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Apartments for rent in California

"It was that population that gave to California a name for getting up astounding enterprises and rushing them through with a magnificent dash and daring and a recklessness of cost or consequences, which she bears unto this day -- and when she projects a new surprise the grave world smiles as usual and says, 'Well, that is California all over.'" --Mark Twain

From the earliest pioneers, to 49er gold prospectors, to Hollywood hopefuls, to tech innovators, California has always been an iconic destination for the most adventurous dream chasers. Offering more cultural and geographical diversity than any other U.S. state, California is the most populous state and is the third largest is geographical size. For those making California their new home, finding a rental home in California can be comparable to the Joads' plight in "The Grapes of Wrath" - optimism marred by reality. But remember, if dream chasing was simple, everyone would do it. With the right preparation and knowledge, you can strike gold by laying a new claim in the Golden State.

Tips for Renting in California

Consider Your Lifestyle

California offers endless possibilities to cater to anyone's particular lifestyle. From the tech-savvy urbanite to the outdoor adventurer, finding the ideal location to complement your interests in California is absolutely doable. Also consider what type of home you'd ideally like to rent. For instance, finding three-bedroom houses for rent in downtown San Francisco is not as likely as finding one in nearby Oakland or even outside Napa Valley. It's important to understand the housing market in whatever piece of California you lay your claim.

Know Your Region

If California was a country, it would have the 34th largest population in the world, and California is probably more culturally and geographically diverse than most sovereign nations. For instance, California consistently has legislation on the docket to divide the state into smaller states. Although there is a 99.99 percent chance this will never happen, it is a testament to the different interests of California's various regions. Understanding the differences of each region will go a long way in deciding what city in California is best for you.

Regions of California

California is huge so of course it's important to get the bigger picture before you make any decisions. Take a look at some of the more popular areas of the state below:

Northern California: Ideal for those that appreciate a little fresh air, Northern California is known for its outdoorsy attitude, and it is home to the state's capital, Sacramento. Perfect for someone searching for a semi-urban experience, Sacramento offers big city amenities without the huge price tag of other California metropolitan areas. Although apartment rentals can still be pricey in the downtown area, nearby cities such as Davis offer practical housing options.

Central California: Central California is a popular area due to its affordability and proximity to popular California destinations. Living in Central California is like having one foot in California's farmland and one foot on its urban sidewalks.

San Francisco Bay Area: Perhaps one of the busiest with growth, yet most beautiful, livable and prosperous regions in California, the San Francisco Bay area is admired the world over for its natural beauty and cultural richness. San Francisco is also one of the nation's most walkable cities and boasts an enviable public transportation system, meaning there's no need for a car. Unfortunately, finding studio apartments for rent in today's San Francisco rental market takes more than a flower in your hair. However, residents of nearby cities, like Oakland, find apartment availability and pricing more practical. For what it's worth, traveling within the Bay Area is not as agonizing and hair-graying as other metropolitan areas. From Napa Valley to Silicon Valley, the Bay Area is a diverse and a highly sought-after region of California.

Inland Empire: Although most people think of Silicon Valley as the hub of techy innovation, the Inland Empire has quickly become a tech hot spot as well. Considered the region east of Los Angeles, the Inland Empire features the counties of San Bernardino and Riverside, and continues to grow exponentially due to its affordable housing, growing cultural arts scene (think Coachella Music and Arts Festival) and tech-centered job growth.

Southern and Coastal California: The virtual billboard of California, Los Angeles and the southern coastal region provide residents consistently perfect weather with a vibrant atmosphere. Los Angeles is divided into 120 distinct neighborhoods, and renting in areas like Santa Monica can make living the Los Angeles lifestyle a reality.

Things to Do in California

For outdoor sport enthusiasts, Lake Tahoe is a celebrated Northern California locale for the health-conscious and adrenaline-minded. For beach bums, nearby beaches such as Venice, Redondo and Huntington define laid back, coastal living. Further south, San Diego is the epicenter for sun worshipers, surfers and, most importantly, thankful Californians.

East of San Francisco Bay and near famous national parks, such as Yosemite, cities like Modesto provide residents the best bang for their buck, while providing easy access to everything California has to offer.

California Renter Confidence Survey
National study of renter confidence in the economy, homeownership, and cities
Here's how California ranks on:
B Plans for homeownership
A City satisfaction
C+ Confidence in the local economy
B- Safety and crime rate
A Access to recreational activities
B+ Quality of schools
D State and local taxes
B- Satisfaction with daily commute
Best Worst
Full data available when viewing on a non-mobile device.
Overview of Findings

Apartment List has released California's results from the first annual Apartment List Renter Satisfaction Survey. The survey, which drew on responses from over 18,000 renters, provides new insights into what states and cities must do to meet the needs of the 105 million American renters nationwide.

"Renters gave California high marks for overall satisfaction, ranking in the top 10 of states in our study," says Andrew Tam, Vice President of Data Science at Apartment List. "The US renter population is at its highest level in 20 years, and while California scores well for access to recreation, renters expressed strong dissatisfaction with state and local taxes as well as concern about the economy."

Key findings in California include the following:

  • California renters give their state an A for city satisfaction, ranking 9th out of the 41 states included in our study.
  • Only 25% of renters believe that the California economy is on the right track.
  • California earned a B for homeownership, with 60% of renters reporting that they plan to purchase a home in the future.
  • Renters gave California an A for access to recreational opportunities, its highest grade. 68% of respondents are satisfied with California's access to recreation versus the national average of 63%.
  • Unsurprisingly, California received its worst grade (D) for state and local taxes, with only 35% reporting satisfaction.
  • California cities received a wide range of grades, with Torrance (A+) and San Francisco (A+) at the top of the list and Modesto (D) and San Bernardino (F) at the bottom of the list.
  • The top rated states for city satisfaction were Utah, Idaho, Minnesota, Colorado, and Oklahoma. The lowest rated states were Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maine, and South Carolina.

A detailed report explaining the survey's methodology, analysis, and findings is available upon request. To obtain a copy, please email Andrew Tam, Apartment List's Vice President of Data Science, at