The Best Affordable Places to Live on the West Coast

Affording life on the West Coast

Can you live near the Pacific Ocean without spending all your money on housing? It’s tough but not impossible. Using data from the U.S. News Best Places to Live rankings, we isolated the 10 most affordable metro areas located on the West Coast out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. We did so by comparing each place’s median household income to the median cost of living, factoring in median mortgage and rent payments, plus property taxes and utilities. Keep in mind that these places may be the most affordable options among West Coast metro areas that appear on our Best Places to Live list, but they’re not necessarily affordable compared with the rest of the U.S. If you’re looking for affordability above all, check out our list of the Best Affordable Places to Live in the U.S.

10. Stockton, California

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 147
Metro Population: 742,603
Median Home Price: $438,645
Average Annual Salary: $49,880
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 26.61%

The 15th-most expensive place to live in the U.S., Stockton ranks No. 147 on the overall Best Places to Live list. The average annual salary for the Stockton metro area is $49,880, nearly $4,000 below the national average of $53,490. Additionally, Stockton had an average monthly unemployment rate of 11.3% in 2020, which can make it difficult for many local residents to feel secure about their jobs. Still, people continue to move to the Stockton metro area, as it grew by 3.18% between 2015 and 2019 due to net migration, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Learn more about Stockton.

9. Modesto, California

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 146
Metro Population: 814,576
Median Home Price: $311,393
Average Annual Salary: $48,820
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 26.61%

With a cost of living just a couple thousandths of a percent less than Stockton, Modesto ranks No. 146 out of 150 on the overall Best Places to Live list. The typical resident in Modesto must spend 26.61% of the median household income to cover housing expenses. While the cost of living may be slightly improved compared with Stockton and other, more expensive parts of California such as Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Visalia-Porterville, potential residents should keep Modesto’s 11.2% average monthly unemployment rate in 2020 in mind. Additionally, the area’s average annual salary, $48,820, is more than $4,000 below the national average.

Learn more about Modesto.

8. San Francisco

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 15
Metro Population: 4,701,332
Median Home Price: $1,047,714
Average Annual Salary: $75,890
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 26.07%

Taking the No. 15 spot on the overall Best Places to Live list, San Francisco is the second-highest ranked West Coast metro area, but only the eighth-most affordable. San Francisco’s housing market is notoriously competitive, and median rents and home prices, at $1,905 and nearly $1.05 million, respectively, are higher than most other parts of the U.S. However, because of higher-paying jobs in the area and an average annual salary of $75,890, the cost of living is slightly offset by the higher income residents earn.

Learn more about San Francisco.

7. Sacramento, California

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 98
Metro Population: 2,315,980
Median Home Price: $549,893
Average Annual Salary: $58,390
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 26.01%

The capital of California ranks No. 98 on the overall Best Places to Live list and seventh on the list of affordable West Coast metro areas with a cost of living that requires 26.01% of the median annual household income. Sacramento’s average annual salary, $58,390, is nearly $5,000 above the national average of $53,490. The Sacramento metro area is seeing steady population growth due to net migration: Between 2015 and 2019, its population increased by 3.05%.

Learn more about Sacramento.

6. Bakersfield, California

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 148
Metro Population: 887,641
Median Home Price: $274,611
Average Annual Salary: $50,270
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.96%

Ranking No. 148 out of 150 on the overall Best Places to Live list, the Bakersfield metro area suffered significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The average annual salary was already below the national average at $50,270, but the average monthly unemployment rate for 2020 also rose significantly to 12.6%, well above the national monthly average rate of 8.1%. While it’s still not a cheap place to live, Bakersfield sees its lower cost of living compared to other parts of California as a bright spot, requiring 25.96% of the median household income.

Learn more about Bakersfield.

5. San Jose, California

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 36
Metro Population: 1,987,846
Median Home Price: $1,302,118
Average Annual Salary: $83,960
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.54%

San Jose has the highest median home price of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. at over $1.3 million. But like San Francisco, San Jose’s high income levels help to offset the higher price of living. The cost of living in the metro area requires 25.54% of the median annual household income. San Jose is steeped in well-paying tech jobs, so the typical resident also earns more (an average annual salary of $83,960), which makes the area somewhat more affordable for those who live there.

Learn more about San Jose.

4. Seattle

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 19
Metro Population: 3,871,323
Median Home Price: $675,237
Average Annual Salary: $68,460
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 24.57%

Outside of California, other West Coast metro areas offer a lower cost of living. Like San Francisco and San Jose, Seattle offers its residents a plethora of tech job opportunities, leading to a higher average annual salary of $68,460. Seattle residents spend 24.57% of the median annual household income on housing expenses. Based on a SurveyMonkey analysis of more than 2,000 U.S. resident responses when asked where they would prefer to live, Seattle ranks ninth for desirability out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S.

Learn more about Seattle.

3. Salem, Oregon

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 62
Metro Population: 422,678
Median Home Price: $304,333
Average Annual Salary: $50,290
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 24.34%

Oregon’s capital ranks No. 62 on the overall Best Places to Live list. Salem residents spend 24.34% of the median household income on housing expenses, making it the third-most affordable place to live on the West Coast. For a metro area with fewer than 500,000 residents, Salem is also seeing significant growth: The area’s population increased by 5.19% between 2015 and 2019 due to net migration, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Learn more about Salem.

2. Portland, Oregon

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 10
Metro Population: 2,445,761
Median Home Price: $515,360
Average Annual Salary: $58,240
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 24.21%

Ranking No. 10 on the overall Best Places to Live list, Portland is the second-most affordable place to live on the West Coast out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. The cost of living in Portland requires 24.21% of the area’s median annual household income. Contributing to its high overall ranking is desirability: Portland takes the No. 5 spot in the Most Desirable Places to Live ranking, following a four-way tie between San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu and Colorado Springs, Colorado. Additionally, Portland’s strong job market, with an average annual salary of $58,240, helps draw people to the area.

Learn more about Portland.

1. Anchorage, Alaska

Best Places 2021-2022 Rank: 90
Metro Population: 398,900
Median Home Price: $265,300
Average Annual Salary: $60,020
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 23.07%

If you’re looking for an affordable place to live on the West Coast, head north. At No. 90 on the overall Best Places to Live list, Anchorage is the most affordable metro area within 100 miles of the West Coast, requiring only 23.07% of the median household income to cover living expenses. It also helps that the average annual salary, $60,020, is more than $6,000 above the national average, which balances out the cost of living even more so than other metro areas on the list.

Learn more about Anchorage.

The Best Affordable Places to Live on the West Coast include:

— Anchorage, Alaska.

— Portland, Oregon.

— Salem, Oregon.

— Seattle.

— San Jose, California.

— Bakersfield, California.

— Sacramento, California.

— San Francisco.

— Modesto, California.

— Stockton, California.

More from U.S. News

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The Best Places to Live By the Beach in the U.S.

The 20 Best Places to Live in the U.S. for the Weather in 2021

The Best Affordable Places to Live on the West Coast originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 10/05/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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