Top NerdWallet-ranked cities in California:
3. Yuba City
6. Lake Forest
10. Walnut Creek
They are the kind of things people think about when moving to their dream city as they make plans to start a family.
How good are the schools? What kind of people are in town? Can we afford to live there? Are there good jobs for us?
Turns out that Davis answers those questions really well.
The personal finance data-crunching website NerdWallet asked those questions for the entire state of California, and Davis came out near the top at No. 9.
“Davis is home to one of the largest campuses in the University of California system and also offers 400 acres of parks and 100 miles of bike paths,” NerdWallet analyst Jaime Ortiz said on the website. “Families here can choose from tons of activities, including seasonal berry-picking and Explorit, a hands-on science museum. Downtown Davis offers outdoor concerts, parks, farmers markets and boutique shopping.”
Of course, not everything is rosy in Davis, but sometimes the benefits outweigh the costs.
“Buying a home here can be challenging for families — the median household income is $61,182 while the average home value is $560,500,” Ortiz wrote on NerdWallet. “But families here get the benefits of great schools and good proximity to jobs in Sacramento and San Francisco.”
In an interview, Ortiz said NerdWallet took into account ratings on the school ranking website GreatSchools.org, which listed local schools here at an 8 out of 10.
To determine affordability, NerdWallet compared U.S. Census Bureau statistics on median home values versus the cost of the average mortgage, plus utilities and taxes.
For job growth, they looked at the city’s economic growth during the past decade tracked by the U.S. Census versus growth in the average income.
In all, NerdWallet chose factors young families would care about, Ortiz said, especially schools where they didn’t have to pay for private school or drive to another town to get a high-quality education.
Some of the more higher-ranked cities might surprise Davisites. Clovis, in San Joaquin Valley, took the No. 1 spot thanks to a more than a 92 percent graduation rate, affordable homes and a “great quality of life.”
No. 2 went to Folsom, for its job availability and high graduation rate. No. 3 was Yuba City, prized for its 48.6 percent jump in household income in the past decade. Murrieta came in at No. 4 for its high median household income, roughly $80,000 per year. Irvine is No. 5, for a combination of median home values and median household income. Then there’s that 20-minute drive to Disneyland.
Speaking of drives, the study did not take into account nearby traffic on major freeways, which might have hurt Irvine, Folsom and other big-city suburbs.
But Ortiz said the website did take into account UC Davis. Cities that have large universities have lots of good, local jobs available.
NerdWallet bills itself as a personal finance website for savvy consumers. It has information on credit cards, retirement and college education accounts and whether the digital currency Bitcoin is a good idea. It makes money through advertising and sponsorships, but “making money is not a big priority for us,” Ortiz said.
— Reach Dave Ryan at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews