Last Updated on: 21st November 2023, 03:42 am

Merced County is spread across 1,979 square miles, so there are many options to choose from when it comes to planting your roots. No matter what kind of lifestyle you are looking to live, Merced County has something for you! Before you decide where to settle down, check out this overview of the different cities near Merced, CA. All of the information for the cities in Merced County comes from the U.S. Census.

Merced County, California

Merced County is located in the northern San Joaquin Valley in Central California. It is located just north of Fresno and just southeast of San Jose. The Merced Metropolitan Statistical Area is included in the Modesto-Merced, CA Combined Statistical Area and has a population of over 800,000. Merced County is known for its affordable real estate, beautiful natural attractions, and top-rated schools.

Merced County is home to two national protected areas, which are areas that receive protection from the government due to their recognized natural, ecological, or cultural values. The national protected areas in Merced County include the Merced National Wildlife Refuge and the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge. You can also easily access Yosemite National Park from Merced via the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System.

In addition to the beautiful natural attractions, you will also find many museums in the area, like the Merced County Courthouse Museum, the Merced Multicultural Arts Center, and the Castle Air Museum.

Many people relocate to Merced County to take advantage of the many employment options in the area. Some of the top employers in Merced County are Foster Farms, Liberty Packing Company, and the University of California, Merced.

Merced County Demographics

  • Merced County population: 281,202
  • Merced County median age: 31.2
  • Merced County median household income: $58,861
  • Merced County median price of housing: $420,000
  • Merced County area: 1,979 square miles
  • Merced County density: 140 people per square mile
  • Merced County educational attainment: 70.4% high school degree (or higher), 14.1% bachelor’s degree (or higher)

Cities in Merced County

#1 Merced

When it comes to places in Merced County, the city of Merced is typically thought of first. Merced is the county seat of Merced County and was first incorporated in 1889. When living in Merced, you will have access to fun attractions such as Applegate Park & Zoo, Rollerland, and the Merced Antique Mall. The cost of living in Merced is only 5% higher than the national average, which is much less than the rest of California, which is 50% higher than the national average. Merced is also a popular place to live among college students, as it is home to the University of California, Merced, which was established in 2005.

  • Merced population: 86,333
  • Median household income: $52,305
  • Median home price: $416,495

#2 Los Banos

Los Banos is a city near Merced with a population of just over 45,000. Los Banos means “the baths” in Spanish and is named after a spring that feeds natural wetlands in the San Joaquin Valley. Los Banos is one of the most expensive places to live in Merced County, with a median home price of $480,000, according to Redfin. Most of the homes in this area are single-family, Spanish-style homes. When living in Los Banos, you will have a wide selection of jobs to choose from. The top employers in the area are Los Banos Unified School District, Walmart, and Memorial Hospital Los Banos.

  • Los Banos population: 45,532
  • Median household income: $69,607
  • Median home price: $480,000

#3 Atwater

Once a railroad stop in the 1870s, Atwater is now one of the most popular cities in Merced County. Atwater is a very young city, with a median age of 34.1. Of the 10,309 households in Atwater, 59% are occupied by married couples, 22% by a female householder, 11% by non-family members, and 9% by a male householder. If you are thinking about living in Atwater, there are many beautiful neighborhoods for you to choose from. You can build a custom home in the neighborhood of McSwain or choose from one of the many modern homes in the neighborhood of Mellow Ranch. This area is largely residential, making it a popular choice among families.


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  • Atwater population: 31,970
  • Median household income: $59,436
  • Median home price: $395,000

#4 Livingston

Located just 7 miles west of Atwater, Livingston is a gorgeous city with an area of just over 3.6 square miles. If you are searching for a city near Merced California, with a low crime rate, then look no further than Livingston. Livingston is one of the safest Merced County cities, with a crime rate of 2,163 crimes per 100,000 people. This is 16% lower than the California average. You’ll find some of the best food in Downtown Livingston at restaurants such as Fortuna’s Tortillas, Chicago’s Pizza With a Twist, and Panaderia La Unica. In addition to all of the amazing food, you can check out some of Livingston’s top attractions, such as Livingston Memorial Park and Livingston Sports Complex.

  • Livingston population: 14,172
  • Median household income: $68,958
  • Median home price: $390,000

#5 Delhi

Delhi is a census-designated place (CDP) in northern Merced County. It is the largest unincorporated Merced town, with an area of 3.51 square miles and a population of 10,656. Delhi is a popular place to live for families with children, as it is home to some of the best schools in the county. Harmony Elementary School, Delhi Middle School, and Delhi High School are all within walking distance from most of the neighborhoods in the CDP. State Route 99 runs directly through Delhi, providing easy access to the nearby cities of Modesto and Merced. Most of the residents living in the area commute to work, so this freeway access is very valuable!

  • Delhi population: 10,656
  • Median household income: $67,570
  • Median home price: $450,000

#6 Winton

Winton is a CDP and was once one of the most popular stops along the Santa Fe Railroad. Winton is a very walkable area, with North Winton Way connecting all of the CDP’s beautiful neighborhoods. When strolling along North Winton Way, you will stumble across cozy cafes and restaurants such as Vanessa’s Ice Cream Shop, El Viejon, and Taqueria Los Gordos. Winton’s top attraction is Winton Park, which is a 24-acre park with BBQs, picnic tables, playgrounds, and plenty of green space for kids to play in. Other fun things to do in the area include Osborn Park, Town and Country Shopping Center, and Veteran’s Memorial Park.

  • Winton population: 11,709
  • Median household income: $49,940
  • Median home price: $350,000

#7 Franklin

Bordered to the east by Merced, Franklin is a CDP in Merced County. Franklin is home to some of the most affordable real estate in the entire county. According to Redfin, the median home price in Franklin is $345,000. Even though this is up 11.3% from last year, it is still lower than the national average of $412,502 and the Merced County average of $420,000. The homes in this area are small, ranch-style homes with three to four bedrooms. If you prefer apartment living, you can check out the Briarwood Apartment Townhomes, which are located right in the center of the CDP. State Route 99 forms the southern border of Franklin, which allows you to easily commute to nearby cities such as Fresno and Modesto.

  • Franklin population: 6,919
  • Median household income: $50,290
  • Median home price: $345,000

#8 Gustine

Gustine is one of the smallest cities in Merced County, with an area of just 1.6 square miles. Gustine is mostly made up of couples, with 55% of households being occupied by legally married partners. Of the 2,302 housing units in Gustine, 51% are renter-occupied, and 49% are owner-occupied. According to RentCafe, the average rent in Gustine is $1,515, which is lower than the U.S. average of $1,702. Most people living in Gustine rent houses, although there are a few apartment buildings in the city, including Gustine Garden Apartments and Meredith Manor Apartments. Gustine is home to the prestigious Our Lady of Miracles Catholic School, which educates students from preschool through eighth grade. Gustine High School, which is located in the northern section of the city, is home to the longest-running basketball tournament in the state of California.

  • Gustine population: 6,110
  • Median household income: $51,376
  • Median home price: $363,500

#9 Hilmar-Irwin

Hilmar-Irwin is a census-designated place in northern Merced County. All of the neighborhoods in Hilmar-Irwin are situated in the center of the CDP, with Lander Avenue running through the center of everything. Along this road, you will find many family-owned businesses, such as Portuguese Fish Market, Chris’ Music, and Hot Rod Diner. All of the schools in Hilmar-Irwin are located in the southwestern area of the CDP. Hilmar High School, Hilmar Middle School, Elim Elementary School, and Irwin High School are all within walking distance of each other. The Irwin-Hilmar Public Library is also within this vicinity.

  • Hilmar-Irwin population: 5,164
  • Median household income: $65,059
  • Median home price: $470,000

#10 Dos Palos

When searching for cities near Merced CA, you can’t skip out on Dos Palos. Dos Palos is Spanish for “two timbers” and is located in southern Merced County. This city is home to many notable people, such as NFL player Malcolm Frankian and MLB player Dave Henderson. When living in the area, you can enjoy fun outdoor attractions such as Thomas Bunthoff Playground, Pierini Park, and O Banion Park. The cozy downtown area of Dos Palos includes popular cafes and restaurants such as The Coffee Saloon and Dos Palos Donuts. Dos Palos also has some of the most affordable real estate in the county, with an average home price that is almost half of the national average. The homes in Dos Palos are mostly one-story, single-family homes with two-car garages and three to four bedrooms.

  • Dos Palos population: 5,798
  • Median household income: $60,250
  • Median home price: $290,000

Small Towns Near Merced

In addition to the above cities near Merced CA, there are many cities and towns with a smaller population. There are more than two dozen cities and small towns near Merced, many of which have a population of just a few thousand people. These communities are mostly rural and agricultural but greatly contribute to the charm and economy of Merced County. Living in one of these small towns near Merced, CA, would be perfect for those looking for a small-town feel while still being close to all of the amenities the larger cities in the county have to offer.


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These are the cities and communities in the Merced area with a population of less than 5,000.

Small Places in Merced County (<5,000 Population)
Community Population (Estimated)
Planada 4,584
McSwain 4,171
Venersborg 3,800
La Center 3,424
Brush Prairie 2,650
Meadow Glade 2,400
Fern Prairie 1,900
Amboy 1,838
Yacolt 1,796
Lewisville 1,700
La Grand 1,659
South Dos Palos 1,620
Duluth 1,500
Santa Nella 1,380
Dollars Corner 1,100
Cherry Grove 550
Ballico 400
Cressey 400
El Nido 300
Dos Palos Y 300
Stevinson 300
Bear Creek 300
Volta 250
Snelling 230
Tuttle 100

Cities in Merced County Map

FAQ Section

How Many Cities Are There in Merced County?

There are ten large cities in Merced County and over two dozen smaller towns and communities.

What Is the Most Populous City in Merced County?

Merced is the most populous city in Merced County, with a population of 86,333.

What Is the Wealthiest City in Merced County?

Los Banos is the wealthiest city in Merced County, with a median household income of $69,607.

Which City is the Largest in Land Size?

Merced is the largest city in land size, with an area of 23.25 square miles.

What Is the Most Crowded City Instate?

Atwater is the most crowded city instate, with a population density of 4,868 people per square mile.

Which Of the Merced County Cities Is Right for You?

Does one of these cities in Merced County sound great to you? No matter which Merced County city you settle on, Southbay Moving Systems is here to help you every step of the way. To get started with a free quote, get in touch with our experienced Merced County movers at 831-786-5537.