The Bay Area or otherwise known to many as the San Francisco Bay Area is located in Northern California and is home to the world’s most renowned tech industry, the Silicon Valley, along with a high-end luxury lifestyle and Wine Country.
If you are someone that wishes to relocate to one of the most competitive yet rewarding places for entrepreneurs and tech-enthusiasts, then the Bay Area is one that should top your list.
The opportunities here are one that cannot be matched when compared to other states, let alone other countries.
In this guide, we will be raking the top 10 places in the San Francisco area for people with both large and small budgets while keeping in mind the cost of living, safety, and means of transportation in mind.
After careful evaluation and critical analysis, we have come to narrow down the list to the top 10 best places to live in the Bay Area, the competition was fierce, but we only bring you the best.
Here are the 10 places that ranked above others.
The Best Places to Live in the Bay Area
- San Pablo
- San Jose
- Mill Valley
- Walnut Creek
- Mountain View
Vallejo City, the largest city, located in Solano County, is also home to one of the cheapest housing rates in all of Northern California.
Being nominated twice as the capital of the Golden State, this city has to offer more than one can dream of.
The average cost of renting a space here is as low as $1475, which may seem like a lot but is not for the State that houses Silicon Valley. The median value for purchasing a house in this city is capped at almost half a million dollars.
To add the cherry on top, Vallejo is home to almost 120,000 people and still manages to have an employment rate of 5.9%. The crime rate here is as low as 9.61 per 1000 residents.
With a distance of 31.9 miles from San Franciso, it is dubbed the most sought place to move to.
Moreover, the city of Vallejo has many options for people looking for both employment opportunities as well as ample ways of spending their leisure time.
The top item on the list of places to visit during your leisure time is the well-known award-winning amusement park, The Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.
This is the perfect spot for singles looking for a unique date location and parents wanting to spend time with their kids. With almost 40 rides, this amusement park is a sight worth the hype it gets.
If amusement parks are not your cup of tea, then you can take a tour of San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Other places you can go include the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum, or the Benicia State Recreation Area.
Subsequently, the living standard here is one that most people can only dream of. From transportation options to high-quality health care, everything is readily available here.
You can also rest assured that you will find a wide variety of marketplaces and world-renowned educational institutes.
If you are looking to move to a city with great racial diversity, then you would be pleased to know that Vallejo tops the list amongst other places in California.
The weather in Vallejo is pleasant year-round, where summers are mild and winters are cool.
Pleasanton, home to more than 81,000 people and ranked #15 in Best Suburbs to Live in San Francisco Bay Area, is a place that you would not want to miss out on living in.
Not only is Pleasanton one of the best suburbs it is also home to big corporations like ICE Mortgage Technology, Safeway, and Blackhawk Network.
Low crime rates paired with low unemployment rates make this suburb ideal for singles, parents, and retirees.
In fact, the crime rate here is lower than 72% of the other cities in California, and the unemployment rate is capped at 2.8%.
This town is filled with a large number of cute coffee shops, restaurants, and shopping centers.
Moreover, if you are looking for something fun to do, then you can explore options like the golf courses and wineries along with a bustling downtown scene.
The nightlife here is also one that puts other places to shame.
The farmers market here provides residents the option of going organic and eating healthy. Additionally, you can relax over the weekend by heading over to take a tour of the vineyard while munching or food pairings with finest tasting wines.
If you are not a fan of drinking, you can head to the Ken Mercer Sports Park to get in a little exercise or surprise your palate with the best Prawn Cocktail and Rock Shrimp Risotto.
However, if you are looking for low rents and real estate prices, you would not want to look into Pleasanton as it is one of the most expensive places in the Bay Area.
The average rent here is approximately $2,000, whereas the cost of purchasing a house is an astonishing $828,900.
On the other hand, when you compare the amenities you get while living in this area, we would consider the high living cost a fair price.
The means of transportation here is also very convenient, considering that there are two Bay Area Rapid Transit stations here.
Concord, a town with a population of over 127,000 people, is a destination that most people dream of visiting at least once, if not migrating there.
Located almost 29 miles East of San Francisco, it is one the most ideally located and cheapest towns to move to.
If you are looking for something that fits a budget of $1600 in rent or considering purchasing a house that costs on average $509,000, then you might want to look into options here at Concord.
Besides relatively low housing and renting costs, this town is well known by many for its large number of Farmer’s Market and Historical spots to visit.
If you are a history lover, then the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum and Minute Man National Historical Park will serve as a great attraction.
Concord is an excellent destination for people of all ages to settle in.
However, if you are someone that has a small budget, then you might want to consider other options, as the unemployment rate of 4.9% paired with the high cost of renting will leave your bank dry.
4. San Pablo
San Pablo is nestled in Contra Costa County, virtually totally encircled by Richmond, and is conveniently located between Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco.
San Pablo is a world-class city with a diverse range of options, stunning vistas, and vibrant culture. You can move to the town, just like the other 30,967 inhabitants, if you desire to be a part of historic Spanish villages.
The location, which is located near the San Francisco Bay, has mild weather, making it ideal for touring the town’s museums, parks, reservoirs, and isolated forest.
San Pablo is ranked 7th in the United States in terms of cost of living, making it one of the cheapest Bay Area communities. Moreover, the area is ideal for finding inexpensive rental homes in Northern California.
On average, one would need at least $160,821 a year to live in San Pablo, as the rent adds to $27,831 annually.
The average cost of purchasing a house here is cheaper than in most cities as it is capped at $355,000, which is only slightly higher than the national average.
There are many job opportunities here, which is quite apparent when you look at the unemployment rate here, which is about 8.2%.
The crime rates here are also exceptionally low compared to most cities in the Bay Area, which is about 5.26 per 1,000 people.
Besides being cheap, the town’s environment is far more intriguing and engaging as there are many local stores, cafés, and restaurants where you may spend quality time with friends and coworkers.
You can also spend your free time at Point Pinole, the Albany Aquarium, the Pinole Farmer’s Market, or Davis Park.
Oakland, San Francisco’s trendy East Bay brother, may make residents of S.F. envy its neighbor across the bridge, thanks to its sunny weather, reduced property costs, and mouth-watering culinary scenes.
Additionally, it is a huge port city in the San Francisco suburbs that used to be and still is a significant agricultural hub.
Oakland, being one of America’s most ethnically diverse communities, welcomes individuals from all walks of life, as seen by its acceptance of self-employment, promoting startup community, and other initiatives, which are commonly frowned upon.
Moreover, Oakland is another of the safest Bay Area places near San Francisco, making it one of the best places for singles to visit.
Beautiful craftsman residences, retail malls, and College Avenues line the bulk of Oakland’s highways.
Oakland has a lot to offer inhabitants and visitors alike, so there will never be a dull time in the city. Another nice advantage is that you can travel to almost any place in the region in a reasonable amount of time.
Besides being an attractive place to live in for its beauty, low cost of living, and diverse community, you would be pleased to know that Oakland pride runs deep, stemming from the town’s history as the birthplace of the Black Panthers and the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” created by local activist Alicia Garza.
Among the numerous activities to do here, seeing more than 850 kinds of animals at exhibits like the African Savanna, Wild Australia, and Tropical Rainforest at Oakland Zoo is at the top of our list.
Furthermore, if you wish to go on a family trip, the Jolly Trolley and shows at Storybook Puppet Theater in Children’s Fairyland are what you need.
Now coming to breaking down the numbers, this city is home to more than 400,000 residents, so you can always expect a hustling and bustling environment. The median housing cost here is $687,400, whereas the rent is $1,445.
Overall, it is cheaper to rent here than it would be to purchase a house here if you do not work within San Francisco. The average household here makes about $73,682 in income.
The crime rate here is relatively high compared to other cities in the Bay Area, which currently stands at 12,96 per 1,000 residents.
So if you are looking for diversity, a welcoming community, great food, amazing nightlife, and close proximity to S.F, then Oakland is your calling.
The only downside to this majestic place is its crime rate, which many people, especially people with families, might find unfavorable.
6. San Jose
San Jose is the earliest known civilian habitation in California. In addition, it is the first city, initial capital, and third biggest city.
San Jose’s climate alone makes it one of the greatest locations to live near San Francisco, with more than 250 sunny days per year and summer temperatures that regularly stay in the 70s and 80s.
With a population of 1,033,670 people, it is the largest city in the State.
The famous Winchester Mystery House and prominent retail center Santana Row are two of the primary attractions of San Jose.
When it comes to the cost of living, you would love to know that the high cost of living is well compensated for high, thanks to the presence of companies like Cisco Systems, Adobe, eBay, PayPal, Western Digital, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Hitachi, and others.
In all, the city attracts 35% of the US’ venture capital money.
San Jose offers it all: nightlife, museums, galleries, gorgeous parks, excellent food, you name it. If you enjoy outdoor sports, hiking routes are also a fantastic option, thanks to the amazing weather.
Families also like to live in San Jose because of the high-quality education possibilities available at institutions such as Northwood Elementary School and Evergreen Valley High School.
If you are searching for a pleasant way to spend your spare time, cheering on the San Jose Sharks (NHL) during a game at SAP Center is one of several options.
During a tour of Winchester Mystery House, you may also marvel at the perplexing design, which includes secret corridors and doors that lead nowhere.
Relocating to San Jose is an excellent option for anyone looking to relocate to the heart of Silicon Valley. San Jose is a vibrant city with a great quality of life.
Beautiful parks, intriguing architecture, and excellent visual and performing arts facilities abound in the city.
Silicon Valley and some of the world’s top technological businesses, which employ thousands of people, have boosted the city’s economy.
Prices here are exorbitant when compared to other nearby Bay Area cities, whether you want to purchase or rent a home.
However, if your budget allows for relocating costs and living in this town, go for it. You will not be disappointed.
Berkeley, located in Alameda County, is known across the globe as the home of UC Berkeley, one of the most prominent institutions in the world and the oldest campus in the University of California system.
Its allure, though, extends beyond its academic setting.
Berkeley, which is close to San Francisco, is one of the most affordable areas to reside in the Bay Area. It is the epicenter of a liberal learning metropolis.
Staying here allows you to take in all of the sights and attractions in a relaxing environment.
Transportation, medical facilities, schools, universities, and hospitals are all available on a budget-friendly basis here, so you can rest assured that you would have quality without any compromise.
Berkeley also boasts many restaurants, cafés, and bars along Shattuck Ave, which attract young folks. Families and senior residents can also find a lovely house amid Berkeley’s tree-lined, suburban neighborhoods.
The city’s typical rental price of $1,600 is one of the lowest in the area, whereas the average cost of acquiring real estate is over one and a half million dollars.
Berkeley’s general quality of life is difficult to rival. Berkeley is the healthiest city in America based on a number of characteristics, including smoking rates, alcohol misuse, obesity, and healthcare availability.
The crime rate here is also very low compared to most cities in the Bay region, currently standing at 5.03 per 1,000 residents.
At Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Cinema Archive, you may immerse yourself in approximately 20,000 pieces of artwork and thousands of foreign films and videos if your passion for film and art has no bounds.
On the other hand, if you enjoy spending time in nature and staying active, then the Adventure Playground is a good place to break a sweat.
The Berkeley Rose Garden is the place to go for a stroll amongst the beautiful roses.
The majority of individuals agree living in Berkeley serves as a pleasant experience.
Moving here immediately becomes comfortable as this is a place where you can be yourself without fear of being judged. The community is fairly diversified, so you can expect to meet people from various walks of life.
The metropolis includes various unique districts, and tourists may choose from a variety of activities, including the Berkeley Marina and Aquatic Park, shopping along Telegraph Avenue, and the “Gourmet Ghetto,” which offers a multitude of highly-rated restaurants.
8. Mill Valley
Mill Valley is a city in Marin County that is family-oriented, with a population of 14,330. Some of the nicest suburban communities in the Bay Area are found in this city.
Its uniquely constructed dwellings will transport you to an antique European town.
Mill Valley is one of the most costly entries on our list, with a typical property value of roughly $1,511,000. Fortunately, with an average rent of $2,270, the cost of living here is relatively affordable but not the cheapest.
The city is about 40 minutes from San Francisco, which accounts for the high cost of living. Nevertheless, this does not shy away residents from purchasing their own place here.
In fact, more than half the population owns their own place here.
Most households, on average, make a median income of approximately $163,614, which is approximately $100,000 higher than the national average.
Institutions, transportation services, medical facilities, housing, and other necessities are significantly more affordable here than in other regions despite the high living cost.
You’ll find Mill Valley in one of America’s richest counties. Therefore, Mill Valley has evolved into a more sophisticated community during the previous 10-15 years.
Mill Valley, on the other hand, suffers from a severe lack of diversity. The locals are mostly Caucasians.
If one could afford to reside in this community, they would find exceptionally safe neighborhoods, excellent public schools, and a refreshingly healthy way of life.
9. Walnut Creek
Walnut Creek, located in the shadow of Mount Diablo, is a cultural and business hotspot in Contra Costa County.
Walnut Creeks is a city appealing to people of all ages. Despite the prevalent belief that only seniors desire to settle here, it is a particularly attractive destination for shopaholics.
Various restaurants, parks, stores, schools, and career possibilities attract a younger population.
Both young professionals and pensioners love to live here as there is virtually everything from a pleasant park to a sophisticated restaurant, and great career prospects are plentiful.
Most residents are homeowners, with a typical property value of approximately $760,000. Although the cost of owning a place here is high, as much as 65% of the residents own the place they live in.
On the other hand, the median rent of roughly $2,000 is nevertheless reasonably inexpensive in comparison to the cost of real estate.
Broadway Plaza is one the busiest places in all of Walnut Creek, thanks to the abundance of popular shopping stores like Nordstrom, lululemon, and Macy’s.
Residents, in their free time, can also play a round of golf at Boundary Oak Golf Course and take in the natural splendor of Northern California.
People with families can also have a good time here by Rolling out for a family lunch while the children get to run about on the playground in Civic Park.
So, if you are seeking a San Francisco suburb with calm neighborhoods and a thriving downtown area full of entertaining things to do, Walnut Creek may be your next home.
10. Mountain View
Mountain View is a major city in Silicon Valley, located immediately south of Palo Alto.
It is the headquarters of Google and its parent company, Alphabet, as well as the Googleplex and several other world-famous technology firms.
Opportunities in Mountain View are endless, especially for young and enthusiastic individuals that are eager to enter the competitive job market. This town is so popular that Niche has ranked it as #2 in Best Suburbs to Live in San Francisco Bay Area.
However, when it comes to the cost of purchasing a house here, it is as expensive as Mill Valley and Berkeley. The average housing here costs $1,413,500, whereas the cost of renting a space is about $2456, which is the highest yet on this list.
Due to the high cost of owning a house here, only 42% of the population are homeowners. Despite the low state of affordability here, the median household income one can expect to earn here is about $139,720.
Castro Street, between Alma and El Camino, is Mountain View’s major selling point. It is packed with restaurants, bookshops, and coffee shops, making it the ideal weekend hangout spot.
That is not all, though. Walnut Creek is also close to Sacramento, San Jose, San Francisco, and even Oakland. All you need to do now is to get to your nearest BART etiquette station and get ready for all of Walnut Creek’s fantastic attractions.
Mountain View is the place to be if you are a young I.T. professional, especially if you have your sights set on a job at Google.
Not only are the cities listed above the cheapest to live in in the Bay Area, but also you should really consider relocating there for the opportunities that you can only witness if you move to the Bay.
Moreover, our top 10 list shares some of the most affordable places In comparison to other parts of the Bay Area.
The Bay Area, on the other hand, might be your next chapter if you have ever wanted to live in one of the world’s most renowned regions, want a flourishing employment market, and want to be at the forefront of innovation.
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