Is Bakersfield, CA a Good Place to Live? 10 Pros and Cons of Living in Bakersfield

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

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Quick Facts about Bakersfield

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

2. Con: Air quality issues

One of the major drawbacks of living in Bakersfield is its poor air quality. The city often ranks among the worst in the nation 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 high pollution periods.

3. Pro: Strong agricultural industry

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

4. Con: Limited transportation

Bakersfield’s public transportation system presents a hurdle for those without a car. While the city bus system operates, its reach and frequency are limited, reflected in its low transit score of 25. This often necessitates car ownership, adding a financial burden for some residents who might struggle with car payments, gas, and insurance.

5. Pro: Proximity to natural attractions

Bakersfield’s location offers easy access to a variety of natural attractions. The city is just a short drive away from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, providing opportunities for hiking, skiing, and camping. Additionally, the Kern River runs through Bakersfield, offering activities like fishing, kayaking, and white-water rafting. This abundance of outdoor recreation makes Bakersfield a good place to live for those who crave an active lifestyle.

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6. Con: Hot summers

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

7. Pro: Growing arts and culture scene

Bakersfield has been experiencing a growth in its arts and culture scene, with new galleries, theaters, and music venues opening up. The city is home to the historic Fox Theater, which hosts a variety of performances, from concerts to plays. Additionally, the Bakersfield Museum of Art offers rotating exhibits and educational programs. This burgeoning cultural landscape provides residents with diverse 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 have to travel to nearby cities for more vibrant nightlife experiences.

9. Pro: Community-oriented atmosphere

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, which 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: Wildfire prone

Bakersfield’s scorching summers come hand-in-hand with an unfortunate reality: wildfire risk. The surrounding dry landscape and hot temperatures create tinderbox conditions, posing a threat to property and safety. Residents need to be aware of fire danger zones and take precautions like clearing brush and having a fire evacuation plan in place.


Methodology: The median home sale price and average monthly rental data is from the Redfin Data Center. The Walk Score, Transit Score and Bike Score data is from Walk Score.

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