5.4 out of 10


38.2448539665945 -122.065566287842
Great for
  • Cost of Living
  • Shopping Options
  • Neighborly Spirit
  • Schools
  • Clean & Green
Not great for
  • Resale or Rental Value
  • Nightlife
  • Childcare
  • Lack of Traffic
  • Parking
Who lives here?
  • Families with kids
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • Students


3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5

"Very Affordable, But Far Away From Bay Area"

Fairfield is a mid-sized town about 20 miles north of Contra Costa County and just a bit of ways north of Benicia. It is one of the first truly affordable satellite communities of the Bay Area where crime is not a dissuading factor.

How affordable is it? Two-bedroom apartments run between $850 and $1600 per month; one-bedrooms between $625 and $1250. Those prices are just light years from most Bay Area locations that are not plagued by high crime (in fact, even those with high crime will often have way higher rates than this--yeah, I’m looking at you Mission District).

Homes are similarly inexpensive, with the median price being around $250,000 and less than 10% breaking the half million mark. (Only about half dozen homes sold for more than a million dollars here in the last year.)

Homes here are mostly 50’s style Ranch homes and boxy 60’s style apartments. There are some newer condos and constructions however which are still fairly reasonably priced for the most part.

Fairfield is mostly a middle class city--the 10th largest in California you might be surprised to find out. It is dominated by Travis Air Force Base on its eastern end. It is the biggest employer. You can often see B-52s and other military planes in the area running missions.

Another big employer is Solano Community College where I taught for a while. A good school with a good mix of students from the various backgrounds in the area.

And, of course, you cannot mention Fairfield without mentioning the Jelly Bean Factory, which my family has often visited. If you are into jelly beans, you will definitely be interested in finding out how jelly beans are made here.

The crime rate is right around the national average or at least has been for the last two or three years after a good decade of being slightly above. In a population of 100,000 there are about 5 murders per year, which is not non-existent but not too bad either.

Schools are similarly average with API’s ranging from 3 to 7. (10 is the highest.)

There is a shopping center and there are businesses who take advantage of the relatively low cost of the living to place their offices in Fairfield, so you may be able to find employment and live here as well. It is much nicer than Vallejo, bigger than Dixon, and almost comparable to Vacaville.

This is also a pretty good spot for couples who are divided between Davis and Contra Costa--sort of an intermediate location in between. Purely for the economics I am considering it. Unfortunately the commute is pretty gruesome once you hit the Benicia Bridge. And the wind can be pretty bad along Highway 80 south of here as well.

You could, however, take the Amtrak train down to Richmond and take the BART from there and work along the way. (Amtrak is also a great way of getting to Davis and Sac, which I also used to enjoy.)
  • Very Inexpensive
  • Good Midpoint btw Davis and Contra Costa County
  • Good Community College and Air Force Base
  • Long Commute to Bay Area
  • Some Crime
  • Average Schools
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 3/5

"A bustling lower middle-class metropolis"

Fairfield looks better on paper than it does in real life. Firstly, it is home to over 110,000 residents, the ninth largest in the Bay Area. It is located in Solano County, about half way between San Francisco and California’s state capitol. Fairfield’s closer neighbors include Vacaville, Benicia and Napa (wine country). And finally, it is home to the Jelly Belly Jelly Bean Factory, one of its proudest achievements. But what lies within the city’s limits is a gritty, but bustling lower middle-class metropolis.

Most residential neighborhoods in Fairfield don’t have much to offer except for their plain, one-story homes and ordered, family-friendly streets. Homes are stuffed along small properties while gritty sidewalks and cracked driveways are all too common. If you’re looking for nicer homes and better neighborhoods, look towards the northern quadrant of Fairfield. According to the US Census Bureau, median household incomes fluctuate between $65,000 and $67,000/year, while average house prices go for around $300,000. The city is a bit of a melting pot when it comes to ethnic populations, but it is primarily of white and hispanic descent. However, crime is a relatively large issue within the last couple years and is one of the biggest complaints of families.

Fairfield’s commercial real estate is one of the city’s redeeming qualities. The Solano Mall Shopping Center, which lies in the heart of the district, is complete with a Macy’s department store, IMAX theatre and a myriad of small boutique stores and restaurants. If you’re an outdoorsman, you’ll appreciate Allan Witt Park. The grassland is a popular outdoor recreational facility and provides residents with an aquatic center, a large sports field and a skatepark. If you hurt yourself, North Bay Medical Center sits conveniently on the eastern front. Commuters also have a convenient option of using Interstate 80. The freeway runs diagonally through the city while Highway 12 traverses Fairfield’s southern edge. For young families, you’ll be interested to know that the city has dozens of schools within the metropolitan area. However, schools such as Fairfield High School have only garnered 3-out-of-5 stars on greatschools.org.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students

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