Whether you’re looking for the peace and quiet of northern California or the hustle and bustle of an urban environment like San Diego or Los Angeles, the Golden State offers something for everyone. However, becoming a homeowner here can feel daunting: The state consistently ranks as one of the most expensive places in the U.S. to live. Buying a home here is possible, though. If you’ve been California dreaming, here’s a look at how to approach the home buying process in the Golden State.
How to buy a house in California: A checklist
Decide where to live in California
California is huge: 163,695 square miles, to be exact, according to Census data. So, if you aren’t set on a specific location yet, take a long look at the map. Does the ocean air appeal to you, or are you looking to spend time in the desert sun? Do you need the space of a single-family home, or will a smaller condo meet your needs? Redwood trees and hiking trails, or a man-made skyline and loads of people? Ask yourself the critical questions about what you need for your lifestyle.
Calculate the cost of living
What you want isn’t the only consideration — you’ll also need to think about how much it will cost you. The cost of a house will certainly play a major role in that math, but there are other regular expenses you’ll need to consider: How much groceries cost, how much you’ll spend to fill up your gas tank and more. Use Bankrate’s Cost of Living Calculator to understand how much money you’ll need to earn to maintain a good quality of life in any of the major California metro areas.
Consider the best places to live
To determine the best places to live in California, take a look at where the data points. While Sacramento took the top spot on Bankrate’s most recent list, smaller cities might fit your needs, too. Once you’ve narrowed your searches to specific areas, you’ll want to consider suburbs and neighboring towns that might offer access to the attractions you want at a lower price point.
Determine your home buying budget
Speaking of price point, this is the foundation of your work to buy a house in California. Use Bankrate’s Home Affordability Calculator to figure out how much you can comfortably spend to purchase a home. Remember, the key word here is “comfortably.” If you stretch yourself too thin, you run the risk of too much financial stress to enjoy your new home.
Tips for buying a house in California