Two Bay Area Cities Among The Best Places to Live in the US

San Jose and San Francisco were ranked in the top 10 places to live in the US by US News & World Report among 150 Cities evaluated. According to the methodology used: “to make the top of the list, a place had to have good value, be a desirable place to live, have a strong job market and a high quality of life.”

This accomplishment comes as a surprise since the two cities are recently marred by rapidly increasing homeless population, an exodus of both businesses and residents, and exorbitant cost of housing.

The rest of California Cities included in the report did not fare as well, with the closest California city, San Diego, found in the 107th spot, followed by Sacramento and Santa Barbara:

#1 San Jose (5)
#2 San Francisco (10)
#3 San Diego (107)
#4 Sacramento (122)
#5 Santa Barbara (126)
#6 Los Angeles (128)
#7 Santa Rosa (132)
#8 Fresno (141)
#9 Vallejo & Fairfield (142)
#10 Salinas (144)
#11 Modesto (146)
#12 Bakersfield (147)
#13 Visalia (148)
#14 Stockton (149)

Many other California cities occupied lower spots on the list, dominating the very bottom with 7 out of 10 of the lowest spots.

Below are exceprts from the report for each ranked city.  For the full report, visit U.S. News & World Report’s Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2022-2023.

5. San Jose

The “Capital of Silicon Valley” is the highest ranking California City on the list.  The analysts must have considered the tech scene and ideal location with its temperate climate and two of the most important reasons to be a desirable places to live.

According to the report: “Cradled by the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Diablo Range, San Jose offers a prime environment for outdoorsy residents, with its proximity to the ocean, the Sierra Nevada and the vineyards – not to mention about 300 sunny days a year. “

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10. San Francisco

“A beautiful region filled with iconic landmarks independently owned businesses and trendsetting residents, San Francisco has long followed the beat of its own drum. Morphed and molded by its communities, the California metro area has been the heart of the bohemian lifestyle, the epicenter of the LGBT rights movement and the launching point of the technology era.”

107. San Diego

“San Diego residents recognize how fortunate they are to live in an area famous for its sunny weather and impressive beaches. But there is much more to this Southern California beach city than initially meets the eye… San Diego offers world-class dining, professional sports and entertainment options typical of a large metro area, but the patchwork of distinct neighborhoods fosters strong community ties.”

122. Sacramento

“Though it’s constantly overshadowed by cosmopolitan places in its own state, technological and cultural developments breathe life into the California capital.

Drawn to the abundant sunshine and ethnic diversity, young professionals and families have led a population boom in recent years. Economic development provides exciting opportunities for locals and newcomers alike.

Sacramento also beckons to foodies. Sitting in the heart of the Central Valley, the metro area is at the forefront of the farm-to-fork movement.”

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126. Santa Barbara

“It has been described as the “American Riviera,” a “playground for the rich and famous” and, quite simply, “paradise.” Situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, Santa Barbara, California, enjoys a nearly perfect year-round climate, making it ideal for outdoor activities and drawing tourists worldwide.”

128. Los Angeles

“Ask anyone – a doe-eyed starlet-in-training from Iowa or a second-generation Korean-American business owner – why they live in Los Angeles and a familiar cliche will emerge: “Los Angeles is the place where dreams come true.” This intoxicating mix of free-spirited hope and relentless ambition is the defining characteristic of LA residents, who call themselves Angelenos.”

132. Santa Rosa

“Santa Rosa, the hub of economic activity in northern California’s wine country, welcomes artists of all ages, as well as young people, retirees, professionals and those especially interested in wine and high-tech manufacturing. The metro area was an early hub of the farm-to-table movement, and local produce, livestock, beer and wine draw hungry tourists from around the world. Farms, orchards, hopyards and vineyards surrounding Santa Rosa proper are a vital source of employment and nourishment for residents.”

141. Fresno

“Fresno started out as a small stop along the Central Pacific Railroad, but it blossomed into a magnetic metropolis that draws agriculture-minded people from around the world. The metro area is surrounded by Fresno County’s farms, which produce a variety of organic foods, from almonds and pistachios to tomatoes and peaches.

But the area isn’t just a haven for farmers. Fresno attracts residents with its diverse job market, inexpensive housing and array of cultural attractions.”

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142. Vallejo & Fairfield

“Two California cities 18 miles apart, Fairfield and Vallejo have become the great escape for San Franciscans and other Bay Area residents fleeing high costs of housing.

Vallejo’s ethnic and cultural diversity, mild climate, relatively low housing costs and burgeoning artist community make the twice-former state capital attractive. The city also has a ferry system that transports commuters on a one-hour bay journey to San Francisco and is a 20-minute drive to the Napa Valley.

Fairfield, the county seat, is home to Travis Air Force Base, the city’s main employer and economic foundation, as well as the Jelly Belly Candy Co. factory, a major local attraction.”

144. Salinas

“Salinas, California, promotes itself as the “Salad Bowl of the World” as a tribute to the area’s colossal farming business that produces lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, broccoli, grapes for wine, and flowers.

This truly is an urban area that agriculture built: Salinas has one of the largest collections of art deco and Depression Moderne buildings in the statesince crop production meant Salinas was one of the few areas to thrive during the Great Depression… As the metropolitan area spreads south, newer homes sit on large lots that accommodate horses and vineyards.

But the heart and soul of Salinas is Oldtown, or Main Street, anchored on the north end by the National Steinbeck Center. The community is fiercely proud of the lack of chain stores downtown; instead, the families, students and couples who gather here to shop, eat, stroll the farmers market and attend movies or concerts all do so at locally owned, mostly mom-and-pop businesses.”

146. Modesto

“The region’s thriving agriculture industry and pleasant weather have influenced the landscaping everywhere. Neighborhoods are lined with towering old trees, and numerous parks provide peaceful settings for walks and jogs. Modesto is also encircled by farmland that’s focused on feeding the nation and the world with lettuce, grapes, almonds and dairy products.

Modesto’s central valley location puts residents in close proximity to the grandeur of Yosemite National Park, the snow sports of Lake Tahoe and the cultural attractions of San Francisco.”

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147. Bakersfield

“In some ways, Bakersfield feels like Texas: Oil rigs dot the horizon, and the area has a history of honky-tonks and country music. But the metro area’s location in the fertile San Joaquin Valley has instilled in residents the love of fresh, locally sourced foods, which is at the heart of California culture.

Bakersfield has miles of bike paths and lanes and more than 60 public parks, offering locals plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Plus, residents are within driving distance of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and some of California’s expansive national forests.”

148. Visalia

“Smack dab in the middle of California’s Central Valley lies Porterville and Visalia… each offers unique dining opportunities, thriving businesses and plenty of shopping choices. With larger surrounding cities like Fresno and Bakersfield roughly an hour away, living in Porterville and Visalia offers an abundance of recreation, education, culture and nightlife.

Porterville streets are lined with military banners honoring those who have served or are serving in the armed forces, and the annual Veterans Day parade draws massive crowds. Visalia, a small city with a big-city feel, is home to a multitude of arts celebrations.

Both cities are a melting pot of ethnicities and offer many family-friendly amenities. The development of housing, which is growing, draws in families and young professionals seeking a place to settle down.”

149. Stockton

“Home to a diverse community of more than 320,000 people, Stockton, California, offers access to everything from Japanese grocery stores to the first Sikh temple in the U.S.

Stockton’s relatively low cost of living compared with some other California metro areas draws many new residents…

Centrally located in Northern California, Stockton is surrounded by vineyards and farms that help put local organic produce on dinner tables.Residents are within easy reach of San Francisco, Sacramento and San Jose, which significantly expands job prospects.”


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Data provided by U.S. News & World Report, “Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2022-2023“.

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