Moving to Sacramento? An Essential Guide to the City
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Moving to Sacramento? An Essential Guide to the City

by Team NextBurb 15 October 2020

Moving Guides By City

Sacramento is an appealing city not just because of its laid-back culture, but because of its tree-lined streets and beautiful year-round weather.

With a metro area population of 2,123,000, Sacramento is a great place for young families looking for affordable homes of their own and for professionals who want urban perks like nightlife and restaurants as well as opportunities for outdoor activity.

Sacramento – an appealing city with tree-lined streets and beautiful year-round weather
Sacramento – an appealing city with tree-lined streets and beautiful year-round weather.

Sacramento’s location along the Sacramento and American rivers made it a hotspot for transportation and commerce during the Gold Rush in 1850.

Today, it serves as the state capital of California. While the city is a regional center for the healthcare and finance industries, it’s also a more affordable attraction for Bay Area residents looking to leave crowded, expensive urban neighborhoods in favor of Sacramento’s outdoor spaces and cheaper cost of living.

At a time when many jobs can be done from anywhere, Sacramento might just be the next ideal city to look to for urban commodities with lower expenses and access to green spaces. Read on for a guide to the neighborhoods and lifestyles of this growing city.

Moving to Sacramento

While Sacramento is more expensive than the average American city, it’s far more affordable than the other urban areas of California.

With mild weather and balanced access to urban life and the beautiful outdoors, it’s a great place for young families and professionals alike.

Is Sacramento Affordable?

The average cost of living in Sacramento (with a one-bedroom, rented apartment) is $2,276.39.

While this isn’t cheap, it’s a lot better than living in San Francisco, where monthly expenses come to $4,210.60.

Should I buy a house in Sacramento?

There’s some good news if you’re considering buying a house in Sacramento: it’s more affordable than most California cities.

But if you’re trying to decide between renting and buying on a purely financial basis, reports show that renting is typically cheaper month-to-month in most Sacramento neighborhoods.

This doesn’t mean that renting is the best answer for your financial plan. Real estate advisors calculate that due to appreciation, buying property becomes beneficial if you plan to own it for more than 5-7 years.

Since appreciation rates in Sacramento are expected to stay steady for the foreseeable future, buying them might be a worthwhile investment. It all depends on how long you plan to stay on the property.

Sacramento is notorious for flooding, and flood insurance is highly recommended for city residents.

Although the city has created designated flood plains just outside city limits, flooding is still a threat to many neighborhoods.

Proceed with caution when purchasing a home and be aware of its location relative to flood-prone parts of the city.

Areas to Live in Sacramento

Since Sacramento is a smaller city, suburban residents can get downtown in under 25 minutes while still enjoying the quietness of well-maintained streets and the lifestyle of the suburbs.

Sacramento public transit is reliable if you live close to one of the train lines or bus routes (more on that later), so if you plan to use it to commute or run errands, you’ll want to choose where you live accordingly.

If that’s not a concern, there are plenty of areas to choose from for any budget and lifestyle.

Best Neighborhoods to Live in the city of Sacramento

The eclectic, unique neighborhood of Pocket lies in the southwestern corner of the Sacramento city limits.

Pocket’s median home price is $419,824, which is considerably higher than other parts of the city, but the neighborhood boasts above-average schools and dozens of parks.

Southeast of the city center, Tahoe Park and Elmhurst make up a pleasant urban area with great schools and walking access to brunch, shops, and public transportation. Median home prices range from $430,000-$535,000, and you can get downtown in just a 10-minute car ride.

If you’re interested in a (post-COVID-19) nightlife and urban lifestyle, check out Midtown and East Sacramento. River Park and Village 7 are two of the many neighborhoods attractive to young families for a mix of an urban and relaxed atmosphere and access to parks and outdoor activities.

Best Suburbs to Live around Sacramento

A 25-minute drive south of downtown, Elk Grove is consistently thought of as one of the best suburbs of Sacramento to raise a family. With a median house price of $403,982, Elk Grove has award-winning schools with quick access via the interstate to the city and airport.

To the east, the town of Davis is a great, spacious place with college-town energy and acres of parks. The drive into Sacramento is about 25 minutes without traffic. Home to UC Davis, a campus of University of California, Davis is one of the more affluent Sacramento suburbs, with median house prices at $703, 588.

Sprawling out to the northwest, Folsom, Roseville, and Rancho Cordova are established Sacramento suburbs with great reputations as safe neighborhoods with good schools and access to shopping and amenities.

Folsom has a median house price of $488,000 and borders Lake Folsom, which is a great place to swim or spend a warm summer day. North of Folsom is Roseville, a city full of parks and bike trails. Roseville has a median home price of $434,482 and has top-rated public schools.

It’s a little further from Sacramento than other suburbs, but you can still drive downtown in 25 minutes.

If you’re looking for a slightly more affordable suburb with access to the city and nature alike, Rancho Cordova lies slightly closer to the city and has a lower median house price of $353,400. Head to nearby parks on the American River or take a 20-minute drive downtown.

Crime in the Sacramento Area

Sacramento is ranked as having a slightly higher crime rate than other cities its size in both California and America.

You’ll want to keep your eyes open just as you would in any city, but most residents feel completely safe and happy in their neighborhoods.

Check out crime data in Sacramento to learn more about crime in the area. While crime rates are generally higher in city neighborhoods just outside the Downtown/Midtown area, they vary by neighborhood.

Newly developed suburbs like Folsom, Elk Grove and Roseville further from the city all have consistently low crime rates.

Climate in the Sacramento Area

Sacramento’s Mediterranean climate is more moderate than in cities further south, but it still brings hot, dry summers, with average high temperatures of 94 degrees in July.

Low temperatures average at about 50 degrees during January, so shed the heavy coats and enjoy the winter months, which only bring a few days of rain each year. While summer days get warm, cool air called the “delta breeze” cuts through hot temps during the evening and provides respite from the higher temps.

Still, you’ll probably want a home with AC or will want to look to have one installed.

With consistent sun, beautiful spring and fall seasons, there’s not much to dread about the Sacramento climate.

Transportation & Commute

Airports

Sacramento International Airport is a small regional hub that provides direct and connecting flights to the rest of the country, with a few international flights as well. While it’s not as big as other California airports, it is modern and clean and has great customer service.

The airport is only a 13-minute drive from the city center, and the bus route runs every hour from the airport into the city, getting you downtown in 25 minutes.

Transportation

Sacramento is traveled primarily by car, with nearly 90% of residents driving to work every day. Two interstates divide the city into four rough quadrants: 1-80, which runs east-west, and I-5, which runs north-south up and down the west coast.

The city has a Light Rail train service that provides moderate access to the city.

Trains run regularly during commuter hours for just $2.50 a ride, and bus routes run through the downtown area as well. It is also a very bike-able city with designated bike lanes on many city streets.

With mild weather and scarce rainy days, it’s a great alternative commute to work.

Do I need a car to live in Sacramento?

Sacramento’s public transportation isn’t as extensive as it is for bigger cities in the United States.

If you live close to one of the train lines, you can find enough grocery stores, restaurants, and gyms along your route to meet your basic needs.

However, if you don’t live within walking distance of public transportation and want to explore nearby trails and parks on weekends and holidays, a car might be a good idea.

As with many fast-growing cities along the west coast, traffic in Sacramento is rated as some worst in the country.

Expect to crawl along the interstate during rush hour along with most of the rest of Sacramento’s commuting workforce. At least you’ll be able to crack the window to experience the good weather!

Business in Sacramento

Sacramento is home to major companies in the healthcare industry, including Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente. UC Davis is another top employer, and in true California form, there are plenty of tech companies in the area as well: Intel, Verizon, and Apple among others.

Working from home in Sacramento

Sacramento has many co-working spaces that are accessible to anyone working remotely.

Choose between traditional co-working locations like WeWork and more transitional spaces like The Trade, which offers rented conference rooms as well as a café with seating.

The city is a great place to find a place to park your laptop and work wherever you want, whether it’s in an independent coffee shop or out in a park by the river during Sacramento’s many months of sun.

Culture

Sacramento’s small-city feel and mild weather attract a lot of young professionals and families looking for a mix of vibrant city life and things to do outdoors.

Sacramento has a strong LGBTQ+ community throughout its neighborhoods and suburbs, and like most of California, it is generally considered politically progressive.

Things to Do

Head to Downtown or Midtown areas of Sacramento for award-winning restaurants and nightlife.

From Japanese cuisine at Poke Iichi to farm-to-table favorites like the Waterboy and Firehouse, there’s food for any palette.

Midtown has live music venues, gay bars, and nightclubs for weekend festivities.

Sacramento is also only an hour away from Napa Valley.

If you want to taste internationally renowned wines and want to take in the beauty of California, head west from the city to tour some of the best wineries in the world.

Outdoors

Sacramento’s two rivers provide access to boating, swimming, and even white-water rafting without having to drive far from the city.

Whether you’re looking for a difficult climb or a paved walking path, you can find trails running in and around the city for biking, walking, and running.

The American River Parkway follows the American River east of downtown for 30 miles (48.28 km).

Parks, boat landings, and walking trails are maintained by a non-profit organization to provide beautiful outdoor space for Sacramento residents.

For more serious outdoor activities, hop in your car and go to a nearby hiking trail.

At the heart of Gold Rush territory, many trails in the Sacramento area have historic significance, like the Western States and Independence Trails.

Head out to Folsom Lake for trails, water access, and mountain biking. From the lake, drive north to the Cronan Ranch Regional Trails park, where trails will provide scenic views of Sierra Nevada country.

Living in Sacramento

Sacramento provides the rare opportunity to take advantage of busy nightlife and restaurants as well as outdoor activities like boating and hiking.

With mild year-round weather, beautiful parks and river access, it’s a great place to move to California for affordable housing and a laid-back lifestyle that can be hard to find elsewhere.

Here at Nextburb, we’re committed to providing you with the facts you need to know about any area you’re considering as a future home.

Discover the best places to live in the United States to find out more about neighborhoods to live in, school ratings, crime data, and real estate options.

We’ll provide you with recommendations based on your lifestyle and budget preferences to help you discover where you want to go.

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