Best places to live in California

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November 15, 2021
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Best places to live in California

What do you look for in an ideal town? Proximity to trails, lakes, and beaches? How about top-ranked schools for your children? Would you like a professional or college sports team nearby, or do you prefer museums and art walks?

Stacker compiled a list of the best places to live in California using data from Niche. Niche ranks places to live based on a variety of factors including cost of living, schools, health care, recreation, and weather.

On the list, there’s a robust mix of offerings from great schools and nightlife to high walkability and public parks. Some areas have enjoyed rapid growth thanks to new businesses moving to the area, while others offer glimpses into area history with well-preserved architecture and museums. Keep reading to see if your hometown made the list.

#10. Palo Alto
- Population: 66,573
- Median home value: $2,000,001 (55% own)
- Median rent: $2,569 (45% rent)
- Median household income: $158,271
- Top public schools: Henry M. Gunn High School (A+), Palo Alto High School (A+), Los Altos High School (A+)
- Top private schools: Castilleja School (A+), Kehillah Jewish High School (A+), Silicon Valley International School (A)

#9. Palos Verdes Estates
- Population: 13,434
- Median home value: $2,000,000 (86% own)
- Median rent: $2,683 (14% rent)
- Median household income: $194,543
- Top public schools: Palos Verdes Peninsula High School (A+), Point Vicente Elementary School (A+), Silver Spur Elementary School (A+)

#8. Irvine
- Population: 273,157
- Median home value: $838,000 (47% own)
- Median rent: $2,361 (53% rent)
- Median household income: $105,126
- Top public schools: Orange County School of the Arts (A+), University High School (A+), Northwood High School (A+)
- Top private schools: TVT Community Day School (A+), Pacific Academy (A+), Crean Lutheran High School (A+)

#7. South Pasadena
- Population: 25,661
- Median home value: $1,071,000 (47% own)
- Median rent: $1,802 (53% rent)
- Median household income: $104,308
- Top public schools: South Pasadena Senior High School (A+), Arroyo Vista Elementary School (A+), Marengo Elementary School (A+)
- Top private schools: Holy Family Catholic School

#6. Berkeley
- Population: 121,485
- Median home value: $1,004,900 (43% own)
- Median rent: $1,722 (57% rent)
- Median household income: $85,530
- Top public schools: Miramonte High School (A+), Berkeley High School (A+), Willard Middle School (A)
- Top private schools: Maybeck High School (A+), St. Mary's College High School (A+), Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley (A+)

#5. Manhattan Beach
- Population: 35,500
- Median home value: $2,000,001 (70% own)
- Median rent: $2,628 (30% rent)
- Median household income: $153,023
- Top public schools: Mira Costa High School (A+), Aurelia Pennekamp Elementary School (A), Pacific Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: American Martyrs Catholic School, Manhattan Academy, Montessori School of Manhattan Beach

#4. Albany
- Population: 19,804
- Median home value: $882,500 (47% own)
- Median rent: $1,856 (53% rent)
- Median household income: $95,400
- Top public schools: Albany High School (A+), Marin Elementary School (A), Cornell Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: Tilden Preparatory School - Albany (A+)

#3. Mountain View
- Population: 81,656
- Median home value: $1,413,500 (42% own)
- Median rent: $2,456 (58% rent)
- Median household income: $139,720
- Top public schools: Los Altos High School (A+), Mountain View High School (A+), Homestead High School (A+)
- Top private schools: St. Francis High School (A+), Waldorf School of the Peninsula - Mountain View Campus (A+), German International School of Silicon Valley - Mountain View Campus (A+)

#2. Hermosa Beach
- Population: 19,539
- Median home value: $1,542,900 (47% own)
- Median rent: $2,181 (53% rent)
- Median household income: $136,702
- Top public schools: Mira Costa High School (A+), Hermosa Valley Elementary School (A), Hermosa View Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: Fusion Academy South Bay (A-)

#1. Santa Monica
- Population: 91,577
- Median home value: $1,382,700 (29% own)
- Median rent: $1,802 (71% rent)
- Median household income: $96,570
- Top public schools: Santa Monica High School (A+), Franklin Elementary School (A+), Lincoln Middle School (A+)
- Top private schools: Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences (A+), New Roads School (A+), Pacifica Christian High School (A+)

You may also like: Highest-rated specialty museums in California, according to Tripadvisor

Best places to live in California

What do you look for in an ideal town? Proximity to trails, lakes, and beaches? How about top-ranked schools for your children? Would you like a professional or college sports team nearby, or do you prefer museums and art walks?

Stacker compiled a list of the best places to live in California using data from Niche. Niche ranks places to live based on a variety of factors including cost of living, schools, health care, recreation, and weather.

On the list, there’s a robust mix of offerings from great schools and nightlife to high walkability and public parks. Some areas have enjoyed rapid growth thanks to new businesses moving to the area, while others offer glimpses into area history with well-preserved architecture and museums. Keep reading to see if your hometown made the list.

#10. Palo Alto
- Population: 66,573
- Median home value: $2,000,001 (55% own)
- Median rent: $2,569 (45% rent)
- Median household income: $158,271
- Top public schools: Henry M. Gunn High School (A+), Palo Alto High School (A+), Los Altos High School (A+)
- Top private schools: Castilleja School (A+), Kehillah Jewish High School (A+), Silicon Valley International School (A)

#9. Palos Verdes Estates
- Population: 13,434
- Median home value: $2,000,000 (86% own)
- Median rent: $2,683 (14% rent)
- Median household income: $194,543
- Top public schools: Palos Verdes Peninsula High School (A+), Point Vicente Elementary School (A+), Silver Spur Elementary School (A+)

#8. Irvine
- Population: 273,157
- Median home value: $838,000 (47% own)
- Median rent: $2,361 (53% rent)
- Median household income: $105,126
- Top public schools: Orange County School of the Arts (A+), University High School (A+), Northwood High School (A+)
- Top private schools: TVT Community Day School (A+), Pacific Academy (A+), Crean Lutheran High School (A+)

#7. South Pasadena
- Population: 25,661
- Median home value: $1,071,000 (47% own)
- Median rent: $1,802 (53% rent)
- Median household income: $104,308
- Top public schools: South Pasadena Senior High School (A+), Arroyo Vista Elementary School (A+), Marengo Elementary School (A+)
- Top private schools: Holy Family Catholic School

#6. Berkeley
- Population: 121,485
- Median home value: $1,004,900 (43% own)
- Median rent: $1,722 (57% rent)
- Median household income: $85,530
- Top public schools: Miramonte High School (A+), Berkeley High School (A+), Willard Middle School (A)
- Top private schools: Maybeck High School (A+), St. Mary's College High School (A+), Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley (A+)

#5. Manhattan Beach
- Population: 35,500
- Median home value: $2,000,001 (70% own)
- Median rent: $2,628 (30% rent)
- Median household income: $153,023
- Top public schools: Mira Costa High School (A+), Aurelia Pennekamp Elementary School (A), Pacific Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: American Martyrs Catholic School, Manhattan Academy, Montessori School of Manhattan Beach

#4. Albany
- Population: 19,804
- Median home value: $882,500 (47% own)
- Median rent: $1,856 (53% rent)
- Median household income: $95,400
- Top public schools: Albany High School (A+), Marin Elementary School (A), Cornell Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: Tilden Preparatory School - Albany (A+)

#3. Mountain View
- Population: 81,656
- Median home value: $1,413,500 (42% own)
- Median rent: $2,456 (58% rent)
- Median household income: $139,720
- Top public schools: Los Altos High School (A+), Mountain View High School (A+), Homestead High School (A+)
- Top private schools: St. Francis High School (A+), Waldorf School of the Peninsula - Mountain View Campus (A+), German International School of Silicon Valley - Mountain View Campus (A+)

#2. Hermosa Beach
- Population: 19,539
- Median home value: $1,542,900 (47% own)
- Median rent: $2,181 (53% rent)
- Median household income: $136,702
- Top public schools: Mira Costa High School (A+), Hermosa Valley Elementary School (A), Hermosa View Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: Fusion Academy South Bay (A-)

#1. Santa Monica
- Population: 91,577
- Median home value: $1,382,700 (29% own)
- Median rent: $1,802 (71% rent)
- Median household income: $96,570
- Top public schools: Santa Monica High School (A+), Franklin Elementary School (A+), Lincoln Middle School (A+)
- Top private schools: Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences (A+), New Roads School (A+), Pacifica Christian High School (A+)

You may also like: Highest-rated specialty museums in California, according to Tripadvisor

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