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California Dreamin’ on a Budget: Where to Find Affordable California Housing to Rent this Summer 

When most people think of California housing, the word “affordability” doesn’t usually come to mind. While California certainly has some very expensive areas and a high cost of living (hello, Venice Beach and downtown San Francisco!), there are hidden pockets of affordability and budget-friendly apartment options throughout the state. 

Here are five underrated areas to rent in California to help take some of the sting out of your monthly budget this summer! 

1. Bakersfield, Kern County 

First up is Bakersfield in Kern County. Often overlooked, this little gem has a lot to offer. The median rent here is around $1,000 a month, which is way below California’s average for rental properties. You’ll find plenty of affordable and spacious apartments here. Plus, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful countryside, and hey, if you squint, you might just see the edge of Sequoia National Forest.  

And don’t think Bakersfield is a small town — it isn’t by any stretch of the imagination. With a population of 403,455 according to the most recent census, this impressive city boasts some fantastic cultural and economic attractions, including: 

Numerous Historic Buildings 

Bakersfield dates back to the late 1800s and features a variety of historic architecture, including the Fox Theater, Kern County Chamber of Commerce Building, and Baker Street Library. 

Fast Economic Growth 

In addition to affordable rent, Bakersfield is growing fast. The city’s population has skyrocketed since its founding, with a compound annual growth rate of 26% since 2000! 

Cultural Events 

Bakersfield has tons of things to do, including the Kern County Basque Festival, March Meet drag racing, and the Kern County Fair. 

San Francisco might have the bay, but Bakersfield has both charm and affordability! 

2. Fresno, Fresno County 

Next, mosey on over to Fresno in Fresno County. If you love the outdoors, you’ll fit right in. With a median rent of around $1,100, it’s easy on the wallet and close to Yosemite National Park. Be sure to say hi to the grizzly bears fishing there. Or don’t, if grizzly bears aren’t your thing. 

Fresno punches above its weight class in the cultural and entertainment department. In addition to easy access to nature in the national park, Fresno also has several public parks on offer. One of these parks, Woodward Park, also features a stunning Japanese garden. 

Like Bakersfield, Fresno is growing fast. From 2010 to 2020, the population grew by 9.6%, and with that growth comes additional economic development. 

3. Oxnard, Ventura County 

Third on the list is the coastal city of Oxnard in Ventura County. It’s a little pricier, with a median rent of about $1,500, but hey, you’ve got the beach right there! Plus, the year-round farmers markets are a delight. 

While Oxnard is affordable, it also has a dynamic economy powered by a combination of factors, including a heavy U.S. Navy presence and large corporations like Haas Automation and J M Smucker Co. 

You also have easy access to the LA metropolitan area. Oxnard is only about 48 miles away from Santa Monica, a trip that’s doable in about an hour by car. Public transit, including trains and buses, can get you there in about three hours as well. 

4. Redlands, San Bernardino County 

Ever heard of Redlands in San Bernardino County? Well, you have now! The median rent here is around $1,400. It’s a historic city with lovely Victorian homes and tree-lined streets. Almost feels like a trip back in time, doesn’t it? 

Lying about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, this historic city offers easy access to the SoCal economic powerhouse. Additionally, Redlands has famous historic sites like the Edwards Mansion, Kimberly Crest House and Gardens, and Morey Mansion. 

Apartment house block in California

5. Chico, Butte County 

Last but not least, head up north to Chico in Butte County. The median rent here hovers around $1,200, and it’s home to California State University, Chico. Now, don’t go thinking it’s just a college town; there’s plenty for everyone. If you’ve never stumbled upon Bidwell Park, it’s quite a sight! 

As you might have guessed from its name, Chico originated as a Spanish settlement, though its first inhabitants were the Mechoopda Maidu, an indigenous population. Chico State acts as the engine of the local economy, and many of the city’s residents either work or attend class at the institution. 

Other Ways to Save Money on Rent in California 

In addition to living in an affordable area, you can also save your wallet from California’s crippling rent burden by following these steps: 

Roommates — the More, the Merrier (and Cheaper) 

First off, how about finding a roommate or two? They’re not just for sitcoms, folks. The simple truth is sharing an apartment or house with a few others can significantly reduce the cost of rent. 

Negotiate Like You’re in a Bazaar 

Rent prices aren’t always set in stone, contrary to what you might think. If you’ve been a good tenant, always paid your rent on time, and kept the property in good shape, you may have a bit of leverage to negotiate a lower rent when your lease comes up for renewal. 

Get Renters Insurance 

A well-designed renters insurance policy can protect your belongings and your bank account thanks to its liability and property damage coverage. 

By following these tips and living in a more affordable part of the state, you can free up more of your income for personal spending, savings, and retirement — or even home ownership

Protect Your Personal Savings with California Renters Insurance 

Before you make your move to one of these reasonably priced enclaves, be sure to get the right affordable renters insurance for your needs. Cost-U-Less offers policies that can reimburse you for damage to your belongings and protect you from personal liability. Get started today with an online quote, call 800-390-4071, or visit your nearest location for an in-person meeting. 

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