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The Most Affordable Places to Live in Northern California
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The Most Affordable Places to Live in Northern California

Whether you want to live by the coast or amongst the redwoods, you can find what you're looking for—within your price range—in NorCal.


5 min read

July 28, 2021

The world-renowned tech industry, bustling cities, rugged coastline, and lush forests are often what come to mind when people think of Northern California. Indeed, this end of the Golden State offers all of that (and much more). But the best part? NorCal is affordable.

Although several of California’s most expensive cities are found here, there are also plenty of lovely affordable places to live in Northern California. From charming small towns and coastal cities to beautiful mountain towns and quaint suburbs, you can find what you're looking for—within your price range—in the northern region of the Golden State. 

Without further ado, let’s take a quick tour through the most affordable places to live in Northern California, shall we?

The Cheapest Places to Live in Northern California

One of the most affordable and beautiful places in California is none other than Clearlake. Admire the view as you relax in your new home.


Location: Lake County

Median home price:  $206,630

Beautiful landscapes, scenic drives, and freshwater lakes—Clearlake, one of the most affordable Northern California cities, is a paradise for nature lovers. Named after Clear Lake, the largest freshwater lake in California, the city of Clearlake is surrounded by stunning vistas.

Life in this small lakeside town is slower-paced compared to other Bay Area cities, so it’s better suited for those looking for a peaceful life in a quieter area. Worried you’ll miss the hustle and bustle of the city? Fear not, for Clearlake is only a 2.5-hour drive away from San Francisco

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Live it up in California's Crescent City. The Battery Point Lighthouse, blue skies, and ocean vistas will steal your heart.

Crescent City 

Location: Del Norte County

Median home price: $275,650

Named after its crescent-shaped sandy beach, Crescent City is one of the least expensive places to live in Northern California, located near the far northwest corner of the Golden State. After suffering devastating losses from a tsunami in 1964, Crescent City rebuilt itself from scratch—a testament to the resilience of this coastal city’s residents.

The average commute here is 14 minutesthere are plenty of outdoor areas to explore in this family-friendly and affordable NorCal town. People from all over the state frequent the beaches and hiking trails of the inexpensive coastal town of Crescent, so if you want to meet new people here, you know where you need to go.

Eureka, you may have found your future home! Make the right move by residing in one of NorCal's most charming and affordable towns.


Location: Humboldt County

Median home price: $362,130

Eureka is a fabulous place to live if you love the great outdoors. As one of the best affordable places to live in Northern California, this small town offers a pleasant climate and plenty of forests, beaches, lakes, and rivers to explore (without having to deal with the crowds). Not only that, but one of the most affordable places to live in Northern California is also wonderful for families. The small-town vibe, varied restaurants, boutiques, and architecture will have you sayin' you've found it—your new place in life, that is.

Not sure if it's the place for you just yet? Don't rush, just take a quick weekend trip to Eureka to decide whether this affordable NorCal town is the right fit for you.

When living in the quaint city of Stockton, you can enjoy leisurely strolls along the waterfront with your loved ones.


Location: San Joaquin County

Median home price: $392,730

Located less than 90 minutes away from San Francisco is one of the most affordable places to live in Northern California. Perfect for people who want to head north to explore, Stockton surprises residents and visitors in more than one way. If running out of activities is a concern of yours, don’t fret—there are plenty of amazing parks and trails around town, as well as a huge variety of shopping centers and dining options.

The northern and western parts of Stockton are safe and full of young families. Stockton’s economy is growing, too, so keep one of the least expensive places to live in Northern California in your back pocket as a viable option.

Dreaming of living amongst the redwoods? Look no further than the gorgeous town of Arcata.


Location: Humboldt County

Median home price: $407,860

The name Arcata is derived from the Yurok word oket'oh, which loosely translates to “where there is a lagoon.” It’s quite fitting for this beautiful yet cheap Northern California city. The heart of Arcata is the Plaza—featuring lush lawns, extensive flowers, and plenty of bars, coffee shops, restaurants, and bookstores—and you’ll soon fall in love with the vibe of downtown Arcata.

Considered one of the most beautiful California college towns, Arcata is full of vibrant, youthful energy. If you’re more into the serene scene, a short drive away from town will lead you to rugged coastlines and lush forests. It’s time to disconnect from technology and free your mind when roaming one of the cheapest places to live in Northern California.


Location: Butte County

Median home price: $434,250

As the most populous city in Butte County, this affordable college town is all about mild winters, outdoor recreation, and reasonably priced housing. This friendly small town is home to the well-known California State University, Chico, and the beautiful Bidwell Park—the 26th largest municipal park in the world.

The affordable city in Northern California is ideal for people who like spending a lot of time outdoors. Residents revel in the pleasant year-round weather and take advantage of the scenic mountains and valleys surrounding the town. Plan your visit to Chico to see if you want to call this place home. But note: This is the fastest-growing city in California for a reason, so don't wait too long to make a move.

Live your best life in the Golden State's scenic capital: Sacramento, where endless activities and natural beauty await.


Location: Sacramento County

Median home price: $442,500

The capital of the Golden State rounds out our list of the most affordable places to live in Northern California. With a fast-growing economy, diverse neighborhoods, and lively cultural arts scene, Sacramento is the place to be. Not only is this one of the most affordable Northern California cities, but Sacramento is also the most populous on our list with just under 500,000 inhabitants. Thousands of people have been moving to the area thanks to its affordable housing and close proximity to San Francisco and Lake Tahoe. Sacramento has captured many hearts over the past few years, and it’s only a matter of time till you get charmed as well. 

The Old Sacramento Waterfront and downtown area boast many restaurants and endless entertainment; there are also numerous fun and free things to do in Sacramento. When you want to get away from the city, take a day trip to a nearby town or explore the great outdoors—the region's natural beauty will stun you. Still not sure? Here's what you need to know about moving to Sacramento.

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