Fresno CA

Moving to Fresno

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Fresno At-A-Glance

Hovering just shy of 550,000 residents, Fresno holds the title as Central Valley’s biggest city and ranks fifth in terms of population size in all of California. But Fresno has a distinct history and culture beyond the statistics. For instance, did you know that the city was named after the ash trees along the San Joaquin River? This seemingly insignificant tidbit links Fresno right back to its natural roots.

Sitting right at California’s heart, it serves as a perfect base for venturing out to various corners of the state. In fact, the biggest perk of moving to Fresno is that you get to be close to some amazing natural spots. You’ll be living just 60 miles away from Yosemite National Park. And it’s not just Yosemite on the list; places like Sierra National Forest, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park are all within a 75-mile radius of the city.

That’s a bit of a contrast to Fresno’s own green spaces, which are rather limited — the city has less than 5% parkland. But hey, a park is a park, and we’ll take it.

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Take a Deep Breath Before Moving to Fresno

There’s no sugar-coating it: the city struggles with air quality issues. Things like vehicle emissions, farming activities and wildfires are all adding to it, putting Fresno’s air among the worst in California.

Do you already have a respiratory condition like asthma? Stock up on dust masks and air purifiers. Especially in the hot summers, high levels of pollutants and ozone can be a concern here. On the upside, 77% of the county’s electricity comes from green sources: hydroelectric and solar power. 

Every little detail matters and Fresno is not all about challenges. This is a city of abundance, above all. Stretching out across the Central Valley, farmlands here produce some of the country’s best almonds, grapes and pistachios.

Poultry and dairy are also top favorites at the many farmer’s markets in the area, and the entire county is a bit of a fruit paradise, offering everything from peaches to wine grapes. This means you’ll have first access to this fresh bounty, often at unbeatable prices.

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Ups and Downs in the Economy

The average family living in Fresno brings in about $57,000 a year. That’s 32% lower than what most families make in other parts of California. The income per capita paints a similar picture, sitting 30% below the national level.

But here’s the thing — even though it’s more affordable than many other places in California, living in Fresno costs 7% more than the national average. This doesn’t necessarily mean less purchasing power for the majority of the population. Instead, it is largely due to a good chunk of people, about 23%, living below the poverty line. Homelessness is a big issue too. More than 3,200 folks in the city don’t have a home, and most of them don’t even have a temporary shelter, an issue the entire county is still trying to mend.

Now, money aside, you might think sharing the same state with Silicon Valley means lots of tech jobs, right? Well, not really. Besides agriculture, most people in Fresno work in education, health services, trade, transportation and utilities. In fact, Fresno has one of the lowest rates of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) jobs in the country. But hey, that means there’s room to grow in these areas.

Unemployment rate: 6.4 percent (as of September 2023)

Average weekly wages for all industries in the Fresno metro area: $1,076 (Q1 2023)

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More Renters Than Owners in Fresno

In Fresno, about 47.6% of folks own their homes. That’s less than the national average, where about 64.6% of people own their places, and here’s why:

  • The average home in Fresno costs around $274,000. Although that’s less than half what you’d pay for a typical house in the rest of California, it’s still a bit — about 12% — more than the average home price across the U.S.
  • However, the medium gross rent in Fresno is $1,115 a month. That’s still quite a deal compared to the rest of California, and it’s a bit cheaper, around 4% than what most people pay in rent across the country.

Right now, Fresno’s housing market is sizzling, with a ton of folks ditching big city life in places like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento for this local scene. Why, you ask? They’re simply on the hunt for a lifestyle that won’t break the bank, with housing prices that are more within reach, and moving to Fresno checks both of those boxes.

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Moving to Fresno? Say Fresyes to These Hotspots!

Tower District is a great place to live, work and play in Fresno. If the arts and entertainment scene is not where you want to put down roots, there are plenty of other options. Here are a few suggestions that are more laid-back:

Woodward Park in northeast Fresno is where you can live close to a park, a large shopping center and top-rated schools at the same time. This makes it ideal for families.

Old Fig Garden in northwest Fresno offers you well-landscaped historic homes and tree-lined streets. It’s an upscale area with several large estates, that manages to balance old-world charm and modern conveniences just right. Some houses here sell for over $1 million.

Sunnyside in southeast Fresno brings a suburban feel, with spacious homes and the Sierra Vista Mall nearby. The scenic Sunnyside Country Club makes it a hit for those seeking a quieter lifestyle, golfing away.

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Chill Traffic, Helped by Public Transport

First off, if you’re used to big-city traffic jams, Fresno’s roads will feel like a dream. Although it is mostly a car-dependent city, on average, a 6-mile trip takes less than 9 minutes here. And people in Fresno only spend about 18 hours a year stuck in traffic. Plus, the streets are wide enough to accommodate bikes if you feel like switching to fewer wheels.

Commute to work? You’ll probably be on the road for just over 22 minutes on average. That’s quicker than the national average and way faster than most California cities. 

For night owls, there’s FresnoHOP. It’s a free trolley service that runs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, connecting Fresno State and Campus Pointe to cool spots like the Brewery and Cultural Arts Districts and the Tower District.

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There’s Room for Improvement in Graduation Rates

The Fresno Unified School District is pretty big, with over 100 schools and about 70,000 students. Yet, there’s a twist. When it comes to high school graduation rates, Fresno’s a bit behind the national curve. While 89% of folks across the nation boast a high school diploma, only about 79% of Fresno’s adults can claim the same.

Moving on to higher education, Fresno State is the main state university in town with eight schools and colleges. Around 24,000 students are learning here, and about 80% of undergrads get financial aid.

Craving more academic paths to explore? How about Fresno Pacific University? This private Christian institution is well-known for its strong focus on liberal arts and sciences. But don’t forget about their solid business, management and marketing programs either.

Little Rain, No Snow, Lots of Sunshine

Fresno has a hot semi-arid climate. Not familiar with that? It means you’ll get very hot and dry summers with slightly cool and wet winters.

Temperatures in summer often shoot past 100 degrees, and that heat kicks in as early as May. By the time August rolls around, it’s pretty intense. If you’re not a fan of scorching weather, you might find yourself joining the locals heading to the coast or the mountains for a break.

But here’s the thing — Fresno evenings can be really pleasant. Many folks have pools, and they use them a lot since they’re good to go for most of the year.

Summer average (June – Aug): 95℉ high, 67℉ low

Winter average (Dec – Feb): 57℉ high, 41℉ low

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10 Can’t-Miss Things to Do in Fresno

After moving to Fresno and settling down, it’s time to start exploring the farmland. Drive or bike the Blossom Trail in spring for stunning blooming trees or hit the Fresno County Fruit Trail on the same route in summer for fresh produce stands. Looking for other places to go and things to see? Here’s a curated list:

  1. Enjoy picnics, jogging or just a leisurely walk in Woodward Park, a massive park along the San Joaquin River. It has trails, a Japanese garden, playgrounds, a dog park, even a BMX track and disc golf.
  2. Explore a variety of animal exhibits at Fresno Chaffee Zoo, perfect for a family day out.
  3. Discover the unique subterranean complex of patios, grottoes and garden courts that is the Forestiere Underground Gardens.
  4. Visit Fresno Art Museum and its amazing collection of pre-Columbian artifacts and super cool exhibitions, from children’s book art to modern pieces from Mexico.
  5. Take a day trip to one of America’s most famous national parks, Yosemite National Park, just a short drive from Fresno.
  6. Wander through Fresno’s historic Tower District and enjoy its dining and nightlife offerings. And for art lovers, don’t miss ArtHop —  it’s a cool and free art event happening on the first and third Thursdays of every month.
  7. Adventure lovers can enjoy a day of whitewater rafting on the Class 3 Kings River. The season typically starts in April and lasts until the end of summer, but it all depends on the amount of snow that fuels the river.
  8. Experience the local vineyards and sample some of Fresno’s finest wines by taking a wine journey through Fresno County.
  9. Cool off during hot summer days at the fun-filled Island Waterpark.
  10. Don’t miss the Big Fresno Fair at the beginning of October. Everyone can enjoy the rides, concerts and exhibits of Central Valley’s largest annual event.

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