16 Pros and Cons of Living in Riverside, CA

Updated On November 7, 2023

Riverside is a great alternative to larger cities like L.A.

If you are considering moving to Riverside, there are some benefits and downsides that you should consider.

It’s an agricultural hub, and less expensive than L.A.

However, you’ll also deal with a high cost of living and homelessness.

Moving is a big decision, but being well-informed can help you make the best choice for you. 

Riverside, CA
Riverside, CA

Pros of Living in Riverside, CA

Riverside California has a lot to offer.

It’s a fairly large city, but it still has a small-town feel. 

The pros of living in Riverside, CA include:

  • Agriculture
  • Music scene
  • Near LA
  • Less Expensive than LA 
  • Beautiful Weather
  • Outdoor beauty and attractions
  • History
  • Cultural Diversity

1. Agriculture 

Riverside is well known for its agriculture.

If eating organic fresh produce is important to you, you’ll love Riverside.

In fact, Riverside has a famous naval orange tree that remains protected today, more than 150 years after it was planted. 

Best of all, you can find fresh produce year-round, thanks to the lovely weather in Riverside. 

2. Music Scene

Riverside has given us some big names in music, including Alien Ant Farm and Frank Zappa.

Latin, Hip Hop, alternative, and Metal are all popular in the area.

You can find many big-name acts that make tour stops in the city, as well as up-and-coming musicians that may be the next big star.

3. It’s Near LA

When it comes to Los Angeles, it’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.  

L.A. has many places to enjoy the nightlife and anything you could want in a city.

However, it’s also extremely expensive and crowded. 

Riverside is a great way to be near L.A., without having to live in L.A.

It’s also near the center of Orange County, and less than two hours from San Diego

4. Less Expensive than L.A.

Riverside is not a cheap city to live in, but it is significantly less expensive than living in L.A.

The average monthly cost to live in Riverside is $6,156, compared to $7,700 in L.A. 

Overall consumer prices are 12% less expensive in Riverside.

When you factor in rent, consumer prices are 20% less expensive in Riverside than in L.A.

Rent prices are 30% lower in Riverside. 

5. Beautiful Weather 

Riverside has a semi-arid Mediterranean climate.

The city averages 11 inches of rain a year, with about 300 sunny days each year.

Summers are typically hot and dry. 

 August is the hottest month of the year.

The average temperature for August is 95.4, and it’s not uncommon for temperatures to reach 100 or greater.

In fact, the temperature is 90 or greater for nearly 100 days out of the year. 

December has the lowest temperatures, with an average of 41 degrees.

The temps only get to freezing or lower about 4 days out of the year on average. 

However, there are 5 months when the weather is very mild, with average temperatures ranging from  70-85 degrees.

April, May, and November are considered the best months of the year in terms of weather. 

6. Outdoor Beauty and Attractions 

One of the best things about living in Riverside is that you don’t need to give up nature for city life.

Riverside has a few nature parks within city limits. 

You can learn and interact with local wildlife at the Nature Center.

The Hidden Valley Wildlife Area is a 1,500-acre wilderness area.

You’ll find 25 miles of trails that you can hike.

You can also climb the hills on a bike or on horseback. 

Mount Rubidoux Park has plenty of gentle hiking paths.

You can also go rock climbing and visit historical landmarks within the park.  

You can also visit the California Citrus State Historic Park, which features 300 acres of citrus trees.

The park also offers lots of events throughout the year.

Grab some oranges and souvenirs, and learn about the history of Riverside. 

7. Rich History

Riverside has a rich history that the residents enjoy as well.

It was founded in 1870 by John North, who wanted to create a hub of education and culture. 

Unlike the cities of the wild west, Riverside was an affluent city with amenities from the beginning.

The first golf course and polo field in the southern area of the state was built in Riverside. 

While the first orange tree in the area was planted in 1971, it was two trees that were sent to a resident by a friend at the Department of Agriculture in Washington that began Riverside’s citrus industry.

The Brazilian naval orange trees thrived in the climate, and soon, orange growing became a lucrative trade.

Within a decade, there were more than 500,000 orange trees growing in Riverside. 

8. Cultural and Ethnic Diversity 

Riverside gets a great diversity score of 95 out of 100, making it a very diverse city.

Diversity allows you to spend time with people from other cultures, which can help increase your awareness and tolerance. 

The largest population in Riverside is Hispanic, making up nearly half the population at 49%.

The next largest group is white, at 33%.

African Americans and Asians each make up about 7% of the population in Riverside.  

Cons of Living in Riverside, CA

There’s a lot to love about Riverside, but there are some issues with the city as well. 

The cons of living in Riverside CA include:

  • Poor Air Quality
  • Urban sprawl
  • Traffic
  • Homelessness
  • Crimes 
  • Cost of Living
  • Commuting is common
  • Schools are not great

1. Poor Air Quality 

Poor air quality is an issue in many areas of California, including Riverside.

The air in Riverside can be problematic, particularly for sensitive people who are elderly or have lung issues. 

The WHO has guidelines for air quality.

These guidelines consider a year of exposure and the level at which it can be harmful.

Riverside’s pollution makes the air nearly 5 times as polluted as is healthy. 

2. Urban Sprawl 

Riverside isn’t a city that is well-planned or compressed.

It’s a big city, so you may have to drive a bit to get to where you want to go.

If you dream of a city where everything is within walking distance, Riverside isn’t the best city for you. 

3. Traffic 

Traffic is another con of living in Riverside.

Nearly 1/3 of all workers in the city commute each day, which means there’s a lot of traffic during rush hour.

At other times of the day, you can still encounter a lot of traffic, and even traffic jams. 

Add to this the fact that things are often a good distance away, and you have a recipe for disaster or road rage.

If the thought of a traffic jam makes your blood boil, you may want to consider another location. 

4. Homelessness 

Homelessness is a major issue in Riverside.

While the homeless population isn’t as large as it is in L.A., it’s still problematic.

It went up 12% from 2022 to 2023, which puts the current homeless population at 3,725. 

Experts believe that economic struggles and eviction are the top reasons for homelessness in Riverside.

Unemployment, inflation, and a shortage of beds at shelters are also contributing factors. 

5. High Crime Rate

Riverside has a higher crime rate than most cities in the country.

Their violent crime rate is 28.7, compared to 22.7 for the nation.

The risk of property crime is 46.7, while the rate for the U.S. is 35.4

The risk of being a victim of crime in Riverside is as high as 1 in 30.

Surprisingly, 93% of the cities in California have a lower crime rate than Riverside. 

The main cause of crime in Riverside is poverty.

Low-income residents may feel that they have no other way to make an income.

The social environment peer pressure, and family structure are also factors. 

6. Cost of Living

The average cost of living in Riverside is $2,251, which puts it in the top 10% of cities in the world.  

Of course, Riverside isn’t an expensive city by California standards. 

In California, the average cost of living is $2,767.

It is significantly more expensive than the U.S. average.

The average for the U.S. is 100, and Riverside ranks at 134. 

7. Commuting Is Common

As mentioned previously, nearly 1/3 of the residents of Riverside commute to other cities daily.

This means if you live in Riverside, there’s a good chance that you’ll need to commute to work as well. 

Of course, there are jobs available in Riverside.

Work-from-home jobs have become more prevalent in recent years, which can keep you from needing to commute. 

8. Schools Are not Great

Riverside schools are not considered the best. Generally, some schools are better than others.

If you live in an affluent neighborhood, you’ll enjoy good schools.

Schools in other areas, however, leave something to be desired. 

Riverside, CA
Riverside, CA

16 Pros and Cons of Living in Riverside, CA – Summary Table

Pros of Living in Riverside, CACons of Living in Riverside, CA
1. Agriculture 1. Poor Air Quality 
2. Music Scene2. Urban Sprawl 
3. It's Near LA3. Traffic 
4. Less Expensive than L.A.4. Homelessness 
5. Beautiful Weather 5. High Crime Rate
6. Outdoor Beauty and Attractions 6. Cost of Living
7. Rich History7. Commuting Is Common
8. Cultural and Ethnic Diversity 8. Schools Are not Great

Riverside Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Riverside Safety Review

Safety Index:

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Riverside, CA, a good place to live?

Riverside is a great place for many people.

It offers mild weather, plenty of outdoor activities, and diversity.

However, there are downsides, including a high cost of living and a high crime rate.

How much money do you need to live in Riverside?

One adult will need to make at least $34,000 to get by in Riverside.

A large family will need to make nearly $90,000 to make it.

Is Riverside a good place to retire?

Yes, Riverside can be a good place to retire.

The mild weather is one reason it’s attractive to retirees.

However, you’ll need to be prepared to pay the cost of living.

You’ll also need to plan your transportation if you don’t have a vehicle.

What are the nicest neighborhoods in Riverside, CA?

Arlington Heights is the most affluent neighborhood in Riverside.

The average home price in the neighborhood is 2,498,009, and renters can expect to pay about $1,460.

What is life like in Riverside?

Riverside offers the benefits of a city with a family small-town feel.

The residents are diverse and tend to be liberal.

You’ll enjoy coffee shops and parks.

Families and young adults are common residents of Riverside.

2 Comments on 16 Pros and Cons of Living in Riverside, CA

  1. m
    mohammed says:

    Riverside is a great alternative to larger cities like L.A., but it also has its downsides, such as high cost of living and homelessness. Overall, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully before making a decision about moving there.

  2. I disagree with the statement about the schools. My children graduated and went on to four year schools.

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