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The 8 Most Impressive Up and Coming Cities in California
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The 8 Most Impressive Up and Coming Cities in California

Get ahead of the bandwagon and check out California’s underrated cities—you’ll be glad you found them sooner rather than later.


5 min read

March 12, 2022

California is so popular that it's hard to label anything in the state as underrated. Nevertheless, as saturated as it is, there are still up and coming cities scattered throughout the Golden State which have managed to remain slightly more under the radar. Whether it’s the location, recreational opportunities, great job market, or affordable cost of living, these are the fast-growing towns in California that should be on your radar.

While these up and coming cities in California may not be at their prime just yet, they’re well on their way to make the must-visit lists sooner than you’d anticipate. Get ahead of the bandwagon and check out California’s underrated cities—you’ll be glad you found them sooner rather than later.

The Best Up and Coming Cities

The biggest economic contributors to San Mateo are the Medical Center and Sony Interactive Entertainment division.

1. San Mateo

San Mateo is a fantastic place to live largely due to its exceptional location—you’ll be roughly 30 minutes away from all the major points in the Bay Area while avoiding the congested traffic. Even then, you'll rarely find yourself needing to commute to San Francisco for anything. The downtown area of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. has seen massive growth in entertainment, shopping, and dining options in the last couple of years. So, keeping yourself busy within the boundaries of San Mateo is a non-issue.

However, with all the pleasant perks that this consistently growing city has to offer comes a hefty price tag. While it’s definitely not as pricey as Palo Alto or San Francisco itself, San Mateo is a top up and coming city that not many can afford.

Oxnard is a major transportation hub in SoCal, with Amtrak, Union Pacific, Metrolink, Greyhound, and Intercalifornias stopping there.

2. Oxnard

Oxnard has been reinventing its name and reputation for the last couple of years now. This place is slowly becoming a coveted up and coming Southern California city with reasonable housing prices, a great climate, and growing opportunities for work and recreation.

This Ventura County city is not your typical Southern California beachside town with high-priced restaurants, glitzy boutiques, and a keeping-up-with-the-Kardashians vibe. But, with the variety of restaurants, magnificent beaches, and a great historic downtown, it’s only a matter of time until this city in California moves past its up and coming stage and housing market prices soar through the roof.

Up and Coming Small Towns

St. Helena is the center of the eponymous American Viticultural Area which includes 416 vineyards encompassing 6,800 acres.

3. St. Helena

Napa Valley, a favorite NorCal wine and dine spot for many, is in no way underrated. However, 20 miles north of the city is an up and coming place to live that’s not among the largest cities in California but is definitely big on charm. Superb schools, great diversity, and a pleasant year-round climate are several perks that attract tourists to St. Helena and quickly turn them into residents. The historical downtown, upscale boutiques, and great restaurants make this can’t-miss NorCal small town the place to move to in Napa County. 

Formerly known as Amador and Dougherty's Station, Dublin was the second fastest-growing city in the state of California in 2013.

4. Dublin 

Dublin is a large yet tight-knit town that offers great public schools, safe neighborhoods, a pleasant climate, and a supportive community of young families. This city was named after the capital city of Ireland due to the large Irish population that settled here in the early days. Nestled in the East Bay, Dublin is one of the best up and coming cities to live in and another one of California’s fastest-growing cities for many reasons.

The downtown is lined with plenty of shops and restaurants, and outdoorsy residents love spending time in the Dublin Hills Regional Park. But if you’re someone who prefers to live life in the fast lane, you’ll probably find yourself needing to get out of Dublin and driving to other cities in California more often than you’d like.

Up and Coming Cities to Move to

Folsom is home to 32 miles of bike trails including the Humbug-Willow Creek, Folsom Rail, and the Oak Parkway Trails.

5. Folsom 

When it comes to certain criteria for moving to a different city, Sacramento is basically on everyone’s radar. However, since it’s not much of an up and coming place to live in itself, the lovely town of Folsom has increasingly become the center of attention in the Sacramento Valley. As the fastest-growing metro area of 2020, Folsom is known for low crime rates, quality education, modest costs of living, and an abundance of opportunities for outdoor recreation. 

Folsom is also home to one of the best California downtowns, dubbed as “the place where the West came and stayed.” The charming cafes, historic buildings, and contemporary restaurants of one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. make it a pleasant place to live.

As the county seat of Shasta, Redding lies along the Sacramento River, 120 miles south of California's northern border with Oregon.

6. Redding

Redding is definitely one of the best Shasta County cities to live in, and it's only getting better. Numerous tech companies are emerging in the dynamic up and coming city in California, creating innovative job opportunities. And while the local economy sees continuous growth, the cost of living still remains lower than in San Francisco.

As one of California’s Cultural Districts, Redding will also give you your necessary arts and culture fix. You’ll have plenty of galleries to discover, shops to explore, restaurants to try, and Shasta-Trinity hikes to trek. What more could we ask for in the best up and coming cities?

Up and Coming Commuter Towns

Although Temecula is geographically closer to downtown San Diego than downtown Los Angeles, it is considered part of the Greater Los Angeles area.

7. Temecula

Growing fast and garnering attention for many reasons, this up and coming Southern California city in Riverside County is proving to be a great place to raise a family. One of the biggest perks of living in Temecula is its prime location. You’re about less than an hour and a half drive from the largest city in California, Los Angeles, and about 55 minutes away from sunny San Diego. There are enough things to do in Temecula to keep you busy all weekend. However, if you ever crave a big-city weekend, you’ll definitely be close enough to go on a whim.

At the turn of the 20th century, Redlands was the "Palm Springs" of the next century, with roses being planted along many city thoroughfares.

8. Redlands

The small-town vibe, comparatively reasonable housing prices, and close proximity to Los Angeles make Redlands one of the best cities to live in Southern California.

The amenities are favorable, the education system is highly rated, and the crime rates are low—people working together to uphold the high standards set in this up and coming city.

You’ll have access to healthcare, education, job opportunities, and plenty of recreation. And, if finding a community is something you’re worried about, you’ll be glad to know that this affordable SoCal city prides itself on its accepting and family-oriented nature, as well as a tight-knit community of residents—you’ll fit right in at this city in California.

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