The 5 Best Places to Live in California in 2017

Published on January 3, 2017

– 7 min read

Buying a home in California this year? You’re not alone.

The California Association of Realtors predicts that existing home sales in the Golden State will increase to 413,000. But with home prices and interest rates possibly climbing in the near future, homebuyers want to be sure they’ve identified the best place to live in California—based on affordability, family-friendliness and other factors.

We reached out to five real estate experts in Northern and Southern California to ask what the best neighborhoods and areas for buying a home in 2017 will be. Here’s what they said:


Population: 3 Million
Avg. Temperature: High 72.6°F Low 50.5°F
What it’s known for: Tech Industry, Stanford
What Real Estate experts say: “The areas which will do well in 2017 are those with high job demand, short commutes to employment centers, and good public schools, which are often a very high driver of property values,” says Northern California realtor Mary Pope-Handy. She says Palo Alto, with its great public schools, easy access to a large number of tech jobs and a beautiful downtown area, is the epicenter of the Silicon Valley housing market.

The one thing Palo Alto doesn’t provide? Affordability. “That’s why nearby communities are tremendously popular, especially where the public schools are highly regarded and home prices are a little lower,” says Pope-Handy. Check out Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and San Jose for more affordable alternatives to Palo Alto.


Population: 260,750
Avg. Temperature: High 68.3°F Low 48.7°F

What it’s known for: Natural beauty, recreational State Parks
What Real Estate experts say: For those looking to buy in the north Bay Area, “Fairfax continues to deliver as the ‘it girl’ in Marin,” says realtor Anastasia Sheldon. “Super hip mommies and daddies mountain biking with their kids, working from home part-time, living the clean and green life, and enjoying the excellent public schools.”

The downside? Despite being a far north suburb of San Francisco, prices have gone up in recent years. “Gone are the lowest-end Central Marin home prices,” says Shelton. And if you can afford to buy here, you’ll still have to contend with pretty major traffic woes. Shelton’s solution? “Stay on your bike! The ferry to SF is just a 30 minute bike ride away.”


Population: 140,881
Avg. Temperature: High 76.3°F, Low 48.3°F

What it’s known for: California State Capital
What Real Estate experts say: “One of the hottest areas in town right now is Midtown/Downtown,” says Certified Residential Appraiser Ryan Lundquist. “After years of redevelopment, new restaurants and breweries, an explosion of the art scene, and a brand new sports arena, Midtown is definitely the place to be.”

Lundquist notes that prices have risen with the area’s growing appeal, but that’s created more demand for nearby neighborhoods. He recommends checking out North Oak Park and portions of West Sacramento bordering downtown Sacramento. “Buyers in these sections could pay less than Midtown but still live close enough to much of the action while be able to bike (or even walk) to work downtown.”


Population: 485,199
Avg. Temperature: High 78.4°F Low 55.4°F

What it’s known for: The Rosebowl Stadium
What Real Estate experts say: “Pasadena is a family-friendly, scenic, bustling community, blessed with incredible architectural homes sitting on beautiful tree-lined streets,” says Southern California realtor Carrie Benuska. If that sounds too good (or expensive) to be true, think again—Benuska says the city has something to offer buyers at a variety of price points.

“The neighborhoods that are sure to be hot in 2017 are those with homes under $1,000,000,” she explains. From charming Craftsman homes in Bungalow Heaven to sweet English Tudors in the Victory Park neighborhood, “the smaller architectural homes are big with buyers and usually elicit multiple offers.”

But beware — Benuska does not recommend Pasadena for investors seeking to make a quick buck. “Homes here are in high demand and it is hard to get a good deal,” she says. “Instead, 2017 will be a great year for buyers wanting to get into the real estate market and begin to build equity, especially if they are willing to do some work to the house.”


Population: 852,469
Avg. Temperature: High High 63.8°F Low 50.8°F

What it’s known for: Tech industry, progressive culture
What Real Estate experts say: When it comes to finding the next hot neighborhood in San Francisco, realtor Duncan Wheeler had just one word for us: “Sunnyside.” Intrigued, we dug a little deeper.

StreetAdvisor gives the southern SF neighborhood 6.2 out of 10 points, adding that it’s known for its “neighborly spirit,” “peace and quiet” and access to public transportation. With charming, San Francisco style homes, a well-rated elementary school and prices under $1,000,000, it’s easy to see why this up-and-coming neighborhood may be one of the last affordable, family-friendly options in the city.

Got a tip on a hot, new neighborhood in California this year? Let us know at! Have questions? Chat with one of our licensed Loan Specialists. Ready to shop? Get pre-approved completely online.

Andrew Kilburn
Andrew Kilburn is a licensed Loan Specialist at Clara. He likes to live an active lifestyle outside the office, where you’ll find him sailing with his wife and 3-year-old, hiking around the Bay Area, doing yoga, or rock climbing.
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