Between the cliff-lined beaches, the redwood forests, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Central Valley farmlands, and the Mojave Desert, there are plenty of reasons to buy land in California.
Why do you think nearly 40 million people already live there?!
Whether you want to be near Los Angeles or closer to the Pacific Northwest, we’ll give you a peek into the best places to buy land in California.
Here are the top 17 countries if you’re looking to buy land!
17. Ventura County, California
Lowest priced property on LandWatch at the time this article was written: 1.75 acres for $19,995
Heading back to the southern coast of California, Ventura County is considered the southernmost county along the California Central Coast.
Additionally, two California Channel Islands are also part of the county: Anacapa and San Nicolas.
As of the 2010 census, the population in Ventura County was 823,318.
The county itself is separated into two parts (east and west) by the Conejo Grade, a section of the US 101 Ventura Freeway that has a 7 percent grade incline with a summit elevation of 841.1 feet.
In terms of climate, Ventura County has a considerable range in climate because of the differences in topography in the county.
If you’re hoping to farm in this area, rainfall is limited in the summer and crops have to be irrigated.
Ventura County is neighbored by other counties that are appealing in which to buy land in California.
You’ll find Santa Barba, Kern County, and Los Angeles County nearby.
So if you want to run out and buy land here, check out our general tips to help you purchase property below.
16. Tuolumne County, California
Lowest priced property on LandWatch at the time this article was written: .21 acres for $4,999
Tuolumne County is located in the Sierra Nevada region of California with a population of 54,539 (according to the 2010 census).
The name Tuolumne is of Native American origin.
It means a variety of things including Many Stone Houses, The Land of Mountain Lions, and Straight Up Steep.
The northern half of Yosemite National Park is located in the eastern portion of the county.
Other federal lands include Stanislaus National Park, the Bureau of Land Management Lands, and Native American reservations.
As such, if you’re looking to buy land in California in this region, you’ll want to do research and see how these other federally protected lands may impact your purchase.
15. Siskiyou County, California
Lowest priced property on LandWatch at the time this article was written: .25 acres for $2,500
Siskiyou County is found right along the border of California and Oregon.
It has a relatively small population of 44,900 (according to the 2010 Census).
Its highest point is Mount Shasta, and as such, it has become an important tourist destination within the state.
Siskiyou County’s tourist history started back in the late 1800s.
The Siskiyou Trail ran directly between California’s Central Valley and the Pacific Northwest.
As such, the trail became home to the Hudson’s Bay Company trappers and the “Forty-Niners” during the California Gold Rush.
Today, it still has a number of beautiful outdoor recreation activities that visitors and residents enjoy taking advantage of.
The county is forested with oak woodland and mixed conifer forests.
There are also 10 different national protected areas that contribute to the area’s geographic diversity.
There are mountains, lakes, forests, deserts, chaparrals, waterfalls, streams, rivers, and so much more.
In fact, the western part of the county has wide, tree-lined meadows that support large cattle ranches.
Regardless of what you come to this region looking for, there may just be something for you if you want to buy land in California.
If you love the idea of looking out of your window and seeing Mount Shasta every morning, then Siskiyou County is the place to look.
14. Lake County, California
Lowest priced property on LandWatch at the time this article was written: .25 acres for $2,500
Lake County is located in the north-central portion of the state with a population of 64,665 as of the 2010 census.
It’s named for Clear Lake, which is the dominant geographic feature in the county.
Clear Lake is the largest natural lake wholly within California as Lake Tahoe is partially in Nevada.
Lake County has been ranked as having the cleanest air in the nation by the American Lung Association.
It has also been ranked as having the cleanest air in the state of California 24 times.
Lake County is also part of California’s Wine County.
“Wine county” also includes well-known areas like Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, etc.
Lake County had a re-emergence of its wine industry in the past few decades as growers rediscovered the area’s grape-growing potential.
As such, you’ll find over 35 wineries that you can visit.
If you’re looking for a great place to buy land in California and retire, then you may have just found your pick.
13. Calaveras County, California
Lowest priced property on LandWatch at the time this article was written: .19 acres for $8,500
Calaveras County is located in the northern portion of the state.
As of the 2010 census, it has one of the smallest populations of the counties on this list at 40,171.
The county’s claim to fame is Mark Twain’s short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”
As such, the county hosts an annual fair and a jumping frog jubilee where there is a frog jumping contest.
Each year’s winner is inducted into the “Frog Hop Hall of Fame.”
The primary employers in Calaveras County include the government, forestry & fire protection, hospitals, mountain machinery, ironstone vineyards, and nearby schools.
12. Butte County, California
Lowest priced property on LandWatch at the time this article was written: .23 acres for $12,000
Butte County is located in the northern-central region of the state in the California Central Valley.
Its population is 220,000.
The county is drained by the Feather River and Butte Creek, and its steep slopes make it the prime territory for hydroelectric power plants.
Over the years, several movies have also been filmed in Butte County, including Gone with the Wind and The Adventures of Robin Hood.
11. Plumas County, California
Lowest priced property on LandWatch at the time this article was written: .14 acres for $6,500
Located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Plumas County is a haven for all outdoor enthusiasts.
If you enjoy outdoor recreation, then this is a perfect place to buy land in California.
You’ll be able to hike, camp, kayak, swim, mountain bike, hunt, and fish.
Furthermore, the area has more than 100 natural and artificial lakes.
Many of these lakes are found in and around the Lakes Basin Recreation Area and are glacial in origin.
One of the main tourist draws in Plumas County is the Western Pacific Railroad Museum that preserves and operates historic American railroad equipment.
The Plumas County Museum is also notable for its exhibits on the Maidu people, the California Gold Rush, logging, and the Variel House.
10. Shasta County, California
Lowest priced property on LandWatch at the time this article was written: .38 acres for $7,500
Located in the northern portion of the state, Shasta County is situated in the northern reaches of the Sacramento Valley with portions extending into the Cascade Range.
Over one half of the land area is covered by commercially productive forest systems.
Shasta County has two national protected areas, Shasta-Trinity National Forest and Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.
If you’re looking for a good place to buy land in California where you can take advantage of timber, then this may be your spot.
9. Santa Barbara County, California
Lowest priced property on LandWatch at the time this article was written: 20.02 acres for $120,000
Santa Barba is located in the southern region of the state.
The 2010 census recorded the population of the county as 423,895.
It’s generally regarded as having a great population density for its size, which means you won’t get a “crowded city’ feel, but there will be a strong sense of community.
The county has a mild warm-summer Mediterranean climate.
It rarely dips below freezing and rarely hits above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Furthermore, unlike much of southern California, the air quality is generally good because of the prevailing winds coming off of the Pacific Ocean.
Its neighboring counties include San Luis Obispo County, Kern County, and Ventura County.
8. San Luis Obispo County, California
Lowest priced property on LandWatch at the time this article was written: 2.5 acres for $5,000
As of the 2010 census, the population of San Luis Obispo County was only 269,637.
This area was founded by Junipero Serra in 1772 and the small community has grown monumentally since.
This area is home to California Polytechnic State University, and it has a significant tourism industry because of the winery in the area.
Grapes and other agricultural products are important for the area, which means farming is definitely a possibility if you’re looking for a promising area to buy.
San Luis Obispo County is the third-largest producer of wine in California (Sonoma and Napa are the first two – no surprise there!).
Strawberries are the largest agricultural crop in the county.
If you want to buy land in California for agricultural benefits, look no further than San Luis Obispo County!
But before purchasing rural property here, you may want to check out our video on the three fatal mistakes made when buying land.
7. Fresno County, California
Lowest priced property on LandWatch at the time this article was written: 4.46 acres for $19,561
As of July 1, 2019, the population of Fresno County was 999,101.
Fresno is the fifth most populous county in California behind Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco.
Located in the Central Valley, Fresno County was traditionally the homeland of the Yokuts and Mono peoples.
Their home was disrupted by the arrival of the Spaniards who came to California to set up mission sites.
While the majority (55.4 percent) of this area is white today, Native Americans (9.6 percent) still make up a significant portion of the population.
Like Tulare County, Fresno County also has national protected areas like Giant Sequoia National Monument (partial), Kings Canyon National Park (partial), Sequoia National Forest (partial), and Sierra National Forest (partial).
If you want to buy land in California with a great cost of living, Fresno County is a great place to look!
6. Tulare County, California
Lowest priced property on LandWatch at the time this article was written: .36 acres for $12,000
Tulare County is located south of Fresno.
It is named for the Tulare Lake, which was once the largest freshwater lake west of the Great Lakes.
As of the 2010 census, the population was 442,179, which is quite a bit smaller than some of California’s other counties.
These lands were originally occupied for thousands of years by Native Americans – the Yokuts – but they were decimated by the Spanish who arrived to “colonize” California.
Sequoia National Park is located in Tulare County along with a part of Kings Canyon National Park and a part of Mount Whitney (the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States).
5. San Diego County, California
Lowest priced property on LandWatch at the time this article was written: .41 acres for $9,000
San Diego County is located in the southwestern corner of the state of California.
As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 3,095,313, which makes it California’s second-most populous county.
San Diego County has more than 70 miles of coastline, which can make it an appealing option if you’re looking for land on the water and if you have a decent-sized budget.
While land in this region won’t be inexpensive, it is a beautiful region with superb weather year-round.
If you want to buy land in California with a warm, dry summer and mild winters, then San Diego is the place to go!
You’ll see most of the rainfall for the year between November and March.
There are also dozens of protected areas (both land and water) in this region, which makes it an ideal spot for nature enthusiasts.
4. Kern County, California
Lowest priced property on LandWatch at the time this article was written: .19 acres for $1,495
The county is located in one of the fastest-growing areas in the United States in terms of population (839,631 as of the 2010 census).
It is an arid county, so if you’re seeking land for any sort of farming or ranching, this is not a good option.
Kern County has quite a few wildlife refuges and national monuments that are protected areas.
This area also has a population of 2.6 percent of American Indians, which is one of the highest in the entire state of California.
3. Los Angeles County, California
Lowest priced property on LandWatch at the time this article was written: 2.55 acres for $2,995
Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the United States with more than ten million inhabitants in 2018.
This county alone has a greater population than that of 31 individual US states.
It also has the third-largest metropolitan economy in the world.
Los Angeles is well known for being the site of Hollywood, but it has a diverse economy with music recording, aerospace, fashion, and professional services being strong industries.
2. San Bernardino County, California
Lowest priced property on LandWatch at the time this article was written: 1.25 acres for $2,499
San Bernardino County is also located in the southern portion of California.
It is included in the Greater Los Angeles area and has the largest land area of any county in the contiguous United States with 20,105 square miles.
More than 80 percent of the land in the county is owned by the federal government as there are a number of wilderness and national protected areas.
Its population was 2,035,210 as of the 2010 census.
1. Riverside County, California
Lowest priced property on LandWatch at the time this article was written: .18 acres for $5,950
Riverside County is located in the southern portion of California.
Resort cities like Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Rancho Mirage, and Desert Hot Springs are all located in central Riverside County.
It was an appealing place to move to for Los Angeles-area workers who wanted to take advantage of affordable housing in the region.
Prior to recent changes in the regional economy, it was one of the fastest-growing regions in the state.
As of the 2010 census, the region had a population of 2,189,641.
Are you ready to buy land in California?
These 17 counties are among the top spots that are ideal to invest in.
Between outdoor recreation, farmland, vineyards, beautiful weather, and more, you’ll be able to select land based on your top criterion.
Additionally, many of these counties are neighboring one another, so if you can’t find the perfect parcel in your top pick, then you may be able to find land somewhere nearby.
Where will you choose to buy?
Let us know in the comments section.
For more information on buying, selling, or investing in vacant land, check out our other resources below.
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Disclaimer: we are not lawyers, accountants or financial advisors and the information in this article is for informational purposes only. This article is based on our own research and experience and we do our best to keep it accurate and up-to-date, but it may contain errors. Please be sure to consult a legal or financial professional before making any investment decisions.
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