5 best cities to live in California in 2024

Which sunny city in California is right for you?

Kevin Crain

By Kevin Crain

Santa Monica beach with pier in distance

Sunshine, beaches, and a laid-back vibe. Is the California life calling you? Yep, the allure of the Golden State is real, especially as the calendar resets to January. But which are the best cities to live in California for the upcoming year? 

Seriously, this sunny state features a list of charming cities as long as the Pacific coastline. Whether you’re a young professional seeking exciting job prospects, a family searching for great schools, or a retiree in pursuit of a tranquil retreat, California delivers. 

If you’re thinking about moving to the West Coast in 2024, we’ve diligently curated a list of the five best cities to call home in California this year. We took into account a lot of things: quality of life, job opportunities, education, housing, and more. Many of these cities also feature fully furnished Blueground apartments in the most sought-after neighborhoods, making your move even easier. 

San Francisco

san francisco skyline

San Francisco, the iconic City by the Bay, is a place of natural beauty, cultural vibrancy, and technological innovation. While it’s one of the best places to live in California, it’s also one of the American cities that feels most like Europe. Set amidst a hilly landscape, San Francisco features breathtaking views from many furnished apartments in the area. It’s also renowned for its diversity, with neighborhoods like Chinatown, Little Italy, and the Mission District celebrating distinct cultures through their cuisine and traditions.

  • Quality of Life: 
    • The city’s culinary scene is world-class, offering everything from Michelin-starred restaurants to authentic ethnic eateries. A cultural mecca, you can enjoy an array of events, museums, and galleries, including the iconic Golden Gate Park.
  • Job Opportunities: 
    • The tech industry here is second to none. Home to established companies, San Francisco also the heart of a thriving startup scene. Perfect for those interested in software engineering, data analysis, and more.
  • Housing: 
    • While housing costs are definitely on the higher side, the city provides an array of neighborhoods to cater to diverse budgets and preferences. From the bustling streets of SoMa to the quiet charm of Noe Valley, there’s something for everyone.
  • Education: 
    • For families, San Francisco shines as well, with exceptional schools, both public and private. The city’s public school system has been making significant strides, making it an attractive choice for those with school-age children.

Los Angeles

Park with fountain and skyline view of LA

There’s no better place to chase your dreams than Los Angeles. Known for its creative atmosphere, LA attracts people from all walks of life who seek a unique and inspiring environment. Sure, it’s known as a destination for future movie stars, but it’s also one of the best places to live in California for families and young professionals looking for a vibrant urban experience. 

  • Quality of Life: 
    • What’s not to love about living LA? Residents enjoy the ideal climate, diverse neighborhoods, and endless events and cultural attractions. From the iconic beaches of Santa Monica to the historic streets of downtown, there’s always something new to explore. That goes for individuals or families staying in Los Angeles with young kids
  • Job Opportunities: 
    • You probably already know that Los Angeles is the epicenter of the entertainment industry. That means there are loads of prospects for actors, filmmakers, and musicians. However, that’s not all that LA’s diverse economy supports. Beyond the glitz and glamour, you’ll find openings in technology, healthcare, and aerospace, providing a wide spectrum of job options.
  • Housing: 
  • Education: 
    • Despite its size, LA has pockets that make it feel like a college town. That’s because it’s home to universities like UCLA, USC, Pepperdine, and more. Plus, a renowned school system and focus on education have turned it into a magnet for students and career academics alike.

San Diego

san diego park

When considering where to move in California, San Diego tops many people’s lists. With good reason, too! It features pristine beaches, a pleasant climate, and chill vibe. Nestled along the coast, San Diego mixes this relaxed lifestyle with a thriving business scene. So you can live the SoCal dream while making a living as well.

  • Quality of Life: 
    • Whatever you like to do, San Diego has you covered. From surfing to hiking in the nearby mountains, and a rich cultural scene featuring some of the world’s most famous museums, this city caters to a wide range of interests. And it’s family-friendly, too! There are numerous parks, zoos, and aquariums, so you can live here with your partner and kids.
  • Job Opportunities: 
    • Do you have a background in science or technology? There’s a strong job market for your type of experience in San Diego. The city’s robust economy is also rooted in biotechnology, defense, and maritime industries. Numerous research institutions and military bases give it appeal to a few different kinds of professionals as well. 
  • Housing: 
    • Like many California cities, housing costs in San Diego are relatively high. But furnished San Diego apartments and homes in suburban areas further away from the city center do offer more affordable options. The region’s distinctive neighborhoods ensure there’s something for everyone, whether you seek a beachfront condo, a suburban family home, or a lively downtown studio.
  • Education: 
    • No the matter the age of the student, San Diego excels with its top-rated schools and universities. This attracts both families looking for excellent K-12 education and college students aspiring to live here while attending some of the best higher education institutions in the country.

San Jose

Aerial view of downtown San Jose

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose is a thriving, business-oriented city with a unique blend of technological innovation and natural beauty. It’s known for amazing weather, with plenty of sunshine and little rainfall during the year.

  • Quality of Life:
    • San Jose boasts safe and family-friendly neighborhoods, making it an attractive destination. Like many of the best cities to live in California, residents here enjoy nature-related activities. That could be picnics at green spaces, hiking at parks, or just soaking up the gorgeous landscapes of Northern California.
  • Job Opportunities:
    • For many, the big draw of San Jose is its status as a technological hub. After all, major companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google have established their headquarters in the area. So it’s the perfect spot for technology-driven professionals to settle down and grow their careers. That’s why San Jose has turned into a hotbed of innovation and economic opportunity.
  • Housing:
    • While San Jose isn’t necessarily a low-cost city, it’s less expensive than its neighboring San Francisco. This big-city comparison makes one of the most affordable options in the region. As a result, it’s found a sweet middle ground for those who want a balance of career opportunities and an lifestyle.

Santa Clara

Stadium and street in Santa Clara

Situated in the center of the state, Santa Clara is often considered one of the best places to live in California. It sports an appealing blend of urban and suburban living. Part of Santa Clara’s charm lies in its eclectic feel, with unique neighborhoods, diverse culinary scene, and abundant green spaces.

  • Quality of Life & Education:
    • What might surprise you the most about Santa Clara is its friendly attitude. The people here really are welcoming! That community feel especially contributes to its appeal for families and young professionals. The city’s public schools are also highly regarded, providing quality education and earning Santa Clara a reputation as a fantastic place to raise a family. And while it’s a melting pot of residents, people here typically hold liberal values.
  • Job Opportunities & Housing:
    • Santa Clara’s position within the broader Silicon Valley region provides residents with numerous job opportunities and an economy that remains strong. With its positive community spirit and desirable amenities, Santa Clara is a favorite destination for those seeking a high quality of life in California.

Is California calling you?

a blueground apartment in santa monica

Check into this beautiful Blueground Los Angeles property, and enjoy a quick stroll to nearby Santa Monica State Beach.

Whether you’re drawn to the energy of San Francisco, the entertainment of Los Angeles, or the chill vibe of San Diego, California has something for everyone. Even better? These cities are all different. So no matter your preferences, you can find the best places to live in California for your exact needs.

Just remember to think about a few things before making your move: job opportunities, housing costs, educational institutions, and overall quality of life. If you want to make your move to Cali as easy as possible, don’t forget to check out the fully equipped homes offered by Blueground as well. You can book your California dream home today and move in as soon as tomorrow! 

Kevin Crain

Kevin Crain

Kevin Crain is a writer from Dallas, Texas. He’s dedicated to helping every Blueground guest live like a local and make their apartment feel like home. His favorite topics include active experiences, bucket list essentials, and hidden gems in cities around the world.