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If you are looking for a balance between a culturally rich life, lots of partying, low cost of living and quiet neighbourhoods there is no better place to move to than Modesto, CA. This is the largest city in Stanislaus County and has a population of just over 300,000 people. You may read some disparaging things about this city but do not be discouraged – it has a lot to offer. It is located in the valley of the St. Joaquin River, with the Tuolumne River running through it. The city was founded in 1870 along this river mainly because it was a good source of fresh water. The name Modesto has an interesting history. The city was started largely through the efforts of a very successful financier named William C. Ralston. Later, when the inhabitants tried to name it after him he refused. The residents chose to name the city Modesto, the Spanish word for modest, on account of his modesty.

Modesto is known for many things, top of them agriculture. To start with, it has the world’s largest winery – if you have are enjoying a bottle of California wine right now there is a very good chance that it is from Modesto. In addition to that the city is literally nuts – it is one of the world’s largest producers of walnuts. The city also home to the largest wine bottle manufacturing company in the world, the Gallo Glass Company. It is a major producer of cheeses as well as olive oil. It also gave us famous actors like George Lucas, Timothy Olyphant, Darlene Vogel, Harve Presnell and a surprisingly large number of high achieving sports personalities.

Cost of living

Modesto has a very reasonable cost of living, with real estate costs lower than in many other cities in California. According to, “Compared to the state average of California the cost of living index in Modesto, CA is 106, which is 22% lower than the average in California and compared to the national average it is 6% higher than. The cost of living index is made up of several categories. These are transportation at 9%, utilities at 10%, goods and services at 33%, housing at 30%, groceries at 13%, and health care at 5%. The bulk of the cost of living index comes from the categories of goods and services and housing. If you look at everyday goods and services they can be a good indicator in a certain city of the general costs of goods there. In Modesto, CA goods and services come in at 2% lower than the average in California and are 4% higher than compared to the nationwide average.” This makes it great for people looking to retire, extend their savings and en
joy a quiet life.

The city is characterized by a busy midtown area filled with all kinds of businesses, with most people living in the surrounding quiet suburbs that are lined by huge trees. It is 1 hour away from Sacramento, 2 hours from Fresno and 1.5 hours to San Francisco, which gives residents plenty of opportunities to explore these cities. Downtown is the party hub with lots of great nightclubs which make it a site to take in at night. You can party any day of the week – this part of the city never sleeps. The commute in some parts of the city can be a problem so if you will be travelling there on a regular basis you should talk to your realtor about finding you a home in an area with an easy commute.

Jobs and schools in Modesto

Although Modesto has a relatively high rate of unemployment compared to the rest of the country it has some great employers. The memorial Medical Center, the Doctor’s Medical Center, Modesto City Schools, Modesto Junior College and Wal-Mart are just but a few. There are many public and private schools and students tend to perform rather well. After high school they can attend Modesto Junior College, Community Business College and a smattering of other higher education institutions in the city.

What to do in Modesto

Let us start by having a romantic date on the Sierra Dinner Train in Oakdale. This is one of the most wonderful experience that visitors can enjoy, riding on the locomotive as they enjoy a great dinner, a bottle of wine and solve a murder mystery. Modesto was one of the first cities to push for the farm to fork movement and to understand exactly how much the residents love fresh produce you should head to the Modesto Certified Farmer’s Market. Here you will find some of the freshest foods produced in the valley as well as a variety of cheeses and many other homemade foods.

Next is the Gallo Center for Arts. According to, “The Gallo Center for the Arts is also the home of the Mary Stuart Rogers Theater that has a capacity of over a thousand spectators. The Foster Family Theater is also found here and is more intimate with a 44 seat auditorium for family shows. The Gallo Center for the Arts is the main cultural hub in Modesto and people flock here for the hundreds of performances that are showcased throughout the year.”

The McHenry Mansion, the only Victorian building in the city, is considered the jewel of the city. It was restored just a few years ago and you can view it as you are escorted from room to room by a knowledgeable guide who will tell you all about it. At the end of your tour buy a piece of memorabilia to remind you what life was like living in Modesto in the Victorian era.

Take a nice stroll through the Virginia Corridor Trailway, some 4.2 miles of some the beautiful landscapes. It has picnic areas as well as places where you can enjoy barbeque. There are plenty of gardens along the way full of colourful flowers.

Best restaurants in Modesto

Since this is an agricultural town you can expect to get lots of healthy foods to eat, but there are some spots that you cannot miss out on. Start at Surla’s. According to,“…the Lumpia appetizer takes everything that is awesome about the classic Philippine snack and marries it with the taquito and the result is a devilish little stick of goodness that is tempting to order by the truckload. The dinner menu also features Chicken Adobo, but what really keeps regulars clamoring is the Sunday Champagne Brunch Buffet—if the endless stations of perfectly executed brunch must-haves like omelettes and lox, the bottomless mimosas certainly will.”

Rockin’ B’s Burgers is also worth your while. They serve delicious burgers made with brisket along with garlic fries. If you’re feeling a little exotic you can head to The Raw Sushi Bistro, where you can enjoy fresh fish and an amazing sauce. If you like you can have rolls of cucumber rather than rice.

As you can see, Modesto has plenty to offer for those who are looking for nice clean living. Although the city’s main occupation is agriculture, there is plenty else for you to do, and you can always travel to nearby cities for even more fun.