We have lived in the centrail valley for 11 years now, and have watched it grow: The Cost of Housing went from $125,000 thru the roof to $325,000 and back down to $125,000. The difference is that the age and quality of that house has improved dramatically.
With the advances in technology, you can live almost anywhere now. The Fresno area has a lot of new businesses, housing developments, shopping and people. Fresno City is about 400 to 500,000 and the Metro area is about one million.
From a Housing/Financial point of view; if you only wanted to invest $10,000, you could buy a nice house in Fresno: In the Bay Area or LA, that might cover Closing Costs!
A really nice house, in a good neighborhood, 3/2 with Granite Kitchen, etc, can be had for less than $250,000.
Good luck and happy house hunting.
Living and working in Santa Clarita, I am a big fan of Valencia and think that its current price level is reasonably affordable. But if you are an investor, contact me and I will let you know where most of my investors are currently purchasing their properties.