10 of the Cheapest Places to Buy a House in California

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Looking to buy an affordable house in California? Considering that four of the ten most expensive cities in the United States are located in California, the prospect of buying an inexpensive house within the state might feel… unlikely. But if you’re willing to venture away from the hotspots of San Francisco and Los Angeles, buying a house — affordably — in California is possible.

We’ve taken a deep dive into market research and analyzed median home sale prices, the cost of living index (keep in mind that 100 is the national average, so it’s always up or down from there when we’re sharing numbers below!), and even specific neighborhoods to determine the cheapest places to buy a house in California.

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There’s lots of ground to cover, so let’s get right into it.

1. Bakersfield

Given its sweet spot location between LA and San Francisco, it’s a wonder that Bakersfield is still such an affordable city for California homebuyers. Bakersfield has been attracting new residents, though — the city boasts a current population of more than 416,000.

That said, Bakersfield still has good schools, job opportunities (particularly in agriculture and manufacturing), and plenty of recreational activities both around town and in the outdoors.

Based on median home price, three of Bakersfield’s most affordable neighborhoods are Oleander-Sunset and Wible Orchard (both $250,000), Lakeview ($205,000), and Homaker Park ($137,500).

Bakersfield median home price: $399,000
Bakersfield median household income: $65,687
Bakersfield cost of living index: 103.4
Bakersfield cost of utilities index: 111.7
Bakersfield property tax rate: 0.8%
View available homes in Bakersfield

2. Blythe

Tucked away in southeast California, the small city of Blythe is an often overlooked destination for homebuyers. The population is just under 18,000, and with a low median home price, it could be an interesting prospect for potential buyers. Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the area’s parks and river access.

Blythe’s unemployment rate is 7.7%, but future job growth over the next decade is estimated at 38.8%.

Blythe median home price: $223,355
Blythe median household income: $44,563
Blythe cost of living index: 93.6
Blythe cost of utilities index: 108.6
Blythe property tax rate: 1%
View available homes in Blythe

3. Clearlake

Clearlake sits north of Sacramento on, as its name suggests, a lake — which means this affordable city is not only one of the cheapest places to buy a house in California, it’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Clearlake currently has a population of just over 17,000, and it’s growing at a rate of 0.74% annually.

While Clearlake isn’t a hotbed of high-paying jobs, the unemployment rate is 5.4%, which is down from 6.8% at the beginning of 2023.

Clearlake median home price: $221,967
Clearlake median household income: $36,339
Clearlake cost of living index: 94.8
Clearlake cost of utilities index: 111.1
Clearlake property tax rate: 0.86%
View available homes in Clearlake

4. Eureka

With its Victorian-style buildings and lively waterfront, Eureka can easily be described as a charming small town. It sits about five hours north of San Francisco and has a population of about 26,000, though that number is in decline by 0.09% annually.

Healthcare, tourism, and lumber are significant industries in Eureka, and the city’s unemployment rate sits at just 3.50% as the local economy recovers from Covid-19-related job loss.

Eureka median home price: $392,773
Eureka median household income: $43,199
Eureka cost of living index: 103.2
Eureka cost of utilities index: 88.4
Eureka property tax rate: 1%
View available homes in Eureka

5. Fresno

Despite being considerably larger than some of the other affordable cities on this list, Fresno — population 549,000 — remains one of California’s cheapest places to buy a house.

Agriculture is a major industry in the Fresno area, but jobs in healthcare, business, and education are also available. The city’s unemployment rate as of April 2023 is 7.4%.

Looking again at median home pricing, Fresno’s most affordable neighborhoods include Calwa ($266,182), Edison ($223,915), and Central ($219,357).

Fresno median home price: $359,344
Fresno median household income: $53,368
Fresno cost of living index: 103.3
Fresno cost of utilities index: 112.4
Fresno property tax rate: 0.82%
View available homes in Fresno

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6. Oakhurst

If you’re up for small town life, Oakhurst — located 14 miles south of the entrance to Yosemite National Park — may be a great place for you to buy in California, with a population just below 5,300.

The unemployment rate in Oakhurst is 9.7%, but job growth over the next ten years is predicted at 32.8% — things are happening in Oakhurst!

Oakhurst median home price: $420,293
Oakhurst median household income: $53,375
Oakhurst cost of living index: 105.8
Oakhurst cost of utilities index: 104.7
Oakhurst property tax rate: 0.76%
View available homes in Oakhurst

7. Stockton

Located in the Central Valley, Stockton is just an hour and a half from San Francisco, so it’s a worthy prospect for anyone who enjoys proximity to both big cities and the outdoors. Stockton’s population currently sits just below 325,000.

As of April 2023, Stockton’s unemployment rate is 5.8%. Job opportunities are most prevalent in manufacturing, education, healthcare, and agriculture.

Stockton’s most affordable neighborhoods by median home price include Kentfield ($338,597) and Weberstown ($316,937).

Stockton median home price: $419,631
Stockton median household income: $58,393
Stockton cost of living index: 115.6
Stockton cost of utilities index: 108.9
Stockton property tax rate: 0.73%
View available homes in Stockton

8. Thousand Palms

A dreamy name for sure, Thousand Palms sits two-and-a-half hours southeast of Los Angeles, and this cozy town — with a population of just 8,000.

Thousand Palms’ unemployment rate is at 7.7%, but job growth in the coming years is predicted to reach 38.8% — higher than the national average.

Thousand Palms median home price: $360,567
Thousand Palms median household income: $58,814
Thousand Palms cost of living index: 110.9
Thousand Palms cost of utilities index: 106.7
Thousand Palms property tax rate: 0.95%
View available homes in Thousand Palms

9. Ukiah

Never heard of Ukiah? That’s OK; it’s pretty remote, but still a unique place to buy a home if you’re looking to purchase in California. You’ll find lakes and vineyards here, so this little city with a population of 16,800 has plenty of things to do.

Ukiah does have an unemployment rate of 7.1% and job growth is only expected to grow by 28.4% over the next 10 years, but that doesn’t mean opportunities are limited.

Ukiah median home price: $451,815
Ukiah median household income: $52,915
Ukiah cost of living index: 118.3
Ukiah cost of utilities index: 101.4
Ukiah property tax rate: 1%
View available homes in Ukiah

10. West Sacramento

Sacramento is divided by the Sacramento River, and you can probably guess on which side West Sacramento sits. This small city has a population just under 54,000.)

West Sacramento’s unemployment rate is 6.1%, which puts it right on par with the U.S. average. You’ll find job opportunities in the hospitality, commerce, manufacturing, and agriculture industries — among others.

West Sacramento median home price: $510,326
West Sacramento median household income: $73,979
West Sacramento cost of living index: 121.4
West Sacramento cost of utilities index: 101.4
West Sacramento property tax rate: 0.87%
View available homes in West Sacramento

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Key takeaways

While California is undoubtedly an expensive state, there are definitely still great places to buy (relatively!) inexpensive homes. The median home price in 2022 in the U.S. is $436,800, and the cities we’ve shared here have median prices ranging from $222,000 to $510,000.

As always, remember that there’s no better partner for finding your dream home in California than a great real estate agent!

Header Image Source: (Mark Neal / Unsplash)