Located in Sacramento County, Sacramento is the capital of California and a cultural and healthcare center for the state. Sacramento may not get as much attention as San Diego, LA, and San Francisco, but it’s got a fun culture all its own and definitely beats other major California cities when it comes to affordable living. The city, located where the American and Sacramento rivers meet, boasts a diverse population, robust economy, and exciting nightlife that all make it one of the state’s fastest-growing cities.
What is Sacramento known for? It’s the Farm-to-Fork Capital of the U.S. with more than 40 farmers markets and a bounty of local, fresh food. It’s also known for its hipster culture and tree-lined downtown streets which have earned it the nickname City of Trees. Sacramento is also nicknamed the River City and there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy riverfront living including fishing, boating, and kayaking.
Sacramento’s history dates back to 1808 when Gabriel Moraga, a Spanish explorer, named the Sacramento River and Sacramento Valley, describing the air as “like champagne.” John Sutter Sr. arrived three decades later and, with a Mexican land grant, established Sutter’s Fort and a colony. The discovery of gold fueled rapid growth and Sacramento was incorporated in 1850. California’s statehood was ratified soon after and Sacramento became the capital. While Sacramento’s one-strong military bases and agricultural processing industry have declined and disappeared, the city has continued its strong growth and remains a vibrant community.
Are you ready to find out if living in Sacramento is right for you? Here’s what you have to look forward to after moving to Sacramento, CA.
Sacramento Population & Demographics
Sacramento, located in Sacramento County, is the capital of California with a population of 513,600. The Sacramento metropolitan area, however, has a population of 2.5 million, the fifth largest in the state. Sacramento has been called the most hipster city and, according to a Harvard University Civil Rights Project study, America’s Most Diverse City.
It isn’t just a diverse city; it’s also well-integrated. This means there is a high level of racial and ethnic heterogeneity within Sacramento neighborhoods unlike many cities with ethnic and racial enclaves. This is attributed, in part, to innovative low-income programs and affordable housing for middle-class families. The Sacramento school district teaches over 53,000 students who speak over 70 languages, many of whom begin school without speaking English.
The racial and ethnic composition of Sacramento is:
- 45% White
- 26.9% Hispanic of any race (22.6% Mexican, 0.7% Puerto Rican, 0.5% Salvadoran, 0.2% each Nicaraguan and Guatemalan)
- 17.8% Asian (4.2% Chinese, 3.3 Hmong, 2.8% Filipino, 1.6% Indian, 1.4% Vietnamese, 1.2% Japanese, 1.2% Laotian and smaller groups of Cambodian, Thai, and Korean residents)
- 14.6% African American or Black
- 12.3% other races
- 7.1% two or more races
- 1.4% Pacific Islander (0.6% Fijian, 0.2% each Samoan and Tongan)
Sacramento has one of the largest LGBTQ populations per capita, ranking 3rd in California and 7th among major cities in the U.S. 10% of Sacramento residents identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.
For every 100 adult females in the city, there are 92.2 males. The median age in Sacramento is 34.3, slightly younger than the U.S. average. The city has a population density of 5,258 people per square mile.
Over the years, Sacramento has been home to many famous residents including actors Sam Elliot, LeVar Burton, Brie Larson, Colin Hanks, Eddie Murphy, Molly Ringwald, and Samantha Smith as well as author Mark Twain.
Sacramento Climate – What Is the Sacramento Weather Like?
What is the weather in Sacramento like? The city has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate. The average temperature in Sacramento is 61°F with dry, hot summers and cool winters with minimal rainfall. The wettest season is October through April. The average annual precipitation in Sacramento is 18.52”, most of it during the winter.
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The foggiest months are December and January. When Sacramento gets tule fog on the ground, it can reduce visibility to under 100 feet and make driving dangerous. It may even last days or weeks.
Be prepared for very hot summers after moving to Sacramento. About 73 days a year, the high temperature exceeds 90°F. There are even two weeks a year with high temperatures over 100°F! From July through September, Sacramento is the sunniest place on earth with over 14 hours of sunshine daily.
The best time to visit Sacramento is April through June or September through November.
How to Get Around Sacramento
Sacramento is served by several freeways and highways including:
- I-80 which connects Sacramento with San Francisco and Reno
- Business 80, the Capital City Freeway, splits from I-80 and runs through Sacramento
- Highway 50 runs from West Sacramento to South Lake Tahoe and continues on to Maryland
- I-5 runs north-south to Redding, CA, through Sacramento, and toward Los Angeles
- Highway 99 connects Sacramento to Bakersfield, Fresno, and Yuba City
While living in Sacramento, you’ll benefit from a good public transportation system. Amtrak offers passenger rail service and its Sacramento station is the busiest in California. Amtrak California offers the Capital Corridor with service from Sacramento to suburbs in the Bay Area.
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The city and the Sacramento suburbs are served by Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT), a robust light rail and bus system with 76 light rail vehicles and 274 buses. There are three light rail lines with 54 stations. A monthly SacRT pass is $100.
Sacramento is also served by Sacramento International Airport (SMF) which is dominated by Southwest Airlines.
Sacramento Real Estate – Buying & Renting in Sacramento
Ahead of living in Sacramento, you’ll want to know how much you can expect to pay for housing and what you can get with your budget. The median home price in Sacramento is $400,000. While higher than the U.S. median, that’s a steal for California where the median home price hit $712,000 in 2020! The Sacramento housing market is extremely competitive with homes receiving multiple offers and going pending in just 5-8 days. You’ll pay around $265/square foot. Click here to see Sacramento, CA homes for sale and get an idea of what you should expect.
How much is average rent in Sacramento? After moving to Sacramento as a renter, you’ll pay $1,701 on average for an apartment. A one-bedroom apartment is $1,564 on average. These prices are down 6.8% over last year according to RentJungle. Average rents in Sacramento range from $1,100 to $2,250 depending on the neighborhood, however.
The most expensive neighborhoods in Sacramento for renters are Creekside ($2,250), Midtown ($2,100), Metro Center ($2,060), Newton Booth ($1,990), and Downtown ($1,975). Safe and affordable areas to live in Sacramento include Boulevard Park ($1,550), East Sacramento ($1,575), and Pocket ($1,675).
Best Sacramento Neighborhoods & Where to Live
What are the best places to live in Sacramento? This beautiful city has a diverse number of neighborhoods ranging from safe, family-friendly neighborhoods to bustling urban areas. Here are some top picks to help you narrow down your options for living in Sacramento. Want a more in-depth look at top neighborhoods? Check our guide to the best neighborhoods in Sacramento.
Midtown – Hip Sacramento Neighborhood for Young Professionals
Want to be close to the action? Located east of downtown, Midtown is a shopping and entertainment hub known for its gay bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and breweries. This exciting neighborhood in Sacramento always has something fun to do with music venues, vintage shops to explore, and historic charm. You can find Midtown, Sacramento homes for sale here with an average home price of $795,000.
College/Glen – Best Sacramento Neighborhood for Families
The College/Glen area of Eastern Sacramento is a popular choice for commuters thanks to its easy access to Lincoln Highway and the light rail system. Along with easy access to downtown and Folsom, you’ll benefit from excellent parks, a swim club, and great private and public schools such as Cristo Rey High School.
East Sacramento – Most Walkable Sacramento Neighborhood
Looking for safe neighborhoods in Sacramento where you can actually feel comfortable walking at night to restaurants and attractions? East Sacramento is the place to be. East Sac is right outside downtown and it’s one of Sacramento’s premier neighborhoods with excellent parks, a walkable layout, and tree-lined streets. There’s everything from restaurants and breweries to boutiques and coffee shops within walking distance. The highlight is McKinley Park with its rose garden and frequent events. Click here to see East Sacramento homes for sale with an average home price of $665,000.
Pocket – Top Neighborhood in Sacramento for Retirees
Pocket is one of the most popular Sacramento neighborhoods for seniors thanks to its safety, quiet suburban atmosphere, and amenities. Over 55% of the population is at least 40 and about one-third of people in Pocket, Sacramento are retired. While home prices in Pocket are fairly high, you’ll be near the Promenade Shopping Center and the beautiful Garcia Bend Park.
Natomas Park – Affordable Neighborhood in Sacramento
Natomas Park isn’t just one of Sacramento’s most beautiful neighborhoods – it’s also one of the safest and most affordable. Known for its parks like the North Natomas Regional Park, you’ll enjoy easy access to dog parks, a lake, playgrounds, hiking trails and more. The neighborhood also features excellent schools like Inderkum High School and a community college. Check here for Natomas Park homes for sale with a median home price of $455,000.
Cost of Living in Sacramento – Is Sacramento Expensive?
How much does it cost to live in Sacramento? That’s probably one of your biggest questions as you consider moving to Sacramento. The Sacramento cost of living index is 117.9% which means Sacramento is 17.9% more expensive than the U.S. average.
By comparison, Orange County is 147.8%, Los Angeles is 145.9%, and San Francisco is a whopping 196.6%. That makes living in Sacramento more affordable than most metro areas of California!
Groceries are about 20% higher than average in Sacramento while transportation is 39% more expensive. Sacramento utilities are affordable at just 3% over the national average. The average monthly utility bill in Sacramento is $175.42.
Get an in-depth guide to the Sacramento cost of living here.
Sacramento Typical Living Expenses
- Steak (ribeye, 1 lb): $13.01
- Milk (whole, ½ gal): $2.40
- Eggs (grade A, 1 dozen): $2.91
- Rice (white, 1 lb): $1.47
- Apples (1 lb): $2.10
- Movie ticket: $12.45
According to Numbeo, the typical family of four would have $3,598 in living expenses in Sacramento without rent per month.
Taxes in Sacramento
A commonly overlooked expense that affects the cost of living in Sacramento is taxes. California is known for its high tax rates and Sacramento is no exception.
- California income tax rate: 1% to 12.3% plus a 1% surcharge on taxable income over $1 million
- Sacramento sales tax rate: 8.75% including state, county, and city taxes
- Sacramento property tax rate: Effective property tax of 0.81%
Sacramento Economy Overview
Sacramento is home to one of California’s largest economies with diverse business sectors. Sacramento is most known for its real estate and government industries, but it also has thriving agriculture, energy, health, and education sectors.
Companies based in Sacramento include Blue Diamond Growers, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Teichert, and Sutter Health. The top employers in Sacramento include:
- State of California
- Sacramento County
- UC Davis Health
- Dignity Health/Catholic Healthcare West
- Kaiser Permanente
- Sutter Health
Jobs in Sacramento, CA
How much does it cost to live in Sacramento and what can you expect to earn? The average salary in Sacramento is $72,000 with an average hourly wage of $19.76 according to Payscale.
Here’s what you can expect to earn in common jobs:
- Software engineer: $85k
- HR manager: $73k
- Mechanical engineer: $76k
- Registered nurse: $50/hour
- Medical assistant: $17/hour
- Customer service representative: $15/hour
Where are the best places to work in Sacramento? According to employee feedback on Glassdoor, top-rated employers include:
- UC Davis
- Intel Corporation
- Blue Shield of California
- UC Davis Health
- Bank of America
- Kaiser Permanente
Sacramento is a center for California’s healthcare industry and it’s the seat of Sutter Health, the UC Davis School of Medicine, and the globally renowned UC Davis Medical Center. Greater Sacramento has 25 major hospitals plus several smaller hospitals. UC Davis Medical Center is the best hospital in Sacramento, according to US News, and it’s one of the top 10 teaching medical centers in the state. UC Davis Medical Center is nationally ranked in all 9 adult specialties plus 4 children’s specialties. Sutter Medical Center is also one of just 57 hospitals in the U.S. to earn a “high performing” score in all 9 surgical procedures and chronic health conditions.
Great Places to Eat in Sacramento
Sacramento is packed with amazing restaurants you’ll love to explore. From dim sum and French food to barbecue, Sacramento boasts a great food scene. Here are some of the best Sacramento restaurants to try.
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This local Japanese chain delivers small plates and sushi. The Midtown location boasts a stylish location and it’s a must-try for lunch. You’ll love their award-winning sushi with an American twist!
Located in the Arden Fair shopping center, Seasons 52 is an upscale restaurant with seasonal American dishes and a large wine selection.
Seasons 52, 1689 Arden Way, Sacramento, CA 95815 (916) 922-5252
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Tower Café is a must-try Sacramento restaurant. A favorite among locals, Tower Café is known for its eclectic menu with classic breakfast items like French toast plus everything from Spanish to Asian dishes.
Tower Café, 1518 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95818 (916) 441-0222
Fun Things to Do in Sacramento – Sacramento Attractions & Culture
There’s always something happening in Sacramento, whether you’re looking for an exciting nightlife, fun things to do with kids in Sacramento, or live music and festivals. Here are some of the best things to do in Sacramento by category.
Attractions in Sacramento
- Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park isn’t just a park; it’s an important historic site of the original fort from 1839. Visit for the historical reenactments!
- Sacramento Zoo is a smaller 14-acre zoo home to 500 animals like giraffes, lions, and aardvarks.
- Old Sacramento Waterfront covers eight blocks of historic buildings on the waterfront like the Eagle Theater from 1849. See what Sacramento’s original commercial district looked like, ride a riverboat, or try a tour.
- Raging Waters Sacramento is the Bay Area’s best water park! One of the top Sacramento attractions for families, it boasts an 800-foot lazy river, slides, pools, and 25 attractions.
- Fairytale Town is a charming nonprofit park with a storybook theme. It’s one of the most fun things to do in Sacramento with young kids with a petting zoo, gardens, themed play areas. Note that this isn’t a public park: admission is $6-7.
- California State Fair comes to the city in July with carnival rides, animals, live music, games, and carnival food.
- Delta King is a historic paddlewheel riverboat built in 1927 and fully restored. It’s permanently moored along the Old Sacramento Waterfront and it now offers riverfront dining, a fun nightlife, and a boutique hotel.
Sacramento Arts & Entertainment
- Crest Theatre is a historic Art Deco downtown theater near the Capitol Building that shows new releases and independent films, 35 mm films, and hosts concerts and events.
- SAFE Credit Union Convention Center is a complex of entertainment venues plus a convention center downtown.
- B Street Theatre is a nonprofit theater that features comedy shows, music, plays, and more.
- Ace of Spades is a popular all-ages venue that features live music.
- McKinley Park is a gorgeous public park with a rose garden, public pool, playground, and walking paths.
- William Land Regional Park or Land Park is one of Sacramento’s major parks with a large play area, Fairytale Town, the Sacramento Zoo, a golf course, lakes, and play fields.
- California State Capitol Park is a scenic spot with gardens and monuments.
- Discovery Park is where the Sacramento and American rivers meet. It’s a great place for boating but this 302-acre park also features fishing, bike trails, and ball fields.
Shopping in Sacramento
- DOCO – Downtown Commons is a trendy complex for dining and shopping. The open-air complex is anchored by a movie theater, gym, and department store.
- The Promenade is an open-air shopping center with large chain retailers and casual restaurants.
- Arden Fair is a large mall with restaurants, a food court, and over 150 shops.
Museums in Sacramento
- California State Capitol Museum includes a museum in and the grounds around the State Capitol. Learn about California’s history and the lawmaking process in the state.
- Crocker Art Museum is one of the most famous Sacramento museums with a large permanent collection. It’s the oldest art museum west of the Mississippi.
- Sacramento Children’s Museum features hands-on exhibits for young and elementary school-aged kids.
- California State Railroad Museum, the best railroad museum in North America, is located in the Old Sacramento State Historic Park.
Map of Things to Do in Sacramento
Sports in Sacramento
If you’re a big sports fan, you’ll probably want to know about options for enjoying sports after moving to Sacramento. The city has just one major league team, the Sacramento Kings (NBA), who play at Golden 1 Center. The Sacramento Republic FC soccer team plays at Papa Murphy’s Park and the Sacramento River Cats play basketball at the Sutter Health Park.
Crime in Sacramento – Is Sacramento a Safe City?
Concerned about crime ahead of moving to Sacramento? The Sacramento crime rate is about 53% above the national average according to the latest figures. However, Sacramento’s violent crime rate fell to the lowest level in 35 years in 2019, bringing the violent crime rate down to 354 crimes per 100,000 people – just under the national average. The Sacramento murder rate was 6.7 murders per 100k residents or 34 total in 2019. That’s the third-lowest rate since 1985.
Despite the seemingly high crime rate, remember that where you live plays a big role in your safety. The most dangerous areas in Sacramento include:
- South Hagginwood
- Upper Land Park
- Wills Acres
- Richmond Grove
You can use this Sacramento crime map from the city to compare crime rates by neighborhood. There are plenty of safe neighborhoods in Sacramento.
Sacramento Schools & Colleges
Sacramento is served by several public school districts. If you move to Sacramento south of the American River, you’ll probably be served by the Sacramento City Unified School District which has 15 high schools. The top-rated is West Campus High School, rated the #19 for all of California. Areas north of American River are served by:
- Natomas Unified School District
- San Juan Unified School District
- Twin Rivers Unified School District
- Elk Grove Unified School District
If you’re considering private school, you’ll find many Roman Catholic schools. There is one Jewish day school, Shalom School, Masjid Annur, an Islamic school, and Capital Christian School.
Interested in higher education? Sacramento has excellent education options including two major public universities, community colleges, and private schools.
- California State University, Sacramento
- UC Davis
- UC Davis School of Medicine
- Los Rios Community College District
- University of the Pacific, Sacramento
- University of San Francisco, Sacramento
- McGeorge School of Law
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Getting a Sacramento Driver’s License & Setting up Utilities
Once you’ve settled on relocating to Sacramento, you’ll want to get started setting up utilities in your new home and transferring your driver’s license to California. If you have an out-of-state driver’s license, you’ll need to complete the Driver’s License or Identification application and visit a Sacramento DMV office. You must pay the application fee and bring your Social Security number, proof of identity, proof of residency, and complete a vision test and knowledge test.
Gas utilities in Sacramento are provided by Pacific Gas & Electric. Click here to start Sacramento gas utilities. Electricity is provided by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. You can click here to set up electrical service in Sacramento.
Is living in Sacramento in your future? It’s easy to see why so many people are moving to the City of Trees for high-quality and affordable California living! Give us a call at Mother Lode Van & Storage to get started with your free moving estimate today.