What Are The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Sonoma County, CA?


Cheapest Places to Live in Sonoma County

Sonoma is one of the most expensive places to live in the country. The largest city is Santa Rosa, and it’s north of Mendocino County and west of Napa County. Sonoma County is part of the Wine Country region of California. The cost-of-living index in Sonoma is nearly 172, well above the national average of 100. In Santa Rosa, the average rent price is $1,838.

So, where are the cheapest places to live in Sonoma County? It’s important to realize that cheap places in Sonoma County might not be considered cheap in most other places of the country. For example, Eldridge is one of the cheapest places in the county, but the median home value is still $967,500. In El Verano, the median home value is $605,400 and the median rent is $1,794.

10 Cheapest Places to Live in Sonoma County

Below we delve into some of the cheapest places in Sonoma County, although if you’re coming from another state, they might not look so affordable comparatively.

1. Eldridge

  • Median home value: $967,500
  • Median rent: $1,921
  • Population: 1,400
  • Median household income: $160,200
  • Cost of living compared to the national average: 71% higher

Eldridge is a Sonoma County town that’s among the most affordable. It’s a small community and like most other places in Sonoma County, it’s home to a number of vineyards, including Mount Veeder and Mayacamas Vineyards and Winery. Eldridge has a median home value of just below $1 million, which is well above the national average. Around 58% of residents are homeowners, and 42% are renters.

The home prices might not make it seem like Eldridge is affordable, but again, this is relative to the rest of Sonoma County. One place where Eldridge excels is its low crime rate. The total crime in Eldridge is 75% lower than the national average. You have only a 1 in 162 chance of being a crime victim in Eldridge, and it’s safer than 81% of other U.S. cities.

2. El Verano

  • Median home value: $605,400
  • Median rent: $1,794
  • Population: 3,300
  • Median household income: $108,000
  • Cost of living compared to the national average: 57% higher

El Verano is a Sonoma County community just north of Marin County. It’s considered a suburb of San Francisco, and there are a number of breweries and wineries. There are also some historic sites like Lachryma Montis and the General M.G. Vallejo Home. El Verano median home values are more than $600,000, and around 62% of residents are renters.

El Verano is a safe community, with violent crime rates that are 33% lower than the national average, while property crime is 36% lower. It’s considered safer than 48% of cities in the U.S. The cost-of-living index is 161, which is above the national average. The housing cost index is 288, groceries are 111, and transportation is 98.8 when again, the national average for all metrics is 100.

3. Forestville

  • Median home price: $563,700
  • Median rent: $1,169
  • Population: 3,800
  • Median household income: $72,100
  • Cost of living compared to the national average: 54% higher

Forestville is located in the Russian River Valley. The community has a charming downtown along Front Street, with small, local businesses. There’s the Farmhouse Inn outside of town and outdoor activities at Sunset Beach River Park, Steelhead Beach Regional Park, and Mom’s Beach. Forestville offers wine tastings, nearby redwood forests, and outdoor activities like canoeing.

While Forestville is an expensive place to call home, compared to Sonoma County, it’s actually cheaper. Sonoma County has a cost of living that’s around 75% higher than the national average, but it’s only 54% higher in Forestville. Housing and transportation tend to be two of the most expensive things in Forestville.

4. Sebastopol

  • Median home price: $638,600
  • Median rent: $1,410
  • Population: 7,800
  • Median household income: $82,200
  • Cost of living compared to the national average: 67% higher

What was once a region for growing apples and plums is now Sebastopol, currently filled with vineyards. In the center of town is The Barlow, a development that converted agricultural warehouses into a marketplace with restaurants, tasting rooms, and art. The city is known for its annual Apple Blossom Festival in early spring, and it’s a popular destination for wine tasting.

The median home value in Sebastopol is lower than some other Sonoma County communities at $638,600, and the median rent is $1,410. Around 50% of residents are renters and 50% are owners. Based on cost-of-living measures, goods and services and housing are among the biggest expenses in Sebastopol. For example, while it may be cheaper relative to Sonoma County as a whole, housing in Sebastopol is 147% higher than the national average.

5. Windsor

  • Median home price: $598,000
  • Median rent: $1,770
  • Population: 27,500
  • Median household income: $107,000
  • Cost of living compared to the national average: 61% higher

Windsor is one of the cheapest places in Sonoma County, located less than 10 miles from Santa Rosa. Windsor is close to the Russian River and is known for events like the Wings Over Wine Country Air Show. Along with breweries and wineries, there are a lot of nearby outdoor activities in Shiloh Ranch Regional Park and Riverfront Regional Park.

The cost of living is higher in Windsor than the national average by 61% but is lower than the average of Sonoma County. On a cost-of-living index, with 100 representing the national average, housing comes in at 225 and goods and services at 137. Despite the high cost of living relative to the rest of the country, it’s still among the cheaper places in Sonoma County.

6. Penngrove

  • Median home price: $792,000
  • Median rent: $1,588
  • Population: 2,800
  • Median household income: $93,000
  • Cost of living compared to the national average: 84% higher

Penngrove is a small town east of Highway 101 in central Sonoma County. It has quaint charm in the midst of Wine Country. There’s a Main Street downtown area with local shops, restaurants, and cafes. The charm isn’t inexpensive, however, even though Penngrove is often ranked as one of the cheapest places in Sonoma County.

Housing is 204% higher than the national average in Penngrove. Around 68% of residents own their homes, while 32% are renters. The cost of goods and services is 37% higher in Penngrove than it is nationally, on average.

7. Healdsburg

  • Median home price: $724,700
  • Median rent: $1,736
  • Population: 11,850
  • Median household income: $96,000
  • Cost of living compared to the national average: 75% higher

Healdsburg is another quintessential California Wine Country town. It’s just about 90 minutes from San Francisco, and it has a central plaza once named by Travel + Leisure as one of “America’s Most Beautiful Town Squares.” There are frequently concerts and other events held here.

The cost of living is around 75% higher than the national average, which is about the same for the whole of Sonoma County. You can expect to pay 172% more for housing in Healdsburg than you would nationally on average, despite it being one of the cheapest places in Sonoma County.

8. Graton

  • Median home price: $650,000
  • Median rent: $1,136
  • Population: 1,890
  • Median household income: $73,984
  • Cost of living compared to the national average: 57% higher

Graton is often ranked as the best place to raise a family in Sonoma County. It’s a small community with a population of fewer than 2,000. On a cost-of-living index, with the national average being 100 the average cost of groceries in Graton is 127, while housing is 214. Overall, Graton is around 57% more expensive than the rest of the nation. Housing is 114% more expensive than the national average, but this is significantly lower than some other parts of Sonoma County.

Graton has a lot of beautiful riverside beaches, and there are antique shops and Zagat-rated restaurants. There are, of course, wine tasting rooms in Graton and a number of cafes.

9. Guerneville

  • Median home price: $472,000
  • Median rent: $1,261
  • Population: 5,000
  • Median household income: $64,350
  • Cost of living compared to the national average: 45% higher

Guerneville is in the Russian River Valley, and in the 19th century, it became a resort town for wealthy families from San Francisco. It’s unique and quirky. You can visit the Korbel California Champagne Cellars or you can go to Johnson Beach, on the river, which has long been a favorite summer destination.

When it comes to the cost of living, it’s only around 4% higher than California on average, which relative to the rest of Sonoma County is low. It is 45% more expensive in Guerneville than in the rest of the country, however. Of all the Sonoma communities on this list, Guerneville has one of the lowest median home prices.

10. Cloverdale

  • Median home price: $476,000
  • Median rent: $1,341
  • Population: 8,800
  • Median household income: $71,300
  • Cost of living compared to the national average: 45% higher

Cloverdale, like most other towns in Sonoma County, is set on the banks of the Russian River. It’s a family-friendly town, but also one that attracts visitors because of the tasting rooms and Victorian architecture.  Cloverdale has a historic downtown, with a weekly farmer’s market, a performing arts center, and many shops and galleries.

The cost of living in Cloverdale is only around 3% higher than the average for the rest of California, although it’s 45% higher than the national average. The cost of housing in Cloverdale is estimated to be about 72% more than the national average.

How Expensive is Sonoma County?

It may be shocking that the above communities, with their high cost of living, could be considered among the cheapest options in Sonoma County, but that’s the reality. In general, Sonoma has a cost of living index of nearly 158, while the national average is 100.

The housing cost of living index is 277, while the median home cost is estimated to be around $640,000 in Sonoma County. The cost of living in Sonoma County is 25% higher than in California, which is already known as one of the most expensive states in the country. It’s 75% higher than the national average.

If you’re looking for a deal, Sonoma County may not be the best relocation option for you. However, what often happens is that people who are priced out of the even more expensive San Francisco Bay Area do find that Sonoma County offers them a lower cost of living.

Ashley Sutphin

Ashley Sutphin Watkins studied journalism at the University of North Carolina. She now works as a full-time writer with an interest in all things real estate and interior design. She lives in East Tennessee and enjoys the nearby Smoky Mountains with her family.

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