The 20 Best Places to Live in Northern California

The Golden State is renowned for its natural beauty, and Northern California is almost entirely a part of that. It’s bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Sierra Nevada Range to the east, leaving just a small amount of room for agriculture.

Northern California is home to many small towns that are quite beautiful. Many of these small towns are located in between larger cities such as San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento.

This gives you the best of both worlds with a tranquil lifestyle surrounded by gorgeous landscapes, fresh air, and proximity to big cities for shopping, entertainment, and events.

With so many great places to live in Northern California, it can certainly be challenging to settle on a location.

Let’s take a look at what this area has to offer in terms of cost of living, job market, schools, and real estate to see if it makes sense for you to consider northern California your next home!

1. Clovis

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Clovis is the finest city in Northern California for families, according to NerdWallet… and it’s simple to understand why.

Housing is wonderfully reasonable by Californian standards, costing $284,200 for a three-bedroom home, and it is less than three hour drive from the coast and Yosemite, ensuring lots of recreational activities.

The educational system is excellent, and the Clovis Unified School District provides an excellent opportunity for exceptional pupils to advance via an accelerated learning program.

A fantastic calendar of activities, including weekly farmers’ markets and a citywide yearly rodeo, fosters the fantastic community spirit.


Related: The 10 Cheapest Beach Towns in California


2. Folsom

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Folsom, California has a population of 79,584 (2020) people. Folsom is located in Sacramento County and is considered one of the nicest locations to live in California.

Living in Folsom provides homeowners with a thick suburban atmosphere, and the majority of inhabitants own their houses. There are several restaurants, coffee shops, and parks in Folsom.

Folsom is home to many families and young professionals, and people tend to have moderate political views. Folsom’s public schools are well regarded.


Related: Why Is California So Expensive To Live In


3. Dublin

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Dublin is an excellent choice for people who can afford the median home price of $756,800. While the city has developed tremendously in recent years, it retains a small-town, homey vibe.

Residents have easy access to San Francisco and Silicon Valley because of its placement at the crossroads of two major interstates (and, of course, all the excellent job opportunities that afford).

The downtown area has a plethora of stores, pubs, and restaurants where inhabitants may spend their large median income of $138,007, while the gorgeous Dublin Hills Regional Park provides nature enthusiasts with all the outdoor activities they could want.


Related: The 20 Most Expensive Cities to Live in California


4. Los Altos

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Los Altos is a San Jose suburb with a population of 30,504. Los Altos is located in Santa Clara County and is considered to be one of the nicest locations to live in California.

Living in Los Altos provides inhabitants with a thick suburban atmosphere, and the majority of homeowners own their houses. There are several restaurants, coffee shops, and parks in Los Altos.

Los Altos is home to a large number of seniors, and people tend to have moderate political views. Los Altos’ public schools are well regarded.

5. El Dorado Hills

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El Dorado Hills is a Sacramento suburb with a population of 46,593. El Dorado Hills is located in El Dorado County and is considered to be one of the nicest areas to live in California.

Living in El Dorado Hills provides homeowners with a rural atmosphere, and the majority of inhabitants own their houses. There are several parks in El Dorado Hills.

El Dorado Hills is a family-oriented community with a conservative outlook. El Dorado Hills’ public schools are well regarded.


Related: Why Is Housing so Expensive in California?


6. San Francisco

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San Francisco, a gorgeous area replete with historic buildings, privately-owned companies, and trendsetting inhabitants, has long marched to the beat of its drum.

The California metro region, shaped and shaped by its communities, has been the heart of the bohemian lifestyle, the centerpiece of the LGBT rights struggle, and the starting point of the technological revolution.

Today, San Francisco is a full world in and of itself: from the ancient alleys of the Mission District to the green hills of the Presidio to the busy docks along the Embarcadero, each district oozes its individuality.

7. Roseville

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Roseville is a diverse, clean, contemporary, and safe place that appeals to both families and singles.

The shopping choices are unrivaled, and the vibrant downtown hosts a variety of events and farmers’ markets regularly.

The average household income is $81,119, while the crime rate, schools, and amount of open spaces are all great.


Related: The 10 Wealthiest Cities in California


8. Rocklin

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Rocklin is a Sacramento suburb with a population of 64,835. Rocklin is located in Placer County and is considered to be one of the nicest locations to live in California.

Living in Rocklin provides homeowners with a thick suburban atmosphere, and the majority of inhabitants own their houses. There are several restaurants, coffee shops, and parks in Rocklin.

Rocklin is home to many families and young professionals, and its citizens tend to be conservative. Rocklin’s public schools are well regarded.

9. Granite Bay

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Granite Bay is a Sacramento suburb with a population of 23,183 people. Granite Bay is located in Placer County and is considered to be one of the nicest locations to live in California.

Granite Bay has a rural aspect to it, and the majority of individuals own their houses. There are several restaurants, coffee shops, and parks in Granite Bay.

Granite Bay residents tend to be conservative. Granite Bay’s public schools are well regarded.


Related: Why is California so Expensive?


10. San Jose

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San Jose, often known as the Silicon Valley capital, is a cosmopolitan city with an entrepreneurial culture.

San Jose, although having a distinct core, is a huge metro region distinguished as much by its outlying communities and major tech campuses as it is by the high-rises in its commercial sector.

San Jose’s closeness to major Silicon Valley tech giants, such as Google in Mountain View and Apple in Cupertino, solidifies the city’s status as a tech center.

However, offbeat attractions like as the 160-room, maze-like Winchester Mystery House, a 120-acre flea market replete with ponies, and a larger-than-life Monopoly board help the metro region preserve its identity.


Related:

Why is San Jose So Expensive?


11. Ridgecrest

Ridgecrest is a robust neighborhood with great schools, a reasonable median income of $60,794, friendly neighbors, farmer’s markets, arts and crafts festivals, beautiful parks (including a dog park), and a variety of indoor and outdoor recreational opportunities.

What’s the greatest part? Property is priced at a very reasonable $169,500, making it an excellent choice for first-time purchasers looking to get their foot on the property ladder while still enjoying a high standard of living.

12. Palo Alto

Palo Alto is a California town with a population of 66,573. Palo Alto is located in Santa Clara County and is considered to be one of the greatest locations to live in California.

Living in Palo Alto provides inhabitants with an urban-suburban mix vibe, and the majority of residents own their houses. There are several restaurants, coffee shops, and parks in Palo Alto.

Palo Alto is home to a large number of young professionals, and the majority of citizens are liberal. Palo Alto’s public schools are well regarded.


Related: The 10 Wealthiest Neighborhoods in San Francisco


13. Orinda

Orinda, is a suburb of Oakland, with a population of 19,646 people. Orinda is located in Contra Costa County and is considered to be one of the greatest locations to live in California.

Living in Orinda provides inhabitants with a minimal suburban vibe, and the majority of locals own their houses. There are several restaurants, coffee shops, and parks in Orinda.

Orinda is home to a large number of seniors, and people tend to have moderate political views. Orinda’s public schools are well regarded.

14. Walnut Creek

Walnut Creek, California has a population of 69,567 people. Walnut Creek is located in Contra Costa County and is considered to be one of the nicest locations to live in California.

Living in Walnut Creek provides inhabitants with an urban-suburban mix, and the majority of homeowners own their houses. There are several restaurants, coffee shops, and parks in Walnut Creek.

Walnut Creek is home to many young professionals and retirees, and people tend to have moderate political views. Walnut Creek’s public schools are well regarded.

15. Napa

Napa has officially made our list of the greatest cities in Northern California. This renowned city is located in the center of Napa Valley, about one hour north of San Francisco.

Its picturesque valleys and rolling hills are home to some of the world’s most well-known wineries, making it a popular vacation for wine enthusiasts.

Napa did well in providing a variety of activities for its over 80,000 people, including gourmet restaurants and vibrant entertainment and cultural scene in its tiny downtown area.

However, this lovely city comes with a cost. According to the most recent Zillow data, the typical property is worth more than $800,000.


Related: Why Is San Diego So Expensive?


16. Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa, California, has a population of 179,701. Sonoma County includes Santa Rosa.

Living in Santa Rosa provides inhabitants with a thick suburban atmosphere, and the majority of locals own their houses.

There are several restaurants, coffee shops, and parks in Santa Rosa.

Santa Rosa is a liberal city with a lot of families and young professionals. Santa Rosa’s public schools are above average.

17. Cameron Park

Most states consider $385,700 for a three-bedroom home to be exorbitant. It’s a good deal by California standards.

Cameron is more than just affordable housing; with a typical family income of $75,313, an educated, friendly populace, a decent public school system, a charming, small-town ambiance, and wonderful access to both the beach and the mountains, it is more than worthy of a spot on our list.

18. Granite Bay

Granite Bay is another Sacramento suburb in the list of best places to live in Northern California.

It is located directly on Folsom Lake and has plenty of green space around the city, making it a perfect spot for individuals looking for a deeper connection to nature.

This town of almost 20,000 people is fairly rural, yet that doesn’t imply it lacks sophistication.

Many celebrities and athletes frequent Granite Bay. Eddie Murphy and former Sacramento Kings player Chris Webber are two previous and present residents.

As a result of this popularity, property prices are relatively high. Granite Bay’s typical home costs about $1 million.


Related: The 20 Most Expensive Cities to Live in the United States


19. Truckee

Truckee is a tiny town located around 15 minutes from Lake Tahoe. We believe it is one of the greatest towns in Northern California because of the many outdoor activities available in and around the region.

Truckee is an excellent base for neighboring skiing, hiking, biking, camping, and rafting.

It also boasts a quaint historic downtown with superb restaurants, comfortable cafés, and busy bars, making it one of the finest communities in Northern California near the Tahoe region to reside.

Truckee, on the other hand, is a popular tourist destination with a high cost of living. It is over 50% more costly than the rest of the United States, with typical property prices approaching $1 million.

20. Sacramento

The California inland city is best renowned for its tree-lined avenues, expanding cuisine culture, and excellent wine and beer scene. However, there are several reasons why it remains an intriguing option for anybody searching for a place to reside in California.

To begin with, the housing is reasonably priced in comparison to most other sections of the state. After all, there may be an advantage to being outshined by its flashier coastal counterparts.

Sacramento’s median house value is an appealing $238,500, making it affordable to the vast majority of individuals.

Sacramento, with a population of just under 500,000 people, wonderfully combines the excitement of city life with the peace of a calmer suburban existence, and many residents would not have it any other way.

It may not have a coastline to brag about, but it is not lacking in outdoor activities. Rivers, rivers, rivers everywhere. There are parks all across the city. Hiking in the foothills. Folsom Lake is ideal for swimming, waterskiing, and sunbathing.

Tahoe is just an hour and a half away, as are Napa and Sonoma, all of which are known for their high-quality wines.

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Hi, my name is Flavian Johnny, the founder of Most Expensively. I enjoy writing about luxury and expensive things because I believe that everyone deserves a chance to experience the best that life has to offer.

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