2024 Why is California City So Cheap? [Plus What Happened To It]

Welcome to California, the land of opportunity – where dreams come true, and affordability reigns supreme.

Today, we delve into the captivating mystery that is California City, a place that defies all conventional wisdom when it comes to housing prices.

Prepare yourself for a rollercoaster ride as we uncover the secrets behind why this city on the West Coast offers such surprisingly low-cost living options.

Get ready to be amazed by the untold stories, hidden gems, and unexpected factors that make California City an affordable haven amidst its extravagant neighbors.

Why is California City so Cheap? (4 Main Reasons)

California City’s affordability is attributed to a combination of factors. The city’s remote location and lack of amenities make it less desirable for many people, resulting in lower demand and subsequently lower prices. Moreover, the large inventory of undeveloped land allows for affordable housing options.

Additionally, the city’s economic struggles have also played a role in keeping prices low. However, it is important to note that while California City may be cheap now, it has the potential for growth and development in the future. Therefore, it is crucial for prospective buyers and investors to carefully consider the long-term prospects before making any decisions.

1. Abundance of affordable housing options

1. Abundance of affordable housing options

Unlike its bustling metropolitan counterparts in California, California City boasts a surplus of available land, which has translated into a wide array of housing choices at lower price points.

This surplus of land has allowed developers to build homes without the constraints of limited space, resulting in a more competitive real estate market.

As a result, prospective residents can find a variety of housing options, including single-family homes, apartments, and even vacant lots for those interested in building their dream homes, all at prices that are significantly more budget-friendly compared to the skyrocketing real estate costs seen in many other California cities.

2. Remote location

Another key factor contributing to the affordability of California City is its remote location. Nestled in the Mojave Desert, far from major urban centers, this city’s isolation plays a pivotal role in its cost-effectiveness.

The vast distance from major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco means that California City isn’t subjected to the high demand and competitive housing markets that drive up prices in those metropolitan areas.

3. Lack of amenities and infrastructure

This city lacks the extensive cultural attractions, shopping districts, and entertainment options typically associated with metropolitan areas. While it offers essential services and facilities, the absence of more extravagant amenities often discourages those seeking a bustling urban lifestyle.

This dearth of attractions and infrastructure results in a reduced demand for housing in California City compared to its more cosmopolitan counterparts.

Consequently, the lower demand for housing translates into more budget-friendly prices, making California City an economical choice for residents willing to forego certain conveniences in exchange for a more affordable cost of living.

4. Economic Factors

Unlike major metropolitan areas like Los Angeles or San Francisco, California City doesn’t have a booming job market driven by technology, entertainment, or finance industries.

The lack of high-paying job opportunities in the immediate vicinity contributes to lower housing costs. Many residents who choose to live in California City often commute to neighboring areas for work, but this trade-off allows them to enjoy cheaper housing.

What happened to California City?

California City, once envisioned as a grand urban development in the Mojave Desert, faced several challenges that led to its failure to reach its ambitious goals.

What happened to California City?

Here are four key reasons for California City’s failure:

1. Increased dust storms

Located in the southern part of the state, California City was once regarded as a promising vision for urban development.

However, it has since faced a myriad of challenges that have contributed to its failure. One significant factor is the increased occurrence of dust storms in the region.

These massive sandstorms have battered the city, causing severe damage to infrastructure and posing health risks to its inhabitants.

The constant barrage of airborne particles not only erodes buildings and roads but also makes it unbearable for residents to go about their daily lives.

2. Lagging development

Another key reason for California City’s downfall was lagging development. While neighboring cities thrived with new businesses and infrastructure projects, California City seemed trapped in a time warp.

The lack of investment prevented the city from attracting major employers or improving essential services such as healthcare and education.

As a result, residents began to seek better opportunities elsewhere, leaving behind a dwindling population that further hindered any chances of revitalization.

3. Inadequate planning strategies

California City is a prime example of inadequate planning strategies that ultimately led to its downfall. The city’s rapid growth and expansion in the 1960s initially sparked excitement and optimism, but the lack of proper infrastructure planning quickly became apparent.

Residential areas were haphazardly laid out, with little consideration for important amenities like schools, parks, and shopping centers. This resulted in long commutes for residents and a lack of community cohesion.

4. Over-reliance on a single industry

The city, which was largely built in the 1960s as a planned community, was heavily dependent on attracting aerospace companies and their employees.

However, when the aerospace industry experienced a downturn in the 1970s and again in the 1990s, California City struggled to diversify its economy. This lack of economic flexibility ultimately led to a decline in population and business activity.

Interestingly, this situation highlights an important lesson for other cities across the United States.

It serves as a reminder of how dangerous it can be for a city to place all its eggs in one basket by relying heavily on just one industry for its economic prosperity.

4 Facts about California City

These facts highlight the vastness and unique history of California City, making it a distinctive destination in the California desert landscape.

1. Vast Land Area

1. Vast Land Area

California City is renowned for its immense land area, making it the third-largest city by land area in California, after Los Angeles and San Diego.

It covers over 200 square miles of the Mojave Desert in Kern County. Despite its large size, the city’s population density is relatively low, contributing to its unique character.

2. Planned City That Didn’t Fully Materialize

California City was conceived in the 1950s as a meticulously planned city with grand ambitions of becoming a major urban center.

However, the city’s development didn’t proceed as initially envisioned, leading to a surplus of undeveloped land. As a result, large sections of the city remain sparsely populated, and some streets were laid out but never fully built.

Also Read: Why Is Nevada Called the Silver State? (History, Nicknames, Facts & Famous Landmarks)

3. Aerospace Heritage

The city has historical ties to the aerospace industry, with Edwards Air Force Base and Mojave Air and Space Port located nearby.

These facilities have played significant roles in the development and testing of numerous aircraft and spacecraft, including the Space Shuttle. The aerospace industry has had a notable impact on the local economy.

4. Unusual Street Names

One of the quirks of California City is its unique street naming system. The city’s streets have names like “Avenue of the Trees,” “Galaxy Boulevard,” and “Outer Mongolia Road,” which add a touch of eccentricity to the city’s character.

These creative street names often reflect the city’s original vision of grandeur and its desert surroundings.

8 Things to do in California City

While California City may not have the bustling urban attractions of larger California cities, it offers a unique blend of outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, and opportunities to connect with the natural beauty of the Mojave Desert.

Whether you’re interested in exploring the desert landscape or immersing yourself in the local history and culture, California City has something to offer every type of traveler. Below are some of the things that you can do:

1. California City Central Park

1. California City Central Park

This expansive park in the heart of the city is a great place for picnics, outdoor sports, and family gatherings. It features playgrounds, sports fields, and scenic walking paths.

2. California City Borax Museum

You can explore the city’s history at the Borax Museum, which showcases artifacts and exhibits related to the area’s mining and aerospace heritage. It’s an informative stop for history enthusiasts.

3. Red Rock Canyon State Park

3. Red Rock Canyon State Park

Located just outside California City, this stunning state park is known for its striking red rock formations, hiking trails, and opportunities for rock climbing and photography. It’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

4. Off-Roading

The vast desert landscape around California City offers excellent opportunities for off-roading, including dirt biking and ATV adventures. The open desert terrain is perfect for those seeking some adrenaline-pumping fun.

5. Visit Desert Tortoise Natural Area

5. Visit Desert Tortoise Natural Area

Exploring the Desert Tortoise Natural Area is a captivating activity for nature enthusiasts and wildlife admirers visiting California City.

This protected reserve, located in the vicinity of the city, offers a pristine habitat for the iconic desert tortoise, an endangered species native to the Mojave Desert.

As you wander through this unique natural area, you’ll have the opportunity to observe these gentle creatures in their native environment, and if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of other desert wildlife too.

6. Visit Calico Ghost Town

6. Visit Calico Ghost Town

This meticulously preserved and restored ghost town provides a fascinating glimpse into the 19th-century California mining boom.

As you stroll through the town’s dusty streets, you’ll encounter well-preserved historic buildings, a working mine, and various exhibits that vividly illustrate the hardships and adventures of the pioneers who once called this place home.

7. Explore Edwards Air Force Base

7. Explore Edwards Air Force Base

Visitors can often witness military aircraft in action, including fighter jets and experimental planes, during airshows and events.

The base also houses the Edwards Air Force Base Flight Test Museum, where you can delve into the fascinating history of flight test operations and see a diverse collection of aircraft and artifacts.

8. California City Arts Center

From captivating art exhibitions that showcase the talents of local artists to engaging workshops and cultural performances, the Arts Center provides a platform for the community to immerse themselves in the arts.

It’s a place where one can appreciate the diverse forms of artistic expression, connect with local artists, and participate in enriching educational programs.


In conclusion, California City offers a plethora of exciting activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. From exploring the stunning landscapes at Red Rock Canyon State Park to taking a scenic bike ride along the Mojave River, there is something for every person.

Additionally, learning about the fascinating history and facts about California City adds another layer of intrigue to any visit.

And while it may be surprising to discover that California City never quite lived up to its ambitious plans, it has created an opportunity for homebuyers looking for affordable housing options.

Also Read: Reasons why Golden Beach is so cheap? (History, Facts & Things To Do)