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The 7 Most Affordable Places to Live in the Bay Area
Real Estate

The 7 Most Affordable Places to Live in the Bay Area

It's no secret that the Bay Area is an expensive place to live, but luckily, there are cheap places to live near San Francisco as well. Team


5 min read

November 08, 2023

San Francisco is an incredible destination for locals and tourists alike, offering numerous entertainment venues, cultural attractions, scenic parks, specialty coffee shops, and most importantly, ample opportunities. The S.F. Bay Area’s booming tech industry provides many appealing jobs, so young professionals are constantly moving to the region. 

The Bay is also home to some of the most expensive cities in California—and other cities in the region are experiencing similar real estate trends—so if you’re looking to rent or buy a home here, the process can be overwhelming. However, don’t give up on the hope of finding affordable places to live near San Francisco just yet; there are still cities with relatively cheap rent in the Bay Area. To make matters easier for you, we compiled a few of the best and cheapest places to live in the Bay Area that make for great moving destinations. These affordable suburbs of San Francisco could be all you’re dreaming of and more.

The Most Affordable Places to Live Near San Francisco

We used data from the real estate company Zumper to find the best affordable places to live in California that are located near the iconic city of San Francisco.

Located along the scenic Carquinez Strait, Vallejo is the cheapest city to live in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Distance from San Francisco: 31.9 miles
Average one-bedroom monthly rent: $1,600

The largest city of Solano County, Vallejo is the one of cheapest cities in the Bay Area on the list, with one-bedroom rents averaging $1,600. The city has twice been the capital of the Golden State. Besides offering some of the cheapest rent in the Bay Area, Vallejo is also home to the world-famous and award-winning amusement park—Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, with over 40 rides that will take your breath away. Other local attractions include the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum, Benicia State Recreation Area, and San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

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Distance from San Francisco: 19.8 miles
Average one-bedroom monthly rent: $1,597

One of the oldest Spanish settlements in the region is nestled in West Contra Costa: San Pablo. This city is amongst the cheapest places to live in the Bay Area and the most affordable suburbs of the East Bay. San Pablo is known for its growing residential and business community. Along with public schools, colleges, and health care institutions, the city also offers hiking, fishing, and picnicking in San Pablo Reservoir, Tilden Regional Park, and the Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area.  

Mount Diablo State Park with its amazing views is just an hour away from Concord.

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Distance from San Francisco: 31.4 miles
Average one-bedroom monthly rent: $1,995

Concord, located in Contra Costa County—just northeast of S.F.—is also one of the most affordable places to live near San Francisco. The park offers a range of amenities and attractions such as shopping centers, farmers markets, outdoor concerts, and playgrounds. You can also enjoy hiking trails and historical areas like the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, Mount Diablo State Park, and Iron Horse Regional Trail. For more family-friendly fun, check out the water slides at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. This fun and affordable place to live near San Francisco is the real deal.

Windsurfing in Alameda is especially awesome with a beautiful year-around climate.


Distance from San Francisco: 14.3 miles
Average one-bedroom monthly rent: $2,100

With its mix of urban and suburban environments, Alameda offers something for everyone: highly rated public schools, a beautiful year-round climate, family-friendly parks, windsurfing destinations, and gourmet restaurants. So it’s no surprise that the city of Alameda is not just one of the cheapest Bay Area Cities but also serves as an amazing place to live. It also boasts a tight-knit community, various educational opportunities, and commute options with two ferry terminals. It's within striking distance of Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco with a reasonable drive down to San Jose if you want to. Other attractions of this affordable place to live in the Bay Area include the USS Hornet - Sea, Air, and Space Museum (which features exhibits from the NASA Apollo Moon exploration mission), the Pacific Pinball Museum, and Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach. If you want to spice up your Sundays in Alameda, you can view the aquarium and marine life exhibits at the Crab Cove Visitor Center, and linger until closing to watch the gorgeous sunset.

Not only Oakland is safe, but it's also home to beautiful parks and gardens.

5. Oakland 

Distance from San Francisco: 12.3 miles
Average one-bedroom monthly rent: $2,075

Oakland is chock full of shopping centers, craftsman houses, and College Avenues — in addition to being among the most affordable places to live near Silicon Valley (only a 40-minute drive away). Oakland is home to various colleges, medical facilities, local institutions, as well as transportation. The city is also ideal for cycling and road trips. Popular landmarks in Oakland include Tilden Regional Park, Chabot Space & Science Center, Angel Island, Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, and the University of California Botanical Garden.

Sonoma is a charming place for those who are into gorgeous and scenic views.

6. sonoma 

Distance from San Francisco: 44 miles
Average one-bedroom monthly rent: $1,975

Located in the North Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, Sonoma County is famous for its rustic vibes and gorgeous views. This charming place is also a great option for those trying to find affordable apartments in the Bay Area. The entire county offers a ton of opportunities to unwind and recharge. Besides the budget-friendly rent, other services such as schools, colleges, and medical facilities are also affordable in Sonoma. And let’s not forget to mention the plethora of destinations for the foodies. Notable places to visit in Sonoma include Safari West, B. Bryan Preserve, California Missions Museum, and Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park.

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Distance from San Francisco: 35 miles
Average one-bedroom monthly rent: $2,665

Tucked between the rolling hills of the Tri-Valley region is Dublin. This suburban city is not just one of the cheapest places to live in the Bay Area, but also a genuinely great city to live in. Dublin is affordable, safe, and family-friendly. Housing in the city is thriving, new restaurants and businesses are always opening, and shops are being constructed on every street. There’s also an incredible range of opportunities for outdoor adventure, with steep canyons, lush biking trails, and wonderful parks surrounding the city. The commute to San Francisco is easy, too, thanks to two nearby BART stations. The climate is pleasant year-round, but if it gets too hot, you can chill at Emerald Glen Park and the Dublin Wave Waterpark. In other words, it’s only a matter of time until this awesome and affordable place to live in the Bay Area starts catching up to its expensive neighbors.

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