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Best places to live in California for young adults

Young people who achieve adult age try to change something in their life and look for a better place to live. California is the third largest state by area and takes the first place in population. Located on the coast it attracts people with its mild climate, beautiful marine and mountainous landscapes, renowned educational institutions, and excellent job opportunities. That is why it is often chosen as a popular destination by residents of other states. Young people prefer this state because its median population age is only 36 years and the median household income is over $62,000. It means that this state offers everything for a happy and successful life no matter what city you choose. Look through the best cities in California for young adults and think where you will feel at home after relocation.

San Diego

“That’s the downside to San Diego. Once you live here, you never want to live anywhere else. Unfortunately, everyone else already lives here.”
— Kiersten White

  • Population: 1,407,000

  • Young people (20-34 years old): 27%

  • Median salary (1-4 years of experience): $57,265

  • Median home price: $572,100

  • Rent / 1 bedroom apartment: $1,798

  • Most popular employers: University of California, United States Navy, Sharp Health Care, San Diego Unified School District, Qualcomm Inc.



San Diego is a Mecca for people who want to be employed in fish and cellular technology industries. Despite standard employers like schools, hospitals, and army, this city is a home for 2 large seafood companies and major producers of wireless cellular technology. There are several software security and biotechnology companies too.
The crime rate is not very high. It was ranked one of the safest cities in 2013.
Entertainment in San Diego is highly developed. It is a city of multiple museums with an opera house and theatre too. You can see multiple sports teams playing here and it is home to a professional baseball team too. The city can boast several green parks, a zoo, an amusement park etc. Many people enjoy beer tours and voyages on cruise ships organized here.
Secondary education in the city is represented by public schools most often. There is the second-largest school district in California with about 200 different schools located here. That it why moving to San Diego can be so beneficial for those who planning the kids in near future. San Diego is a very eye-catching city and you will undoubtedly love its unsurpassed scenery.


The average monthly salary in San Diego is $4,772 (before taxes) but if you plan to live alone the biggest part of this salary will be taken by rental as the cheapest studio costs about $1,500 here. With the minimum amount of money for food that is equal $316 according to Numbeo, and utility bills that cost over $100, it will be difficult to save much living alone. 80% of local residents use cars to move along the roads, so traffic is rather heavy here. There is an extensive range of cycle routes, a light rail system, buses, other types of rail too.

San Francisco

"If you're alive, you can't be bored in San Francisco. If you're not alive, San Francisco will bring you to life."
— William Saroyan

  • Population: 884,363

  • Young people (20-34 years old): 30.4%

  • Median salary (1-4 years of experience): $70,799

  • Median home price: $1,194,300

  • Rent / 1 bedroom apartment: $3,261

  • Most popular employers: the City Government, California Pacific Medical Center, Anchor Brewing Company, small firms with under 10 employees.

  • Events: Theater & Broadway Shows, Wine Festival, Film Festivals, Cherry Blossom Festival, Gay Pride Parade & Festival, Waterfront Festival and Fireworks display, Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival etc.


San Francisco is both the City and County in Northern California. There is a very high population density and the 7th highest income. It means that jobs are well-paid here and there is the 2nd largest percentage of people with a college degree here. The biggest number of people works in business as the most fast-growing spheres are biotechnology, high technology, and medical research. Other popular industries are leisure and hospitality, trade and transportation.
San Francisco offers a variety of leisure activities and entertainment. There are unique streetscapes rich in culture and well-developed visual, opera, theatrical arts. You can visit a variety of museums, baseball and football games, the best beaches and parks with various activities.
The city offers over 300 of preschool programs, numerous public and private schools and is the sole campus of the University of California system.


With the average monthly salary of over $5,000 per month, more than $3,000 you should pay for a one-bedroom apartment rent. Basic utilities cost about $100, while over 25% of the salary residents have to spend on food. Unfortunately, the crime rate is very high with 47% of property crimes and 7% of violent crimes.
The traffic in this metropolitan area is rather heavy, despite the fact that 32% of local people use public transport on a daily basis. Despite the fact that many people feel prosperous in this city, a high cost of living makes many families move to the suburbs of the city.

Silicon Valley

"An open-minded and diverse population that readily shares information, encourages experimentation, accepts failure and dispenses with formality and hierarchy is what makes Silicon Valley the successful hub that it is."
— Vivek Wadhwa

  • Population: 3.500.000 - 4.000.000

  • Young people (20-34 years old): about 30%

  • Median salary (1-4 years of experience): about $80,000

  • Median home price: $900,000-1,500,000

  • Rent / 1 bedroom apartment: $2,300-2,500

  • Most popular employers: Google, Apple Inc., Netflix, Tesla, Facebook, Visa, Wells Fargo, Chevron.

  • Events: Monterey Jazz Festival, Tech Conferences and Summits, Silicon Valley Fall Festival, Facebook F8, LiveStrong Challenge, San Jose Jazz Festival etc.


Being a region in Northern California Silicon Valley includes many beautiful cities including San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto and others. San Jose has the 3rd world’s highest GDP per capita, so it is not surprising that some cities of Silicon Valley are global centers of technological development, venture capital, innovative solutions, social media. It is a home to 39 world’s largest corporations that work in high tech sphere and are major employers of the area too. The most popular jobs in the area are mathematical and computer, software development, natural sciences and medical ones. There is hardly any better place destination for young professionals too.
The cost of living in SV is rather high but there is a huge difference depending on the city you live in. There is the lowest unemployment rate of 2.5% in the country and the average yearly earnings were $131,000 in 2017.
Crime rate in the area is not very high apart from San Jose, while in Santa Clara there is the lowest crime rate in California.
Silicon Valley is a good place to live that attracts many people from different corners of the planet by a diversity of activities. There are multiple museums, art galleries, performing arts. You will enjoy huge sports arenas, beautiful theme parks and natural reservations, vineyards, and rides too. The variety of events will keep everyone busy.
You can get high education in multiple colleges and universities functioning here. There is over a dozen school districts and multiple prestigious private schools too.
Buses and light rail are run by Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, while the major roads Highway 101 that lacks signs, Interstate 208 with scenic scenery and El Camino Real with an opportunity to do some shopping along the way. The busiest one is 101.


However, both home prices and rentals are 2.1 and 1.4 times higher here than in other parts of the state. It is also important to remember that there is an 8.5% sales tax taken. As a result, a huge sum of your earnings will be spent on dwelling and purchases.
Silicon Valley can boast the biggest number of millionaire and billionaires in the USA per capita, but people, who are not employed in high-tech industry, live not so well. About 30% of local children live below the poverty line and it is very upsetting.

Los Angeles

"Los Angeles is like a beauty parlor at the end of the universe."
— Emily Mortimer

  • Population: 3,792,000

  • Young people (20-34 years old): 27%

  • Median salary (1-4 years of experience): $56,001

  • Median home price: $677,400

  • Rent / 1 bedroom apartment: $2,068

  • Most popular employers: Unified School District, University of California, Kaiser Permanente, Northrop Grumman Corp., Target Corp., Walt Disney Co. etc.

  • Events: AFI Fest, L.A. Festival of Books, Abbot Kinney Festival, Hollywood Halloween Carnaval, L.A. Pride Festival, L.A. Marathon etc.


Los Angeles is not only a city of celebrities but also the 2nd most populated one in the country. Being a center of 6 major film studios, apart from common industries like education, government, and medical care, many people are employed in media, movie industry and manufacturing.
LA is a city of entertainment. Many people come here to see a renowned Hollywood as well as find evidence of the title of the "Creative Capital of the World”. There is a concert hall, Opera, Philharmonic center, many museum, nightclubs, and restaurants to meet any budget and expectations.
Los Angeles houses 3 universities and a Unified School District with over 800,000 students, though the last one is always characterized by the lack of funding.
The county has a well-developed network of highways and freeways, but a heavy traffic makes LA a very congested in the US. A traveler have to spend about 72 hours of delay every year because of that. However, there is a highly developed system of bus lines and underground.


Cost of living in the city is higher than an average US one. And it is rather expensive to rent a flat and pay for utilities (about $140). However, many people prefer to eat in the restaurant and leave over 11% of their income there.
LA is called a “Gang capital of America” with over 450 gangs. The total crime rate here is 32 per 1,000 residents.
The county has a well-developed network of highways and freeways, but a heavy traffic makes LA a very congested in the US. A traveler have to spend about 72 hours of delay every year because of that. However, there is a highly developed system of bus lines and underground.
Los Angeles is a final destination for young families who search for fortune and fame, but 22% of the local population still live below a poverty line.


"One thing I'll tell you is the food in Sacramento is off the charts. You've got good Asian food, the farm system where everything is natural, which I believe in."
— George Karl

  • Population: 501,000

  • Young people (20-34 years old): 24%

  • Median salary (1-4 years of experience): $53,262

  • Median home price: $299,200

  • Rent / 1 bedroom apartment: $1,140

  • Most popular employers: County, UC Davis Health, Intel, Kaiser Permanente, Sacramento City Unified School District etc.

  • Events: Sacramento Shakespeare Festival, Sacramento French Film Festival, California Brewers Festival, California International Marathon (CIM), Capitol Beer Fest etc.


Sacramento has got a title of the city that grows the fastest in the state as well as called "Diverse City" too. Its job market is not very diverse as the biggest part of the residents work in such fields as medicine, education, and authority. However, several big companies offer job places in other industries as well.
In comparison with the average national cost of living, Sacramento is 17% higher. However, there are more affordable rentals and utilities, so it is the cheapest place to reside in the list offered. Getting an average salary, you can rent a good apartment and have enough money for entertainment and other expenses.
The crime rate in Sacramento does not differ much from other cities in California. There are 3,085 property crimes and 716 violent crimes per one hundred thousand people.
Sacramento is a city of parks and offers many recreational activities to its residents. Many people come annually here to visit California State Fair, while local residents enjoy going to the Old City, theatre, art exhibitions, local museums and classical music performances. It is also a food capital with several premium restaurants of the highest level.
Sacramento offers both public and private schools served by three Unified School Districts. There are also several religious schools, colleges, and universities too.
Sacramento refers to affordable places to live in California with delicious farm-to-fork dishes and a combination of old and modern culture and traditions.


There are several highways leading to Sacramento so they are not overloaded usually. However, you can get into a traffic jam in the city in rush hours.


"Long before there was a railroad or a Roseville, there was the land, encompassing mile after mile of waving grasslands."
— Leonard "Duke" Davis

  • Population: 132,671

  • Young people (20-34 years old): 27%

  • Median salary (1-4 years of experience): $55,729

  • Median home price: $449,800

  • Rent / 1 bedroom apartment: $1,362

  • Most popular employers: Solar City, HPE, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, Loanpal, CarMax, Starbucks ect.

  • Events: Roseville Bikefest, Annual Folsom Renaissance Faire & International Jousting Tournament, Annual Barktoberfest, Romanian Festival, Polish Festival ect.


Roseville is the 4th most popular city in America where young couples under 35 buy homes. Despite the fact that a home price here is twice higher than in average around the USA, many people manage to buy property here or rent it too. The average monthly salary before taxes is over $4,600 for workers with experience while a 1-bedroom apartment rent is about $1,350. The cost of basic utilities is about $150.
The crime rate in Roseville is lower than in California and a national one. There are about 3,500 crimes per 100 thousand residents with the domination of thefts and property crimes.
Roseville offers a variety of entertainment opportunities. You can visit a local circus, different places that offer virtual reality fun, play golf, visit green and interesting parks with beautiful fountains and playgrounds as well as go hiking on canopy tours.
The city is divided into two school districts with several good public schools. In addition to them, it is home to University of Northwestern, National American University, both private and religious schools.


Roseville does not stand out among other cities of California because of heavy traffic, but regular road works may cause troubles, so it is better to follow a traffic map.


"Long before there was a railroad or a Roseville, there was the land, encompassing mile after mile of waving grasslands."
— Leonard "Duke" Davis

  • Population: 142,000

  • Young people (20-34 years old): 25%

  • Median salary (1-4 years of experience): $55,752

  • Median home price: $818,900

  • Rent / 1 bedroom apartment: $2,232

  • Most popular employers: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Kaiser Permanente, California Institute of Technology, Huntington Hospital, Pasadena Unified School District, AT&T etc.

  • Events: Tournament of Roses Parade, Live Music Fest, Annual Pasadena Chalk Festival, Rose Bowl Game, Doo Dah Parade etc.


Pasadena is located not far from LA and is known as a cultural center in this area. The biggest number of job positions in the city is offered by a NASA research center and Kaiser Permanente, so the biggest part of people work in science and manufacturing. However, healthcare, authority, and education remain ones of the most popular spheres too.
Being a cultural center Pasadena is divided into Old Town where you can find a nice cafe, restaurant, nightclub, and pub. Its main attraction for guests is the annual Tournament of Roses Parade, but young people also enjoy performing and visual arts, museums and galleries, sports events and craftsmanship here.
In addition to several renowned colleges institute and seminary, you can find public schools and several private institutions worth paying attention to.
The presence of the light rail and a wide range of bus routes allows people to move around the city easily, so traffic is not that heavy here like in other cities of California. Moreover, 4 freeways lie through the city so they are more congested than others.
Pasadena is a city with institutions that major in science and culture, so it is not surprising that 38 Nobel prize winners originate from this city and many young people wish to live here too.


The cost of living in Pasadena is twice higher than the average one around the country. Earning the salary of over $4,646 singles will have to spend half of the price on rent, about $115 on utilities and you will have to spend years to save money on a house that is thrice more expensive than the average cost of dwelling in the country.
The crime rate in Pasadena is a little lower than in California cities. There are 25 property crimes and 3 violent crimes per 1,000 residents.


  • Population: 276,000

  • Young people (20-34 years old): 30%

  • Median salary (1-4 years of experience): $60,155

  • Median home price: $862,300

  • Rent / 1 bedroom apartment: $2,057

  • Most popular employers: University of California, Irvine Unified School District, Blizzard Entertainment, Broadcom Corporation, Edwards Lifesciences, Parker Hannifin etc.

  • Events: Irvine Park Railroad Anniversary Celebration, Irvine Korean Festival, Irvine Studio Arts Festival, Saint Paul's Annual Greek Festival, Holiday Faire etc.


Irvine has been ranked one of the top five best cities to live in by several acknowledged newspapers and magazines. It offers great employment opportunities as many huge companies locate its headquarter in the city. Despite the fact that the biggest number of people is employed in education, other popular directions are video games and software development, semiconductors, production of aircrafts, and medical supplies.
It is rather comfortable to live in Irvine if to get at least the average salary of $5,000. The one-bedroom apartment rent will take less than a half of your budget, however, utilities are a bit more pricey than in other cities - $140.
The crime rate in the city is very low, not like around the country, so it is not surprising that it is considered to be the safest city that is perfect for young singles.
Irvine is a green and beautiful city with the unusual planning and multiple parks. It has been chosen as a filming location multiple times while the Irvine Global Village Festival is an attraction for many tourists each year. There are several museums, marvelous churches and cathedrals, arts centers and shopping malls to spend time with pleasure too.
Secondary education is represented by 6 high schools powered by 2 Unified School Districts. There are also primary and secondary schools as well as over a dozen university campuses.
Traffic in Irvine is linked to ITRAC, so cars can move without red lights to line up the traffic. In addition, several important highways cross Irvine, so it is possible to get to any point easily.
Irvine is a unique city that differs from other Californian cities not only with planning but also the safest and high level of life. It offers new directions for young adults who look for a happy and measured life.