Moving to Santa Barbara? Discover What Makes This West Coast Town Unique

Updated on June 16th, 2023

Reading Time: 6 minutes

If you’re considering moving to Santa Barbara, California, you’re in for a treat. With its year-round Mediterranean climate, Santa Barbara offers the perfect backdrop for all types of outdoor activities. Whether it’s a leisurely stroll on the beach or an invigorating hike in the mountains, the natural beauty of the area will leave you amazed. 

For those who love boutique shopping, the city’s streets are lined with unique stores, charming cafes, and trendy restaurants. Santa Barbara is truly breathtaking, from the picturesque coastline to the majestic hillsides. Santa Barbara has also attracted a handful of A-list celebrities and even royalty, such as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have made Santa Barbara their home.

So whether you’re looking at apartments for rent in Santa Barbara, CA, or thinking of buying a home here, Redfin has you covered with 10 reasons you’ll love living in this coastal town.

Santa Barbara Marina shoreline breakwater with recreational boats, CA

1. Beautiful weather

Santa Barbara enjoys a year-round Mediterranean climate, with mild temperatures and sunny skies almost daily. Summers are typically warm and dry, with average temperatures in the mid-70s, while winters are mild, with temperatures rarely dipping below 50 degrees. The coastal location of Santa Barbara also means that it benefits from cool ocean breezes, which provide a refreshing relief from the heat during the summer months. Additionally, the area is relatively sheltered from significant weather events like hurricanes and tornadoes, making it a safe place to live.

With such beautiful year-round weather, BCycle suggests renting a bicycle to experience the dazzling coastal and mountain views beneath the sun’s shimmering rays.

two people on a bench overlooking santa barbara with electric bikes behind them
Photo by BCycle

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2. Beaches

The beaches in Santa Barbara are truly picture-perfect, with sparking blue waters, soft white sand, and stunning coastal views. Santa Barbara’s beaches have something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a peaceful spot to relax and soak up the sun or a place to swim, surf, or paddleboard. 

Santa Barbara’s beaches also boast popularity amongst couples searching for a wedding venue. Mar, the founder of TEAM Hair and Makeup, shares how “the city’s warm and sunny weather makes it an ideal place for outdoor nuptials. Getting married in Santa Barbara is like stepping into a fairy tale. What makes Santa Barbara a dream wedding destination are the high-end wedding vendors who can make your vision a reality. From bridal stylists to photographers, caterers to planners, Santa Barbara has many talented professionals who will work tirelessly to create the wedding of your dreams. So, if you’re looking for a destination that combines natural beauty with wedding friendliness, Santa Barbara is worth considering.”

Aerial over waves at sunset

3. Outdoor recreation

Beyond its stunning beaches, Santa Barbara boasts a thriving outdoor recreation scene that offers endless opportunities for adventure and exploration. The city’s mountainous backdrop provides a beautiful natural playground for hiking, biking, and rock climbing, with trails ranging from leisurely strolls to challenging treks that offer breathtaking panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the city below. Santa Barbara is also known for its excellent golf courses, with several courses designed by legendary golfers like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

A woman hiker on the trail to Cathedral Peak in the Santa Ynez mountains high above Santa Barbara with views to the Channel Islands.

4. World-class wine

Santa Barbara is a world-renowned wine region that produces some of the finest wines in the world. For those interested in discovering the secrets behind the area’s success, a visit to the Santa Ynez Valley, located just a short drive from the city, is a must.

The Santa Ynez Valley, just a short drive from the city, is home to over 200 wineries and tasting rooms, each offering a unique experience and a chance to sample some of the region’s best wines. “On the North side of the range lies one of the most unique wine-growing regions in the world,” says Stagecoach Co. Wine Tours. “Coastal influence snakes its way up the Santa Ynez River daily, some 90 miles, creating an extreme diurnal shift in temperature. Unique soils and microclimates combine in this region to produce 75+ grape varieties, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah.”

Spring vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley Santa Barbara, CA

5. Small-town charm

Despite its many attractions, Santa Barbara has retained its small-town charm, creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere that makes anyone feel at home. The city’s picturesque streets are lined with colorful flowers, palm trees, and historic buildings that reflect the area’s Spanish colonial heritage. Residents and visitors alike can often be seen strolling through the city’s neighborhoods, enjoying the warm California sunshine and taking in the stunning mountains and sea views. In the evening, the town comes alive with the vibrant colors of its legendary sunsets, considered some of the most beautiful in the world.

6. Sustainable living

Santa Barbara has a long-standing commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship, with several initiatives and programs designed to promote sustainable living and reduce the city’s environmental impact. The city has implemented a number of green building codes and regulations to promote energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Santa Barbara also boasts a robust public transportation system, including electric buses and a bike-sharing program, which helps to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.

The UC Santa Barbara Associated Students Recycling organization shared how their goal among the community’s sustainable living initiatives is to “divert as much waste as possible from the landfill through hand sorting waste.” Additionally, AS Recycling offered insights into how the communities initiative are “reflected within local restaurants in Santa Barbara, offering multiple plant-based meal options and compostable to-go containers.”

7. Dining and shopping

The dining and shopping scene in Santa Barbara is as unique and diverse as the city itself. The downtown area has various shops, trendy boutiques, art galleries, high-end department stores, and classic surf shops. The Spanish colonial architecture that dominates the city’s buildings creates a unique, charming, romantic atmosphere in Santa Barbara. 

“Santa Barbara offers cliffside ocean views at world-renowned resort restaurants or cozy atmospheres within mahogany-adorned tasting rooms,” shares Chef and Owner Nikki Dailey of HEAT Culinary. “Even more impressive is that you don’t have to break the bank to indulge in Santa Barbara’s culinary offerings. In addition to established mom-and-pop shops that have been around for decades, Santa Barbara boasts a bustling food truck and cart scene with a wide range of international delicacies.”

Female friends making a wine toast

The Blue Door, a local vintage shop, elaborates on the shopping scene. “From artisanal goods to eclectic vintage finds, Santa Barbara’s small businesses offer something for everyone. You’ll feel right at home in this welcoming and vibrant community.”

If shopping for food and being outdoors is your cup of tea, Jessica Windle-Cross from Hotel Milo in Santa Barbara suggests strolling through the downtown Saturday farmers market for fresh peaches, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries.

To get an excellent feel for downtown, Taste Santa Barbara Food Tours’, Evan Berger recommends one of the companies walking food and drink tours where you can, “sample our favorite daytime eating spots, drink some of Santa Barbara’s delicious wine, and learn historical facts about our small town.”

8. Vibrant nightlife

The nightlife scene in Santa Barbara offers a variety of options, from cozy bars and live music venues to upscale lounges and nightclubs. The city’s downtown area is a hub for nightlife, with various bars and clubs catering to different tastes and preferences. Guests can enjoy a cocktail at a rooftop bar with stunning ocean views, catch a live music show at a local venue, or dance the night away at a high-energy nightclub.

9. Old Spanish Days Fiesta

Jessica Windle-Cross suggests stepping back in time and immersing yourself within the rich cultural heritage of Santa Barbara during the Old Spanish Days Fiesta. This annual celebration brings the city to life with vibrant parades, traditional music and dance performances, mouthwatering cuisine, and captivating historical reenactments. 

woman standing on rocks in rock garden with the ocean in the background
Photo by Poseys Go Places

10. Explore Rock Garden

“Rock Garden is a can’t miss mountain destination within the mountains with insane ocean views,” says travel blogger Loran Posey of Poseys Go Places. This enchanting oasis ” is a great hike that features rock climbing, incredible views of the ocean, and a still and serene atmosphere.”

Moving to Santa Barbara: the bottom line 

There are numerous reasons why Santa Barbara, California, and its surrounding suburbs are an attractive place to live. Its Mediterranean climate, stunning beaches, outdoor recreation opportunities, world-class wine, and sustainable living initiatives make it desirable. The city’s small-town charm, diverse dining and shopping scene, and vibrant nightlife provide a unique experience on the West Coast.

If you are represented by an agent, this is not a solicitation of your business. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional advice from a medical provider, licensed attorney, financial advisor, or tax professional. Consumers should independently verify any agency or service mentioned will meet their needs. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines here.
Alexandra Watanabe | Redfin Realtor®

Alexandra Watanabe | Redfin Realtor®

Serving homebuyers and sellers in the Los Angeles area, Alexandra Watanabe is a top real estate agent at Redfin with the latest market insights and local expertise. With years of experience as a real estate agent in the greater Los Angeles area, Alexandra Watanabe possesses a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the local market.

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