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The Fastest-Growing City in California Isn't Where You Think
Real Estate

The Fastest-Growing City in California Isn't Where You Think

Thinking of moving? Here are California's fastest-growing cities.


5 min read

February 03, 2021

Although California’s growth rate has been relatively static since the Great Recession of 2008, many parts of the state are expanding and thriving. High costs of living coupled with the coronavirus pandemic led to a mass exodus from popular city centers—many Golden State residents relocated to towns in the East Bay Area, Inland Empire, Central Valley, and Sacramento Valley due to the relatively affordable housing.

These booming cities are experiencing rapid development and progress even when the state itself is growing at its slowest rate in more than a century. With many of the fastest-growing cities in California reaching their peak population, the largest upturns are taking place within the state’s inland cities rather than their coastal counterparts. 

This Is The Golden State’s Fastest-Growing City

According to the most recent numbers from the California Department of Finance, Riverside County’s Beaumont has successfully beaten Chico in becoming the fastest-growing small city in the Golden State. Thanks to its close proximity to urban SoCal cities and its relatively inexpensive housing, Beaumont has successfully attracted city dwellers and turned them into residents. So, if you want to live near a big city but maintain an affordable lifestyle, make a beeline for Beaumont. 

Here are California’s other fastest-growing cities, determined by the biggest percent change in population year over year.

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11 Booming Cities In California

Thanks to its small-town charm, affordable housing, and close proximity to larger cities, Beaumont is the fastest-growing city in California.

1. Beaumont

Percent change: 3.7 

Population: 51,475

With plenty of rural charm and rich history, Beaumont started growing when coastal real estate prices soared and residents began seeking affordable housing in inland cities. Beaumont boasts many master-planned communities and offers a favorable quality of life. Compared to its neighboring cities, Beaumont has slightly cooler weather and, most importantly, less smoggy air. The median home price in this fast-growing city is around $390,000. Whether it’s the fresh air, affordable lifestyle, or its proximity to Palm Springs and L.A., Beaumont is a desirable area with a lot of potential. 

2. Folsom

Percent change: 3.1

Population: 81,610

The Sacramento Valley city of Folsom was the fastest-growing metro area of 2020. Folsom is characterized by its extremely low crime rates, quality education, modest cost of living, and abundance of opportunities for outdoor recreation. This growing city has its very own reservoir, Folsom Lake, which is located on the American River in the Sierra Nevada foothills. The adjacent Folsom Lake State Recreation Area is also one of the most visited parks—there are plenty of areas designated for hiking, camping, biking, horseback riding, and watersports. With all of these conveniences and family-friendly activities, it’s no wonder Folsom is one of the top 11 growing cities in the Golden State. 

The Sacramento Valley is booming—Roseville is just one of many cities in the region experiencing rapid growth.

3. Roseville

Percent change: 2.7

Population: 145,163

Located in Placer County, Roseville is another Sacramento suburb that made it on the list of fastest-growing cities in California. The city provides the perfect environment for young couples looking to grow their family—it’s comfortable, safe, and a short drive from bigger cities. Retail centers are the heart of Roseville’s economy; the city has the 13th highest retail sales in all of California. Another fun fact: 80s teen icon and “Brat Pack” actress Molly Ringwald is a Roseville native. 

4. Dublin

Percent change: 2.5

Population: 65,716

Nestled in the East Bay, Dublin was named after the capital city of Ireland due to the large Irish population who settled here. Dublin has consistently been one of the top 10 fastest-growing cities in California over the past decade. Personal finance brand Money also named Dublin as one of the best places to live back in 2018. Bay Area residents move to Dublin to get the best of both worlds: big-city amenities and a reasonable cost of living. The town is one of the best places to raise families in California, too, thanks to its safe neighborhoods, good schools, and tight-knit community.   

The picturesque city of Menifee is among the cheapest places to live in Southern California, making it a bona fide boomtown.

5. Menifee

Percent change: 2.5

Population: 97,093

With median home prices skyrocketing in major SoCal cities, Menifee offers a more feasible way of living in a refreshing environment. The growing city’s median home price is $410,000, which is lower than most places in Southern California. Only an hour away from San Diego and Long Beach, the city is conveniently located next to urban areas. Menifee is also home to Mt. San Jacinto College, a fast-growing community college in the Golden State. If you’re moving here to lead an inexpensive lifestyle, you won’t be disappointed. 

6. Merced

Percent change: 2.4

Population: 88,120

Also known as the “Gateway to Yosemite”, Merced is a cheap and wonderful college town located in the Central Valley. The fast-growing city is home to the latest UC campus: University of California, Merced. Most people enjoy living in this city due to its family-friendly atmosphere, quality education system, reasonable cost of living, and many job opportunities—the top employers in Merced include UC Merced, Mercy Medical Center Merced, Merced College, and AT&T.  

With ample outdoor spaces and plentiful job opportunities, the Silicon Valley's Los Gatos is a desirable city to live in for many.

7. Los Gatos

Percent change: 2.3 

Population: 31,439

Los Gatos is Santa Clara County’s top growing city. Contrary to popular belief, the booming city isn’t expensive at all, even though it’s a part of Silicon Valley. While Los Gatos has a strong tech presence—the city is home to the headquarters of streaming giant Netflix and other major companies—it’s also a wonderful place to partake in outdoor activities such as mountain biking, road cycling, trail running, kayaking, and hiking. With open spaces, an impressive school system, good jobs, and a safe community, we’re not surprised that Los Gatos is one of the top fastest-growing cities in California

8. Milpitas

Percent change: 2.3

Population: 77,961

Also located in Santa Clara County, Milpitas is not much different from Los Gatos—the San Francisco Bay Area is getting increasingly unaffordable, so people are relocating to smaller towns. However, don’t be fooled by the growing city’s size. Milpitas has a progressive community, an inexpensive cost of living, and plenty of job opportunities in the tech industry. If you seek an affordable lifestyle and a rewarding salary, then Milpitas may be the best city for you to live in the Golden State. 

Though Clovis is most well-known for its agricultural scene, the fast-growing town has much more to offer residents.

9. Clovis

Percent change: 2.2

Population: 119,175

Clovis is a quaint, underrated in Fresno County with lots of potential. Like Rocklin, this growing city has strong school ratings. Clovis is about six miles northeast of Fresno, only 30 minutes away from the Sierra National Forest, and an hour from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Not only is the city one of the best places to raise a family, but it’s also among the most affordable places to live in California

10. Rocklin

Percent change: 2.2

Population: 70,350

Lying within Placer County, Rocklin is a luxurious suburban town that’s only a 30-minute drive from Sacramento. The city has a competitive public school system—it’s home to 12 elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools, and two alternative-education institutions. If you want to continue living the California lifestyle without all the hustle and bustle, Rocklin is the place for you. 

Out of California's largest cities, Bakersfield experienced the highest population growth over the past year.

11. Bakersfield

Percent change: 1.4

Population: 377,917

Among the Golden State’s biggest cities, Bakersfield beat Sacramento by having a growth rate higher than 1 percent. Bakersfield’s growth was the highest of any of California’s largest cities. The affordable city is known for being home to CSU Bakersfield and for having the largest concentration of Basque restaurants. Whether it’s the education system captivating you or the cultural attractions luring you in, be a part of the movement and live in one of the fastest-growing cities in California

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