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Owning Land in California: The Pros & The Cons

Owning Land in California: The Pros & The Cons

There are priceless rewards that come with owning land in California as well as arguments against it.

by Clark Company, a Ranch Real Estate Brokerage | ClarkCompany.com

Famous for its tourist attractions, recreational advantages, wine-growing regions, incredible weather and easy access to beaches, mountains and land to roam, California is an oasis for homeowners, families and ranchers.

These attributes, combined with year-round sunshine, geographic variability and fertile soils that support popular, high-value commodities, also make California a landowner’s dream.

Of course, no place is perfect. Land ownership in California, like land ownership in any other state, comes with pros and cons.


Some positive aspects of California living include the state’s agricultural and livestock industries and the diverse landscapes. The ultimate advantage is the endless opportunities that come with living in a warmer climate.

“Our weather/climate, which is nice for us, allows our farmers and ranchers to be the best in the world,” said Peter Dufau, President of Ventura County Lincoln Club.

Top Agricultural State

California is the nation’s top agricultural state—and has been for more than 50 years. According to the California Department of Food & Agriculture, the state is the largest producer and exporter of agricultural commodities in the U.S. and supplies the world with more than a dozen products including almonds, vegetables, garlic, grapes and pistachios.

Carla Young, a rancher whose family has been involved in agriculture in San Luis Obispo County since the early 1900s, said, “I have lived in California all my life. We produce foods that feed a big percentage of the world. Having land in California and being a part of raising crops and feeding the world is very important to me and a reason to own and buy land in this great state.”

By 2050, the United Nations projects that the world population will climb to nearly 10 billion people, an increase of two billion people in the next 30 years. Demand for food will continue to increase, and California has the agricultural production power necessary to meet that demand.

Because of its renowned agricultural productivity and efficiency, California is connected to many global markets, enabling the state to be one of the nation’s largest food exporters. Furthermore, with the rapid emergence of ag tech, California is uniquely positioned to steer this essential industry through innovations in production, harvest and processing technologies. 

Diverse Landscapes

California’s landscapes vary widely: desert, mountain, vineyard, city, seaside—no matter your preference, it can be found in the Golden State. Living in California affords the opportunity to have a “change of scenery” within a matter of hours.  

Perfect Weather

California’s weather is characterized by plenty of sunshine. The state’s rangelands are classified as Mediterranean, desert and intermountain, which creates multi-faceted opportunities for recreation, farming, ranching and more.  

Most of the state has a Mediterranean climate featuring warm summers and mild winters and lending itself to long growing seasons. The weather, combined with California’s rich soil, affords the growth of hundreds of different agricultural commodities.

The warmer climate also means people can spend more time outdoors. California is home to a myriad of recreational activities such as hiking, fishing, hunting, kayaking and swimming. The opportunity to be outside year-round is a health boost for adults and children. Outdoor play is good for the body, mind and spirit.


While California boasts huge upsides, the Golden State does have a few less favorable aspects: regulations on water usage, the cost of living is higher than other states, and wildfires are always a threat in the state’s specific zones. 

Water Usage Restrictions

Like most western states impacted by periodic drought and increasing demand for water, California has a framework governing water use. The goal is making limited supplies stretch as far as possible for both agricultural and urban consumers. 

For someone looking to develop agricultural production on rural land, one potential stumbling block is the existence of historic water rights and usage. Of course, limited supplies means opportunities exist for those who can innovate, increase their efficiency and produce more with less.

High Cost of Living

It’s no secret that California’s cost of living is one of the highest in the nation. From housing to utilities and groceries, the prices paid in California are just higher.

As one Californian commented, “California is awesome. Awesome is expensive.”

With that said, California’s property tax rate, at less than one percent, is one of the lowest in the U.S.


While wildfires are an ongoing threat in California, even they offer an opportunity for savvy landowners. Livestock grazing has been proven to reduce risk of vegetation fires efficiently and effectively. Well-managed grazing can also keep land open and productive, and provide a regular revenue stream for those wanting to provide grazing to other local ranchers.

Final Thoughts

Land ownership in California is ideal for those who wish to invest in current and future generations by owning land rich in resources and high growth potential.

“Even with the arguments as to why California is a challenging place to be a landowner,” said Pete Clark, a fifth generation California rancher and Real Estate Broker of Clark Company, “owning land in one of the nation’s most fertile and beautiful states offers endless rewards and limitless opportunities.”

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