The 9 Cheapest and Safest Places to Live in California in 2022

We looked through all the data and found the cheapest and safest places to live in California in 2022. These cities also offer many attractions and things to do so that you will actually enjoy living there.

Additionally, we made sure to find cities that provide good job prospects, solid school systems, and are located near some major cities. Of course, the cities had to be safe to make it onto this list.

All of these elements were not so easy to find together, especially in California where the definition of “cheap” may not be so cheap, but we managed to find some hidden gems that might entice you to move to the Golden State.

So, let’s take a look at the cheapest and safest places to live in California so that you can save some cash but also feel safe while enjoying one of the best states in the country.

Before we unveil our list of the cheapest and safest places to live in California, we wanted to let you know how we came to our findings so that you understand where our data came from and can be confident in our results.

For affordability, we measured the relative cost of living in each city compared to the rest of the state. They might not be the cheapest places compared to other states since California is notorious for being quite pricey, but it gives you a good comparative look at how they stack up against the California average.

For the crime rates, we took the data from Area Vibe’s latest findings that come from the official FBI database. Here, we also took the relative crime rate compared to the state’s average.

Finally, we looked for places to live that offer a lot of amenities and are actually lively, so we restricted our search to cities with at least 3,000 or more residents.

The 9 Cheapest and Safest Places to Live in California in 2022

9. Oceanside

Cheapest-and-Safest-Places-to-Live-in-California-Oceanside

Population: 175,742
Cost of Living Index: 1% Below California Average
Average Home Price: $699,000
Crime Rate: 15% Below California Average
Location: Check on Google Maps

Oceanside kicks off our list of the cheapest and safest places to live in California. It’s not exactly super cheap, with home values almost at the $700k mark, but it offers a ton of things to do.

This coastal city is just 30 minutes north of San Diego and offers some of the best beaches in the state. You can enjoy the famous Oceanside Fishing Pier or the laid-back vibes downtown on Mission Avenue.

8. Imperial Beach

Population: 27,180
Cost of Living Index: 3% Below California Average
Average Home Price: $609,600
Crime Rate: 47% Below California Average
Location: Check on Google Maps

Imperial Beach is another affordable and safe community that is close to San Diego. Downtown San Diego is only a 15 minute drive from Imperial Beach.

Meanwhile, you can enjoy its lively Seacoast Drive that is filled with restaurants and bars along the oceanfront.

While it may seem pretty expensive, Imperial Beach is a pretty decent value in California given how close it is to the beach and to San Diego, all while being quite safe.

7. Rancho Cucamonga

Population: 174,453
Cost of Living Index: 0% Below California Average
Average Home Price: $621,900
Crime Rate: 17% Below California Average
Location: Check on Google Maps

Rancho Cucamonga is located just 40 minutes away from Los Angeles and is one of the cheapest and safest places to live in the LA area.

It is known to be quite clean and peaceful and features numerous parks across the city.

It is also located in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountain, making it a top choice for nature lovers.

6. Oxnard

Population: 202,063
Cost of Living Index: 3% Below California Average
Average Home Price: $634,900
Crime Rate: 7% Below California Average
Location: Check on Google Maps

Oxnard offers a solid blend of affordability, safety, and things to do. It is located right on the Pacific Ocean about an hour away from downtown Los Angeles.

The city itself offers a cool marina district along with numerous quiet residential neighborhoods, making it ideal for young families who want to be close to LA.

It is also a great place for nature lovers. Point Mugu State Park is only about 10-15 minutes away from Oxnard, while the beachfront spans the length of the whole city.

5. Pacheco

Population: 3,685
Cost of Living Index: 31% Below California Average
Average Home Price: $256,000
Crime Rate: 0% Below California Average
Location: Check on Google Maps

Pacheco is the smallest city on our list of the cheapest and safest places to live in California, but it still offers quite a good standard of living.

Residents of this suburban town can reach San Francisco in about 30 minutes while also taking advantage of the restaurant and shops in its neighboring city of Concord, which has over 100,000 people.

Pacheco is a great option for those looking for an affordable and safe community near San Francisco or Oakland.

4. Chico

Cheapest-and-Safest-Places-to-Live-in-California-Chico

Population: 101,475
Cost of Living Index: 14% Below California Average
Average Home Price: $424,000
Crime Rate: 2% Below California Average
Location: Check on Google Maps

Chico is a beautiful city in Northern California that is located an hour and a half north of Sacramento. This “City of Trees” offers plenty of parks and recreational areas for residents to enjoy throughout the city.

Meanwhile, there is a cozy downtown district that features many restaurants and bars that are popular among the locals as well as the students at California State University Chico, which is located right in the city.

3. Rio Vista

Population: 9,718
Cost of Living Index: 16% Below California Average
Average Home Price: $441,000
Crime Rate: 44% Below California Average
Location: Check on Google Maps

Rio Vista is a great choice as one of the cheapest and safest places to live in California between Sacramento and San Francisco. You could take advantage of the job market in both cities while living a lower cost of life in Rio Vista.

The city itself offers a quaint little downtown that is next to the Sacramento River. Here, you can find locally-owned restaurants and cozy cafes, where you can relax and enjoy a slower pace of life.

2. Clovis

Population: 120,124
Cost of Living Index: 21% Below California Average
Average Home Price: $420,000
Crime Rate: 15% Below California Average
Location: Check on Google Maps

Clovis is one of the best choices for people looking for a mid-sized city that is both affordable and safe in California.

It even took 3rd place on our list of all the best cities to live across all of California.

It is located just 15 minutes from downtown Fresno, yet offers a safer and quieter experience. 

It is very popular among outdoorsy-type people as the city is only about 30 minutes from the Sierra National Forest. 

Meanwhile, Clovis offers many things to do, including a small downtown with restaurants, bars, and cafes along several tree-lined streets.

1. Williams

Population: 5,408
Cost of Living Index: 22% Below California Average
Average Home Price: $261,000
Crime Rate: 37% Below California Average
Location: Check on Google Maps

We think that Williams, California is the cheapest and safest place to live in California. This small town of just over 5,000 residents is located about an hour north of Sacramento and offers a quiet place to live that is both safe and affordable, especially for California standards.

The average home here costs less than $300,000, which is more than 60% lower than the state’s average.

The fact that the state capital is just an hour away makes Williams a great value for those looking for safety, affordability, and things to do.

Most Affordable and Safest Places to Live in California – Summary

Overall, the nine cheapest and safest places to live in California according to our research are:

  1. Williams
  2. Clovis
  3. Rio Vista
  4. Chico
  5. Pacheco
  6. Oxnard
  7. Rancho Cucamonga
  8. Imperial Beach
  9. Oceanside

We hope that this list gives you a good idea where you can affordably live in California while still feeling safe.

Of course, the cities on this list are very different from one another, so it will be up to you to visit them before you decide which place is the right one for you.