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The Best Places for Young Adults to Live in California
Real Estate

The Best Places for Young Adults to Live in California

Young adults in California are building communities in places where they can work and play without having to rely too much on their pockets.

Roubina Al Abashian


5 min read

October 20, 2021

The time has come for millennials and Gen Zs to take over the Golden State. We’ve made a few observations in the last few years—A, the new kids on the block are significantly more environment-friendly, and B, they’re moving out of big cities and moving to the suburbs, where life is calmer and the job market is attractive. 

That’s right, young adults in the Golden State are building communities in places where they can work and play without having to rely too much on their pockets. Interested in joining them in having impressive paychecks and affordable living? These are the best places to live for young adults to keep your eye on.

These Are The Best Cities to Live In In Your 20s

1. San Diego

Median home price: $858,230
Median rent price: $2,050

San Diego proudly occupies the top spot in the best cities for young people to live in. First and foremost, America’s Finest City has one of the highest employment opportunities in California, with biotech, defense, and engineering vacancies popping up every minute. The city is a magnet for tech startups as well—office space costs are a fraction of that in other prominent cities. Besides job opportunities, San Diego boasts great universities and several community colleges that drive in the youth.

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But that’s not all. Rent is considerably affordable here compared to the surrounding coastal towns. And for the generation who values experiences more than owning things, San Diego has an amazing downtown and outdoor activities galore—you’ll always have a long list of fun things to do here. It’s not a question of whether or not you’re making the move to San Diego, it’s just a question of when.

Known for its waterfront attractions, Long Beach is home to the permanently docked RMS Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific.

2. Long Beach

Median home price: $752,110
Median rent price: $1,620

Los Angeles has plenty of incredible neighborhoods for young adults to move to, and it also has one of the top suburban cities that attracts the younger generation: Long Beach. The charming city is an affordable and convenient spot for people in their 20s to move to and build their careers. A variety of opportunities are available for the newly graduated in fields like healthcare, business industries, tech, aerospace, and education. 

With rents being considerably low compared to other parts of L.A., Long Beach provides young adults with the opportunity to live in the area without having to worry about surviving. The great outdoors, vibrant downtown, unmatched art scene, and abundance of parks make this place a quintessential California town minus the high cost of living

Anaheim was Orange County's first city. It was incorporated in 1870 when the region was still part of Los Angeles County.

3. Anaheim

Median home price: $790,130
Median rent price: $1,870

Disneyland isn’t the only reason why Anaheim is the happiest place on earth. The small and safe city is one of the best places for young people to live and one you should consider. Young adults are running away from t bigger cities, and calmer places like Anaheim are grabbing their attention. Would you rather live in a bustling city that could break the bank or somewhere you don’t have to worry about surviving from paycheck to paycheck? That’s what we thought.

If you still need convincing, Anaheim's Honda Center frequently holds concerts with Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, and Maroon 5 regularly performing. Shopaholics would be happy to know that the city is home to the Outlets of Orange, where you’ll get discounted items from all your favorite brands. One of the most affordable cities in Orange County is calling, and you’d better answer the call.

In 2016, Irvine became the largest city in the continental U.S. with an Asian American plurality, comprising 45 percent of the population.

4. Irvine 

Median home price: $1,055,370
Median rent price: $2,890

Irvine has gained the title of one of the greenest cities in California, and it’s only growing greener. Besides boasting an eco-friendly lifestyle, the OC city has been welcoming many major companies to move their headquarters here—fields related to aircraft, video games, medical supplies, and software development are on the rise. And while rent is higher than other SoCal cities, safety and high quality of life here are factors that’ll make you stay.

Young adults moving to the city look forward to starting their family here as well—with many fun outdoor activities and top-rated schools and colleges, it only seems natural to raise your kids here. No matter what stage of life you’re in, moving to one of the most desirable places in California is the best decision you’ll ever make. 

The rapid growth of the high-tech industry accelerated San Jose's transition from an agricultural center to an urbanized metropolitan area.

5. San Jose

Median home price: $1,302,400
Median rent price: $2,200

We won’t lie and say that life in San Jose is cheap. What we will say though is that all the high-paying jobs are here—San Jose is a leader in the tech industry. Home to over 6,600 technology companies and start-ups, the Silicon Valley city is also one of the most educated places in the Golden State, with over 45 percent of its residents holding a Bachelor’s degree. 

Top-notch restaurants, exciting water parks, and strange museums make San Jose a fun place to live—no wonder it is one of the best cities for young adults. Its location is yet another reason why people prefer to live here; situated almost halfway between Santa Cruz and San Francisco makes it easy for anyone to go on road trips. Start searching for a place right away, the housing market is on fire.

6. Sacramento

Median home price: $461,220
Median rent price: $1,480

As one of the most diverse cities in the U.S., the state capital is easily one of the best cities to live in your 20s and beyond—did you know that Sacramento is a wonderful city to raise a family? It’s no surprise that many young professionals are moving here. And to help you understand why, here’s everything you need to know about moving to Sacramento from the Bay area (or anywhere, for that matter). 

Sacramento has a reasonable cost of living, and its job opportunities are increasing by the minute. As for entertainment, there’s a lot to see and do here with fun and free activities as well. Get acquainted with Sacramento’s neighborhoods and find the perfect place to finally pack your car and make the move. 

The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), which covers the city except for Sheffield Village, operates most of Oakland's public schools.

7. Oakland

Median home price: $951,790
Median rent price: $2,000

You know better than to live in San Francisco—it can get really expensive. But if you’re not ready to give up the Bay Area lifestyle just yet, there’s a better option that won’t drain your bank account, Oakland. As one of the best places to move for young adults who don’t want to be too far away from S.F., Oakland boasts job opportunities with paychecks enough to cover your expenses and save enough to travel around.

The East Bay city has plenty of hidden gems scattered around, and the transportation system works well enough for you to discover them all. You’ll get the chance to visit one of the best Chinatowns in the country—every day can be fortune cookie day. 

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