Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Santa Barbara, California
Beautiful Santa Barbara is a an Upscale Seaside City with Some of That Old-Fashioned California Magic
Santa Barbara sits between the Pacific Ocean and the steep Ynez Mountains on California's central coast. Known as the "American Riviera," it was settled by Spanish missionaries in the late-18th century and today is a mellow, upscale seaside city in a gorgeous setting. Popular with tourists, Santa Barbara still has much of the old California magic.
The city is home to four universities, and the University of California at Santa Barbara (24,000 students) sits next door. Top city employers are higher education and aerospace firms. The charming, walkable downtown has a storybook quality with original Spanish Mission architecture, sidewalk cafes, eclectic shops, excellent restaurants, hidden walkways, pedestrian malls, red brick sidewalks, flowers and palm trees. During the summer, pedicabs offer rides along State Street, the main downtown street. The city has an urban wine trail with more than two dozen wineries and tasting rooms. Sterns Wharf along the waterfront looks like a wharf should look and is always bustling.
Residents enjoy a botanic garden, a natural history museum, a zoo, historic churches, a Sunday arts and crafts show, 20 parks, waterfalls, five classic an annual pro volleyball tournament, a symphony orchestra and all sorts of festivals. The beaches are long and beautiful.
Population: 90,000 (city proper)
Age 45 or Better: 33%
Cost of Living: 240% above the national average
Median Home Price: $1.7 million
Climate: This area has a Mediterranean climate. With ocean breezes, summer temperatures are in the 60s and 70s, and winter temperatures are in 40s, 50s and 60s. On average, 17 inches of rain fall each year.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? Yes
At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission? Yes
Public Transit: Yes
Crime Rate: Below the national average
Public Library: Yes
Political Leanings: Very liberal
College Educated: 48%
Is California Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? No
Cons: The earthquake risk is 900% higher than the national average, and destructive hillside wildfires and mudslides have a history in this area.
Notes: The two hospitals are award-winning. The city has maintained its population during the last decade. Some people say that Santa Barbara is overrated and not worth the price. Most people, though, love it. Home prices have decreased 3% since last year.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes
Thanks to the treaty that ended the Mexican-American War, the Golden State became a U.S. territory in 1847. Soon after, gold was found at Sutter's Mill. The land crowded with fortune seekers, and, shortly thereafter, California entered the Union as its 31st state in 1850.
California has 900 miles of coastline and claims the highest and lowest point in the continental U.S. Its terrain varies dramatically - from sandy beaches to rugged mountains, deserts to fertile farmland. Landmarks like Hollywood, Disneyland, and the Golden Gate Bridge play a large part in the nation's history and imagination.
Although Texas and New York have tried to close the gap, California's economy continues to be nation's largest. Agriculture, manufacturing, biotechnology, and tourism are some of its leading industries.
Cities of the Golden State have put some odd laws on the books. It's illegal to molest a monarch in Pacific Grove. Want to throw a frisbee on an L.A. County beach? Better ask a lifeguard first. What about bowling on the sidewalks of Chico? Strictly forbidden!
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