June 11th, 2021 at 11:00 am

Commercial real estate is on a constant rise, providing promising investment opportunities and nearly immediate profits. Becoming a commercial property owner can make you money just about anywhere, but California offers excellent potential for every commercial investor thanks to its high tourism and general desirability.

As with residential real estate and other forms of real estate, location is everything with commercial investments. The right location can lead to greater profits and more opportunities for growth. Here are some of the best places to buy commercial property in California.

Los Angeles

The City of Angels is a massive sprawl that features an expansive collection of big and small businesses, along with plenty of properties for lease. While most people associate Los Angeles with Hollywood, the city is potentially one of the most industrious in the country. Along with entertainment and general creative industries, Los Angeles has quickly grown to become a hub for aerospace, bioscience, transportation, and manufacturing. It may not be as renowned as Silicon Valley, but Los Angeles is still one of the centers for technology.

Tourism also brings plenty of visitors through Los Angeles. Museums, historic landmarks, and natural wonders, along with Disneyland in nearby Anaheim, attract millions of people from all over the globe, making the city highly desirable for just about any type of investor but especially commercial real estate investors.

The city often boasts high real estate prices, and while it’s not the most expensive city to live in, the cost of living is still generally higher than in other cities. The exact purchase price of a commercial building will vary based on the neighborhood, but the price per square foot in an office in Los Angeles averaged about $42.41 in 2020.

San Francisco

San Francisco has all the trappings of a big city packed into a tight area. The result is a hilly, dense city with an incredibly diverse and loyal community, deeply rooted history, and a constant sense of upward growth. The city has become a beacon for tech companies worldwide, who are either headquartered there or have branch offices there. The popularity and continued rise of Silicon Valley have made San Francisco a haven for coders, engineers, and entrepreneurs of all fields.

On top of all that, San Francisco still has everything that put it on the map in the first place, from cable cars to historic architecture. The list of award-winning restaurants in the city is only growing, and boutiques and shops are a constant draw for tourists and locals alike. San Francisco’s varied offerings make it ideal for any type of real estate investor. 

San Francisco is consistently one of the priciest places to live and operate in the entire country, possibly even the world. The cost of living and rent are constantly high. In 2020, the average price per square foot for an office in San Francisco was about $87.18.

Those looking at making a commercial real estate investment in San Francisco may also want to look just across the bay at Oakland. Home of the Golden State Warriors, Oakland is on its own rise, and a business owner operating in or near San Francisco may find more affordable options in Oakland. In 2020, the average office price was about $59.26 per square foot in Oakland.

San Diego

At first glance, most people would not associate San Diego with a commercial real estate investment. They would likely think of buying a residential property first. The laidback lifestyle and roots in surf culture are certainly a part of that. Still, America’s Finest City has become a hot spot for real estate investing of all forms, especially commercial real estate. San Diego is one of the most desirable places for commercial real estate investing, including retail, office, and industrial.

San Diego does not have the sprawl of Los Angeles, nor is it necessarily as busy as the City of Angels. However, San Diego is still a burgeoning city of industry. Defense and military remain the major industries, along with international trade, research, manufacturing, and tourism. It is also considered one of the best cities to launch a startup or small business. While it is not the tech giant of San Francisco, the city boasts a growing tech industry, particularly in digital marketing.

The city is best known for its sunny weather all year round and its many beaches. Those two factors alone bring in droves of tourists and seasonal visitors. Popular tourist destinations, like the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld, and countless natural and historical landmarks make San Diego a favored city year-round.

Commercial real estate prices can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Areas in downtown San Diego and North County can be particularly high. In 2020, offices were priced at about $42.06 per square foot on average.

Orange County

Situated midway between San Diego and Los Angeles, Orange County is one of the most affluent areas in the state. Like San Diego, Orange County is known for its beaches, which bring in tourists, surfers, and adventurers from all walks of life.

Orange County also has one of the most diverse commercial real estate markets in the state. Along with rental properties, Orange County features excellent property and infrastructure to support all operations of a business, from offices and retail stores to warehouses and distribution centers. These varying properties make Orange County ideal for commercial real estate investing.

Industries in Orange County are also surprisingly diverse. Orange County has countless shopping opportunities that have paved the way for its burgeoning retail sector, and the city continues to maintain a solid tourism industry. The OC has also seen more and more tech companies setting up their operations in the area. The laidback lifestyle and educated workforce local to Orange County have contributed to more startups and mature businesses in the tech industry opening offices in the area. This has led to a whole new dynamic in the office market in Orange County, including the growth of creative spaces.

As with any area, the exact price of offices and other commercial properties will vary based on the neighborhood. A commercial realtor can help a buyer find the best property within their budget. In Orange County, commercial real estate can be surprisingly affordable. In Irvine, for instance, the average office price was $34.49 per square foot in 2020.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara offers a unique intersection of art, culture, and nature, all situated along California’s central coastline. Like other cities in California, Santa Barbara has incredible beaches that cater to the local surf culture.

Along with its beaches and being home to UC Santa Barbara, the city is best known as one of the most prominent wine producers in the world. Unsurprisingly, agriculture, tourism, and wine are the primary industries in Santa Barbara. Business support services are the second most common, comprising accounting, graphic design, advertising, and general employment services. Technology, energy, and environment are also on the rise.

On top of the existing retail and dining opportunities in the area, the diverse offering leaves much room to invest in commercial real estate. Commercial property is relatively affordable in the city. In 2020, the average price per square foot of office space in Santa Barbara was $32.93.


Located in the Inland Empire, Riverside is easy to overlook in favor of Los Angeles, but don’t underestimate the city. Riverside has an incredible history as the birthplace of California’s citrus industry, which gave way to the state’s agriculture industry writ large.

Today, Riverside has left much of its agricultural roots behind in favor of other industries, including manufacturing, retail, education, and government. The shipping company DHL also chose Riverside as its West Coast headquarters. The city has also made increased efforts in its tech industries. The leading sectors in Riverside currently include legal, accounting, engineering, software firms, and financial institutions.

While it’s not currently the most prominent tourist destination, Riverside benefits from convenient access to railroad transit and a large municipal airport, along with existing infrastructure for wireless telecommunications and high-speed fiber optics. The city-owned electrical and water systems are reliable, and land and building costs remain reasonable, giving way to constant new development projects throughout the city.

Commercial real estate property prices in Riverside are likely the most affordable that you will find on this list. In 2020, the average price per square foot for an office in Riverside was about $22.93.

California is full of incredible commercial property investment opportunities, and it really is hard to go wrong considering the state’s diversity and constant growth. A commercial realtor can help your process. Work with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. Our expert team of agents can walk you through the whole process of finding the perfect piece of commercial real estate, ensuring that you find a property that matches your needs for excellent profits in the long term.


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