Bakersfield, California

Oil, Farming & Drinking

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What's it like to live in Bakersfield?

What is it like to live in Bakersfield, California?

I am from the mid west Michigan and Ohio and I have lived in California since 1978. I lived in the Orange County area until 17 years ago when I moved to Bakersfield. Personally I love it. No traffic and things are much less expensive especially the rent and home prices. It is a pleasure to know when someone says something is 10 miles away it is only going to take 10 minutes. In LA and any city south of the Grapevine and it could take you 30 minutes not to mention how much longer a 30 mile drive with take.The east side of Bakersfield is full of friendly people and all of your outdoor recreation. rivers, lakes, parks etc. Much less stressful life here in Bakersfield.

What is it like to live in Bakersfield, California?

I’ve lived in Bakersfield my entire life—mainly people’s opinions are based on a few criteria like your political views, age, family, where you live, etc.

Bakersfield is the biggest town in Kern Country and, as with all the other towns in the county, has a lot of Texan influences. Country music is everywhere—although I’ve yet to personally meet anyone under the age of 60 that likes it—and we are the hometown of Merle Haggard. Kern County is also flaming Republican, unlike the rest of California.

Another influence of Bakersfield is the gang activity very inherent here. It is not very safe to live here in my opinion. There are a lot of homeless downtown and on the east side, a lot of drug addiction, and shootings are often heard about in local news. Not that you can’t walk down the street without dying—it’s not near that bad—but enough that walking downtown alone, especially at night, could be very dangerous. A fun thing to consider knowing there is a K-8 school and a high school in the center of downtown. I went to both and knew what a drug deal looked like by the age of 8, and a kid I knew got beat unconscious my freshman year as a part of another student’s gang initiation, and another kid I knew of got stabbed—both on campus.

There’s not a lot to do in Bakersfield, although there are some local favorites: the Fox Theater, CALM, the Buena Vista Museum, the Buck Owen’s Crystal Palace, the Kern County Museum, the thrift/antique store area of downtown, the Bluffs walking trail where you can look out at all the hundred of oil rigs, and Dewar’s Ice Cream (that last one is genuinely great, everyone passing through Bakersfield should stop there). After you’ve been to all those places it gets old fast.

(ADVICE) Pros and cons before moving to Bakersfield

  • Mid-size city with little to no traffic

  • Low COL comparatively

  • Easy to settle down and raise a family

  • Good variety of American, Indian, Asian, Mexican food spots

  • Growing city, new developments

  • 2 hours away from mountains, coast or LA

  • 4 hours away from SD, SF, Las Vegas


  • Limited nightlife/entertainment

  • Air Quality

  • Red County, Racism, Meth

  • Crime/Homeless increasing but that’s everywhere

Best areas to live:

  • Southwest

  • Northwest

  • Parts of Northeast

(ADVICE) Pros and cons before moving to Bakersfield

30 year old married male. We bought our house 2 years ago. Attracted to the area due to cost of living, beer scene, indian food, and vicinity to Sequoia National Forest/Park. We came from San Diego, but originally the Seattle area. If you are looking to double income no kids, your salaries will go far in this town, and will have disposable income to have fun. Mammoth is 4 hrs away (we have season passes), Paso Robles wine country is 1.5 hrs (become a member some where you love), and if you miss city life cruise to LA for a weekend. If you like to browse vinyl, Going Underground is the spot. Amazing music history with The Bakersfield Sound even if you don't like country.

The pros and cons of living in Bakersfield California (where “The Purge” happens every day)