Last Updated on: 28th July 2023, 08:56 am

Merced, meaning “mercy” in Spanish, is a charter city in Central California, seat of the county of the same name. Sometimes known as the “Gateway to Yosemite,” Merced is known for its close proximity to the stunningly beautiful Yosemite National Park, its low cost of living and high quality of life, and as being the home of the new University of California, Merced campus, established in 2005.

Merced’s history as a city starts in 1870, as little more than a patch of land that had been turned into agricultural fields by European-American settlers. In that year, the first post office for the area was built, and Merced was incorporated 19 years later. During World War II, the Castle Air Force Base was constructed as a training ground for combat pilots, bringing more people and business to Merced.

Even today, Merced still primarily revolves around agribusiness and the AFB as its primary centers of industry, although this has been quickly diversifying with the presence of the new UC campus. During the 2008 financial crisis, housing prices plummeted to ‘90s levels, and still remain low, meaning that Merced remains one of the most affordable (yet nice) cities in California.

The combination of high quality of living, low cost, and increasing diversity of industry makes Merced the perfect place to move for the peak of Central California life. Moving to Merced will be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make!

Where is Merced, CA?

Merced is located in Merced County, bordering Atwater to the west, but otherwise not adjacent to any communities. The city is in the beautiful flatlands of central California, and is bisected by a number of rivers, most notably the Merced River for which it is named.

Want to know where Merced is in relation to other cities? Merced is a bit out there in terms of cities, with the only other similarly-sized city nearby being Fresno. The distance from Merced, CA to Fresno, CA is 56.2 miles.

Merced Information

  • County: Merced County
  • Merced Area: 23.25 miles
  • Merced Zip Code: 95340, 95341, 95344, and 95348
  • Merced Area Code: 209
  • Merced Elevation: 171 feet
  • Merced Time Zone: Pacific Standard Time (PST)
  • Closest airport to Merced: Merced Castle Airport (MER), 9 miles from Merced

Merced, CA Population & Demographics

The population of Merced is 89,308 distributed over 23.3 miles; this is a population density of about 4,000 people per square mile. Merced’s population grew by 3.7% since 2020, and also experiences regular fluctuations in population due to UC Merced students and Yosemite outdoor enthusiasts. Merced is located in the Merced, CA metro area, which has a population of 286,461 people. The median age is 30. The median household income in Merced is $52,305, with 26% of the population making $100k annually or more. 16.7% of Merced’s population has attained a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The primary ethnic majority in Merced demographically is Hispanic, at 58%, with Whites coming second at 45%, as well as a sizable Asian demographic, at 11%. 21.4% of Merced’s population is foreign-born, with 74% of the foreign-born population coming from Latin America. Merced’s gender ratio is weighted towards women, at 53%.

Notable people and famous celebrities from Merced include NFL player and coach Tom Cable, MLB player Chris Pritchett, former CEO of YouTube Salar Kamangar, Engadget and Gizmodo co-founder Peter Rojas, and NBA player Bruce Bowen. You could say Merced is a sporty city!

Merced, CA Transportation

Merced is located in the very central part of California, significantly inland of the San Francisco Bay. It is part of the Merced, CA metro area, and is intersected by several state routes, including Route 59, Route 99, and Route 140. Merced is served in public transportation by a wide variety of bus lines, including YARTS, which offers scheduled service to Yosemite. The closest airport is the Merced Castle Airport. The distance from Merced, CA to Fresno, CA is 56.2 miles.

Cost of Living in Merced, CA

The cost of living index in the nearby Merced, CA metro area is 5% higher on average than the national average; this cost of living is significantly lower than the rest of California, which is 50% higher. See below for a breakdown on real estate and renting in Merced.

Basic everyday costs like housing, utilities, and groceries will vary in price but generally be higher than the national average, although it won’t be as severe as the rest of California, generally speaking. The primary motivator for high cost of living in Merced is the California housing prices, although this city’s prices are significantly less severe than other cities in the state. The average utility bill in Merced is $237 per month.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a family will have to make, on average, $82,079 to live here.

Merced, CA Typical Living Expenses

Here are some common items you might buy, and their prices according to Numbeo:

  • Milk – $1.14
  • Loaf of Bread – $2.94
  • 12 Regular Eggs – $2.95
  • 1 lb. Apples – $5.37
  • 1 lb. Tomatoes – $3.68
  • Gasoline, 1 Liter – $1.22
  • Meal at an Inexpensive Restaurant – $27.50
  • Monthly Internet Cost – $72.50
  • Average Monthly Merced Utilities Bill – $237 (per Doxo)

Taxes in Merced, CA

  • Merced Sales Tax: 8.25%
  • Merced Income Tax: 9.30%
  • Merced Property Tax: 0.75%

Merced, CA Real Estate

Merced gets a 52 on Redfin’s competitiveness scale, with only some homes getting multiple offers and prices depressing. The Merced average home price is $357,000, according to Redfin, which is, unsurprisingly, about the same as the average home price for the Merced, CA metro area ($345,700) but only around half the average home price for the entire state of California ($648,100). The number of houses sold yearly has not changed significantly in the past few years. The median days on the market in this area is 35 days, a number that has been more or less static.

According to RentCafe, there is no data on how many people rent as compared to buy homes in Merced, but the ratio is likely to be more in favor of buyers, as Merced’s property is relatively affordable. The average rent in Merced is $1,262 monthly for 930 sw. ft., a rent that is just as affordable as property tends to be in Merced.

If you want to make yourself a part of any of these communities, browse the latest listings for homes for sale in Merced, CA.

Merced, CA Neighborhoods

Merced has plenty of variation and community to suit any person, but does not generally have very well known neighborhoods, as the community is relatively homogeneous in terms of construction and layout. If you want to know the best places to live in Merced, though, see our quick rundown on the different parts of Merced below:

Much of the most expensive property is, unsurprisingly, set in the open, ranch areas of the northern portion of Merced, and around the campus of UC Merced. Generally speaking, the further south you go towards Fresno, the more affordable property becomes. Thankfully, even the most affluent property in Merced is still affordable, at least by California standards! Additionally, no matter where you live in Merced, you’ll have quick and easy access to parks, attractions, restaurants, and so on.

Merced, CA Climate & Weather

The Merced climate is cold semi-arid (Köppen: BSk), typical of central California. Merced does not get much in the way of rain, and does not usually get any snow. You can expect lows of 37 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter months, and highs of 95 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months. Merced experiences far less than the average amount of rainfall when compared with the rest of the United States, with only 13 inches per year. As previously stated, Merced does not generally experience snowfall. The best times to visit Merced, in terms of comfort rating, are October and May. The coldest month is January.

Merced does not generally experience any severe weather events, but is prone to earthquakes, as is the rest of California.


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Places to Eat in Merced, CA

Merced’s restaurants are excellent! You will have plenty of excellent options for eating out while living in this community. Take a look at some of the best restaurants in Merced:

Black Bear Diner

Enjoy comfort food and delicious desserts in this charming, family-friendly diner. They even have wooden bear sculptures out front!

1435 V St, Merced, CA 95340, United States, (209) 383-9600

Paul’s Place

If you’ve ever wished that breakfast could last all day, we understand your pain. Thankfully, Paul’s Place is an excellent Merced joint that offers just that!

2991 G St, Merced, CA 95340, United States, (209) 723-1339

The Branding Iron

If you’re on the lookout for seafood, steak, or ribs while living in Merced, the Branding Iron is the restaurant for you! Their dishes are to die for!

640 W 16th St, Merced, CA 95340, United States, (209) 722-1822

Things to Do in Merced, CA

Merced has dozens of fantastic attractions for the whole family! In this city, you’ll never be bored – believe us! You should check out some of the best things to do in Merced, CA below:

Top Merced Attractions:

  • Applegate Park & Zoo – Alongside a lovely public park, the Applegate Park & Zoo also has a small zoo that houses native fauna. Sure to make for an exciting day out!
  • Merced Fairgrounds Speedway – Home of the IMCA Modified Racing in California, the dirt track of Merced’s Speedway offers thrilling races for your viewing pleasure.
  • Rollerland – Enjoy roller skating, or just looking for something fun to do? Rollerland’s unique roller skating rink is sure to please.
  • Oh Wow Nickel Arcade – Who could say no to a fun day at the arcade? Boasting low costs for their machines, even a $5 bill will get you tons of fun at this Merced attraction!

Merced Museums, Entertainment & Arts

  • Castle Air Museum – Up in Atwater at the Castle Air Force Base that continues to be so important to Merced’s economy is the Castle Air Museum, which houses over 40 WWII and Cold War-era planes, including a Grumman US-2A Tracker.
  • The Art Kamanger Center at the Merced Theatre – With almost 2,000 seats and a stunning theater venue, you won’t want to miss a concert at the Art Kamanger Center!
  • Merced Antique Mall – Need antiques? The Merced Antique Mall can provide!

Merced Parks & Outdoors

  • Lake Yosemite County Park – An artificial reservoir, Lake Yosemite County Park allows for a fun day out on the water, harder to come by here in the inland areas. Swimming, kayaking, fishing, all can be done here!
  • Merced National Wildlife Refuge – The Merced National Wildlife Refuge is a 10.2 acre reserve, intended to house the many vibrant species of wild animals that central California is home to. Waterfowl and shorebirds are known to flock to the area during certain seasons.
  • Rahilly Park – 2.9 acres in size, Rahilly Park provides all the ingredients for a perfect day out, including play equipment, picnicking areas, and bike and foot paths.


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Shopping in Merced

  • Merced Mall – By far the most popular mall of its kind in Merced, the Merced Mall has all manner of name brand stores and excellent restaurants to visit.
  • Merced Marketplace – This strip mall offers name brand restaurants to the surrounding areas.
  • The Promenade – Be sure to visit this strip mall if you want to eat out at some unique restaurants.

Map of Merced Things to Do

Sports in Merced, CA

Merced has many sporty individuals as well as notable people living in the community. Merced has a few baseball teams, which the city has had on-and-off since the 1940s. Today, the UC Merced Bobcats are the primary sporting group in the city, supporting programs for softball, baseball, and more. UC Merced has many facilities for the sporty individual as well.

For the outdoorsman or outdoorswoman, Merced is known as the “Gate to Yosemite” for a reason – the distance from Merced to the Yosemite National Park is only 70 miles, or about an hour and a half by car. The YARTS line offers regularly scheduled public transportation to Yosemite as well.

Merced, CA Crime

Wanting to move to the Gateway to Yosemite, but wondering if Merced, CA is a safe place to live? While Merced does have crime, potential situations can easily be mitigated by sticking to the north side of the city, and following the usual best practices, such as locking your doors and staying away from bad neighborhoods. Merced’s overall crime rate is 3,113 per 100,000 people, which is 20.6% higher than the state of California. The crime in the city is concentrated in violent crime, which is 105.8% higher than the national average. Meanwhile, the property crime rate is 18.2% higher than the national average. Merced’s homicide rate is 22.2% higher than the national average.

Here’s how Merced compares in crime to three cities of similar size:

  • Victorville, CA – 27% lower than Merced
  • Newport Beach, CA – 23% lower than Merced
  • Whittier, CA – 26% lower than Merced

Compared to other cities of its size, Merced doesn’t perform very well, but is generally at the average of cities its size. Mitigating the risk of becoming the victim of a crime is possible in Merced, and you’ll be served by an excellent police department. Merced’s law enforcement matters are handled by the Merced Police Department, with 94 sworn officers.

Jobs in Merced, CA

Merced is a city that is rapidly diversifying with economic opportunity! All manner of fields will be open to you, thanks to a varied list of industries to be employed in. According to Payscale, the most popular positions of employment are Software Engineer, Youth Pastor, and Elementary School Teacher. The largest employers in the area, and by extension the best places to work in Merced, are University of California, Merced, Merced City School District, and Yosemite Church. The average salary for a worker in Merced is $63k a year, while the average hourly wage is $17.67.

Merced’s excellent economic situation is only going to get better as time progresses, so don’t delay! Check out the latest listings for jobs in Merced, CA or visit the Merced city job board.

Merced, CA Schools & Colleges

Those living in Merced can rest easy knowing their children will have a great school system! Merced is served by the Merced City School District for public schools, which includes5 middle schools and 14 elementary schools. The Merced Union High School District also provides three major high school campuses to Merced residents.

The establishment of the University of California, Merced changed the nature of Merced as a community, and brought excellent higher education to Merced. Currently serving nearly 10,000 students, UC Merced is well-known for its biological sciences degrees. Merced also has the Merced College as a higher education option.

Merced’s students and reading types are primarily served by the Merced County Public Library.

Ready to get started on living in Merced, California? You won’t regret moving to Merced! Don’t make the mistake of stressing yourself out with a solo move; give Southbay Moving Systems a call at 831-786-5537! Our team of trained movers in Merced are ready to make your move a quick and painless affair! Call now or fill out our online form for a free quote!