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16 Best Places to Live in Northern California

Best Places to Live in Northern California

North Carolina boasts fantastic weather, a beautiful atmosphere, a vibrant job market, and some of the best neighbors around. To help you out, here is a list of the best places to live in Northern California.

There are many great places to live in Northern California. Whether you’re looking for a town with ocean access, or one that has miles of open spaces and views, you’ll find something perfect for your needs.

This article discusses the top 16 cities and towns in Northern California and what they offer residents.

16 Best Places to Live in Northern California

As a result of the worldwide pandemic many small communities have been abandoned or people are living closer together for safety reasons.

San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose are all major cities that offer a variety of amenities such as entertainment venues, museums and other cultural institutions. These communities also have access to large universities for education opportunities. The larger the community the better chance there is at finding food and clean water should any type of emergency arise.

However, as mentioned above, we will focus on the 16 best places.

1. Napa

The city of Napa is one of the finest places to live in Northern California, according to our criteria. San Francisco was once known to be the City by the Bay. The city is located in the heart of Napa Valley and is less than an hour north of San Francisco. It’s a popular choice for wine lovers, since it is home to some of the most renowned vineyards on earth.

Napa offers many activities and entertainment options for its almost 80,000 residents, including gourmet eateries and a lively nightlife and cultural scene in its compact downtown sector.

However, the pleasure is not without consequence. According to the most recent statistics from Zillow, the average property is worth over $800,000. Napa’s well-known wineries draw millions of tourists to a relatively small region each year.

2. Cameron Park

Cameron Park is a small town of around 30,000 residents located roughly 30 minutes from Sacramento. It’s more of a village than a city, and it’s heavily inhabited by people. This is perfect for families because

But, in addition to that, it offers a lot of things to do, such as the Cameron Park Country Club and its commercial sector, which includes several restaurants, supermarkets, and retail businesses.

The town of Cameron Park is most well-known as the site of a planned community for aviators. Many of its residents own a private plane and have their own hangar built on their property. That is because Cameron Park includes a tiny airport, which has allowed the city to build wide streets in order to accommodate planes. If you’re a plane buff, you should visit this city.

3. Santa Rosa

Sonoma County is home to one of the most beautiful cities in California: Santa Rosa. It is a close neighbor of Napa and is surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards. San Francisco is just an hour away from Santa Rosa by car. In comparison to Napa, Santa Rosa is seen as a more down-to-earth atmosphere.

It still provides a wealth of high-quality features and activities. The city of Santa Rosa (and Napa) was named the #1 greatest foodie metropolis in the United States.

4. Truckee

Truckee is a tiny town located 15 minutes from Lake Tahoe. We believe Truckee is one of Northern California’s finest cities due to the numerous outdoor activities available in and around the region.

Truckee is a great base for skiing, hiking, biking, camping, and rafting in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Truckee, located in the Tahoe region of Northern California, is a beautiful historic downtown with several dining and drinking options. It’s one of the greatest places to reside in Northern California around the Tahoe area.

Truckee, on the other hand, is a considerably more touristy town than Reno. While it is not nearly as expensive as Las Vegas, living in Truckee is still quite costly. It’s more than 50% more costly than the rest of the United States, and home values are around $1 million.

5. Sacramento 

The capital of California, Sacramento, is moving up on our ranking of the best cities in Northern California. It’s a big city that is cheap (for California standards) and continues to develop and provide new employment possibilities.

The cost of living is 20% lower than the California average, while the typical property price is around $400,000. Sacramento’s huge area also implies that you may select from a variety of communities to best fulfill your requirements.

It’s also one of the most popular locations in the city. San Francisco is only 1.5 hours away, while Lake Tahoe may be accessed in 2 hours.

However, Sacramento doesn’t have as many things to do as other large, prominent cities, but we believe that will soon change. The city’s downtown riverfront area is on the verge of becoming one of the region’s top destinations.

6. Granite Bay

Granite Bay is another Sacramento suburb that has been making significant progress in terms of quality of life. It’s located on Folsom Lake and has a lot of greenery around the city, making it an ideal location for people who want to get closer to nature.

Although this rural hamlet of over 20,000 people is rather refined, it does not imply that it lacks sophistication. In fact, Granite Bay is frequently visited by famous people and athletes. Eddie Murphy and former Sacramento King Chris Webber are two notable people who hail from Granite Bay.

As a result of their appeal, real estate prices are quite high. Granite Bay is a popular place to live, with an average home selling for around $1 million.

7. Palo Alto

Palo Alto is just 30 minutes south of San Francisco and is near the regional headquarters of many technology firms in Silicon Valley, such as Facebook, Google, and Tesla.

Palo Alto has a flourishing downtown area that is both walkable and bikeable, with cafés, cozy pubs, and retail businesses lining its streets.

In addition, education is a major priority in Palo Alto. It’s a well-educated city with a robust education system and home to Stanford University.

However, these exceptional features come at a steep price. Palo Alto is a city in California’s Santa Clara County, best known for being home to Stanford University. The typical property value in Palo Alto is $3.2 million. It is also California’s most expensive city to reside in, according to our research.

8. El Dorado Hills

El Dorado Hills is a Sacramento suburb on the opposite side of Folsom Lake if you come from Granite Bay. The city of El Dorado Hills is frequently recognized as one of California’s best locations to live for families, owing to its excellent education system and low crime rates.

Locals in El Dorado Hills are enthusiastic about the close community ties that the city has fostered, as well as its proximity to Lake Tahoe and the mountains.

There is the El Dorado Hills Town Center shopping mall, which gives it a more suburban feel in comparison to Granite Bay.

9. Walnut Creek

Walnut Creek is located in the East Bay area, roughly 30 minutes east of San Francisco and 45 minutes north of San Jose. The area’s accessibility lends it a premium status among commuters from both cities, but it also has a more tranquil atmosphere owing to its convenient proximity.

Walnut Creek has a lot more to offer. It features a downtown area that is pretty sizable for a mainly suburban community. There are historic edifices that house top-tier restaurants and high-end boutiques. It’s also quite walkable, which is rather unusual and extremely desirable in our post-pandemic condition.

Homes in Walnut Creek, CA, are not cheap. The typical home value is about $1,00,000.

10. San Jose

The Silicon Valley’s largest city is San Jose, which sits at the south end of the Bay. It is home to about 1 million people and is recognized for offering a great combination of big city features, excellent employment prospects, and a laid-back attitude.

The bustling metropolis of San Jose has numerous diverse restaurants and activities to enjoy. There are several attractions, including museums, parks, and even a professional hockey franchise known as the San Jose Sharks.

It’s not, however it is not the cheapest area to reside in. The cost of living in San Jose, California is 80 percent greater than the rest of the United States.

But, given its close proximity to a number of prominent firms, pleasant weather, and activities for the entire family, it’s easy to see why San Jose is still one of Northern California’s finest places to live in 2021.

11. San Francisco

San Francisco is without a doubt one of the greatest cities in Northern California. The city does not require an introduction, and it is without a doubt a world-class alternative in the area. It’s also the most populous city on our list.

However, it has lately lost some of its lustre owing to the fact that its high cost of living is no longer as easy to justify during the epidemic. We believe that San Francisco will recover following the epidemic, but it will have to change and be more adaptable, much like the rest of society.

If you’re searching for a diverse, open-minded metropolis with limitless job prospects and can afford the sky-high housing prices, there’s no place like San Francisco.

However, be prepared to spend. The average property value in the city is $1.4 million, which is beyond comprehension when you consider that it has almost 900,000 people.

12. Rocklin

Sacramento’s Rocklin is a small city with under 70,000 residents. Its well-kept streets and communities are known for their safety. In fact, Rocklin’s crime rate is almost 40% lower than the national average.

Despite the fact that its cost of living is still rather high when compared to the rest of the United States, it is actually 3% lower than California’s average.

Parks, playgrounds, and numerous activities for the entire family make this neighborhood a great place to live. For example, there is Quarry Park Adventures, a sports facility dedicated to outdoor activities. There are numerous golf courses in the region, and they’re all lovely.

Best of all, it is in an excellent location. It is located about half an hour from Sacramento and Folsom Lake is only 15 minutes away.

13. Dublin, California

The city of Dublin, California has seen considerable development in recent years as more and more people discover this hidden treasure that is located in the eastern Bay Area of NorCal.

Dublin, California has expanded by 40% since 2010 and its ideal site, which is only steps from a variety of trekking routes in the mountains and just 30 minutes from San Jose and 45 minutes from San Francisco by automobile, has attracted many people to relocate there. The trip to San Francisco takes roughly 1.5 hours by train or bus.

The village has a genuine sense of neighborhood, with numerous activities including farmers’ markets and music series that bring people together. Meanwhile, there is a picturesque downtown commercial area with almost everything you require.

Although it is still rather costly, Dublin is reasonably so in this sector, especially when compared to its Silicon Valley counterparts. The cost of living is less than 50% greater than the California state average.

When compared to California, Dublin truly looks appealing. Consider that Palo Alto is approximately 160% greater than the state average, and you’ll see why Dublin may be a good value.

14. Clovis

Clovis is not a suburb of San Francisco or Sacramento, unlike many of the other cities on this list. Although it’s not as well-known as the San Francisco Bay area, Central California is a great place to live if you value high quality of life. It’s also somewhat more Central California than NorCal, but we couldn’t leave it off this list due to its high standard of living and relative affordability.

We’re not kidding when we say that it’s quite inexpensive compared to the rest of this list. The cost of living in Clovis, California, is approximately 30% lower than the rest of the state. Home prices in Clovis average around $400,000.

What does Clovis have to offer? It’s only 6 miles from Fresno and situated in a valley with 100,000 citizens. There are several inexpensive neighborhoods, numerous business areas (as well as a tiny downtown on Clovis Ave), and an outstanding education system in this city of 100,000 people.

Locals in Clovis, New Mexico rave about the town’s sense of togetherness.

Clovis, California, is one of the greatest places in Northern California for families and outdoorsmen. This self-proclaimed “Gateway to the Sierras” is only 30 minutes from the mountains and 2.5 hours from Yosemite National Park, making it an excellent city to call home in Northern California for families and adventurers.

15. Los Altos

Just west of San Francisco and San Jose, the municipality of Los Altos has a population of roughly 30,000. Many lovely residential districts are located within the city, as well as a tiny commercial area with a main street full of boutiques, restaurants, and cafés.

In virtually every area that makes a city attractive and liveable, the community of Los Altos is highly regarded. It was also named California’s Most Livable City by AreaVibes, earning an A+ grade in nearly every category and coming in first place for the most residential amenities. It is a regular contender for one of the finest cities in Northern California because to its excellent living conditions.

If not for its staggering cost of living, we would have rated it higher. In addition, it is almost double the national average, which is caused by housing expenditures that are more than 740 percent higher than the rest of the country.

It also made our list of the most expensive cities in California.

16. Folsom

In 2021, Folsom will be the greatest place to live in Northern California. Its 70,000 inhabitants are located on Folsom Lake and are just 30 minutes from Sacramento.

Folsom is characterized by lush greenery and hiking trails, while its schools are frequently recognized as some of the finest in California. In addition, the historic Folsom District has a number of eating and drinking establishments along its tranquil, walkable streets.

It is not cheap, with typical home values approaching $700,000, but it is still less than 5% above the average for all of California, making it a great deal and allowing Sacramento workers to save money.

Northern California

Here are the finest places to live in Northern California for this current year to include the most recent reviews of the top cities in California.

Since the worldwide pandemic, a lot has changed in our culture, therefore our list reflects the most recent changes in our society. We focus on areas that offer more room and access to nature, such as the beachfront, mountain vistas, and state parks. Northern California is one of the most beautiful places in the world. We enjoy mild weather year round, access to gorgeous beaches and amazing features like Yosemite National Park.

Northern California is one of the most beautiful places in the world. We enjoy mild weather year round, access to gorgeous beaches and amazing features like Yosemite National Park.

Pros and Cons of Living in Northern California

Many individuals will tell you that California has a lot of positive features, but they should be considered as well. There are several reasons to live in Northern California; however, each location has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Please do not be concerned that Northern California is a poor location to reside. Let’s assume you’re considering relocating to Sacramento, California, as an example.

What are the greatest features of this region? Why aren’t they so hot about it? Knowing the benefits and drawbacks of various locations might help you make a better decision about where to settle. So, whether you opt to reside in Sacramento or Los Angeles, for example, you’ll be more informed about the neighborhood.

Pros of Living in Northern California

Northern California has many advantages. The climate is definitely one of the most important reasons to live in this area.

  • The mild weather conditions are great for everyone, especially if you do not enjoy winter season activities. Some individuals will tell you that it’s too hot during the summer, but most locations within Sacramento have mild summers. The same applies to other areas within Northern California.
  • Some individuals will tell you that the heat is too extreme during hot weather, but this isn’t always true. Each neighborhood has its own set of advantages and drawbacks for instance, Sacramento has one of the highest temperatures throughout summer months in comparison with other regions within California. Regardless, it’s still easy to have fun or just relax during summers.
  • If you enjoy having the ability to wear shorts and t-shirts throughout summer season, this is a great area to live in. There are some locations within Northern California where it’s not too cold but additionally, there are areas which get cool during wintertime.
  • The availability of certain attractions is also great. Whether you are not aware, Northern California is considered as the home of surfing due to the fact of several excellent locations for surfing. It isn’t all about the beach houses either since there are other places to visit like Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park if you’re interested in outdoors activities.
  • Northern California has many interesting festivals too. For example, the Alameda County Fairgrounds hosts the annual fair known as The Harvest Festival in addition to several other events throughout the year.
  • You’ll be able to easily find cheap flights to Northern California. However, if you’re not familiar with Sacramento or another location within Northern California, consider having a companion who knows where they are going. This is true in case you’re flying into a small airport that doesn’t have much in the area.
  • There are also several public venues to pick from too. For example, when you visit Sacramento, there’s everything from events to fairs and festivals to take part in. Some individuals will tell you that it makes you feel like a tourist, but this is not always true.

Cons of Living in Northern California

Northern California has some drawbacks to it as well. First of all, the traffic is very bad at times.

  • Some individuals will tell you that it’s not too difficult to drive in Northern California, but this isn’t always true. For example, if you’re considering living within Sacramento or one of its nearby neighborhoods, be prepared that the traffic can be very bad at times.
  • The traffic is congested and the streets are not set up for easy navigation. This can make it difficult to get around if you’re new to the region, especially with traffic conditions like these.
  • Another drawback is that many individuals don’t like living in places where there’s a lot of natural disasters happening such as earthquakes and floods. You will often hear individuals say that they don’t want to live somewhere where there’s a chance of an earthquake, but this is something that occurs quite frequently. However, you should be aware that the chances of it happening are not as bad as some people make them out to be.
  • Most individuals will tell you that Northern California has a lot of bad drivers, but this isn’t always true. However, it’s still important to use your best judgment when driving in Northern California, especially for individuals who are not used to the area yet.


Suburbs dominate the top cities in Northern California, with a clear shift in demand for more space and lower living expenses. While Northern California’s major cities still offer an interesting lifestyle, individuals are learning that it may not be entirely worth the money, especially if their physical location is no longer as crucial.

It appears that a city or town that is close enough to a large metropolis while still being distant enough to have direct access to parks, lakes, and mountains provides the ideal balance. It should also have its own features, such as a tiny downtown area to explore.

We think that this list has some excellent examples of such places, so now it’s up to you to pick the one that is right for you.

16 Best Places to Live in Northern California

  • 1. Napa
  • 2. Cameron Park
  • 3. Santa Rosa
  • 4. Truckee
  • 5. Sacramento
  • 6. Granite Bay
  • 7. Palo Alto
  • 8. El Dorado Hills
  • 9. Walnut Creek
  • 10. San Jose
  • 11. San Francisco
  • 12. Rocklin
  • 13. Dublin, California
  • 14. Clovis
  • 15. Los Altos
  • 16. Folsom

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