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.