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These Are The Cheapest Beach Towns in California
Real Estate

These Are The Cheapest Beach Towns in California

Here's a list of 9 of the cheapest beach towns in California to live in and enjoy the Golden State.


4 min read

January 05, 2022

Whatever your mood is, there’s a Golden State beach town with your name on it—consider this the state’s not-so-secret talent. If action-packed fun in the scorching sun is how you like to roll, SoCal’s coastal beauties are exactly where you need to be. And alternatively, if you’re the kind of person that seeks tranquility in nature’s hidden gems, NorCal practically specializes in secluded stretches tailor-fit for beachcombing, exploring, or simply collecting your thoughts. 

Should you decide to move close to the shore—a dream we have in common—a look at the cheapest beach towns in California is likely going to speed up that process.

The Cheapest Beach Towns in California 

Crescent City is a wonderful place for people who love being in the great outdoors, as well as enjoy homey small-town sociability and quiet life.

1. Crescent City

Median home price: $309,070

Crescent City is the seat of sparkling Del Norte County. Located about 20 miles south of the Oregon border, it breaks any and every conviction you have of an inexpensive beach town in California. Its stunning coastal beauty makes it a great weekend getaway and comes paired with a diverse variety of weather patterns—this is unheard of in the bottom portion of the state—it can keep everyone hot or cool; literally and figuratively.

Ventura is famous for its flourishing cultural scene, award-winning schools, and active citizens who always participate in community events.

2. Ventura

Median home price: $800,210

Situated between Carpinteria and Oxnard, Ventura is a working harbor, fishing marina, and coastal oasis filled with shops, galleries, restaurants, and waterfront activities. Expect to stand-up paddleboard and jet ski with sea lions and uncover a mesmerizing beach cove alongside surfers—all of this a stone’s throw from Channel Islands National Park, aka “The American Galapagos.”

3. Arcata

Median home price: $443,240

It’s no secret that NorCal is home to dozens of ‘hippie towns’ that resemble a time capsule into the sixties. But Arcata might just be the biggest hippie town of them all. First established in 1858 as Union, the city got its official name (translating from Yurok to “where there is a lagoon”) in 1860. With expansive forests, an easy-going lifestyle, and vibrant flower beds wherever you look, it’s almost hard to believe that Arcata is one of the cheapest beach cities in California.

Some of the major companies headquartered in Oxnard are Haas Automation, Seminis, Raypak, Drum Workshop, Borla Performance, and Boss Audio.

4. Oxnard

Median home price: $669,810

Crowned as the new Malibu by entertainment bigwigs, Oxnard is one of the cheapest beach cities in California. This Ventura County spot is notable for the things it doesn’t have—high-priced restaurants, wallet-breaking boutiques, or a “you can’t afford this” vibe. But what it does have is a smattering of international food, a great stock of contemporary Airbnb homes smack dab in the middle of the beach, and trails that serpent all over the county.

5. Capitola 

Median home price: $1,127,960

Basking in its reputation as one of the oldest and most affordable (for renters) beach towns in California, the unbelievably panoramic Capitola is situated in Santa Cruz County on the coast of Monterey Bay. Brimming with idyllic bridges, colorful buildings, and an eclectic mix of boutiques and restaurants, Capitola provides the ultimate coastal escape.

Inexpensive Places to Live in California Near the Beach

Known as the surf capital of the world, Huntington Beach has almost 10 miles of beachfront catering to surfers of all levels.

6. Huntington Beach

Median home price: $1,103,560

Though not exactly the smallest beach town—it boasts around 200,000 residents—Huntington exudes coolness across its nearly 10 miles of sandy flat beach. Thanks to the currents flowing in from Catalina, Huntington Beach has slamming waves; a similar adjective can be used to describe its economy as well. And while the median home prices are not exactly the cheapest, renting here is more than affordable.

7. Avila Beach

Median home price: $1,188,190

A postcard-perfect community in San Luis Obispo County, Avila Beach is one of the most affordable places in California if you wish to live near the beach (median home prices don’t matter as much if you’re renting). Come summer months, its shorelines welcome concerts of all sizes, farmers markets full of the freshest produce, and food experiences that will leave you wanting more. But no matter the community commotion, you can always count on fishermen hauling in their daily catch on the Port San Luis Pier—reeling it in is an Avila Beach staple.

Fort Bragg was established in 1857 before the American Civil War took place as a military garrison rather than a fortification.

8. Fort Bragg

Median home price: $512,700

Nestled on the northern Mendocino coast, Fort Bragg has lived many lives and is now enjoying its fame as one of the cheapest beach towns in California. Originally a military garrison and later a lumber town, Fort Bragg is now one of the top tourist destinations within the state for good reason. Not only is the area home to a beach that’s literally full of glistening glass, but it also has a striking, craggy coastline that sweeps you off your feet immediately.

9. Dana Point

Median home price: $1,347,910

Who would’ve thought that one of the most affordable beach towns to rent in Southern California is also a sailing hotbed? There are slips for more than 2,500 boats in Dana Point. There’s also romantic coasting that includes Headlands, the signature promontory overlooking Dana Point Harbor. With wide flat beaches made for long walks, parasailing, windsurfing, and boogie boarding, Dana Point proves that life is happier when you’re living by the beach.

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