3 Great Cities in California (That Aren’t San Francisco or LA)

San Diego

California’s sunny skies and glamorous cities are what come to mind most when people dream of living on the west coast. With that come names like Los Angeles and San Francisco – but the Golden State is much more than that. 

Whether you’re looking at Brentwood apartments for rent or a condo in Oakland, you’ll want to consider these incredible cities when thinking of your next West Coast home. 

San Diego

Tucked in the southwest corner of the state is San Diego, the state’s second-largest city. Though a bit above average when it comes to the nation’s cost of living, it’s cheaper to reside here compared to other cities like New York and San Francisco. 

The median household income here is approximately $80,000 and the job market is stellar. Those seeking a place to work can find it in military and technology companies, as well as areas that cater to tourism. 

Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the year-round pleasant weather, stunning beaches, and many green spaces. La Jolla Cove and Solana Beach are favorites. 

It’s Cali’s oldest city and so has many historical places to explore like the Mission San Diego de Alcalá and Gaslamp Quarter National Historic District. 

There are many restaurants and clubs for nightlife, and museums and art galleries for activities to do whenever you please. 

The San Diego Zoo is a huge attraction, as is the Birch Aquarium. 

Long Beach

Long Beach is an LA suburb without the LA price tag. Living here is affordable and there are plentiful job opportunities that offer competitive salaries. 

If you’re seeking higher education you’ll find quality classes in California State University-Long Beach, a public institution that is ranked in the top ten best schools for undergraduate teaching in the country. 

On the other hand, if you’re looking to retire, Long Beach has a large community of retirees as well as great healthcare institutions like the Long Beach and St. Mary medical centers. 

Long Beach is a fun place with bustling activity for those who love to be on the go. The Waterfront District offers spectacular views with its many attractions like Restaurant Row, East Village Arts District, and The Rainbow Harbor Esplanade where you can take a dinner cruise or go on a whale-watching excursion. 

The Queen Mary is a historic British ocean liner that’s been converted into a maritime museum, hotel, and event venue. 


The capital city of California in the north of the state is on the smaller side and brimming with history. 

Old Sacramento harkens back to the 1950s Gold Rush Era and has many shops, museums, and restaurants. The California State Railroad Museum has a collection of restored steam locomotives and eight full-size trains built before 1880.

Sacramento’s job market is promising with offerings in the areas of government, agriculture, and transportation. 2021 saw a 9 percent increase in jobs in the area.

It’s home to many sports teams: NBA’s Sacramento Kings, Sacramento Republic FC soccer team, and Sacramento River Cats, an affiliate team of the San Francisco Giants.