Modesto, California

Tree City

The BUZZ

What's it like to live in Modesto

What is Modesto like?

There is a lot of hate for Modesto online, but it was my hometown for 28 years and I actually miss it a lot (I’m thinking about moving back).

Pros: Super close to Bay Area, close to Yosemite, close to Santa Cruz, close to central coast, close to Big Trees, close enough to Tahoe. Quick weekend trips to socal are do-able. Gallo center, MJC, agriculture, backyards with pools, good food, racial and political diversity, Graceada Park (summer concerts), ModShop, P Wexford’s, taquerias, huge houses for much cheaper than a lot of areas in CA. Also, Trader Joe’s and Sprouts.

Cons: lots of meth-users in certain areas, it gets hot as shit but if you have access to a pool and AC in your house then it’s ok, but the heat is not for everyone - it gets to 90-105 for weeks/months during the summers into “fall”. Everyone thinks they are nascar drivers, it is not walk/bike-friendly, public transportation is kind of scary, housing is getting ridiculous, gangsters, car theft, bike theft, everyone has raiders or 49ers all over their cars and clothes, people don’t seem to be too considerate of other people.

Everywhere has shitty people, but there are a lot of good people there too.

Turlock is nice near the college. Downtown Oakdale is ok, but it’s full of lifted trucks, cowboys and farmland. Ripon is a cleanish, newer city but I’ve never heard of anything very exciting going on there. Salida and Ceres don’t have much going on either, I’d personally not move to those. In Modesto, north and northeast is your best best for the safe suburb neighborhoods, but they’re pretty boring. You have to make your own fun. Graceada and La Loma area have beautiful neighborhoods but have a bigger homeless population that hang out around there. Don’t live anywhere near west/crows landing area or south of Yosemite, or near 9th street. Downtown apartments are pretty old and run down.

What is Modesto like?

Like someone said, avoid the airport district, and also stay away from the west side. My rule of thumb is anything west of the 99 freeway is ghetto. Obviously there’s exceptions but that’s a general guideline.

Modesto is not your average fun place like San Francisco or something. Living here builds character. I grew up in one of Sacramento’s more affluent suburbs so coming here was a complete culture shock, but over time it grew on me and now I love it.

There’s a lot of Latin people, so great, inexpensive Mexican food everywhere. I like how diverse Modesto is. You really can get to know people of all different backgrounds. I also like the food here. We have some amazing bakeries (I have a huge sweet tooth) and Mr. T’s, our local donut shop, is open 24 hours and they’ve ranked in the top 20 donut places in the country before. We also have great restaurants.

Driving here is fun. You can go on long drives in the country side with your windows down and music up. You can also go towards the mountains if you like driving there.

One of our biggest points is that we’re close to everything. We’re in driving distance of snow in the winter, Sacramento, and the Bay. Day trips never get boring if you’re from here.

But like I said, it’s not your average fun area. It builds character. You have to get used to the tweakers and the homeless and how to avoid interacting with them. You also have to get used to seeing poverty in a lot of different forms. Also gangs are a tough one to get used to. I think after a certain point, gunshots aren’t too alarming because you know they’re not directed at you, but you never get used to losing people to gang/gun violence. It’s not like it happens every day, but if someone gets killed and you knew that person, it really hurts. Sometimes it’s scary, but as long as you use common sense and you’re aware of your surroundings, you probably won’t encounter violence.

Also the police don’t really respond to smaller crimes, which is why it’s SO important not to live in a bad area. If your car gets broken into, that sucks. MPD might come and look at it, but they won’t do much beyond that. They’re amazing with responding to violent crimes, but they’re understaffed, so they can’t really deal with nonviolent things that much. Speaking of cars, we have a lot of auto theft. If you have a car, you might wanna choose a property with a garage to put the car in. If you don’t have a car, you’ll need one, because only tweakers use the (awful) buses here.

I like living here, but some people resent it. I think it’s what you make of it.

What is Modesto like?

Here’s my top areas to consider depending on need/style of home. Main thing about Modesto is there’s not a lot of great neighborhood but great streets. I’d mostly look east of McHenry Avenue and north of Scenic.

Village One area. It’s in the sylvan school district, which has some of the best rated schools K-12. Area is newer. Downside is it’s further from the freeway. Homes built around 2000 and newer. If you purchase you may have a little higher property taxes.

Crossroads in Riverbank. Very similar to village one for age and style of home and neighborhood. Close to Target which is a plus. Don’t go outside this area or you won’t be in the Sylvan school district.

Sonoma or Lakewood area. Great elementary schools. Not so cookie cutter homes.

If you’re looking for cool neighborhoods based on style of home:

College area: 1940’s/50’s style

Northgate area (Bowen to Leveland/Fremont to Sherwood): 60’s/70’s mid century modern style

Also Sherwood Forest is very similar

Dutch Hollow: 80’s/90’s but more custom. Great neighborhood and decent schools. Close to freeway.

Eastgate (I believe. Near Pelandale): 2000’s.

What is it like to live in Modesto, CA?

I have lived here 28 years having moved from the Bay area We didn’t intend to stay, however we found an old home we loved in a beautiful neighborhood and it grew on us. Modesto has changed a great deal in that time including: a revitalized downtown with more than a few absolutely wonderful restaurants; our own new performing arts center with 2 world class venues; our own symphony orchestra (the longest continuously performing symphony west of the Mississippi); a successful small opera company; the State Theater (a renovated art-deco theater showing art films and revival films as well as live music; a thriving art community with galleries, a beautiful 100 year old park with an outside theater hosting free summer concerts; Modesto City College, a very highly rated 2 year college.

All this is with-in walking distance of my house. The diverse architecture in the older neighborhoods is wonderful. And I can’t leave out the trees. Modesto has been voted a “Tree City USA” every year for 30 years. Everyone takes a lot of pride in the trees, and the city tries hard to maintain them. They provide a wonderful canopy and shade from the heat in the summer. In the fall the Western Pistache and Liquid Amber are beautiful when the leaves turn red and orange. My favorite is the Ginko which turns a brilliant yellow in the fall.

The bad: too much growth, too fast, giving relatively high housing costs and too much traffic (but that describes most of California). Also the weather is not for everyone. It is hot in the summer (stretches of a week of 103+degrees a few times every summer, plus foggy cold winter mornings that can be depressing after 2 weeks, but again not for more that 1 or 2 weeks at a stretch).

We are also just a couple of hours drive to San Francisco, Monterey / Carmel/ Big Sur, Yosemite, the high Sierras, and Lake Tahoe. Close by is the Sacramento/ San Joaquin River delta with thousands of miles of waterway for boating and fishing .