Top 10 Family-Friendly Places in California

Best Places to Live in California

California, known for its diverse landscape and vibrant cities, offers an array of neighborhoods suitable for families of various backgrounds and preferences. This study aims to help you find the perfect neighborhood in California to settle down with your family. Below, we will explore the top 10 neighborhoods that showcase a blend of job opportunities, reasonable living costs, safety, accessibility, and recreational facilities.

Identifying the best places to raise a family in California required meticulous research, focusing on areas that not only foster a healthy professional environment but also nurture an active social scene. Our selection for the top 10 neighborhoods is grounded on the following criteria:

  1. Job Opportunities. Evaluating the quantity and diversity of job opportunities in numerous sectors.
  2. Cost of Living. Assessing the average cost of living, including housing, transportation, and amenities.
  3. Safety. Reviewing the crime rate and overall safety of each neighborhood.
  4. Accessibility. Observing proximity to public transportation and the convenience of commuting.
  5. Recreational Facilities. Taking into account the presence of parks, gyms, restaurants, and other recreational spots.

What are the Best Cities for Families in California?

Here are our top ten neighborhoods in California that stand as beacon of excellence for families seeking the perfect home base:

Palo Alto

Historical Background: Nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley, Palo Alto is known for its high-tech hub and being home to Stanford University. It boasts a rich history of innovation and education.

  • Job Opportunities. In this tech powerhouse, job opportunities are abundant, especially in the technology and education sectors. Notable companies like VMware and Tesla have their offices here.
  • Cost of Living. While the cost of living is quite high, with the average home price being around $3 million, the salaries in this area are also substantial, often compensating for the higher living costs.
  • Safety. Palo Alto maintains a relatively low crime rate, with community policing efforts being highly effective.
  • Accessibility. The city offers excellent public transportation options, including Caltrain, which connects residents to various parts of the Bay Area.
  • Recreational Facilities. With a multitude of parks, restaurants, and cultural attractions, there’s never a dull moment in Palo Alto.

Did You Know? The name Palo Alto originates from a coastal redwood tree called “El Palo Alto,” which has stood in the area for over a thousand years.


Historical Background: Established as a planned city in the 1960s, Irvine is renowned for its well-organized community, excellent educational institutions, and lush green parks.

  • Job Opportunities. Irvine is home to several corporate headquarters, offering numerous job opportunities in sectors such as technology, finance, and healthcare.
  • Cost of Living. The average home cost in Irvine is around $1 million, offering a balance between affordability and premium living.
  • Safety. Consistently ranked as one of the safest cities in America, Irvine takes pride in its low crime rates.
  • Accessibility. The city is well-connected with extensive bike lanes and public transportation networks, making commuting convenient.
  • Recreational Facilities. Residents can enjoy a plethora of recreational facilities, including parks, open spaces, and a wide array of dining options.

Did You Know? Irvine is home to the University of California, Irvine (UCI), which has been ranked among the top 10 public universities in the United States.

Mountain View

Historical Background: Initially a stagecoach stop, Mountain View has grown to be a significant city in Silicon Valley, fostering innovation with numerous tech companies gracing its precincts.

  • Job Opportunities. With the presence of major tech companies like Google, LinkedIn, and others, Mountain View offers a hotbed of job opportunities, especially in the technology and innovation sectors. The city boasts a low unemployment rate, encouraging a prosperous lifestyle for its residents.
  • Cost of Living. Living in this tech hub comes with a premium price tag. The median home value stands at around $1.4 million, accompanied by high living costs in terms of transportation and amenities. However, the high wage levels in the tech sector often balance the scale, providing substantial earning opportunities for professionals.
  • Safety. Mountain View maintains a relatively low crime rate compared to other Californian cities. Community safety programs and vigilant policing ensure a secure and family-friendly environment, making it a preferred choice for families.
  • Accessibility. The city offers excellent connectivity with a well-developed public transportation system, including Caltrain, that makes commuting to nearby cities like San Francisco and San Jose convenient. Additionally, well-maintained roads and bike lanes encourage eco-friendly commuting options.
  • Recreational Facilities. Apart from being a technological hub, Mountain View is rich in recreational facilities. Residents can enjoy the serene Shoreline Park, explore the vibrant downtown area filled with restaurants and shops, or indulge in cultural experiences at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.

Did You Know? Mountain View celebrates its rich heritage through the annual Art & Wine Festival, a popular event attracting artists and enthusiasts from across the country, showcasing a vibrant array of art, music, and culinary delights.

San Francisco

Historical Background: Often dubbed as the cultural, commercial, and financial heart of Northern California, San Francisco holds a rich history with its Victorian architecture, dynamic neighborhoods, and iconic landmarks.

  • Job Opportunities. The city hosts numerous Fortune 500 companies, offering diverse job opportunities, particularly in the tech, finance, and tourism sectors.
  • Cost of Living. Though living here can be quite expensive, with the average home price being over $1.3 million, it promises an unparalleled lifestyle and amenities.
  • Safety. The city has implemented numerous community safety programs to maintain a safer environment in various neighborhoods.
  • Accessibility. Well-connected by a comprehensive public transportation network, including the BART and MUNI, it facilitates easy commutes.
  • Recreational Facilities. Home to stunning parks, world-renowned restaurants, and vibrant cultural spots, there is an endless array of recreational options.

Did You Know? San Francisco is built on more than 50 hills and is known for having the world’s crookedest street, Lombard Street.

San Diego

Historical Background: Nestled along the Pacific Ocean, San Diego, known for its idyllic climate, is a melting pot of cultures and traditions with a rich maritime history.

  • Job Opportunities. The city presents a plethora of opportunities in sectors like biotechnology, military defense, and tourism.
  • Cost of Living. The average home cost here is around $800,000, offering a somewhat balanced blend of affordability and luxury.
  • Safety. Various neighborhoods in San Diego are known for their safe environments, making it a great place for families.
  • Accessibility. The city has a well-planned public transportation system, including trolleys and buses, aiding convenient commutes.
  • Recreational Facilities. With a host of beaches, parks, and family-friendly attractions like the San Diego Zoo, the city offers a vibrant recreational scene.

Did You Know? San Diego is home to the largest wooden structure in the US, the historic Hotel del Coronado.

Santa Monica

Historical Background: This coastal city, famed for its picturesque beaches and the iconic Santa Monica Pier, has a rich history of being a popular resort town since the early 20th century.

  • Job Opportunities. Santa Monica has a booming job market with opportunities in the entertainment, technology, and tourism sectors.
  • Cost of Living. The city has a high cost of living, with average home prices hovering around $1.7 million, reflecting its prime coastal location and amenities.
  • Safety. It boasts several safe and family-friendly neighborhoods, facilitated by active community policing.
  • Accessibility. Well-connected through bus lines and the Metro Expo Line, commuting is fairly convenient.
  • Recreational Facilities. Offering a plethora of recreational spots, including beaches, parks, and a bustling downtown area with numerous dining and shopping options.

Did You Know? The Santa Monica Pier houses the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel, offering a greener recreational activity.

Los Gatos

Historical Background: Nestled at the base of the Sierra Azules, Los Gatos is known for its small-town charm combined with upscale living, offering a rich blend of history and modernity.

  • Job Opportunities. The town hosts several tech companies and startups, presenting lucrative job opportunities, particularly in the technology sector.
  • Cost of Living. Living here is quite pricey, with average home prices being around $2.5 million, reflecting the premium amenities and lifestyle it offers.
  • Safety. Los Gatos maintains a low crime rate, promising a secure environment for families.
  • Accessibility. Though primarily car-dependent, the town offers a few public transportation options and is connected to nearby cities.
  • Recreational Facilities. Residents can enjoy a range of recreational options, from boutique shops to picturesque parks and hiking trails.

Did You Know? Los Gatos is known for its high concentration of antique shops, offering a unique shopping experience for antiquarians.


Historical Background: Initially a railroad town, Roseville has transformed into a thriving city that offers a harmonious blend of community spirit and urban amenities.

  • Job Opportunities. The city provides a variety of job opportunities in healthcare, finance, and retail sectors.
  • Cost of Living. With an average home price of around $600,000, Roseville offers a more affordable living option with all necessary amenities.
  • Safety. The city takes pride in its low crime rate and community-focused safety initiatives.
  • Accessibility. A well-planned road network and public transportation options facilitate convenient commuting within and outside the city.
  • Recreational Facilities. The city boasts a host of parks, golf courses, and family-friendly recreational spots.

Did You Know? Roseville is home to one of the largest auto malls in the world, drawing car enthusiasts from various regions.


Historical Background: Best known as the home of Apple Inc., Cupertino has a rich history of innovation and technological advancement.

  • Job Opportunities. The city offers ample job opportunities in the technology sector, hosting several other tech companies apart from Apple.
  • Cost of Living. The cost of living here is quite high, with average home prices being around $2.3 million, reflecting its status as a tech hub.
  • Safety. Cupertino is known for its safe neighborhoods and low crime rates, fostering a secure environment for families.
  • Accessibility. The city enjoys good connectivity with well-planned roads and proximity to major highways.
  • Recreational Facilities. Offering various parks, hiking trails, and cultural centers, there’s ample scope for recreational activities.

Did You Know? Cupertino was named after Arroyo San José de Cupertino, which is now known as Stevens Creek.

Santa Barbara

Historical Background: Often referred to as the “American Riviera,” Santa Barbara offers a blend of historic charm, stunning natural beauty, and a rich cultural scene.

  • Job Opportunities. The city hosts a diverse job market with opportunities in education, healthcare, and tourism sectors.
  • Cost of Living. With average home prices around $1.2 million, the city offers a premium lifestyle nestled between the mountains and the sea.
  • Safety Santa Barbara has numerous safe, family-friendly neighborhoods, supported by community policing initiatives.
  • Accessibility. The city is well-connected with a comprehensive public transportation system, facilitating convenient commutes.
  • Recreational Facilities. From pristine beaches to historic sites and vibrant cultural festivals, the city offers an abundant recreational scene.

Did You Know? Santa Barbara hosts an annual summer Solstice parade, a colorful event that attracts artists and spectators from around the world.

Bottom Line

Choosing the perfect neighborhood to settle down with your family can be an overwhelming task, but this guide should assist you in making an informed decision. The top 10 neighborhoods listed here stand out as prime locations for families seeking a balanced lifestyle with robust professional opportunities and vibrant social scenes.

While there are other promising neighborhoods in California that may catch your eye, these ten locales offer a blend of safety, accessibility, and recreational facilities that set them apart. Whether you are attracted to the innovative spirit of Palo Alto, the planned perfection of Irvine, or the coastal charm of Santa Barbara, each neighborhood offers its unique flavor, promising a rich and fulfilling experience for families looking to make California their home.

With a thoughtful balance between vibrant urban living and serene suburban life, these neighborhoods in California truly offer the best of both worlds, making them ideal places for families to thrive and grow.

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