Halley S., Home Buyer in New York, NY

Can you describe how Santa Barbara looks and feels for a person that has never lived here?

Asked by Halley S., New York, NY Mon Apr 23, 2007

Do residents maintain their homes and lawns? Are there dramatic differences between different neighborhoods or zip codes? Is there a dominant architecture throughout the city?

Help the community by answering this question:


Andrew Rose’s answer
The nickname American Riviera certainly comes to mind. The area itself was discovered by the Spanish and as such much of the lasting architectural influence stems from that. Spanish Revival style became immensely popular in the late 19th/early 20th centuries through much of California and especially in Santa Barbara.

Nowadays, Santa Barbara is home to a mix of upper, middle, and working class residents. While I wouldn't go so far as to say there are dramatic differences between neighborhoods, they definitely have their own unique feel. Montecito is clearly the upper-echelon of the region, with many if not most of the properties topping well above $1 million. Other neighborhoods like Goleta feel a bit more like your typical middle class working environments, and are still beautiful locations with gorgeous homes.

Downtown State Street, the main boulevard that cuts through the downtown of Santa Barbara, is lined with shops, restaurants, theaters, and more. There is everything from luxury boutique shopping to large mainstream stores like Nordstrom and Macy's to mom-and-pop specialty stores. It is difficult to find a bad meal amongst the multitude of culinary options the area has to offer.

The beaches are of course what is most associated with Santa Barbara. It truly is a beach town, and the weather agrees. Summers are mild in the 70s-80s and the winters are not so bad with the coldest times being nights that drop to the low 50s at worst. The ocean is as warm as you can find in California, certainly not like Hawaii or the Gulf of Mexico, but manageable. Famous surf spots like Rincon where pro surfer Kelly Slater keeps a home are within short drives.

I hope that gives you a better idea. Santa Barbara is one of those places that you get a great feel for in the your first experience, one which is difficult to forget. It truly is a one of a kind place.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 23, 2013
To be sure to paint a realistic picture of the city, there are some areas of town that are not as well maintained. Parts of the lower west and east side, due to the higher population of lower-income residents are not as well-maintained and have a higher crime rate that the other neighbors in Santa Barbara.
Web Reference: http://www.TheZiaGroup.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri May 18, 2007
Santa Barbara is a beautiful piece of paradise on the central coast. It is well known for its Spanish and Mediterranean style architecture and temperate climate. Almost the entire city is kept clean and well-maintained by its residents. Because of the high-cost living, Santa Barbara attracts a certain demographic of people that have the means to preserve its rich heritage and its natural and architectural beauty.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 23, 2007
Regarding my previous post! I am NOT a renter, but a home OWNER and Realtor!!
Diana Boutin
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 20, 2013
Santa Barbara is a beautiful place to live! Having lived in the Bay Area, the South West, and Europe, I can say that Santa Barbara offers a very fine quality of life. Considered by many, and affluent "beach town" the pace is gentile and polite, with a consciousness level regarding good health and outdoor activities galore. Cultural events are plentiful and shopping is fabulous with everything from Saks Fifth Avenue, to Marshall's and five great Consignment stores! Santa Barbara also has it's own airport within about a 10-15 min proximity, making it extremely convenient, and then Los Angeles is about 1 1/2 drive away for that real urban experience! All this plus the lush and sometimes tropical landscape mixed with the rich Mediterranean & Spanish architectural beauty everywhere you look ... It's magic!

Diana Boutin
Keller Williams
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 20, 2013
Santa Barbara is considered one of the most desirable cities in California. While not perfect, I consider Santa Barbara as close as one could get. One previous person pointed out the undesirable areas of Santa Barbara. While yes those areas do exisit, by comparison to most cities our low income, "bad neighborhoods" are still high above the bad neighborhoods of many comparable cities in California. Having lived in other cities, I have seen first hand the comparison and Santa Barbara is by far the jewel of the coast. Aside from the beautiful beaches to enjoy, Santa Barbara has much to offer. The Santa Ynez Valley is short drive for a day of wine tasting, or an afternoon on Lake Cachuma. Santa Barbara is host to many recreational activities, such sailing, surfing, kayaks, beach volleyball or just soaking up the sun. There are also numerous hiking trails and parks to enjoy. If you prefer more cosmopolitan adventures you can enjoy wonderful shopping, restaurants or museums. Santa Barbara even has it's own zoo! In addition, we have numerous annual events through out the year, such as Fiesta days in early August. We are also still considered a small town and you can become as involved as you choose with numerous activities that are available for both children and adults. UCSB hosts many lectures available for the public to attend. The local city college has great adult education programs, such as cooking classes, writing and gardening.
For me, the perfect day ends at Carlitos sidewalk cafe enjoying their wonderful ceviche with a margarita as the sun goes down.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 1, 2008
Dear Halley:

All the answers to your question are good and accurate. SB is a beautiful place. And it is relatively safe. As a man, I don't know a single area I would feel uncomfortable walking in at night. Women might feel differently, but in general it is a very low-crime place. (Gangs are an exception, but tend to keep their activities and hostilities to themselves. I frequently don't bother locking my door, and never worry about it.

I am a Realtor here, so if at some point you decide you would like to house your son in a condo, which can be a very good investment property for you, please let me know. Condo prices are down 10-15% now, so it's a good time to buy.


Frank Hotchkiss
Sotheby's International Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 11, 2007
As my husband's family live in L.A. and we visit them quite often, we have driven throught Santa Barbara many times and always admired how beautiful this seaside town is Beautiful mountains to one side and crystal blue ocean on the other side.

I have recently had the pleasure to actually visit and stay at Santa Barbara during the past few months; thanks to my son, who just started UCSB. Yes, like Jennifer mentioned below, UCSB has a reputation of being a party school, but I guess most of the others too. UCSB actually has a great reputation and is now oen of the top universities in the country. According to my husband and families, probably due to the gorgeous location of UCSB - there are many Nobel Prize winners teaching in UCSB now and the university is working hard to stay away from the party image and build a better reputation. My son's dorm has academy floors and he has been working very hard as a freshman.

Enough of trying to protect UCSB reputation.

I took a detour driving from Marin to Santa Barbara and discovered the hill side, the beautiful state parks, upscale homes and even smaller high priced homes. The weather seems to be overcast in the morning but the fog burns off and the town is warm and clear in the afternoon and evenings.

There are nice tourist areas, great upscal shopping and restaurant, gives a feel of being in the Hamptons, Carmel area, there are also secluded large homes ,probably some of the uptem $$$ homes. Places around UCSB is also quite nice, so I don't feel so bad for my son away from home.

I have also seen some not so nice areas for lower income housing; perhaps where the students are; which I might check into and will report back.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 26, 2007
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Novato, CA

Lush, sun-drenched, relaxed and nestled seductively between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Santa Barbara is one of America's best-kept secrets. From State Street and the Santa Ynez Mountains to the Channel Islands and the wine country, Santa Barbara basks in sunshine, natural bounty, creativity, cultural sophistication and an appreciation for taking life at your own pace.

It really is a great place that is all about lifestyle from the restaurants to the architecture to the amazing culture to the weather. It is a great place to be and live.

Please let me know if you have any other questions. Look forward to hearing from you. You can contact me directly at 805-689-6877 or http://www.KevinSchmidtchen.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 26, 2007
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