Relocating to Fresno, CA? Check Out Our Renter’s Guide
Do you want to relocate to a city with lots of things to do while still offering a low cost of living? Fresno, California, is the perfect spot. With cheap rent, delicious restaurants, fun bars, and an amazing art scene, it’s hard to beat Fresno. The question is: Where should you live?
While there are lots of neighborhoods in Fresno, three stand out as the best for renters. Get the details, so you can find the right spot for you.
You don’t need to head to New York City or San Francisco to enjoy urban living. Downtown Fresno’s been revitalized, and the results are stunning. New businesses have moved into revitalized spaces, giving residents more options than ever before. At the same time, the Downtown area still has historic pockets that are perfect for exploring.
Downtown Fresno attracts a diverse lineup of people, from those who want to enjoy an exciting nightlife to people who prefer spending their free time enjoying the Fulton Mall, home to six blocks of dining and shopping. Then this is also the spot for baseball fans, thanks to Chukchansi Park, home of the Fresno Grizzlies.
Convinced that Downtown Fresno is right for you? Let’s dig in and take a closer look.
Best Apartment Communities in Downtown Fresno
If you relocate to Downtown Fresno, you’ll have lots of apartment options. It’s easy to find something in an amazing location with the amenities you want.
Do you want to live in the downtown lifestyle, but you’re on a budget? Check out CityView at Van Ness. This complex opened in 2015 and is geared toward young professionals who make $28,000-$35,000 a year. The price is so attractive that retirees also call it home. It quickly earned a reputation as the best place to live an urban lifestyle while dealing with a tight budget. The apartment took the place of the former Droge Building, which was demolished for the project. Now, it’s home to one and two-bedroom apartments that are known for providing gorgeous downtown views. The complex is quiet and clean, which is also a huge selling point. Just in case you need another reason to consider living here, the location is perfect. It’s right by the action, so you can easily get to galleries, theaters, museums, bars, and restaurants when you move here.
Then there are the Fresno Lofts in the Pacific Southwest Building. This is probably the coolest spot to live in the city. Once you’re inside, you won’t feel like you’re in Fresno. Where else in Fresno you will you find an apartment with brick and mortar walls, cement ceilings with exposed pipes, and views that reach out to the stadium? Speaking of windows, each loft has at least 10 to provide sweeping views of the cityscape. You’ll also get a gas fireplace, hardwood or bamboo floors, and granite countertops. These lofts are full of character, but there is a catch. There are only 12 residential lofts in the building, so you might have to get on a waiting list. Put your name on and see if you can land in the most coveted spot in Downtown Fresno.
Dining Out in Downtown
Downtown Fresno used to be a great place for lunch, but not so much for dinner. The restaurants shuttered their doors after the lunch crowd commuted out of Fresno for the day, leaving residents stuck cooking their own meals. Fortunately, that has changed. New eateries have sprung up, while others have expanded their hours to accommodate the dinner crowd. This is great news if you intend to move to Downtown Fresno.
Cosmopolitan Tavern and Italian Grill has become the go-to place for dinner in Downtown Fresno. This restaurant has been popular for years, so it came as a surprise when it had to relocate in 2016 because the state needed the land to build a high-speed rail. What could have been a disaster turned into a blessing for the bar and grill. Gone is the previously dated interior, and now, you’ll be treated to a modern and cozy restaurant when you stop by for a meal. At the same time, the 1930s regulator clock, 1937 bar, and other cool memorabilia are still there. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this restaurant is just about the décor, though. The food is divine, especially the mushroom ravioli and Chilean sea bass. Oh, and the name says it all. Order a cosmopolitan when you visit.
Just the Tip is also worthy of a meal out. The restaurant used to be in a triangle-shaped building, which is how it got its name. Now, it’s moved, but kept the name, along with its delicious sandwiches. Check out the Philly cheesesteak and the Van Ness sandwich when you go here. You’ll be in sandwich heaven for sure.
Don’t stop with these two spots. Venture out and try the other downtown eateries.
Top Nightlife Downtown
You can do more than eat delicious meals when you move to downtown Fresno. The city also has a bustling nightlife that seems to get hotter by the year, thanks to the ongoing revitalization.
The Modernist Craft Cocktail Bar is the newest addition and also one of the most popular nightlife options. It opened in January 2020, after winning the 2019 Create Here Business Plan Competition. It’s no wonder it won the competition. It promised something different for Downtown Fresno, and it has delivered. It has a huge menu of cocktails, including “Rift iterations.” These specialty drinks provide the bartender’s twist on some of your favorite classics. Along with the fantastic drinks, you can make use of the food truck outside. You’ll love snacking at the food truck after an evening of drinks.
Quail State is also worth a visit during a night out on the town. Right now, it has a residency at Los Panchos, but big things are on the way. Soon, Quail State will have the first rooftop bar in Fresno. It’ll sit atop the Pacific Southwest Building, and it’s a sign of all the big things to come in Fresno. There have been rumors about this bar for quite some time, and the fact that it’s about to open is exciting.
FresYes Fest – Another Reason to Move Downtown
Still on the fence about moving to Downtown Fresno? Consider this. You’ll be within walking distance of the annual FresYes Fest. The block party has pop up venues, live music, food trucks, and vendors. Plus, you’ll get to try exclusive beer releases when you hang out at the festival. FresYes Fest is a fantastic way to get to know your neighbors, and it’s a ton of fun.
The Tower District
Do you like the idea of downtown, but it’s not quite what you want? Check out the Tower District. It’s just two miles outside of Downtown, and it’s a happening spot in its own right. Named after the Tower Theater, this is where you’ll go for live performances. From comedy shows to musical acts, there’s always something on stage here. Plus, the neighborhood has its fair share of cafes, restaurants, shops, and bars. Just head to E. Olive Street, and you’ll find everything you want. Also, don’t forget that Fresno City College is just a few blocks away. If you’re attending college and want to live off-campus, you can’t beat this neighborhood.
Best Apartment Community in the Tower District
There’s another reason the Tower District is so hot. It’s one of the most affordable places to live in Fresno. Just because you’re paying less doesn’t mean you’ll get less, though. You can find new apartment complexes in the Tower District while still sticking to a tight budget.
If you want to enjoy some South Beach living in Fresno, look no further than 541 at South Tower. The building just opened in 2016 as part of a neighborhood-wide renovation, and it has 31 one- and two-bedroom units. And get this. Rent starts at less than $600 a month. You can even grab a live/workspace here without going over the budget. Oh, and here’s the coolest part. No two units inside 541 at South Tower are the same.
This is the hottest place to stay in the Tower District, so if you’re interested, apply soon.
Best Restaurants in the Tower District
The Tower District seems to be under a constant revitalization, meaning there are always new restaurants popping up. It takes a long time between the announcement and the official grand opening, though, so instead of holding out for the up-and-coming places, check out some tried and true classics.
You can’t talk about a classic Tower District establishment without mentioning Livingstone’s Restaurant and Pub. The restaurant was destroyed by a fire several years ago, but it’s back in business and better than ever. The establishment has more than three decades of business under its belt, and the savvy owners realize that if it isn’t broke, they shouldn’t fix it. That means you’ll enjoy much of the same experience today as you did if you went there before the fire. The big marlin still hangs over the bar, and the crowd still has that same electric buzz as years before. Plus, you’ll see many of the familiar faces if you go here, including people who worked at the previous location. But how about the food? Everything is delicious, from the steak sandwiches to the chicken parmesan with fettuccine pasta. Plus, you can always cozy up to the bar for a drink when you visit.
You’ll also want to check out Oggi Cosi Si Mangia. It’s quaint, cozy, and elegant at the same time, and it serves some of the best Italian food in Fresno. The owner uses old family recipes to create the dishes, and it shows. As a bonus, if you come often enough, you’ll get to know the owner. Louie visits the tables, getting to know the customers and making sure everything is to their satisfaction. Don’t be surprised when you respond with a resounding, “Yes! This is the best meal ever!”
It might be the best meal, but you can still find other delicious restaurants in the Tower District. Don’t be afraid to get out and explore. Take it all in if you live here!
Top Nightlife in the Tower District
You can begin your night out at Livingstone’s Restaurant and Bar, where the bartenders always sling the best drinks. You don’t have to end your night there, though. Full Circle Olympic is one of the newest establishments in the Tower District, and it’s already become one of the most popular. Full Circle Olympic took the place of Audie’s Olympic Tavern in 2016, and it’s quickly turned into a neighborhood favorite. Along with having the brewery’s signature beers, you can check out live music when you come here. Oh, and if you want to take a growler home, use the to-go service. Then you can enjoy your Cluster Fuggle Cream Ale or Juicy NE IPA back at your place.
Want something more exclusive? Hit up The Library at Detention, Fresno’s very own speakeasy. This hidden bar is located above Detention Billiards. You can’t just stroll up and open the door at this bar. You have to make a reservation, and after that, you’ll receive a password to use to gain entrance. When you arrive, look for the hidden doorbell, and then you’ll be able to hobnob with others. It has a cool 1920s vibe to it, and you will enjoy an assortment of drinks. Just give out your password. It’s a secret!
The Spokeasy Public House deserves an honorable mention. This bicycle-themed pub has a vintage arcade and hard-to-find craft brews. It’s well worth a visit.
Another Reason to Move to the Tower District – The Events
The Tower District knows how to put on a party. It hosts annual events that residents love, including the Rogue Festival. This is a fringe festival, but not the kind of fringe found on clothes from the ‘70s. It celebrates fringe artists, including musicians, magicians, dancers, and spoken word artists. It’s easily one of the coolest festivals in Fresno, if not California.
The neighborhood also hosts an annual Mardi Gras parade and the Fresno Film Festival. These events are reason enough to move here.
Cultural Arts District (Mural District)
Formally called the Mural District, the Cultural Arts District is situated between Downtown and the Tower District. This district is a cultural mecca and truly has it all. You can take in a live performance, enjoy first-rate dining establishments, and take part in an exciting nightlife. It’s even fun to just walk around the district to take in the colorful murals.
Best Apartment Communities in the Cultural Arts District
Are you considering renting in the Cultural Arts District? First, you’ll need to choose an apartment community. Fortunately, that’s easy to do, thanks to all the amazing offerings.
Brio on Broadway fits right into the Cultural Arts District. It’s like a work of art itself, and it has tons of first-rate amenities that make it the perfect spot to call home. The exterior is modern and hip with an interior to match. The apartments have high-quality amenities, and some units include balconies, private patios, and attached garages. While you might not come for the amenities, you’ll stay for the management company. Everyone who works here understands the importance of top-notch service. You will be well cared for if you relocate to Brio on Broadway.
The Lede is also a sight to behold. There are 85 units in all. Choose from a studio, one, two, or three-bedroom apartments, or get one of the live/work apartments for some extra space. You might wonder how this building got its name. It’s located next to the former Fresno Bee building, so the name is a play on the journalist term of getting a lead. Just like leads can be big or small, the units here range in size, starting at 525 square feet and going all the way to 2,383 square feet. That’s bigger than most houses! The gated community utilizes GV Eco-Smart Technology, making daily living even more convenient. This is luxury at its finest, and with its location in the heart of the Cultural Arts District, the world is your playground when you live here.
Best Restaurants in the Cultural Arts District
While your apartment in the Cultural Arts District will be well-equipped and can easily handle a dinner party, you’ll want to go out and try the restaurants. The district is packed with some tasty eateries that are worth a visit.
Tokyo Garden is one of the most well-known restaurants in Fresno. Even if you aren’t from here, you might have heard of it. Back in 2017, the popular landmark was experiencing some financial trouble. One of the owners was hurt in a motor vehicle accident, and the restaurant shut down for a bit. Local musicians came to the owners’ aid and held a benefit concert to raise funds. Now, it’s back to business as usual for this hotspot. All the food is amazing, and the restaurant hosts jazz bands some evenings. If you want the authentic experience, go to one of the back rooms where you’ll find tatami floor seating.
More in the mood for Mexican cuisine? Toledito’s Mexican Restaurant is also a local favorite. The restaurant might be small in size, but it’s big in flavor, starting with the chips and salsa. Don’t fill up on those, though. You won’t want to miss the entrees, such as the shredded beef enchiladas. Oh, and the price is right here, so you can enjoy a cheap meal out with friends when you dine here.
These two restaurants will get you started. After you try them, walk around the district and find some more tasty options.
Top Nightlife in the Cultural Arts District
Because this is the Cultural Arts District, it makes sense that Warnors Center for the Performing Arts is one of the top spots for nightlife. You can stop by to see a comedy show, a musical, and so much more. The events draw a crowd, so secure your tickets early.
Do you prefer live music and a drink? Hit up Fulton 55 if you move here. Local and indie artists take the stage at this theater, and you can expect some top-notch performances. The venue is known as a great place to play, and many of the local artists feel like home here, so they come back over and over.
Another Reason to Move to the Cultural Arts District - ArtHop
If you move to the Cultural Arts District, clear your schedule for the first and third Thursday of the month. That’s when the Fresno Arts Council hosts the ArtHop event. Stop by a studio or gallery from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. to talk to artists and listen to music. If you love the art scene, you won’t want to miss this.
Prepare to Relocate to Fresno, CA
It’s easy to get excited about moving to Fresno. There’s so much to see and do, and the affordable rent means you’ll have extra money to enjoy the experience.
What if you could have even more money each month? That’s possible if you get a roommate.
Does the very idea of getting a roommate make you sweat a little bit? You don’t want to choose the wrong person and end up paying both halves of the rent and utilities. Fortunately, VerticalRent’s Roommate Finder makes it easy to find the best roommate for your needs. Filter rental profiles so you can find financially responsible people. Send messages, execute a roommate agreement, and move in. The free tool does it all – except for the actual move. You do have to do that part, but when it comes to finding a roommate, it does all the heavy lifting.
Use the tool, so you can find your roommate. Then pick your apartment and get ready to move in! Just think of all the extra money you’ll have when you share the space with a roommate.
About the author
Matt Angerer is the Founder and President of VerticalRent. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics that help Landlords, Property Managers, and Renters across America. He is particularly interested in helping renters understand their local marketplace, pick the best places to live, and find an awesome roommate. Since 2011, VerticalRent has grown to service over 100,000 landlords and renters across America.