California communities with the best public schools in 2023: Report

When it comes to buying a home, the quality of the area’s public schools can play a major role in the planning decision — even if you don’t have young children, proximity to quality districts can affect home values.

Niche, a data site that specializes in education rankings, weighed a number of factors, including academic performance, diversity, parent/student surveys, sports, clubs and more to determine which communities in California have the best public schools in 2023.

When it comes to the top 20 places in California, the greater San Diego area swept the top three spots, Niche found:

Place Metro area State 2023 ranking 2022 ranking 2021 ranking
Rancho Santa Fe San Diego Area California 1 1 1
Fairbanks Ranch San Diego Area California 2 2 2
Del Mar San Diego Area California 3 3 3
Los Altos Hills San Francisco Bay Area California 4 6 5
Solana Beach San Diego Area California 5 4 4
La Cañada Flintridge Los Angeles Area California 6 5 7
Palos Verdes Estates Los Angeles Area California 7 9 9
Encinitas San Diego Area California 8 7 12
Moraga San Francisco Bay Area California 9 15 23
Rolling Hills Estates Los Angeles Area California 10 10 11
South Pasadena Los Angeles Area California 11 13 20
Rolling Hills Los Angeles Area California 12 11 10
San Marino Los Angeles Area California 13 8 8
Arcadia Los Angeles Area California 14 14 15
Loyola San Francisco Bay Area California 15 17 22
Pleasanton San Francisco Bay Area California 16 20 16
Artesia Los Angeles Area California 17 47 36
Carmel-by-the-Sea California 18 12 6
Redondo Beach Los Angeles Area California 19 22 37
(Credit: Niche)

While not heavily represented in the top 20, several places in the San Francisco Bay Area just missed the list, including Ross (21), Mountain View (22), Sausalito (24), Marin City (25) and Woodacre (26).

Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the areas listed are far from affordable for many people, so if you’re moving to avoid paying for private education, you may want to factor that in.

The median listing price for homes in Rancho Santa Fe, for example, is $4.9 million, according to RedFin. For those hoping to spend a bit less, Artesia and Moraga both came in at median listing prices of only $622,500 and $1.5 million, respectively.

To see the full list of the best public schools in the U.S., see Niche’s recently released rankings.

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