Moving to Merced

Welcome to your comprehensive guide for relocating to Merced, California, a hidden gem nestled in the heart of the Golden State. This charming city captivates newcomers with its abundance of natural beauty, vibrant local culture, and its unparalleled location, which also serves as a gateway to fascinating landmarks. Whether you're an outdoor enthusiast, a career hustler, or a family-oriented individual, making Merced your new home will undoubtedly unveil a fresh world of delightful surprises. Let's embark on an exciting journey and shed light on everything you need to know about moving to charismatic Merced.

Moving to Merced, CA landscape image

What to Know Before Moving to Merced

1. The Gateway to Yosemite

Moving to Merced, California, means you're settling in a place dubbed as the "Gateway to Yosemite". Yup! Merced's claims to fame include Yosemite National Park. Just a two-hour scenic drive away, you can bask in the majestic splendor of towering sequoias, breathtaking waterfalls, and lush landscapes right at your weekend disposal. Talk about a constant vacation vibe!

2. Agriculture is a Big Deal Here

Expect to be surrounded by endless acres of farmland. Merced is smack-dab in the middle of the Central Valley, California's biggest agricultural region. Fresh farm-to-table produce? Check. You shouldn't be surprised if your next-door neighbor is a farmer, or raises chickens, or has a vineyard. In other words, you're moving into the heart of California's breadbasket.

3. It's the Home of the University of California, Merced

Did you know Merced hosts one of the newest University of California campuses? UC Merced celebrated its banner opening in 2005, making it the first new American research university built in the 21st century. This gives the city a young and vibrant feel, with intellectual buzz drifting in the air. An added bonus, you get to partake in cool university events and extensive public lectures while you're here.

4. It's a Historical Railroad Town

One thing that's not widely known is that Merced has a rich railroad history. Established in 1872, the city was a prominent stop along the Southern Pacific Railroad. Today, you can still catch a glimpse of its vibrant past at the Merced County Courthouse Museum and the multilevel Merced Antique Mall that was an old Odd Fellows building from the 1910s.

5. Outdoor Recreation Abounds

Get ready for life in the great outdoors! Boasting 72 city parks along with the Merced River running through its core, Merced offers ample opportunities for kayaking, rafting, swimming, fishing, and picnicking. A fan of hiking? The nearby Sierra Nevada mountains will provide that engaging outdoor challenge.

6. The Castle Air Museum

Finally, perhaps one of the lesser-known factoids about Merced; the Castle Air Museum. This holds one of the largest exhibits of military aircraft on the West Coast. Talk about a dynamic slice of US history in the middle of an agriculture-rich town! Step back in time and explore over 70 restored vintage military aircraft, artifacts, and memorabilia. Play out your Top Gun fantasies while living in Merced.

There you go, a snapshot of Merced, CA, painted in broad strokes. Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast, an ardent lover of fresh produce, a history aficionada, or a nerd excited by the prospect of staying close to a university, Merced traces the outlines for a vibrant life. Set the stage for an interesting mingle of rural and urban living - all awash in California sunshine!

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Pros and Cons of Living in Merced

Pros of Living in Merced

Access to nature

Merced is nestled in California's San Joaquin Valley, offering residents easy access to Yosemite National Park, Sierra Nevada, and several local parks. Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, camping, or just taking in the scenic beauty, Merced offers plenty of options for outdoor enthusiasts.

Diverse Culture

Merced is home to a variety of different cultures. This is reflected in the local restaurants, stores, and events, offering residents the opportunity to experience a diverse range of sights, tastes, and experiences. The multicultural environment in Merced can lead to a rich experience of cultural learning and exchange.

Educational Opportunities

With the University of California, Merced and Merced College in town, there are several educational opportunities for both students and adults. In addition to the higher education facilities, the public and private schools in the area are noted for their quality, offering good educational prospects for families with children.


The cost of living in Merced is relatively lower compared to major cities in California. Affordable housing and cost-effective local amenities make it a viable place to live, work, and raise a family for people in various stages of life.

Historic Downtown

Merced offers a beautifully preserved historic downtown area. This area is a hub for local businesses, art, entertainment, restaurants, and farmer's markets, often serving as a center for local community events and festivals.

Cons of Living in Merced


Public transportation in Merced is not as extensive or efficient as in larger cities. While the city does offer bus services, individuals without personal vehicles might find it difficult to navigate the city, especially for longer distances.

Heat and Air Quality

Summers in Merced can get particularly hot, making it uncomfortable for those not accustomed to high temperatures. Furthermore, the city can sometimes experience poor air quality, especially during wildfire seasons, which could prove problematic for those with respiratory conditions.

Limited Nightlife

If you're seeking an active nightlife, Merced might not be the city for you. While it does have a selection of bars and restaurants, it lacks the variety and vibrancy found in larger cities.

Job Opportunities

While there are employment opportunities in education, healthcare, and retail, high-paying jobs in fields like tech or entertainment are, generally, not as available. Therefore, some may find it necessary to commute to larger cities nearby for better job prospects.

Crime Rate

Like many other cities, Merced experiences its share of crime. It is important to research and consider this factor when choosing where to live within the city. However, there are also many safe, friendly neighborhoods, so it's all about finding the place that's right for you.

Modern day picture of Merced, CA highlighting pros and cons of living in Merced, CA

Is Merced a Good Place to Live?

Merced, CA is a great place to live because it boasts of great weather, beautiful outdoor spaces like the Applegate Park, and close proximity to incredible natural attractions like Yosemite National Park. This friendly and welcoming community offers a rich history, culturally diverse food scene, and an array of events and activities that make life here invigorating and fun. Its affordable housing and excellent educational institutions, including UC Merced, also set it apart as a comfortable and enriching place to call home.

What Is Merced Famous For?

Home to University of California, Merced

This mighty educational institution, University of California Merced, is the first American research university of the 21st century. Inaugurated in 2005, it offers a unique opportunity to be part of a growing, dynamic university community that is driving the Golden State's next generation of innovators and leaders.

Gateway to Yosemite

Known as the "Gateway to Yosemite," Merced is the closest major city to Yosemite National Park. This makes the city the perfect pit-stop for Yosemite adventures, allowing nature lovers to refuel and regroup before heading into the splendors of one of America's favorite National Park.

Merced Agricultural Museum

With agriculture serving as the main industry in Merced, it's only apt to have a museum dedicated to it! The Merced Agricultural Museum preserves and highlights the region's rich farming heritage. From antique farming equipment to vintage tractors, it pays an interactive homage to the area's agricultural roots.

The Merced Nisei War Memorial

The Nisei War Memorial in Merced stands as a silent testament to the courage and bravery of the Japanese-Americans who fought in World War II, especially those from the Merced area. This monument reminds us of the patriotic service of these soldiers and their persistent belief in the American dream, despite enduring systemic prejudice and internment.

Capital building of Merced, CA in artistic rendering

Overview of Tax Rates

Property Tax

In Merced, CA as of 2023, the property tax rate is approximately 0.77%, which is lower compared to the average of 1.07% across the US. This means that for a home valued at $300,000, for example, the annual property tax would be around $2,310.

Sales Tax

As for the sales tax, Merced's rate is 7.75% as of 2023, which is considered higher compared to the national median of approximately 6.9%. Therefore, a product priced at $100 would incur $7.75 in sales tax in Merced.

Income Tax

On the other hand, income tax in Merced follows the California state rates that range from 1% to 13.3% as of 2023. This progressive income tax system is notably high among US states, with the highest earners facing one of the highest tax rates in the country.

Housing Market

The housing market in Merced, CA distinguishes itself from the national average, offering affordable options for both renters and buyers. The median home price here is $274,600, significantly less than the national average. Rent in Merced is also lower than national norms, with a median of $1,200 per month. Additionally, Merced boasts a high homeownership rate of 47%. However, the cost of living is 4.7% higher than the U.S. average. Despite the increase in costs, the market's affordability coupled with sun-soaked California living makes it an attractive choice for many.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Merced, CA is generally lower compared to other Californian cities. Housing is notably cheaper - median home prices are significantly less than the state average. The cost of goods and services, healthcare, grocery items, and utilities are roughly on par with national averages, making them less expensive than in many larger California cities. Nevertheless, the average income in Merced is lower too, which offsets some of these savings for residents. So, while Merced is a more affordable option within California, it's crucial to consider income potential when evaluating cost of living.

Weather & Natural Disasters

Merced, CA boasts a warm Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Temperatures peak in the 90s during summer months and dip as low as the mid-30s in winter. Despite the climatic divide, the weather typically spells consistency, mostly due to Merced's location in California's Central Valley, where extreme conditions are rare. However, the area can experience occasional bouts of intense heatwaves and freezing fog, particularly during the transitional periods between seasons. Natural disasters in Merced mainly include earthquakes due to its proximity to several significant fault lines. Droughts also pose a recurring problem, often affecting the agricultural rhythm of the region. Periodic flooding isn't unheard of either, typically caused by the overflowing of the Merced River after heavy rains or rapid snowmelt in the Sierra Nevada. Overall, Merced's climate has a charm of its own, producing beautiful fruit crops that contribute to its picturesque views.

Typical weather in Merced, CA

Economy & Job Market

* Agriculture and Aquaculture

* Education and Health Services

* Manufacturing

* Trade, Transportation, and Utilities

* Leisure and Hospitality

Situated at the heart of California's central valley, Merced has a strong, rich history tied to agriculture and aquaculture industries. Today, this remains a major backbone of the city's economy. From dairy farms to almond orchards and vineyards, the fertile lands continue to play a massive part in the local economy, creating numerous job opportunities. However, in recent years, other sectors like education and health services, trade, transportation, and utilities have grown tremendously due to the establishment of the University of California, Merced and the expansion of Mercy Medical Center. Furthermore, manufacturing has seen an appreciable rise with companies like Scholle Packaging and Pacific Gas & Electric offering a wide range of job opportunities.

Looking to make a move to Merced? That's fabulous! Undoubtedly, Merced's job market is vibrant and diverse. The unemployment rate, estimated at 10.2% (2020 statistics), is slightly higher than the national average, but fret not, progress in job growth is being noticed. If you're searching for a job in Merced, your best bet is to focus on education and health services - sectors that continue to grow every year, thanks to the local university and medical facilities. Similarly, the agricultural sector offers an array of employment options right from farming to processing and supply chain management. Of course, don't overlook the blossoming opportunities in manufacturing, transportation, trade, utilities, and the hospitality industry. Roll up your sleeves and get ready to dive into the bustling Merced job ecosystem!

Traffic and Transportation

All aboard, it's time to talk transit in sunny Merced, CA! Starting with our average commute time, it's pretty breezy at 24.5 minutes. Even though it might be a short trip, it's still enough time to listen to your favorite podcast or two. Prefer not to drive? No worries, feel the wind in your hair and leave the driving to someone else by hopping on one of The Bus' many routes. This is the go-to public transportation in Merced with routes extending to the entirety of Merced County. Looking for a faster way to jet in or out of town? Pack your bags and head over to Merced Regional Airport, conveniently located for domestic flights. Whether you're moving by wheels or wings, Merced has the resources to make your journey smooth, timely, and hassle-free.

What is the traffic like in Merced, CA?

Best Neighborhoods in Merced

1. North Merced

If you're looking for a neighborhood that exudes charm and tranquility, then North Merced is your destination. Known for its wide, tree-lined streets and well-manicured lawns, this neighborhood boasts ample green spaces and parks. Close to extensive shopping and dining options in the Merced Mall and Mercy Medical Center, North Merced offers a harmonious balance of convenience and relaxation. Prepare to be charmed by the family-friendly vibe and the warm community spirit!

2. Downtown Merced

For those who crave the rush of the urban scene, Downtown Merced ticks all the boxes. Characterized by historic buildings and eclectic architecture, the neighborhood offers a lively, bustling environment. Home to the Merced Theatre and the Art Hop, Downtown is the epicenter of the city's vibrant arts and culture scene. With various local boutique shops, and a diverse food scene, this neighborhood is the dynamic, bubbly part of Merced that never sleeps.

3. Bear Creek

Think serene creekside living, and you are imagining Bear Creek. Nestled along the banks of its namesake creek, this neighborhood offers scenic hiking and biking trails, making it perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. The enchanting Bear Creek Park is a community gem and provides abundant recreational opportunities. Plus, the neighborhood's proximity to the Merced College and various schools makes it an enriching environment for families with children and students alike.

4. Franklin

Franklin neighborhood, east Merced, is a melting pot of cultures and generations. Known for its diversity, the neighborhood boasts a blend of old charm and new development, with vintage homes standing proudly next to modern constructions. With its popular farmer's market held year-round, Franklin unites its residents through their love for locally-sourced food and merchandise. The community spirit here is hard to beat!

5. South Merced

South Merced is beloved for its peaceful and laid-back vibe. Home to the Applegate Park, the Merced County Fairgrounds, and the Agriculture Museum, the neighborhood is packed with engaging amenities. From taking a peaceful stroll in the park to enjoying the charming annual fair and exploring the agricultural exhibits, there's always something to do in South Merced. If you're a lover of peace, community, and enjoying outdoors without leaving the city limits, then South Merced is the perfect mix you're looking for.

No matter what vibe you're searching for, these neighborhoods in Merced, California each have unique qualities that cater to a variety of lifestyles. Whether you're a social butterfly who thrives on nightlife and culture, an outdoor adventurer who treasures every trek, or someone who prefers a quiet evening walk in the neighborhood, Merced has an enclave for you. Welcome to your new home in Merced!

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Things to Do

California dreaming? Well, your dreams have led you to the vibrant city of Merced, CA. As a resident-to-be, it's time to acquaint yourself with the many attractions this city boasts of. So, let's strap on your adventure shoes and dive into the 7 top things to do in Merced, CA!

1. Get in touch with Nature at Applegate Park and Zoo

If you have a penchant for nature and wildlife, then this place is for you. Applegate Park houses a special zoo with over 75 animal species. Whether you're interested in peacocks, reptiles, or alpacas, you'll find them here amidst lush greenery. Plus, the park provides ample spaces for picnics and playgrounds for kiddos.

2. Unearth history at Merced County Courthouse Museum

Immerse yourself in local history at the Merced County Courthouse Museum. Housed in the 125-year-old courthouse, the museum offers exhibits that tell tales of Merced's past. Be ready to be amazed by the historic courtroom, jail cell, and historically significant artifacts.

3. Witness the magic of Playhouse Merced

Whether you are a theatre lover or someone looking for an entertaining evening, Playhouse Merced never disappoints. With soul-stirring performances ranging from musicals to drama, there's something for everyone.

4. Fuel your curiosity at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center

Featuring the works of local and national artists, the Merced Multicultural Arts Center is a beehive of creativity. The center offers a diverse range of exhibits, workshops, and events, making it a perfect spot to stoke your artistic inclinations.

5. Dive into Fun at Rahilly Park

This may sound like a typical item on this list, but Rahilly Park scores high in the fun quotient by flaunting an unusual feature - a disc golf course. Yes, you can take a break from the traditional park activities and try your hand at this intriguing sport.

6. Explore The Buoy

It's time to let our local secret out! The Buoy, a hidden gem in Merced, is a joint you simply can't ignore. This hidden place features not just delicious but creative toppings that you can experiment with. Brace yourself for a gastronomic adventure that is bound to tantalize your tastebuds.

7. Embark on a Merced Fruit Barn expedition

For an authentic Merced experience, head to the Merced Fruit Barn. Located a bit off the beaten path, this charming store has an extensive assortment of dried fruits, nuts, honey, and even ostrich eggs! Don't miss out on the exotic delights this place has to offer.

And just like that, we've unraveled some of Merced's most enchanting offerings. From natural attractions, historical sites, artistic spaces, sporting fun, to culinary hotspots and niche stores; Merced presents an interesting assortment to cater to all tastes. So gear up for your move and get ready to embrace your new city wholeheartedly!

Things to do in Merced, CA?

Find Movers for Your Merced Relocation

As you embark on this new chapter and prepare to make Merced your home, Great Guys Moving is here to simplify the process. They connect you with the most reliable movers in the industry, known for both quality service and affordability. By just submitting the fundamental details of your move, you'll be linked to the appropriate moving companies for your needs, making it a breeze to collate quotes. Plus, you can rest assured that all movers in the Great Guys network are fully licensed and insured. Why wait? It's just a click away to request your free moving quote through Great Guys Moving.

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