Riverside, located 55 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles, is a diverse and family-friendly city of 330,000 in the Inland Empire metro area. Named for its proximity to the Santa Ana River, it gained fame as the birthplace of California’s citrus industry. Over the years, Riverside has charmed US presidents, celebrities, and royalty with its beautiful Spanish Revival Mission Inn and lush orange groves. Now, the city attracts new residents for its centralized location, mild weather, and great employment opportunities.
As the Inland Empire’s largest city, Riverside is an ideal spot for quick commutes and day trips to LA, San Diego, Disneyland, sandy beaches, ski resorts, and much more. It’s also home to UC Riverside and is a ‘Top 5’ city in the US for minority entrepreneurs and its commitment to stellar economic development. On top of that, Riverside offers cheaper living compared to many other CA cities. Whether you’re an ambitious young professional or growing family, Riverside is waiting with open arms!
Living in Riverside, CA: What to Know Before Moving to Riverside
Riverside, with a population of 330,000, is located in Riverside County and is part of the Inland Empire, a major metro area adjacent to Los Angeles. With a population of over 4,200,000, the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metro area is the 13th largest in the US. Riverside is the 12th most populous city in California and the 58th most populous city in the country. Located just 25 minutes south of San Bernardino, you’ll find fantastic activities and recreation in and around Riverside, plus a lower cost of living, good schools, and prime access to beaches, Disneyland, Los Angeles, San Diego, skiing, and more!
Pros and Cons of Living in Riverside
- Pleasant weather: Expect sunny weather with mild winters, hot summers, and if you’re escaping a colder climate, you won’t have to shovel snow here!
- Cost of living: Though the index of 133.1 is higher than the US average of 100, Riverside offers more affordable living than the California average of 149.9 and Los Angeles average of 173.3.
- Career opportunities: Along with being named the highest paying city for teachers by Forbes, Riverside is a top US city for young professionals and minority entrepreneurs.
- Central location: From Los Angeles to Disneyland to famous beaches to even winter fun at Big Bear Mountain Ski Resort, Riverside has great recreation surrounding it.
- Family-friendly & diverse: You’ll find 28 neighborhoods, great schools, and a diverse population.
- Bad traffic: In 2018, patch.com reported Riverside was #3 among the worst cities in CA for driving and the #54 worst in the United States.
- Growth & sprawl: As one of the fastest-growing cities in California and the country, sprawl would inevitably become an issue.
- Lack of four seasons: Southern California essentially offers two seasons – a hot summer and mild winter – so if you love distinct seasons, this city may not be the place for you.
- Wacky laws: Most cities in America, including Riverside, still have some crazy statutes. For example, it’s illegal to carry lunch down the street between 11 am and 1 pm.
- Property tax: According to the Overview of Property Taxes by smartasset.com, the average county tax rate is 0.968%. The average property tax is $2,420 compared to the US average of $2,700.
- Sales tax: The state of California has a base sales tax rate of 7.25%. Combined with city and county taxes, the minimum combined sales tax rate value in Riverside is currently 8.75%.
- State income tax: California currently has ten separate tax brackets. Rates vary from 1% to 13.3%. Your rate depends on your income and filing status (single or married).
The median home value in Riverside, as of January 2020, was $422,342. Relative to other CA cities, housing is quite affordable – Los Angeles has a median home value of over $717,500. Riverside home values rose 2.9% in 2019 and are forecast to go up 3.4% in 2020. It appears this is a good time to buy if you’re interested in purchasing a home.
About 54% of residents own their homes. If you’ll be interested in renting, according to the Apartment List National Rent Report, the median rent price is $1,081 per month for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,352 for a two-bedroom apartment.
Some of the cheapest neighborhoods to live in Riverside include Sycamore Canyon Park, Canyon Springs, Grand, Eastside, and Ramona.
Cost of Living
According to the Cost of Living in Riverside by bestplaces.net, the city has a cost of living index of 133.1, about 33% higher than the US average of 100. The median household income in Riverside is currently about $56,100 per year.
Here are some examples of individual costs, relative to the nationwide average of 100: Groceries 100.4, Health 87.8, Housing 176.9, Utilities 106, and Transportation 146.1.
Average monthly costs in the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metro area for a family of four, according to the Family Budget Calculator, include Housing at $1,156, Food $757, Childcare $1,067, Transportation $1,250, Health Care $802, Other necessities $772, and Taxes at $724. These costs indicate that a family of four would need to earn about $78,336 annually to live a moderate lifestyle in the Riverside metro area.
Weather & Natural Disasters
Riverside, as with many SoCal cities, has a temperate and semi-arid Mediterranean climate. This results in fairly dry, hot summers; winters with little rain; and very little in the way of seasonal variations. But, hey, that might be exactly why you’re considering a move to Riverside!
The city sees hotter temps between July and September, with August having an average low of 62°F and an average high of 95°F. Although not humid, Riverside can get summer smog that gets trapped against the San Bernardino mountain foothills. The coolest months are between December and February, with an average low of 42°F and an average high of 67°F. Annual rainfall is a skimpy 11 inches, and snowfall is zero inches, but you can enjoy some great skiing and winter sports in the nearby San Bernardino mountains.
Flooding and earthquakes are the biggest natural disaster threats. Be prepared for common threats and risks – check out the RivCoReady Preparedness Resources page.
Economy & Job Market
According to the Labor Market Information Division’s Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario MSA Employment Report, Riverside’s unemployment rate was 3.5% as of December 2019. This rate is down from 3.9% year-over-year. The job market increased by 2.2% in 2019.
Riverside has received several major awards & recognitions in recent years: #1 best-paying city for teachers in the US, Forbes, 2017; #4 city for minority entrepreneurs in the US, Entrepreneur, 2017; #1 in business retention and expansion in the Inland Empire, IEEP, 2017; and the Economic Development Partnership Award, California Association for Local Economic Development, 2016. Your employment future looks optimistic in Riverside!
Key industries include advanced manufacturing, agriculture and food-related production, health and medical, professional services, retail and restaurants, and technology and entrepreneurship.
The top 10 major employers in Riverside include the University of California-Riverside, Riverside Unified School District, City of Riverside, Pacific Bell-AT&T, Kaiser Permanente, Jurupa Unified School District, The Press-Enterprise Co, HUB International Insurance Services Inc, Alvord Unified School District, and Riverside Community Hospital.
Need help finding a job in Riverside, CA? Check out these handy online resources: CareerBuilder, CollegeRecruiter, Indeed, LinkedIn, and Finding a Job – Riverside County. Before you start job hunting, make sure your resume is polished and updated, and you’ve practiced your job interviewing skills.
Traffic and Transportation
Riverside offers a few public transportation options that include Riverside Transit Agency (RTA), Metrolink, Amtrak, and the Riverside Municipal Airport (KRAL). The closest major airport is Ontario International Airport (ONT), about 25 minutes west. As with most SoCal cities, ridesharing is widely accessible, including the usual suspects Uber and Lyft.
Riverside is a car-dependent city, so you’ll want to become familiar with major area routes. To access Los Angeles, you’ll hop on east-west State Route 60 west, then head north on I-15, which connects north to east-west running I-10 and head west. I-215 runs south to San Diego. And in town, Victoria Avenue, the main scenic street in the city, is lined with beautiful trees and attractive landscaping. Magnolia Avenue and Mission Inn Avenue are the major streets that intersect historic Downtown.
Riverside’s traffic is the third-worst in California, and two Riverside County cities – Moreno Valley and Corona – made the list of the nation’s ten worst commutes in 2019. The worst traffic seems to be during mid-day, and traffic is bad on Fridays.
According to Living in Riverside by WalkScore.com, the city receives the following scores: 42 Walk Score, 33 Transit Score, and 49 Bike Score.
What to Do
Riverside was the first area in North America to successfully grow navel oranges, creating a rich and interesting heritage for residents. And as the largest city in the Inland Empire, Riverside provides terrific recreation and varied activities for all interests.
Riverside has many beautiful parks, but the top three include Andulka Park with a tennis center, playground, basketball courts, and more. Fairmount Park has a gorgeous lake, rose garden, playground, and local wildlife. Extensive Mount Rubidoux Park offers some of the best hiking in the Inland Empire.
Top destinations include Mission Inn, a prime example of Spanish Revival Mission architecture that has been visited by presidents and celebrities since the early 1900s; California State Citrus Historic Park, comprised of 250 acres; UC Riverside Botanic Gardens with 40 acres filled with 3,500+ plant species; and Downtown Riverside, the cultural hub of the Inland Empire. When you’re ready for some sun and sand, some of the best beaches in California are about 50 miles west.
Into professional sports? Unfortunately, you’re out of luck. Riverside-San Bernardino is the largest metro area in the US without a pro sports team. To get your fix, you’ll have to travel to Los Angeles, where you’ll find plenty of professional sports teams.
Are you looking for something off the beaten path? Head to Tio’s Tacos for great food and amazing folk art. For a combo of natural beauty and urban art, hike up to Graffiti Waterfall. And if you want to see the tree that started California’s orange industry, check out the Parent Washington Navel Tree.
Schools and Universities
Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) serves a majority of the city, along with two unincorporated Riverside County areas, Woodcrest and Highgrove. The district rates above average, and it has nearly 43,000 students in grades K–12 with a student-teacher ratio of 25:1.
Top public schools in Riverside, according to greatschools.org, include Riverside STEM Academy, grades 5-12, rated 10/10; Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, 9/10; Frank Augustus Miller Middle School, 8/10; Amelia Earhart Middle School, 8/10; and Martin Luther King Jr High School, rated 9/10. Looking for private education? Consider Notre Dame High School, La Sierra Academy, and Woodcrest Christian School.
If you’ll be looking for higher education, Riverside is home to the University of California – Riverside, a highly respected public research university; La Sierra University, Seventh-day Adventist; California Baptist University, a private Christian school; InterCoast College – Riverside, vocational/trade; North-West College – Riverside, health care; and Riverside City College.
According to Crime in Riverside by bestplaces.net, the city’s property crime rate is 46.7 – higher than the US average of 35.4 and California average of 37.1. The violent crime rate is 28.7, also higher than the national average of 22.7 and California average of 25.2. Crime levels seem to are distributed relatively evenly throughout the city.
Make sure to set up your new utility accounts several weeks before your move-in date. Here’s a list of major providers in the Riverside area:
- Electric & water service: The major provider is Riverside Public Utilities (RPU). Address: 3025 Madison St, Riverside, CA 92504. Phone: (951) 782-0330.
- Gas service: Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) provides natural gas service. Address: 7000 Indiana Ave #105, Riverside, CA 92506. Phone: (800) 427-2200.
- Trash pick-up/recycling service: City Solid Waste and Burrtec Waste both provide residential trash services. To find out which one serves your address, visit the city’s Trash & Recycling page.
- Internet/Cable service: The major providers include AT&T, DirecTV, Frontier Communications, Spectrum, and Verizon.
Best Neighborhoods in Riverside, CA
As an unincorporated community, Alessandro Heights sits about eight miles south, or about a 15-minute drive from Riverside’s historic Downtown, along the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad line. The area has a sparse urban feel, and a resounding 96% of residents are homeowners.
The area offers an assortment of two- to four-bedroom family homes, ranging in price from $325,000 to $2,650,000. Alessandro Heights has the highest median home values and income rankings in Riverside.
Quiet, well-kept, highly rated schools, and dog-friendly, Alessandro Heights is a great neighborhood for families.
- Population – Under 3,500 residents
- Home Price – Median home value $818,200
- Household Income – Median yearly income $166,100
- Rent Prices – $1,278 for a studio and $1,625 for a 2BR apartment
- Schools – Riverside STEM Academy, Martin Luther King Junior High School, Frank Augustus Miller Middle School, REACH Gage Middle School, Matthew Gage Middle School
Canyon Crest is one of the most populous and diverse neighborhoods in Riverside. Nestled along hilly terrain and bordered by Sycamore Canyon Park to the east and UC Riverside to the north, the area offers some gorgeous views of the city.
Approximately four miles southeast of Downtown, or about an 11-minute drive, the neighborhood offers quick commutes to the heart of the city. It also has roots in the citrus industry, going back to the early 1900s when the Monte Vista Nursery was established in the area.
Offering relatively affordable housing – 58% own their homes – diversity, and a college vibe thanks to UCR, Canyon Crest is a great community with a convenient centralized location.
- Population – Under 18,800 residents
- Home Price – Median home value $484,600
- Household Income – Median yearly income $88,800
- Rent Prices – $1,766 for a 1BR and $1,953 for a 2BR apartment
- Schools – Riverside STEM Academy, Martin Luther King Junior High School, John F Kennedy School, Amelia Earhart Middle School, REACH Leadership STEAM Academy
With a small population, Hawarden Hills is one of the top three neighborhoods in Riverside. Located to the west of Canyon Crest and 4.3 miles or a 10- to 15-minute drive south of Downtown, the neighborhood derives its name from a township and castle in North Wales.
Offering primarily single-family homes on medium to large lots, Hawarden Hills traces the contour of the area’s steep hilly terrain. It provides access to some great schools, including the California School for the Deaf and Riverside STEM Academy, plus Washington Park.
Hawarden Hills offers a quiet rural vibe, with homes built mainly between 1970 and 1990 among citrus trees. Orchard House, a Tudor Revival estate built in 1917, and Greystones, a Classical Revival style estate built in 1902, grace the neighborhood.
Are you looking for a smaller yet more spacious community in the city? Hawarden Hills is the top pick!
- Population – Under 2,700 residents
- Home Price – Median home value $557,800
- Household Income – Median yearly income $148,700
- Rent Prices – $1,278 for a studio and $1,625 for a 2BR apartment
- Schools – Riverside STEM Academy, REACH Leadership STEAM Academy, Matthew Gage Middle School, Castle View Elementary School, Washington Elementary School
Mission Grove, a little over seven miles, or a 14- to 20-minute drive southeast of Downtown, is consistently ranked among Riverside’s top five neighborhoods and has the third-highest median income in the city.
Bordered by Sycamore Canyon Park to the north and Orangecrest to the south, Mission Grove is home to several iconic Riverside landmarks, including the famed Mission Inn Hotel & Spa and the original location of the navel orange groves that catalyzed the city’s growth and heritage.
You’ll find many welcoming families and pets in this safe, lovely, established neighborhood.
- Population – Under 10,300 residents
- Home Price – Median home value $502,700
- Household Income – Median yearly income $121,600
- Rent Prices – $1,750 for a 2BR and $2,100 for a 3BR apartment
- Schools – Riverside STEM Academy, Martin Luther King Junior High School, John F Kennedy School, Amelia Earhart Middle School, Benjamin Franklin Elementary School
Populous Orangecrest was named among the ten best neighborhoods in Riverside for 2020 by homesnacks.com. Located just south of Hawarden Hills in the southeastern corner of the city and 9.5 miles or a 20-minute drive southeast of Downtown, Orangecrest has everything from schools to stores. The convenience of nearby amenities makes for short trips and less traffic-related headaches.
The master-planned community, annexed to the city in 1986, was named after the city’s rich citrus heritage. With carefully planned amenities, Orangecrest is home to great public and private schools and lovely parks that include Orange Terrace Community Park, Bergamont Park, and Thundersky Park.
Offering the best schools in the city and a strong community, Orangecrest is a family-friendly, well-educated, and diverse neighborhood.
- Population – Under 21,900 residents
- Home Price – Median home value $506,900
- Household Income – Median yearly income $108,689
- Rent Prices – $2,300 for a 3BR apartment
- Schools – Riverside STEM Academy, Martin Luther King Junior High School, John F Kennedy Elementary School, Frank Augustus Miller Middle School, Amelia Earhart Middle School
Situated nearly six miles south of Downtown, or about a 10-minute drive, Presidential Park is bordered by Ramona on the north, Casa Blanca on the east, Arlington Heights on the south, and Arlington South on the west. The neighborhood gets its name from street names featuring US presidents.
The neighborhood is home to Don Derr Park and its loop trail, Don Derr Park Trail, and one of the first auto clusters in the US, the Riverside Auto Center. Several of the city’s public facilities can be found here: Utility Operations Center, the City Corporate Yard and the City Emergency Operations Center.
Safe and well-kept, Presidential Park offers sparse, suburban Riverside living with a lower price tag.
- Population – Under 5,300 residents
- Home Price – Median home value $386,400
- Household Income – Median yearly income $71,600
- Rent Prices – $960 for a studio and $1,695 for a 3BR apartment
- Schools – Riverside STEM Academy, REACH Leadership STEAM Academy, Madison Elementary School, Hawthorne Elementary School, Ramona High School
Victoria, located about 3.5 miles or less than a 10-minute drive south of Downtown, is a historic neighborhood that features famous Victoria Avenue. The city landmark is lined with gorgeous trees and exotic plants, making it a popular tourist destination throughout the decades.
Victoria is home to Andulka Park and Andulka Park Tennis Center, Olivewood Memorial Park, and Swanson Park. You’ll also find Victoria Country Club, one of the first country clubs established in the state in 1903, and an assortment of stellar schools, including the California School for the Deaf.
As one of the oldest and most renowned neighborhoods in Riverside, Victoria is a peaceful and quiet community that’s a great pick for families and retirees alike. You’ll be able to find housing in an array of pre-WWII architectural styles.
- Population – Under 10,000 residents
- Home Price – Median home value $442,500
- Household Income – Median yearly income $93,400
- Rent Prices – $1,750 for a 4BR apartment
- Schools – Riverside STEM Academy, Matthew Gage Middle School, Castle View Elementary School, Alcott Elementary School, Immanuel Lutheran Schools
Bordering the southern end of Downtown, Wood Streets offers super quick and convenient access to everything the downtown area has to offer. Filled with orange groves until 1913, the neighborhood is known for its unified and low-density design.
Possessing beautiful landscaping and lush tree-lined streets, Wood Streets exudes a 1920s classic California aesthetic. Most houses were built before World War II and exhibit fine elements of design and architecture from the early part of the twentieth century.
Due to its low-density, most commercial centers are outside the neighborhood, but there are several highly rated schools, including Growing Place and Pachappa Elementary School. Riverside City College is also in Wood Streets.
If you’re in the market for a traditionally charming, close-knit, and conveniently located neighborhood right next to Downtown Riverside, look no further than Wood Streets!
- Population – Under 7,000 residents
- Home Price – Median home value $402,600
- Household Income – Median yearly income $76,000
- Rent Prices – $1,200 for a 1BR and $1,290 for a 2BR apartment
- Schools – Pachappa Elementary School, Riverside STEM Academy, Bryant Elementary School, Magnolia Elementary School, Growing Place Child Development Center
Quality Moving Services from Riverside Movers
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