“You could travel the world, but nothing comes close to the golden coast”. It’s probably not just the famous American Singer, Katy Perry, who thinks so, but also quite a few others out there. With picturesque beaches, diverse culture, energetic cities and of course, pockets full of wine and entertainment, California is a dreamland to live in, for many. And so, it isn’t surprising that the Golden State is the most populous in the United States. It is also the third largest state by area in the country.
Are you also among those wanting to shift to California? If that is the case, then you would probably want to know about some of the largest cities in the state, right? So, here’s a comprehensive list of the top 10 largest cities in California. Read along and then make your choice based on what suits you the best.
Top 10 Largest Cities In California
1. Los Angeles
Can you think about California, without thinking about Hollywood City? That seems a little difficult, right? With all kinds of stars found in the city, our list had to begin with Los Angeles. Along with being the second most populous city in the United States, it also holds the title of the largest city in California. Spread across a vast area of 1,302 square kilometres, the City of Angels has a whopping population of around 10,039,107 inhabitants. Home to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, living in Los Angeles surely seems to be a starry affair.
When almost everything in Los Angeles is over the top, it comes as no surprise that the cost of living here also follows the same pattern. Yes, the living expenses in the City of Angels is around 48% higher than the national average. To give you a rough estimate, you would need a salary between $75,000 – $95,000 to live a comfortable life in Los Angeles. However, this may differ based on your neighborhood. Since the sprawling city is spread over such a vast expanse, you may even find some neighborhoods that are comparatively a little less expensive than the city center.
Los Angeles surely has plentiful recreational activities as well as heavenly food scenes. But at the same time, it is also one of the most expensive cities in the nation and has a highly competitive job market. If you’ve planned well and have the resources, then the City of Angels can be a welcoming abode for you.
- Median Home Value: $747,150
- Median Rent: $2,259 per month
- Median Household Income: $58,385
Related: Moving to Los Angeles
2. San Diego
Taking the second spot on our list is the vast city of San Diego. Known for its pristine beaches and dazzling family attractions, San Diego is spread over a vast expanse of 965 square kilometres. The 1,423,851 inhabitants of the city make San Diego the second most populous city in California and the eighth most populous in the United States. The city offers a plethora of vibrant neighborhoods to live in, each having something unique of their own. And not just that, San Diego residents also boast of their eclectic food scenes and diverse art and culture.
Regarded as the birthplace of California, the city of San Diego has a growing economy, with tourism, research, manufacturing and biotechnology being some of the major industries. If you’re also among those planning to move to San Diego, know that living in this city could be a costly affair. Payscale estimates that everything in San Diego, from housing to utilities, costs way over the national average. Roughly, you would need a salary close to $75,000 in order to live a comfortable life in San Diego.
With a long list of things to do and explore, as well as an abundance of opportunities waiting with open arms, San Diego has also been regarded as one of the happiest places to live in the country. All in all, you can choose to make San Diego your happy place, if you imagine yourself relaxing on the calm, picturesque beaches of the city.
- Median Home Value: $741,195
- Median Rent: $2,279/month
- Median Household Income: $79,646
3. San Jose
With a population of 1,021,795 inhabitants, spread across 470 square kilometres of land, San Jose is the third largest city in California. Popularly known as the Capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose is a booming technology driven hub, with Adobe, Google and Facebook being some of the major employers. Naturally, the city has become a home for innovation and that’s probably also the reason why it attracts people from all over. And while most people would be thrilled to start a life in san Jose, what they may not be aware of is its exorbitantly high cost of living.
Yes, just like its six figure population, the housing prices in San Jose are also above the 1 million mark, in many known neighborhoods of the city. Transportation and groceries are other major costs that add up to the high expenses. But, on the positive side, San Jose also offers a high per capita income, and depending on the job that you land, you may even be able to earn a six figure worth salary. This combination of a thriving job market and top notch facilities, along with a high quality of life, make San Jose a place worth living for many.
- Median Home Value: $1,073,250
- Median Rent: $3,229/month
- Median Household Income: $109,593
Related: Moving To San Jose
4. San Francisco
Consistently ranked as the most expensive city in the whole of the United States, San Francisco takes the spot of the fourth largest city in California. The city is spread over an area of around 601 square kilometres and is home to 881,549 residents. Popularly referred to as the Golden Gate City, San Francisco is an important cultural, commercial as well as financial hub of Northern California. With its proximity to major cities like Silicon Valley, San Francisco has a booming tech industry, contributing positively toward its economic growth.
Living in San Francisco has probably been a dream for many. But it’s exorbitantly high cost of living makes it rather difficult for most people. With high tax rates and house prices ranging in six figures, all the amenities and opportunities offered by the Golden City come at a price. However, the city also offers a rather high per capita income. Depending on your job profile, it is even possible to see a six figure salary in your account. This is one of the main reasons why people from all over are attracted to San Francisco. Even though it may be a costly affair, there’s no denying in the fact that San Francisco is brimming with wonderful opportunities for all, if that’s what you are looking forward to.
- Median Home Value: $1,403,197
- Median Rent: $3,290/month
- Median Household Income: $104,552
Also Read: Best Sunniest Cities in America
Located halfway between two major cities, San Francisco and Los Angeles, is the city of Fresno, that has gradually gained popularity amongst the people of California. With a horizon of cultural and outdoor activities, residents of Fresno enjoy the vibrant lifestyle it offers. That’s probably also the reason why more and more people are making a shift to this city, making it the fifth largest city in California. Fresno has a population of around 531,576 inhabitants and is spread over an area of 300 square kilometres. The city has also become a convenient location for many who are looking for a place in either the City of Angels or the Golden City, but are weary of their high living costs.
What makes Fresno stand out as a city is probably the fact that even with a small town vibe, it offers amenities no less than other big cities. So, whether it is the community closeness that you’re looking for, or it’s shopping and dining that’s on your mind, Fresno shall not disappoint. Combine all of this with an affordable cost of living, and you know why Fresno has become a go-to place for many. According to Areavibes, the cost of living in Fresno is around 28% lower than the California average and only about a percent higher tkhan the national one. If you’re looking for a convenient yet affordable spot in the Golden State, Fresno can be a good choice to consider.
- Median Home Value: $240,488
- Median Rent: $1,245/month
- Median Household Income: $50,432
Also Read: Top 10 Fastest Growing Cities of US
Along with being the capital city, Sacramento is also considered to be the sixth largest city in California. Dubbed as the ‘Hipster City’, Sacramento has an evolving contemporary culture and is home to around 513,624 inhabitants. The city covers an area of 259 square kilometres, and is located at the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers. With an eclectic mix of neighborhoods, Sacramento has something desirable for all. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Capital City was once awarded the ‘America’s most diverse city’ tag by TIME magazine.
Technology, healthcare and government are some of the major industries in Sacramento. And though the unemployment rate in the city is a little above the national average, its central location opens an array of opportunities for young individuals wanting to develop. Compared to some other major cities, the cost of living in Sacramento does not seem to pinch so bad. All the foodies out there are also going to love the city as it is known for its farm-to-fork restaurants and a wide variety of wineries and breweries. All in all, Sacramento does seem to be a promising place, welcoming people from all cultures.
- Median Home Value: $410,050
- Median Rent: $1,575/month
- Median Household Income: $62,845
7. Long Beach
With 81 miles of beaches and over 60 miles of scenic trails, Long Beach can easily become a nature lover’s paradise. Home to one of the largest shipping ports in the world, Long Beach takes the place of the seventh largest city in California, on our list. The city is spread over an area of 208 square kilometres and has a population of around 462,626 inhabitants. Some of the major attractions of Long Beach include, the Queen Mary, the Aquarium of the Pacific and the Art Theatre of Long Beach.
When it comes to the living expenses, Long Beach takes a middle ground between the California average and the national average. To give you a perspective, the monthly expenses, excluding rent, for a family of four would be around $3,350, as per Numbeo. The same for a single individual would amount to $922. Even with a diverse culture, Long Beach is said to be a very inclusive city. So, if you are planning to move here, Long Beach will not shy away from welcoming you as one of its own.
- Median Home Value: $582,300
- Median Rent: $1,850/month
- Median Household Income: $63,085
Looking for an urban setting, but with a touch of the suburban lifestyle? Oakland is here to give you exactly that. Located on the east side of the San Francisco Bay, Oakland is the eighth largest city in California. As of the 2019 census, it is home to around 433,031 inhabitants, spread over an area of 202 square kilometres. Oakland offers an incredible coastline to enjoy and has a vibrant nightlife attracting young individuals from all over. As a major West Coast port city, Oakland serves as an important trade center for the San Francisco Bay Area.
Owing to its close proximity to the Golden City, the cost of living in Oakland is also on the higher end of the spectrum. According to Numbeo, the monthly expenditures excluding the rent would cost around $1,190 for a single person, and around $4,263 for a family of four. But there’s also something to rejoice as Oakland offers a relatively strong per capita income, with the average monthly net salary being close to $5,000. Basically, for all those who dream of a life in San Francisco, but are skeptical about its high expenses, Oakland offers a pleasant welcome. It has many of the amenities similar to the Golden City, but if you still want to catch a quick glimpse, then San Francisco is only 20 minutes away from Oakland. So, nothing’s ever really that far.
- Median Home Value: $813,680
- Median Rent: $2,580/month
- Median Household Income: $68,442
Known to be the home of many country music singers, Bakersfield has been popularly nicknamed as “the country music capital of the west coast”. Located in the San Joaquin Valley of Kern County, Bakersfield has a population of around 384,145, making it the ninth largest city in California. The city is spread over an area of 392 square kilometres and is famous for attractions like Bakersfield Museum of Art, Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, Kern County Raceway park and the Gaslight Theater & Music Hall.
Many people are attracted to the city of Bakersfield because of its affordable housing, good schools and easy connections to major cities like Los Angeles. You won’t be burning a hole in your pockets, if you were to buy a house in Bakersfield, as the housing prices are similar to the national average. That said, you may have to keep your guard high when living in Bakersfield, as the city is prone to high property crime rates as well as natural disasters like floods. All in all, Bakersfield does offer a lot of convenience with its central location and will always have something to do for all.
- Median Home Value: $263,054
- Median Rent: $1,326/month
- Median Household Income: $63,139
All fans of Mickey, Minnie, Olaf or Simba, will surely head to the city of Anaheim. Home to the evergreen Disneyland Resort, Anaheim is a major tourist destination in the Golden State. But the city isn’t just famous around tourists, it is also a popular destination for many people who call it home. With around 350,365 inhabitants spread over an area of 132 square kilometres, Anaheim is the tenth largest city in California. Located in Orange County, Anaheim recognizes itself as a charter city and derives its income mainly from the tourism industry.
Like other major cities of California, the cost of living in Anaheim is also above the national average. Your monthly utility bills for water, electricity and garbage, would amount to around $185, as per Numbeo. But with the amenities and opportunities that this city offers, many people are ready to find their way around these expenses. Along with having a multitude of family friendly parks and major attractions like the Anaheim Convention Center, the city is also an exciting place for many shoppers and foodies out there.
- Median Home Value: $618,605
- Median Rent: $2,150/month
- Median Household Income: $71,763
See also: Moving to California
What Are The Four Largest Cities In California?
Los Angeles is the largest city in California, both in terms of its size as well as population. San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco follow close behind, taking the spot of the second, third and fourth largest cities in California, respectively.
Is Los Angeles Bigger Than San Francisco?
Yes, Los Angeles is bigger than the city of San Francisco. The City of Angels is almost three times bigger than the Golden City, both in terms of its size and population.
One thing that you may have noticed about all these large cities in our list is that most of them have a higher cost of living when compared to the national average. Now, this is pertaining to the fact that their mother state, California, is among the most expensive states in the US. But these cities also offer an abundance of opportunities for everyone. Whether you want to enhance your career or look for a quaint place to settle down with family, you’re sure to find a neighborhood in these cities that suits your lifestyle. And if you plan well enough, you may even find a way to balance your expenses.