These affordable alternatives to L.A. offer the same West Coast charm and amenities you know and love.
The City of Angels is one of the world’s most famous cities and is a mecca for all things glamour, fashion, food and entertainment. It’s most known for being the home of the rich and famous and the epicenter of the film industry.
Not only do many celebrities (and those looking to become celebrities) call L.A. home, but this city also draws in young professionals looking to kick start their careers or attend one of the 106 colleges within 50 miles of town. Not only is L.A. known for its booming entertainment industry, but the fashion and technology industries are also huge here.
Stunning surroundings and gorgeous weather year-round are also major draws, but arguably the biggest pro of living in L.A. is the city’s relaxed West Coast vibe. Residents are laid-back and casual (but you just never know who you’ll run into at the local cafe.) This city is also a melting pot of cultures and has incredible restaurants in any cuisine you desire.
Basically, sans heavy traffic, living in L.A. is extremely dreamy. Unfortunately, however, the cost of living here is exorbitant. In fact, with a cost of living score of 173.3 — the US average is 100 — L.A. consistently ranks as one of the world’s most expensive cities. Housing, in particular, will hit your pockets hardest, with a typical home value coming in at $902,989.
So you want to live that glam L.A. life but don’t have the funds? You’re not alone! Read on for some alternative cities that won’t leave your pockets empty or make you sacrifice the West Coast charm and amenities you know and love.
1. Lancaster, CA
Median Household Income: $55,237
Median Home Price: $428,000
Average Commute: 32 minutes
The city of Lancaster is nestled in the Antelope Valley of the Mojave Desert at the northern edge of Los Angeles County and is touted as one of Southern California’s most affordable cities. Not only is it affordable, but Lancaster is a wonderful place to live. The city scored a spot on our 2019 Top 100 Best Places to Live List thanks to its strong economy, beautiful weather year-round and commitment to the environment.
Residents of Lancaster are hyper-focused on the health of the community and environment. This city is the leading producer of solar power in California and is recognized as a Green Power Community by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Along with affordability and environmentally conscious citizens, this desert city offers close proximity to the beach and the mountains.
2. Oxnard, CA
Median Household Income: $72,843
Median Home Price: $675,000
Average Commute: 25.6 minutes
Location, location, location! Situated in Ventura County, this diverse seaside city is right in the center of it all. Oxnard is just an hour north of Venice, Malibu and Los Angeles and an hour south of Santa Barbara, while the mountains of Ojai are just an hour east.
Like L.A., Oxnard residents enjoy the laid-back southern California culture. Beaches here are plentiful and pristine. Head to Hollywood Beach for killer surfing or the family-friendly Oxnard Beach Park for volleyball and strolls along the seashore. On the weekends, residents head to one of two Farmers’ markets, go brewery hopping or just hit the beach.
Unlike L.A., traffic is manageable and living here is still relatively affordable. Oxnard residents can enjoy all the city offers (which is a lot!) for a cost of living 25% cheaper than L.A.
3. Fullerton, CA
Median Household Income: $79,978
Median Home Price: $840,437
Average Commute: 30.2 minutes
Fullerton is an idyllic suburban city located 26 miles southeast of Los Angeles and just north of Anaheim. While still expensive (it is southern California, after all), Fullerton offers many of the perks of Los Angeles while being a bit easier on the wallet.
Top-rated schools and low crime make this Orange County city a perfect place to raise a family. In addition, Fullerton residents are all about the outdoors and enjoy plenty of parks and trails, including the 11-mile Fullerton Loop mountain biking trail.
Fullerton is also the home of California State University Fullerton and is a vibrant college town. Downtown Fullerton is unique and full of diverse restaurants, bars, breweries and shops. Nightlife is not lacking here. OC Weekly once dubbed the Fullerton area of SoCo as the “Bourbon Street of the West” thanks to the city’s impressive assortment of jazz bars and live music venues pumping music into the streets nightly.
There really are no downsides to living in Fullerton, from its great schools and sunny southern California climate to a seriously jazzy music scene and fantastic restaurants.
4. Westminster, CA
Median Household Income: $76,142
Median Home Price: $873,049
Average Commute: 33 minutes
This Orange County city is rich in culture and diversity and is home to Little Saigon, the most prominent Vietnamese population outside Vietnam. Here you will find some of the best Vietnamese restaurants in the country. But great food isn’t all this city is known for.
Westminster is centrally located near other, bigger California cities and is just over 31 miles south of Los Angeles. Some of Southern California’s top beaches are just a stone’s throw away — the town sits between Seal Beach and Huntington Beach and Long Beach is less than 30 minutes away. It’s also a short drive to the Santa Ana Mountains, so you can have the best of both worlds while living here!
Westminster is quiet and relaxed, bolstered by a good school system and a low crime rate. It is ideal for families or young professionals looking for some peace and quiet amongst the hustle and bustle of L.A.
5. Carson, CA
Median Household Income: $82,305
Median Home Price: $681,000
Average Commute: 27.9 minutes
Located just 20 miles south of Los Angeles, the family-friendly city of Carson is ideal for those looking to commute into the city. Carson scores points in the transportation category thanks to its transit system, the Carson Circuit, and it is relatively easy to get around without a car. It’s also only about a 16-minute drive to LAX from Carson.
While you have all the amenities of L.A. just 30 minutes away, it’s much more affordable to settle down in Carson. In fact, Los Angeles is 17.6% more expensive overall than Carson, and housing is 24.6% cheaper here.
Young families make up most of the population here, but there is plenty to do for both young and old alike. The city itself has plenty of parks and green spaces located on more than 120 acres, or if you’re feeling like a beach day, Carson offers easy, breezy access to the coast. Carson is also home to the L.A. Galaxy Major League Soccer team, who play their home games at Dignity Health Sports Park.