October 11, 2020
In SoCal, seemingly anything is possible. You can take a gondola ride around the Venice Canals, dine next to Hollywood royalty, lounge on the shores of La Jolla, surf the rad waves of Malibu, and ski down Bear Mountain—it’s no wonder everyone wants to move here. From L.A. to San Diego, there’s plenty of places in Southern California to call home. The region offers world-renowned (and expensive) metropolises, affordable neighborhoods, beautiful college towns, and everything in between.
The best places to live in socal
Whether you want to reside next to rugged mountains, pristine beaches, tree-lined neighborhoods, or bustling cities, SoCal has it all. If you want to start the next chapter of your life here, these are the best places to live in Southern California.
What better way to kick off the list than with the southernmost city of them all. San Diego is one of America's most culturally diverse locations and is undoubtedly among the best places to live in SoCal. With a population of approximately 1.5 million, San Diego is a fantastic hub for local and global tourists alike; top attractions such as the Gaslamp Quarter and Balboa Park beckon to you—not to mention the famous white-sand beaches. For students looking to further their education, the prestigious University of California, San Diego is an excellent choice.
San Diego's almost perfect year-round climate makes for the best living situation anyone could ask for. When it comes to residing in "America's Finest City," you'll also have your choice of inland or oceanside homes, which have their own distinct vibe. And if a high-end lifestyle is what you seek, the most expensive neighborhoods in San Diego don't disappoint.
One of the smaller cities and best college towns in the Golden State, Irvine has a population of about 283,000. Tucked away in Orange County, the town has gained a reputation for being one the wealthiest and safest places to live in the U.S., making it ideal for families. Irvine also has top-notch educational opportunities, with notable institutions including the University of California, Irvine and Concordia University Irvine.
The city has a direct connection to Los Angeles, too, thanks to Amtrak, so it's easy to spend a day in L.A. when the mood strikes. If you're looking to reduce your carbon footprint in your district, Irvine has received national recognition for its constant perseverance to remain green; it's considered one of the greenest places in America.
Lake Forest offers a similar lifestyle to Irvine but at a much more reasonable price. Situated 10 miles south of Irvine, the town has a population of 85,000 and boasts excellent school systems, historic buildings, fine dining, and affordable housing—it's a prime place for families.
History lovers can find what they're looking for at the Heritage Hill Historic Park and the Arden Helena Modjeska Historic House and Gardens. Serrano Creek Park is a great spot to enjoy the sun amongst the rugged landscape and groves of eucalyptus trees. The park is also home to sandstone formations perfect for rock climbing. After your outdoor excursions, stop by Brü Grill for farm-to-table eats and delectable desserts.
One of the nicest cities in Southern California, majestic Manhattan Beach is home to about 35,000 residents. Established in 1912, this coastal locale boasts excellent educational systems—both private and public—and is an ocean lover’s paradise given its close proximity to the shore.
Given that Manhattan Beach is among the best beaches in L.A., the town is a prime place to live if you've always dreamt of residing by the ocean. For art aficionados, the Manhattan Beach Art Center is the place to be; it's an integral part of the local arts and culture scene. Get a taste of Manhattan Beach’s diverse food scene on the Manhattan Beach Food Tour, and stop by One Wave Surf for surfboard rentals and rad surfing lessons.
Home to more than 100,000 residents, Murrieta sits in Riverside County. Affordable housing and plenty of activities make this town a hot spot for relocators. With more than 10 parks in the area—including Harveston Lake Park and Los Alamos Hills Sports Park—Murrieta is a wonderful place to partake in family-friendly outdoor activities. Murrieta is found along two main freeways and is considered a commuter town, as many of its residents commute to work in neighboring cities such as Temecula.
The small-town vibe, reasonable housing prices, and proximity to L.A. make Redlands one of the top cities in Southern California to live. Redlands has a population of just over 70,000 and a stellar education system, making it a great place to live in Southern California for families. Families can spend their Sundays at the Fiesta Village Family Fun Park feasting on BBQ and throwing a Frisbee. The top-rated San Bernardino County Museum hosts kid-friendly exhibits, too, while the various parks provide plenty of outdoor fun.
Beach lovers will fall head over heels for the seaside community of Newport Beach. This Orange County locale is home to slightly more than 85,000 residents, with a wonderful small-town vibe that's suitable for families and newlyweds alike. As per all SoCal cities, Newport Beach boasts spectacular weather year-round. This beach town's gorgeous coastline is a hot spot for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing.
Kids can learn about the importance of agriculture and wildlife at Centennial Farm, which is home to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as everyone’s favorite farm animals. The Balboa Fun Zone is another beloved attraction; take a ride on the oceanfront Ferris Wheel and participate in plenty of arcade games. Afterward, stop by Cowafornia Ice Cream and Coffee for delicious desserts.
Last, but definitely not least, the City of Angels offers everything you could dream of when living in sunny SoCal. The perfect climate, innumerable outdoor activities, and bustling downtown has everyone dashing over to La La Land. It's definitely one of Southern California’s best places to live, providing affordable areas as well as expensive neighborhoods to suit any lifestyle.
A place where dreams come true, L.A. is not just city buzz and malls—situated between the coast and majestic mountains, this iconic city is the ultimate place to spend time in the great outdoors as well. With over 50 parks in Los Angeles, the area provides numerous places for kids to run wild and discover nature’s wonders.
There's always something going on in L.A., too—whether it's street markets, fairs, festivals, or outdoor events—so residents are always busy partaking in community activities. You can also spend the day with friends or family at the nearby beaches surfing, swimming, building sandcastles, and playing volleyball.