Arcata, CA
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Arcata profile


Living in Arcata


Arcata is a medium-sized coastal city (i.e. on the ocean, a bay, or inlet) located in the state of California. With a population of 18,431 people and five constituent neighborhoods, Arcata is the 330th largest community in California.

Housing costs in Arcata are among some of the highest in the nation, although real estate prices here don't compare to real estate prices in the most expensive communities in California.

Arcata is a decidedly white-collar city, with fully 85.04% of the workforce employed in white-collar jobs, well above the national average. Overall, Arcata is a city of professionals, service providers, and sales and office workers. There are especially a lot of people living in Arcata who work in sales jobs (11.66%), food service (10.79%), and office and administrative support (9.81%).

Of important note, Arcata is also a city of artists. Arcata has more artists, designers and people working in media than 90% of the communities in America. This concentration of artists helps shape Arcata’s character.

Arcata is a place where college students are a big part of the character and culture of the town. Small towns have often struggled with declining populations over the past few decades, but the presence of such a large college student population has helped Arcata to fight this trend. Not only does the college population add spending and jobs to local economy, but it also contributes a very tangible, youthful energy to the town.

Arcata, while not large, also appears to be attractive to some younger, educated professionals, who help shape the character of the city.

One of the nice things about Arcata is that it is nautical, which means that parts of it are somewhat historic and touch the ocean or tidal bodies of water, such as inlets and bays. Because of this, visitors and locals will often go to these areas to take in the scenery or to enjoy waterfront activities.

One of the benefits of Arcata is that there is very little traffic. The average commute to work is 18.96 minutes, which is substantially less than the national average. Not only does this mean that the drive to work is less aggravating, but noise and pollution levels are lower as a result.

Despite the fact that it is a small city, Arcata has quite a few people who take public transportation – mostly the bus - for their daily commute to work. This helps to fill a real need in the city for affordable transportation.

Arcata is one of the most well-educated cities in the nation. 48.62% of adults in Arcata have at least a bachelor's degree. Compare that to the average community in America, which has just 21.84% with a bachelor's degree or higher.

The per capita income in Arcata in 2018 was $24,158, which is lower middle income relative to California and the nation. This equates to an annual income of $96,632 for a family of four. However, Arcata contains both very wealthy and poor people as well. Arcata also has one of the higher rates of people living in poverty in the nation, with 38.05% of its population below the federal poverty line.

Arcata is a very ethnically-diverse city. The people who call Arcata home describe themselves as belonging to a variety of racial and ethnic groups. The greatest number of Arcata residents report their race to be White, followed by Asian. Arcata also has a sizeable Hispanic population (people of Hispanic origin can be of any race). People of Hispanic or Latino origin account for 16.83% of the city’s residents. Important ancestries of people in Arcata include Irish, German, English, Italian, and European.

The most common language spoken in Arcata is English. Other important languages spoken here include Spanish and French.


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