a wealthy town located in the San Ramon Valley in Contra Costa County, California. Housing options range from luxury homes to condos and townhomes. As of January 2024, the median property price is $1,882,166, with 1-bedroom apartments renting for around $3,043. Residents enjoy shopping centers in Downtown Danville and larger malls like Blackhawk Plaza.

The town is home to several outdoor recreation areas, and if you enjoy hiking, Mount Diablo State Park is the perfect place with hiking trails. Residents here say it stands out for being a quiet and safe town, with a reported low crime rate of 7.38 crimes per 1,000 people.

Local Logic (Jan 2024), Zillow (Jan 2024) & Rocket Homes (Jan 2024)

Danville, California

4. Orinda

Apartment in Orinda
  • Population: 19,483
  • Crimes: 10.88 crimes per 1000 people
  • Median 1-bed apt rent: $2,600
  • Median property buying cost: $1,925,000

Orinda, a suburb of Oakland in Contra Costa County, has a population of 19,483 and a reported crime rate of 10.88 crimes per 1,000 people, making it one of the safest places to live in California. Renowned for its luxury hillside homes with spectacular views, surrounded by green areas and small downtown shops. As of January 2024, the median property price is $1,925,000, with 1-bedroom apartments renting for around $2,600.

Residents claim to enjoy different recreation areas, including Siesta Valley, Orinda Community Park, and Orinda Oaks Park ideal for outdoor activities. They appreciate the city’s scenic arts and theaters, with the Rheem Theater being a local favorite. While buses are available for commuting, they say that the best way to get around is by car, with the San Francisco Bay Area just a quick 20-minute ride away.

Local Logic (Jan 2024), Zillow (Jan 2024) & Rocket Homes (Jan 2024)

Orinda, California

5. Saratoga

Apartment in Saratoga
  • Population: 30,163
  • Crimes: 8.49 crimes per 1000 people
  • Median 1-bed apt rent: $3,650
  • Median property buying cost: $3,625,000

Saratoga, a small city in Santa Clara County, is home to around 30,163 residents, primarily in their 40s to late 50s. Renowned for being an expensive suburb where residents live in luxury homes. As of January 2024, the median property price is $3,625,000, with 1-bedroom apartments renting for around $3,650. It also offers a strong sense of security, complemented by a low crime rate of 8.49 crimes per 1,000 people.

Just a 13-minute commute to Silicon Valley, residents here enjoy working in proximity to employers such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and IBM. Saratoga also offers open spaces like Sanborn County Park and Hakone Estate and Gardens, along with boutique shopping and high-end restaurants, enhancing the quality of life while maintaining its small-town feel.

Saratoga (Jan 2024),  Local Logic (Jan 2024), Zillow (Jan 2024) & Rocket Homes (Jan 2024)

Saratoga, California

6. Clearlake

Apartments in Clearlake
  • Population: 16,777
  • Crimes: 70 crimes per 1000 people
  • Median 1-bed apt rent: $1,400
  • Median property buying cost: $227,000

Clearlake, located in northern California, is renowned for its natural beauty, owing to its proximity to Clear Lake. Residents appreciate the parks and natural preserves, such as Anderson Marsh State Historic Park and Clear Lake State Park, making it ideal for nature lovers. It provides a small-town charm community, with a low reported crime rate of 70 crimes per 1,000 people, ensuring safety for its residents.

One of Clearlake’s biggest appeals is its lower cost of living compared to many other California cities, as well as its affordable housing options, which mainly consist of single-detached houses and apartments. As of January 2024, the median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment is $1,400, and the median home price is $227,000.

City of Clearlake (Jan 2024), Local Logic (Jan 2024), Zillow (Jan 2024) & Rocket Homes (Jan 2024)

Clearlake, California

7. Blythe

Apartments in Blythe
  • Population: 17,793
  • Crimes: 85 crimes per 1000 people
  • Median 1-bed apt rent: $1,250
  • Median property buying cost: $230,000

Blythe, located along the Colorado River in Riverside County, is an ideal place for those seeking a calm ambience and outdoor recreation. With 7 parks, various nature walks, and hiking trails like Lost Palms Oasis Trail and Big Maria Mountains, it’s ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. Kayaking and fishing are popular activities along the Colorado River. It has reported a low crime rate of 85 crimes per 1,000 people, ensuring safety.

Blythe offers affordable housing with a wide range of options, including single-detached houses, semi-detached houses, and some apartments. The majority of residents are homeowners. As of January 2024, the median home price stands at $230,000, with 1-bedroom apartments renting for $1,250.

City of Blythe (Jan 2024), Local Logic (Jan 2024), Zillow (Jan 2024) & Rocket Homes (Jan 2024)

Blythe, California

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Conclusion

Moving to the Golden State in the United States, requires thoughtful consideration of various factors such as the cost of living, home prices, job opportunities, outdoor activities, and more. Deliberating on these aspects alongside your personal priorities will help you choose the best place to live in California, whether it’s within a big city or elsewhere in this vibrant state.

Be sure to carefully review this list before making your final decision. Planning a move to California soon? Discover the best movers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the surrounding areas for a smooth moving experience.

Thinking of moving to a major city? Check out the major cities to live in California ranked from best to worst!

Last year’s ranking (2023)

  1. Irvine
  2. Holtville
  3. Clovis
  4. San Diego
  5. San Juan Capistrano
  6. Pasadena
  7. Palo Alto
  8. Santa Clara
  9. Berkeley
  10. Sacramento

 

Our rankings are meticulously curated, considering affordability and quality of life. It’s important to highlight that certain places were excluded from last year’s lists due to insufficient rental data. Moreover, entries with higher average housing prices in the previous year were excluded from the current rankings. We encourage readers to weigh these rankings in light of their individual needs and preferences for a more informed decision-making process.

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Ann Nacario

The author

Meet Ann – our head writer with a knack for making moving and city living a breeze. From the many details of moving to picking the perfect moving company, she’s your guide. Ann has a friendly yet detailed approach to ensure your move goes off without a hitch. When she’s not writing about relocation, it will always be on her mind, but you’ll catch her spending time with her three furry friends.

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