This is part two of a three part series on Moving to a New City. My goal is to research potential cities based on specific characteristics, narrow down my search to five possible places based on how well they match my requirements, and finally visit each city.

Using and my original list of ideal attributes a city must have, I’ve found quite a few cities that fit the bill. Below I’ve summarized each one and now just need to reduce it to a total of five cities. Of course, if I base my search on whether the county has any teaching jobs available, that brings my search to only 3 cities. One other attribute that I didn’t mention in my last post was that I’m also looking at total population. I’ve only ever lived in a large city and am very apprehensive about moving to a small town.

Northern California Cities

Roseville, CA – Placer County (no teaching jobs as of 03/2011)

  • Location – Roseville is no where near the coast, meaning it is not in my ideal location. However, that being said a fellow blogger lives there and his photos of the bike-friendly city are beautiful.
  • Weather – Temps range from 33 degrees to 97 degrees from winter to summer respectively. They also receive a little more rain than where I live, but I could definitely handle seeing more precipitation now and then.
  • Cost of Living – According to the numeric value Best Places assigns, Roseville meets my requirement of under 130 at 125, or 25 percent higher than the national average.
  • Employment – There aren’t any teaching jobs listed for Placer County in elementary education. This could change as the new school year begins or if the California budget improves.
  • Crime – Roseville’s crime is just about at the national average, violent crime is 4 and property crime is 5 on a 1-10 range the lower number meaning less crime; lower than where I currently live.
  • Population – 110,087. I think I could live in a city this size; it’s cities smaller than 20,000 that I think I’d have to reconsider.
  • side note – The only bicycle friendly city listed on the League of American Bicyclists on my current list of cities.

Concord, CA – Contra Costa County (teaching jobs)

  • Location – Near the coast, and the bay area, and not far from San Francisco. Meets my requirements.
  • Weather – Temps range from 35 degrees to 88 degrees from winter to summer respectively. They receive almost the same amount of rain as my current city; sweet!
  • Cost of Living – Concord’s numeric value for cost of living is a remarkable 119. That’s really low for California and it makes me question why is it so low?
  • Employment – Contra Costa county is the one county in California that is hiring teachers. Of course this could all change in the months to come, but it’s a positive sign.
  • Crime – Concord’s crime rate is slightly higher than the national average at 5 for violent crime and 6 for property crime. But this doesn’t scare me off, it’s still lower than where I live.
  • Population – 121,640;  a decent sized city.
  • Comments – allows people to comment on their city. This gives me an indication of what’s going on there. Most of the comments about this city are very positive.

Central California

Atascadero, CA – San Luis Obispo County (no teaching jobs)

  • Location – Not far from the coast, close to San Luis Obispo.
  • Weather – Temps range from 33 degrees to 93 degrees from winter to summer respectively. They receive twice the amount of rainfall that I’m accustomed to; I’m not sure how I’d like that.
  • Cost of Living – Atascadero’s cost of living is 134, about the same as where I currently live. I was really targeting cities under 130, but searching online for images of this beautiful city makes me reconsider.
  • Employment – There aren’t any teaching jobs in San Luis Obispo county, again this could change in the future.
  • Crime – Violent crime is 6, property crime is 4. The violent crime number scares me a bit.
  • Population – 28, 287; a city this size is my minimum limit. (Though you’ll notice below that I have looked into much smaller cities.)
  • Comments – Most of the comments are positive, but mention that housing is expensive.

Greenfield, CA – Monterey County (teaching jobs)

  • Location – Not far from the coast, but kind of in the middle of no where. Although it is off the 101 highway, so it might not be too terribly remote.
  • Weather – Temps range from 36 degrees to 85 degrees from winter to summer respectively. A little less rain than where I currently live, makes me wonder if it is a bit of a desert climate.
  • Cost of Living – Greenfield is at the national average of 100, again it makes me wonder why this town is so inexpensive. Perhaps because it is in the middle of no where?
  • Employment – There are teaching jobs currently in Carmel (beautiful and expensive city!), but looking on a map, it looks like a good hour from Greenfield.
  • Crime – National average of 4 for both property and violent crime. Nice and low.
  • Population – 15, 471; may be a little too ‘small town’ for me.
  • Comments – There aren’t any comments for this town, so I’m on my own for figuring out the “feel” of the city.
  • Side note – I did a search for Starbucks since the city is so small and there isn’t one! That’s a problem. However, there is one in Soledad, the city just north of Greenfield with similar demographics.

Southern/Central California

Ventura, CA – Ventura County (no teaching jobs)

  • Location – Very close to the coast.
  • Weather – Temps range from 44 degrees to 74 degrees from winter to summer respectively. I worry about the 74 max temp in July; this is a little cool for my blood.
  • Cost of Living – Ventura’s cost of living is 136, about the same as where I currently live. Moving there would not save me any money.
  • Employment – There aren’t any teaching jobs in Ventura county, again this could change in the future.
  • Crime – Violent crime is 4, property crime is 5; both are quite low.
  • Population – 105,244; good sized city and only an hour from where I currently live.
  • Comments – Most of the comments are positive, but mention that housing is expensive. I’ve visited Ventura and it is a quaint city; less expensive than Santa Barbara and not far from that beautiful city.

Ojai, CA – Ventura County (no teaching jobs)

  • Location – Not far from Ventura or the coast.
  • Weather – Temps range from 37 degrees to 90 degrees from winter to summer respectively. The weather is almost perfect.
  • Cost of Living – Ojai’s cost of living is out of reach at 147; higher than where I currently live. The only reason I included this city is it is one I’ve visited often.
  • Employment – There aren’t any teaching jobs in Ventura county, again this could change in the future.
  • Crime – Violent crime is 2, property crime is 5; very low violent crime.
  • Population – 7,877; small by comparison. However, this is a city I’ve spent a lot of time in on my camping trips. It’s an eclectic and artsy town. But…I did ask a coffee house owner what he thought about the town and without saying anything negative, he did mention it has a ‘small-town’ element going on, hmmmm.
  • Comments – Really positive comments, but one very negative comment from a teacher no less sort of scares me off.

You’ll notice I color-coded the cities I’d like to visit from each region of California and visit them for a more in-depth view. My goal over the next few months will be visiting the four cities I’ve highlighted and comparing and contrasting them more thoroughly. Obviously I’d like to lean towards the less expensive cities, but once I visit each one (two by car) I’ll have a better idea of which would work best in the long run.

Have you recently moved? Are you currently thinking of moving to a new city or state? What are the things you look for when you move?


  1. Let us know if you make it up here and we’ll take you on a bike tour! No place is perfect, but we do mostly like it here. 🙂

  2. Reply

    Your job will be a major influence in your feelings towards that new city (after all, you’ll spend the majority of your weekdays at work), so I advise taking that into strong consideration, as well.

    • @Afford-Anything – That’s a good point. Of course, I first need to select a city that’s hiring teachers and right now those are few and far between. ;(

  3. retirebyforty Reply

    You definitely have to go visit all these cities. It’s going to be difficult to make decision based on numbers and internet research. Ventura is a huge city and I think it has the same sprawl feeling as other large southern CA cities. I don’t like sprawl so I don’t think I can live in most of CA anymore…
    Ojai sounds cool. 🙂 How about Solvang? heh heh…

    • @RetirebyForty – Ventura is large, but when I checked the population numbers it’s about 1/10th the population of LA. The county is also a bit smaller, so hopefully it won’t feel too sprawling. I’ve driven through the older down town area and really like that area. I need to investigate more. (Can’t wait for Spring Break!)

  4. I am enjoying your analysis. What does your husband think? Can he relocate easily? (Forgive me if you discussed this. My memory isn’t working today.)

  5. @Little House
    I have a close friend who was born and raised (and still lives) in Ventura. She has always sworn by it. I visited her a few times, and though it’s definitely surrounded by the big cities, it feels smaller. The best part is that it’s close to so many other places that you wouldn’t have to necessarily work in Ventura proper, but could commute…but that’s true for anywhere below the bay area.

    • @Lindy Mint – Thanks for that information. It’s always helpful to hear first- or second-hand about people living in a city and if they like it or not. I really like that Ventura is close to LA (a little over an hour away) so if I did need to come into the city for some reason, it’s not too terribly far. I’m thinking of visiting Ventura within the next month over my spring break – I’ll post a follow up then!

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