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Living in Santa Barbara [2024] | 🤩 Things to Know Before Moving to Santa Barbara CA

Last Updated on: 19th June 2023, 09:04 am

Located in the county named after itself, Santa Barbara is a unique and stunningly beautiful city known as something of a cultural hub, as well as being the location of the famous University of California, Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara is hip and trendy, and has quick access to incredible surfing to boot. Besides being an amazing place to live it is well known for its beaches, resorts and many activities that draw tourists from around the world. It’s no wonder why this city has some of the most desirable properties in the state of California!

The area which Santa Barbara now resides on was once inhabited by the Chumash people, in peculiarly large settlements. Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first European to visit the area, only a few decades after Columbus discovered the continent, in 1542, when he briefly anchored his ship in the area. The area would not be visited by Europeans by land until more than two hundred years later, in 1769.

The first permanent settlers from Europe in the area were Spanish missionaries, arriving in 1782 to convert the Chumash to Catholicism and establish a mission. The initial Santa Barbara Mission was constructed with the help of the newly-converted Chumash several years later, although it had to be rebuilt after an earthquake in 1812. The 1812 rebuilt mission still stands today. After the Mexican War of Independence, and then the American conquest of California, Santa Barbara remained relatively small until the discovery of oil in the area and establishment of UCSB in the 1900s.

Today, Santa Barbara is a city famous by its college (UCSB), beaches, and affluent, easy-going lifestyle. This community’s art scene and wealth of attractions draw in all sorts of people, especially famous ones. These include such notable people as Oprah Winfrey, Katy Perry, the actor Anthony Edwards, and Prince Harry. Even the band Toad the Wet Sprocket is from SB. If it’s good enough for them, it’ll be great for you!

Santa Barbara, CA Population & Demographics

The city of Santa Barbara has a population of 91,357 distributed out over 19.5 miles at a population density of about 4,600 people per square mile. The median age here is 37.6, which is marginally greater than the California average of 37. The median household income in Santa Barbara is $73,974, but 20% of the population has an income over $200,000 per year. It’s the second largest of Santa Barbara County cities by population after Santa Maria.

Santa Barbara is a community dominated primarily by two ethnicities, with 56% of the population being Caucasian and 37% of the population being Hispanic. 21.9% of Santa Barbara’s population are foreign-born, with 71% of the foreign-born population coming from Latin America. Santa Barbara’s gender ratio is exactly 50/50.

Santa Barbara’s zip codes range from 93101 to 93199, while the area code is 805. Santa Barbara is fairly isolated in its position between LA and San Francisco. However, the city is bisected by the U.S. Route 101, which provides simple motor transport to both of the aforementioned big cities.

Santa Barbara, CA Crime

Thinking about moving to this community, but wondering if Santa Barbara is a safe place to live? Crime-wise, Santa Barbara, although in a better spot than most large California cities, doesn’t hold up great. Santa Barbara’s violent crime rate is 9% higher than the national average, with the murder rate here being 2.2 per 100,000 people, rape at 65.4 per 100,000, robbery at 91.6 per 100,000, and assault at 265 per 100,000.

Santa Barbara’s property crime rate is higher by a degree, being 20% higher than the national average, although, again, this is much better than comparable metropolitan areas nearby. Burglaries occur at a rate of 236.7 per 100,000 people, theft at 1,906.4 per 100,000, and vehicle theft at 243.2 per 100,000.

Overall, Santa Barbara’s crime situation is not ideal, but compared to cities of comparable size in the same state, it could be much worse. Also Santa Barbara has many areas with extremely low crime rates and if you stick to those areas, then Santa Barbara is a very safe place to live! Generally speaking, crime is not of the biggest concern here.

Cost of Living in Santa Barbara, CA

If you’re moving to Santa Barbara with the expectation that it won’t be a weight on your wallet, turn back now! The Santa Barbara cost of living here is 123% higher on average than other places in America. The median price for a home in Santa Barbara is $1,572,900, more than double the average home price in California, which is $568,500.

Utilities here actually cost around 10% less than the national average, surprisingly, but groceries cost around 13% higher than the national average. Meanwhile, transportation fees are around 3% lower than the national average. The average utility bill you can expect to pay here will set you back $201.84.

Santa Barbara, CA Typical Living Expenses

Here are some common items you might buy, and their prices according to Numbeo:

  1. Milk – $4.06
  2. Loaf of Bread – $3.63
  3. 12 Regular Eggs – $4.57
  4. 1 lb. Chicken Filet – $5.17
  5. 1 lb. Apples – $2.71
  6. 1 lb. Tomatoes – $2.25
  7. Gasoline, 1 Gallon – $3.70
  8. Meal at an Inexpensive Restaurant – $20.00
  9. Monthly Internet Cost – $97.11

Those looking to make a living in Santa Barbara should know that the city has an income tax of 8.75%, 0.25% of which comes directly from the county. Additionally, the state of California has a property tax rate of 0.66%.

Santa Barbara, CA Transportation

Need to know how to get around Santa Barbara? As previously mentioned, Santa Barbara is cut in half by Route 101, which leads directly to Los Angeles or San Francisco, depending on whether you take it north or south. The Santa Barbara Municipal Airport provides commercial air service to the area, and the city has several train lines running through it as well. For most intercity public transportation, residents utilize the robust bus system under the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District. Santa Barbara is also well known for their extensive networks of bike trails. Los Angeles is 95 miles from Los Angeles and 217 miles from San Diego.

Santa Barbara, CA Schools & Colleges

Living in Santa Barbara, you’ll be served chiefly by the Santa Barbara Unified Public School District. The district is home to more than 14,000 students and 24 schools. No matter what age cohort your children are in, there’s plenty of options in the city for elementary, middle, and high schools. Notable ones include Cold Spring Elementary School, La Colina Junior High School, and San Marcos Senior High School.

If you or a loved one are looking to get into higher education, you’ll probably already have signed up for or considered the University of California, Santa Barbara, the only major undergraduate institution in the city. The university is famous for a reason, and one can expect an excellent and comprehensive curriculum there, not to mention tons of partying and fun in Isla Vista!  UCSB is ranked as the 5th best public university in the US, according to US News.

Santa Barbara, CA Climate & Weather

Santa Barbara’s beauty and community draw in plenty of people, sure, but its weather is another big factor. The widely beloved California weather is here in full force! You can expect lows of 43 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter months, and highs of 73 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months, and the beaches are open and popular year round. Santa Barbara experiences less than the average amount of rainfall when compared with the rest of the United States, with 19 inches per year as compared to 38. Meanwhile, Santa Barbara experiences absolutely no snow, outside of freak weather occurrences. The best times to visit Santa Barbara, in terms of comfort rating, are July and August.


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Best Neighborhoods in Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara’s neighborhoods are widely renowned as an integral part of SB’s charm and vibrant community. No matter which of Santa Barbara’s beautiful sub-communities you choose to live within, you’ll have a great time. Check out some of your neighborhood options below:

Each community in this city is unique, but there are two general categories for SB neighborhoods: urban and suburban. For instance, the Waterfront neighborhood, situated on Cabrillo Boulevard near Stearns Wharf, is an urban area that serves as a tourism hub for the city. The Westside and Eastside neighborhoods are also urban, both of which are inhabited by many UCSB students during schooling. All three are hip and young communities, especially during UCSB’s operating time.

Meanwhile, in the suburban camp, Mission Canyon comes as close to “rural” as you can get in Santa Barbara, well-known for its beautiful natural hiking trails. Another neighborhood well-known for its beautiful nature trails is Montecito, although you’ll probably know this neighborhood better for being home to SB’s richest and most famous residents. Neighborhoods like San Roque are also suburban. Generally speaking, these areas will have larger, more expensive properties and older age cohorts, but will still have SB’s beauty and charm nonetheless.

Santa Barbara, CA Real Estate

Santa Barbara gets a 73 on Redfin’s competitiveness scale, making it a fairly competitive area for the state of California. This is unsurprising, as Santa Barbara is an incredibly nice city, but the rating is hampered by steep median home prices.

The median sale price for Santa Barbara homes is a hefty $1,845,000, which, if you can believe it, has only been continuing to increase as time goes by. The number of houses sold yearly, meanwhile, has been decreasing, with the last three years being marked by 71 sales. The median days on the market is similarly trending downwards, decreasing by 17 days in the last three years for an average of 31.

62% of Santa Barbara residents rent their homes, an unsurprising number for a college city. Renting here is going to be a significant weight on your wallet, with the average monthly rent for all units being $2,290.

If you want to make yourself a part of any of these communities, you should check out the latest listings for homes for sale in Santa Barbara, CA.

Jobs in Santa Barbara, CA

Those planning on making a living in Santa Barbara should know that wages and cost of living have been static, according to Payscale. The most popular positions of employment are Software Engineer, Senior Software Engineer, and Operations Manager. The largest employers in the area are AppFolio, Inc., Rosewood Hotels, and University of California, Santa Barbara. The average salary for a worker in Santa Barbara is $78k a year, while the average hourly wage is $22.10.

Santa Barbara is a techy city, much like her northern sister, but has industries of all sorts. Still, skills in IT and tech could be utilized effectively in this community. Check out the latest listings for jobs in Santa Barbara, CA here.

Things to Do in Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara’s repertoire of stunning attractions, excellent shopping opportunities, and great eats is a well-known quality of the city. You should check out some of the best things to do in Santa Barbara, CA below:

Top Attractions:

  • Stearns Wharf – Far more than just a wharf with a nice view of a beautiful beach, Stearns Wharf also contains restaurants, attractions, and shops, all of which you can look out of and at the bay. A truly wonderful place!
  • Santa Barbara Zoo – Nobody needs an explanation as to what a zoo is, but residents who love animals of all shapes and sizes, or simply want to keep the kids entertained, will be glad to know that Santa Barbara Zoo houses hundreds of incredible animals from all over the world in a fantastic facility.


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  • Paseo Nuevo – Located just by the Shoreline Beach, you can find all the typical chain retailers, as well as a movie theater and a variety of dining options.
  • La Cumbre Plaza – Situated north of Hope Ranch, La Cumbre Plaza offers an array of casual dining establishments and several name-brand, luxury shopping establishments as well.
  • State Street Promenade – A European-style street market with a plethora of open-air and streetside establishments, this shopping area is a sensation in SB.

Top Beaches

Santa Barbara is a place that is filled to the brim with fantastic hikes, if you haven’t picked up on that already. Check out the best hikes in Santa Barbara here.

Places to Eat in Santa Barbara, CA

Alongside its host of things to do, Santa Barbara is also home to plenty of great eats! Check out some below:

Brophy Bros

This seafood joint is situated right in the harbor east of Shoreline Park, but the stellar views of the ocean aren’t the only thing that brings locals to this restaurant each night. A wide array of expertly crafted and positively delectable seafood dishes await you here!

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

Los Agaves

It wouldn’t be a city in California without a plethora of Mexican restaurants, but Los Agaves puts itself above the rest with a truly excellent menu of authentic Central American food. Their enchiladas are a favorite among all longtime Santa Barbara residents!

600 N Milpas St, Santa Barbara, CA 93103 (805) 564-2626

Lure Fish House

Located in the aforementioned La Cumbre Plaza, Lure Fish House is an upscale dine-in seafood restaurant with a beautiful interior, and an equally beautiful set of dishes. This establishment also features a bar with great drinks!

3815 State St Suite G131, Santa Barbara, CA 93105 (805) 618-1816

Sports in Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara’s main sports-related attraction is the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, the collective combination of UCSB’s basketball, softball, soccer, and other sports teams. The Gauchos draw in thousands of fans to their games, particularly during the Big West Conference. Santa Barbara is also famous for hosting the Semana Nautica, a summer sports event which is notable for including the Semana Nautica 15K, the oldest continuously-running race in the state of California.

Moving to Santa Barbara, CA  Pros & Cons


  • Beautiful and unique city
  • Multitude of attractions
  • Hip communities


  • Very pricey housing costs

Santa Barbara is lived in by so many famous people precisely because it is among the most beautiful and hip cities on the West Coast. That comes with drawbacks, chiefly the crazy property prices, but those prices are well worth it if you have the means to pay them. There’s nowhere in America quite like Santa Barbara!

Ready to take the plunge on your move and start your journey to making Santa Barbara your new home? Give Martian Movers a call at 805-779-3844! Our crew of highly-trained professional Santa Barbara movers will ensure your move is a stress-free process at affordable rates! Call now or fill out our online form for a free quote!


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