9 Best Places To Live On The West Coast

Full article 21 min read
Best Places to Live on the West Coast

From the lush green mountains in Washington, the verdant forests in Oregon, the who’s-who of the tech industry in Silicon Valley, to the warm, sunny beaches of Southern California. The West Coast of the US is one place that has attracted people to come and settle down here since the 1800s. The entire region that was once the center of the Gold Rush has now turned into a geographical magnet to people of all ages wanting to move.

Now, which of those reasons are the ones to convince you is something we do not know. What we do know is, in the four states that line the western coast of America, there are some amazing towns and cities, one of which will strike the right chord for everyone looking.


So, here’s a list of the best places on the West Coast to live in.

  1. Eugene, OR
  2. San Clemente, CA
  3. San Jose, CA
  4. Santa Monica, CA
  5. Seattle, WA
  6. San Francisco, CA
  7. Monterey, CA
  8. Malibu, CA
  9. Tacoma, WA

1. Eugene, OR

This college town that lives in the heart of the Willamette Valley is known for its green cover. In fact, Eugene is known as the ‘Emerald City’ for the amount of greenery it has sprinkled in the city itself. However, nature is just one part of why it is a great place to move to. The city of Eugene offers a vast job market, mind-blowing food, and a culture that has incorporated healthy living seamlessly. Moreover, there are great schools in the city, making it perfect for moving, regardless of whether you are doing so with, or without, a family.

Eugene is located at an intersection between the Cascade Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. This has a significant effect on the climate of the city. The weather in Eugene is mild for most of the year, except for winters, where the temperatures might drop to the mid-40s in the coldest month, which is December. On the other hand, the summers are comfortable and reach the ceiling at a pleasant 80°F. The city also sees snowfall from December through February. However, that is mostly manageable since the average snowfall is only 1.3 inches.

Education is one of the top industries in Eugene. It’s no wonder that there are plenty of great private and public schools around the city. Some of the schools that stand out are the Ridgeline Montessori School, Eugene Waldorf School, and South Eugene High School, which is affectionately known as the ‘University Of South Eugene’. It’s safe to say that raising a child in this city would not be much of a worry.

When it comes to the job market, Eugene manages to impress almost everyone who comes here looking for a job. The town has multiple thriving industries like wineries, manufacturing, education, and healthcare. The biggest employers in this city are the Eugene School District, University Of Oregon, and PeaceHealth Medical Group. However, since the crowd of college kids make a huge pool of unskilled workers and laborers, the blue-collar job market is fierce and does struggle to keep up with the city’s cost of living.

Population: 168,302

Median Home Value: $288,600

Monthly Median Rent: $1,031

Annual Median Household Income: $50,962

See also: Moving to Oregon

2. San Clemente, CA

Known as the ‘Spanish Village By The Sea’, San Clemente is the epitome of the phrase ‘coastal living’. Spanish-style buildings line the coast of the Pacific Ocean with landmarks like Laguna Beach and the San Clemente Pier. The city of San Clemente offers its residents a tight-knit community, the vibe of a small town, and an impressive education network.

The weather in this city is relatively warmer, with the average temperature being in the 70s through the year. The summers are hot and humid, with the hottest month of august seeing an average of 79°F. The winter follows a similar theme with the temperature averaging at 64°F.

Speaking of education, there are six elementary schools, three middle schools, and one high school in the city. Out of these, the Las Palmas Elementary School and San Clemente High School are well-known for their quality of education. In fact, the students from San Clemente High School have won multiple academic accolades, along with awards with their dance teams, bands, voice groups, and athletic groups.

The city of San Clemente also offers a job market that is currently in its growth. The unemployment rate is also lesser than the national average. This is due to the blooming job opportunities provided by companies like Capistrano Unified School District, Glaukos Corp, Ralphs, and Camp Pendleton, which is the USMC base just over the San Diego County line.

Population: 64,848

Median Home Value: $906,100

Monthly Median Rent: $1,880

Annual Median Household Income: $110,434

3. San Jose, CA

The third-largest city in California, San Jose is also the supposed capital of Silicon Valley. So, it would be a fair assumption that there is a huge amount of jobs in the city along with a bigger amount of people living there and looking for them. However, this city is not just that. There are a plethora of outdoor activities that are complemented by the amazing weather. This, added with the safe neighborhoods in the city, San Jose scores pretty high on the quality-of-life ranking. However, it does come with a heavy price tag.

A lot of people moving to San Jose do not mind the high cost of living in this city because the nature of jobs and the income they provide make it manageable to live in this city. The unbeatable economy here is fed by the presence of tech giants like Apple, Google, IBM, Hitachi, Adobe, and Cisco Systems. Some of the other big employers in this area include Amazon, Western Digital, Intel, and San Jose State.

Due to this, the unemployment rate in San Jose is lower than the national average. However, the older tech workers might find it a little competitive since there is a continuous influx of younger professionals looking for jobs.

Speaking of young people, the city of San Jose has an impeccable education system too. There are many great private and public schools, including campuses that are focused on performing arts and STEM. There are about 12 school districts to choose from, for the K-12 education, while those looking for higher education can choose from Santa Clara University, Berkeley University, Stanford University, and the University Of San Francisco.

Population: 1,027,690

Median Home Value: $864,600

Monthly Median Rent: $2,107

Annual Median Household Income: $109,593

4. Santa Monica, CA

Santa Monica manages to give its residents the quintessential SoCal life experience without taking any of the metropolitan amenities away. Nestled right beside the Pacific Coast Highway, the city of about 100,000 people has beaches for a backyard and the Pacific Ocean for a pool.

The city of Santa Monica is fairly sunny throughout the year. In fact, it receives about 310 days of sunlight per year. While the overall weather is pleasant, it tends to swing between overcast and sunny. The temperature in Santa Monica typically varies from 49°F to 76°F.

This laidback city does an amazing job with the quality of education. There are excellent public schools with an overall rating of A+ according to Niche, and an impressive student-teacher of 22:1. In total, there are 18 public schools in this city, out of which, Santa Monica High School and Crossroads School For Arts And Sciences are the most well-known. As for higher education, one can choose from the Santa Monica College and the University Of California, and Columbia University, amongst the other colleges.

The city also has a booming job market, wherein industries like media and entertainment, retail sales, and information technology are making huge impacts. Some of the biggest employers in the area include Edmunds Holding Company, Hulu, Activision Blizzard, Diesel, and Lionsgate.

Population: 91,577

Median Home Value: $1,382,700

Monthly Median Rent: $1,802

Annual Median Household Income: $96,570


5. Seattle, WA

Seattle is consistently ranked amongst the top ten cities to live in America by USNews. There are world-class schools, a booming job market, vast and unique culture, and the possibility of a fulfilling lifestyle make this city one of the favorites when people think of moving to the West Coast.

Seattle is known for its cold and gloomy weather. In fact, it is known for being a rainy city. While the actual rain in Seattle is mild and happens in short bouts, it does happen for about nine months in a year, only leaving the summer months dry. However, Seattle gets named as a rainy city because of the average 200 cloudy days it sees in a year. However, there’s surprisingly low humidity and the temperatures vary between 37°F and 79°F.

When it comes to education in Seattle, the city takes pride in being one of the most well-educated cities in America. Some of the best schools in this city include Ella Baker Elementary School, International School, and Lakeside School. For higher education, one can choose between the University Of Washington and DigiPen Institute Of Technology.

The job market in Seattle is as stellar as one can get. It consists of giants in industries like tech, retail sales, biotech, healthcare, and shipping. Some of the biggest employers in this city include Amazon, Starbucks, Costco, Providence Health Services, and Barrett Business Services. A lot of jobs are also provided by the Port Of Seattle.

Population: 724,305

Median Home Value: $663,100

Monthly Median Rent: $1,614

Annual Median Household Income: $92,263

Also See: Moving To Seattle

6. San Francisco, CA

Located between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay in Northern California, the city of San Francisco is a 46-square-mile wide city that is roughly shaped like a square. The city has a rather hilly terrain. When the city planners built grid-like straight roads on this terrain, it gave rise to the need of cable cars and the opportunity to have a lot of amazing chases in Hollywood movies. Other than that, San Francisco welcomes everyone with a breeze of salty sea air, colorful buildings, and artsy streets and markets.

The one factor that could be the most important deciding factor is the weather. Fortunately, San Francisco has a very unique weather pattern that prevents the city from reaching very high temperatures. On an average, the city sees temperatures ranging from 45°F to 72°F. Just don’t be surprised when the city is enveloped by Karl the Fog!

The education sector in this city is known to be well planned. The San Francisco Unified School District overlooks the education in this city and is home to 64 elementary schools, 13 middle schools, 15 high schools, and at least 5 very well-known colleges and universities.

The ones to stand out from this huge list are San Francisco University High School, Lick-Wilmerding High School, The Urban School Of San Francisco, and the French American International Schools. The ones looking for higher education opportunities can choose from San Francisco State University, University Of California – San Francisco, Stanford University, and the University Of California – Berkeley. To say that the quality of education in this city is good would be an understatement!

When it comes to the job market in this city, tech, tourism, and finance industries have contributed a large portion of the opportunities and growth this city has seen. Among the top employers in the city are PG&E, Wells Fargo, Amazon, Salesforce, and Deloitte. While these are the big players, there are many jobs available in the education and healthcare sector as well.

Population: 874,961

Median Home Value: $1,097,800

Monthly Median Rent: $1,895

Annual Median Household Income: $112,449

Also Read: Best San Francisco Neighborhoods to Live In

7. Monterey, CA

Monterey is a beautiful beach town on the southern edge of the Monterey Bay in South California. It’s a world-famous tourist attraction that is known for its surfing culture, whales, and the immaculate Cali Vibes. The city also has amazing entertainment venues, decent schools, good job opportunities, and awesome California weather.

Speaking of the weather, the city of Monterey sees a Mediterranean climate with warm and sunny weather. The overall temperature averages out between 44°F and 68°F while the summer season, which begins in August and ends in October, sees average temperatures between 55°F and 67°F.

Since education is a big industry in this city, it’s no surprise that the city is home to some amazing schools. In fact, students in this city have an above-average high school graduation rate. Some of the best schools in the city include La Mesa Elementary School, Monterey High School, and Foothill Elementary School. In terms of higher education, one can choose between the California State University – Monterey Bay and the Monterey Peninsula College.

The job market in Monterey is heavily dependent on the military and tourism industry for its jobs and revenue. However, in the past decade or so, the education sector in this city has grown exponentially. The evidence to that stands in the fact that the biggest employers in this city are Language Line Services Holding, Community Hospital Of The Monterey Peninsula, Naval Postgraduate School, and the Monterey Peninsula College. All of these industries and employers have brought the median annual income to $80,694.

Population: 28,352

Median Home Value: $782,500

Monthly Median Rent: $1,793

Annual Median Household Income: $80,694

8. Malibu, CA

Malibu is the city where everybody wants to move on the West Coast. Whether you’re a celebrity looking for a home or a young professional starting their career, this beach-city calls to everyone with its booming job markets, great school systems, and overall quality of life. This sunny city is something of a celebrity itself, with appearances in movies like Planets Of The Apes, to the hit Nickelodeon show Zoey 101.

Speaking of the sun, Malibu gets a lot of it. On an average, the city receives about 281 sunny days per year. Even then, the average temperature can swing between a pleasant 49°F to the mid-70s during the summer. As for the winter, it is seen in the city in the months of December through April, with an average low of 50°F and an average high of 65°F. The coldest month is December, where the average low is 67°F.

Speaking of the job market, Malibu has a booming job market, with the top industries being Tech, information services, and healthcare. There are many jobs in professional services, science, and sales as well. Unsurprisingly, arts and recreation are also just as popular and lucrative.

All that said and done, don’t be surprised when this city puts a big hole in your pocket. Malibu is expensive! In fact, it’s one of the most expensive cities to live in the US.

Population: 12,620

Median Home Value: $2,000,001

Monthly Median Rent: $2,403

Annual Median Household Income: $150,747

9. Tacoma, WA

Named after a large volcano, this city in Washington is nothing short of explosive when it comes to the beautiful neighborhoods, insane food-truck culture, some of the best concert venues, and multiple well-known colleges and universities to fuel life into the rest of the city. Moreover, Tacoma also collects a few brownie points because of the affordable cost of living and the lack of congestion.

The state of Washington has a reputation for being rainy, especially the Seattle area. However, Tacoma manages to step off of that stereotype. The city sees only 39 inches of rain per year. Speaking of the temperatures around this city, you get to see an average of 27°F and 88°F. The city also sees overcast skies from October through June. However, it barely gets any snow at all. In fact, the city receives only 0.1 inches of snowfall per year, on average.

Tacoma has one of the largest school districts in the country. There are 35 elementary schools, 10 middle schools, and 10 high schools. All of these schools serve more than 30,000 in grades pre-K through 12. When it comes to higher education, Tacoma has a pretty impressive selection of colleges. Some of the best ones include the University Of Puget Sound, Tacoma Community College, University Of Washington-Tacoma, and Pacific Lutheran University.

Since we have spoken about education in Tacoma, the next obvious point of discussion would be the job market. Well, Tacoma has a decent economy. But, it’s strong enough to give satisfactory payouts to the people living and working here. The highest paying industries include healthcare, social assistance, educational services, and retail trade.

While Tacoma may not have the reputation its neighboring cities of Seattle and Portland have, it might very well be among the best places to live on the West Coast. Just keep in mind the Tacoma Aroma!

Population: 212,869

Median Home Value: $277,900

Monthly Median Rent: $1,180

Annual Median Household Income: $62,358


Summing Up

The United States Of America is full of wonders. There are cities and towns sprinkled through the country that are perfect for somebody. However, if you’re someone who enjoys sunny days, mountain ranges, beaches, and a calmer lifestyle, the West Coast is the place for you.

Of course, to say that we’ve listed all the gems in this part of the country would be a gross exaggeration. However, we do think one of these places will take you by surprise and make you fall in love. Plan your move, and after that, it’s all sunshine and beaches!


Where Should I Move On The West Coast?

While there are many amazing places that line the West Coast of the US, San Clemente and Eugene are two of the best places to live in this area. However, the only way to figure out the best way for you is to do your research and visit the places you like.

Are People On The West Coast Healthier?

The West Coast is known to have some of the healthiest cities in America. In fact, San Francisco is the healthiest city in America, followed by Seattle and San Diego.

Are West Coast Beaches Better?

There’s no clear-cut answer to this question. However, the beaches on the West Coast are known to be more quaint and secluded. So, if you like calmer places with cold water, the West Coast is the place for you.

Why Is West Coast Water Cold?

There are two reasons for this phenomenon. The first one is that the California Current pulls the cold water from Alaska down to the Pacific Ocean. The second one is that the cold water from deep oceans is brought to the surface, and consequently to the shore, by a process called ‘upwelling’.

Also See: 6 Best Places To Live On The East Coast | Cross Country Moving Tips

Written by

Alex Sherr is the founder of My Long Distance Movers, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.