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Living a Beach Lifestyle in Santa Barbara, California

One of the nation’s top tourist and retirement communities is Santa Barbara, California. Located about 85 miles north of Los Angeles, this charming mission city on the Pacific has done a superb job of preserving its heritage and creating a livable, modern city. The graceful adobe architecture of the Spanish Mission style is everywhere - from the historic Mission Santa Barbara to the original Motel 6 here in town. The Santa Ynez Mountains rise up 4000’ to the east and provide a stunning backdrop.

The downtown offers wonderful high-end shopping. No billboards are permitted in town, and other signs are required to be small. Santa Barbara has an active cultural life with many museums and colleges (UC Santa Barbara and others). There are more than 15 notable parks, some of them quite large. The city’s population is 86,000. The greater metropolitan area has a population of about 200,000 and includes the cities of Goleta and Carpinteria and the communities of Montecito, Summerland, Isla Vista, and Hope Ranch. Photo of Santa Barbara street scene courtesy of Wikipedia and David Liu.

Where to Retire in Santa Barbara and Home Prices

Retirees will like living here because it has an unusually beautiful setting and a superb climate. There is a vital and prosperous downtown. Its strong economic base offers ample opportunities for work – paid or volunteer. You can choose to live in a house or apartment near downtown, or you can choose an apartment or free-standing house farther out in a development. There are also many assisted living and continuing care facilities.
Average home prices are exceptionally high, reflecting its premier coastal California environment.  In mid-2021, Zillow reported the median home value in Santa Barbara to be over $1Million.

What Is Special about Santa Barbara

 • Unusual physical beauty and ambience • Downtown beaches • Great climate • Historic and lively historic downtown District • Santa Barbara Mission • Parks galore • Presidio of Santa Barbara • The Fiesta  • 

What Is Not Special about Santa Barbara

Living here is very expensive. Numbeo ranked it as having the 7th highest cost of living in the world in 2023.

Climate and Physical Environment

Santa Barbara is located on the Pacific in southern California, about 85 miles north of Los Angeles. Rolling hills give way to the Santa Ynes Mountains to the east. There are great beaches downtown. A large earthquake in 1925 caused significant damage.

Restaurants & Cultural Scene

 Santa Barbara Museum of Art. University Art Museum on the UC Santa Barbara Campus. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. Contemporary Arts Forum Santa Barbara Film Festival. The Fiesta. Santa Barbara Arts & Crafts Festival. Arlington Theatre (2000 seats). Lobero Theatre. Many musical groups and a symphony orchestra.


Crime in Santa Barbara is just under the national average.

Medical Facilities

There are a number of hospitals in Santa Barbara.


Santa Barbara Airport; Amtrak has service from Santa Barbara; Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (MTD) provides local bus service; Santa Barbara is about average in walkability.

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