Erik S. Haney CEO | Founder
Erik S. Haney
CEO | Founder

What Living in Santa Barbara Is Like | Ultimate Moving to Santa Barbara Guide!

Welcome to living in Santa Barbara, a city where the alluring beauty of the Pacific Ocean meets the majestic Santa Ynez Mountains, offering a picturesque backdrop that feels rather surreal. Known as "The American Riviera," Santa Barbara's charm is in its stunning landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture. Founded in 1850 and named after Saint Barbara, this coastal city blends beautiful Spanish Colonial architecture, illustrious wineries, and a sunny climate that rivals the Mediterranean's best!

Santa Barbara is celebrated for its broad, sandy beaches that beckon adventure-seekers chasing the famous waves and those simply longing for tranquility. The city's historical roots are visible in landmarks like the Mission Santa Barbara, founded by Spanish Franciscans in the late 18th century, or the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, an architectural marvel from 1929 that marks the Spanish Colonial revival.

For those contemplating moving to Santa Barbara, it's not just about the physical beauty but the lifestyle that comes with it. The city offers a blend of outdoor activities, from hiking in the Los Padres National Forest to exploring the Channel Islands National Park and its marine sanctuary. The food scene, influenced by local produce and the freshest seafood, adds another layer to the city's allure. The city of Santa Barbara California truly is one that promises not just a new home but a new way of living.

Where Is Santa Barbara?

Where is Santa Barbara California, and what county is Santa Barbara in? Intriguingly, Santa Barbara not only graces the map as a city of unparalleled beauty but also stands as the proud county seat of Santa Barbara County. Nestled on a south-facing stretch of the California coast, this prime location between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean gives Santa Barbara its Mediterranean climate, often compared to that of Southern France!

Santa Barbara is an integral part of the larger Santa Maria-Santa Barbara Metropolitan Statistical Area, contributing to its diverse and vibrant cultural tapestry. It shares its borders with several other California cities and towns, including the picturesque Goleta to the west and the tranquil Carpinteria to the east. Not far off, the city of Ventura lies to the southeast, providing an easy gateway to Santa Barbara via the scenic US Highway 101.

The city's location is a strategic point for those considering living in Santa Barbara, with key distances to major cities playing a role in its appeal: Santa Barbara to Los Angeles is only 95 miles, San Diego to Santa Barbara a further 220 miles, and Ventura to Santa Barbara is short 27 miles up the coast.

Santa Barbara Information

  • Santa Barbara County: Santa Barbara
  • Santa Barbara land area: 42 square miles
  • Santa Barbara zip code: Santa Barbara zip codes include 93101–93103, 93105–93111, 93116–93118, 93120–93121, 93130, 93140, 93150, 93160, 93190, 93199
  • Santa Barbara area code: 805
  • Santa Barbara elevation: 49ft
  • Santa Barbara time zone: Pacific Standard Time (PST)
  • Closest airport to Santa Barbara: The Santa Barbara (SBA) Airport is the closest airport to Santa Barbara, just 8 miles away.

Santa Barbara Population & Demographics

Wondering what the population in Santa Barbara is? As of the 2020 census, the Santa Barbara population stands at 88,665, showing almost no change from the 88,410 recorded residents in 2010. The city is a bustling urban area with a population density of 4,545.3 people living in Santa Barbara per square mile, which helps promote a sense of community and closeness among its residents. With an average age of under 39, the Santa Barbara age demographics suggest a family-friendly city vibrant with youthful energy.

Famous individuals from Santa Barbara, such as the acclaimed actor Brad Pitt and the illustrious singer-songwriter Katy Perry, add a touch of glamor and recognition to the city.

Despite its relatively compact size, Santa Barbara ranks as the 93rd most populated city in California. The Santa Barbara demographics reveals a tapestry of cultures and backgrounds, and the significant Spanish heritage contributes to the city's dynamic. This diversity of the Santa Barba demographics is celebrated through various cultural festivals, culinary offerings, and community events, making moving to Santa Barbara a truly special place to call home.

Additional Santa Barbara Demographics

  • Sex ratio: 50.5% women & 49.5% men
  • Median age: 38.9 years
  • Racial & ethnic composition: 68.2% White alone (55.1% White alone, non-Hispanic), 1.4% Black/African American, 0.8% American Indian/Alaska Native, 3.7% Asian, 36.1% Hispanic/Latino.
  • Santa Barbara median household income: $98,346/year (in 2022 dollars)
  • Education: 88.7% of the Santa Barbara CA population 25+ years old have a high school diploma, while 50.6% have a bachelor's degree or higher
  • Foreign-born Santa Barbara population: 21.1%

Santa Barbara Transportation

Navigating Santa Barbara public transportation is simple, with a system that caters to both local commuting and journeys beyond the city limits. The arterial lifeline of the area, U.S. Route 101, connects Santa Barbara with key coastal destinations via stunning drives. Complementing this major highway, State Route 154 carves through the Santa Ynez Mountains, presenting an alternative route rich in natural beauty. For those relying on public transportation in Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District ensures comprehensive coverage across the city.

Rail enthusiasts and long-distance travelers are well-served by Amtrak's Santa Barbara Train Station, while the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport ‘stands as a gateway for air travelers. Specialized services, such as the Santa Barbara Airbus and Easy Lift Transportation Santa Barbara, further enhance the mobility landscape, and overall, Santa Barbara public transportation is accessible and excellent.

Cost of Living in Santa Barbara

Moving to Santa Barbara California brings you stunning coastal views, a Mediterranean climate, and a vibrant cultural scene, but these luxuries come at a cost. With the Santa Barbara cost of living at 154.7 compared to the national average of 100, we can answer the question "is Santa Barbara expensive?" with a solidified yes, as it is 54.7% more expensive than your average city in the U.S as of 2024.

The real estate market greatly influences the Santa Barbara cost of living, with home values surpassing the national average by an astounding 384%, typically selling for nearly 2 million dollars.

The Economic Policy Institute's Family Budget Calculator can provide insight into what a family of four might need to earn to maintain a comfortable standard of living in Santa Barbara, which is a rather high $12,901/month.

To give you a clearer picture of daily expenses in Santa Barbara:

  • Steak (1 pound): $10.00
  • Milk (1 gallon): $4.26
  • Eggs (1 dozen): $3.95
  • Potatoes (1 pound): $1.54
  • Bread (1 loaf white): $3.64
  • Beer (1 bottle): $1.73
  • Movie ticket: $14.50
  • McDonald's meal: $12.00
  • Average cell phone bill (monthly): $50.83
  • Santa Barbara's average basic utilities (915 sq ft. apartment: $159.37/month)

Data from Numbeo

These figures are illustrative and can vary based on lifestyle choices and consumption patterns, and despite the higher living expenses, Santa Barbara CA offers a range of amenities that contribute to its excellent quality of life.

Regarding Santa Barbara tax, residents face a combination of state and local taxes, including sales and property taxes, influencing the higher overall cost of living in Santa Barbara. The figures come in at:

  • Santa Barbara sales tax: 8.75%
  • Santa Barbara property tax: Collected by the Treasurer-Tax Collector in Santa Barbara County but enacted by California at an average of 0.71%.

For those considering moving to Santa Barbara or already living in Santa Barbara, it's essential to carefully consider these financial factors, especially the housing market, which we'll break down below, to ensure a balanced and enjoyable lifestyle.

Santa Barbara Real Estate | Average Rent & Home Prices

The Santa Barbara real estate market stands as a beacon for those seeking quintessential Californian living, albeit at premium prices reflective of its desirability and scenic beauty. With the Santa Barbara median home price soaring to $1,950,000 in January 2024, an impressive 20.4% increase from last year, Santa Barbara's housing market significantly outpaces the national median home price of $402,503. For potential buyers, exploring Santa Barbara homes for sale can provide a glimpse into the variety and elegance of the local real estate offerings.

Renting in Santa Barbara also mirrors the city's upscale living costs, with the average rent in Santa Barbara currently at $2,842. The most expensive neighborhoods in Santa Barbara, such as Campanil - Yankee Farm, East Mesa, and West Mesa, all command average rents of $4,086, offering breathtaking views and luxurious amenities. More affordable options can be found in Lower State, Lower West Santa Barbara, and Downtown Santa Barbara, where the average Santa Barbara apartments hover around $2,425.

For those considering living in Santa Barbara CA, it's essential to delve into the local market trends, neighborhood characteristics, and long-term investment potential to find your dream home!

Santa Barbara Neighborhoods | Where to Live in Santa Barbara

When considering the best places to live in Santa Barbara, prospective residents can explore an array of Santa Barbara neighborhoods, from bustling urban centers like Downtown Santa Barbara to more tranquil seaside retreats, making it crucial to delve into what makes each of the best neighborhoods in Santa Barbara stand out.

Downtown Santa Barbara

Downtown Santa Barbara is the vibrant heart of the city, known for its historic Spanish architecture and bustling atmosphere. This neighborhood offers a mix of residential options, from charming bungalows to modern apartments, with median home prices around 1.8 million. The famed Presidio neighborhood Santa Barbara is a part of the greater downtown zone, making Santa Barbara downtown a cultural hub with numerous shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

Mesa Neighborhood Santa Barbara

Perched above the sea, Mesa, named for its flat-topped elevation, blends youthful energy with serene natural beauty across its East, West, and Alta divisions. Renowned for expansive green spaces, top-tier schools, and vibrant shopping hubs, Mesa's mix of families, students, and professionals enjoy a lifestyle that oscillates between beachside relaxation and active urban living.

Riviera

Nestled just 10 minutes from downtown, Riviera stands as a beacon of Mediterranean-inspired living in Santa Barbara, characterized by its stunning Spanish-style homes and breathtaking vistas. With average home values around $3.33M and rent for a one-bedroom at approximately $2,300, Riviera attracts a mature demographic of professionals and retirees seeking tranquility and scenic beauty.

Foothill Santa Barbara

Foothill, celebrated for its serene ambiance and neighborly vibe, stands out as one of Santa Barbara's more budget-friendly areas. With a median home price of $1,080,575 and average rent at $2,770, it offers both affordability and a welcoming community spirit.

Santa Barbara Weather & Climate

The climate in Santa Barbara California is quintessentially Mediterranean, marked by its inviting warm, dry summers and gentle, moist winters, making the Santa Barbara CA climate an allure for residents and visitors year-round. The average temperatures in Santa Barbara, CA, range from delightful highs of approximately 73°F in the balmy month of July to cooler lows of around 43°F during January, ensuring that the city's myriad of outdoor activities remains a constant draw throughout the seasons.

Santa Barbara weather averages also reflect a low annual rainfall, with rain totals for Santa Barbara hovering around 19 inches, predominantly concentrated in the winter months. This minimal precipitation contributes to the area's sunny disposition, boasting around 283 radiant days per year. For those wondering, "Does it snow in Santa Barbara?" the answer is a resounding no, with the city averaging 0 inches of snow annually, further cementing its status as a haven of perpetual spring and summer vibes.

Santa Barbara Restaurants

Living in Santa Barbara CA offers not just scenic beauty and a laid-back lifestyle but also access to some of the best restaurants in the area. The diverse culinary scene ensures that restaurants in Santa Barbara cater to a wide range of tastes and dining preferences, making every meal an adventure.

Brophy Bros Restaurant Santa Barbara

Brophy Bros stands out as one of the top restaurants in Santa Barbara, especially renowned for its exceptional seafood offerings that capture the essence of coastal dining. Brophy Bros Santa Barbara is a must-try seafood restaurant that offers patrons a genuine taste of the harbor with its fresh catches and vibrant atmosphere.

119 Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, CA 93109 (805-966-4418)

Opal Restaurant & Bar Santa Barbara CA

Opal Restaurant and Bar is celebrated as one of the best restaurants in Santa Barbara, CA, known for its eclectic menu that fuses global flavors with a local touch. As a cornerstone of the dining scene, Opal Restaurant Santa Barbara delights diners with its innovative dishes and warm, inviting ambiance.

1325 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101 (805-966-9676)

Toma Restaurant Santa Barbara California

Toma Restaurant & Bar is a gem among Italian restaurants in Santa Barbara, offering an exquisite dining experience with a menu that pays homage to classic Italian cuisine with a modern twist. Positioned prominently among restaurants in Santa Barbara, Toma provides an intimate setting perfect for savoring the flavors of Italy by the waterfront.

324 W Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA 93101 (805-962-0777)

Things to Do in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a treasure trove of activities, offering an extensive list of things to do that cater to every interest. From the sun-kissed beaches to the historic missions, the best things to do in Santa Barbara blend cultural experiences with outdoor adventure. Whether you're looking for fun things to do in Santa Barbara with kids or a solo exploration, this coastal city promises memorable experiences for all.

Top Santa Barbara Attractions

Explore Downtown Santa Barbara

Downtown encapsulates the best things to do in Santa Barbara, from eclectic shops to top-notch restaurants and vibrant entertainment.

Old Mission Santa Barbara

Visit this historic landmark to experience a piece of Santa Barbara's rich heritage and stunning Spanish architecture.

Explore Stearns Wharf

Stearns Wharf offers breathtaking ocean views, fresh seafood eateries, and unique shops, making it a must-visit waterfront attraction.

Santa Barbara Zoo

Engage with wildlife in an intimate setting, perfect for a fun day out in Santa Barbara with kids or solo explorers.

Santa Barbara Museums, Entertainment & Arts

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Delve into the wonders of nature and science, a highlight among things to do in Santa Barbara CA.

Santa Barbara Museum Of Art

A cultural gem featuring diverse art collections, perfect for those seeking artistic things to do in Santa Barbara.

MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation

Engage with interactive exhibits for a fun educational experience, ideal for things to do in Santa Barbara with kids.

Santa Barbara Parks & Outdoors

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Discover native plants in this 78-acre serene setting, a top pick for peaceful outdoor things to do in Santa Barbara.

Arroyo Burro Beach

Enjoy sandy shores and ocean views, a must-visit for those looking for fun things to do in Santa Barbara.

Lotusland

Explore exotic plants in Ganna Walska's historic estate, offering unique outdoor things to do in Santa Barbara CA.

Shopping in Santa Barbara

Paseo Nuevo

Paseo Nuevo is Santa Barbara's premier shopping destination in the heart of downtown, blending top retailers with dining and entertainment.

La Arcada Plaza

La Arcada Plaza is a charming plaza offering boutique shopping, fine dining, and art galleries, perfect for a leisurely Santa Barbara day out.

Map of Santa Barbara Things to Do

Explore our comprehensive map of things to do in Santa Barbara, guiding you through the city's top attractions and hidden gems.

Sports in Santa Barbara

In Santa Barbara, the spirit of sports thrives both on land and sea, with the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) Gauchos leading the charge in collegiate athletics. Competing in NCAA Division I, the Gauchos boast 20 varsity teams, drawing large crowds, particularly for men's soccer and basketball games. Beyond college sports, Santa Barbara is a haven for paddle sports and mountain sports enthusiasts, offering abundant opportunities for adventure in its scenic landscapes and coastal waters.

The city's vibrant surfing culture, highlighted in the iconic documentary "The Endless Summer," showcases the area's allure as a premier surfing destination, especially during the winter months when conditions are prime. Additionally, local events like the Semana Nautica Summer Sports Festival and the Nite Moves race series celebrate the community's active lifestyle, making Santa Barbara a dynamic sports hub.

Santa Barbara Crime Rate

When assessing the safety of the city of Santa Barbara, the crime in Santa Barbara CA highlights that it is a safe city to live in, albeit not perfect. The total crime rate in Santa Barbara is 8.9% higher than the state average and 19.8% higher than the national average, according to the FBI. Specifically, the violent crime rate is 4.1% lower than California's and 9.3% higher than the national figure, while the property crime rate exceeds the state by 11.6% and the country by 21.8%. The homicide rate per 100K stands at 2, lower than the national rate of 6.5.

Here's how Santa Barbara crime statistics compare to other major cities:

  • Los Angeles's crime rate is 2.3% higher than the Santa Barbara crime rate
  • Sacramento's crime rate is 23.9% higher than the Santa Barbara crime rate
  • Jacksonville's crime rate is 32.3% higher than the Santa Barbara crime rate
  • Denver's crime rate is 114.9% higher than the Santa Barbara crime rate

Potential residents and visitors often inquire, "Is Santa Barbara safe?" While crime exists, as it does in any city, Santa Barbara's law enforcement efforts and community programs aim to foster a secure environment for all. The Santa Barbara Police Department remains committed to maintaining public safety and addressing crime effectively, and overall, living in Santa Barbara California is extremely safe!

Jobs in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara jobs are sustained by a diverse array of industries, with the largest sectors being Health Care & Social Assistance, Educational Services, and Retail Trade. The county's economy is also bolstered by high-paying sectors such as Public Administration, Finance & Insurance, Real Estate & Rental & Leasing, and Professional, Scientific & Technical Services. Workers in Santa Barbara County can expect average median individual earnings of around $85k/year, which is attractive.

The University of California Santa Barbara jobs stand out as a significant source of employment, contributing to the educational and research opportunities in the area. Other key employers include Curvature, Allergan Medical,  and Cottage Health (view Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital jobs).

Those seeking employment in Santa Barbara have various resources at their disposal, including Indeed Jobs Santa Barbara and opportunities posted on the city's official jobs board. Overall, the jobs in Santa Barbara are a major part of the city's allure, and why moving to Santa Barbara California is a hard-to-beat choice.

Santa Barbara Schools

The Santa Barbara Unified School District serves as the educational backbone of the region, offering K-12 education to a diverse student body. Renowned for its commitment to academic excellence, Santa Barbara Schools are known for strong academic programs and a supportive learning environment.

Higher education is also prominent in Santa Barbara, with the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) being a major employer and an educational hub, providing a wide array of undergraduate and graduate programs.

Additionally, the Santa Barbara Public Library serves as a resource-rich destination for learning and community engagement, enhancing the city's educational landscape.

As you consider the vibrant lifestyle, stunning scenery, and diverse opportunities that Santa Barbara has to offer, the prospect of moving here might seem as refreshing as the ocean breeze. When you're ready to make the move, Movegreen is at your service to ensure that your transition to this beautiful coastal city is as smooth and sustainable as the environment you're about to call home. Contact Movegreen today at 866-684-7336 to start your journey to Santa Barbara California!

Erik S. Haney CEO | Founder
Erik S. Haney
CEO | Founder
Movegreen was established in 2007 with a vision to innovate the age old trade of Moving and Storage. The company has grown by over 20% year after year and recently expanded our territory to all of Ventura County and Northern LA County . Movegreen has received more than 15 service awards and is the premier Moving and Storage company on the Central Coast.
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