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The diverse geography of the state of California finds communities populating its mountains and river areas, valleys and deserts and, of course, its spectacular beaches along the coast. With 38 million people, California is the most populous state in the United States. San Francisco, CaliforniaCalifornia is known for its many attractions, including national parks, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Hollywood movie industry.  When Livability recently explored small- to medium-sized cities great places to live to rank their 2015 Top 100 Best Places to Live, several California cities made the cut. An excerpt from their list:

  • Palo Alto
    Palo Alto remains one of the best places to live, especially for those blazing the digital frontier. A 31-mile dark fiber ring around the city provides ultra-high-speed Internet access. Schools and open spaces are highly valued in Palo Alto, which has a well-educated, politically active and socially minded population.
  • Berkeley
    Once known for its hippie vibes, Berkeley is now known for its food scene, which has landed the city on Livability's lists of top 10 foodie cities in 2013 and 2014. The town, part of the San Francisco Bay, is also home to the popular University of California campus and a wealth of cultural attractions including museums, galleries and theaters.
  • Santa Clara
    Loaded with parks, cultural institutions and historic architecture, Santa Clara offers residents an amazing package of amenities. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara's economy is driven by technology firms and Santa Clara University. Residents enjoy 300 days of sunshine a year and take advantage of great recreational facilities.
  • San Mateo
    Spanish for Saint Matthew, San Mateo is poised within the high-tech Silicon Valley and features a prominent downtown district with more than 800 stores and restaurants. The city takes pride in sustainability efforts, caring for more than 15 parks along with numerous historic buildings dating to the late 19th century.
  • Santa Barbara
    Amenities ranging from beaches along the Pacific Ocean to shopping centers, performing arts venues and microbreweries in historic neighborhoods make Santa Barbara a vibrant place to live. Tourism helps Santa Barbara's economy thrive. Good health care and a strong education system make Santa Barbara even more attractive to new residents.

The cities were ranked on criteria that included amenities, demographics, economy, education, housing and other areas that impact the overall livability of a city. You can read more in Livability’s report. Interested in two of the biggest cities in California? Find helpful information about Los Angeles and San Francisco right on our website. 

About the author

Tracy French

Tracy French has been a California resident since 1995. She has worked at Crown San Francisco for 14 years and is currently Senior Move Manager. Tracy was the 2014 recipient of Crown North America’s Employee of the Year award.

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