California has so much to offer — from its beautiful beaches, national parks and vineyards to the iconic theme parks, film sets and Hollywood.
While it’s a great place to live, it can also be pricey. Many different factors come into play when deciding where to live, including location, commute time, restaurants, safety and one of the biggest factors — the cost of living.
Certain California cities have seen decreases in rent prices over the past couple of years, which is great for renters looking to live in California without paying notorious rental prices.
California state average rent prices
It’s commonly known that rent in some California cities can be extremely expensive (think San Francisco or Los Angeles). While this is true in some cities, there are several cities that are some of the cheapest places to live in California.
The average rent price in California is $2,568 for a one-bedroom apartment and there’s actually an average rent decrease of 3.53 percent year over year.
The cheapest cities in California for renters
While California may be pricier compared to other states, that doesn’t mean there aren’t less expensive cities to call home.
Here’s a look at some of the cheapest places to live in California.
10. San Bernardino
- Average one-bedroom rent price: $1,257
- Rent change in the past year: 3.67%
San Bernardino, located east of Los Angeles, is one of the cheapest cities to live in California. One of the oldest cities in the state, San Bernardino has so much to offer. Some of its attractions include the First Original McDonald’s Museum, as well as the Robert V. Fullerton Museum of Art, which hosts many ancient Egyptian antiquities.
Even those it’s among the cheapest places to live in California, rent has actually increased by almost 4 percent since last year.
Source: Rent.com / Vista Torre
- Average one-bedroom rent price: $1,243
- Rent change in the past year: -5.01%
Home to many young professionals, Carmichael is a suburb of Sacramento and has a population of 64,785 people. If you enjoy outdoor activities, Carmichael is a great place for you as it has many nature parks and nature centers. Live near a large city and still enjoy the perks of nature in this town.
8. Rancho Cordova
Source: Rent.com / Avion
- Average one-bedroom rent price: $1,235
- Rent change in the past year: -14.50%
Rancho Cordova, once prominent in the California Gold Rush, is also a suburb of Sacramento. This city is home to many families as Rancho Cordova has a great school system. It has also been rated as one of the best places to work and it employs around 50,000 commuters. Plus, the rent is one of the cheapest in the state.
- Average one-bedroom rent price: $1,219
- Rent change in the past year: 11.33%
Hemet, a suburb of Riverside County, is one of the cheapest cities to live in California. The city is under an hour from Huntington Beach, so it’s a great place to live and get both the suburb lifestyle while being close to the action and water.
- Average one-bedroom rent price: $1,170
- Rent change in the past year: 7.84%
Bakersfield, just north of Los Angeles, was once a looked-over city that people simply drove through. However, it is now considered a great city to put down roots. With a new boom in the oil and agriculture industries, a healthy job market and an affordable cost of living, many people are drawn towards this city.
These are just a couple of reasons people love living in Bakersfield. It also has an extensive list of outdoor activities to choose from. The city is within driving distance from the Sierra Nevada mountain range, as well as many of California’s national forests.
- Average one-bedroom rent price: $1,122
- Rent change in the past year: -13.32%
Nestled along the waterfront and located in Northern California, Stockton is a popular place to settle down. Just 50 miles from Sacramento and a little more than an hour from San Francisco, this city is a great place for super-commuters looking to be close enough to the city without breaking the bank.
- Average one-bedroom rent price: $1,116
- Rent change in the past year: –14.97%
Merced is a great place to live if you’re looking for an affordable place to live in California. The city is centrally located in the state about halfway between Stockton and Fresno. In fact, if you threw a dart at a map of California and hit the bullseye, you’d hit Merced.
Its close proximity to Yosemite National Park also makes it ideal for people who like outdoor activities.
- Average one-bedroom rent price: $1,113
- Rent change in the past year: -10.84%
Los Angeles and San Francisco may be some of the most well-known areas in California, but did you know Fresno is the fifth-largest city in the Golden State? This city is very popular among residents due to its affordable living costs, as well as its central location. The city has a great restaurant scene as well as a pretty big art scene.
Plus, rent prices have dropped nearly 11 percent over the past year, making it a great time to move there.
- Average one-bedroom rent price: $1,219
- Rent change in the past year: -3.71%
Set between San Francisco and the Sierra Nevada Mountains lies Lodi wine country. Lodi is one of the fastest-growing wine destinations in California. It’s also known as the “Watermelon Capital of the Country,” due to the number of watermelons that grow here.
This city has lots of perks for residents, but one of the biggest is the low cost of rent. Lodi is the second-cheapest city for renters in California.
Source: Rent.com / Tapestry at Silverwood
- Average one-bedroom rent price: $1,013
- Rent change in the past year: -0.67%
Turlock, otherwise known as the “Heart of the Valley” for its agriculture, is the cheapest city to live in California. It has a small-town feel and affordable living. You can rent a one-bedroom apartment for roughly $1,000 a month. Where else in California can you find that kind of pricing?
The 25 cheapest places to live in California
With sandy beaches, bustling cities and so much more, California has always been a sought after place to live. While these are the 10 cheapest cities to live in California, they are not the only ones that are affordable for renters. Below is a chart of the 25 cheapest places to live in California. Take a look over to decide if this state is the right one for you.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. We pulled our data in December 2020, and it goes back for one year. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
We excluded cities with insufficient inventory from this report.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.