Sacramento, CA

13 Things to Know About Living in Sacramento

Considering moving to Sacramento? California’s fastest-growing big city offers some of the most affordable living in the state, is home to the region’s best farm-to-table cuisine, and has a growing art scene. Check out our guide below to discover 13 things you need to know about living in Sacramento!

Affordable Living in California

Aerial view of buildings and bridge in Downtown Sacramento. Photo by Instagram user @aerialsacramento
Photo via @aerialsacramento

If you’re set on moving to The Golden State, Sacramento is among some of the most affordable places to live in California. The city’s cost of living is 16% lower than the state average and 33% lower than nearby San Francisco. This is due in large part to its housing costs, which are much lower than those in most of California. Sacramento is also one of the most cost-effective U.S. cities to live in, based on adjusted salary. In other words, if you want the California lifestyle without the incredibly high price tag, Sacramento is a great place to settle down!

The Job Market Is On the Way Up

White dome roof of California State Capitol. Photo by Instagram user @tuta_romero
Photo via @tuta_romero

Though the recession hit Sacramento hard in 2010, during which the unemployment rate rose to 12.4%, it’s no longer a struggle to find jobs in Sactown. In fact, Sacramento is now among the top U.S. cities for job seekers, as the area is one of the best metro areas for job creation and is predicted to experience massive job growth in the next decade. As California’s capital city, Sacramento is home to plenty of government jobs, but it also has opportunities with large employers, such as Sutter HealthBlue Diamond, and VSP Global.

Get a Break from the Heat

Trees shading a street. Photo by Instagram user @jeromem_us
Photo via @jeromem_us

The weather in Northern California can get pretty hot, and Sacramento is no different. Summer temperatures in the area commonly rise above 90 degrees. Unlike some of its California neighbors, however, Sacramento gets some relief from the heat, thanks to its built-in shade. Sacramento has more trees per capita than any other U.S. city, earning it the nickname of “City of Trees.” This abundance of foliage decreases urban ground temperatures by as much as 36 degrees, turning scorching summer days into more enjoyable afternoons.

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Its History Is Worth Its Weight in Gold

People in pioneer clothes playing instruments. Photo by Instagram user @suttersfortstatehistoric
Photo via @suttersfortstatehistoric

The discovery of gold in 1848 forever changed California’s future. Nearly $2 billion worth of gold was extracted from Sacramento during the California Gold Rush, making the city a major commercial center that still thrives in Sacramento today. The madness began when gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill, a property owned by Sacramento resident John Sutter. You can relive the events of that era and get a sense of what life was like with a visit to Sutter’s Fort, where you can tour the restored bakery, blacksmith, and immigrant quarters and see historical reenactments. Learn more about the Miners’ 10 Commandments and how Sacramento became an “instant city” at the California State Library. Or see how gold rushers arrived at the California State Railroad Museum, where you can take a ride on the very rails the miners did.

Home to a Vibrant LGBTQ Community

Two women holding rainbow flags riding a scooter. Photo by Instagram user @showtimechamaco
Photo via @showtimechamaco

California is one of America’s most gay-friendly states, and Sacramento contributes to its welcoming vibe. The Midtown area is home to Lavender Heights, a district with queer-owned restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs, and retail businesses that are open and welcome to all. Fuel up with an Adobada Chimichanga and Pomegranate Margarita at Ernesto’s Mexican Food. Grab some drinks and hit the dance floor at Badlands, Sacramento’s most popular gay dance club. Take part in Sacramento Pride, a two-day festival in the summer with concerts, yard games, an art pavilion, and much more. Celebrate and honor community leaders at the Sacramento Pride Awards, an annual gala that recognizes individuals and organizations whose compassion, generosity, and community service help create a safer, collaborative community. Or celebrate with great musical talents at the Rainbow Festival, a charity-focused party that has raised more than $500,000 in its lifespan.

Old Sacramento Is the Perfect Mix of Old & New

Riverboat with lights on it. Photo by Instagram user @mattfraser9
Photo via @mattfraser9

Despite its name, Old Sacramento is about more than just the past. The 28-acre National Historic Landmark District pays homage to the city’s roots while celebrating present-day fun with more than 125 shops, attractions, restaurants, and events. Enjoy the Seafood Linguine or Pan-Seared Scallops as you gaze upon the gorgeous Sacramento River aboard the Delta King, a restored 1920s riverboat that now operates as a hotel, restaurant, and theater. Go on a Murder & Mayhem scavenger hunt at Evangeline’s, a three-story shop and costume mansion. Travel back in time while perusing vintage toys and games at G Willikers! Toy Emporium. Indulge your sweet tooth with homemade taffy and rock candy at The Candy Barrel. Dig into favorites like the Grilled Cheese Burger at Fanny Ann’s Saloon, one of Old Sacramento’s best restaurants. Wolf down a famous Doc Holliday Sandwich at the River City Saloon and stay for the live music and karaoke! Or savor a Maple Bourbon Marinated Bistro Filet on the spacious outdoor patio at Rio City Cafe.

Come On In! The Water’s Fine

Guy kayaking during sunset. Photo by Instagram user @lewiskemper
Photo via @lewiskemper

Though it’s a bit far from the Pacific Ocean, Sacramento does have plenty of freshwater nearby. Fish, float, or boat on the American River Parkway, a 32-mile stretch nicknamed the “Jewel of Sacramento” for its scenic waterways, spacious parks, and a seemingly endless maze of hiking trails. Take a windsurfing lesson, go for a swim, or just chill on the beach at Folsom Lake, the perfect location for a lazy Saturday with family or friends. Looking for something more active? Kayak through hundreds of miles of gorgeous waterways on the Sacramento River. For a different, relaxing view of the city, take a daytime riverboat cruise or a cocktail cruise in the evening.

It’s America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital

Aerial view of people at festival. Photo by Instagram user @aerialsacramento
Photo via @aerialsacramento

Access to amazing farm-to-table food alone might be worth moving to Sacramento! With a climate that supports a year-round growing season and 1.5 million acres of surrounding farmland, Sacramento is one of the largest agricultural producers in America. The city has 40 massive farmers markets, and three Sacramento restaurants have earned Michelin Bib Gourmand awards for their food quality. If you’re a true foodie, you have to check out the Farm-to-Fork Festival, a two-week Sacramento celebration of food and wine, where you can discuss cuisine with California chefs, attend concerts by local talent, and learn how to make great meals. And don’t miss the event’s crown jewel, the Tour Bridge Dinner, an epic meal overlooking the Sacramento River served by the region’s greatest cooks!

Food Isn’t Contained to the Festival

Three burgers covered in cheese. Photo by Instagram user @squeezeburgermidtown
Photo via @squeezeburgermidtown

The festival deservedly gets a lot of attention, but Sacramento’s food scene is fantastic year-round. Experience cuisine at its finest with a tasting of the seasonal menu at The Kitchen, one of Sacramento’s best restaurants and the owner of a coveted Michelin star. Start your day off with a stack of Strawberry and Rhubarb Flapjacks and a Bacon Platter from Bacon and Butter. Grab a seat at the counter for one of California’s famed Cheese-Skirt Burgers at Squeeze Burger, or try to eat an entire massive Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf Sandwich at Dad’s Kitchen. Looking for something upscale? Savor the Lamb Shank and Butter Ball Potatoes at Grange Restaurant & Bar. Or enjoy the renowned Chef’s Tasting Menu at Firehouse, which fuses “sophistication with everyday excellence.” Make sure to save room for dessert because you don’t want to miss the Old-Fashioned Apple Pie at Rick’s Dessert Diner!

Golden 1 Center Is the Future of Entertainment

Aerial view of Golden 1 Center arena. Photo by Instagram user @aerialsacramento
Photo via @aerialsacramento

Living in Sacramento gives you access to a myriad of events at the Golden 1 Center, which immediately became one of the world’s most unique venues when it opened in 2016. Its focus on the environment is unparalleled, as it’s the first solar-powered arena on the planet and features smart lighting systems that dramatically save energy. If you love basketball, join one of the NBA’s most raucous fan bases at a Sacramento Kings game. More of a music fan? Attend a concert featuring some of the world’s most successful artists, such as Eric Church, Kanye West, and Blake Shelton. The Golden 1 Center is also home to some of Sacramento’s best family-friendly activities like Disney on Ice and Harlem Globetrotters games.

Immerse Yourself in the Arts

Mural painting of purple woman. Photo by Instagram user @squid.licker
Photo via @squid.licker

Sacramento’s arts scene is so vast that you can find masterpieces and entertainment everywhere you look! See massive paintings and artwork at the Wide Open Walls festival, a ten-day event that turns storefronts, unused walls, and building facades into murals for talented street artists. Save the date each month for Second Saturday, where you can peruse local art galleries, listen to live music, and enjoy food and drink specials at nearby restaurants. For a more historic experience, check out some international ceramic collections and paintings from as far back as the mid-1800s at the Crocker Art Museum. If you’re interested in the performing arts, catch a musical or  play at the Sacramento Theater Company, which partners with local schools to get the community’s youth involved. Experience stunning grace and beauty at the Sacramento Ballet, or fill your ears with incredible music from the Sacramento Philanthropic & Opera.

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The Kids Will Never Be Bored

Little girl feeding giraffe. Photo by Instagram user @sacramentozoo
Photo via @sacramentozoo

There are tons of things to do with kids in Sacramento! Bring your little one’s imagination to life by hanging with their favorite storybook characters at Fairytale Town, or paint the walls and make clay masterpieces with them at Art Beast. Race down some of the 25 fast and winding waterslides at Raging Waters, Sacramento’s premier water park. Have some animal lovers in the family? Get up close to Earth’s tallest mammals at the Giraffe Encounter at the Sacramento Zoo, which is home to more than 130 species of birds, mammals, and reptiles. Go snorkeling in the stingray pool and interact with sloths and otters at SeaQuest. Or teach the kids about Sacramento’s past with a trek through the buried part of the city on an underground tour from the Sacramento History Museum.

Sacramento Is Serious About Its Coffee

Person pouring coffee into a mug. Photo by Instagram user @loveinjustin
Photo via @loveinjustin

Sacramento’s passion for coffee is visible on nearly every street corner, and it’s recognized as one of the world’s best cities for coffee lovers. Experience some of the best coffee in Sacramento with a cup from Temple Coffee, which is so committed to coffee quality that it sends its Director of Coffee to visit the source of each producer every year. Get an in-house roasted drink or take an Origin Tastings class at Insight Coffee Roasters. If you’re truly obsessed with a cup of joe, you can’t miss Specialty Coffee Week, a curated series of events geared toward tasting, education, and celebration of coffee in September. With all this great coffee around, it’s no wonder that Sacramento is one of America’s top cities for coffee snobs!

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