Experience the joys of living in Merced, CA.

Living in Merced CA: 🌴 Your Guide Complete on Moving to Merced

Is Merced a good place to live? Absolutely! With its population increasing by 8.5% since 2010, a promising economy, and a recent ranking as one of the coolest small cities in the US, living in Merced, CA, is better than nice. It's delightful.

This California gem has a terrific reputation, but Merced is famous for its close proximity to Yosemite National Park; historically, the city was referred to as the “Gateway to Yosemite.” Residents also enjoy its proximity to the Golden Coast, skiing, fishing, and other outdoor attractions.

If moving to Merced is in your future, let Grace Moving & Storage lend a helping hand! We have top Modesto movers ready to provide their experience and expertise. We also service Sonora, Clovis, Sanger, and Los Banos.

Then Versus Now

Incorporated as a Merced County city in 1889, these days, this city has much more to offer than agricultural roots. Traditionally centered around crops like almonds, dairy, and poultry, the city gained prominence with the establishment of the University of California, Merced, in 2005. This institution has significantly contributed to the city’s economic diversification. Today, Merced is a thriving hub, benefiting from sectors like healthcare, retail, and education.

Where Is Merced California?

Merced, CA, is located in Merced County and is one of the many cities in the San Joaquin Valley; it’s the county seat of Merced County. It is 39.7 miles from Merced to Modesto. If you’re interested in taking a day trip to another California city, San Fransico is 133 miles north.

Other cities near Merced are Franklin, Atwater, Fergus, and McSwain.

Public Transportation

Merced The Bus provides public transportation for those living in Merced and its surrounding areas. If you’re a Merced, Atwater, or Winton resident, your fare is $1.50 per ride; out-of-city riders will pay $3.50 per ride. You will find all routes and scheduling information online. Bus line(s) M-1 through M-7 serve the Merced area.

Merced Population & Demographics

Merced’s population is 86,333, which has increased by 8.5% since 2010. Its population density is 1,433.45 people per square kilometer. The median household income is $59,233, and 18.8% of the population is in poverty. Merced’s population is young; the median age is 31.2, and only 11% of the people living in Merced are over 65.

Additional Merced demographics:

  • Sex ratio: 51 females to 49 males
  • Mean commute to work: 27 minutes
  • Moved since the previous year: 13.2%
  • Educational attainment: 79.8% have high school diplomas, and 18.4% have bachelor's degrees or higher
  • Foreign-born population: 21.1%

Merced's racial and ethnic makeup is 59.1% Hispanic or Latino, 38.1% White (23.1% non-Hispanic or Latino), 10.3% two or more races, 10.2% Asian, 4.5% Black or African American, 0.9% American Indian or Alaska Native, and 0.3% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.

Notable people:

  • Lloyd Allen, MLB pitcher
  • Ray Allen, NBA player
  • Jeff Ball, MLB player
  • Tom Cable, NFL player
  • Salar Kamangar, former CEO of Youtube

Merced Crime Rate

Is Merced, CA, safe? According to the FBI, Merced has a crime rate of 3,113 per 100k people, Compared to California's 2,581 per 100k people and the country’s 2,346 per 100k people:

Additional crime rate statistics:

  • Merced violent crime rate per 100k people: 798
  • California (state) violent crime rate per 100k people: 442
  • US violent crime rate per 100k people: 388
  • Merced property crime rate per 100k people: 2,315
  • California (state) violent crime rate per 100k people: 2,139
  • US violent crime rate per 100k people: 1,958

Although the crime rate is higher than in the state and the US, there are many safe areas to live in Merced. The city has 94 award-winning officers protecting its residents.

Cost of Living in Merced CA

Merced has a Cost of Living Index (COLI) of 109.1, making it 9.1% more expensive than the average US state. When you compare Merced’s 109.1 COLI to California’s 142.2, you’ll find that Merced’s cost of living is affordable. 

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a family of four would need a household income of $105,921 to live comfortably in Merced County.

Typical living expenses:

  • Inexpensive restaurant meal: $20.00
  • Gallon of milk: $4.53
  • Loaf of white bread: $2.50
  • Pound of white rice: $2.25
  • Dozen eggs: $5.58
  • Pound of chicken fillets: $7.60
  • Average city of Merced utilities per month: $359 (per Doxo)

Source: Numbeo

Merced Real Estate

Although affordable, the housing market here is very competitive. Most homes for sale in Merced, CA, sell within a median of 28 days. The average home price in Merced is $395,000 ($28,000 below the US median), and the price per square foot is $251. While the median sale price and price per square foot have increased in the last year, housing here remains more affordable than most US cities. When you’re ready to browse the market, remember you can get your dream California home at a low cost when living in Merced.

Rent in Merced

The average rent in Merced is $1,488 per month for a 951-square-foot rental. If you rent in notable Merced City, you will pay around $1,284 for a similar-sized property.

Merced Weather & Climate

The weather in Merced is enjoyable most of the year, but the summers are best for exploring nearby outdoor attractions, and the winters are for those who like to ski in Yosemite. Merced has a cold, semi-arid climate (Köppen: BSk); summers are hot and sunny, and the winters are cloudy, cold, and wet.

The warm season goes from June 4 to September 22, and the average daily high is 88 degrees Fahrenheit. The cold season starts on November 21 and ends on February 19, with an average daily high of 62 degrees. Lows in the coldest month (January) range between 31 and 36 degrees Fahrenheit. The city sees an average of 20 inches of rainfall; it does not snow in Merced.

If outdoor activities appeal to you, the best time to visit Merced is from early June to late September.

Things to Do in Merced

Merced, Cali offers ample attractions and activities. You can spend your weekend perusing at the Merced Farmers Market or exploring the various stores in the Merced Mall. No matter your interests, there are many things to do in Merced, CA.

Merced National Wildlife Refuge

For many reasons, this wildlife refuge is one of the best things to do in Merced, CA. It is home to diverse wildlife, including hundreds of animal and plant species. You can enjoy bird-watching, wildlife photography, and more. 

7430 W Sandy Mush Rd, Merced, CA 95341, (209) 826-3508

Applegate Park Zoo

The Applegate Park Zoo is home to over 75 animals, walking and hiking trails, picnic and private event areas, and more. The zoo focuses on conservation, education, and caring for animals that cannot be released back into the wild. This is one of the top things to do in Merced, California, especially if you have curious little ones.

1045 W 25th St, Merced, CA 95340, (209) 388-7000

Merced County Courthouse Museum

This Merced Museum showcases the rich history of Merced County through diverse exhibits and period rooms. Explore artifacts from Native American cultures, early settlers, and the region's agricultural development, making it a key attraction for history enthusiasts.

W 21st & N St, Merced, CA 95340, (209) 723-2401

Additional Merced CA Attractions

There are many parks in Merced that are beloved by residents and visitors alike; the city of Merced Parks and Recreation Department maintains all Merced parks. You can keep track of important annual events and more on their website and with their special events calendar.

Merced Restaurants

If you’re looking for the best places to eat in Merced, we’ve got you covered.


Destino's is considered one of the top downtown Merced restaurants. Here, you can indulge in Italian favorites such as lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, and flavorful garlic bread.

460 W Main St, Merced, CA 95340, (209) 580-4418

Black Bear Diner Merced

Black Bear Diner is one of the best restaurants in Merced, and for good reason, too! Here, you will find American classics like freshly baked biscuits, steak and eggs, and fluffy pancakes. Customers are raving about the chicken-fried steak and family-fried atmosphere.

1435 V St, Merced, CA 95340, (209) 383-9600


Sizzler provides a casual atmosphere and a diverse menu. Guests love the salad bar, friendly service, and family-friendly ambiance. Sizzler is one of the must-try restaurants in Merced.

1334 W Olive Ave, Merced, CA 95348, (209) 723-7100

Merced Jobs

Merced has ample economic opportunities for people working in various industries. Merced leading industries are renewable energy, food processing, agriculture, and manufacturing, and its major employers are Costco Wholesale, County-Merced-Behavioral Health, Dignity Health-Mercy Med Ctr.

Merced is predicted to see a 33.3% job market increase by 2034, meaning there will be plenty of jobs in Merced hiring. The city has an impressive hourly wage and salary; the average hourly wage in Merced is $19.50, and the average salary is $68,000. If one of the above major employers isn’t in your preferred industry, you should consider Merced city jobs; the benefits are great, and the pay is competitive.

Merced Schools

If you’re moving to Merced with kids or hoping to further your education, here’s what you need to know about the city’s schools.

Merced City School District is serving K through 12 students living in Merced. The District has 10,800 students and 423.47, putting the student-to-teacher ratio at 25.5:1. There are many great schools in Merced for your children to attend, which is why Merced is beloved by so many families.

Of the 14 elementary schools in Merced, CA, the best-reviewed ones are Farmdale Elementary School, Rivera School K-8, and Pioneer Elementary School. Merced High School has a graduation rate of 92% and is loved by many in the community. The student-to-teacher ratio at MHS is 22:1, which is slightly better than its county.

Students have access to countless academic opportunities when attending school with Merced’s school district. Students can participate in sports, music programs, drama clubs, and various academic clubs. The district also provides access to libraries, technology labs, and after-school programs that support academic enrichment and personal development.

There aren’t many private schools in Merced, CA, but Stone Ridge Christian High School, St. Paul Lutheran Church and School, and Providence Christian School are popular options.

UC Merced & University of California

Merced, Cali, is home to two colleges— Merced College and the University of California Merced. Both are ideal options for anyone interested in furthering their education beyond high school. Merced campus boasts maturing landscaping and plenty of nice areas to sit, relax, or study.

The Merced County Library serves Merced residents. It offers easy access to books, computers, free Wi-Fi, and more.

Merced Statistics & Information

  • County: Merced County
  • Merced area: 23.25 square miles
  • Merced zip code(s): 95340–95341, 95344, 95348
  • Merced area code: 209
  • Merced elevation: 171 feet
  • Merced time zone: Pacific Time Zone (UTC -7 and -8)
  • Closest airport to Merced: Merced Regional Airport is 2 miles from Merced, CA.

Merced California Map

Explore more things to do here with this handy map of Merced, CA.

Now you know what it’s like to live in Merced—the cost of living is low, the attractions are abundant, and the people are friendly! If moving to Merced is on your agenda, let Grace Moving & Storage and handle your relocation. We have top Merced movers ready to meet your every need. Contact us today at (209) 551-7772 for a free estimate. 


Patrick Bolger
Patrick Bolger
We are Patrick and Sally Bolger, and we own and operate Grace Moving Company. We were set-up on a blind date nearly 25 years ago and have been married almost 20 years now! In the early years, Patrick worked at Bambacigno Steel and Sally was the marketing director at a large retirement community in Modesto.

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