Well see, thats where subjectivity gets ya.
I live in Yuba City. *Like it just fine.
In fact, theres a lot of more expensive new home construction going on, real estate prices have doubled and tripled vs 5-6 years ago (which will eventually bring about better heeled owners), and a lot of shopping and restaurant construction is going on.
Its also very inexpensive to live here compared to surrounding areas, probably because we're one of the welfare capitals of the world.
On the downside, there are crime reports here and there...but no worse and perhaps better than when I lived in such bastions of disaster as Berkeley and San Jose. *You do get to see some really, really interesting looking scumbags walking the main roads from time to time. *So far none of them has jumped at the car and latched on with suction cups. *$50 a plate restaurants are hard to come by.
We also have to suffer with some of the best hunting and fishing around, lots of large open space parks, very little traffic, and cheap produce from dozens of local farm stands.
So I guess it really depends on what floats your boat.
Money magazine ratings formula will always put Yuba City towards the bottem.
They overweight average income, versus cost of housing as main component of their ratings.
I spent quite a lot of time in the Riverside/San Bernardino area, and they always placed that area quite a lot higher than Yuba City. No comparison in quality of life. Smog so thick you had to chew it, traffic bumper to bumper, no recreation possibilities, rivers, streams, large parks etc.
Yuba City is a paradise compared to most metro areas of Calif.
With the cost of housing versus average income, as the main component of Money Magazines rating system, Yuba City will probably never get in the World Series