These Are The 20 Best Small Towns In California For 2019


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

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Data updated for 2019.

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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.

Before we get to the top 20, here’s a look at the 10 Best Small Towns To Live in California for 2019:

  1. Ladera (Homes)
  2. Shell Ridge (Homes)
  3. Loyola (Homes)
  4. West Menlo Park (Homes)
  5. Mission Canyon (Homes)
  6. Emerald Lake Hills (Homes)
  7. Cambrian Park (Homes)
  8. Monte Sereno (Photos | Homes)
  9. Belvedere (Photos | Homes)
  10. Los Ranchos (Homes)

If you live in one of these small towns like Ladera, 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.

For more reading on the Golden State check out:

How We Determined The Coolest Towns In California

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent data from the Census’s 2012-2016 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)
  • Highly Educated Adults (Higher is better)
  • Insurance Rates (Higher is better)
  • Commute Times (Lower is better)

We looked at places with populations lower than 5,000 people and greater than 1,000, of which, there were a lot – 360 to be exact.

We then ranked each place in each category with scores from 1 to 360, averaged them out, and the lowest scores went to our Best Small Towns in California. Top of that list — Ladera.

Keep reading to find out more about our top 20 best small towns in California.

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 1,553
Median Income: $250,000 (2nd Best)
Median Home Value: $2,000,000 (6th Best)
More on Ladera: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 1,328
Median Income: $177,768 (16th Best)
Median Home Value: $949,200 (28th Best)
More on Shell Ridge: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 3,448
Median Income: $225,114 (5th Best)
Median Home Value: $2,000,000 (6th Best)
More on Loyola: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 3,744
Median Income: $185,083 (15th Best)
Median Home Value: $1,862,500 (12th Best)
More on West Menlo Park: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 2,651
Median Income: $129,620 (27th Best)
Median Home Value: $995,200 (27th Best)
More on Mission Canyon: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 4,648
Median Income: $206,406 (9th Best)
Median Home Value: $1,547,300 (15th Best)
More on Emerald Lake Hills: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 3,098
Median Income: $115,956 (37th Best)
Median Home Value: $1,010,200 (26th Best)
More on Cambrian Park: Data | Homes For Sale

Monte Sereno, CA

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 3,551
Median Income: $250,000 (2nd Best)
Median Home Value: $2,000,000 (6th Best)
More on Monte Sereno: PhotosData | Homes For Sale

Belvedere, CA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,156
Median Income: $213,500 (6th Best)
Median Home Value: $2,000,000 (6th Best)
More on Belvedere: PhotosData | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 1,658
Median Income: $117,083 (36th Best)
Median Home Value: $876,000 (34th Best)
More on Los Ranchos: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 1,966
Median Income: $90,662 (67th Best)
Median Home Value: $846,200 (38th Best)
More on San Pasqual: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 3,769
Median Income: $161,367 (18th Best)
Median Home Value: $911,800 (29th Best)
More on Reliez Valley: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 1,041
Median Income: $86,176 (75th Best)
Median Home Value: $637,400 (62nd Best)
More on Blacklake: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 3,717
Median Income: $206,200 (10th Best)
Median Home Value: $1,127,800 (21st Best)
More on Camino Tassajara: Data | Homes For Sale

Del Mar, CA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 4,338
Median Income: $122,563 (32nd Best)
Median Home Value: $2,000,000 (6th Best)
More on Del Mar: PhotosData | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 1,137
Median Income: $76,759 (101st Best)
Median Home Value: $734,400 (46th Best)
More on Sea Ranch: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 1,555
Median Income: $86,058 (76th Best)
Median Home Value: $541,900 (79th Best)
More on Del Rey Oaks: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 1,078
Median Income: $124,250 (31st Best)
Median Home Value: $863,800 (36th Best)
More on Del Rio: Data | Homes For Sale

Source: Public Domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 3,137
Median Income: $163,971 (17th Best)
Median Home Value: $1,034,400 (24th Best)
More on San Miguel Cdp (Contra Costa County): Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,239
Median Income: $206,630 (8th Best)
Median Home Value: $1,658,400 (14th Best)
More on Sleepy Hollow: Data | Homes For Sale

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 20 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. Oasis
  2. North Shore
  3. Lake Isabella

For more California reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Small Towns In California

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Value
1 Ladera 1,553 $250,000.0 $2,000,000.0
2 Shell Ridge 1,328 $177,768.0 $949,200.0
3 Loyola 3,448 $225,114.0 $2,000,000.0
4 West Menlo Park 3,744 $185,083.0 $1,862,500.0
5 Mission Canyon 2,651 $129,620.0 $995,200.0
6 Emerald Lake Hills 4,648 $206,406.0 $1,547,300.0
7 Cambrian Park 3,098 $115,956.0 $1,010,200.0
8 Monte Sereno 3,551 $250,000.0 $2,000,000.0
9 Belvedere 2,156 $213,500.0 $2,000,000.0
10 Los Ranchos 1,658 $117,083.0 $876,000.0
11 San Pasqual 1,966 $90,662.0 $846,200.0
12 Reliez Valley 3,769 $161,367.0 $911,800.0
13 Blacklake 1,041 $86,176.0 $637,400.0
14 Camino Tassajara 3,717 $206,200.0 $1,127,800.0
15 Del Mar 4,338 $122,563.0 $2,000,000.0
16 Sea Ranch 1,137 $76,759.0 $734,400.0
17 Del Rey Oaks 1,555 $86,058.0 $541,900.0
18 Del Rio 1,078 $124,250.0 $863,800.0
19 San Miguel Cdp (Contra Costa County) 3,137 $163,971.0 $1,034,400.0
20 Sleepy Hollow 2,239 $206,630.0 $1,658,400.0
21 Portola Valley 4,589 $244,539.0 $2,000,000.0
22 Moss Beach 3,915 $134,435.0 $837,400.0
23 Hidden Hills 1,676 $200,375.0 $2,000,000.0
24 Santa Rosa Valley 3,456 $196,136.0 $1,101,800.0
25 Summerland 1,108 $69,583.0 $1,183,800.0
26 West Bishop 2,923 $91,750.0 $417,200.0
27 Seacliff 3,231 $64,375.0 $644,900.0
28 Granite Hills 2,873 $117,863.0 $604,600.0
29 Yountville 2,978 $70,938.0 $491,900.0
30 Rose Hills 2,817 $95,250.0 $575,900.0
31 Casa Conejo 3,393 $100,541.0 $529,800.0
32 Brisbane 4,642 $109,632.0 $777,400.0
33 Fairbanks Ranch 3,024 $137,929.0 $2,000,000.0
34 Woodlands 1,494 $143,409.0 $721,700.0
35 Mcswain 4,363 $113,477.0 $412,600.0
36 Ross 2,311 $199,531.0 $2,000,000.0
37 Eldridge 1,487 $135,165.0 $638,900.0
38 Toro Canyon 1,602 $105,125.0 $1,394,100.0
39 Corralitos 2,920 $146,683.0 $882,500.0
40 Kenwood 1,144 $85,699.0 $680,800.0
41 Woodacre 1,574 $94,271.0 $716,900.0
42 Morada 4,478 $125,332.0 $548,500.0
43 Lake Sherwood 1,832 $250,000.0 $1,697,700.0
44 Del Monte Forest 4,575 $131,597.0 $1,170,600.0
45 Bell Canyon 2,150 $200,625.0 $1,349,700.0
46 Ridgemark 3,020 $115,288.0 $565,800.0
47 El Verano 3,663 $88,304.0 $540,100.0
48 Santa Venetia 4,924 $91,563.0 $706,800.0
49 Castle Hill 1,232 $128,929.0 $1,160,300.0
50 Santa Margarita 1,394 $52,072.0 $416,000.0
51 Elkhorn 1,052 $90,441.0 $454,000.0
52 San Antonio Heights 3,092 $88,848.0 $638,700.0
53 Montara 2,909 $104,607.0 $870,700.0
54 Rolling Hills 1,684 $206,932.0 $2,000,000.0
55 Hidden Meadows 3,382 $85,556.0 $550,100.0
56 Lexington Hills 2,531 $151,078.0 $851,000.0
57 Penngrove 2,922 $82,273.0 $718,500.0
58 Green Valley Cdp (Solano County) 1,314 $88,269.0 $675,100.0
59 Burbank 4,939 $74,299.0 $574,300.0
60 Angwin 3,463 $69,156.0 $644,400.0
61 San Juan Bautista 2,212 $66,833.0 $466,500.0
62 Bonsall 4,341 $72,411.0 $635,700.0
63 Lake Of The Pines 4,193 $82,438.0 $371,200.0
64 Channel Islands Beach 2,659 $104,468.0 $835,100.0
65 East Oakdale 3,146 $117,546.0 $548,900.0
66 East Sonora 2,319 $44,964.0 $253,300.0
67 Pine Canyon 1,995 $66,063.0 $316,400.0
68 East Richmond Heights 3,658 $73,333.0 $450,000.0
69 North El Monte 3,832 $60,000.0 $583,100.0
70 Minkler 1,207 $95,429.0 $328,000.0
71 Coronita 2,961 $99,821.0 $362,300.0
72 Bishop 3,802 $41,489.0 $258,700.0
73 Colma 1,410 $97,500.0 $616,200.0
74 Twain Harte 2,694 $51,111.0 $302,800.0
75 Crockett 3,142 $79,886.0 $430,000.0
76 Bonny Doon 3,086 $95,040.0 $819,300.0
77 Lake San Marcos 4,924 $63,599.0 $564,000.0
78 Day Valley 3,816 $99,146.0 $815,700.0
79 Inverness 1,160 $66,956.0 $882,200.0
80 Cayucos 2,847 $61,226.0 $720,900.0
81 Meadow Vista 3,448 $78,505.0 $417,800.0
82 Tuttletown 1,044 $42,109.0 $280,300.0
83 Woodbridge 3,993 $85,047.0 $341,100.0
84 Deer Park 1,149 $81,406.0 $1,080,400.0
85 Santa Ynez 4,377 $92,417.0 $775,600.0
86 Sunnyside 4,454 $67,115.0 $279,800.0
87 Felton 3,671 $108,409.0 $548,300.0
88 Aromas 2,650 $78,676.0 $522,200.0
89 Monument Hills 2,038 $151,050.0 $531,600.0
90 Forestville 3,658 $59,474.0 $440,100.0
91 Carmel Valley Village 4,011 $82,368.0 $886,900.0
92 Wallace 1,002 $98,317.0 $341,600.0
93 Oak View 4,472 $70,714.0 $476,000.0
94 Meiners Oaks 3,182 $71,806.0 $536,000.0
95 Avalon 3,778 $62,986.0 $661,500.0
96 Rancho Santa Fe 2,428 $105,469.0 $2,000,000.0
97 Mission Hills 4,014 $87,336.0 $371,500.0
98 Palo Cedro 1,253 $71,750.0 $325,700.0
99 Squirrel Mountain Valley 1,339 $63,661.0 $240,700.0
100 Cutten 2,907 $51,159.0 $301,800.0

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