When you think of Northern California, what springs to mind? The Golden Gate Bridge? Silicon Valley? Steph Curry? It’s fair to say that Sacramento is rarely front and center of our Bay Area-blinkered thinking.
However, as rent in San Francisco goes from expensive to unattainable, many are considering relocating to Sacramento. Besides Sacramento’s lower cost of living, California’s state capital also has a wide variety of eclectic neighborhoods, is in close proximity to some of the Golden State’s biggest attractions, and has a food scene that goes toe-to-toe with much bigger cities.
For those thinking of making the journey north, we’ve put together this ultimate Sacramento relocation guide, which covers:
- About Sacramento
- The Climate
- The Best Sacramento Suburbs and Neighborhoods
- Employment in Sacramento
- Cost of Living in Sacramento, California
- Attractions In and Around Sacramento
- Food and Restaurants in Sacramento
- How to Get There - Moving to Sacramento
- Is Sacramento a Good Place to Live? Final Thoughts
Sacramento is the state capital of California. However, despite this, it doesn’t have the non-stop hustle and bustle of other big Californian cities.
It’s the sixth-largest city in the Golden State and has an estimated population of 513,695, whilst nearly 2.5 million people live in the metropolitan area. Moreover, despite the sleepier feel compared to other Californian cities, Sacramento has a relatively young population.
Here are some of the stand out age demographics from the city:
- 25% of residents are under 18 (7% under 5 years old)
- 11% of the population are over 65
With all this considered, Sactown - as it’s lovingly referred to by residents - is becoming increasingly popular with young families looking for a warmer and friendlier place to live.
Speaking of warmth, Sacramento is blessed with a year round pleasant climate. So if you’re relocating from the East Coast, say goodbye to those bitterly cold winters!
Winters in Sacramento are mild and snowfall is extremely rare, whereas summers are warm, long, and hot. The average temperature in July reaches around 75.5°F (24°C). However, a sea breeze coming up from the bay area helps to keep these temperatures bearable. That being said, you’ll need AC if you move to Sacramento.
There are on average 60 days of rainfall a year. This typically falls between October and April (although the odd shower may occur between May and September).
If you’re considering living in Sacramento, you need to be prepared for fog. It’s most common in December and January and is commonly known as ‘Tule fog’. This makes getting around a little difficult. As a result, if you're considering making the move, maybe look to relocate outside of those months.
The Best Sacramento Suburbs and Neighborhoods
For those moving from within the state, Sacramento may be considered relatively small. However, depending on where you’re moving from, the mid-sized metropolitan area may seem relatively large.
Whatever your preconceptions over Sacramento’s size or size preference, Sactown has an abundance of eclectic neighborhoods and suburbs suited to any need. Whether you want to live within the city limits or an area outside in an adjacent suburb - there’s something for everyone.
Here are some of the most popular inner-city neighborhoods:
- College Greens - This neighborhood is home to Sac State. However, it isn’t necessarily a college town. It’s a relatively safe area and has close proximity to freeways. Moreover, residents of College Greens are afforded more home and larger space than other neighborhoods within the city.
- Midtown - For those looking for a fast-paced, youthful environment, downtown and midtown may be right up your street. One stoll through midtown will show you why Sacramento was voted the most hipster city in California. Expect to find a variety of kooky boutiques and a wide-range of different independent restaurants and cafes. Moreover, midtown and downtown are the most walkable neighborhoods in the city.
- South Land Park - And now for something completely different. Sacramento’s historic clout is evident in this neighborhood. Located a mere four miles south of the state capitol, it’s mainly composed of large 1950’s ranch houses. However, it’s rare for these homes to become available as they tend to stay in the family for multiple generations. That being said, if they are your thing, keep an eagle eye on South Land Park.
- East Sacramento - If you’re looking for something more modern and upscale, East Sac is the neighborhood for you. It’s got one of the highest prices per square foot in the city and is typically where Sacramento’s elite rub shoulders.
If city living isn’t your thing and you’re after a more suburban experience, here are some of the most popular Sacramento suburbs you might consider:
- Folsom - This is the wealthiest suburb within Sacramento, and generally considered one of the best suburbs in the area. The housing is among some of the nicest in Sac and unemployment is extremely low.
- Roseville - Roseville is very safe and nearly as prosperous as Folsom. The downside is that the schools are crowded and the cost of living puts this out of reach for some families.
- Davis - Davis has a mixture of upscale housing and more affordable options. It’s also renowned for having good schools.
- Elk Grove - Elk Grove is a burb on the rise. In fact, it's presently the second-largest city within Sacramento county. That being said, as its name indicates, it still has a rustic feel to it. It’s abundant with good housing, good schools and picturesque nature scenes.
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Employment in Sacramento
As the state capital, many of Sacramento’s employment opportunities lie within government jobs. It has the highest percentage of government jobs in California and the public sector is the largest employer within Sacramento.
Moreover, Sacramento has suffered a lesser hit from COVID-related job losses than other cities in California. This may be due to the stability of public sector jobs.
In the private sector, it largely depends on what industry you’re in. As a result, it’s recommended you look into available employment opportunities within your industry or find a job in Sacramento before you move.
Outside of Sacramento, it’s not unheard of for people to commute from Sactown to the cities within the Bay Area for work, such as San Francisco, Oakland or San Jose. However, approach this with caution, as the commute can range between 1.5 hour - 2 hours (and that’s before considering the traffic in The Bay).
Cost of Living in Sacramento, California
The recession of 2007-2008 hit Sacramento hard. This resulted in lower house prices and a lower cost of living.
Alongside the friendlier and more personable lifestyle, a lower cost of living is one of the main reasons people move to Sacramento. When compared to San Jose or San Francisco, it really pales in comparison. For example, in San Francisco, the cost of living is 94.7% above the US average, whereas Sacramento is only 17% higher. This is very low for the Golden State.
However, if you want to take advantage of this, it’s recommended you move quickly. With more people being pushed out of the Bay Area due to ever-increasing property prices, Sacremento’s lower cost of living can’t last forever.
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Attractions In and Around Sacramento
Sacramento’s positioning makes it an ideal location for some of the biggest attractions within the state. However, before diving into attractions outside of the city, it would be a disservice to overlook the attractions within Sacramento.
Here are a few to consider visiting after you move to Sacramento:
- Tower Bridge - The Tower Bridge has connected residents of Sacramento to West Sacramento since 1935. This impressive vertical lift bridge spans the Sacramento River and is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. In 1982, the bridge was included in the National Register of Historic Places.
- Old Sacramento - This historic park is one of the most significant and popular attractions in the city (with over 5 million visitors a year) It transports visitors back to the mid-1800s and is a homage to Sacramento’s rich history.
- California State Railroad Museum - located within Old Sacramento, the museum showcases restored locomotives and railroad cars, as well as artifacts from the time. It brings to life this important chapter of America’s history and the lives of railroaders.
As aforementioned, Sacramento is also in close proximity to some of California’s most popular destinations. It’s a short drive away from the famous wine country, the mountains, and the ocean is just a couple of hours drive.
Here are some of California’s best attractions close to Sacramento:
- Napa and Sonoma
- San Francisco
- Lake Tahoe
- Santa Cruz
- Lassen National Park
Food and Restaurants in Sacramento
It’s wild that we’ve gotten this far into the Sacramento relocation guide and not mentioned that it’s America's 'Farm to Fork’ capital. Sacramento grows pretty much everything. As a result, foodies can be assured that the produce available is among the freshest you will find not just in the state, but the country too.
There’s been a restaurant renaissance in Sacramento, with top chefs having flocked to Sactown and are creating dishes that would rival the food scenes of San Francisco or Los Angeles.
If you do move to Sacramento, you’ll be more conscious of what you eat, where your food comes from, and the quality of your ingredients.
How to Get There - Moving to Sacramento, CA
If you’ve decided to relocate to Sacramento, thankful it’s extremely easy to get to and get around.
It has an international airport, a shipping port, railroad, light-rail, bus systems and, of course, major interstate freeways.
Here’s a few options you can take:
- By air - Sacramento International Airport is located 10 miles from downtown Sacramento.
- By road - It’s easily accessible via a number of highways and freeways, including: Interstate 5 U.S. (Los Angeles to Sacramento), Interstate 80 (San Francisco to Sacramento), and Highway 50.
- By bus - There are regular intercity bus services to Sacramento from Portland, Reno, Los Angeles and San Francisco from the Greyhound Lines.
- By rail - The Sacramento Valley Rail Station is one of the busiest Amtrak stations in California.
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Is Sacramento a Good Place to Live? Final Thoughts
If you and your family are looking for a big city with a small town feel, living in Sacramento might be right for you.
It’s got all the benefits of California’s weather and attractions while boasting a significantly lower cost of living than San Francisco or San Jose.
However, the secret of Sacramento will not last forever. Therefore, if you’re looking to relocate, it’s better to go sooner rather than later.
Before doing so, make sure you have a clear financial plan and enough money saved up to make the move. Regardless of the savings you can make in Sacramento’s suburbs, the soft costs that come with relocating can’t be overlooked.