MOST EXPENSIVE CITIES IN CALIFORNIA: A Comprehensive Guide

most expensive cities in california

If you’re looking to live in California, you’d like to know the most expensive, or let’s say, comfortable place to stay. The truth is, California has a lot of exciting places to visit, little wonder it is regarded as the Golden State. In this article, we’ll show you a comprehensive list of the most expensive cities in California. 

The Most Expensive Cities to Live In California

#1. Atherton

Atherton is an incorporated municipality in San Mateo County, 45 minutes south of San Francisco and 20 minutes from Silicon Valley. It is not only among the most expensive cities in California, but it is also the most expensive town in the United States. According to Bloomberg’s index analysis, Atherton’s average household income is the first to exceed $500,000 since the index compilations began in 2017.

Atherton’s residential streets are lined with mega-mansions, many of which are owned by the country’s leading tech billionaires, including late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Google chairman Eric Schmidt. Even though towering hedges and gates surround each residence, the big, imposing houses are visible from the street. Atherton’s sidewalks are also very sparse, discouraging visitors and tourists from invading Atherton homeowners’ privacy.

The lone recreation area in Atherton is Holbrook-Palmer Park, a 22-acre site containing tennis courts, playgrounds, gardens, and walking routes. Residents frequently drive to nearby towns and cities, such as Menlo Park, to visit stores, restaurants, parks, and museums. With its modest mix of boutiques and fine-dining restaurants, downtown Menlo Park is an instant appeal for visitors wishing to relocate to Atherton. Visit Refuge, a renowned lunch spot featuring a legendary pastrami sandwich that rivals those found in New York. Equestrians and horse fans alike would enjoy a visit to the Menlo Circus Club. The Menlo Circus Club, which hosts gala parties, horse displays, and polo matches, also includes a gorgeous equestrian center where club members can train or ride their horses for fun.

#2. Woodside 

Woodside, another rich Silicon Valley neighborhood, is California’s second most expensive city. To mention a few noteworthy residents, Woodside has housed Steve Jobs, Bill Walsh, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Woodside has retained much of its small-town character.

Given its proximity to multiple county parks and preserves, Woodside residents are surrounded by nature on a daily basis. Hikers can explore the magnificent redwood woods of Wunderlich County and Huddart Parks, as well as the picturesque paths of Teague Hill and Thornewood Preserves. Woodside is also noted for having the most horse population in the United States. Highway 280 provides easy access to many trails. Visitors can also expect to observe folks riding their horses around town.

Visitors can learn about Woodside by visiting its downtown district, which is modest but charming and has many of its most popular boutiques and eateries within a block of each other. Visit the Woodside Store County Museum to learn about the town’s history, or stop by the Woodside Bakery & Café for a hot cup of coffee and a snack. Robert’s Market & Deli is a premium products store with a relaxed and homey ambiance. Dinner at the Michelin-starred Woodside Pub, which serves both gourmet and comfort food mainstays (their burgers are a crowd favorite).

Djerassi Ranch, which has over 50 magnificent sculptures produced by its various artists in-residence throughout the years, and Filoli Gardens are two other nearby sights. Filoli Gardens is a Georgian-style mansion with several themed gardens and landscapes that were built in 1915.

#3. Hidden Hills

Hidden Hills is a private neighborhood and city located northwest of Los Angeles. It was once sought by homebuyers for its relative remoteness, which created its namesake appellation and raised its value in the eyes of its newest residents, but in recent years it has gained increasing notoriety as a go-to area for Hollywood celebrities. Among the many celebrities that have made Hidden Hills their home are Kanye West, the Kardashian-Jenners, Drake, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Lopez, Jaden Smith, and Britney Spears.

Hidden Hills, which was founded in the 1950s, is an equestrian-friendly community, with each property obliged to set aside 600 square feet of area for a stable. It was and still is common to see Hidden Hills homeowners riding their horses about town. Hidden Hills includes nearly 25 miles of horse trails, as well as designated riding places.

Adventurers and horseback riders can explore the paths in Hidden Hills’ northern outskirts toward the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon open space, which features undulating hills and spectacular vistas of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Tennis courts, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and a movie theater are among the HOA amenities. Hidden Hills maintains its residential integrity, so residents must venture beyond its gates to surrounding cities like Calabasas for shopping and restaurants.

Every house in Hidden Hills is handcrafted and one-of-a-kind, in contrast to the cookie-cutter neighborhoods of nearby Calabasas.

Read Also: FASTEST GROWING CITIES IN FLORIDA: Top Ten Picks

#4. Beverly Hills

Despite its humble beginnings as a lima bean ranch, Beverly Hills has grown to become one of the most well-known and expensive cities in California. It is home to celebrities and business moguls, as well as luxury hotels, world-class shopping, and some of the most expensive mansions in the Los Angeles area.

Because much of Beverly Hills was built during the 1920s boom years, many of the original mansions and estates are Period Revival in style. While there are plenty of Modern and Contemporary 9-figure residences available, the range of Mediterranean, Italianate, Spanish Colonial, French Normandy, Tudor, and Beaux-Arts homes is difficult to surpass. There aren’t many homes with as much character and charm in Silicon Valley since most luxury homes were built after WWII.

A few significant Beverly Hills communities contribute to its outperformance in terms of median property values. Beverly Park and Mulholland Estates are located in the Beverly Hills Post Office area on the Santa Monica Mountain Range (technically Los Angeles, but street addresses sport the 90210 zip code). Both are private, gated neighborhoods.

Three additional top communities within the municipal limits also contribute to Beverly Hills becoming one of the most expensive cities in the United States. Beverly Hills Gateway, Trousdale Estates, and Beverly Hills Flats are among them.

#5. Los Altos Hills 

Los Altos Hills is a city in Santa Clara County that routinely ranks as one of the most expensive cities in California.

The Los Altos History Museum is located atop one of Santa Clara Valley’s last apricot orchards. Today, the city is a component of the tech powerhouse Silicon Valley.

Los Altos Hills is great for nature enthusiasts wishing to escape and connect with nature due to its location at the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Fly kites and go gliding at the 1,300-acre Windy Hill Preserve, or stroll along the San Andreas Fault Trail and the numerous other routes that branch off of it. Learn about organic farming at the Hidden Villa Farm, or visit the Los Altos Farmers Market for fresh organic produce and handcrafted goods (as well as gourmet food trucks!).

Los Altos Hills has a vibrant community arts scene. The Los Altos Stage Company is a group of local performers who put on live theater performances. Residents and visitors can also enjoy the town’s public art and sculptures, which are all part of the city’s Public Art Program.

#6. Malibu

Located up the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles, Malibu has long drawn the wealthy and famous, who eagerly seek to settle down amid its rough coastline and spectacular beaches. Malibu is one of the most recognizable and costly places in the world, because of its ocean views, Mediterranean temperature, and pop culture connections with wealth.

Malibu’s many beautiful beaches will appeal to beachgoers, surfers, and fisherman alike. Visit Zuma Beach, Malibu’s largest, which has golden sand and is close to several casual and fancy eateries. Point Dume State Beach and Preserve, with its cliffs, hiking paths, and rocky coves, may appeal to more adventurous beachgoers, hikers, and divers. Every time they migrate, California Gray Whales pass just offshore. Hikers can extend their exploration of Malibu trails by visiting Solstice Canyon, Escondido Falls, and Malibu Creek State Park. The Malibu Pier includes several small shops, restaurants, and views of the ocean. It’s also a great area for surfers.

Malibu’s most costly areas, like Beverly Hills’, play a key role in its standing as one of California’s most expensive cities and one of Los Angeles’ most expensive communities. Paradise Cove Bluffs, Encinal Bluffs, Serra Retreat, and Malibu Colony are among them. The little enclave of Paradise Cove Bluffs has residences in the nine figures, making it one of the most costly enclaves in Los Angeles County.

#7. Portola Valley 

Perched on the eastern slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Portola Valley is strategically placed in Silicon Valley, about six miles from Highway 280. It is a 14-minute drive from Stanford University, a 24-minute drive from Google headquarters, and a half-hour drive from both the San Jose and San Francisco International Airports.

With over 1,900 acres of permanent parkland and over 36 miles of vast path systems for people to enjoy, Portola Valley strikes a combination of modern development and magnificent pastoral idyll. The majority of its population congregates in its Town Center for events such as the year-round Thursday Farmers Market.

Portola Valley has no significant shops or supermarkets of its own, so people must commute to neighboring Palo Alto to do everyday chores.

#8. Ross

Ross is one of California’s best small towns to live in, located in Marin County, 36 minutes north of San Francisco. It is well-known for its pleasant, rural ambiance, as well as its numerous local stores and eateries. The city is surrounded by lakes, parks, and hills, making it a popular destination for inhabitants and visitors alike.

The Marin Art and Garden Center is Ross’ best achievement. It has gardens for everyone, from the manicured and beautiful Rose Garden to the wild and uncontrolled Habitat Garden, the vibrant blooms of the Sun Garden, and the nutritious and delectable selections in the Edible Garden. The Garden Center also serves as a focal point for art and cultural events, offering lectures, author talks, workshops, and exhibitions in a variety of media including sculpture, digital art, photography, and illustration.

Natalie Coffin Greene Park is an excellent starting place for exploring the watersheds of Phoenix Lake and the Marin Municipal Water District. Views of Phoenix Lake are available to hikers who take the surrounding circle trails. Get a close look at the lake’s native turtles and river otters! Bald Hill Ridge Preserve, a well-known local landmark, overlooks Ross and its neighbor San Anselmo.

Ross is home to three well-known and respected schools: Ross Preschool, Ross School, and Branson School. Despite its modest size, Ross operates its own services, such as fire protection, a water district, and a sanitation district.

#9. Los Altos

Los Altos, which began as an agricultural hamlet with vacation homes and luscious apricot orchards, has grown into one of California’s most opulent residential communities. Many Silicon Valley employees live in this city, traveling short distances to nearby Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Stanford. Because it is predominantly a residential suburb, most of its commercial areas are concentrated in its downtown area and along El Camino Real and Foothill Expressway.

Los Altos is a fantastic educational center due to its convenient location. It is not only close to Stanford University, but it is also close to Santa Clara University, Foothill College, and De Anza College. Los Altos also has prestigious public and private schools, including the Los Altos School District and St. Nicholas School.

Los Altos’ peaceful, residential atmosphere is perfectly balanced by its natural beauty. Its streets are lined with trees, and every garden is well-kept. Shoup Park and Redwood Grove Nature Preserve, with their many trails that cater to adventurers of all ages and ability levels, are popular among residents.

#10. Palo Alto

Palo Alto, known around the world as the cradle of Silicon Valley, is home to a slew of high-tech enterprises, including Tesla, Hewlett-Packard, Skype, Houzz, and the Ford Research and Innovation Center. It has also bred the likes of Google, Apple, PayPal, Logitech, Pinterest, and Facebook.

The Museum of American Heritage, the Hiller Aviation Museum, and the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo are all popular attractions in the area. Fans of Nikola Tesla and his unique body of work can pay a visit to his monument (also a Wi-Fi hotspot). Cantor Arts Center has 199 Auguste Rodin sculptures on display, including “The Thinker” and “Gates of Hell,” both inspired by Dante’s Inferno.

Standford Dish, a 150-foot-wide radio telescope developed by Stanford University scientists in 1965, may be of interest to science aficionados.

Palo Alto boasts beautiful parks and natural features, which are a welcome sight for residents wishing to slow down. There’s Byxbee Park, with its expansive waterfront views, and the Baylands Nature Preserve, with 15 miles of flat pathways used by humans and wildlife, including local pheasants and pelicans.

In Conclusion,

California is one of the most expensive places to live in, mainly due to its high population and the high cost of living in some of its major cities. In this article, we have outlined some of the most expensive cities to live in in California. Note that they are not all there is, but these have emerged at the top of our findings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is California one of the most expensive places to live?

Yes. In fact, California is the third most expensive place to live in in the United States

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