The 10 Best Counties To Live In California For 2022


Using science and data, we can tell you which counties in California have the most for people looking to make the move to California.

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Some of you might be asking yourself, at this very moment: is California a good place?

The answer is unequivocally yes… if you know where to locate the best places to live in California.

Lucky for you, we’re here to help you identify the best counties to live in the Golden State based on the most recently available data from the Census. And this isn’t our first rodeo — we’ve been helping people find the best places to live in America for years.

So, the question becomes, if you wanted to relocate to the best part of California, where would you go? To answer that we looked at crime, cost of living, and demographic data for all 58 counties in the state.

After the analytic dust settled, we identified the 10 best counties to live in Golden State for 2022.

Placer County is the county to be when it comes to living the good life in California. And you might want to avoid Kern County if you can — at least according to the data.

So if you’re thinking of making the move California, we’ve got you covered. Keep on reading for a detailed methodology.

Or, check out the best places to live in California and the cheapest places to live in California.

The Best Counties To Live In California For 2022

1. Placer County

Auburn, CA

Biggest Place: Roseville

Population: 391,799
Median Income: $93,677.0 (8th best)
Median Home Price: $495,900.0 (18th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.2% (5th best)
More on Placer County: PhotosData

2. Marin County

Belvedere, CA

Biggest Place: San Rafael

Population: 259,441
Median Income: $121,671.0 (3rd best)
Median Home Price: $1,053,600.0 (4th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.5% (10th best)
More on Marin County: PhotosData

3. El Dorado County

Placerville, CA

Biggest Place: El Dorado Hills

Population: 190,345
Median Income: $83,710.0 (16th best)
Median Home Price: $479,800.0 (19th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.7% (12th best)
More on El Dorado County: PhotosData

4. Sonoma County

Cloverdale, CA

Source: Public domain

Biggest Place: Santa Rosa

Population: 496,801
Median Income: $86,173.0 (12th best)
Median Home Price: $640,000.0 (10th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.6% (11th best)
More on Sonoma County: PhotosData

5. Napa County

American Canyon, CA

Biggest Place: Napa

Population: 138,572
Median Income: $92,219.0 (9th best)
Median Home Price: $666,900.0 (8th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.5% (9th best)
More on Napa County: PhotosData

6. San Mateo County

Atherton, CA

Source: Public domain

Biggest Place: Daly City

Population: 765,623
Median Income: $128,091.0 (2nd best)
Median Home Price: $1,163,100.0 (best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (4th best)
More on San Mateo County: PhotosData

7. San Francisco County

San Francisco, CA

Biggest Place: San Francisco

Population: 874,784
Median Income: $119,136.0 (4th best)
Median Home Price: $1,152,300.0 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.7% (13th best)
More on San Francisco County: PhotosData

8. Nevada County

Grass Valley, CA

Source: Public domain

Biggest Place: Truckee

Population: 99,417
Median Income: $68,333.0 (26th best)
Median Home Price: $446,100.0 (2best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (3rd best)
More on Nevada County: PhotosData

9. Santa Clara County

Burbank, CA

Source: Public domain

Biggest Place: San Jose

Population: 1,924,379
Median Income: $130,890.0 (best)
Median Home Price: $1,061,900.0 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.2% (7th best)
More on Santa Clara County: PhotosData

10. Contra Costa County

Antioch, CA

Source: Public domain

Biggest Place: Concord

Population: 1,147,788
Median Income: $103,997.0 (6th best)
Median Home Price: $655,500.0 (9th best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (19th best)
More on Contra Costa County: PhotosData

Methodology: How do you determine which California county is the best?

To give you the best county in California, we have to look at a handful of metrics that signal the quality of a place. To do that, we need to make some assumptions about what’s a “best county” and what isn’t. And, for reference, we are trying to make the kind of argument you’d make at a bar using facts, don’t take this analysis to court.

With that in mind, we went to two of the best sources of data on the internet; the American Community Survey data and FBI Crime data for the most recent time period.

We paid particular attention to:

  • Violent Crime Rates
  • Property Crime Rates
  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Unemployment Rates
  • Adult Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty Rates

We then ranked each county in California across each of the criteria from one to 58, with one being the best.

Taking the average rank across all criteria, we created a quality of life score with the county posting the lowest overall score being the “Best County To Live In California”.

The result is some of the safest, quiet, and best counties to raise a family in the Golden State.

Read on to see why Placer County is the best county, while Kern County is probably in contention for being the worst county in California.

Summary: The Best Counties In California To Call Home For 2018

It turns out living in California can vary from one part of the state to the next — who woulda thought?

But now you the know the really good parts and the parts to avoid and that’s why you came here to learn at the end of the day. And for that, you are welcome.

Here’s a look at the worst counties in California according to the data:

  1. Kern County
  2. Trinity County
  3. Imperial County

For more California reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Counties In California

County Rank Population Median Income Median Home Price
Placer County 1 391,799 $93,677.0 $495,900.0
Marin County 2 259,441 $121,671.0 $1,053,600.0
El Dorado County 3 190,345 $83,710.0 $479,800.0
Sonoma County 4 496,801 $86,173.0 $640,000.0
Napa County 5 138,572 $92,219.0 $666,900.0
San Mateo County 6 765,623 $128,091.0 $1,163,100.0
San Francisco County 7 874,784 $119,136.0 $1,152,300.0
Nevada County 8 99,417 $68,333.0 $446,100.0
Santa Clara County 9 1,924,379 $130,890.0 $1,061,900.0
Contra Costa County 10 1,147,788 $103,997.0 $655,500.0
Santa Cruz County 11 273,170 $89,986.0 $787,000.0
Alameda County 12 1,661,584 $104,888.0 $825,300.0
Ventura County 13 845,599 $89,295.0 $609,200.0
Orange County 14 3,170,345 $94,441.0 $703,800.0
San Luis Obispo County 15 282,517 $77,948.0 $605,200.0
San Benito County 16 61,547 $85,808.0 $588,500.0
Mono County 17 14,395 $64,924.0 $385,500.0
San Diego County 18 3,323,970 $82,426.0 $595,600.0
Solano County 19 444,538 $84,638.0 $437,900.0
Amador County 20 39,023 $65,187.0 $329,300.0
Calaveras County 21 45,828 $67,054.0 $340,000.0
Yolo County 22 218,774 $73,746.0 $456,800.0
Plumas County 23 18,844 $57,233.0 $259,300.0
Inyo County 24 17,930 $59,296.0 $258,200.0
Sacramento County 25 1,537,948 $70,684.0 $373,000.0
Alpine County 26 1,159 $85,750.0 $372,500.0
Monterey County 27 432,977 $76,943.0 $559,400.0
Santa Barbara County 28 444,895 $78,925.0 $610,300.0
Colusa County 29 21,491 $59,427.0 $274,100.0
Shasta County 30 179,267 $57,139.0 $261,000.0
Tuolumne County 31 54,147 $60,509.0 $314,300.0
Lassen County 32 30,600 $56,971.0 $207,800.0
Riverside County 33 2,437,864 $70,732.0 $368,100.0
Sierra County 34 2,898 $52,103.0 $229,400.0
Stanislaus County 35 546,235 $62,873.0 $314,100.0
San Joaquin County 36 751,615 $68,628.0 $367,900.0
Glenn County 37 28,060 $51,682.0 $242,200.0
Butte County 38 223,344 $54,972.0 $304,700.0
Sutter County 39 96,315 $63,502.0 $306,000.0
Mendocino County 40 87,110 $52,915.0 $388,500.0
Mariposa County 41 17,319 $50,960.0 $290,200.0
Los Angeles County 42 10,040,682 $71,358.0 $615,500.0
Kings County 43 151,090 $61,556.0 $227,400.0
Madera County 44 155,925 $61,924.0 $268,500.0
Yuba County 45 77,524 $59,424.0 $273,600.0
Siskiyou County 46 43,516 $47,403.0 $214,300.0
San Bernardino County 47 2,162,532 $65,761.0 $348,500.0
Humboldt County 48 136,101 $49,235.0 $331,300.0
Del Norte County 49 27,692 $49,981.0 $227,500.0
Modoc County 50 8,853 $51,250.0 $153,600.0
Lake County 51 64,276 $49,254.0 $238,000.0
Fresno County 52 990,204 $57,109.0 $271,000.0
Merced County 53 273,661 $56,330.0 $268,800.0
Tulare County 54 463,955 $52,534.0 $223,600.0
Tehama County 55 64,176 $48,895.0 $231,500.0
Imperial County 56 180,580 $46,222.0 $206,700.0
Trinity County 57 12,541 $41,780.0 $285,700.0
Kern County 58 892,458 $54,851.0 $226,600.0
Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2022. This is our ninth time ranking the best counties to live in California.

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.