These Are The 10 Best Small Towns In California


We used science and data to determine which small towns in California are the best of the best.

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You’ve seen these lists before: Best places to live in California, Most Beautiful Downtowns, etc., etc. But all of them focus on major cities and towns in the Golden State and no one pays attention to the little guy.

Well, that’s all about to change as we put together a list of the best small towns in California based on numbers–not opinions or hearsay.

We’ll dive right into our methodology in the next section; but first, we thought you might just want to know which places in California ranked the based–you know, based on science. Here are the 10 Best Small Towns in California (in which to live):

  1. Diablo
  2. Rolling Hills
  3. Rolling Hills
  4. Blacklake
  5. Spreckels
  6. Bradbury
  7. Garden Farms
  8. Clyde
  9. Los Olivos
  10. Alhambra Valley

If you live in one of these small towns like Diablo, chances are, you’re not surprised. After all, you know how great you have it.

But for the rest of you–keep reading and we’ll get to just why these small towns made our list. Or feel free to check out the worst small towns in California.

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How We Determined The Best Small Towns In California

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the Census’s 2010-2014 American Community Survey, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is the criteria we used:

  • Population Density (Higher is better)
  • Lowest Unemployment Rates
  • Housing costs (Higher is better. More demand.)
  • Adjusted Median Income (Higher is better)
  • High School Dropouts (Lower is better)
  • Crime Rates (Lower is better)

We looked at places with populations lower than 1,000 people, of which, there were a lot – 215 to be exact.

We then ranked each place in each category with scores from 1 to 215, averaged them out, and the lowest scores went to our Best Small Towns in California. Top of that list — Diablo.

Keep reading to find out more about our top 10 best small towns in California. Or feel free to check out the best places overall to live in California.

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1. Diablo


Population 2014: 1,211
Median Income: $219,336
Median Home Price: $1,650,000
Crime Per 100k: 656

2. Rolling Hills


Population 2014: 1,733
Median Income: $213,906
Median Home Price: $1,317,500
Crime Per 100k: 1,002

3. Rolling Hills

Source: Google Maps

Population: 1,733
Median Income: $213,906
Median Home Price: $1,317,500
Crime Per 100k: 1,002

4. Blacklake


Population 2014: 1,045
Median Income: $61,786
Median Home Price: $592,900
Crime Per 100k: 861

5. Spreckels


Population 2014: 931
Median Income: $79,358
Median Home Price: $528,900
Crime Per 100k: 3,549

6. Bradbury


Population 2014: 812
Median Income: $117,500
Median Home Price: $2,150,000
Crime Per 100k: 1,015

7. Garden Farms


Population 2014: 269
Median Income: $107,917
Median Home Price: $632,400
Crime Per 100k: 1,887

8. Clyde


Population 2014: 500
Median Income: $117,500
Median Home Price: $488,900
Crime Per 100k: 3,619

9. Los Olivos


Population 2014: 915
Median Income: $83,750
Median Home Price: $783,000
Crime Per 100k: 1,887

10. Alhambra Valley


Population 2014: 754
Median Income: $120,625
Median Home Price: $790,400
Crime Per 100k: 1,887

Science Can Tackle Any Issue, Even Small Ones

We said it once and we’ll say it again — this list: it’s just science. We did the research, we crunched the numbers, and it turns out, these 10 small towns in California are the best, in which to live.

And who can argue with that?

If you’re curious, here are the worst small towns in California:

  1. Cantua Creek
  2. Ripley
  3. Honcut

For more California reading , check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Small Towns In California

City Rank Population Median Income Median Home Price Crime Per 100k
Diablo 1 1,211 $219,336 $1,650,000 656
Rolling Hills 2 1,733 $213,906 $1,317,500 1,002
Rolling Hills 3 1,733 $213,906 $1,317,500 1,002
Blacklake 4 1,045 $61,786 $592,900 861
Spreckels 5 931 $79,358 $528,900 3,549
Bradbury 6 812 $117,500 $2,150,000 1,015
Garden Farms 7 269 $107,917 $632,400 1,887
Clyde 8 500 $117,500 $488,900 3,619
Los Olivos 9 915 $83,750 $783,000 1,887
Alhambra Valley 10 754 $120,625 $790,400 1,887
Alto 11 745 $74,222 $967,900 3,257
Mendocino 12 833 $67,704 $609,700 2,079
El Portal 13 458 $122,534 $335,700 4,507
Point Reyes Station 14 871 $58,258 $720,300 1,887
North Gate 15 370 $84,155 $512,700 1,887
Sea Ranch 16 762 $57,400 $794,200 1,887
Bodega Bay 17 717 $67,328 $687,500 1,887
Big Creek 18 218 $92,500 $221,400 5,264
Sunol 19 828 $93,125 $892,000 1,887
Squirrel Mountain Valley 20 560 $41,333 $352,400 4,088
Glen Ellen 21 574 $46,236 $632,900 2,747
Lockwood 22 212 $92,250 $513,200 1,917
Swall Meadows 23 358 $96,471 $375,000 2,869
Vallecito 24 674 $63,719 $787,500 2,411
Rutherford 25 182 $60,893 $1,150,000 1,887
Hamilton Branch 26 713 $103,490 $286,200 3,979
Carnelian Bay 27 328 $50,875 $482,800 4,077
Benbow 28 387 $57,969 $496,300 4,018
Mesa Vista 29 252 $90,547 $405,800 3,937
Centerville 30 223 $83,036 $339,300 3,885
Shaver Lake 31 747 $75,357 $526,600 3,450
Wilkerson 32 607 $58,224 $283,000 5,393
Markleeville 33 238 $106,667 $291,700 4,857
Potter Valley 34 694 $86,136 $377,300 4,936
Camanche Village 35 754 $86,858 $242,900 5,253
Bridgeport 36 360 $71,250 $330,500 4,417
San Simeon 37 513 $51,250 $237,000 5,997
Tahoma 38 965 $53,426 $511,500 3,327
Artois 39 219 $70,573 $263,300 5,524
Whitley Gardens 40 219 $52,440 $433,300 4,579
Indianola 41 1,066 $50,132 $257,600 2,085
Cleone 42 688 $56,875 $422,000 4,507
Paradise 43 26,258 $40,702 $223,200 2,159
Paradise 44 26,258 $40,702 $223,200 2,159
Davenport 45 235 $59,688 $577,200 3,061
Nicolaus 46 166 $78,750 $400,000 3,546
Alta 47 527 $58,523 $290,900 5,316
Lake Riverside 48 1,590 $60,781 $281,300 1,932
Millville 49 845 $63,750 $353,400 4,753
Los Berros 50 931 $39,245 $537,700 4,901
Clarksburg 51 422 $42,474 $356,100 4,423
Avery 52 588 $23,368 $407,100 5,219
Industry 53 435 $49,419 $985,000 2,500
Rio Oso 54 322 $88,846 $370,800 4,640
Tres Pinos 55 348 $84,750 $385,700 3,983
Westhaven-Moonstone 56 938 $42,188 $421,700 4,670
Coloma 57 573 $75,104 $268,300 5,572
Waterloo 58 251 $79,432 $310,300 4,456
Butte Valley 59 771 $78,846 $294,300 5,333
Bend 60 644 $71,000 $287,100 5,111
Geyserville 61 1,040 $51,250 $332,500 1,946
Etna 62 765 $30,286 $189,400 140
Guinda 63 553 $78,221 $357,700 5,499
Fieldbrook 64 952 $55,167 $398,100 4,825
Sand City 65 264 $42,292 $635,400 2,500
Lake Of The Woods 66 542 $55,230 $195,200 5,792
Mesa 67 448 $67,188 $269,700 5,104
Grizzly Flats 68 878 $46,667 $178,600 6,776
Courtland 69 500 $70,893 $242,500 3,606
Amador City 70 192 $46,094 $234,100 5,539
Bowles 71 117 $64,688 $306,300 5,530
Butte Creek Canyon 72 982 $53,750 $421,700 3,849
Beckwourth 73 446 $66,250 $190,900 5,170
Cohasset 74 942 $56,307 $282,100 5,855
Loleta 75 791 $38,365 $250,000 6,239
Hiouchi 76 390 $42,794 $167,900 6,111
Challenge-Brownsville 77 1,449 $52,500 $198,600 2,259
Meadow Valley 78 496 $62,621 $332,000 4,701
Flournoy 79 126 $61,406 $342,900 3,220
Camanche North Shore 80 884 $55,078 $205,900 5,845
Alpine Village 81 139 $56,389 $562,500 4,241
Fall River Mills 82 487 $34,744 $182,700 6,090
Montgomery Creek 83 104 $13,542 $453,300 4,966
Riverdale Park 84 977 $36,818 $341,400 6,203
Aguanga 85 1,254 $47,983 $155,000 2,212
Springville 86 1,106 $43,486 $163,600 2,268
Manila 87 782 $31,804 $179,800 6,659
Richfield 88 288 $43,359 $118,800 6,701
Terminous 89 373 $65,655 $130,000 4,933
Catheys Valley 90 802 $51,094 $344,100 5,526
Hat Creek 91 160 $50,625 $335,400 4,339
Loyalton 92 845 $50,904 $155,500 6,748
Fort Jones 93 741 $30,833 $161,700 2,349
Grenada 94 310 $34,688 $177,100 6,483
Trinity Village 95 200 $23,490 $322,400 5,903
Trowbridge 96 180 $64,167 $258,800 5,356
East Tulare Villa 97 1,288 $43,036 $160,200 2,575
Keswick 98 331 $53,750 $231,300 5,864
Lakehead 99 493 $43,571 $304,300 5,820
Bootjack 100 959 $52,535 $193,800 6,140

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