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The 5 Most Affordable Cities in California

Even in expensive California, affordability is still possible.

By Bonnie Burch on April 28, 2018

Camarillo California
Camarillo / iStock/pastorscott

Surf, sun and year-round moderate temperatures can sometimes come at a cost.

With a reputation as one of the most expensive states in the U.S., California (thankfully) still has some economically sound places to reside – if you know where to look.

Just to be clear: We didn’t just create this list based solely on the cheapest places to live. The cost of living was part of our methodology, but so was the quality of life, as well as the key components of transportation, housing, food and utilities.

Here are the 5 Most Affordable Cities in California:

  • Oxnard, CA
  • Ventura, CA
  • Simi Valley, CA
  • Vacaville, CA
  • Camarillo, CA
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Oxnard California
Oxnard / iStock/gnagel

1. Oxnard

About an hour north of Los Angeles, Oxnard offers beachfront living at an affordable price.

The median household income here is $62,349 with median home value settling at $332,600, which is actually a great deal for California real estate.

Golf, winery visits and strolls on Mandalay Beach are all part of living in Oxnard.

With fertile agricultural land surrounding the city, many crops grow in the region. But Oxnard is most famous for its strawberries, with the popular California Strawberry Festival held here each year.

The city has the nickname of the “Gateway to the Channel Islands,” a nearby national park and marine sanctuary.

Ventura California
San Buenaventura (Ventura) / Courtesy of Wendell under a CC 4.0 license.

2. Ventura

As a repeat city on our 100 Best Places to Live, it’s hard to believe Ventura wouldn’t break the budget. Especially with that stunning harbor view.

But with a median household income of $66,485 and median home value at $428,600, that’s not too bad by California standards. Plus, residents enjoy great amenities, such as five college campuses and Surfer’s Point, the site of many surfing competitions.

Officially known as San Buenaventura, everyone just calls it Ventura. Out of the five cities on our affordability list, all but one is situated in Ventura County.

Downtown Ventura is home to top-notch shopping and dining, museums, art galleries and Mission San Buenaventura, a Franciscan mission founded in 1782.

simi valley ca
Simi Valley / iStock Photo/ffaber53
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3. Simi Valley

A science hub, hikers’ paradise and memorial to a U.S. President all describe one place: Simi Valley.

At the moment, median household income is a somewhat staggering $89,595, but the median home value is only $438,700, which definitely earns a spot as an affordable Californian city.

Located in Simi Valley, the Santa Susana Field Laboratory has long been a leader in rocket and nuclear technology, and an economic driver for the city.

For the outdoors lovers, there’s an extensive hiking trail system through the undeveloped parts of the valley.

Recently, visitors have come to Simi Valley to tour the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, a testament to the life and work of the nation’s 40th president

Vacaville, CA
Vacaville / Courtesy of Anlace under a CC 2.0 license.

4. Vacaville

An hour outside of San Francisco, Vacaville is home to ranchers, farmers and residents looking for a quiet community in which to raise a family.

The median home value is the cheapest on the list at $275,100, with a median household income of $74,207.

The Nut Tree, a roadside stop for travelers who wanted to buy fresh, locally grown fruit and nuts, and then a larger restaurant complex, closed in 2009. But the site is now coming back as a mixed-use development.

Residents can take in outdoor adventures such as stroll among the hills in Lagoon Valley or enjoy nightlife, fine dining and shopping.

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Camarillo California
Camarillo / iStock/pastorscott

5. Camarillo

A bedroom community, Camarillo is known as a hot shopping destination for the rest of Southern California. Premium Outlet malls tempts those looking to make a great deal on purchases.

That includes the housing prices as well. The median home value is $456,500 while residents take delight in a median household income of $87,120.

A lot of the action is centered in the Old Town area, where a popular Farmers’ Market is set up on Saturday mornings.

The city also takes pride in the recently restored Camarillo Ranch House, a historic Queen Anne-style home built in 1892.

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