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Sacramento vs Fresno [Pros & Cons] 🆚 | Is Living in Fresno or Sacramento Right for You?

Last Updated on: 6th August 2023, 05:17 pm

Thinking about moving to California but need help deciding between Sacramento and Fresno? While there might be some similarities between these cities, there are plenty of things to do and attractions that make both Sacramento and Freno unique in their own way–leading to plenty of pros and cons for each city. To help you better understand the advantages and disadvantages between Sacramento and Fresno, we wanted to break down each city for you.

As the capital of California, Sacramento is best known for being a gold mine during the gold rush, making the city full of rich history. In addition to its historical significance, Sacramento is also known for its vibrant art scene, amazing public transportation, and thriving economy. Just over 150 miles away from Sacramento, Fresno is a beautiful city in the San Joaquin Valley. Fresno is known for its wonderful parks and gardens, sunny weather, and booming agriculture industry. Both areas are wonderful places to live, but which is best for you? Here’s a thorough comparison of Sacramento vs. Fresno.

Sacramento vs. Fresno Distance

What’s the distance between Sacramento and Fresno? The distance from Sacramento to Fresno is 169 miles. If you take the CA-99 S, the drive usually takes around 3 hours, but it can depend upon the time of day and traffic.

Pros & Cons of Living in Sacramento vs Fresno

Before choosing which city to call home, you should consider the pluses and minuses of each area. The decision is up to you, but you can have peace of mind knowing that according to a US News article, both Sacramento and Fresno received the title of being one of the ‘Top 10 California Cities to Retire’ and, according to Forbes, one of the ‘Top 10 Cities to Live in California.’ Here is a comparison of Sacramento pros and cons vs. Fresno pros and cons. 

Living in Sacramento pros

There are many benefits of living in Sacramento vs. Fresno. Sacramento has a lower crime rate than Fresno. The public transportation system is much better in Sacramento, with more options to choose from. Sacramento is also a dog-friendly city, so if you have a four-legged friend, you can have peace of mind knowing that there are plenty of dog parks in Sacramento.

Sacramento also boasts a variety of attractions for the whole family to enjoy. One such attraction is the renowned Stanford Mansion, a famous museum. Several parks exist to explore, including William Land Regional Park, California State Capitol Park, Discovery Park, and McKinley Park. For those with children, Raging Waters Sacramento and Funderland Amusement Park are must-visit destinations during the summer months.

Living in Sacramento cons

Sacramento can be a great place to live and raise a family, but there are cons, just like any other city. One major con of living in Sacramento is that the cost of living is very high. Real estate prices are on the rise due to the city growing in popularity year after year.

Living in Fresno pros

Fresno is a wonderful place to live for many reasons. Fresno is a bit of a younger city compared to Sacramento, and you’ll find many hipster shops and cafes to check out in the area. Fresno is also much cheaper than Sacramento, with a low cost of living and fair real estate prices. If you love nature, you’ll be happy to know that Fresno is close to several national parks.

Living in Fresno cons

Although Fresno is a wonderful place to live, there are a few drawbacks to the area. First, the unemployment rate is higher than both the Sacramento and the national average. Summers in Fresno can also get incredibly hot and dry, which can be uncomfortable at times.

Fresno vs Sacramento Comparisons

When deciding between Fresno or Sacramento, you need to consider the benefits and disadvantages of each area. Here’s how the two cities stack up.

Sacramento Versus Fresno demographics

Sacramento Demographics:

  • Population: 525,028
  • Sex ratio: 51% female, 49% male
  • Median age: 36
  • Educational attainment: 86.2% high school degree (or higher), 36.9% bachelor’s degree (or higher)
  • Median household income: $75,311

Fresno Demographics:

  • Population: 544,500
  • Sex ratio: 50% female, 50% male
  • Median age: 33
  • Educational attainment: 80.1% high school degree (or higher), 26.1% bachelor’s degree (or higher)
  • Median household income: $61,250

Cost of Living in Fresno Versus Sacramento

The cost of living in Sacramento is higher than the cost of living in Fresno. The Cost of Living Index in Sacramento is 121.6, which means that it is 21.6% more expensive than the national average of 100. Fresno, on the other hand, only has a Cost of Living Index of 107, making it 7% more expensive than the national average.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a family of four living in Sacramento needs to make $95,122 to live comfortably in the city. A family living in Fresno only needs to make $76,842. Here’s a quick breakdown from Numbeo comparing average costs in both cities.

  • Rent prices are 48.9% higher in Sacramento
  • Restaurant prices are 8% higher in Sacramento
  • Grocery prices are 21.1% higher in Sacramento
  • Gas prices are 3.3% higher in Sacramento

Are you curious about Sacramento real estate vs. Fresno real estate? When it comes to home prices, Fresno is on the cheaper end. According to Redfin, the average home price in Sacramento is $475,000, while the average home price in Fresno is $375,000. Both areas have a competitive market, with homes only sitting on the market for an average of about a week.

Graph of the median sale price in Sacramento, CA

Rent prices in Sacramento vs. Fresno are fairly close. According to RentCafe, the average rent in Sacramento is $1,854, while the average rent in Fresno is $1,507. Although rent is higher in Sacramento, there are many affordable Sacramento neighborhoods to choose from.

Sacramento vs. Fresno Crime Rates

When you compare the crime rate between both cities, Sacramento is safer than Fresno. While both areas have a higher crime rate than the national average, it’s essential to note that both Sacramento and Fresno have plenty of safe neighborhoods and communities to live in and call home!

Sacramento Crime Rates

  • Sacramento total crime rate: 3,428 per 100,000 people (46.1% higher than the national average)
  • Sacramento violent crime rate: 683 per 100,000 people (6.1% higher than the national average)
  • Sacramento property crime rate: 2,745 per 100,000 people (40.2% higher than the national average)

Here’s more information regarding the Sacramento crime rate!

Fresno Crime Rates

  • Fresno total crime rate: 3,742 per 100,000 people (59.5% higher than the national average)
  • Fresno violent crime rate: 665 per 100,000 people (71.5% higher than the national average)
  • Fresno property crime rate: 3,077 per 100,000 people (57.1% higher than the national average)

Things to Do in Sacramento vs. Fresno

There are many fun things to do in both Sacramento and Fresno. If you are interested in urban activities, then you may enjoy Sacramento more. Sacramento has many attractions inside of the city such as the California State Capitol Museum, the Crocker Art Museum, and the Sacramento Zoo. There are also many hip breweries, shops, and cafes in the area.


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A post shared by SacramentoZoo (@sacramentozoo)

While Fresno also has urban attractions, it is more well-known for its agriculture and nearby national parks. John Muir National Historic Site, Point Reyes National Sea Shore, and Redwood National Park are all very close to Fresno. So, if you are more interested in nature, then Fresno may be a better option for you.

Fresno vs Sacramento Weather

Although Fresno and Sacramento are fairly close to one another, the weather is slightly different in each area. Fresno is typically drier than Sacramento, with the summer months seeing average daily temperatures in the 90s. Sacramento still has warm summers, but it is not as dry as Fresno. Sacramento also sees twice as much rain in a year, which helps to cool things down a bit.

Sacramento vs Fresno Public Transportation

It is essential to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each city when it comes to public transportation. When it comes to accessible public transportation, Sacramento is the clear winner. The only means of public transportation in Fresno is the Department of Transportation’s bus system. Fresno is not a very walkable city, so you’ll likely need a car to get around.

Sacramento, on the other hand, has a bus, light rail, SmaRT ride microtransit services, and community bus service via the Sacramento Regional Transit District. If you prefer to walk, there are many walkable neighborhoods in Sacramento for you to consider.

Sacramento vs. Fresno Economy

Both Sacramento and Fresno have many wonderful jobs to choose from. Ultimately, Sacramento has a lower unemployment rate and a higher average salary than Fresno, and there are more giant corporations to choose from. Sacramento is especially known for its healthcare industry, with major employers such as Adventist Health and VSP Vision Care.

While Fresno has a higher unemployment rate than Sacramento and the rest of the country, they’re working on increasing the number of jobs for residents, according to The Fresno Bee.

Sacramento Economy:

Fresno Economy:

Fresno Versus Sacramento Sports

If you are a sports fan, then you will likely find Sacramento more intriguing. Sacramento is home to teams such as the Sacramento Kings, Sacramento Republic FC, Sacramento River Cats, and Sacramento Golf FC.


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A post shared by Sacramento Kings (@sacramentokings)

Fresno does not have any notable professional sports teams, although many residents enjoy supporting Fresno State University’s athletics.

Sacramento Versus Fresno: Where Are You Moving?

So, now that you know the ins and outs of Sacramento vs Fresno, where are you heading? If the beautiful city of Sacramento is calling to you, Mother Lode Van & Storage is here for you! We are an award-winning moving company with 65+ years of experience, 200,000+ customers served, a 1% claims rate, and 45 employees. Our highly trained movers are here to make your upcoming move seamless! Call us today at (916) 631-4285 for a free estimate!


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