California offers some of the most diverse landscapes – from the majestic mountains in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks to deserts like Joshua Tree and Death Valley, 840 miles of coastline with stunning beaches, and much more. With bustling cities, small towns, beachside paradises, and mountain escapes, there are a million reasons to live in California. 

If you’ve been considering moving to California or are hoping to relocate to a new city, you also probably have a budget you’d like to stay under as you look for a place to live. As of August, the median home sale price in California is $859,300 and the average sale price per square foot is $486.

If that price doesn’t fit into your budget, don’t worry. Redfin has collected 12 of the most affordable places to live in California. From Fresno to Lancaster, let’s jump in and see what cities are on the list.

#1: Porterville

Median home price: $355,000
Average sale price per square foot: $219
Median household income: $44,095
Nearest major metro: Visalia (15 miles)
Porterville, CA homes for sale
Porterville, CA apartments for rent

With a median home sale price of $355,000, Porterville takes the number one spot on our list of affordable places to live in California. When living in this city of 62,600 people, you can check out Murry Park and visit the downtown area where you’ll find lots of local shops and restaurants. Or spend the day at Lake Success where you can camp and take in the views at Vista Point.

#2: Tulare

Median home price: $369,900
Average sale price per square foot: $222
Median household income: $56,024
Nearest major metro: Fresno (45 miles)
Tulare, CA homes for sale
Tulare, CA apartments for rent

Taking second place on our list of affordable cities to live in California is Tulare. About 45 miles south of Fresno, the nearest major metro, Tulare is home to roughly 68,900 residents. If you’re considering moving to this area, make sure to visit the Tulare Historical Museum, check out one of the parks in town, and explore the charming downtown.

#3: Madera

Median home price: $380,000
Average sale price per square foot: $238
Median household income: $49,335
Nearest major metro: Fresno (20 miles)
Madera, CA homes for sale
Madera, CA apartments for rent

Claiming the third spot on our list of affordable places to live in California is Madera. With a population of roughly 66,200, living in Madera is a great option for those looking for a mid-sized city to live in that’s centrally located in the heart of the state. Don’t miss out on checking out Lions Town & Country Park, visiting the downtown area, or taking a day trip to Yosemite once moving here.

view of fresno ca skyline

#4: Fresno

Median home price: $395,000
Average sale price per square foot: $249
Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,502
Median household income: $44,095
Fresno, CA homes for sale
Fresno, CA apartments for rent

Only slightly more expensive than Madera is the city of Fresno. There are several top attractions you may want to check out if you’re moving to Fresno. Make sure to explore the Tower District and see a concert at Strummers or check out the events at Save Mart Center and Saroyan Theatre. You can also visit the Gibson Farm Market at Fresno State University where you’ll find local produce like corn and grapes during the summer months and spend the day exploring the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

#5: Merced

Median home price: $395,000
Average sale price per square foot: $249
Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,470
Median household income: $49,973
Nearest major metro: Modesto (70 miles)
Merced, CA homes for sale
Merced, CA apartments for rent

If you’ve lived in California for a while, chances are you know of Merced. This affordable city is home to approximately 86,300 residents, located roughly halfway between Modesto and Fresno. Be sure to enjoy the Merced County Fair during the summer, visit Merced’s Applegate Park Zoo, and check out downtown Merced once living here.

#6: Visalia

Median home price: $405,000
Average sale price per square foot: $238
Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,814
Median household income: $44,095
Nearest major metro: Fresno (43 miles)
Visalia, CA homes for sale
Visalia, CA apartments for rent

The sixth affordable place in California to consider moving to is Visalia, which is 43 miles south of Fresno. Home to 141,400 residents, this affordable town can be a great option to add to your list. In Visalia, you can see a concert at the Visalia Fox Theatre, explore the charming downtown, and visit one of the parks or golf courses in town.

Bakersfield sign _ getty

#7: Bakersfield

Median home price: $409,500
Average sale price per square foot: $231
Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,352
Median household income: $65,687
Bakersfield, CA homes for sale
Bakersfield, CA apartments for rent

Another well-known city is Bakersfield, where the median home sale price is about $550K less than the state’s average. With roughly 403,500 people calling Bakersfield home, it’s a great area to consider living in this year. Whether you visit The Park at River Walk along the Kern River where you’ll find trails and an amphitheater or explore downtown Bakersfield home to shops, restaurants, and venues like The Historic Bakersfield Fox Theater, there are many activities to do and see in this city. You can also check out museums like Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science and Bakersfield Museum of Art, or discover the many Bakersfield neighborhoods that make the city unique.

#8: Yuba City

Median home price: $440,000
Average sale price per square foot: $264
Median household income: $60,910
Nearest major metro: Sacramento (40 miles)
Yuba City, CA homes for sale
Yuba City, CA apartments for rent

About 70,100 people reside in Yuba City. The median home sale price is $440,000 which is about $415K less than the median home sale price in California. Make sure to visit the downtown area, stroll along the Feather River Parkway, and check out the events at Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds if you move to the eighth most affordable city.

#9: Modesto

Median home price: $455,000
Average sale price per square foot: $298
Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,530
Median household income: $62,182
Nearest major metro: Stockton (30 miles)
Modesto, CA homes for sale
Modesto, CA apartments for rent

Another great place to consider living in California is Modesto where the population is about 218,500. Popular things to do in Modesto include checking out the local produce and vendors at Modesto Certified Farmers Market, strolling through downtown Modesto, exploring the McHenry Museum which dates back to 1912, and discovering the Tuolumne River Regional Park.

aerial view of stockton california downtown_shutterstock

#10: Stockton

Median home price: $460,000
Average sale price per square foot: $283
Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,199
Median household income: $58,393
Nearest major metro: Sacramento (50 miles)
Stockton, CA homes for sale
Stockton, CA apartments for rent

Next up on our list is Stockton. This city has a population of 320,800 and you can see an event at Stockton Arena or the Bob Hope Theatre, explore Buckley Cove Park, and check out the downtown area where you’ll find shops and museums. There’s plenty to do on an afternoon or weekend while living in Stockton.

#11: Lancaster

Median home price: $485,000
Average sale price per square foot: $276
Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $2,218
Median household income: $71,367
Nearest major metro: Los Angeles (68 miles)
Lancaster, CA homes for sale
Lancaster, CA apartments for rent

The 11th city to make our list is Lancaster, located in Southern California. Home to 57,400 residents, it’s a great affordable option if you want to live near major cities like Los Angeles and Santa Clarita. In Lancaster, you can check out the scenic Prime Desert Woodland Preserve, visit the Blackbird Airpark, or enjoy the stunning poppy displays each spring at Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. 

#12: Citrus Heights

Median home price: $500,000
Average sale price per square foot: $329
Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,721
Median household income: $65,867
Nearest major metro: Sacramento (15 miles)
Citrus Heights, CA homes for sale
Citrus Heights, CA apartments for rent

With a median home sale price of $500,000, Citrus Heights takes the final spot on our list of most affordable places to live in California. There are about 87,600 people living in this city, giving Citrus Heights a city-like feel without the hustle and bustle of nearby Sacramento. If Citrus Heights is the city for you, be sure to check out green spaces like Rusch Community Park and Tempo Park, and have a meal at one of the local restaurants.

Methodology: All cities must have over 60,000 residents per the US Census, have a median home sale price under $500,000, and the average sale price per square foot must be under the average sale price per square foot in California. Median home sale price and median sale price per square foot from the Redfin Data Center during July 2024. Average rental data from Rent.com August 2023. Population and median household income data sourced from the United States Census Bureau.

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