Pros and Cons of Moving to Bakersfield, CA

by Staff

Bakersfield, CA, nestled in the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley, is a city with a unique blend of small-town charm and big-city amenities. With a population of approximately 400,000, Bakersfield has a lot to offer to those considering relocation. 

 

This article explores the pros and cons of moving to Bakersfield, CA, providing a comprehensive view to help you make an informed decision.

Pros of Moving to Bakersfield, CA

Affordable Cost of Living

One of the most compelling reasons to consider moving to Bakersfield, CA, is its affordable cost of living, especially when compared to other cities in California. Housing costs in Bakersfield are significantly lower than the state average, with the median home price around $259,000, which is far below California’s median of over $700,000. 

 

This affordability extends to rental prices as well; the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Bakersfield is about $1,390 per month, making it an attractive option for both homeowners and renters alike.

 

Additionally, other living expenses such as groceries and transportation in Bakersfield are relatively moderate. For instance, grocery costs align closely with the national average, and local produce markets offer fresh and affordable options. 

 

Transportation expenses are slightly above the national average due to higher gas prices, but overall, Bakersfield remains a cost-effective place to live. Utilities can be more expensive, with monthly energy bills averaging around $231.40, but the overall cost of living remains manageable, with Bakersfield scoring 10% higher than the national average but much lower than the overall California average. 

Proximity to Los Angeles

One of the notable advantages of living in Bakersfield, CA, is its proximity to Los Angeles. Bakersfield is approximately 112 miles north of Los Angeles, translating to about a 1 hour and 46-minute drive, making it feasible for day trips or weekend getaways to one of the world’s most vibrant cities. 

 

This close distance allows Bakersfield residents to enjoy the benefits of a more affordable and less congested living environment while still having convenient access to the vast amenities and opportunities available in Los Angeles. The route between these two cities is well-serviced by various transportation options, including Greyhound buses and Amtrak trains, providing flexible travel choices for commuters and leisure travelers alike.

 

The easy accessibility to Los Angeles enhances the quality of life for Bakersfield residents, offering a balance between suburban tranquility and urban excitement. This proximity is particularly beneficial for those who work in Los Angeles but prefer to live in a more cost-effective and family-friendly environment. 

 

Additionally, the cultural and recreational offerings in Los Angeles, from world-class entertainment and dining to professional sports and iconic landmarks, are just a short drive away, enriching the lifestyle of Bakersfield residents without the high cost of living associated with LA. 

 

Thus, the strategic location of Bakersfield as a gateway to Los Angeles adds significant value for those considering moving to Bakersfield, CA.

Good Public Education System

One of the notable advantages of living in Bakersfield, CA, is its robust public education system. Bakersfield is home to several highly rated schools that cater to various educational needs. 

 

The city boasts top-performing schools such as Liberty High School, Centennial High School, and Stockdale High School, all of which rank in the top tiers for academic performance and student success. 

 

These schools are recognized for their high graduation rates, quality of teaching, and comprehensive extracurricular programs, making them ideal choices for families prioritizing education.

 

Additionally, Bakersfield offers a range of elementary and middle schools that have consistently performed well in state assessments. Schools like Ronald Reagan Elementary School and Downtown Elementary School are among the top-rated, providing excellent education from the early years. 

 

The commitment to maintaining high educational standards is evident in the variety of programs available, including Advanced Placement (AP) courses and STEM-focused curricula, ensuring that students are well-prepared for higher education and future careers. 

 

This strong educational infrastructure is a significant draw for families considering moving to Bakersfield, making it an attractive place to live for those seeking quality education for their children.

Cons of Moving to Bakersfield, CA

High Crime Rates

One of the significant drawbacks of living in Bakersfield, CA, is its high crime rates, which are considerably above the national average. According to recent data, Bakersfield has a violent crime rate of 5.58 incidents per 1,000 residents, which includes serious offenses such as murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. 

 

This rate is higher than in many other cities in the United States, making the risk of encountering violent crime in Bakersfield more pronounced. Furthermore, the city has a particularly high rate of property crimes, including burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft, with residents having a 1 in 24 chance of being victims of such crimes.

 

The overall crime rate in Bakersfield is concerning, with the city being ranked in the 20th percentile for safety, meaning that 80% of U.S. cities are safer. This high crime rate affects the quality of life and can be a significant deterrent for potential new residents. 

 

The central neighborhoods of Bakersfield, in particular, experience higher crime rates compared to the western parts of the city, which are generally considered safer. The prevalence of crimes like motor vehicle theft, which is among the highest in the nation, further underscores the safety challenges faced by Bakersfield residents. 

 

These statistics highlight the need for continued efforts to improve public safety and reduce crime in the area.

Poor Air Quality

Bakersfield, CA, consistently ranks among the worst cities in the United States for air quality, which poses a major health concern for its residents. According to the 2024 “State of the Air” report by the American Lung Association, Bakersfield tops the list for short-term and year-round particle pollution, and is third for ozone pollution. 

 

The city’s air quality issues are largely attributed to industrial activities, vehicle emissions, and frequent wildfires in the region. These pollutants contribute to high levels of particulate matter (PM2.5) and ground-level ozone, both of which can cause serious respiratory and cardiovascular problems, including asthma attacks, heart disease, and even premature death.

 

The adverse health effects of poor air quality in Bakersfield are particularly concerning for vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing health conditions. 

 

Nearly 44 million people in the U.S. live in areas with failing grades for all three measures of air pollution: ozone, short-term particle pollution, and annual particle pollution, and Bakersfield is a significant contributor to this statistic. 

 

The city’s air quality challenges are exacerbated by climate change, which increases the frequency and severity of wildfires, further deteriorating air quality. These conditions necessitate urgent and comprehensive efforts to improve air quality and protect public health in Bakersfield.

Limited Public Transportation

One of the significant challenges of living in Bakersfield, CA, is the limited public transportation system, which can be a considerable drawback for residents who rely on it. The primary provider, Golden Empire Transit District (GET), operates 16 bus routes with 1,028 stops across the city. 

 

While this might seem comprehensive, the coverage and frequency of these routes are often inadequate for the city’s sprawling geography and growing population. The routes are not as frequent as in larger metropolitan areas, leading to longer wait times and less convenience for daily commuters.

 

Moreover, Bakersfield’s reliance on private vehicles is evident, as the public transportation infrastructure struggles to meet the needs of all residents, especially those living in more remote or less densely populated areas. 

 

Kern Transit offers intercity services connecting Bakersfield to surrounding communities, but these services also face limitations in frequency and coverage. For individuals without access to a car, this can make commuting to work, school, or other essential services challenging. 

 

The lack of efficient and widespread public transportation options contributes to increased traffic congestion and environmental concerns, as more residents depend on personal vehicles for their daily transportation needs.

Lower-than-Average Salaries

One of the major downsides of living in Bakersfield, CA, is the lower-than-average salaries compared to the national figures. The average salary in Bakersfield is notably lower, which can be a concern for many professionals considering relocation.

 

 For instance, while the national average salary for a wide range of professions is higher, many jobs in Bakersfield do not match up to this level. 

 

This is compounded by the fact that the cost of living in Bakersfield, though lower than other parts of California, is about 2% higher than the national average, which puts additional financial strain on residents earning below-average wages.

 

This economic disparity is further highlighted by the specific challenges faced by renters. In Bakersfield, a significant proportion of households are burdened by housing costs, with 53% of renter households spending more than a third of their income on rent and utilities. 

 

This high-cost burden leaves less disposable income for other necessities such as food, healthcare, and education, exacerbating the financial challenges for many residents. 

 

The rental market in Bakersfield reflects this strain, with fair market rents for a two-bedroom apartment reaching $1,258, a figure that can be challenging to meet for those earning lower-than-average salaries.

Conclusion

In summary, moving to Bakersfield, CA, presents a mixed bag of advantages and disadvantages. The city’s affordability, strong community feel, and proximity to Los Angeles are significant draws. 

 

However, issues such as high crime rates, poor air quality, and extreme weather conditions cannot be overlooked. 

Prospective residents must carefully consider these factors to determine if Bakersfield is the right fit for their lifestyle and needs. And if moving there is your decision you should consider the moving process. Search for moving companies near me and you will get professional help so you don’t need to worry about anything.

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