Amazing mountain ranges, some of the best beaches in the world, stunning deserts, endless sunshine … you may think that Southern California, with its palatial estates perched on cliffs overlooking the ocean, is only for wealthy celebrities, but there are several affordable cities in SoCal so you can stop dreaming about that laid-back, beachy lifestyle and start enjoying it.
Southern California is considered a "megapolitan" region -- basically, it is all of California's southern section (considered everything south of the Sierra Nevada Mountains). The area includes eight counties: Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Imperial. The major cities include Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Palm Springs, Malibu, and Long Beach. It is home to many tourist destinations, including Knott's Berry Farm, Disneyland, and the San Diego Zoo. It is also the epicenter of the movie industry, and it is home to nearly 23 million people.
The beaches in SoCal are legendary: Catalina Island, La Jolla, Venice Beach, Newport Beach, Coronado, Laguna Beach … each offers something different, from the quirky and fun Venice Beach to the stunning cliffs and elegance of El Matador Beach. The shopping is as legendary as the beaches -- Rodeo Drive, Union Square, South Coast Plaza, El Paseo, Ghirardelli Square … no matter where in SoCal you choose to live, you'll be near some seriously impressive shops and restaurants.
From its diverse landscape to its movie stars to its shopping, SoCal is a truly one-of-a-kind location. And that, naturally, comes with a price. But there are some areas that are more affordable than others. Irvine, for example, has apartments that start around $1,600. Located in Orange County, this popular city is home to the University of California-Irvine, Concordia University, and Pepperdine University. This award-winning city tops the best-places lists, named one of the best places to live in the US, one of America's safest cities, one of the best-run cities, and in 2017, it was even named one of the happiest places to live by WalletHub.
You'll find apartments in Cypress, California for as little $1,000 a month -- a true bargain by California standards. Cypress is slightly northeast of Seal Beach and directly west of Disneyland Park. Once a leader in the dairy industry, this former rural area of about 1,600 residents has grown into a thriving city of nearly 50,000. With its award-winning schools, Cypress is a terrific location for those with kids. The city is between California State University-Long Beach on the west side and Knott's Berry Farm to the east.
A studio apartment in Goleta is about $1,400, making this seaside city as affordable as it is beautiful. To the north, you'll find the vast mountains of Los Padres National Forest. To the south, the coast -- including Goleta Beach Park. You'll also find the University of California-Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Airport. Goleta is located in Santa Barbara County and features a population of about 30,000. Goleta means "Good Land," and the name definitely fits. This is the birthplace of singer Katy Perry and it is the location of Deckers Outdoor Corporation (the parent company for UGG Australia).
You can rent a two-bedroom apartment in Monrovia for about $1,500 a month -- not bad, considering your backyard is the San Gabriel Mountains. The palm trees and mountains make for stunning views -- and the hiking is amazing. It is so beautiful, in fact, that the landscape is often used as the background for movie and television productions. Monrovia is part of Los Angeles County and features its very own tech corridor that's home to companies like Oracle, ITT Systems, and AeroVironment.
Perhaps you would prefer a desert landscape to the ocean. Your idea of fun is off-roading through miles of barren sand -- not surfing the waves. In that case, consider Palm Springs -- even if you want to also occasionally cool off at the beach or go hiking in the mountains, this handy location puts you near it all. In about two hours, you could be surfing. In less than an hour, you could be exploring Joshua Tree National Park. Palm Springs became famous as a movie-star retreat in the 1930s, with stars like Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, and Frank Sinatra all owning hideaways in Palm Springs. Even with its desert landscape and historic sites, apartments in Palm Springs are surprisingly affordable -- you can find one-bedroom apartments renting for as little as $900 a month.
If you want to live in sunny Southern California, start by looking at these and other affordable locations. Additional cities to keep in mind include Costa Mesa, Newport, Redondo Beach, Oxnard, Camarillo, Seal Beach, Westminster, Aliso Viejo, San Luis Obispo, San Gabriel, and South Pasadena. Apartments.com can help you find the perfect location in SoCal, so start searching and stop daydreaming.