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15 Best Places to Live in California for Young Adults

Known all around the world as home to Hollywood, the Pacific coast state of California is one of the most interesting places to be in the United States.

Even its nickname, “The Golden State,” gleaned from the miners during the gold rush in 1849, beckons many people to want to live there.

Today, California is home to diverse people from every path in life. Its scenery, nightlife, beaches, historical places, and vacation spots have attracted many tourists who continually contribute to the state’s economic growth.

For young adults looking to move to a new environment, there are a lot of places in California that can comfortably suit your needs. Here are the fifteen best places to live in California for young adults.

San Francisco

Aerial view of San Francisco, California

Founded in 1776, this city now possesses the second highest percentage of people with bachelor’s degrees.

Numerous fast-growing industries are developing in San Francisco, creating a surplus of job opportunities. These include industries such as advanced technology, biotechnology, medical research, tourism, and financial services.

After the work day is done and leisure rules, there are many interesting spots to hang out with your friends, such as beautiful waterfronts, theaters, operas, food trucks that serve delicious local foods, and other outdoor activities.

Most of the time, the weather fluctuates between dry summers and wet winters. So be sure to have the right clothes for each season.

Other information about San Francisco:

  • Recent estimated population: 876,063
  • Median income: $66,665 for non-families
  • Median house price: 1.3 million
  • Median rent price: $2,895 for a one-bedroom apartment
  • Neighborhoods in San Francisco: Mission District, Russian Hill, Nob Hill, North Beach, SoMa, and Haight-Ashbury

Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles skyline at sunset

Being the largest city in California, Los Angeles doesn’t need too much introduction.

Dubbed the “City of Angels,” this city of entertainment is filled with a lot of opportunities for young people who are looking for jobs in movie production, arts, and entertainment.

There are also other growing industries, including manufacturing, telecommunications, medical care, transportation, legal services, and finance.

Not to mention, when you have a day off from work, you can visit interesting spots such as museums, fine-dining restaurants, luxury shopping malls, nightclubs, and bars.

As the most crowded place in California, you can expect exceptionally heavy traffic if you’re looking to own a car in this city.

Other information about Los Angeles:

  • Recent estimated population: 3,898,747
  • Median income: $66,665 for non-families
  • Median house price: $765,580
  • Median rent price: $2,249 for a one-bedroom apartment
  • Best neighborhoods in Los Angeles: Hollywood, Downtown Los Angeles, Echo Park, Silver Lake, and Los Feliz

San Diego

San Diego, California, USA Cityscape

Located next to the Mexican border, San Diego has an ideal climate that fluctuates between semi-arid weather and Mediterranean weather.

Being the second largest city in California, San Diego can be a great spot for young adults that are looking to move into a new environment.

There are many flourishing industries that offer a lot of job opportunities, such as aerospace, biotechnologies, communications, health care, defense, and tourism.

There are museums, museum parks, and even a baseball stadium to watch the local professional team play their home games.

You can also experience the beauty of wildlife, nature, and marine animals when visiting the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and SeaWorld San Diego.

Other information about San Diego:

  • Recent estimated population: 1,402,466
  • Median income: $77,900 for non-families
  • Median house price: $992,818
  • Median rent price: $2,330 for a one-bedroom apartment
  • Best neighborhoods in San Diego: Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Hillcrest, Downtown San Diego, La Jolla, and Little Italy

Silicon Valley

Aerial view of Hi tech Silicon Valley At Bay Area

Silicon Valley isn’t a city but an area that comprises several cities.

Situated in northern California, Silicon Valley is home to many giant technology companies that dominate the world’s economy. These include Apple, Meta (previously known as Facebook), Alphabet’s Google, Visa, Chevron, and many more.

Silicon Valley is also a place for many startups that are looking to build their own internet companies and business empire.

If you’re a hungry, adventurous young professional looking to make your own mark in any of these industries, then Silicon Valley would be a perfect fit for you.

Aside from being technology and business-centered, there are also museums, theme parks, art galleries, sports arenas, and natural attractions for you to unplug from the busy atmosphere at your work.

Other information about Silicon Valley:

  • Recent estimated population: 3 million
  • Median income: $81,000 per year for non-families
  • Median house price: 1 million or more
  • Median rent price: $2,599 for a one-bedroom apartment

San Jose

City San Jose California

Being the largest city in Silicon Valley, San Jose is home to many technological and software companies.

Apart from its computer-related industries, there are also other businesses from different fields that open the door for many job opportunities. These include health care, technical services, telecommunications, manufacturing, internet publishing, and design.

But San Jose isn’t just limited to business deals and entrepreneurship.

You can also find various interesting spots in this city, including the San Jose Museum of Art, the San Pedro Square Market, Alum Rock Park, The Municipal Rose Gardens and Overfelt Gardens, and a few state parks such as Big Basin Redwoods and Henry W. Coe Park.

Other information about San Jose:

  • Recent estimated population: 1.01 million
  • Median income: $66,671 for non-families
  • Median house price: $1.5 million
  • Median rent price: $2,754 for a one-bedroom apartment
  • Best neighborhoods in San Jose: Blossom Valley, Downtown San Jose, West San Jose, Willow Glen, Silver Creek, and Edenvale


Located in Placer County in central California, Roseville was once inhabited by the Maidu Indians before rapid development and industrialization turned this place into the fourth most popular city in California, with the highest percentage of homeowners.

Compared to other cities in California, the median home price in Roseville is quite affordable.

From an economic standpoint, retail industries contributed the largest portion to economic and monetary growth, preceded by other industries such as technology, telecommunications, health care, and education.

There are numerous activities that you can do in Roseville. You can play golf, visit beautiful parks and fountains, and go for a hike to experience nature.

Other information about Roseville:

  • Recent estimated population: 153,300
  • Median income: $66,665 for non-families
  • Median house price: $689,227
  • Median rent price: $1,657 for a one-bedroom apartment
  • Best neighborhoods in Roseville: Johnson Ranch, Highland Reserve, Diamond Oaks, Junction West, and South Cirby

Long Beach

Aerial View Long beach California

If you’re looking to live near the beach or sea, then Long Beach could be your prime candidate for an ideal beach lifestyle. This place comprises eight districts and is labeled as the seventh most populous city in California.

What is interesting is the culture in Long Beach, which is a hybrid between Southern California and the beach bum lifestyle.

When looking for a job here, there are numerous companies in different industries, such as aerospace, technology, oil technology, financial services, health care, retail, and tourism.

Aside from the 81 miles of beach, there are also other interesting spots to visit, including the RMS Queen Mary, the Port of Long Beach, the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Long Beach Grand Prix circuit, and many more.

Other information about Long Beach:

  • Recent estimated population: 468,982
  • Median income: $50,184 for non-families
  • Median house price: $752,110
  • Median rent price: $1,620 for a one-bedroom apartment


Aerial View of Downtown Irvine California Skyline

Located in Orange County, this city is considered one of the smallest cities in California. However, it is also one of the wealthiest and safest cities in the United States.

Aside from a few selections of universities for higher education, Irvine is home to many flourishing industries, including software development, video games, manufacturing, scientific and technical services, education, health care, financial services, and real estate management.

Although Irvine is well-known for many cultural events, there are also numerous places to visit in this city, such as Irvine Spectrum Center, Tanaka Farms, Orange County Great Park, Bommer Canyon Trails, and Irvine lakes and dams.

Other information about Irvine:

  • Recent estimated population: 328, 284
  • Median income: $84,000 per year
  • Median house price: $1.4 million
  • Median rent price: $2,847 for a one-bedroom apartment
  • Best neighborhoods in Irvine: Oak Creek, Northwood Point, Turtle Ridge, Woodbridge, and Turtle Rock

Santa Monica

City view of Santa Monica California

Located in western Los Angeles County, this sustainable, beachfront city is one of the first proponents of an eco-friendly city plan in the United States that focuses on water conservation and waste reduction.

Interestingly, Santa Monica received its name from the secluded Kuruvungna Springs, which apparently reminded the Spanish of Saint Monica’s tears.

The moderate weather during both the summer and winter is also one of the reasons why this place attracts a lot of visitors during the holiday season.

Several industries contributed to the economic growth of this city including video games and software development, retail, financial service, information technologies, educational services, agriculture, and even fishing or hunting.

If you’re planning to move to this city, be sure to visit the magnificent Santa Monica pier and other interesting spots such as museums, amusement parks, state parks, and even the beaches.

Other information about Santa Monica:

  • Recent estimated population: 88,286
  • Median income: $98,300
  • Median house price: $1,917,082
  • Median rent price: $2,500 for a one-bedroom apartment
  • Best neighborhoods in Santa Monica: Venice, Ocean Park, Brentwood, Wilshire Montana, and North of Montana

Huntington Beach

Aerial of Huntington Beach Pier

Aside from Long Beach, Huntington Beach is also another great spot for people that love waking up to the view of beautiful beaches in the morning. Located close to Costa Mesa, this place is also known as Surf City due to the community of surfers and beach lovers living in this place.

If you’re looking to find a job in this seaside city, there are different industries that might suit your qualifications. These include aerospace, construction, health care, tourism, health care, and even arts and entertainment.

Aside from surfing, you can also do many outdoor activities, including cycling, kayaking, golfing, and paddleboarding.

For nature lovers, Huntington Central Park and Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve would be the best choice for a short escape during the weekend.

Other information about Huntington Beach:

  • Recent estimated population: 201,950
  • Median income: $63,525 for non-families
  • Median house price: $1.2 million
  • Median rent price: $2,596 for a one-bedroom apartment
  • Best neighborhoods in Huntington Beach: Golden West, Sunset Beach, Surfside, Yorktown, and Oak View


The first thing that would cross people’s minds when they talk about Anaheim is Disneyland. But being the second largest city in Orange County, there is more to this place than just a beautiful amusement park.

Aside from tourism as its largest economic contributor, Anaheim is also home to many large companies from different industries. These include telecommunications, electronics manufacturing, automotive, health care, and financial services.

If you’re keen on moving to this city, there are several interesting spots that you must visit, such as the City National Grove of Anaheim, Oak Canyon Nature Center, Desert Hills Premium Outlets, Anaheim Packing District, the Adventure City, and the Universal Studios Hollywood.

Other information about Anaheim:

  • Recent estimated population: 350,986
  • Median income: $65,712 for non-families
  • Median house price: $790,130
  • Median rent price: $1,870 for a one-bedroom apartment
  • Best neighborhoods in Anaheim: Downtown Anaheim, Northeast Anaheim, Anaheim Hills, Southeast Anaheim, and Platinum Triangle


Downtown Pasadena California

Located in the San Gabriel Valley and just 11 miles northeast of Los Angeles, this city is suited for young adults who are looking for a less crowded environment.

But with the rough population of 150,000 people, there are a lot of job opportunities in different industries here, including aerospace research and development, manufacturing, health care, petrochemical, and even retail.

Not to mention, there are three shopping mall districts in Pasadena and restaurant chains that can serve you various delicious local food.

There are also beautiful recreational parks, playgrounds, and even canyons for people that are into outdoor activities.

Other information about Pasadena:

  • Recent estimated population: 152,847
  • Median income: $48,713 per year
  • Median house price: $886,100
  • Median rent price: $2,100 for a one-bedroom apartment
  • Best neighborhoods in Pasadena: Bungalow Heaven, Daisy Villa, Washington Square, Madison Heights, and South Arroyo


The California State Capitol building in Sacramento

As the capital city, Sacramento is home to the governor of California and the state legislature.

But there are also other job opportunities in different industries, including agriculture, health care, life science, technology and clean energy, marketing, and even construction.

As the most ethnically diverse city in California, Sacramento offers a lot of activities and accommodations for people from all around the United States.

From fine dining to breweries and farm-to-table dishes, you can expect to see different local food being served at the restaurants and eateries.

Also, the nightlife is also filled with cultural events, concerts, and live performances.

Other information about Sacramento:

  • Recent estimated population: 539,221
  • Median income: $69,134 for non-families
  • Median house price: $470,000
  • Median rent price: $1,600 for a one-bedroom apartment
  • Best neighborhoods in Sacramento: East Sacramento, Midtown, Curtis Park, Boulevard Park, and Meadowview


Downtown Oakland skyline California

Named after the large oak found during the early establishment of this city, Oakland is known as the largest port city located close to San Francisco Bay area.

This city has warm, temperate Mediterranean weather and mild, wet winters.

From an economic standpoint, there are numerous industries that attract both local adults and people outside of California to come and work in this city. These include industries such as manufacturing, health care, food processing, solar and green energy, and even arts and entertainment.

There are numerous natural attractions that you can explore in Oakland. For instance, the Lake Merrit Wild Fowl Sanctuary, Oakland Zoo, Tilden Regional Park, Angel Island, and Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park.

Other information about Oakland:

  • Recent estimated population: 451,618
  • Median income: $82,018 for non-families
  • Median house price: $923,400 to $1.01 million
  • Median rent price: $2,772 for a one-bedroom apartment
  • Best neighborhoods in Oakland: Montclair, Grand Lake, Piedmont Avenue, Panoramic Hills, Crocker Highlands, and Downtown Oakland

Manhattan Beach

Aerial View over Manhattan Beach in California with Green Blue Water and Blue Sky

Manhattan Beach is one of the smaller cities in California, with a population of around 35,000 people. This place is suitable for young adults that are looking for a quiet and peaceful environment.

However, the real estate in this city is quite expensive for longer-term living. Unless you’re already loaded with a lot of cash, then owning a home in Manhattan Beach could take a long time.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to jumpstart your career for a short-term period, there are different industries that would interest you, such as electronic manufacturing, hospitality, retail, health and fitness, financial services, and communications services.

The nightlife in this city is also interesting. In fact, there are many fine dining, hotels, restaurants, and bars for you to explore. The farmer’s markets, beaches, and the beach pier also attract many visitors from outside of California.

Other information about Manhattan Beach:

  • Recent estimated population: 34,478
  • Median income: $80,260 for non-families
  • Median house price: $3.3 million
  • Median rent price: $2,748 for a one-bedroom apartment
  • Best neighborhoods in Manhattan Beach: West Torrance, Playa Del Rey, Westchester, Mar Vista, and East Manhattan

Final Thoughts

Before moving to any of these places, be sure to do your own due diligence and plan thoroughly. You should learn the ins and outs of the city you choose to move to and its local laws or regulations.

There are certain things that may differ from your home, but if you don’t rush anything, your decision to live in California could be the best decision you will ever make in your entire life.

And most importantly, get to know your neighbors and the people in your community to familiarize yourself with the new environment.