Fresno, California is between San Francisco and Los Angeles, inland from Salinas. The city covers over 100 square miles and the population is growing rapidly. The cost of living is lower than on the coast but climbing.
- Fresno is a fairly cheap place to live and is growing
- It’s close enough to Silicon Valley that you can commute; if you can work remotely most days, you can put away a great deal of money
- This city offers an active nightlife
- Summers can get painfully hot
- The risk of Tule fog can lead to poor air quality for allergy sufferers
- Fresno has a higher-than-average crime rate
Pros: The job market in Fresno is decent and is impacted by nearby Silicon Valley. If you moved from LA and are worn out from working multiple jobs, you can cut back to just one.
Cons: Because people from Silicon Valley are moving here and pushing the job market, you will need to sharpen your job skills. Consider a class or two at California State.
Cost of Housing
Pros: Fresno is cheaper than much of California and actually ranks fairly low among other cities of comparable size. If you have moved in recently from the coast, you may be excited to find that you may be able to buy a home sooner than you expected.
Cons: The demand for housing is going up. Do make sure that you come into the housing market with enough available cash to fulfill all application requirements. If you’re coming in to buy, be ready to move fast when you find the right place.
Cost of Living
Pros: Fresno, at least until you get to the sprawling edges, is dotted with tiny neighborhoods. You can probably find groceries, a haircut, and a drug store within an easy drive and perhaps even within walking distance. Because you’re near the food-growing heartland of the state, you can expect great produce at very fair prices.
Cons: Utilities at your new place in Fresno will likely be close to what you were paying in LA. Additionally, it’s really tough to function well in this city without a car. If you were car-free when you arrived, you will likely have a car payment soon.
Pros: Fresno is not as crowded as other cities, so the population on the road with you will be lighter. Additionally, you should be able to easily find sources for most of what you need close to your home.
Cons: Because Fresno is just breaking the 500,000 people mark, you should expect plenty of construction as the sprawl continues. You may love your new house on the outskirts of the city, but getting there could be a challenge.
Pros: Fresno has mild and lovely winters. There is a risk of fog, but if you can stay in until it burns off you can enjoy plenty of fresh air and sunshine.
Cons: Summers in Fresno are hot. Additionally, there are days when the pollen count can be very high. If you have allergies, visit before you move.
Pros: For California, Fresno has a very forgiving amount of traffic. There is still a bit of a rush in the morning and in the evening, but if you can telecommute or work extended or altered hours, you should be able to get around pretty easily. There is public transport, but it will take a fair bit of time to get to your destination.
Cons: Fresno is spreading out and there is a lot of sprawl at the edges of the city proper. There’s no reason not to enjoy a new house out there. Just be prepared for a great deal of traffic into and out of these new developments.
Pros: Fresno offers a great deal of fun to local residents. Because it’s not an area that caters specifically to tourists, those who live in Fresno can enjoy facilities such as
Create a membership to these organizations and you can be out every weekend with family or on your own, celebrating your community.
Cons: If you want to go to the beach or the mountains, you will have a drive ahead of you. Traditional California fun, such as theme parks and time on the beach, are hard to find in Fresno.
Pros: Your local grocery store will be well-stocked with fresh produce and local restaurants have a lot to offer. You can even get delicious, fresh poke with a California twist at Butterfish.
Cons: If you like a lot of restaurant variety, Fresno does offer a lot of Mexican restaurants. This is not to say that it isn’t terrific Mexican food, but you’ll find more salsa than hummus. Just plan ahead.
Pros: Fresno is a very tolerant city. It’s family-friendly; the zoo and Fresno Discover Center will allow you to take your kids out for a fun, brain-teasing adventure on a regular basis!
The schools in Fresno are decent. There is a bit of a shortage of higher education opportunities, and like any growing city, there are going to be local schools that have a high student-to-teacher ratio. However, this city is working hard to catch up and expand teacher access. There is an early childhood program provided by the state as well.
Cons: Crowded schools can leave some children behind. If you don’t want the private school vibe or just don’t have the cash, it may be wise for you to find a way to help out at your child’s school, such as volunteering one afternoon a week to help out your child’s teacher.
You also need to be aware that Fresno has a higher crime rate than other cities of similar size. While it’s unlikely that your child would be targeted, they may be drawn into scenarios that lead them to make poor choices. The lower cost of living could well mean that you can monitor your child more closely.