Bakersfield, California, is a city in Kern County. It is famous for its agriculture and energy production.
The city’s industry revolves around mining, energy extraction, petroleum, food processing, and natural gas. It has grown into one of the biggest oil and energy producers in the United States.
Bakersfield has the highest concentration of Basque restaurants upholding the iconic regional cuisine of Spain.
You will experience their admirable expertise and pride in local Basque traditions and long-standing culinary history. The city has plenty of eateries offering time-tested Basque recipes from locally sourced ingredients.
More than that, the city evolved into a more advanced metro, demonstrated by its gallery-filled Arts District and modernized city facilities. It is home to the Fox Theater, which regularly hosts pop music performances and film noir. It is a great city presenting a higher potential for creating a fulfilling and more active urban life.
Nevertheless, there are a lot of things to discover about Bakersfield. You must identify its primary benefits and drawbacks before considering moving here. Thus, I present a complete list of the pros and cons of living in Bakersfield to deepen your understanding of the city.
Is Bakersfield an excellent place to live in? A Big City in Southern California
The Good Side
Excellent Public School System
Bakersfield is a great place to consider for those relocating with their family and children. The public education system here is exemplary; you can confidently send your kids to school. Several middle schools and high schools are offering high-quality education.
The Bakersfield City School District ranks top in curriculum and educational programs. The district can accommodate more than 40,000 students on its 18 campuses with a highly comprehensive education system.
The most famous institutions with a higher percentage of enrolment are the Downtown Elementary School, Sequoia Middle School, Stockdale High School, and Ridgeview High School.
With 45 program offerings, California State University has thousands of students yearly. Also, the city has over 280 colleges and universities. Some of them landed in the top spot of being the best in the country.
Quiet but not boring
Boredom barely crosses your mind because there are many things to do here. If you find Los Angeles a city of noise, Bakersfield is the opposite. You may enjoy tranquility in this part of southern California while still experiencing big city life.
Bakersfield has several nature parks with hiking trails and picnic areas. The Hart Memorial Park, found at the foothills of Sierra Nevada, has playgrounds, walking trails, and lush green surroundings. It is the perfect summer getaway if you enjoy the great outdoors.
There is no shortage of arts and performance venues in this city. The Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace is a must-see attraction where you can witness music, theatrical performances, and play. Here you can watch country music performances; this is also why the city is trendy.
On the other hand, the California Living Museum is perfect for children. It is home to wildlife and filled with plants and flowering species. The museum also has a lake where you can go fishing with your loved ones.
The best thing about Bakersfield is its location. It is very close to famous cities in California, like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. With its proximity to these areas, you will enjoy the excellent amenities of these bigger metros.
If you want something new to do, you can head straight to Los Angeles, which is only a two-hour drive away. On the other hand, San Diego is a three-and-a-half-hour drive, while it will take four hours to reach San Francisco.
Bakersfield’s location is a considerable advantage to its residents. You can live the ultimate California dream without breaking the bank.
American Comfort Food and Basque Food Galore
American comfort food is the ultimate food offering of Bakersfield. It also has the largest concentration of Basque restaurants in California. There is an array of options where you can enjoy burgers, pretzels, and pizzas in one city.
Here you can find the Wool Growers Restaurant, which serves roasted meat dishes in its friendly restaurant atmosphere. The Black Bear Diner is where you can taste its mouthwatering waffles, warm breakfast, and American comfort food.
You should also try Frugatti’s for the best international cuisine. It is an Italian restaurant famous for its homemade pasta, bread, and pizza located off the Kern River.
The Bad Side
Oil Production Causes Pollution
Bakersfield is one of the largest oil-producing cities in California. It ranks top of the list as a city that creates particle pollution in the United States. The air quality here is poor because of the immense oil production in Kern County.
Almost 10% of the US oil supply comes from Kern County, and Bakersfield is one of the cities involved in the production. The pollution produced by oil refineries and oil drilling is one of the city’s major environmental concerns. Consider considering living here if you have a lung health issue or disease.
Safety and high crime rate
Another thing that you must know is the city’s crime rate. It is higher than the US average and can be a huge concern, especially for families with children. The total crime rate reaches more than 85% of the US median. Both property and violent crime went about the average.
Weather and Risks of Natural Disasters
California is a hot city. An air conditioning system is a must if you want to live here for a long time. The same goes for Bakersfield’s scorching hot weather, especially during summer.
When the temperature reaches its highest peak, the weather condition is unbearable. There are times when the temperature goes up to 99 degrees. We need to rely on air conditioning to make it more tolerable.
There is the risk of experiencing natural disasters. There are more occasional wildfires than in any other city in the United States. Sunshine is more frequent than rain. The appearance of sunshine triggers wildfires in forested areas.
The earthquake also poses a threat. It would be best if you were prepared for natural disasters and had an emergency kit.
What is the cost of living in Bakersfield? Cheaper Alternative in the State of California
The Good Side
An Affordable Southern Californian City
California is notoriously known for being expensive. Bakersfield is different. When you opt to live in this city, the living expenses may be relatively cheap but less costly than in other big cities in the state.
The cost of living in Bakersfield is more affordable, with housing expenses 11% less expensive than the national average. It is a huge deal, especially if you want to be a homeowner in California. The average cost of the house is around $300,000. It is pretty low compared to Los Angeles or San Francisco.
You will also find lower prices if you rent an apartment. There are rental houses with a monthly rate of $1,300. The rate is $300 lower than the national average, too. If you haggle and search enough, you can find a one-bedroom house lower than this price.
Excellent healthcare system without breaking the bank
If you have health insurance, you can afford to receive the best healthcare service in Bakersfield. The city has plenty of hospitals known for their award-winning services. Healthcare here is also well-supported by the government.
You can choose Adventist Health Bakersfield, Brain and Spine Institute, and the Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. They offer top-notch surgical services, NICU, wound care, and an emergency response unit.
Pay Lower Sales Tax
Another advantage of living in Bakersfield is taxes. The city has the lowest property and sales tax in California. Sales tax is only 8.5%, which is relatively lower compared to other cities in California.
The Bad Side
Basic Expenses are more than the national average.
Of course, there are some areas in the city where you need to shell out more money in Bakersfield. Even though real estate is more affordable, other living expenses are higher than the national average.
Food and groceries are also a little more expensive. For instance, you must pay utility prices 36% more than the US median rate. Based on the given data, you need to allow 11% more for food and groceries when you live here. It could be a massive concern for a family with many family members.
Why work in Bakersfield? More Jobs from Oil and Agriculture Sector
The Good Side
The economy of the city centers on oil and agriculture. The city is one of the top producers of agricultural products like citrus, carrots, cotton, grapes, roses, and alfalfa.
San Joaquin Valley, a part of the city, has also been creating jobs based on agriculture. Bolthouse Farms and Grimmway Farms are the biggest carrot growers in the country.
Oil is also the backbone of the Bakersfield economy. It produces 75% of crude oil in the whole of California. It is the city’s largest source of employment and income, too. The Midway-Sunset Oil Field in Bakersfield is one of the largest sources of oil in the United States. Oil production alone created 16,000 jobs.
Renewable energy is also thriving in this city. Kern County generates almost 50% of the state’s renewable energy. It also has the most significant wind and geothermal facilities. A solar field facility is also present in Bakersfield.
Aside from oil and agriculture, other industries make up the city’s economy. Manufacturing, distribution, and healthcare sector generate jobs, as well.
Bakersfield has a lucrative manufacturing sector that involves ice cream, stock racing, and vacuum systems. Its ice cream production is even one of the biggest in the world.
Increase job growth and employment
Growth in the job market is very promising in Bakersfield. Over the past decade, the city has exhibited an almost 10.6% employment rate. Employment growth is also following an upward trend than can reach around a 24.2% increase.
Companies like Grimmway Farms, Allied Universal, Webster Bank, and Aera Energy created jobs for the residents. Many millennials move to the city because of its job market.
The Bad Side
Income below the national average
Even though plenty of industries generate employment in Bakersfield, the monthly wage is less competitive. It is lower than the rate received by workers in major cities in California. A typical worker can earn as much as $60,000 or less than $20 per hour.
You must be wise or frugal with your earnings to live comfortably in this city. The lowest hourly rate is $14, while the highest you could receive is $20. If you factor in rent and essential commodities, there will be fewer savings.
Living costs are more affordable, but you still enjoy the great California life. Bakersfield is a cheaper alternative if you want to live the California dream. Its easy access to Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco make a living in Cali desirable.