Quality of Life in 93401>Question Details

Margaret Cla…, Renter in Westport, CT

Should I move to San Luis Obispo or Santa Barbara?! I am single, mid 50's, female. Grew up in Santa Monica area, lived 20 yrs in small town

Asked by Margaret Claire, Westport, CT Sat Mar 10, 2012

CT. I am used to being alone, but I want to be involved in some community activiites. Rent is an issue...Hoping to stay closer to $1500.00 per month.
Thanks for all input in advance

Help the community by answering this question:


I get asked for personal advice by clients all the time and my answer is usually something like, it isn't my money and I'm not going to be living there so my preferences are irrelevant to your needs and desires. Of course I prefer the area where I live or I wouldn't be living here and the same is true of folks living in the Santa Barbara area. What's important is what you seek for your lifestyle.

Both are university towns so feature a lot of activities - educationally, culturally, societally - and both are fairly expensive places to live. There are demographic and climate differences, though.

I'd suggest you first spend some time online reviewing local websites ranging from governmental, news, activities, real estate and such to get a feel for each community. Then you should invest in a trip to California. Rent vacation rentals and spend a week in each town. Wander around neighborhoods, visit the shopping areas, experience a little nightlife and, above all, meet local people to see how the towns stack up to your needs and expectations. If you prepare a list of things you're seeking in advance and keep notes as you go you will end up with a good basis for comparison.

Whatever your decision you will end up living in a dream area that many aspire to and few are able to realize.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 10, 2012
I'm really sorry. Guess you've moved and made your decision. Everyone has "nice' things to say. I, too, was born and raised my own kids in West LA/Santa Monica. I was at my sons in SLO, on the computer, searching for LA places that I could afford, under $1200 (on Disability/Medicare) which would be a single or bachelor (after coming from a couple-ship where we shared a 2500 home over Puget Sound)........>
My son was getting tired of his Mom quietly staying with him (I made myself "small" :-) and said "when I get home later, please get someplace. So, I did. What popped up and was available. It is in SLO (I've only been here a month and It's July 2014. Now, my God, I see that I'm on a little farm which surely used chemicals (which I am deathly sensitive to), dirt everywhere - no asphalt or landscaping. And I have not met one friend. I'm very bright, communicative, (maybe sound disillusioned here) but absolutely STARVING for LA and all the cultural and ethnic diversity it has to offer. I find really nothing to do here (I don't drink) except for ride my bike and climb hills. I used to go to Opera and Ballet, even in Seattle.
I'm 57, and grown sons. Very very very frustrated. Will continue looking in LA.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 22, 2014
Both are college towns so you'll definitely have your fair share of 20 yr olds running around. However, if you want to be close to nice beaches, LA and a city type of life, Santa Barbara would be the way to go. If you like more of an agricuture feel then SLO would be best. Not to mention wine galore.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 13, 2014
I, too, grew up in Santa Monica. In my 30's (20 years ago) I moved to the North County area of San Luis Obispo, but I work in SLO town and love it there. There's actually a lot of different things to do, depending on what you're looking for. Last night (Friday) was the Concerts in the Plaza event at the Mission, which is free and always a big draw. I spent the evening at Red Hot Pottery painting some items, and we could hear the music and watch the people coming and going. Lots of eateries and drinkeries (which is a word I just made up) and I see lots of singles in your age range, though this is a university town filled with twenty-somethings during the Academic Year. House rentals can be found in your price range, but beware of the nearby homes that rent to college kids during the school year if you're sensitive to loud noise or a lot of activity in your neighborhood. Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 30, 2012
Hello, rents are high here. I paid $1,000 ten years ago for a small 2 bed 1 bath little house in Grover Beach. San Luis you will pay about $2,000+ for this and places tend to be smaller for the amount of money you spend in San Luis as opposed to it's outlining areas. It is very quiet here not much to do and I have had several single friends who never found a companion while living here; two moved away and found mates. It is hard to date here so I have heard from all of my single friends. I also have heard that in Santa Barbara all the men want is to stay single and play the field, this from a friend who lived there for 7 years. People are much nicer in San Luis county than in Santa Barbara but I am not sure what you are looking for? Activities.... San Luis has the preforming arts at Cal Poly, concerts at Avila (once in a while) and farmers markets in every town nearby. I can't say there is much more to offer besides the beauty of the county and great wine tasting. If you like to shop this is not the area for you. I wish I could give you ideas on other great places but no of none in CA that are really great spots that are reasonable in price. El Dorado Hills is a great new and upcoming area that would have much better rent prices however it is a bedroom community of families 30 miles east of Sacramento but it is beautiful and there is more to do and rents are lower. The coast is just expensive. If you have more questions I would be happy to try to answer.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 24, 2012
I think you could find a nice 2 bedroom, one bath within walking distance to downtown in SLO for that price range. Lots of community activities without the big city, rush hour feel that SB has developed. SB is gorgeous -- perhaps closer in feel to Santa Monica, though. SLO is a quieter town. Santa Maria, while in SB County, lacks the appeal, IMO, of either SB or SLO, but has much lower rents and home prices than either. I'd vote (and have voted, with my feet!) for SLO.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 18, 2012
I think spending time in both beforehand is smart. SLO is great for outdoor activity, easygoing lifestyle. No nightlife, no malls, no sports teams, etc. SB is closer to LA if visiting often is part of your future plans. Easy to rent in SLO for that amount. Lots of small places downtown that work great in that price range.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 27, 2012
I suppose if you're a college student who likes bars and partying, some nightlife could be found :). We may not have much in the way of nightclubs and that sort of thing, but The Pac sponsors some great shows, the Little Theater puts on some good productions and there are some other performing arts outlets fairly close in Cambria and Arroyo Grande among others.
Flag Fri Apr 27, 2012
SLO will fee a lot more small town. It has more of that bucolic small town feel with a classic old time main street. SB is bigger, more expensive and more crowded.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 11, 2012
I have lived in both cities and both are very nice towns. However, if you are planning on purchasing a home, you will find that Santa Barbara cities are significantly higher priced compared to San Luis Obispo cities. So, a home purchase in SB, may not be affordable. I can sell you a home in both areas, so take at look at my web site at http://dnorwood.com/MLS.aspx to compare prices. You can also contact me and I will be happy to send all of the available homes in your price range in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.

FYI: There are about 270,000 people living in SLO County and 425,000 people living in Santa Barbara County. http://dnorwood.com/US_CENSUS.aspx

David Norwood - Central Coast Real Estate – 805-471-0828 David@Dnorwood.com
Web Reference: http://dnorwood.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 11, 2012
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 10, 2012
San Luis Obispo has more of a small-town feel than Santa Barbara. Rents are higher in Santa Barbara, and there are several towns and cities close to San Luis Obispo where you might find housing. Because I live and work in San Luis Obispo county, I can say that it's a great community!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 10, 2012
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