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living in modesto

What's Living in Modesto CA Like? ☀️ | Ultimate Moving to Modesto Guide

Modesto is surrounded by rich farmland that produces milk, almonds, chickens, walnuts, and more. The city is home to Gallo Family Winery, the largest family-owned winery in the world. Originally a railroad stop between Sacramento to Los Angeles, Modesto was founded in 1870. 

Living in Modesto offers a vibrant and culturally rich city center and tranquil neighborhoods. Downtown has lots of entertainment to offer, such as concerts, comedy, festivals, and performing arts. Mexican culture and traditions are alive and well in Modesto, with Folklorico Groups like Casa Cultural Tradiciones and others sharing their culture, traditional dance, and colorful attire at many Modesto events. SummerFest is one of Modesto’s popular summer concert series, drawing big acts and thousands of people every year.  

Where Is Modesto California?

Modesto is the county seat and largest city in Stanislaus County, surrounded by farmland, the Coastal Ranges, and the Sierra Nevada. Located in California’s Central Valley, Modesto is close to many other cities in the state. Modesto to Sacramento is 68 miles to the north, Fresno is 90 miles to the south, and Merced is 40 miles south. Modesto is also 92 miles east of San Francisco, and 24 miles south of Stockton.

Modesto CA Statistics & Information

  • County: Stanislaus County
  • Area: 44.80 square miles
  • Zip code Modesto CA: 95350–95358, 95397
  • Area code: 209
  • Elevation: 98’
  • Time zone: Pacific Standard Time (UTC-8)
  • Closest Modesto airport: Stockton Metropolitan Airport (SCK), 21.9 miles away

Modesto CA Population and Demographics

The Modesto population as of the 2020 census is 218,464. Modesto’s population grew by 7.56% from 2010 to 2020, or about 0.76% a year. The city saw a steady growth rate from 1950 to 1990 of 4% to 7% a year, but growth has slowed over the past 30 years. The population density in Modesto is 5,007.59 per square mile. Modesto is the largest city in Stanislaus County and the 19th largest city in California.

Modesto is a diverse city. The racial and ethnic makeup of Modesto is White alone, 57.5% (40.5% white, not Hispanic or Latino), Black or African American alone 4.6%, American Indian and Alaska Native alone 1.4%, Asian alone 7.7%, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone 1.0%, two or more races 17.8%, and Hispanic or Latino 42.6%.

Filmmaker George Lucas was born and grew up in Modesto. His landmark film American Graffiti, shot on location in Modesto, is celebrated each year in June during Graffiti Summer. Other notable people from Modesto include classic “bad guy” actor Jack Elam, actors Jeremy Renner and Timothy Olyphant, and Mark Spitz, nine-time Olympic swimming gold medalist.

Living in Modesto means becoming a part of a multicultural community that takes pride in its diverse composition. The racial and ethnic demographics of Modesto are White (Non-Hispanic) 40.2%, Other (Hispanic) 33%, White (Hispanic) 15.7%, two or more races 7.3%, and Asian 1.65%.

Here's an overview of Modesto's demographics:

  • Population density: 5,007.59 per square mile
  • Median age: 34.7
  • Sex ratio: 49.0% Males, 51.0% Females
  • Median household income: $73,375
  • Educational attainment: 83.6% high school degree or higher, 19.7% bachelor's degree or higher
  • Foreign-born population: 18.0%
  • Veteran population: 8,302

Transportation 

The major highways serving Modesto are Interstate 5 and California State Route 99, which connect Modesto to Stockton and Sacramento. California State Route 132 links Modesto to Interstate 580, providing commuter access to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Modesto has excellent public transportation options. The Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority provides local bus service and paratransit in Modesto and throughout the county. The transit authority also runs commuter routes that connect to the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit and Altamont Corridor Express stations. Rail service in Modesto is provided by Amtrak San Joaquins, which connects Modesto and the Central Valley to the Bay Area, Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield, and beyond. 

The closest airport to Modesto is Stockton Metropolitan Airport (SCK), which is 21.9 miles from Modesto. 

Modesto CA Cost of Living

The cost of living index is based on the national average of 100. A city with a cost of living index of 90 has a cost of living 10% below the national average. The cost of living in a city with an index of 110 is 10% higher than the national average. The cost of housing, healthcare, groceries, transportation, and other factors make up the cost of living index. The index lets you see how the cost of living in Modesto compares to where you live now.  

The cost of living in Modesto is 11% higher than the U.S. average, yet it’s 30% below the California state average, making it a very affordable place to live in the state.  

The Family Budget Calculator on the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) website estimates the income a family needs to maintain an adequate standard of living in every county or metro area in the U.S. The costs for a family of two adults and two children living in the Modesto area would be $7,077 a month or $84,920$ a year. 

The Living Wage Calculator shows the hourly rate an individual or two working adults must earn to support themselves and their family of 0 to 3 children. The calculator includes a living wage, poverty wage, and minimum wage. Take a look at the living wage calculator for Modesto.  

Typical Modesto Living Expenses:

  • Meal, inexpensive restaurant: $15.00
  • Domestic beer: $6.00
  • 1 gallon of milk: $4.02
  • Dozen eggs: $2.01
  • 1 pound of chicken: $8.25
  • Average Modesto monthly utility bill: $316.67

Source: Numbeo, Modesto Metro

Average Monthly Bills in Modesto:

  • Mortgage: $1,465
  • Rent: $1,165
  • Auto Loan: $423
  • Auto insurance: $105
  • Utilities: $260
  • Health insurance: $92
  • Life Insurance: $32
  • Cable & satellite: $101
  • Mobile phone: $114
  • Alarm & security: $122

Source: Doxo Modesto

California has a progressive income tax, meaning rates are lower for lower earners and higher for higher earners. The state has nine official income tax brackets, with rates ranging from 1% up to 12.3%. 

Sales tax in California is 7.25%, the highest in the country. The current sales tax rate in Modesto is:

  • California State tax: 7.250%
  • Stanislaus County tax: 0.625%
  • Modesto city tax: 0.000%
  • Total: 7.875%

The maximum allowable property tax rate in California is 1% of a home’s assessed value. Yearly increases in assessed value are limited to 2% per year unless a home has changed ownership or undergone construction. In Stanislaus County, the property tax rate has been reduced from 1% to 0.8714%. So, if your Modesto home’s value is assessed at $500,000, your property tax would be $4,357. 

The Modesto housing market is very competitive. The average price of a home in Modesto is $433,000. If you’re considering renting in Modesto, the average rent is $1,659.

Modesto Real Estate | Average Rent & Home Prices

Modesto home prices are up 3.2% compared to last year, and the median home price in Modesto is $433,000. By comparison, home prices average $445,000 in Stockton. The median sale price per square foot in Modesto is $283, up 2.3% since last year. Although prices for Modesto houses for sale are 11% higher than the national average, they are 86% lower than the state average, making Modesto a very good place to buy a home in California. On average, homes for sale in Modesto CA stay on the market for 14 days, which is much better than 30 days last year. Check out the many Modesto homes for sale

According to Rent Cafe, the average rent in Modesto is $1,659 for a 785-square-foot apartment. Rents are similar to Stockton ($1,600) and Fresno ($1,556), but much less than the bigger nearby cities of San Francisco ($3,267), Sacramento ($1,850), and San Jose ($2,961). You can find apartments for rent in Modesto and homes for rent in Modesto CA on Rent Cafe.

If you aren’t sure whether to buy or rent in Modesto, the price-to-rent ratio can help. You can find the ratio by using this calculation:

Median Home Price ÷ Median Annual Rent = Price-to-Rent Ratio. 

The higher the ratio, the better the market is for renters. The lower the ratio, the better it is for buyers. A ratio of 1 to 15 means it’s much better to buy than rent. A ratio of 16 to 20 means it’s usually better to rent than buy. A ratio of 21 or more means it’s much better to rent than buy. 

The price-to-rent ratio in Modesto is: 

Median home price: $433,000 ÷ median annual rent: $19.908 = 21.8

Based on the price-to-rent ratio, it’s much better to rent than to buy in Modesto.

Modesto Neighborhoods | Where to Live in Modesto

Modesto has everything from newer gated communities to older, established neighborhoods to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly neighborhood, one close to the city center, or a tranquil community, you can find it in Modesto. Living in Modesto means having the opportunity to choose from various safe and well-maintained neighborhoods. Here are some of the best Modesto neighborhoods to consider:

Village One | Newer Neighborhood for Families and Professionals

Village One is a newer, master-planned community in northeast Modesto, close to Modesto's many nearby orchards. The neighborhood offers a range of housing options that include single-family homes, townhouses, and condos. The median home price in Village One is $569,000. Home styles include contemporary Craftsman-style homes with Mediterranean accents and ranch-style homes. 

Students attend B-plus-rated elementary and middle schools, and James C. Enochs High is one of the top-rated public schools in Modesto. The community is within minutes of parks, shopping centers, and dining opportunities. Village One is an excellent place to live for families and young professionals alike. 

Sherwood Forest | Quiet, Established Modesto Neighborhood

A well-established neighborhood located in central Modesto, Sherwood Forest features large, custom-built homes and spacious lots. The quiet streets are lined with mature trees, and the community is close to a wide variety of shopping and dining options. Home prices range from $474.900 to $543.900 in Sherwood Forest. The schools are rated good or better in the community.

Del Rio | Upscale Neighborhood for Active Lifestyles

Del Rio is a highly desirable, gated community situated along the banks of the Stanislaus River. The community features upscale, stunning homes. The median price for a home in the community is $550,000. The neighborhood is well kept, with lush landscaping and lots of curb appeal. Residents enjoy access to a private Country Club, golf course, and tennis courts, making it a top Modesto neighborhood for those looking for an active lifestyle.

Weather Modesto

Modesto, CA has a Mediterranean climate featuring hot summers and cool winters. The weather in Modesto CA is usually pretty nice year round. Summer temperatures can range from the mid-80s to the low 100s. In winter, temperatures typically stay between the mid-30s and mid-50s. Modesto gets lots of sunshine, with about 260 sunny days a year. 

It doesn’t rain much in the city, only about 13 inches a year, with most of it falling during October through April. It rarely snows in Modesto, only on occasion in winter. The best time of year to visit Modesto to enjoy warm-weather activities is from early June to late September. 

Restaurants Modesto CA 

Modesto offers plenty of dining choices that cater to a wide range of tastes. From local eateries to family-friendly restaurants, you’ll have many great restaurants in Modesto to choose from. Enjoy mouthwatering dishes at popular dining establishments such as:

  • Skewers Modesto Kabob House: Skewers Kabob House is a family-owned and operated Mediterranean restaurant that serves Persian-inspired cuisine, using authentic Parisian recipes, in a fine dining atmosphere. 821 L St, Modesto, CA 95354, (209) 525-3611
  • Mike's Grillhouse: Mike’s cooks up steaks, burgers, chicken, and seafood, and everything is made from scratch every day. Their soups and sauces are old family recipes that you won’t find anywhere else. You can taste the difference in every home-cooked dish. 3801 Pelandale Ave Ste #B11, Modesto, CA 95356, (209) 545-4500
  • Raw Sushi Bistro: ​​For the best in traditional Japanese Cuisine, the Raw Sushi Bistro is the place to go in Modesto. Raw Sushi offers fine dining, high-quality Japanese Cuisine, and the freshest ingredients. Besides sushi, their classic entrees include Beef Teriyaki, Chicken Katsu, and Grilled Saba.  1200 I St, Modesto, CA 95354, (209) 566-9560

Things To Do in Modesto CA

Modesto offers an array of attractions, museums, shopping, kid-centric activities, and more for both residents and visitors. Here are some of the best things to do in Modesto:

Top Modesto Attractions 

  • Boomers Modesto: a family amusement park with lots of fun attractions for all ages, including bumper cars, bumper boats, thrill rides, go-karts, mini golf, laser tag, an arcade, and batting cages. 
  • Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route: based on George Lucas’ film American Graffiti, which was shot on location in Modesto. The route is where drag races actually took place back in the 50s and 60s. 
  • Sky Zone Trampoline Park: great for families with kids, Sky Zone/Rockin Jump Modesto features freestyle bouncing, dodgeball, fitness programs, and more.
  • Escape Modesto: challenging and entertaining escape rooms where you have to decipher codes, interpret drawings and numbers, solve puzzles, and more to escape. But you only have 60 minutes! 
  • Funworks Modesto: a fun amusement center for kids that offers go-karts, batting cages, miniature golf, bumper cars, an XD theater, a game zone, bowling, and more.
  • The Smart Axe Modesto: a fun and exciting experience for families, friends, work parties, and more. Hone your axe-throwing skills by joining their Axe Throwing League! 
  • Alpine Climbing Adventure Fitness: test your rock climbing skills in their large indoor rock climbing gym and fitness center that fosters active lifestyles. Fun for all skill levels.

Modesto Entertainment & Arts

  • Gallo Center for the Arts: a state-of-the-art performing arts center that hosts classical music recitals, Broadway productions, music and dance recitals, spoken word presentations, theatrical plays, community events, and much more.  
  • State Theatre of Modesto: a classic art deco style theater showing old, foreign & independent films and presents concerts and comedy shows.
  • The Fruit Yard Amphitheater: see world-class bands and entertainers in an intimate environment. Every seat is within 200 feet of the stage! 
  • Prospect Theater Project: a live performing arts venue featuring a resident theater company that produces high-quality original plays and adaptations.  

Modesto Museums 

  • McHenry Mansion: a historic Victorian home built in 1883 that gives visitors a look at what life was like in the 19th century. The mansion is a great place to host weddings, receptions, anniversaries, family reunions, holiday parties, and other special events. 
  • Great Valley Museum and Planetarium: a natural history museum that showcases the natural history and various habitats of California’s Central Valley. The museum includes a planetarium, live animal shows, and a hands-on Discovery Room. 
  • McHenry Museum: the museum includes a 19th-century county recorder’s office, an antique general store, a blacksmith shop, local gold mining paraphernalia, original firefighting equipment, and turn-of-the-century furnishings.
  • Mistlin Gallery: a fine arts gallery that allows regional artists to showcase their work. The gallery is also an art education studio that provides art instruction to all ages and all skill levels.

Modesto Parks & Outdoors 

  • John Thurmon Field: a 4,000-seat stadium and home of the minor league Modesto Nuts.
  • Tuolumne River Regional Park: over 500 acres of parkland that runs along seven river miles of the Tuolumne River that includes Legion Park, the Gateway Parcel, Mancini Park, the Dryden Park Golf Course, and the Carpenter Road Area.
  • Dry Creek Trail: a flat, paved, family-friendly trail along Dry Creek where you‘ll encounter an abundance of wildflowers and birds, including yellow-billed magpies, American goldfinches, and Western scrub jays.
  • Hughson Arboretum & Gardens: stroll through the grounds and see native trees, plant species, and trees of historic value in a peaceful, natural environment.

Shopping in Modesto

  • Vintage Faire Mall: a spacious Modesto mall that includes a department store, familiar retail chains, a food court, and an indoor play area.
  • McHenry Village: an outdoor shopping center in Modesto that features a variety of shops, fine dining, and more. 
  • Modesto Certified Farmer's Market: the place to go in Modesto for fresh, local produce, great food, and local artesian wares.   

Map of Modesto Things To Do

Sports

Modesto has one professional sports team, the Modesto Nuts. The Nuts are a Minor League Baseball team in the California League and the Single-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. The team name comes from the several varieties of nuts grown in the Central Valley. They play their home games at John Thurman Field. Check out the Modesto Nuts schedule.

Modesto Junior College plays a variety of varsity sports in the Big 8 Conference. Men’s sports include baseball, basketball, football, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis, and track & field. Women’s teams include basketball, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track & field, and volleyball. Check for team schedules, roster, and news here

Modesto Crime Rate

The crime rate in Modesto is 36% higher than the national average, but it’s important to note that most crime takes place in specific locations that you should avoid. There are 1,669 violent crimes per 100,000 people in the city.

Here’s a Modesto crime rate comparison with other major cities (compared to the national average):

  • Modesto: 36% higher 
  • Stockton: 68% higher
  • Fresno: 86% higher
  • Sacramento: 75% higher
  • San Francisco: 199% higher

As you can see, even though the crime rate in Modesto is fairly high, it is well below other major cities in the surrounding area. The Modesto Police Department is committed to preserving the safety and well-being of the citizens of Modesto. The Modesto Crime Map is an online tool provided by the police department to help you stay informed on where crime is taking place in the city and which areas to stay away from. 

Economy & Modesto Jobs 

Modesto’s economy is driven mostly by its large agricultural industry due to the fertile farmland surrounding the city. E & J Gallo Winery, the largest winery in the world, is located in Modesto, providing about 3,500 jobs in the city. Other major employers in Modesto include Sutter Health, Modesto City Schools, and Doctors Medical Center. Modesto’s GDP has grown from 16,985,999 in 2010 to 28,673,725 in 2022. 

The average salary in Modesto is $79,000 per year, according to Payscale. According to the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, the mean hourly wage in the Modesto Metro Area is $28.58, 4 percent below the nationwide average. Check Indeed and the City of Modesto open listings for jobs in Modesto.

Healthcare

Modesto is a regional healthcare center with excellent hospitals. According to US News, the top hospitals in Modesto are Central Valley Specialty Hospital, an acute, long-term care hospital facility, and Doctors Medical Center, a general medical and surgical facility that is highly ranked in heart failure treatment, diabetes treatment, and stroke treatment. The facility has a cardiac ICU, bariatric/weight control services, addiction treatment services, and an onsite emergency department.

Modesto Schools 

Modesto is served by Modesto City Schools, which operate 23 elementary, four junior high, and seven high schools. Some of the highest-rated public schools in Modesto are Sonoma Elementary, Lakewood Elementary, and James C. Enochs High. The top private schools in Modesto include Central Catholic High School, Big Valley Christian, and St. Stanislaus Catholic School. 

Institutions of higher education in Modesto include Modesto Junior College, San Joaquin Delta College, and Merced College.  

The Stanislaus County Library provides books, audiobooks, movies, music, TV shows, language learning software, and more. 

Modesto Utilities & DMV Change of Address

The utility providers in Modesto are:

How to change your address with the DMV in Modesto and get a driver’s license in the state:

If you’re looking up all of this information because you’re moving to Modesto, we know how stressful relocating can be! Grace Moving is the best team of Modesto movers in the area, with countless 5-star reviews and a proven history of excellence. Give us a call at 209-551-7772 for a free quote now!

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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