Bakersfield Police Department attracts recruits with affordability to the California housing market


When it comes to real estate, everyone wants a bit of that California Dreaming.

But if you ask any realtor, getting into the housing market in the Golden State can be tough, and it can cost you.

As housing prices continue to explode in California, affordability has become an important consideration for those in professions such as policing, experts say. The exploding prices come at a time of significant job openings at police agencies across the state.

But Bakersfield Assistant Police Chief Mike Hale thinks recruits, both recent academy graduates and those looking to make a move, should consider making the move to Bakersfield.

The housing market is still accessible to buyers in all price points, making it a unique medium-sized city that’s still close enough to many of Southern California’s favorite vacation hot spots, including Paso Robles, Ventura Beach and Los Angeles.

The combination of factors – plus Bakersfield’s diversity of public safety issues – make it a prime location for recruits, he said.

The department has 50 job openings ranging from sworn to non-sworn positions with salaries that could make home ownership a reality.  

“We are seeing a lot of migration coming into Bakersfield from Los Angeles because of the different price points,” said Kim Huckaby Chief Executive Officer for Bakersfield Association of Realtors. “Right now, listings are going fast.”

Police officers in Bakersfield can buy a home in any one of the versatile neighborhoods that provide urban dwelling in downtown, farm life for the hopeful homesteader, lake life or just sprawling homes with plenty of space and sparkling pools.

It’s all possible in Bakersfield.

Homes with pools in Bakersfield are abundant as homeowners seek way to create their own resort-style living.

According to Derek Sprague from the Bakersfield Association of Realtors, the C.A.R. Traditional Housing Affordability Index shows Kern County’s median home price at $295,000 with a minimum qualifying income of $54,000.

In comparison, Los Angeles median home prices as of March 2021, sits at $688,660, with a qualifying income of $124,000.

In San Francisco, the median home price is $1.7 million with the minimum qualifying income landing at $318,000, according to the C.A.R.’s Housing Affordability Index (HAI) for 2020-2021.

In Southern California, median home price points range from $769,000 starting in Santa Barbara, $1 million in Orange County to $399,000 in San Bernardino. 

But its Bakersfield, which sits adjacent to SoCal, with the median price point at $295,000 that makes home buying – a reality, for everyone.

“Bakersfield is in a good place with lots of new developments all over town.  There’s the marketplace, the Riverwalk, the homes by the Lake, Downtown Bakersfield is having its own renaissance… we have something for everyone, just depends on what they are looking for,” said Hackby. “But with the median price of a home here, owning one is doable for all police officers coming into the area from different cities. And their money will buy more here.”

As new master-planned housing developments continue to be built in Bakersfield and home buyers flock to the region, the city itself is seeing an influx of new retailers and restaurants bringing vibrancy to the area that residents are embracing.

In the last couple of years, independent coffee houses with avocado toast and cold brew ice cream floats have sprung up. There is a brewery along the river and a number of restaurants and food trucks have brought the area “foodie” fame with James Beard Awards and recognition for its diverse fare and uniquely Bakersfield – Basque cuisine.

“When you’re in Los Angeles, you have all of these different communities that you have to drive through to get to things,” said Hackby. “But here in Bakersfield, you have one big city, and you can get around without much traffic or parking hassles. You can have LA style here; you can live downtown and have artsy urban living, or you can head over to the river, or get a ranch … it’s just whatever lifestyle you want.”

To learn more about Bakersfield Real Estate, please go to Bakersfield Association of Realtors