10 Safe & Cheapest Beach Towns in California

If you want to enjoy California’s coastal life on a budget, then welcome to my blog on the “Cheapest Beach Towns in California.” While California has already earned its reputation as one of the most expensive places in America, some places can align with your budget.

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Cheapest Beach Towns in California

I’ve spent 8 years in this country, and this blog is a collection of places from my experience, as well as data from BestPlaces.net, AreaVibe, and NeighborhoodScout.com. Therefore, you’ll get to experience the real flavor of the least expensive beach towns in California.

So, let’s begin… 

Cheapest Beach Towns in California

1. Eureka

  • Population: 26, 441
  • Cost of Living: 103.2 (US average of 100)
  • Median income: $43, 199
  • Crime rate: 52.29 (per 1,000 residents)

With its stunning rocky coastline and giant redwood trees towering overhead, Eureka is a place that you can truly call home, boasting both forest and ocean landscapes. You’ll find a standard home starting from $270, 600.

Additionally, its proximity to the Pacific Coast and Canada adds to its allure. You’ll find this affordable coastal gem nestled on the edge of Humboldt Bay in Northern California. 

The city has long been a magnet for artists, and you’ll be enamored by the burgeoning art scene thriving here. On average, a single adult, including rent, spends $35,973 annually to maintain a good standard of living. 

Furthermore, the local economy relies heavily on the tourism and agricultural sectors including cannabis and marijuana. Young professionals seeking in-office tech jobs may need to travel to larger cities for such opportunities.

Tip: At the Old Town you’ll find colorful Victorian homes which are a little costlier but the rich retired population loves moving in here. California also has some great affordable places to retire, you can check them out!

Things to do in Eureka

  • Enjoy daily shopping at Old Town Farmer Market
  • Explore offbeat paths like Opera Alley and the unique museum – Clarke Historical Museum
  • Weekend road trip through Avenue of the Giants
  • Spend the weekend with your family at Sequoia Forest & Garden
  • Have some camping, hiking, cycling, or horse riding experience at Humboldt Redwood State Park
Redwood Sky Walk at Sequoia Park Zoo
Redwood Sky Walk at Sequoia Park Zoo

2. Arcata

  • Population: 19, 174
  • Cost of Living: 108.2 (US Average of 100)
  • Median income: $38, 603
  • Crime rate: 46.20 (per 1,000 residents)

To the north of Eureka lies the 800-acre redwood forest town of Arcata, where you can experience the confluence of rivers and ocean while living a simple life near Redwood National State Park. 

This budget-friendly beach community in California is an ideal choice for families and retirees. Their children or grandchildren can easily access Humboldt State University, and the lush forest surroundings provide a healthy environment for the older generation.

Additionally, you’ll be astounded by the residents’ profound commitment to environmental awareness. The Arcata Community Forest has earned its reputation as a “Model Forest” due to its dedicated efforts. Residents also enjoy convenient access to trendy storefronts and a central plaza.

The median home value here is approximately $333,600, which is higher than the national figure of $204,900. However, renting a one-bedroom apartment provides a more budget-friendly option, with prices starting at $935 to $1,023.

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Note: There are a handful of restaurants, shops, and stores

Things to do in Arcata:

  • In the afternoon come to Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary to spot more than 300 species of birds
  • You can watch movies at the 1937 old theatre – The Arcata Theatre Lounge
  • Weekend must hike around the Community Forest
  • Do day-to-day shopping from Arcata Farmers’ Market at 8th and 9th Street in Arcata Plaza(California’s four certified farmers’ market)
Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center
Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center

3. Crescent City

  • Population: 6, 789
  • Cost of Living: 91.9 (US average of 100)
  • Median income: $34, 676
  • Crime rate: 59. 47 (per 1,000 residents)

25 minutes away from Oregon sits Crescent City, an isolated town in North California that is surrounded by ocean, fog, and giant redwoods. The picturesque view of the lighthouse cutting through the fog is one of those images that live with us lifelong.

The median home value is around $158, 200 which is much less compared to the national value. A resident on average spends $37, 058 annually living here healthy. The city has good entertainment amenities, parks, and art galleries to enjoy daily life. Hence, with all the facilities Cresent City is one of the best inexpensive coastal destinations in California.

Things to do in Crescent City:

  • Come to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park for hiking. Also, explore the Howland Hill Road to click on some beautiful pictures
  • On Friday evening come and sit between Beach Front Park and the B Street Pier
  • You can take a self-guided tour at The Tsunami Walking Tour
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

4. Oceanside

  • Population: 170,713
  • Cost of Living: 146.1(US average of 100)
  • Median income: $75,411
  • Crime rate: 23.99 (per 1,000 residents)

Oceanside, Carlsbad, and Vista collectively constitute a “tri-city” region in California from where you get amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, palm tree-lined neighborhoods, and warm weather.

For amazing and affordable vacation spots by the California coast where the single adult expense is around $46, 834 a year, comparatively cheaper in the San Diego region. I’ve spent 8 years of my job life and I can say you’ll fall in love with the quintessential West Coast lifestyle.

Residents organize annual cultural fests, Farmer Markets, and such get to together to develop a strong sense of community among them. I bet you do not know about this place – Goat Hill Park is a secret place for the residents to come together and watch movies or play Gulf.

Residents mostly align professionally in the hospitality sector by running cafes, restaurants, and shops. This affordable beach town in the San Diego region of South California is surely a winner for food lovers, and social nomads loving sand and water. Also, SoCal is home to many unknown places that can make you mesmerized!

Note: A single adult expense is around $46, 863 annually, which is undoubtedly higher but comparatively low to other regions of South California

Things to do in Oceanside:

  • After the office, you can come by the Oceanside Harbor to enjoy the air and sight of sea lions lounging on the dock
  • Retirees can come to Tyson Street Beach Park for a walk and while returning back have snacks at Aqua’s grab
  • If surfing excites you, take part in SuperGirl Surf Pro
  • If your grandfather loves fishing, come to the free Guajome Park
Sunset at Oceanside Harbor
Sunset at Oceanside Harbor

5. Samoa

  • Population: 237
  • Cost of Living: 97 (US average of 100)
  • Median income: $39, 183
  • Crime rate: 131.9 (per 1,000 residents during a standard year)

West of Humboldt Bay, you’ll find Samoa, a coastal town in California within your budget where digital nomads, retirees, and young professionals can rent homes for just $800 to $1,600 per month. 

Here, you’ll be surrounded by lush rainforests and stunning beaches. In Samoa, you can experience a unique blend of Polynesian and American-influenced culture, and the pace of life tends to be slower. 

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What’s even more exciting about this place? Many Samoan residents proudly display their tattoos, known as Tatau, as symbols of status and adulthood. Golden sand beaches, volcanic cliffs, verdant woods, and beautiful beaches are what make Samoa one of the most desirable beach towns for California’s nomads. 

This hidden gem is just a short drive from Redwood National and State Park. With a low crime rate, you’ll enjoy a sense of security and access to basic amenities in the neighborhood. However, it’s important to note that this is an underdeveloped part of California, which means job opportunities may be limited.

Things to do in Samoa:

  • Hike over green jungle-covered hills watching the beautiful waterfall
  • Swim with sea turtles and make them your friends
  • You need to spend a little more to exploring Upolu and Savaii, two private islands
Authentic original Cookhouse
Authentic original Cookhouse

6. Fort Bragg

  • Population: 6, 966
  • Cost of Living: 119.8 (US average of 100)
  • Median income: $41,917
  • Crime rate: 47. 63 (per 1,000 residents)

Did you know Fort Bragg, which has its name as the home of colorful rounded bits of glass on the beach is also one of the cheap beachside towns in Northern California? On the Mendocino Coats, you’ll find this gem!

You’ll find a home here starting from $329,900, which is very affordable in the region. I’ve heard that history buffs love visiting this place as its history is fascinating to unfold. A single adult expense in this region is around $40, 256.

Note: Fort Bragg is ideal for retirees to enjoy a peaceful life

Things to do in Fort Bragg:

  • Spend a lovely afternoon exploring the pine forest, canyons, and wetlands of Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
  • Set your foot on Glass Beach
  • Enjoy bird watching from Cleone Lake
  • Take a railbike and ride through the majestic wooden trails of Redwood Route
  • Enjoy mouth-watering food like crab cake, fish tacos, and other seafood at Noyo Harbor and Bay
Rhododendron show at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
Rhododendron show at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

7. Oxnard

  • Population: 201, 155
  • Cost of Living: 139.6 (US average of 100)
  • Median income: $77, 050
  • Crime rate: 27. 25 (per 1,000 residents)

Have you heard about the California Strawberry Festival? 

Welcome to Oxnard, a neighbor of Ventura and just an hour away from Los Angeles. This cost-effective coastal neighborhood in the Golden State is perfect for those who enjoy attending multicultural festivals, celebrating every citizen’s culture, and savoring a wide variety of cuisines and entertainment.

Outdoor enthusiasts love the array of activities they can submerge themselves into. A median household income group normally moves into Riverpark, Wagon Wheel, and Marine West neighborhoods where they find home at $427,900. 

The climate is so appealing that it received a 9.1 rating in terms of pleasant environment. However, the city’s geographic location has made it one of the biggest cons for families. It sits on the Oak Ridge Fault which is close to the San Andreas Fault making it prone to earthquakes.

The economy is influenced by the hospitality sectors 

Things to do in Oxnard:

  • You enjoy the proximity to South California beaches and the sand dunes during the sunset
  • Take your child to enjoy the Gondola Ride
  • Spend family-friendly time in the grassy lawns of Oxnard State Park
  • Starting from Jet skis, and paddle boards, to surfing – Oxnard is a haven for the water enthusiast
  • For the delightful culinary scene, come to the Annex Food Hall
Gondola ride on the marina!
Gondola ride on the marina

8. Trinidad

  • Population: 305
  • Cost of Living: 130.8 (US average of 100)
  • Median income: $88, 125
  • Crime rate: 61.17 per 1,000 residents during a standard year

For those in search of a quaint ocean city, Trinidad is a destination worth considering. It’s one of Northern California’s least expensive beach towns, with average single adult expenses totaling $35,973 per year. Travelers frequently visit Trinidad to explore the US West Coast and its dramatic beaches.

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I can guarantee that the place is so charming that you’ll sometimes forget to spend time on phones scrolling Instagram. However, if you want to visit San Francisco you’ve to drive 290 miles north for that. 

Things to do in Trinidad:

  • Catch the sunset with your loved ones at Trinidad State Beach
  • To all the adventure souls, you can hike to the top of Trinidad Head to enjoy the view and trail
  • Enjoy the crashing waves and sound of water at Moonstone Beach County Park
View from Trinidad Head
View from Trinidad Head

9. Long Beach

  • Population: 439, 153
  • Cost of Living: 159.1 (US average of 100)
  • Median income: $66, 410
  • Crime rate: 35.08 (per 1,000 residents)

If you’re the one looking for an active LGBTQ community in California, no place is more beautiful than Long Beach because of its welcoming and diverse culture. The best part of the town is it’s near Los Angeles, South California, and just 20 minutes away from Newport Beach.

Here you’ll find a lot of residential townhouses, high-rise buildings, and good job opportunities. A two-bedroom apartment here is around $3,066, I know it sounds big but undoubtedly it’s one of the most value-priced beachfront towns in California

Things to do in Long Beach

  • Come to Shoreline Village for shopping from the colorful shops
  • You can go for surfing and snorkeling at Catalina Express
  • Get admission at Yoga at the Beach
  • Go vintage clothing shopping from Retro Row
Yogalution on the Bluff
Yogalution on the Bluff

10. Imperial Beach

  • Population: 25, 807
  • Cost of Living: 154.4 (US average of 100)
  • Median income: $59, 795
  • Crime rate: 15.93 (per 1,000 residents)

In San Diego County, you’ll discover Imperial Beach, one of the more affordable beachfront cities to live in within the Southern California region. The median home value is $488,800, while the annual cost for a single adult is approximately $46,834. I understand that these figures may not seem affordable in a broader context, but considering the region, it’s one of the more budget-friendly options.

Residents enjoy its location as it’s just a 10-minute drive from Tijuana, Mexico. The north side of the beach is often a haven for surfers and hikers. The town boasts numerous restaurants and shops, and its economy relies heavily on the hospitality sector.

Things to do in Imperial Beach

  • Head to the wooden planked pier looking at the sun setting down
  • Take full advantage of community park exercising, and flex your muscles
  • Try out photography at the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve
Imperial Beach
Imperial Beach

Read More:

FAQ: Cheapest Beach Towns in California

1. What are the safest beach towns in California?

A. Bodega Bay in Sonoma County, surrounded by fishing spots, seafood eateries, wineries, and hiking trails, is one of the safest beach towns in California. It has a recorded violent crime rate of only 16.6, which is significantly lower than the US average of 22.7.

2. What state has the least expensive waterfront property?

A. On the shores of Clear Lake, you’ll find a small, beautiful town in California called Kelseyville. No matter where you buy a home, you’ll only get the view of serene farmlands, the majestic Mt. Konocti, and freshwater from your veranda.

3. Are there any budget-friendly beach towns near Los Angeles?

A. Along the Pacific coast near Los Angeles, you’ll find the budget-friendly town of Ventura, whose cost of living index is 154, in accordance with the US average of 100. It offers a laid-back vibe and plenty of opportunities for surfing and exploring the sand.

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