Mike McPhate, The New York Times
Fresno, one of the country’s most affordable places to live, according to a new survey.
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Complaining about the cost of living is a favorite pastime in California.
An exodus has led in large part to Texas, according to an analysis by The Sacramento Bee. But people looking for cheaper living needn’t necessarily go so far.
According to a new survey, one of the country’s most affordable places to live is in California — Fresno.
Stay with me.
The Central Valley’s biggest city has sometimes gotten a bad rap from outsiders.
True, Fresno has issues: unemployment is high (about 10.5 percent), the summers are scorching hot and air pollution often gets nasty.
But to many residents, the problems are no worse than those of other California cities.
Fresnans talk about their city’s lively arts scene, fine state university and easygoing vibe. The city is situated in the middle of the state, allowing residents to get into the Sierra Nevada in under two hours and to the Pacific in under three.
And then there is affordability.
The survey, by the financial website GoBankingRates, found that you could live comfortably in Fresno on income of roughly $44,500 a year, putting the city on par with Albuquerque and Detroit.
That’s compared to about $70,000 in San Diego, $76,000 in Los Angeles and $110,000 in San Francisco.
Fresno leaders, aware of the city’s cost advantage, have been seeking to repair its job woes in part by nurturing a budding tech hub and revitalizing the downtown, where the new bullet train promises links to Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“I think we have all the ingredients in place to really launch the city,” Lee Brand, Fresno’s mayor, said.
There’s one thing Fresno can’t fix, however. In summer, temperatures commonly surpass 100 degrees, making outdoor activities a challenge.
“The heat — that’s a big lifestyle complaint,” said Justin Loyear, 34, who runs an online message board dedicated to Fresno. “It’s probably one of the reasons why it’s a lot cheaper to live here. You just have to make that compromise.”
But, he noted, the relentless sun is part of the reason the valley’s agriculture is so abundant. That means Fresnans enjoy an amazing selection of fresh fruit and vegetables.
This article originally appeared on The New York Times.