With a gorgeous Pacific coastline to marvel at and world-renowned cities to call your home, Southern California is climbing up the order among the best places to stay. Famed for its sunny weather and relaxed and comfy lifestyle, SoCal has been drawing the attention of people with its endless opportunities and affordable rates of living.
Whether you are considering or have already decided to make Southern California your home, we have curated a list of the best places to live in this popular region just for you.
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This article will be a detailed and comprehensive guide to all these places and give you detailed insights into the population, median home value, crime rate, unemployment rate, cost of living, and much more. You have stumbled upon the right place in your search for the top Southern California cities, and here is everything you should know to have the quintessential Californian experience.
Ideal places to reside in Southern California
Whether you are a sun-seeker, a career-driven individual, or a nature enthusiast, we have got your Southern California dream place covered. Here is a list of all the places you can visit and move into, and never regret moving to California.
- Population: 307,670
- Median Home Value: $1,318,476
- Crime Rate/1,000 Residents: 15.78
- Unemployment Rate: 4.0%
Appearing first on our list is Irvine, known for its top schools and universities, friendly people, and great parks to enjoy. Among the safe neighborhoods in Southern California, Irvine has also been rated to be the highest in the order.
Strategically located in Orange County and approximately 40 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles, Irvine boasts a well-balanced lifestyle for both the young and the aged. The University of California, Irvine, is also a major attraction and functions as the city center. Due to the increasing population of students, job opportunities are also on the rise.
Although the affordability factor is a bit higher than other Southern California cities, there are still plenty of neighborhoods like Northwood, which are quite cheap to live in.
Cost of Living in Irvine
In Irvine, the cost of living in Southern California is higher than the national average of America. It is approximately $2,818, but Irvine also provides diverse living options, accommodating various budgets and preferences.
- Population: 346,824
- Median Home Value: $682,041
- Crime Rate/1,000 Residents: 26.87
- Unemployment Rate: 5.90%
Anaheim is ideally situated in Orange County, just 25 miles southeast of Los Angeles’ downtown. The lively city of Anaheim is praised for its varied neighborhoods, which include the family-friendly East Anaheim and the historic Anaheim Colony.
Notably, Anaheim is home to Disneyland Resort, the renowned entertainment destination that attracts tourists from all over the world, particularly young adults and children. The city also offers a lot of parks and outdoor leisure areas, such as the expansive Anaheim Hills Trail System, for anyone who is looking to spend some time outside.
This is why it is also one of the top places to live in California for young adults. For those who enjoy the great outdoors, the city also has several parks and recreational options, including the vast Anaheim Hills Trail System. It is among the greatest places in California for young adults to live as a result. Glover Stadium and the Honda Center provide a range of sporting events and performances that appeal to residents of all ages.
Cost of Living in Anaheim
According to recent reports, Anaheim’s average cost of living is $2,819 per year. Depending on how close a property is to attractions, housing expenses might range from cheap to expensive. In addition to taking advantage of the energetic city life in Anaheim, you need a plan for housing, utilities, and transportation if you choose to live there.
3. San Diego
- Population: 1,386,932
- Median Home Value: $910,000
- Crime Rate/1,000 Residents: 23.57
- Unemployment Rate: 5.3%
If you are looking for coastal towns in Southern California, you should look no further than San Diego. Having around 70 miles of uninterrupted coastline, the views of the ocean, and the yearly sunny weather make it a favorite among people deciding to live in Southern California.
What’s more, is that San Diego is a perfect mixture of everything: the past and the future. It has Tudor and Victorian-style homes in the Mission Hills area on one side while high-rise apartments in the bustling urban core of San Diego. Situated near the U.S.-Mexico border in the southernmost region of California, San Diego also has a decent and ample amount of job opportunities.
Coming to the universities and top schools in Southern California, San Diego is again at the forefront of the race, especially with the University of California, San Diego. It also ranks higher in the safety order, with crime rates dropping every year.
Attractions like the San Diego Zoo also offer plenty of recreational activities, and this is why it is a preferred place to live in SoCal. It can also be considered one of the most vibrant retirement communities in Southern California.
Cost of Living in San Diego
Coming to the cost of living, it is around $3,215. This is quite expensive and is 44% higher than the national average. However, good salary rates and quality of living make up for the high cost and provide a secure and well-balanced life.
4. Loma Linda
- Population: 24,784
- Median Home Value: $572,500
- Crime Rate/1,000 Residents: 28
- Unemployment Rate: 7.8%
Among the top Southern California neighborhoods, Loma Linda fares well in our list. It is situated in San Bernardino County in the Inland Empire Region of SoCal.
Located at a 60-mile distance east of Los Angeles, Loma Linda is famous for being a Blue Zone region, meaning residents have a good longevity rate and live in good health. This is particularly due to the small population of the region and the world-renowned Loma Linda University and Medical Centre.
It has also got reputed schools like Bryn Mawr Elementary School and has high standards of education. However, the crime rate is slightly higher than other places, though it is affordable compared to other places.
Cost of Living in Loma Linda
The average cost of living in Loma Linda is given as $2,432. This is less when compared to cities like San Diego or Irvine. With strategic planning and saving, one can live a quality life in Loma Linda.
5. Costa Mesa
- Population: 112,405
- Median Home Value: $1,200,000
- Crime Rate/1,000 Residents: 35.96
- Unemployment Rate: 4.30%
Nestled in Orange County, California, Costa Mesa offers a compelling lifestyle for residents. The city’s cultural vibrancy shines through attractions like South Coast Plaza, a world-class shopping destination, and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, a hub for top-notch entertainment.
Costa Mesa’s eclectic food scene adds to its charm. Families in Costa Mesa benefit from access to highly-rated schools and prestigious institutions like Orange Coast College. Safety is a hallmark, with a low crime rate providing peace of mind to residents.
Because of the city’s advantageous location in Orange County, there are plenty of career prospects. The job market is growing. Outdoor activities are encouraged by the Mediterranean environment, which is marked by mild winters and sunny, pleasant summers.
Affordable neighborhoods guarantee that inhabitants can obtain adequate housing options, even though living prices can vary. Costa Mesa provides a vibrant community, an unparalleled standard of living, and a plethora of chances for personal development and enjoyment. It’s a place to thrive rather than merely a place to live.
Cost of Living in Costa Mesa
With $3,141 as the average cost of living in Costa Mesa, it is quite similar to other SoCal communities. Affordable options and housing can still be found.
6. Seal Beach
- Population: 24,204
- Median Home Value: $1,029,000
- Crime Rate/1,000 Residents: 23.98
- Unemployment Rate: 6.7%
A great spot to live is Seal Beach, a lovely coastal jewel in South California’s Orange County. This close-knit neighborhood blends the attraction of a beach resort with a friendly environment for locals. With landmarks like the Seal Beach Pier, charming boutiques along Main Street, and picturesque parks like Gum Grove Park, the city exudes a laid-back beach-town ambiance.
With its immaculate beaches and water sports, it is a heaven for water sports fans. For families, Seal Beach has top-notch schools, while surrounding colleges and universities like California State University and Long Beach provide great options for higher education.
As the city maintains a low crime rate, safety is a top emphasis. With access to adjacent employment centers, the area has a wealth of job prospects, and the nice Mediterranean climate makes it possible to enjoy the outdoors all year long. Thus, the Southern California climate and weather is at its fullest here.
Despite the increased cost of coastal living, Seal Beach provides a variety of housing alternatives, from beachfront houses to more budget-friendly areas. The city of Seal Beach is a desirable area to live and create a satisfying life because it combines natural beauty, safety, and community spirit.
Cost of Living in Seal Beach
With a about 150 cost of living index, Seal Beach, California, has a somewhat higher cost of living than the US average. The primary cause of this greater cost is housing, with property prices in Seal Beach being higher than the national median and also the Southern California lifestyle.
Compared to national averages, other living expenses—such as those for groceries, transportation, and healthcare—are more reasonable. However, Seal Beach’s close-knit community and coastal lifestyle entice many to the area, which many consider to be worth the additional cost of living.
When assessing the cost of living in this stunning coastal city, it’s critical to take into account individual budgets and housing choices.
7. Redondo Beach
- Population: 66,913
- Median Home Value: $1,405,000
- Crime Rate/1,000 Residents: 24
- Unemployment Rate: 4.80%
The seaside paradise of Redondo Beach, California, is situated in Los Angeles County and offers a high standard of living. This coastal jewel, south of Santa Monica, is tucked between Manhattan Beach and Torrance and offers a wonderful fusion of natural beauty, urban conveniences, and neighborhood charm.
Redondo Beach’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean is one of its most alluring qualities. The Redondo Beach Pier, which has a variety of dining and shopping opportunities, is a well-known favorite among locals.
Public schools in the city are also well-known and accommodate a large number of students. Additional alternatives for higher education are offered by colleges and universities like California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Redondo Beach places a high importance on safety, and its low crime rate gives it a feeling of safety and tranquility. The city is also well known for having a Mediterranean climate with pleasant, sunny days and chilly evenings.
The Greater Los Angeles area offers a wide range of employment options as the city has an economy that offers a wide range of chances. Thus, there are quite several job opportunities in Southern California in Redondo.
Cost of Living in Redondo Beach
According to the Southern California real estate market, it has an estimated cost of living index of 175. Thus, it is significantly higher than the national average. Housing costs, such as rent and home prices, are the main contributors.
While home prices in Redondo Beach can reach far above $1 million, the typical monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment can cost from $2,500 to $3,500.
Additionally, other living expenses like food and transportation are frequently more expensive than the national average. Redondo Beach is a desirable place to live because of the community amenities and seaside lifestyle, but it’s crucial to take into account how much it will cost you to maintain your standard of living. Hence, it is not at all one of the most affordable places to visit in California.
- Population: 638,000
- Median Home Value: $1,896,370
- Crime Rate/1,000 Residents: 12.88
- Unemployment Rate: 9.2%
If you are still looking for affordable places to live in Southern California, Venice is a must-have on this list, located in the western region of Los Angeles. Venice has everything from employment opportunities to top-quality hospitals and schools in its best suburbs in Southern California.
Known for its social life and scenario, it is also a great place for single people trying to explore their lives, careers, and relationships. The cherry on top is its picturesque location that resembles European Venice if you are looking for a similar option in SoCal.
A Boardwalk, colorful shops, street performers, and pretty murals adore the city, and you are never bored of options. With very low crime rates, you can also be assured of a good night’s sleep in Venice.
Cost of Living in Venice
Due to the high median home value, which is $1,896,370, the cost of living is quite high. To say the least, Venice in SoCal is an expensive city to live in. However, groceries, transportation, and healthcare are similar to other Los Angeles neighborhoods.
9. Lake Forest
- Population: 85,694
- Median Home Value: $940,819
- Crime Rate/1,000 Residents: 8.87
- Unemployment Rate: 9.3%
Among the best communities in Southern California, Lake Forest is well situated in the Southern part of Orange County. Furthermore, it is surrounded by Irvine, Mission Viejo, and Laguna Hills, thus making it well-connected to other bustling towns.
However, that is not the only good thing about Lake Forest. Its crime rate is exceptionally low compared to other places on this list, making it a haven for residents and visitors. Job opportunities are also in plenty as companies and groups are always in the search for hiring the youth.
Apria Healthcare Group and Invensys are two of the top-rated companies that provide successful employment opportunities and keep the employment running.
There are also premium schools and universities like Concordia University and Webster University that have been providing quality education to students. Lastly, the place has quite a few attractions like Heritage Hill Historic Park, Pittsford Park, and Frisby Cellars Winery, which can keep visitors busy. This is why Lake Forest is one of the many hidden gems in southern California.
Cost of Living in Lake Forest
Unlike the cheapest cities in California, Lake Forest is quite pricey. It is in the top 2% of the most expensive cities in the world, and this accounts for its high cost of living, especially due to housing prices.
To summarize, Southern California has diverse options for everyone when it comes to living. Be it family-friendly areas in Southern California or small towns to live in Southern California, places like Irvine, San Diego, Lake Forest, or Loma Linda will fulfill your desired preferences.
With overall good weather in the whole of South California, both visitors and residents alike can be assured of a good stay in this beautiful coastal part of North America.
FAQs: Best Places to Live in Southern California
1. Which Southern California cities have the best school districts?
A: In Southern California, cities like Irvine, Beverly Hills, and Manhattan Beach have reputable school districts like Irvine Unified, Beverly Hills Unified, and Manhattan Beach Unified, known for their academic excellence and strong community involvement.
2. What are the safest neighborhoods in Southern California?
A: Low crime rates make for a safe and secure community. Neighborhoods like Turtle Rock and Woodbury are renowned for their safety in Irvine and are frequently listed as one of the safest cities. Furthermore, Manhattan Beach and Rancho Palos Verdes offer secure neighborhoods with low crime rates.
3. Why is SoCal better than NorCal?
A: Both SoCal and NorCal are good in their ways. SoCal and NorCal each have unique advantages, with SoCal offering a milder climate and entertainment and NorCal providing natural beauty and diverse cultural experiences in cities like San Francisco. The choice will ultimately come down to personal priorities.
4. Why is Texas better than California?
A: Some prefer Texas, while others may choose California. The choice between Texas and California is quite subjective, to be honest, with Texas offering lower costs and a business-friendly environment, while California provides diverse job opportunities and a moderate climate. The decision is based on individual preferences.
5. Is it cheaper to live in NorCal or SoCal?
A: Generally, SoCal tends to be somewhat cheaper than NorCal. This is because NorCal cities like San Francisco and Silicon Valley have notably higher living costs. However, affordability is finally going to vary by location and lifestyle choices.