Santa Barbara, California




Sunny Days: 283
65100 Affordability
90100 Schools
45100 Diversity
77100 Safety

Santa Barbara is my hood. I mean, it's not much of a hood, but it is definitely like my hood. I claim Santa Barbara like I claim my family. I'm going to be married and buried there. - Katy Perry

The Best Thing About Santa Barbara?

California Life

Santa Barbara is the personification of the upscale California lifestyle. It’s a place with a lot to do but also the feel of a welcoming small town, with year round surfing and high quality wineries nearly in your backyard. Good place for families? You bet, with some of the highest rated public schools in the country. Good place for young adults? Heck yeah, UC Santa Barbara has one of the liveliest social scenes around and overall the nightlife is topnotch for every age range. Good place to retire? Absolutely, great weather and access to a ton of outdoor activities consistently puts Santa Barbara near the top of retirement rankings.

Here's a native with a point of view on living in Santa Barbara:
There is no doubt in my mind that my home, the place where I was born and raised, is beautiful, but I never realized that until I got older. There's no doubt that our weather cannot be beat. I also didn't realize that until much more recently. Not to be ungrateful or anything, but really the only thing I noticed growing up was Santa Barbara is boring. At least from a kids perspective.

I know, I know, how could one of the prettiest places in the world have so little to do? Well because it's not a place for teenagers. Yes we surf, and yes we love the beach, but aside from that there is wine tasting, wine tasting, and other stuff involving a substance we cannot yet drink. Life in the 805 is great. The weather is topnotch and the people even better. Everyone is polite and kind (give or take a few) and we don't live that fast pace, never stopping, never truly enjoying life, lifestyle.

For more reviews of what living in Santa Barbara is like from locals check out: The Buzz

The Worst Thing About Santa Barbara?

The California Price Tag

Unfortunately, the beach vibes aren’t the only California characteristics Santa Barbara embodies. You’re going to have to cough up seven figures if you’re looking to buy a house for the family, and California taxes do add up. Situated between San Francisco and Los Angeles, SB is actually a little cheaper than some neighborhoods in those markets, but that’s like saying silver is cheaper than gold. Definitely sit down with your finance guru before you prepare to settle down on the Santa Barbara beaches for 300 days a year. The city also wrestles with homelessness problems like the ones SF and LA can’t solve, so be prepared for that in certain areas as well.

Here's a piece of data from a local about housing prices in Santa Barbara:
The Santa Barbara-Santa Maria metropolitan area won the dubious distinction of having the biggest gap between wages and rents for millennial renters out of all mid-size cities detailed in a recent housing report. Using data accumulated by the U.S. Census Bureau, the study concluded that in the Santa Barbara-Santa Maria market, millennial workers — ages 24-39 — made 61.5 percent less than what they needed to afford renting a one-bedroom apartment without spending more than 30 percent of their wages as rent.

Lifestyle of Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is relatively small, just a hair over 20 square miles, but there are a lot of distinct neighborhoods and living styles to choose from. “Downtown” is mostly low-slung shops and restaurants rather than the high-rises of SF and LA. Downtown housing includes beautiful old Spanish architecture style homes in addition to lots of apartment/ condo living options.

Isla Vista is where you’ll probably look first if you’re attending or working at UCSB. It’s got a mix of traditional spanish/craftsman, and contemporary homes, apartments and like most of Santa Barbara, is a short walk or bike from the beach.

Neighborhoods like Mission Canyon, that are on the edge of town, are good spots for bigger families. Large Spanish homes and access to museums, gardens, and trails give it more of a suburban vibe.

Riviera is one of the schmanciest neighborhoods in the country, with beautiful mediterranean style homes and prices consistently over 3 million.

Why You Should Move Here Now?

Surf’s Up

With more and more jobs shifting remote, the time to live by the beach is now assuming you’ve got the cheddar, People do come here for the waves and students come for the college, but everything Santa Barbara has to offer makes it so much more than simply a beach or a college town.

Neighborhoods in Santa Barbara

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Isla Vista

College Students

If you’re a UCSB student then Isla Vista (IV) is a likely spot to consider for off-campus living. It’s right next to campus and is a walk to school so the commute is easy. There is also a bus that runs to SCCC if you are taking classes at both schools. The area can be loud, due to the students and many bars and restaurants in the area but even better you’re also close to the beach. The Mesa is a good option if you’re going to SBCC. The area is active with students although not as nutty as IV, but with plenty of restaurants, cafes, bars and entertainment for students to stay busy. Being near the beach doesn’t hurt either.

  • Isla Vista
  • The Mesa


Young Professionals

Young Professionals who want to live in a fun commercial district but also be close to work in Santa Barbara will often follow their collegiate peers and choose to live in Mesa. You’re really close to the beach but you’re also up the hill so you get great views of the ocean. You’re also in the midst of an active social scene with pubs, cafes, music venues and theaters to keep things interesting while you enjoy the views. San Roque and Goleta are also good options with both offering apartments and condo options. Smaller commercial districts than Mesa but still things to do when you feel like staying the hood at night or on weekends. Downtown, which is also a popular option, runs more expensive than some of the other neighborhoods is a wonderful option if you have the bucks.

  • Downtown
  • Mesa
  • San Roque
  • Goleta

Mission Canyon


Mission Canyon is a wonderful option for families. Located between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific, you’re in the middle of two amazing worlds. You have a choice of living in the canyon or the valley here, with both offering stunning homes and neighborhoods for raising your children. The area is pretty secluded so you have to sacrifice direct access to a commercial district but for many the surrounding views and lifestyle are worth it. Riviera is another popular option. The area looks Mediterranean with beautiful Spanish-style homes and a chill vibe that keeps families, and retirees happy year round. The homes have amazing views of either the Santa Ynez Mountains or Downtown Santa Barbara and these views are generally above the fog bank.

  • Mission Canyon
  • Riviera



Retirees have an amazing number of choices in Santa Barbara. Neighborhoods like Riviera have plenty of retirees who simply want beautiful homes in the most picturesque settings possible. Managed communities, like Villa Santa Barbara, are close to downtown and offer independent and assisted living, but in a setting that integrates your lifestyle with downtown living. Vista del Monte is another retirement community with incredible views of the Pacific and mountains, amazing food and apartments/accomodations and close proximity to the Santa Barbara city center.

  • Riviera
  • Villa Santa Barbara
  • Vista del Monte