Priced Out of California? 4 Golden State Spots Where You Can Still Buy A Home

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Want to buy a home? In California, you’ll have to sacrifice your entire paycheck, plus every cent you’ve ever saved, and maybe even your firstborn child.

When it comes to pricey cities, it’s hard to beat California. In fact, California cities claim 12 of the 25 spots on U.S. News & World Report’s list of most expensive places to live in 2023-2024; San Diego and Los Angeles rank #1 and #2.

But the good news is, a few expensive cities don’t speak for the state as a whole. It’s still possible to become a homeowner in the Golden State—if you know where to look.

Step one: Talk to a few buyer's agents!

Tell us a little bit about your plans (where you’re looking to buy and when you want to make a purchase) and we’ll connect you with top-rated buyer’s agents in your area. It takes only a few minutes, and it’s free.

Here are 4 cities that won’t break the bank:

1. Eureka

Visit California describes Eureka as “a hidden gem surrounded by ancient redwood forests, cradled by Humboldt Bay, California’s most pristine bay.”

Doesn’t that just make you want to go there right now? You can go north to Portland, Oregon or south to San Francisco, but you may not find a coastal city with the unique combination of charm and history Eureka exudes. Sit out on the scenic waterfront, take a ferryboat cruise, and discover one treasure after another in a city that is, in its entirety, a state historic landmark.

Expect to be captivated from the moment you arrive. You’ll be awed by the ornately designed Victorians. And you’ll be happy to learn you can buy one for under $200,000. Granted, it’ll likely be a major project house. But if you’re into that type of thing, you’ll find your fair share of exciting fixer-upper opportunities here.

Of course, keep in mind you could easily spend $500,000-ish and up for a meticulously restored place in the Old Town district that looks like it could have been plucked from San Francisco’s “Postcard Row.” You can also buy a starter home right on the bay in the $100,000s here, and enjoy a low overall cost of living while reveling in the endless vacation vibes of this seaport town.

But, beware of the job situation; they’re not as plentiful as other areas, with employment in the area largely bolstered by Humboldt State University, St. Joseph’s Health System, and The Pacific Lumber Company.

Population: 26,129

Median home value: $296,500

Median household income: $46,926

2. Temecula

Look, up in the sky…it’s a bird, it’s a plane. Actually, it’s a hot air balloon. That must mean it’s the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival. Coincidentally, it’s also when many a California homebuyer falls in love with the city and decides to hang out for more than a couple of days.

Or, perhaps it happens during the Temecula Valley International Film Festival, on a visit to one of the city’s 40-plus wineries, at the Temecula Valley Polo Club, on one of the many championship golf courses, or at Pechanga Resort and Casino, the largest casino in the state—which also happens to be the city’s largest employer.

Gorgeous year-round weather makes these outdoor activities even more enjoyable. And a family-friendly environment with home prices that are hundreds of thousands of dollars lower than in San Diego, which is just 58 miles away, means more money in your pocket to get out and enjoy all the city has to offer.

Temecula’s job market is also strong. Thousands of jobs have been created in the city over the past few years.

Population: 111,752

Median home value: $490,900

Median household income: $103,546

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3. Bakersfield

Just over 100 miles from Los Angeles, Bakersfield has an energy all its own and a thriving real estate market that makes homeownership downright affordable.

Bakersfield is the most highly populated city in Kern County, and the ninth-most populous city in the state, so it holds conveniences abound.

Plus, there are opportunities for natural exploration and adventure, with almost 60 parks, miles and miles of bike paths and easy access to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, not to mention numerous national forests, including: Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, Los Padres National Forest, Angeles National Forest, and Death Valley National Park.

Oil rigs that dot the landscape are indicative of one of the city’s top employment sectors, with agriculture, healthcare, education, and distribution industries also contributing jobs.

Two of the largest carrot growers across the country, Grimmway Farms and Bolthouse Farms, are located here, and Nestle and Frito-Lay also have plants in the area.


Median home value$272,000

Median household income$69,014

4. Ventura

This Souther California coastal city has ideal weather, so much to do, and living there will save you a significant amount of money compared to other Southern California beach towns.

Temperate all year round, the summers here are a dream, with temps that can be 30 degrees (or more) cooler than inland areas. That has made the city a draw for those who can’t bear another stifling summer in areas like the San Fernando or Santa Clarita Valley.

There are parks and hiking and family entertainment spots, but so much of what makes Ventura ideal centers around the beach. There’s something for everyone here—you’ve got the Harbor with its family-friendly activities and tasty eateries, wineries and art galleries that fill up Downtown Ventura, and of course, the many beaches serving everyone from little swimmers to world-class surfers.

By typical affordability standards, Ventura may not make the grade, but, if coastal living is a must, this casual beach town between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara is a bargain. By comparison, Santa Barbara’s median home value is $1,653,697, Santa Monica’s median home value is $1,639,436, and Huntington Beach’s median home value is $1,182,828.

Healthcare, agriculture, technology, manufacturing, and tourism help drive the local economy, with Ventura County Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, and Patagonia among the city’s largest employers.

Just outside the city are numerous other healthcare-and medical-related companies including several hospitals and the biopharmaceutical company Amgen.


Median home value: $633,900

Median household income$94,150

Find your home in California 

Will it be a little place on the coast? A home amidst the vineyards? Or, perhaps, a central California city with a booming economy is where you want to put down roots.

Whatever you’re seeking for your new home, you can find it in California—and still stay on a budget. Turns out buying a home in the Golden State can be a golden opportunity.

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