Modesto is an underrated city in California. It has an agricultural-based economy and one of America’s biggest producers of agricultural products like almonds, milk, walnuts, and corn silage. One of the highlights of living here is the access to farm-to-table produce, which guarantees a healthy and clean lifestyle.
Aside from enjoying organically sourced products, Modesto offers a more peaceful and quiet community in California. It provides a laid-back lifestyle while presenting great cultural attractions, entertainment, and beautiful nature parks. The city comes with more affordable housing, easy access to California’s best amenities, and proximity to big cities like LA and San Francisco.
With these great benefits, you can enjoy a modest and comfortable life in Modesto more than in any other city in California. But it is still equally important to weigh its advantages and disadvantages before relocating.
So, I present the significant highlights and drawbacks of living in Modesto, California, that can help you decide if this metro is the right one for you and your family.
List of Contents
Is Modesto an excellent place to live in? Good Location, Better Opportunities
The Good side
The first thing you would love about Modesto is its proximity to other big cities in California. It is at the center of the State, where you can easily reach San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Jose in 90 minutes while Fresno in two hours.
It is in the Central Valley of California, only about 60 to 90 miles from the State’s major metros. Its location gives you excellent access to these major cities’ amenities without paying for expensive rentals and housing expenses. You can conveniently drive to these areas if you want a different environment or entertainment outside Modesto.
Ideal City to Raise a Family
If you seek a perfect place in California to build a family, you have come to the right place – Modesto. The city already has a significant community of families living in single-family houses.
Many neighborhoods cater to the demands of a newly established family life.
Most communities provide easy access to playgrounds, parks, and grocery stores.
You will find exceptional housing options in neighborhoods like Coffee-Sylvan and Northeast Modesto.
These communities are not overcrowded and typically come with friendly and decent residents. They are also close to learning institutions such as elementary, middle, and high schools. Health clinics are available within the compound if you need medical attention.
Music and Rockabilly
Did you know that Rockabilly originally came from Modesto City? The Rockabilly genre started in this city after it was formed by the Maddox Brothers & Rose in 1973.
Since then, this genre popularized iconic sounds like the ‘Hillybilly Boogie.’ The string-slapping percussive audio became infamous and provided the foundation of the Rockabilly genre.
Aside from this, Modesto has plenty of performing arts and music venues. For instance, the Gallo Center is home to the Modesto Symphony Orchestra and has become a favorite form of entertainment for the populace. It also celebrates the people’s love for music through the Modesto Area Music Awards.
It is a black tie ceremony where radio stations promote and nominate local brands and recognize their music and art. It is a way for the city to appreciate local talents and encourage them to hone their musicality and skills.
Loads of historical and cultural attractions
Many tourists visit the city because of its historical significance. You can see several attractions with corresponding historical backgrounds around Modesto.
For instance, the McHenry Mansion and McHenry Museum have helpful information about California in general and the city of Modesto in particular. It has been part of the National Register of Historic Places since 1978.
The George Lucas Plaza is demonstrating an American-Graffiti-inspired status to honor the great Modesto filmmaker George Lucas.
It is a bronze statue found at Five Points, Modesto. It is a way of celebrating the productive years of George Lucas and his contributions to the American film industry.
Then the Gallo Center for the Arts is the leading performing arts center established in 2007. It is a huge gathering place for regional, national, and international artists where they showcase their talents and passion for creative arts. The State Theater is a local performance arts center famous for exhibiting indie and international films.
Multiple Transit Options
Moving from one district to another in Modesto is convenient. Several transit options are available, including rail, bus, air, reliable highway, and roads.
The city uses the Amtrak San Joaquin to the east of downtown Modesto. It also aims to include the Altamont Corridor Express and the California High-Speed Rail to improve transit services.
Modesto also has bus services for shorter commutes.
The Stanislau Regional Transit Authority directly operates the paratransit and bus services of the city.
Air travel is also available here with the Modesto City-County Airport.
More urban development
Over the past years, the city has been developing into a better urban area in California. It implemented the downtown revitalization plan that established new attractions, such as the Gallo Center for the Arts.
It also renovated two of its historic streets, 10th, and 11th, to cater to the population’s growing demand. The design designated these streets as part of the Historic Cruise Route, where locals and tourists can enjoy music, bars, and the city’s Graffiti culture.
Many developments in the future will enable Modesto to become a more tourist-driven city in Cali. There are also initiatives to enhance the city facades, signage, and promenade to make the city more attractive to visitors and locals.
The Bad side
Disturbing crime rate
The city has a high record of violent crime and a property rate above the national average. The total violent crime rate was 66%, while the property crime rate was 57%.
With these records, you need to research and be more selective with the kind of neighborhood you pick in Modesto. There is a 1 in 25 probability that you might become a victim of crime in this city.
Living in California exposes you to natural disasters like drought, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, and landslides. Even though the State provides an emergency evacuation plan for these types of disasters, you must also prepare yourself. As part of the community, it is also essential that you keep yourself informed of the upcoming calamity that might visit your area.
Since a considerable part of California is desert, it is only expected to have a drought. During drought, you can experience water shortages, which greatly inconveniences you and your family.
Wildfire is also a similar situation brought about by the intense heat, especially during the summer season. It can lead to wildfires in a forested area in California.
Even though there is more sunshine than rain in this State, flood is also naturally occurring. When it rains, a flood can come second. It can also cause landslides in high places. Then, there are frequent earthquakes because there are many active faults in California, too.
What is the cost of living in Modesto? More Affordable Coastal City in Cali
Modesto is an agriculturally-based economy. Its vast landscape is surrounded by farms and orchards, particularly in the Tuolumne River. Nevertheless, its downtown area has a touch of modernity with local themed restaurants, thriving arts centers, and lively community gatherings.
If you compare it to Cali’s other coastal cities, Modesto’s cost of living is 26% lower than the State’s median rate. Nevertheless, the city is still 5% more expensive than the rest of America.
The Good Side
Your lifestyle highly depends on the quality of life you choose to have. And this city has a lot of free things to do because of its nature parks and great outdoors.
You can spend little money to keep entertained in this city. You can enjoy a comfortable life here by visiting natural parks and public spaces. Some public indoor events are also free of charge.
Housing: More affordable than the rest of California
If you want to live that ‘California dream’ but want to spend less on real estate, you are at the right place – Modesto. The price still varies depending on what kind of neighborhood you choose to live in here. You can get a one-bedroom house for around $1000, while a three-bedroom place costs $1,700 monthly.
You have limitless options for renting here in Modesto. Renting is 21% lesser than in its nearby city, Sacramento. Apartments are also reasonably priced, and it is common to find a studio apartment for $1000.
Big complexes cater to housing units costing from $1000 to $1,500. Depending on how much budget you want to allot, the city has the right place for you.
Average Health Care Cost
Seeking medical attention here is easy. There are several healthcare facilities you can visit around Stanislaus county. If you have an excellent health insurance policy, you will pay less for health care expenses.
Child care here is also exceptional. It landed in 11th place, with many institutions and daycare facilities spread throughout the metro.
The Bad Side
Food and groceries
If you are coming from a less expensive city, you need to allot more budget to food. You have to pay 5% more for food when you choose to live in Modesto. It is the same as the rest of California.
Nevertheless, since the city is agricultural, you can always get the freshest local produce straight from the farm. Fruits and vegetables are abundant, and you can haggle them for a lower price.
Public transportation here is a costly undertaking. There is increasing traffic, and the cost of transport is high. The bus fares are 15% pricier than the US median transportation rate.
The ever-increasing cost of utilities
The electric cost in the city has increased dramatically in the last few years. The increase is about 2.63% making electric utilities 52% higher than the rest of the country. The only thing good about utilities here is the phone bill, which is 1% lower than the national average.
Why work in Modesto? The Future is Agriculture
The Good side
The job market in Modesto depends on agriculture because of the city’s fertile farmland.
It is home to the biggest winery in the world – E&J Gallo Winery.
It is the most extensive wine bottle manufacturing company globally, too. With this company alone, thousands of jobs became available for city residents.
Big Companies based in agriculture
Aside from the E&J Gallo Winery, there is another manufacturing business based on agriculture. Cereal and snack factories like Ceres, Del Monte Foods, and more. You will see Foster Farms Dairy, Sciabica Olive Oil, and Royal Robbins, which also create jobs for the residents.
You can land a job in health and government facilities for other industries. For instance, the Memorial Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, and Doctors Medical Center of Modesto cater to the city’s health professionals in terms of employment.
The Bad side
Slow economic growth and unemployment rate
The economy of Modesto is less diversified than other cities in California. Unlike other cities with tech and start-up industries, most businesses here are agriculturally dependent. If you want to live here as a professional, you will have fewer options than in SF or San Diego.
The unemployment rate is higher than the average. It reaches 8.5%, nearly double the US median rate of 5.9%. Salary or income per capita is also less competitive. Living here means paying more than the national average, with an average monthly payment.
There is no such thing as the best US city. Modesto is a good example. Even though there are many benefits to living here, it has its disadvantages, too. Modesto may be a great place to retire, but working here could be better.
Are you fond of Modesto and want to relocate here immediately? Please share your thoughts below, and let me hear from you soon!