21 Cheapest Places to Live in Southern California (for 2024)

California ranks as the third most expensive state in the United States of America. But often, Southern California is cheaper than Northern. So what is the cheapest place to live in Southern California?

Factors like housing costs, taxes, insurance, utilities, groceries, and healthcare contribute to the cost of living. Regardless if it is your dream to settle down in the golden state or not, this article holds the answers you seek.

Here are the 21 most affordable places to live in South California cities.

Cheapest place in SoCal lg

21. Long Beach

Long Beach, a charter city, is in Los Angeles County. It has a population of 452,917. The poverty rate is 16.83%, with the average household income at $86,806. Despite being relatively populous, housing and cost of living are affordable: average house cost is $556,100, and monthly rent is $1,324.

A major attraction to Long Beach is its waterfront scenery. Exciting events in Long Beach are the IndyCar race and the Long Beach Pride Festival & Parade. In addition, it is home to California State University.

20. Santa Paula

Santa Paula, the citrus capital of the world, is located in Ventura County. This city has a population of 29,434.

Santa Paula is a liberal community with an average household income of $76,733. The cost of housing here is one of the most affordable options in the state. Rent per month for an apartment goes for $1,277, and the median home cost is $383,700.

Top sites include the Santa Paula Art Museum, California Oil Museum, Agriculture Museum, and the Aviation Museum of Santa Paula. About three health facilities are available to residents.

19. Oceano

Oceano is a census-designated place situated in San Luis Obispo County. This small town has a population of 7,487, with a poverty rate of 12.92%. The average house value is $392,000, while the median rent is $1,250 every month.

Oceano is a small community with local farms and close proximity to the beach. Residents have access to community health facilities.

Notable outdoor sights are Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, Oceano Dunes SVRA, Oceano Park, and Pismo Preserve.

18. Newport Beach

Newport Beach is located in Orange County and is known for its sandy beaches. This city has a population of $82,914. Additionally, it is a short drive to LA.

Residents can visit the Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian for health care. Moreso, the average household income is $214,047. Renting an apartment costs $2,251 per month.

Newport Beach is home to many restaurants, parks, bars, and coffee shops. You can also go on wine tours, sightseeing, and dolphin cruise watching.

17. Lemon Grove

Lemon Grove is a city in San Diego County. The world’s biggest lemon, a 3000-pound lemon sculpture, is located here. It has a population of 26,589. However, it records a poverty rate of 12.48%.

The median rental cost per month is $1,333, and the average house price is $432,000. In addition, the median household income is 72,896. Lemon Grove is free from the disturbances of big cities.

One notable historic event here was the first successful national school desegregation case in 1931. In addition, the parks, museums, restaurants, cinemas, and theaters are family-friendly places to visit.

16. Murrieta

Murrieta is one of the best cities in Southwestern Riverside County. It is home to about 120,747 people.

The average cost of renting a single bedroom in Murrieta is $1,761 per month. In addition, the median household income is $109,684, with about 8% of the residents living in poverty. The median house value is $414,100.

Furthermore, Murrieta is one of the most affordable and safer places to settle in. Top sights include the Callaway Vineyard & Winery, Miramonte Winery, Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Tenaja Falls, and Veterans Memorial.

15. Fontana

The city of Fontana, commonly known as the city of speed, was founded in 1913. It is situated in San Bernardino County. The city hosts the Fontana Days Half Marathon and 5K run.

Fontana has a population of 218,582, with about 12% living in poverty. The median household income is $88,073. This city offers affordable housing options. Renting a single apartment costs $1,345 per month, while the median house price is $371,700.

Fontana is one of the most affordable places in southern California, in close proximity to LA. Top attractions include Auto Club Speedway, Rusty Wallace Racing Experience, CalSpeed Karting, Martin Tudor Jurupa Hills Regional Park, and Tibbies Center Stage Theater.

14. Julian

Julian is a small city in San Diego County (a large metropolitan area) with breath-taking scenery. This historic gold mining town is home to the yearly Julian Apple Days Festival that started in 1949.

The city has a population of 1,019, with an average household income of $67,218. In addition, the median house price is $363,000, and the average monthly rent goes for $1,291. With its affordability and beauty, it is little wonder that retirees love it here.

Furthermore, the crime rate in Julian is higher than the national average. It is a desirable place for those who love their local wines. Other notable sites include parks, mountaintops, Julian Historical Society, galleries, and trails.

13. Colton

Colton, popularly known as the Hub City, is situated in San Bernardino County. It is located in the Inland Empire region of California. Colton has a population of 55,385, with an average household income of $65,176. In addition, the average monthly rental cost is $1,189, and the median home price is $257,500.

Colton is one of the least expensive places to settle. This friendly neighborhood is also one of the best places to raise a family. Cool places include Fiesta Village Family Fun Park, Little Creek, and Colton Area Museum.

12. Rialto

Rialto is a city in San Bernardino County with a population of 104,408. The median rental cost is $1,260 per month, and the average house value is $313,400. In addition, the average household income is $74,388.

Popularly known as Bridge City, it experiences wet winters and hot summers. Rialto has a crime rate higher than the national average. That’s why it became the first city to mandate body cameras for all police officers.

Fun places include the Rialto Historical Society, Rialto Library, Rialto Historical Museum, El Gallo Bar and Grill, and Parks.

11. Manhattan Beach

Inside Los Angeles County, Manhattan Beach is north of Hermosa Beach, on the Pacific coast south of El Segundo. This former sand dune has a population of 34,478 with an average household income of $251,717. The average monthly rent price is $2,628. The median house value is $2,000,000.

Manhattan Beach has an average of 2.89 per 1000 residents who will experience violent crimes. However, the north part of the city is fairly safer. They are good schools within the area.

Popular things to do in Manhattan Beach include visiting the Manhattan Beach, Beach Pier, Sand Dune Park, Aquarium, Art Center, Riley Art Gallery, and the Farmers Market.

10. Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree is a small city in San Bernardino County. It is a quiet community that has a population of 7,581. 90% speak English, while about 5% speak Spanish. The median household income here is $55,591. The average home value is $150,100, and the median rent per month is $896.

Although it is a small town in Southern California, it has beautiful scenery perfect for retirees. Joshua Tree National Parks attracts visitors with its desert plains and rugged mountains.

Exciting places include the Hidden Valley Nature Trail, Keys View, Belle Campground, Cottonwood Spring oasis and more. The central part of the city is considered the safest area.

9. Rancho Santa Margarita

Rancho Santa Margarita is a good neighborhood with lots of coffee shops and parks. It is located in Orange County, with access to public schools. This quaint city has a population of 46,993 with a median household income of $150,200.

The average rental cost per month is $2,084, and the median house price is $662,200. About 70% of residents own their homes.

Rancho Santa Margarita is one of the safest cities in California. You can explore Santiago Peak, Florence Joyner Olympiad Park, the Sinks, and Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park trails.

8. Rancho Cucamonga

Rancho Cucamonga, the 27th largest city in California, is about 37miles from LA. It is situated in San Bernardino County and has a population of 178,377. The average household income is $108,525.

Originally known for local wineries, there are many restaurants with various cuisines. Additionally, the median home prices are $739,000 and $2,100 for a bedroom apartment rent per month.

Cool places in Rancho Cucamonga include the Pacific Electric Inland Empire Trail, Victoria Gardens, Sapphire Falls, Bass Pro Shop, farmers’ markets, parks, quakes, and fitness centers.

7. Temecula

Temecula is situated in southwestern Riverside County, with a population of 115,202. The average household income is $112,860, and the median home price is $444,800. Therefore, Temecula is one of the cheapest places to rent a bedroom at the cost of $1,856 per month.

Crime rates in Temecula are 12% less than the national average. Furthermore, Temecula is 885 miles from LA. It’s a good option for those who want to avoid overcrowding, traffic, and a high cost of living index associated with major metro areas.

Temecula is an area known for winemaking, with over 40 local wineries. The Pechanga Resort and Casino, farmers’ market, The Speakeasy, Spring Trails, and spas are other fun places to visit.

6. Seal Beach

Seal Beach is in Orange County, situated 28 miles east of Los Angeles (which is a central location). In addition, Seal is a friendly neighborhood with easy access to the beach and shopping malls.

Seal Beach has a population of 23,588. The median home cost is $397,000, and the average rent costs $2,326.

Seal Beach is home to the second-longest wooden pier in California (next to Oceanside). Other fascinating places include the Seal Beach, National Wildlife Refuge, The California Cottage, golf courses, and dolphin and whale watching at the Mahalo Sailing.

5. Redlands

Redlands is a city in San Bernardino County located 63 miles east of Los Angeles. It is home to about 71,804 residents. The town is a good place to live. However, residents argue that the northern part of Redlands is the safest.

The average income in Redlands is $74,839. Additionally, the median home price is $505,300, while the average rent is $2,074. Therefore, the cost of living in Redlands is cheaper than the state average.

Notable features of the city include the San Bernardino County Museum, the Sprawling Kimberly Crest House & Gardens, and the 1920s Redlands Bowl amphitheater. Furthermore, it is home to the University of Redlands.

4. Oxnard

Oxnard is a city in Ventura County with a population of 207,711. Although Oxnard is a good place to live, it is not advisable to walk at night. There is less traffic and people, which makes a great choice for retirees. Residents can visit St. John’s Regional medical center for health care.

Whale watching, kayaking, and surfing are fun activities on the beach. In addition, Oxnard is a great place to enjoy American, Brazilian, Japanese, and Italian cuisines.

The city has a rich agricultural industry as fresh vegetables and fruits are available throughout the year. Additionally, the median home value is $634,900, while the median rent is $2,369.

3. Oceanside

Oceanside is located in San Diego County. Popular tourist attraction sites include the Oceanside Pier, Rosicrucian Fellowship, the California Surf Museum, Race Across America, a harbor with hundreds of boats, restaurants, shops, and a lighthouse. Tri-City Medical Center is available for health care.

Oceanside has a population of 176,818. It is a safe place to live as it has a low crime rate, 1% lower than the national average.

Renting an apartment in Oceanside may cost $2,045. However, the average cost to purchase an apartment is $750,000. This neighborhood is friendly with areas for walking and biking where the senior citizens can engage in mild walking exercise.

2. El Centro

The city of El Centro is the county seat of Imperial County. This is a safe neighborhood with a population of 44,049. El Centro is 212 miles from Los Angelo.

It costs about $650 to rent a studio. The median home cost, however, is $299,500. El Centro is cheaper than San Diego.

Furthermore, it is home to the largest dune field in the United States- Algodones Dunes. The El Centro Naval Air Facility holds the yearly Blue Angels flight event. Other places to visit include museums, zoos, and a sports center.

1. Bakersfield

Bakersfield is a city in Kern County. It has a population of about 718,000. The city is known for its rich oil and agriculture industry. Additionally, you will enjoy Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace if you love country music.

If you’re looking for a cheap place in Southern California, Bakersfield is the perfect place. The median home price is $350,000. Additionally, you can rent a single bedroom for $1,100. Therefore, Bakersfield is among the top choices for retirees.

Other fun places include wildlife museums, parks, art museums, theater and music halls, malls, aquatic parks, antique stores, and casinos.

10 Cheapest Places to live in California.


Good saving plans mean you will be able to afford your needs even when you are no longer working. You can read a recent article about the best ways to save for retirement.

I hope you can make an informed decision about which city of South California you want to settle in. Then, enjoy the “GOLDEN STATE!”

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average home price in California?

The average home price in California varies depending on the location.

As of this year, the state’s average home price is around $740,000  according to Zillow. That is actually down 4.3% over the prior year. However, keep in mind that prices can significantly differ between regions.

Coastal cities and metropolitan areas tend to have higher home prices compared to rural or inland areas.

Factors such as supply and demand, local economy, and housing market conditions also influence home prices. It’s always advisable to research specific cities or neighborhoods for a more accurate understanding of home prices in California.

Where is the cheapest area to live in California?

When it comes to finding affordable places to live in California, some regions stand out as more budget-friendly.

Areas such as the Central Valley, including cities like Fresno and Bakersfield, often offer lower housing costs compared to coastal or metropolitan regions.

Additionally, some inland cities like Riverside and San Bernardino can provide more affordable living options.

It’s important to consider factors such as job opportunities, quality of life, and access to amenities when evaluating affordability. Keep in mind that while these areas may have lower housing costs, they might have different trade-offs in terms of lifestyle and opportunities.

What cities in Southern California are affordable?

When it comes to affordable cities in Southern California, a few options stand out.

  • Riverside: Often considered more affordable compared to neighboring areas, with a lower cost of living.
  • San Bernardino: Known for its affordability, offering reasonable housing costs and a range of amenities.
  • Lancaster and Palmdale: Located in the Antelope Valley, these cities provide relatively lower housing prices compared to coastal areas.
  • Fontana: Offers a mix of affordable housing options and a convenient location in the Inland Empire.
  • Moreno Valley: Known for its affordable real estate and diverse community.
  • Oxnard: Provides a balance of affordability and coastal living, with relatively lower housing costs compared to nearby cities.

What states are like California but cheaper?

There are several states that offer a similar lifestyle to California but with a lower cost of living.

One option is Texas, known for its vibrant cities, diverse culture, and affordable housing. Arizona is another popular choice, offering warm weather, stunning landscapes, and a lower overall cost of living.

Nevada, particularly the Las Vegas area, provides a bustling entertainment scene and no state income tax.

Oregon offers a similar natural beauty and outdoor activities as California but with more affordable housing options. Lastly, Colorado boasts breathtaking scenery, outdoor adventures, and a lower cost of living compared to California.

But given the mild climate throughout a lot of the state, it will be hard to match that in most other states.

How to live cheaply in California

Living cheaply in California requires some strategic planning and smart choices.

Consider renting a shared apartment or finding roommates to split the costs. Look for affordable neighborhoods outside major cities or consider living in smaller towns.

Cut down on expenses by cooking at home and buying groceries in bulk. Take advantage of free or low-cost entertainment options like hiking, beach visits, and local events. Use public transportation or carpool to save on transportation costs.

Shop at thrift stores and discount outlets for clothing and household items. Lastly, be mindful of energy and water usage to keep utility bills in check.

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4 thoughts on “21 Cheapest Places to Live in Southern California (for 2024)

  1. Why include very expensive cities, such as Manhattan Beach, Newport Beach and a few others, in an article about the cheapest places?

    1. Well truth be told ALL of California is expensive, so I was basically trying to compile a list of the least-expensive places, but also trying to consider where most people would actually want to live given that some of the areas in from the coast are not seen as very desirable by most. But if you know of cities I should have included, let me know!



      1. yo yooo its big honcho include more cities in Los angeles County ! the heart of southern California !!. Lol thanks for your hard work though .

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