These Are The 10 Best Places To Buy A House In California For 2018


Using science and data, we can tell you which places in California have seen home prices rising and people flocking over the past year.

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Editor’s note: This is not investment advice and we are not financial advisers.

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There’s a the age old question everyone thinks about when they decide to move to a city in California:

Should I buy a place or rent?

Well, we aren’t here today to solve that problem for you exactly. We are just assuming you’ll do the right thing and a buy a place šŸ˜‰

And while we are happy to tell you the best place to live in California, this analysis is going to tackle the question of the best place to buy a house as an investor. That is we are going to try and determine the up and coming cities in the Golden State.

To do that we are going to look at places in California that are growing faster than average, but where home prices are below average. In every day terms, the ‘deals’.

The best deal in California at the moment? That would be Emeryville according to our analysis.

Here’s a look at the top ten places to buy a home in California:

  1. Emeryville (Photos | Homes)
  2. Marina (Photos | Homes)
  3. Hayward (Photos | Homes)
  4. Vista (Photos | Homes)
  5. Santa Rosa (Photos | Homes)
  6. Chula Vista (Photos | Homes)
  7. San Leandro (Photos | Homes)
  8. Brentwood (Photos | Homes)
  9. Rancho Cucamonga (Photos | Homes)
  10. Covina (Homes)

The methodology that wen’t into this can be a bit complicated, so we’ll break it down for you in as much detail as we can below.

If you’re not worried about finding a deal on good places to live, check out the most expensive places to live in California and, for those of you on a budget, the cheapest places to live in California.

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How do you determine the best places to buy a home in California?

We were in real estate for almost five years and have been working on this site for another three. Suffice is to say, we’ve put a lot of thought into what goes into finding a good place to buy a home.

So all that thinking has come to this moment where we get to spell out how we’d approach finding an up-and-coming place to live in California. Put differently, the analysis will try to find places in California with undervalued homes relative to pent up demand.

To do that we looked at the most recent American Community Survey Census data for 2012-2016 and compared it to the previous vintage (2011-2015). Specifically, we used the following criteria:

  • Y-o-Y Change In Population (People want to live here)
  • Y-o-Y Change In Median Home Prices (People are willing to pay for it)
  • Home Prices Relative To The State Average (It’s still kinda cheap)

We want places that are growing, have seen home prices increase in recent years, and are still ‘cheap’ for California with the following caveats:

So of the 1,481 cities and towns in California, only 48 places made it through our initial filters to even be considered.

We then ranked each place from 1 to 48 for the criteria mentioned above with 1 being the best for that criteria. We averaged the rankings to create a ‘best place to buy’ index with the place having the lowest index being the best.

Turns out that Emeryville is the best potential gem in the not-so-rough in the Golden State.

Read on for more on these places.

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1. Emeryville

Emeryville, CA

Population: 11,111
Median Home Price: $396,900
Population Change: 2.6%
Home Price Change: 21.1%
More on Emeryville: PhotosReal Estate | Data

Before the colonization of the area by Spain in 1776, this area was the site of extensive Ohlone Native American settlements. Mudflats rich with clams and rocky areas with oysters, plus fishing, hunting, and acorns from the local oak trees provided a rich and easily exploited food source for the residents, who disposed of their clam and oyster shells in a single place, over time creating a huge mound, the Emeryville Shellmound.

2. Marina

Marina, CA

Population: 20,816
Median Home Price: $392,500
Population Change: 1.4%
Home Price Change: 8.9%
More on Marina: PhotosReal Estate | Data

William Locke-Paddon founded the town on 1,500 acres (6.1Ā km2) of land he bought for the purpose. The Marina post office opened in 1916. Marina incorporated in 1975. The City’s history is intertwined with that of Fort Ord. Fort Ord lands were used as an infantry training center since the Mexican?American War. Major growth took place in 1938 with the first joint Army and Navy maneuvers held in 1940.

3. Hayward

Hayward, CA

Population: 154,507
Median Home Price: $404,500
Population Change: 1.4%
Home Price Change: 10.9%
More on Hayward: PhotosReal Estate | Data

Human habitation of the greater East Bay, including Hayward, dates from at least 4000 B.C. The most recent pre-European inhabitants of the Hayward area were the Native American Ohlone people.|In the 19th century, the land that is now Hayward became part of Rancho San Lorenzo, a Spanish land grant to Guillermo Castro in 1841. The site of his home was on the former El Camino Viejo, or Castro Street (now Mission Boulevard) between C and D Streets, but the structure was severely damaged in the 1868 Hayward earthquake, with the Hayward Fault running directly under its location. Most of the city’s structures were destroyed in the earthquake, the last major earthquake on the fault. In 1930, that site was chosen for the construction of the City Hall, which served the city until 1969.

4. Vista

Vista, CA

Source: Public domain

Population: 98,560
Median Home Price: $392,700
Population Change: 1.0%
Home Price Change: 8.9%
More on Vista: PhotosReal Estate | Data

The Vista area was originally inhabited by the LuiseƱo Indians, who lived on the land until the founding of the San Luis Rey Mission in 1798. The prosperity of the mission-era declined by the 1830s with the independence of Mexico from Spain. The Mexican government began to grant land ownerships to a variety of people, thus beginning the Rancho era of California. Three ranchos were granted in the Vista area: Rancho Guajome, Rancho Buena Vista, and Agua Hedionda Y los Manos.|In the 1850s the ranchos began to fade due to changing political conditions and the scarcity of water. A growing number of settlers came to the area after California became a state in 1850 and began to create smaller agricultural holdings. One settler in the Vista area, John Frazier, applied to open the first post office and after several attempts to name the city (Frazier’s Crossing and Buena Vista were already taken), Frazier finally chose the name ‘Vista’. With the opening of the first post office in 1882, Vista had officially arrived.

5. Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa, CA

Source: Public domain

Population: 173,165
Median Home Price: $414,800
Population Change: 0.6%
Home Price Change: 7.4%
More on Santa Rosa: PhotosReal Estate | Data

6. Chula Vista

Chula Vista, CA

Population: 260,598
Median Home Price: $402,000
Population Change: 1.3%
Home Price Change: 7.0%
More on Chula Vista: PhotosReal Estate | Data

In the year 3000 BCE, people speaking the Yuman (Quechan) language began movement into the region from the Lower Colorado River Valley and southwestern Arizona portions of the Sonoran desert. Later the Kumeyaay tribe came to populate the land, on which the city sits today, who lived in the area for hundreds of years.|In the year 1542 CE, a fleet of three Spanish Empire ships commanded by Juan RodrĆ­guez Cabrillo, sailed into San Diego Harbor. Early explorations by Spanish conquistadors, such as these, led to Spanish claims of the land. The historic land on which Chula Vista sits became part of the 1795 land grant known as Rancho del Rey or The King’s Ranch. The land eventually was renamed Rancho de la NaciĆ³n.

7. San Leandro

San Leandro, CA

Population: 89,039
Median Home Price: $426,900
Population Change: 0.8%
Home Price Change: 9.1%
More on San Leandro: PhotosReal Estate | Data

The first inhabitants of the geographic region which would eventually become San Leandro were the ancestors of the Ohlone people, who arrived sometime between 3500 and 2500 BC.|The Spanish settlers called these natives CosteƱos or ‘coast people’ and the English-speaking settlers called them Costanoans. San Leandro was first visited by Europeans on March 20, 1772 by Spanish soldier Captain Pedro Fages and the Spanish Catholic priest Father Crespi.

8. Brentwood

Brentwood, CA

Source: Public domain

Population: 56,923
Median Home Price: $428,500
Population Change: 2.6%
Home Price Change: 9.1%
More on Brentwood: PhotosReal Estate | Data

Brentwood was originally laid out on land donated from property owned by John Marsh, an East Contra Costa County pioneer who acquired Rancho Los Meganos, the land grant that Brentwood is built upon, in 1837 from Jose Noriega. Marsh was one of the wealthiest men in California and was instrumental in its becoming independent from Mexico and part of the United States. His letters extolling the potential for agriculture in California were published in newspapers throughout the East. They resulted in the first wagon trains to California. Marsh encouraged this, and allowed new arrivals to stay on his ranch until they could get settled. Rancho Los Meganos became the terminus of the California Trail. Brentwood was named after Marsh’s ancestral home, the town of Brentwood in the County of Essex, England.

9. Rancho Cucamonga

Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Population: 173,309
Median Home Price: $414,200
Population Change: 0.8%
Home Price Change: 7.1%
More on Rancho Cucamonga: PhotosReal Estate | Data

Rancho Cucamonga’s first settlers were Native American. By 1200 A.D., Kukamongan Native Americans had established a village settlement in the area around present-day Red Hill, near the city’s western border. Kukamonga derives its name from a Native-American word meaning ‘sandy place.’ Anthropologists have determined that this cluster of settlers likely belonged to the Tongva people or Kich people, at one time one of the largest concentrations of Native American peoples on the North American continent. In the 18th century, following an expedition led by Gaspar de Portola, the land was incorporated into the Mission System established by Father Junipero Serra and his group of soldiers and Franciscan Monks.|After a half-century of political jockeying in the region, the land finally came under the control of Juan Bautista Alvarado, governor of Mexico. On March 3, 1839, Alvarado granted 13,000 acres of land in the area called Cucamonga to Tubercio Tapia, a first-generation Spanish native of Los Angeles, successful merchant, and notorious smuggler. Tapia went on to establish the first winery in California on his newly deeded land. Rancho Cucamonga was purchased by John Rains and his wife in 1858. The Rains family’s home, Casa de Rancho Cucamonga, was completed in 1860 and now appears on the National Register of Historic Places.

10. Covina

Covina, CA

Population: 48,539
Median Home Price: $415,300
Population Change: -0.1%
Home Price Change: 7.2%
More on Covina: Real Estate | Data

Present day Covina was originally within the homelands of the indigenous Tongva people for 5,000 to 8,000 years. In the 18th century it the became part of Rancho La Puente in Alta California, a 1770s Spanish colonial and 1842 Mexican land grants.

There You Have It – The Best Places To Purchase A House In California

There’s our analysis of the best places to buy a house in California. And, to be clear, we aren’t necessarily saying these places are the best places to live, just that it looks like they might be in a couple of years based on the data.

In fact, every place in the following table meets our criteria, so even though it may not look super long, remember we started off with all 0 places in the state.

So if we’d could rent or buy in these cities, we’d definitely buy.

For more California reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Places To Buy A Home In California

City Rank Median Home Price Population Change Home Price Increase
Emeryville 1 $396,900 2.6% 21.1%
Marina 2 $392,500 1.4% 8.9%
Hayward 3 $404,500 1.4% 10.9%
Vista 4 $392,700 1.0% 8.9%
Santa Rosa 5 $414,800 0.6% 7.4%
Chula Vista 6 $402,000 1.3% 7.0%
San Leandro 7 $426,900 0.8% 9.1%
Brentwood 8 $428,500 2.6% 9.1%
Rancho Cucamonga 9 $414,200 0.8% 7.1%
Covina 10 $415,300 -0.1% 7.2%
Concord 11 $423,100 0.5% 8.8%
Lawndale 12 $401,700 -0.2% 6.1%
Signal Hill 13 $446,000 0.6% 17.3%
Windsor 14 $445,700 0.4% 9.3%
Grover Beach 15 $430,200 0.6% 7.7%
La Habra 16 $436,200 -0.1% 7.7%
San Marcos 17 $418,200 2.1% 6.3%
Hercules 18 $422,200 0.7% 6.7%
Norco 19 $445,700 -0.6% 8.5%
La Mesa 20 $421,200 0.5% 6.3%
Artesia 21 $419,500 0.0% 6.1%
West Covina 22 $430,800 -0.2% 6.5%
Santa Clarita 23 $417,400 0.2% 5.5%
Calistoga 24 $475,800 0.3% 10.6%
Atascadero 25 $397,400 1.5% 3.5%
Buena Park 26 $448,900 0.1% 7.0%
Folsom 27 $433,300 1.1% 5.8%
Montebello 28 $413,900 -0.2% 2.8%
Napa 29 $476,800 0.6% 8.1%
Eastvale 30 $460,100 3.5% 7.1%
Hawthorne 31 $419,600 0.4% 3.6%
Cotati 32 $429,700 0.5% 4.7%
Garden Grove 33 $445,700 -0.0% 5.7%
San Dimas 34 $481,000 0.1% 7.4%
Anaheim 35 $457,600 0.3% 6.1%
Downey 36 $449,900 -0.2% 5.9%
Martinez 37 $462,300 0.7% 6.2%
Upland 38 $444,200 0.4% 4.4%
Lakewood 39 $445,800 -0.1% 5.1%
La Mirada 40 $448,400 -0.1% 5.3%
San Buenaventura (Ventura) 41 $459,300 0.2% 5.6%
Benicia 42 $475,500 0.4% 6.0%
Long Beach 43 $448,800 -0.1% 4.1%
Whittier 44 $458,500 -0.1% 4.9%
Simi Valley 45 $472,700 0.0% 4.9%
Rosemead 46 $455,100 -0.2% 2.8%
Arroyo Grande 47 $472,400 0.7% 3.7%
Glendora 48 $481,800 0.3% 4.3%

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