Northern California has some pretty amazing places to live, we all know that to be a fact. However, if you want to get official about it, here’s a list of Northern California communities ranked as the best places to live that factors in the excellence of the public school system, the affordability of the homes, and the growth and prosperity of these towns and cities.
If you draw a line straight through the middle of California, you’ll of course see the Bay Area in the Northern Half. To cater to those of us who live outside of that particular region, this list only includes the Sacramento region and up. If you are interested in a list that includes the Bay, check out
NerdWallet, where we drew some facts and information to compile this list.
Great public schools that consistently produce high test scores, places to play like Folsom Lake and the American River, and relatively affordable house (The 2012 median home valued at $398,200), a historic downtown, and annual festivals that build community, all add up to Folsom being ranked at the top of this list.
Also close to Folsom Lake, this quiet middle- to upper-middle-class suburb also ranks high when it comes to test scores in public schools that are part of the Rocklin Unified School District. It is home to several California Distinguished Schools — Breen Elementary, Valley View Elementary and more. The average price of a home in 2012 was $333,200, and residents have seen long-term stability in income growth, too.
3. El Dorado Hills
Located in the foothills of El Dorado County, El Dorado Hills is known for it’s community driven central hub and providing a good education for students. The El Dorado Community Services District organizes holiday events throughout the year for kids, and manages the "hills" of the community, which includes over 100 acres of parks. It’s a quiet slice of suburbia that’s close to Sacramento.
Known as one of the livelier suburbs of Sacramento with shopping malls and parks, Roseville definitely is oriented around community. From summer festivals to walkable neighborhoods, this community has been steadily growing for a number of years. Roseville’s high schools have a higher than average number of AP courses, as well.
5. Granite Bay
Also part of the greater Sacramento area, this rural but upscale city has a high median income compared to most places in Northern California. Within the local school district, several teachers have been honored for making a difference and the district also received recognition for having a high 2013 API score. The Granite Bay Community Association provides a range of activities for residents with events and activities ranging from farmers markets to gardening club meetings.
Home of Humboldt State University, Arcata also boasts a fairly decent rating for it’s public schools. It’s homes are also pretty affordable. The average home there in 2012 went for the price of $340,500. The economic upswing in this region continues to make strides.
Much more affordable than some of Sacramento’s suburbs, Oroville’s average price for a home in 2012 was $169,300. While it falls a little farther behind on the GreatSchools ranking, it’s projected growth of 67% solidify an investment here as time well spent. If you have young kids, chances are this will be a totally different place education wise by the time they enter the school system.
If you are looking for a Sacramento suburb where you can take advantage of the great schools without breaking the bank to live there, Orangevale might be the place for you. With a more affordable median home price of $270,600 in 2012, it still ranks high when it comes to public school test scores.
With a median home price of $337,600 in 2012, Lincoln’s major draw is that it has something that the suburbs can often lack: that small town charm. This tight-knit community offers the best of both worlds if you are choosing between the experience and the education when it comes to raising a family.
Redding is another community that gets you out of the Sacramento Region and into the heart of Northern California without sacrificing the kind of community that will be best for your family. With a 2012 average home price of $240,200, it’s affordable and easy to live here.
11. Cameron Park
Take advantage of the country lifestyle that Cameron Park has to offer while still staying close to the Sacramento Region. It’s just a stone’s throw from El Dorado Hills, but offers more outside of the way of cookie-cutter houses and suburbia. It’s totally possible to have a farm and commute to Sacramento in this rural community. The 2012 median home prices was $343,800 and it has decent test scores coming out of it’s public schools.