Living in Santa Barbara - The Pros and The Cons

What are the Pros and Cons of Living in Santa Barbara, CA?

Some aspects to consider before moving to Santa Barbara - The American Riviera

Living in Santa Barbara is often referred to as "Living in Paradise". And, perhaps you are considering making a move? But, with skyrocketing home prices, talk of the "California Exodus," tax hikes, fluctuating interest rates and more, many people are weighing the pros and cons and wonder

"Is Santa Barbara a good place to live?"

I will admit that I am biased, despite all the above mentioned. For those of you on the fence, I put together some of the points to consider when making a decision if living in Santa Barbara is right for you.

  • Read this article and/or watch the video below


"Should I move to Santa Barbara?"


An important factor in your decision-making will be the weather. No doubt, enjoying 283 sunny days a year on average is going to contribute to your overall happiness. Temperatures typically vary from the mid 40s° to the high 70s° throughout the year. On occasion, it will be hotter or cooler than that. But for the most part, you will experience mild, sunny, comfortable room temperature-like weather in the 70s°.

Hendry's Beach sunset


In general, the traffic in Santa Barbara is very manageable. The city is easy to navigate (42 square miles). Even from the homes set in the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains, it isn't much more than a 15-minute drive to the ocean. Parking throughout the city is convenient with multiple, architecturally attractive parking structures, which offer 75 minutes of free parking. Especially if you are moving from a larger city, you will be very pleased with the navigation of the city.

Note: Since U.S. Highway 101 in our area is undergoing lots of construction at the moment, you might experience more traffic jams than you normally would. The Summerland/Carpinteria area is especially impacted by this. But despite all - compared to big cities the traffic here is nothing to get too worked up about. You just have to plan accordingly.

Friendly City

"Santa Barbra is a happy place!"

A definite bonus is that people are pretty happy and friendly here in general. After my experience of living in different environments and parts of the world throughout my life, I can claim with conviction that the sun largely impacts peoples' moods. Paired with the laid-back Californian lifestyle and beautiful surroundings, "Santa Barbarians" are happy residents for the most part and don't take life all too seriously. Another bonus point that keeps Santa Barbara's population happy is the decent amount of cultural entertainment and events for a town this size. With several theaters, museums, cultural festivities, educational lecture series, and other programs, you will find plenty of offerings to keep the curious mind engaged and intellectually stimulated.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Healthy Lifestyle

Santa Barbara is a very healthy environment. People pay lots of attention to staying active - an easy feat in these weather conditions. You can be outside throughout the year and enjoy all of the outdoor activities this town offers. From hiking in the mountains, biking different bike paths, playing golf, to surfing or sailing, there are countless activities to get engaged with. In addition, cooking and eating healthy is easy to accomplish with the amazingly fresh Californian produce, seafood, and grocery store varieties right at your fingertips. The Farmers Market and several organic, local stores are other plusses for healthy living.

Montecito Country Club


The visual beauty of Santa Barbara is what drew me to the city initially. My husband and I drove through town for ten minutes over a decade ago and decided to move here. Daily, I appreciate the visually pleasing sight of the city’s dominantely Spanish Mediterranean architecture, with red tile roofs and white stucco walls, set against the mountain backdrop and the blue Pacific Ocean. The natural beauty surrounding the city is breathtakingly stunning and very special.


Both public and private schools in Santa Barbara have an overall good reputation. Check out elementary school ratings here. Situated on bluffs above the ocean, UCSB, with its highly ranked chemical and mechanical engineering programs, couldn't be located in a more stunning and inviting location. There are plenty of opportunities for students to balance academics with outdoor activities. In addition, SBCC has ranked as one of the Best Community Colleges in the nation. Other noteworthy educational institutions include Westmont CollegeCate School, and Dunn School.


With top-notch medical facilities, cutting-edge technologies, and a plethora of skilled healthcare professionals, you can be confident that your health is a top priority here. Whether you're seeking routine check-ups or specialized treatments, Santa Barbara has you covered. Embrace a healthier, happier lifestyle in this idyllic coastal haven, where your well-being is cherished as much as the stunning Pacific sunsets. Cottage Hospital of Santa Barbara and Goleta enjoy high, overall ratings. It is my personal belief that reputable doctors choose to work in Santa Barbara because they like to live here as well. Sansum Clinic is one of the oldest and most respected multi-specialty medical groups in California and has been providing top-quality healthcare to the Santa Barbara community for decades. Their team of expert physicians covers various specialties, ensuring comprehensive and personalized care for their patients.

Many of Santa Barbara's retirement communities also enjoy an excellent reputation, examples include Covenant Living at SamarkandValle VerdeWood Glen Hall, and the highly acclaimed Casa Dorinda in Montecito.

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital 

 Search all available Santa Barbara Homes HERE


"Why should I not move to Santa Barbara?"

Housing Cost 

The most apparent disadvantage, when considering buying a home in Santa Barbara, is the high cost of living. Real estate prices have gone up significantly within the last two years. The low inventory and high demand of our region keep prices steep. Due to the pandemic, many people have decided to leave more densely populated cities, and trade them for a smaller community. Santa Barbara, despite being a small city, has a lot to offer - socially as well as culturally. Therefore, the ability to work remotely has made living in Santa Barbara increasingly more attractive.

Note: Many people ask themselves

"Is living in Santa Barbara too expensive?" 

Yes, buying a home in these market conditions possibly seems a scary and daunting undertaking; however, many people, who bought their home during the last two years have already seen their property noticeably appreciating. As we transition into a less heated market, appreciation will be less dramatic of course. The one thing I like to point out to all of my clients is that you are not only buying a house, but also the excellent lifestyle in Santa Barbara. You have to ask the question of what price are you willing and are you able to attach to that.

Shortage of Housing

The low inventory we are seeing in today's real estate market is a downside when trying to settle in Santa Barbara or surrounding communities. There are very few homes entering the market. Buying - or even renting - a house requires meticulous preparation and patience, as well as the right alliances for making the process as smooth as possible. When buying a property, you will need to be prepared that you might not get the first house you submit an offer on. Sometimes it can take a while before you secure a transaction. The same is true for the rental market, as you might have to apply for several properties before succeeding. However, market trends are shifting and with higher interest rates buyer competition is a lesser problem.

  For a current and quick overview of the market check here.

Natural Disasters

The natural disasters in our area are real and can be rather concerning, especially if you are unfamiliar with them. Potential wildfires, flooding & debris flow, and earthquakes are a real possibility that we have dealt with in the past, and we most probably will be dealing with in the future. In my opinion, the city and county government does an outstanding job of keeping the community informed and safe, as we experienced again during our most recent heavy rain falls in January 2023. You can read about some of the City's Office of Emergency Services to get a better picture. Natural disasters might influence some decisions regarding where exactly you want to consider buying a property. I am happy to answer your questions regarding the different neighborhoods and terrains in Santa Barbara. Contact me here for more information.

Wildfire in Santa Barbara


We are still in a statewide drought, even though the recent rainfalls have helped a lot to refill our water reservoirs. However, conserving water is essential in our region. Regarding home upgrades, investing in drought-tolerant landscaping, particularly water-conservation systems, and other environmental solutions are advisable features to look into. For more information about the current situation and how this might affect you, read here.

→ A positive side effect of our recent rain (Jan. 2023) is the fact that the water reservoir at Lake Cachuma has been fully replenished. See my Lake Cachuma report in this Short 

Job Market

With a population of under 100,000, Santa Barbara is a smaller town with lesser job opportunities than you will find in larger cities. There are a few, sizable companies in the high-tech and manufacturing industries (mostly located in Goleta). Some of the largest areas of employment are tourism, health care, and education. UCSB is the leading employer in Santa Barbara, followed by Raytheon and Sansum Clinic. However, since many people have the ability to work remotely from home now, this point has become less of a negative aspect.

Note: The city has seen an increase in homelessness, especially in recent years. This is a  statewide - even nationwide - humanitarian crisis. The city is working diligently on addressing and resolving this problem. Read more in-depth information here.


You have heard it before - California is a high-tax state with an income tax rate of 9.3% and a combined sales tax of 8.75%. On a positive note, property taxes are less harsh. For more information about property taxes in Santa Barbara check here. 

Note: It is recommended to talk to your tax advisor for any special exemptions or programs that could apply to your situation and might influence your numbers differently.

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