California a popular destination for travel. Between the exciting amusement parks like Disneyland, and Universal Studios of Los Angeles, the sandy beaches of San Diego, and the historical, culture-rich city of San Francisco, tourists usually know exactly where to go when they visit. But, beyond the occasional get away, what is it like living in California or, even moving to California?

With nearly 40 million residents and an expansive 163,696 square miles, California stretches down most of the western United States seaboard and offers thousands of places to call home. While relocating to California can be a frightening, exciting, and fulfilling experience, all at the same time, we find its helpful to look at the state by its two “unofficial” regions: Northern and Southern California. The two regions each offer something special for those moving to California, and can, in some ways, seem like separate states. But even then, both regions sport a number of great areas and neighborhoods to explore. While we can’t talk through all that living in California has to offer, below we have given our top picks of great neighborhoods in both Northern and Southern California to give you a head start on your new home in California search.

Top Places to Live in California Summary

  • San Jose
  • Brentwood
  • Walnut Creek
  • Irvine
  • Menifee


New Homes in Northern California

Northern California stretches from the northern tip of the state to roughly half way down the coast line, and is most famously known as home to the Bay Area. The Bay Area region is laid back, known for its relaxed culture, and high-tech start-up companies. Eucalyptus and pine trees are scattered throughout the land and with the bay acting as a natural air conditioner, the Bay Area remains much cooler than its Southern California counterpart.

When looking for new homes in Northern California our top picks for cities include:

San Jose

One of our top contenders for new homes in Northern California is San Jose, dubbed the “Capital of Silicon Valley”. With ample job opportunities, both in town and close by, this city might feel like it is all about tech, but there are lots of quirky attractions that make fun-time in this city just as exciting. For example, families can enjoy the maze-like Winchester Mystery House with its 160 rooms, find a great steal at the 120 acre flea market, or even live out game night drama on a larger-than-life Monopoly board. And, when looking for an escape from the city, outdoors aficionados can appreciate San Jose’s proximity to the Santa Cruz Mountains, Diablo Range, and the ocean. With all this and more going on in San Jose, it is no surprise that places like U.S News and World Report ranks it in the top 25 cities to liveNew homes in San Jose come at a premium, but, with so much to do, you definitely have good value for your money.


Located in the East Bay region of San Francisco, Brentwood is a rapidly growing town (the size has doubled in the last 20 years) great for growing families. Neighbors talk about the numerous parks and trails and new residents are sure to enjoy this area’s deep agricultural roots. Fresh produce is a common sight at the local farmers’ market. Commutes to San Francisco range around 40 minutes, but locals seem to value the tradeoff for the quality school districts and safe environment, perfect for their families. New homes in Brentwood are plentiful so people moving into the area are sure to find one that fits their needs.

Walnut Creek

Located on the other side of East Bay hills in San Francisco, Walnut Creek is a wonderful city for those moving to California who are looking for open spaces with easier commutes. Located just a short BART ride from San Francisco, Walnut Creek offers numerous bike trails and golf courses, sure to delight folks looking for outdoor adventures. For those who prefer shopping, a variety of retail stores can be found at Broadway Plaza. And with quality public school options and quick access to the city, new homes in Walnut Creek provide a good mix of suburban living with urban ease. It is no wonder Walnut Creek was recently ranked one of the 10 best places to move in Northern California for young families.

New Homes in Southern California

Known for the glitz and glam of Hollywood, Southern California is where dreams are made, broken, and reimagined. With streets lined in palm trees and 300 days of sun per year, its no wonder why people moving to California are enamored by the fast-paced lifestyle. Be that as it may, there are many wholesome communities that offer new homes in Southern California with great schools, safe neighborhoods, and suburban appeal.


Irvine is a master planned community featuring new homes in Orange County, CA. Part of the greater Los Angeles metro area, Irvine is home to a number of tech companies and several higher education institutions including Concordia University. This balance of tech and education has helped Irvine support a strong and steady job market with over 15,000 companies calling Irvine home.

Residents of this city are drawn not only by the impressive job market, but also Irvine’s impressive school systems and low crime. Students to Irvine’s public schools boast some of the top SAT scores in Orange County and a whopping 97% of high school graduates continue to college. Crime is also incredibly low, despite proximity to such a large city. For 11 straight years, Irvine has had the lowest violent crime rate in America for cities greater than 100,000 residents.

On top of this, Irvine also offers a number of amenities to keep families entertained. From numerous restaurants to the Orange County Great Park (home to championship soccer facilities, tennis courts and more) families looking at new homes in Irvine are sure to stay busy.


Located in southwest Riverside County, Menifee is part of the larger Los Angeles metro area, but arguably is located in the heart of Southern California as it straddles the area between Los Angeles to the north and San Diego to the south.

While the area is still growing, residents of Menifee can enjoy a number of amenities including easy access to a number of parks, lakes and shopping at Menifee’s Countryside Marketplace, with over 20 stores, restaurants and specialty merchants.

One of the biggest draws for families looking at new homes in Menifee, is the general home affordability of the area. Homes in Menifee offer a better value than other areas outside of Los Angeles and are perfect for growing families that want a little more space.


We hope these cities have helped you narrow down where you will be relocating. From the cool ocean breeze of the Bay Area to the sunny slopes of Southern California, California is full of magnificent cities perfect to be called “home”.


Contributed to Your Home blog by Joshlin Grayson

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