13 Best Neighborhoods to Live in Southern California

August 7, 2022

If you love culture, community, beaches, the outdoors, and sunshine, Southern California is one of the best places to live. But what are the best places to live in Southern California?

Whether you’re looking to move to California or you currently live in the state and want to move somewhere nicer, we’ve picked out some of the best areas in Southern California to live in.

Best Neighborhoods to Live in Southern California

There’s a definite appeal to living in Southern California. Due to year-round sunshine, beautiful beaches, and strong Southern California culture, it’s a great place for dreamers, doers, and everyone in between.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of all the beautiful places in Southern California, but these neighborhoods are a good place to start your search.


Known as “The Jewel” of San Diego, La Jolla is a beachfront city that offers stunning ocean views, a strong business footprint, award-winning schools, and plenty of fine dining options. It is also one of the safest neighborhoods in San Diego County.

Beyond the city’s upscale vibe, La Jolla is also home to some fantastic natural features, including sweeping cliffs and natural coves. It’s not the most affordable city on this list, but it’s definitely one of the most sought after. In other words, it’s one of the best places to live in Southern California.

Redondo Beach

Redondo Beach is a bustling coastal town in Los Angeles County with great beaches and dining options. It’s a diverse, safe, and relatively affordable location compared to more upscale neighborhoods in Orange County and LA.

Overall, it’s a very livable city that’s a bit faster than the sleepier suburbs. Many residents have moved out in recent years, leaving stunning homes in Redondo Beach for sale.


A city in Orange County, Irvine is a planned city with a population of 307,000. It is known in Southern California for being home to many companies in the technology and semiconductor industries and is also a strong hub for higher education.

Although local industries make up a strong economy, their presence also makes Irvine an expensive city to live in. More than that, Irvine doesn’t have as vibrant a nightlife as other areas of Los Angeles, Orange County, or San Diego.

Loma Linda

Loma Linda is a reasonably small California town in San Bernardino County, just east of Los Angeles. It has an above-average livability score and a cost of living slightly below the national average.

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Loma Linda has a low crime rate compared to some other cities in California. There are also excellent educational institutions in the area, including Loma Linda University.

manhattan beach

If you like beaches, Manhattan Beach can be a great place to live. It has a long beach that stretches for about 2.1 miles and is known for its moderate climate and livability.

Unfortunately, Manhattan Beach suffers from the same high cost of living as other coastal communities in Southern California. Although it’s an overall lovely city with great neighborhoods, it’s above the national average when it comes to the cost of living.


Julian is a mountain town located in San Diego County. It is well known for its famous apple pies and is a bustling tourist spot during apple picking season. It is also one of the few towns in San Diego County that snows.

While the cost of living in Julian is lower than the San Diego average, it is a small town with a population of less than 1,000. This means that you will likely have to travel to a major city for standard services. Crime is very low here and the habitability is above average.

newport beach

Newport Beach is a Southern California beach town located just outside of Irvine. It has several well-known beaches, including one nicknamed “the Wedge” which is known for its big waves. This makes it ideal for surfers and swimmers.

Like all other coastal communities in California, the cost of living in Newport Beach is higher than the national average. Luckily, there are plenty of fine restaurants and a low crime rate to compensate for that.

lake arrowhead

Lake Arrowhead is a mountain town in San Bernardino County with a peaceful lake and a strong tourist industry. A quaint mountain town, Lake Arrowhead offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Due to its relative isolation, the cost of living in Lake Arrowhead is lower than other areas of Southern California. However, the town’s small size means it might not have everything you need.

Costa Mesa

Image courtesy of travellens.com

Costa Mesa is a town in Orange County that includes one of the largest shopping centers in the area. It offers fantastic nightlife, a robust arts scene and beautiful beaches.

It’s relatively affordable compared to other Southern California cities, but it has an above-average property crime rate. Although centrally located, Costa Mesa is also a relatively populated city.

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Seal Beach

Seal Beach in Orange County is a great choice if you like a small town vibe and a laid back atmosphere. It is ideal for families and has beautiful beaches.

Unlike some other beachfront communities, Seal Beach has a lower cost of living than the California average. It also maintains a low crime and poverty rate.

Lake Forest

As its name suggests, Lake Forest derives its name from two man-made lakes and a forest composed mainly of eucalyptus. The city is in Orange County and features beautiful neighborhoods and green spaces.

There is a range of activities throughout the city, and it enjoys the same security and weather as the other cities on this list. However, Lake Forest is more expensive than nearby neighborhoods and areas.


Image courtesy of visittheusa.com

Anaheim is a wonderful city in Orange County that is known for its strong economy. It’s one of the biggest cities on this list – and also home to world attraction Disneyland.

The fact that Disney has a strong presence here means Anaheim has issues with overcrowding. It has a below-average crime rate and a few strong schools, but is expensive like most California cities. However, it is still one of the best places to live in California for young adults.


Murrieta is a town in southwestern Riverside County and one of the fastest growing towns in the region. It has a low crime rate, excellent urban planning and is a great place to raise a family.

Its proximity to San Diego means you’re only a short drive to beaches, mountains and more. However, its economy isn’t as robust as San Diego’s, which could mean a long drive. Summers are also warmer here than in towns closer to the coast.

Southern California has many great cities and neighborhoods – and they’re just waiting for you

Living in Southern California is a dream for many. There are many cities to consider, whether you’re looking for the liveliest city with great nightlife or just the safest place to live in Southern California.
However, there is no “best city” in California. Whether a city is right for you will mainly depend on your situation. For this reason, it’s best to do your research and read some tips for moving to California. Also make sure to visit the city before you travel!

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