California's Housing Shift Why Residents Are Flocking to Suburban and Rural Areas

California’s Housing Shift: Why Residents Are Flocking to Suburban and Rural Areas

The current trend of Californians relocating from major cities to more affordable suburban and rural areas has prompted a shift in population dynamics.


California’s major cities are witnessing a significant population decline as residents seek more affordable living conditions.

High home prices in metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and San Francisco have pushed many to relocate to suburban and rural regions within the state.

This trend has led to notable population growth in counties like Riverside, San Bernardino, Placer, Yolo, and Fresno.

The Exodus from Major Cities

During the COVID-19 pandemic, California experienced a mass exodus as residents left for states with more affordable housing.

Despite a modest 0.17% population increase in the 2023 state census, many major cities are still experiencing population declines.

Los Angeles County has about 3,40,000 fewer residents than in 2019, while San Francisco, San Diego, and Santa Clara counties have around 40,000 fewer residents.

A poll by the Los Angeles Business Council Institute and the Los Angeles Times found that nearly 75% of renters and 37% of homeowners have considered moving out of Los Angeles.

This mass movement is driven by the high cost of living in these areas, pushing residents to seek affordable housing in less populated regions.

Riverside County: A Growing Community

CityPopulation Growth (2017-2022)Median Home Price (2023)

Riverside County has seen significant growth, with a 12.4% population increase from 2010 to 2022.

The county’s proximity to Los Angeles and Orange counties makes it an attractive alternative for those priced out of these markets.

Menifee, a city within Riverside County, saw a 20.75% population growth between 2017 and 2022, with housing availability increasing by nearly 20% between 2016 and 2021.

San Bernardino County: Affordable Alternatives

CityPopulation Growth (2017-2022)Median Home Price (2023)

San Bernardino County, neighboring Riverside County, offers more affordable housing options with a median list price of $519,000.

Cities like Chino and Victorville have seen significant population growth due to their affordability and proximity to major metropolitan areas.

Chino experienced a 5.94% population growth from 2017 to 2022, while Victorville saw a 12.1% increase.

Placer County: Rural Appeal with Urban Proximity

CityPopulation Growth (2017-2022)Median Home Price (2023)

Placer County, located just outside California’s state capital, Sacramento, has experienced a 19.4% population increase from 2010 to 2022.

Roseville, the largest city in Placer County, has seen substantial growth, with the population rising from 135,325 to 154,826 between 2017 and 2022.

The county’s median list price of $749,000 reflects its growing popularity and residential development.

Yolo County: Northern California’s Fastest-Growing Region

CityPopulation Growth (2021-2022)Median Home Price (2023)

Yolo County, located on the other side of Sacramento, has a median home price of $645,000.

Between 2021 and 2022, the county saw a 4.26% population rise, making it the fastest-growing county during that period.

Davis, the largest city in Yolo County, has a median list price of $949,000 and a population of 67,336.

Fresno County: Central California’s Hidden Gem

CityPopulation Growth (2017-2022)Median Home Price (2023)

Fresno County, located in Central California between Los Angeles and San Francisco, has a median list price of $439,000.

The county’s population grew from 930,450 in 2010 to 1,015,190 in 2022, a 9.1% increase.

Clovis, a city within Fresno County, saw a 13.5% population increase from 2017 to 2022.

In 2023, Livability named Clovis one of the “Best Places to Live in the U.S.” due to its highly rated schools, exceptional quality of life, and relatively low cost of living.


The high home prices in California’s major metropolitan areas drive residents to seek more affordable living options in suburban and rural regions.

Counties like Riverside, San Bernardino, Placer, Yolo, and Fresno offer lower home prices and a higher quality of life, attracting many new residents.

As these areas grow, they provide viable alternatives for those looking to escape the high living costs in California’s major cities.

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