These Are The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In California For 2019


We used data and science to determine which places in California go easy on your wallet.

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Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the cheapest places to live in California.

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A wise sage once said:

“She works hard for the money…”

And these places in California definitely treat her right.

You see, these are the cities and places in California where the cost of living is the lowest; where your salary goes the furthest. And when if you have the luxury of choosing where to live in the Golden State, then the cost of living should play a role in the decision.

So we did the hard for you and crunched the numbers to find the cities that have lower food, energy, and housing costs. After the dust settled on our analysis of the 427 largest places in California, we were left with this set of the best value for your money.

So where is the cheapest place to live in California? That would be Taft.

Here are the 10 cheapest places to live in California for 2019:

  1. Taft (Photos | Visit)
  2. Ridgecrest (Photos | Visit)
  3. Holtville (Photos | Visit)
  4. Coalinga (Photos | Visit)
  5. Imperial (Photos | Visit)
  6. Firebaugh (Photos | Visit)
  7. Willows (Photos | Visit)
  8. Blythe (Photos | Visit)
  9. Kingsburg (Visit)
  10. Hanford (Photos | Visit)

So listen up Coronado (the most expensive place in California) as we explain how we created this ranking. You could learn some things from the rest of the state.

And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about California and the cheapest places in the country:

How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Golden State For 2019

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In California
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. How much do I have spend to live there?

You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.

For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it’s actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.

With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2013-2017 around incomes and costs. They are:

  • Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
  • Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
  • Median Home Price

We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).

You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in California to figure out which is the least expensive.

What you are left with is a “Cost of Living Index” by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.

So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 427 places in California that have more than 5,000 people.

The place with the lowest cost of living in California according to the data is Taft.

The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In California For 2019

Taft, CA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 9,224
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.9x (6th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 69.6x (16th cheapest)
More On Taft: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Taft is a city in the foothills at the extreme southwestern edge of the San Joaquin Valley, in Kern County, California. Taft is located 32 miles west-southwest of Bakersfield, at an elevation of 955 feet. The population was 9,327 at the 2010 census. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.1 square miles.

The median income in Taft comes in at $51,370 and the median home value is $150,100 for 2019.

Ridgecrest, CA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 28,728
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.8x (4th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 70.3x (14th cheapest)
More On Ridgecrest: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Ridgecrest is a city in Kern County, California, United States. It is located along U.S. Route 395 in the Indian Wells Valley in northeastern Kern County, adjacent to the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. The population was 27,616 at the 2010 census, up from 24,927 at the 2000 census. It was incorporated as a city in 1963.

The median income in Ridgecrest comes in at $60,794 and the median home value is $169,500 for 2019.

Holtville, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 6,355
Rank Last Year: 177 (Up 174)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.5x (18th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 64.9x (28th cheapest)
More On Holtville: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Holtville is a city in Imperial County, California. Holtville is located 10.5 miles east of El Centro. The population was 5,939 at the 2010 census, up from 5,612 in 2000.

The median income in Holtville comes in at $43,341 and the median home value is $150,800 for 2019.

Coalinga, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 16,612
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.0x (7th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 64.6x (29th cheapest)
More On Coalinga: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Coalinga is a city in Fresno County and the western San Joaquin Valley, in central California.

The median income in Coalinga comes in at $54,605 and the median home value is $161,100 for 2019.

Imperial, CA

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 16,931
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.5x (2nd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 70.0x (15th cheapest)
More On Imperial: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Imperial is a city in Imperial County, California. Imperial is located 4 miles north of El Centro. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 14,758. It is part of the El Centro metropolitan area. Nearby recreation facilities transform the desert into a popular Valley tourist destination due to availability of activities. Three year-round golf courses are within minutes of Imperial. The sand dunes provide a place for campers and dune buggy enthusiasts. This region is well known for its abundance of bird species such as dove, quail, ducks, pheasant and geese.

The median income in Imperial comes in at $85,163 and the median home value is $209,200 for 2019.

Firebaugh, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 8,275
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.6x (29th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 59.7x (58th cheapest)
More On Firebaugh: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Firebaugh is a city in Fresno County, California, United States. The population was 7,549 at the 2010 census, up from 5,743 as of the 2000 census. The ZIP Code for the community is 93622 and the city is located inside area code 559. Firebaugh is located on the west side of the San Joaquin River 38 miles west of Fresno, at an elevation of 151 feet. Inside the city, a small commercial district includes the ubiquitous California Central Valley water tank painted with the city’s name. State Route 33 runs through downtown just west of center. The San Joaquin Valley Railroad, West Side Subdivision, passes through downtown.

The median income in Firebaugh comes in at $41,365 and the median home value is $150,700 for 2019.

Willows, CA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 6,055
Rank Last Year: 71 (Up 64)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.8x (36th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 66.4x (21st cheapest)
More On Willows: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Willows is a city in and the county seat of Glenn County, California. The city is a home to regional government offices, including the California Highway Patrol, California Department of Motor Vehicles, the United States Bureau of Reclamation and the main offices of the Mendocino National Forest, which comprises about one million acres of Federal land located mostly in mountainous terrain west of Willows. The population was 6,166 at the 2010 census, down from 6,220 at the 2000 census.

The median income in Willows comes in at $50,429 and the median home value is $191,200 for 2019.

Blythe, CA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 19,486
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.4x (16th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 55.3x (95th cheapest)
More On Blythe: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Blythe is a city in Riverside County, California, United States, in the Palo Verde Valley of the Lower Colorado River Valley region, an agricultural area and part of the Colorado Desert along the Colorado River. Blythe was named after Thomas H. Blythe, a San Francisco financier, who established primary water rights to the Colorado River in the region in 1877. The city was incorporated on July 21, 1916. The population was 20,817 at the 2010 census.

The median income in Blythe comes in at $39,840 and the median home value is $134,000 for 2019.

Kingsburg, CA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 11,794
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.8x (34th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 73.0x (8th cheapest)
More On Kingsburg: Homes For Sale | Data

Kingsburg is a city in Fresno County, California. Kingsburg is located 5 miles southeast of Selma at an elevation of 302 feet, on the banks of the Kings River. The city is half an hour away from Fresno, and two hours away from the California Central Coast and Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The population was 11,382 at the 2010 census.

The median income in Kingsburg comes in at $62,832 and the median home value is $236,000 for 2019.

Hanford, CA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 55,599
Rank Last Year: 20 (Up 10)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.5x (19th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 58.7x (62nd cheapest)
More On Hanford: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Hanford is an important commercial and cultural center in the south central San Joaquin Valley and is the county seat of Kings County, California. It is the principal city of the Hanford-Corcoran metropolitan area, which encompasses all of Kings County, including the cities of Hanford and Corcoran. The ZIP Code is 93230. The city of Hanford is surrounded by communities that do not fall within the city limits but use the same zip code. These communities include Grangeville, Hardwick and Home Garden.

The median income in Hanford comes in at $55,327 and the median home value is $192,900 for 2019.

There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. California Cheapskate

If you’re looking at the cost of living numbers in California, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in california for 2019.

Here’s a look at the most expensive cities in California according to the data:

  1. Coronado
  2. Santa Cruz
  3. San Marino

For more California reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Cheapest Places To Live In California

Rank City CheapScore Population Home/Income Ratio Income/Rent Ratio
1 Taft 14.33 9,224 2.9x 69.6x
2 Ridgecrest 21.33 28,728 2.8x 70.3x
3 Holtville 23.0 6,355 3.5x 64.9x
4 Coalinga 23.67 16,612 3.0x 64.6x
5 Imperial 31.33 16,931 2.5x 70.0x
6 Firebaugh 36.33 8,275 3.6x 59.7x
7 Willows 40.33 6,055 3.8x 66.4x
8 Blythe 42.17 19,486 3.4x 55.3x
9 Kingsburg 44.67 11,794 3.8x 73.0x
10 Hanford 49.33 55,599 3.5x 58.7x

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