The Truth About Northern California Living

northern california living

California is not just beaches and sunshine.

The distance from NorCal to SoCal can range between four-to-eight hours in transit time. Conflating the two is like saying Maine is the same as Florida.

There is a huge difference in culture and climate between the two regions, actually. Northern California is less talked about but truly has a lot to offer. Amazing cities, amazing vineyards, and tolerable summer weather.

Sure, SoCal has Los Angeles and Disneyland and tons of beaches, but NorCal has the beautiful San Francisco and Sacramento areas.

Read on to learn more about Northern California living.

Northern California Living

Here are the best places to live in Northern California.

Note that Northern California actually has seasons, so if you enjoy more temperate weather. NorCal is known for having cooler and rainier weather, and sometimes snow.

While you’re there, be sure to visit the beautiful vineyards, including the Sonoma County vineyards.

If you are looking for sunny beaches, you can always escape to the South.


Number one on the list is Sacramento. This beautiful city has a median home price of $399,000, which is extremely affordable compared to other places in California.

You can check individual homes in this area through a service like, or ask around for real estate options.

It is a great time to move to Sacramento. It’s one of the cheapest places to live in California while offering proximity to San Francisco and the beautiful Lake Tahoe. You have access to SF living and the SF bay area while keeping a bit of a distance.

Note that the political climate is liberal, and you will likely be living with a lot of other families.

San Mateo

San Mateo is more expensive than Sacramento but just as beautiful! Check here for median San Mateo home prices.

The location is definitely prime. It is a 30-minute drive from the hottest NorCal destinations.

Downtown San Mateo is booming and filled with young people. If you find yourself hanging out a lot with coworkers, it is also close to other suburbs, and you could host house parties.

Clear Lake

This is also a great, affordable option where the median home price is just $182,000.

This is a small town with a quaint feel. If you love nature, this is nestled right next to a lake.

San Francisco is less than three hours away, so you could balance a slower pace of life in Clear Lake with the hustle and bustle of the city. This city exemplifies Bay Area living.

Crescent City

This is also an affordable option with median home prices below $300,000.

If you’re looking for a resilient city with history, this is it. And if you like PNW living, this is also it. This is right on the northwest corner of the state.

The city survived a gigantic tsunami in 1964 and is completely rebuilt. If you’re looking for slower-paced living, this is also the place to settle.


With a median home price of $565,000, Rocklin might be a great place to raise a family. You will be surrounded by other families.

The suburb has great home prices, great schools, and low crime rates.

Relaxed Living

A common theme among these cities and suburbs is a relaxed pace of life. If you are looking to slow down and enjoy time with your family, moving to NorCal would be a great choice.

You can easily access the Bay Area and make friends with other families in the area. Northern California living offers a great balance close to nature and city-life with temperate seasons.

If you’re looking to settle down, check out our Lifestyle section for more tips about places to move.

The Truth About Northern California Living

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