The 5 Most Affordable Cities in California

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  • California is a pretty expensive state overall.
  • It does have a number of affordable towns if you're willing to step away from some of its most populous cities.

Even California has some reasonable prices if you know where to look.

California is known for Hollywood, surfing, Silicon Valley, giant sequoias, and a lot of other things. But an affordable cost of living isn't one of them. In fact, the state has the second-highest average cost of living in the country, according to doxo. But that doesn't mean that everywhere in the state is expensive.

The five cities listed below offer surprisingly affordable rates on housing, utilities, and other common monthly bills, per doxo's Regional Bill Comparison.

1. Wasco

Wasco, California, is centrally located, just 24 miles northwest of Bakersfield and a two-hour drive from the coast. It's home to some unusual attractions, including a bug museum, a raceway, and an elk reserve. But it also offers more traditional sources of entertainment, like great restaurants, a music hall, and nearby state parks.

Residents' average monthly bills total just $1,638 per month, putting it well below the state average of $2,649 per month. Some items, like phone and cable bills, are actually priced above the national average in this area. But the city's low housing costs -- just $943 per month on average for homeowners and $757 per month for renters -- help offset this.

2. Corning

In northern California, you'll find Corning, a small town of 8,000 residents, known for its agriculture -- particularly its olive growing. It's also a great place for nature lovers, with nearby recreation areas and opportunities for rafting, kayaking, and camping.

Housing costs are a little steeper here than they are in Wasco, but they're still well below the national average. Phone, cable, and satellite bills are also much cheaper here, but residents pay more in utilities than the national average.

3. Taft

Taft is located 32 miles southwest of Bakersfield at the edge of the San Joaquin Valley. It's home to a historic fort, an oil museum, and some antique shops, but it also offers some thrill-seeking activities, like skydiving.

Taft residents pay under $900 per month for an average mortgage payment, while renters pay just $779 per month. Auto insurance rates are also below average for the state. But like Corning, Taft residents pay a bit more for their utility bills than residents in some other parts of California.

4. Brawley

Brawley is a small town located just north of the Mexican border. It's about two hours east of San Diego, and it has a little something for everyone. It's located near a wildlife reserve, dunes, and the Salton Sea. But it's also got a golf course, a shopping mall, and some top-notch local restaurants.

Mortgage payments aren't too far off the national average here, though renters still pay a pretty reasonable rate. Utilities are more affordable in Brawley than in some of the cities listed above, but residents shouldn't expect much, if any deals, on cable and phone bills compared to some of the other towns listed here.

5. El Centro

Just 15 miles south of Brawley is El Centro, California. The city is a hub for the arts, hosting several art and film festivals throughout the year. It also hosts a music festival in April each year and has a theater company as well as a theater program for kids.

With average bills of around $1,662 per month, it's the most expensive city on this list, but it's still well below the state average. It's much more affordable to rent here than to own a home, though. Renters pay just $808 per month while homeowners can expect a mortgage payment of closer to $1,421 per month. Other common costs, like utilities, are pretty affordable, though.

The five cities listed above are some of the most affordable in California, but they're not the only hidden gems in the state. If you're willing to leave the well-treaded tourist path behind, you can probably find some other budget-friendly towns that offer many of the same perks as California's best-loved cities.

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