Real Estate

Is Bakersfield, CA a good place to live?

In the heart of California’s Central Valley, Bakersfield is a sun-soaked region known for its agricultural bounty and rich history. Beyond the vast fields of almonds and pistachios, this lively city brims with a unique energy. But is Bakersfield a good place to live? While the city has various positive aspects such as metropolitan flair, it also presents its own set of challenges such as hot summers and poor air quality. In this Redfin article, we’ll examine the pros and cons of living in Bakersfield to help you decide if it’s the right place for you.

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Fast facts about Bakersfield

Median home sales price $392,990
Average monthly rent $1,408
Walk score 37/100
Transit score 25/100
Bike score 44/100

1. Pro: Affordable cost of living

Bakersfield attracts budget-conscious Californians with its significantly lower cost of living than other major cities in the state. Housing is a big draw, with the median home sale price at a comfortable $392,990 – a steal compared to Los Angeles or San Francisco. This affordability is up to rent with an average monthly rent of $1,408. Low grocery and utility costs contribute to a lifestyle that allows residents to enjoy the California sunshine without breaking the bank.

2. Con: Air quality issues

This is one of the major drawbacks of living in Bakersfield. Poor air quality. The city is often ranked among the worst in the country for air pollution, primarily due to its location in the San Joaquin Valley, which traps pollutants. Residents often have to deal with smoggy days and may need to limit outdoor activities during periods of high pollution.

3. Pro: Strong agricultural industry

Bakersfield is a hub for agriculture, which offers numerous job opportunities in the field. The city is surrounded by fertile farmland, which produces a significant portion of the country’s crops, including almonds, grapes, and citrus fruits. This strong agricultural presence not only supports the local economy, but also provides residents with access to fresh, locally grown produce.

4. Con: Limited portability

Bakersfield’s public transportation system presents a barrier for those without a car. While the city bus system is operational, its reach and frequency are limited, reflected by its low transit score of 25. This often requires car ownership, which increases the financial burden for some residents who may struggle with car payments, gas and insurance.

5. Pro: Proximity to natural attractions

Bakersfield’s location provides easy access to numerous natural attractions. The city is just a short drive from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which offer hiking, skiing and camping opportunities. Additionally, the Kern River runs through Bakersfield, offering activities such as fishing, kayaking and whitewater rafting. This abundance of outdoor recreation makes Bakersfield a great place to live for those seeking an active lifestyle.

Lake Ming in Bakersfield on a warm sunny day - Getty

6. Who: Hot summers

Summers in Bakersfield can be extremely hot, with temperatures often exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This intense heat can be uncomfortable and limit outdoor activities during the peak summer months. Residents need to be prepared for higher energy bills due to air conditioning use and take precautions to stay hydrated and cool.

7. Pro: A growing arts and culture scene

Bakersfield is experiencing growth in its arts and culture scene, with new galleries, theaters, and music venues opening. The city is home to the historic Fox Theatre, which hosts a variety of performances from concerts to plays. Furthermore, Bakersfield Museum of Art Offers rotating exhibits and educational programs. This growing cultural scene provides residents with a variety of entertainment options.

8. Con: Limited nightlife

While Bakersfield has a growing arts and culture scene, its nightlife options are relatively limited compared to larger cities. There are fewer bars, clubs and late-night entertainment venues, which can be a downside for those who enjoy an active nightlife. Residents often travel to nearby cities for more vibrant nightlife experiences.

9. Pro: Community-oriented environment

Bakersfield is known for its strong sense of community and friendly residents. The city hosts numerous community events, such as the annual Kern County Fair and various local festivals, that bring people together and foster a sense of belonging. Neighborhoods often have a close-knit feel, and residents are known to be welcoming and supportive.

10. Con: Prone to forest fires

Bakersfield’s scorching summers come hand in hand with an unfortunate reality: the threat of wildfires. The surrounding arid landscape and hot temperatures create tinderbox conditions, which pose a threat to property and safety. Residents need to be aware of fire hazard areas and take precautions such as clearing brush and having a fire evacuation plan.

Procedures: Median home sales price and median monthly rent data. Redfin Data Center. Walk Score, Transit Score and Bike Score are from the data. Walk score.


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