Cheapest Cities to Rent in California (2022)

By Kristen Kish

|10 min read
 cheapest cities to rent in california

Whether you’re moving here from out of state, relocating from one California region to another, searching for affordable living options, or considering buying an investment property, you may want to know which markets offer cheaper rent. If you’re looking for the cheapest cities to rent in California, look no further than our list!

Living in California comes with so many benefits, from great year-round weather to beautiful places to enjoy on your time off. Healthy living is very doable in the Golden State, the diversity here is fantastic, the economy is strong, and the state is ranked #3 in higher education. No wonder people love living in California!

While California may not have too many of the cheapest cities to rent in the U.S., it does have areas where houses rent for less compared to the rest of the state.

California Rental Statistics

Before we dive into the cheapest cities to rent in California, let’s look at a few general rental facts and statistics:

  • The median rent in California is $1,614 per month, compared to $1,100 nationwide
  • Across the U.S., rental rates have increased by 31% in the past ten years
  • Approximately 109 million Americans reside in rental housing
  • The state with the highest number of rental units is California
  • About 45.1% of households in California rent their homes
  • California’s rental vacancy rate is 4.7%, compared to 5.8% nationwide

What does all this mean for you? If you are a tenant looking for affordable rentals, you’ll want to know where to find cheaper rent in California.

Cheapest Cities to Rent in California

Here are the Top 5 cheapest cities to rent a house in California, let’s dive in!

1. Bakersfield

  • Population: 403,455
  • Median home listing price: $325,000
  • Average number of days on the market: 15 days
  • Number of active rental listings: 126
  • Typical home value: $335,817
  • Median household income: $62,402
  • Average rent price: $1,322
  • Rent price ranges: $825 – $1,431

Located on the Kern River near the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, Bakersfield is the 9th most populous city in California. Work is plentiful here in the energy production and agricultural sectors. This city is popular for its affordability, strong public schools, and proximity to state treasures like the Sequoia and Los Padres national forests.

Home prices are very reasonable in Bakersfield compared to the rest of the state, which makes investing in rental property here a sound choice. As a result, renters can enjoy lower rates, while investors can make a solid rental income.

The real estate market is competitive, with homes selling within 15 days on average. Working with an experienced real estate agent is a must.

 cheapest cities to rent in california

2. Fresno

  • Population: 542,107
  • Median home listing price: $348,900
  • Average number of days on the market: 11 days
  • Number of active rental listings: 103
  • Typical home value: $339,594
  • Median household income: $53,161
  • Average rent price: $1,575
  • Rent price ranges: $809 – $2,053

With over half a million people living within city limits, Fresno is a bustling metro area in California’s San Joaquin Valley, and the state’s 5th most populous city. While its economy is driven by large-scale agricultural production, Fresno also employs many in the construction and finance industries.

Many are drawn to the region for its affordability and end up staying long-term, enjoying nearby scenic attractions like Yosemite National Park. Cultural events abound, celebrating everything from classic cars to anime and manga.

Because of its reasonably priced homes and wide range of rent prices, the market moves quickly. Homes tend to stay on the market for an average of just 11 days. However, affordable rent can be had here for singles, couples, and families who are drawn to the area for economic sustainability.

3. Stockton

  • Population: 312,697
  • Median home listing price: $400,000
  • Average number of days on the market: 12 days
  • Number of active rental listings: 46
  • Typical home value: $429,233
  • Median household income: $59,504
  • Average rent price: $946
  • Rent price ranges: $946 – $1,493

Located on the San Joaquin River in California’s Central Valley, Stockton is the 13th largest city in the state. It’s home to the University of the Pacific, the oldest university in California, and traces its origins back to the famous Gold Rush that brought so many to the state.

Stockton’s economy centers around agriculture, manufacturing, and telecommunications, and the city enjoys comfortable proximity to both San Francisco and Sacramento.

Rent is affordable here, which as a result, draws many to the area. Both the real estate and rental markets thrive in Stockton. Homes in this area typically appreciate well in value. Purchasing a home here and renting it out provides a reasonably good return on investment.

 cheapest cities to rent in california

4. San Bernardino

  • Population: 222,101
  • Median home listing price: $420,000
  • Average number of days on the market: 25 days
  • Number of active rental listings: 39
  • Typical home value: $414,135
  • Median household income: $49,721
  • Average rent price: $1,022
  • Rent price ranges: $1,012 – $1,571

With a city within the Inland Empire, San Bernardino is a great choice for buyers who want to benefit from all that Southern California has to offer without paying the high home prices found in the more coastal areas.

Rent here is affordable, and many people choose to live here instead of in nearby Los Angeles or Orange County because of San Bernardino’s reasonable rent price ranges.

The city’s strong economy is fueled by government, retail, service industries, transportation, and education. Houses here sell at a more reasonable pace, being on the market an average of 25 days, but the real estate market is still healthy, and good deals can be found by savvy investors.

People who choose to live here can enjoy the best that Southern California has to offer, including great weather and access to mountain ski resorts, world-class entertainment venues, beaches (it’s just a one-hour drive to the coast), and LA attractions, without having to pay enormous prices on housing or rent.

5. Sacramento

  • Population: 524,943
  • Median home listing price: $450,000
  • Average number of days on the market: 10 days
  • Number of active rental listings: 404
  • Typical home value: $516,790
  • Median household income: $69,134
  • Average rent price: $1,810
  • Rent price ranges: $1,086 – $2,472

While the real estate market here is hot, home prices are relatively affordable. Sacramento’s median household income is higher than the other cities listed above, so people have more income to spend. Rents are also higher here, on average, but the lower range of rent prices is still very affordable.

Sacramento offers plenty to do, with a wide range of cultural and recreational offerings. In addition to being the state’s seat of government, California’s 6th-largest city is a financial center and educational hub. It is a fast-growing city, making it an attractive place to purchase a house to rent out.

Final Thoughts

Which cheapest city to rent in California is calling to you? All of these cities have thriving communities, healthy real estate markets, and strong economies.

All of them attract new residents thanks to affordable rent, strong employment opportunities, good public schools, and proximity to outstanding attractions known around the world. Many of these people will be looking for communities that have affordable rent prices and a thriving economy.

Cities like Stockton, Sacramento, Fresno, San Bernardino, and Bakersfield provide some of the best that California has to offer without the high price tags!

Ready to Rent in One of the Cheapest Cities in California?

If you’d like to explore these communities further and see if investing in property in one of these cities is right for you, we invite you to reach out to FastExpert.com. As a company that connects people buying or selling a home with top real estate agents, we can match you with the perfect real estate agent who understands your motivation for investing in California.

We make it easy for you to hire the right real estate agent, and we provide convenient options to easily compare top agents to simplify your selection. Give us a try and discover for why over 400,000 happy clients choose FastExpert!

Kristen Kish

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Kristen is the Content Marketing Manager for FastExpert Inc. She has been writing professionally for 4 years and knows the Real Estate market like the back of her hand. She's obsessed with dogs and all things Disney related.

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