These Are The 10 Best Counties To Live In California For 2018


Using science and data, we can tell you which counties in California have the most for people looking to make the move to California.

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Some of you might be asking yourself, at this very moment: is California a good place?

The answer is unequivocally yes… if you know where to locate the best places to live in California.

Lucky for you, we’re here to help you identify the best counties to live in the Golden State based on the most recently available data from the Census. And this isn’t our first rodeo — we’ve been helping people find the best places to live in America for years.

So, the question becomes, if you wanted to relocate to the best pat of California, where would you go? To answer that we looked at crime, cost of living, and demographic data for all 50 counties in the state.

After the analytic dust settled, we identified the 10 best counties to live in Golden State for 2018:

  1. Marin County (Photos)
  2. Placer County (Photos)
  3. Napa County (Photos)
  4. El Dorado County (Photos)
  5. Contra Costa County (Photos)
  6. San Francisco County (Photos)
  7. Sonoma County (Photos)
  8. San Luis Obispo County (Photos)
  9. San Mateo County (Photos)
  10. Ventura County (Photos)

Marin County is the county to be when it comes to living the good life in California. And you might want to avoid Imperial County if you can — at least according to the data.

So if you’re thinking of making the move California, we’ve got you covered. Keep on reading for a detailed methodology.

Or, check out the best places to live in California and the best places to raise a family in California.

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How do you determine which California county is the best?

To give you the best county in California, we have to look at a handful of metrics that signal the quality of a place. To do that, we need to make some assumptions about what’s a ‘best county’ and what isn’t. And, for reference, we are trying to make the kind of argument you’d make at a bar using facts, don’t take this analysis to court.

With that in mind, we went to two of the best sources of data on the internet; the American Community Survey data and FBI Crime data for the most recent time period.

We paid particular attention to:

  • Violent Crime Rates
  • Property Crime Rates
  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Unemployment Rates
  • Adult Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty Rates

We then ranked each county in California across each of the criteria from one to 50, with one being the best.

Taking the average rank across all criteria, we created a quality of life score with the county posting the lowest overall score being the ‘Best County To Live In California’.

The result is some of the safest, quiet, and best counties to raise a family in the Golden State.

Read on to see why Marin County is the best county, while Imperial County is probably in contention for being the worst county in California.

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1. Marin County

Belvedere, CA

Biggest Place: San Rafael
Population: 259,358
Median Income: $100,310 (2nd best)
Median Home Price: $859,400 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.1% (1st best)
More on Marin County: PhotosData

2. Placer County

Auburn, CA

Biggest Place: Roseville
Population: 370,571
Median Income: $76,926 (9th best)
Median Home Price: $380,900 (18th best)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (11th best)
More on Placer County: PhotosData

3. Napa County

American Canyon, CA

Biggest Place: Napa
Population: 140,823
Median Income: $74,609 (10th best)
Median Home Price: $503,100 (8th best)
Unemployment Rate: 6.6% (6th best)
More on Napa County: PhotosData

4. El Dorado County

Placerville, CA

Biggest Place: El Dorado Hills
Population: 183,000
Median Income: $72,586 (12th best)
Median Home Price: $379,200 (19th best)
Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (28th best)
More on El Dorado County: PhotosData

5. Contra Costa County

Antioch, CA

Source: Public domain

Biggest Place: Concord
Population: 1,107,925
Median Income: $82,881 (5th best)
Median Home Price: $472,900 (11th best)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (17th best)
More on Contra Costa County: PhotosData

6. San Francisco County

San Francisco, CA

Biggest Place: San Francisco
Population: 850,282
Median Income: $87,701 (4th best)
Median Home Price: $858,800 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 6.2% (4th best)
More on San Francisco County: PhotosData

7. Sonoma County

Cloverdale, CA

Source: Public domain

Biggest Place: Santa Rosa
Population: 497,776
Median Income: $66,833 (15th best)
Median Home Price: $464,700 (14th best)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (11th best)
More on Sonoma County: PhotosData

8. San Luis Obispo County

Arroyo Grande, CA

Biggest Place: San Luis Obispo
Population: 278,680
Median Income: $64,014 (18th best)
Median Home Price: $471,800 (12th best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (2nd best)
More on San Luis Obispo County: PhotosData

9. San Mateo County

Atherton, CA

Source: Public domain

Biggest Place: Daly City
Population: 754,748
Median Income: $98,546 (3rd best)
Median Home Price: $845,300 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (3rd best)
More on San Mateo County: PhotosData

10. Ventura County

Camarillo, CA

Biggest Place: Oxnard
Population: 843,110
Median Income: $78,593 (7th best)
Median Home Price: $481,400 (9th best)
Unemployment Rate: 7.5% (16th best)
More on Ventura County: PhotosData

There You Have It – The Best Counties In California To Call Home For 2018

It turns out living in California can vary from one part of the state to the next — who woulda thought?

But now you the know the really good parts and the parts to avoid and that’s why you came here to learn at the end of the day. And for that, you are welcome.

Here’s a look at the worst counties in California according to the data:

  1. Imperial County
  2. Lake County
  3. Kern County

For more California reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Counties In California

County Rank Population Median Income Median Home Price
Marin County 1 259,358 $100,310 $859,400
Placer County 2 370,571 $76,926 $380,900
Napa County 3 140,823 $74,609 $503,100
El Dorado County 4 183,000 $72,586 $379,200
Contra Costa County 5 1,107,925 $82,881 $472,900
San Francisco County 6 850,282 $87,701 $858,800
Sonoma County 7 497,776 $66,833 $464,700
San Luis Obispo County 8 278,680 $64,014 $471,800
San Mateo County 9 754,748 $98,546 $845,300
Ventura County 10 843,110 $78,593 $481,400
Orange County 11 3,132,211 $78,145 $584,200
Santa Clara County 12 1,885,056 $101,173 $752,400
San Benito County 13 58,051 $73,814 $423,100
San Diego County 14 3,253,356 $66,529 $454,600
Santa Cruz County 15 270,931 $70,088 $615,200
Alameda County 16 1,605,217 $79,831 $593,500
Mono County 17 14,051 $58,937 $286,100
Yolo County 18 209,671 $57,663 $346,200
Amador County 19 36,963 $57,032 $265,900
Santa Barbara County 20 439,395 $65,161 $480,000
Inyo County 21 18,326 $47,278 $235,500
Solano County 22 429,596 $69,227 $305,900
Nevada County 23 98,639 $57,429 $355,900
Sacramento County 24 1,479,300 $57,509 $271,300
Monterey County 25 430,201 $60,889 $393,300
Tuolumne County 26 53,864 $50,731 $259,800
Colusa County 27 21,361 $54,946 $205,000
Lassen County 28 31,945 $51,457 $174,500
Shasta County 29 179,228 $45,582 $223,500
Mendocino County 30 87,409 $43,510 $319,100
Riverside County 31 2,323,892 $57,972 $276,300
Butte County 32 223,877 $44,366 $228,500
Siskiyou County 33 43,668 $38,524 $173,100
Humboldt County 34 135,182 $42,685 $279,000
Modoc County 35 9,033 $41,194 $144,600
San Joaquin County 36 714,860 $55,045 $246,900
Kings County 37 150,261 $47,241 $172,000
Madera County 38 153,366 $45,742 $204,800
Yuba County 39 73,897 $48,739 $190,700
Los Angeles County 40 10,057,155 $57,952 $465,000
Stanislaus County 41 530,561 $51,591 $216,000
Glenn County 42 27,976 $41,699 $215,800
San Bernardino County 43 2,106,754 $54,469 $256,000
Tulare County 44 455,769 $42,789 $169,600
Fresno County 45 963,160 $45,963 $204,900
Merced County 46 265,001 $44,397 $171,800
Tehama County 47 63,015 $40,687 $178,600
Kern County 48 871,337 $49,788 $175,600
Lake County 49 64,076 $36,132 $167,300
Imperial County 50 178,807 $42,560 $159,000

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