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The 10 Cheapest Places to Rent an Apartment in California
Real Estate

The 10 Cheapest Places to Rent an Apartment in California

The best places to rent an apartment in California still offer economically sound options that make that seem more possible.


6 min read

June 11, 2021

Dreaming of moving to the Golden State but fear the pricey cost of living? Fear not, for it’s completely possible to live here without having to survive paycheck to paycheck.  While the skyrocketing rent prices make moving to California seem like a far-fetched dream, the best places to rent an apartment still offer economically sound options that make that seem more possible.

California is home to much more than just Los Angeles and San Francisco. You’ll find that the state is home to many interesting cities, both big and small, fit for every personality type. Do a little digging and you’ll definitely find your match. If it also happens to be one of the cheapest places to rent in California, then you’ve got yourself a win-win situation. 

Cities With Nice and Affordable Apartments

Established in 1859, Temecula received recognition in 2013 for its 39 parks and 116,500 square feet of recreational facilities.


Average one-bedroom monthly rent: $1,900 

While the rent in Temecula isn’t affordable by national standards, the cost of living makes it one of the best places to live if you’re looking to save up. Growing fast and garnering attention for many reasons, this Riverside County town and hot tourist destination 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 only about an hour and a half drive from Los Angeles, and about 55 minutes away from San Diego. So, while there’s enough to see and do in Temecula to keep you entertained, you’ll definitely be close enough to go on a whim whenever you ever crave a big-city weekend.

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Average one-bedroom monthly rent: $1,490

Sacramento is a destination on this list that seems almost too good to be true, yet it totally is. Not only is the state capital one of the cheapest places to rent in California, but it’s also a vibrant destination packed with fun things to do

Float down the river, enjoy scenic hikes and bike rides, learn about the state’s Gold Rush history, and explore the shops and restaurants of Old Town. If you often crave weekends spent in the heart of nature, you’re in luck. This affordable place to rent in California is a short drive away from the mountains, forests, ocean, and even the desert.

The Cheapest Places to Rent in Northern California

Richmond is located 16 miles northeast of San Francisco, best known for its unique history and role in the World War II home front effort.


Average one-bedroom monthly rent: $1,075

Spend a day in Richmond and you’ll understand why this East Bay city is a favorite of ours. With unique vibes, awesome San Francisco Bay views, and mountainous vistas all around, Richmond is not only one of the most affordable places to rent in California, but also a great place to be in general.

Depending on what you’re looking for, you can find neighborhoods with different perks and amenities in Richmond. Point Richmond is a hip neighborhood with a small-town vibe featuring great breakfast places and bars. Marina Bay has plenty of gated neighborhoods with waterfront views and parks. Overall, Richmond is a wonderful place to rent an apartment—the city is ready to welcome you to your new life.

Vallejo residents easily take advantage of the arts and entertainment options of nearby Oakland, San Francisco, and Wine Country.


Average one-bedroom monthly rent: $1,400

The largest city of Solano County, Vallejo is one of the most budget-friendly cities in the Bay Area, and fun fact, has twice been the capital of California! Ideal for young professionals and those who don’t mind a 60-minute ferry ride to work in the city, Vallejo is one of the cheapest places to rent in Northern California.

Here, you get to enjoy thrilling rides at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, San Pablo Bay views at Mare Island Brewing Company, and hole-in-the-wall eateries all around town. If you enjoy an occasional golfing session, you’ll also love taking a swing at the Hiddenbrooke Golf Club. Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts don’t have anything to worry about either—Blue Rocks Spring Park has your back with trails and tracks all over.

The name Arcata comes from the word oket'oh in Yurok, meaning "where there is a lagoon."


Average one-bedroom monthly rent: $770

Not seeing a decimal in an average rent estimate for a NorCal town feels like a trick to the eyes, and this little town in Humboldt County has managed to fly under the radar till now. But don’t get too comfortable—despite having some of the cheapest apartments in California, this beautiful college town is steadily gaining popularity.

Ideal for college students and people looking to combine small-town life with a university job, Arcata offers youthful energy in a safe and serene setting. When living in Arcata, you’ll likely spend your weekends hanging around the Plaza. With lush lawns, flower gardens, as well as plenty of bars, coffee shops, restaurants, and bookstores, this affordable town in California is too good to miss.

The Most Affordable Places to Rent in Central California

Fresno is home to one of the nation’s largest and most popular blues festivals, which attracts thousands from all over the world.


Average one-bedroom monthly rent: $900

Fresno is another inexpensive college town making the list with nice affordable apartments in Central California. Set in the agricultural heart of the Golden State, Fresno is a booming city with plenty of old-school Spanish charm and outdoor adventures. Spend your free time exploring national forests and parks to the east, visiting Central Valley U-pick farms to the north and south, and occasionally driving out to the coast for weekend getaways.

Merced, known as the gateway to Yosemite, is less than two hours away from Yosemite National Park to the east and Monterey Bay to the west.


Average one-bedroom monthly rent: $923 

Conveniently located between Yosemite National Park and San Jose, Merced is one of the best places to rent an apartment in Central California for many reasons—the most obvious being its affordability. Diverse ethnically and economically, this town is home to not one but two colleges.

One thing to note about Merced is that if you enjoy frequently trying new places to dine out and shop, you’ll likely find the scene in Merced quite boring. However, if you’re looking to adjust to life in the slow lane—and frequently make your way to Yosemite—this peaceful town also has the cheapest apartments in California.

Affordable Places to Rent in Southern California


Average one-bedroom monthly rent: $1,675

Glendale is an awesome place to live in Southern California for so many reasons—diversity, safe neighborhoods, places to enjoy outdoor activities, and good school districts. Did we mention the number of ethnic eateries here? Living in Glendale means taking advantage of these perks along with reasonable housing prices.

If you like the hustle and bustle, you’ll find yourself fitting in more in Downtown or North Glendale, where there are more shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes to be explored. However, if you prefer living in a neighborhood with more of a suburban feel, West Glendale is where you belong.

For nearly three-quarters of a century, Redlands stood at the heart of the globe's most prolific navel orange cultivation area.


Average one-bedroom monthly rent: $1,795

The small-town vibe, reasonable housing prices, and proximity to L.A. make Redlands one of the best cities to live in Southern California. If fitting in is something you’re worried about, you’ll be glad to know that this affordable SoCal city prides itself on its tight-knit community and family-oriented nature. 

The amenities are favorable, the education system is exceptional, and the crime rates are low—Redlands’ residents work together to uphold the high standards. You’ll have access to healthcare, education, job opportunities, and plenty of recreation. In short, there’s no reason for you to overlook this San Bernardino city as one of the best places to rent an apartment in Southern California.


Average one-bedroom monthly rent: $1,420

Fontana is one of the cheapest places to rent in Southern California with a growing population. Residents of this city enjoy going on waterfall hikes, visiting great parks, and checking out quirky landmarks like Bono’s Historic Orange on Route 66

Fontana’s all about the suburban feel. Though it has plenty of dining spots to keep you busy for the weekend, it isn’t a buzzing SoCal city per se. However, thanks to its proximity to L.A., it’s easy to make a day trip to the city (and drive by Rancho Cucamonga) to get a much-needed dose of big-city life.

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