Moving to Santa Monica

Welcome to Sunshine Central, where the Pacific Ocean meets Southern California charm - Santa Monica! If you're contemplating taking a plunge into the sun-kissed world of Santa Monica, this guide is your perfect partner. A blend of laid-back beach life, innovative cuisine, distinctive shopping, world-class art, and star-studded entertainment awaits you here. So put on your flip-flops and stroll with us through this comprehensive guide as we unravel the thrilling prospects of relocating to this vibrant slice of California. Don't just dream of the Santa Monica life, let's embark on making it your reality!

Moving to Santa Monica, CA landscape image

What to Know Before Moving to Santa Monica

1. Beach Life is the Best Life

When moving to Santa Monica, it's not just a residential choice, it's a lifestyle choice. The primary gem of this Pacific Ocean toast is its world-renowned beach. Santa Monica State Beach lights up with joggers, bikers, and rollerbladers taking in the breathtaking ocean views along the 22-mile Marvin Braude Bike Trail. And let's not forget the infamous Santa Monica Pier, where a ferris wheel, an aquarium, an arcade, and a historic carousel collectively scream, "Every day's a vacation!"

2. Year-Round Comfortable Climate

Living in Santa Monica means saying goodbye to bone-chilling winters and sweaty, unbearable summers. Santa Monica enjoys a temperate Mediterranean climate, with average temperatures hovering in the 70s year-round. So it's a farewell to heavy winter wear and a big hello to t-shirts, flip-flops, and sunglasses all year round!

3. A Foodie's Paradise

One of the under-sung perks of dwelling in Santa Monica are the gastronomic adventures it offers. From hipster coffee shops, fresh seafood joints by the beach, culturally diverse cuisines, to Hollywood's favorite healthy eateries, you'll be spoilt for choice. Not to mention, Santa Monica hosts a farmers market multiple times a week, stocking organic and locally grown products, a haven for health enthusiasts.

4. High Cost of Living

While all this sun, sea, and food does sound enchanting, it comes with a price. Santa Monica is considered one of the most expensive cities in the United States. From housing to groceries, be prepared to shell out extra dollars. But don't let this dampen your spirits, remember, you're paying for the magical ocean view and the unbeatable lifestyle!

5. A Hidden Greenhouse in a Library

Here's a little secret, nestled on the rooftop of the Main Library, the Pico Branch Library has a 2,000 square foot public greenhouse. This hidden gem cum community garden provides opportunities to learn about sustainable gardening practices. So, if nurturing your green thumb is on your list, you've got your own mini Eden in the heart of the city!

6. Butterfly Roofs Galore

In an architectural quirk, the city of Santa Monica features an unusual number of homes with 'butterfly' roofs. This mid-century modern architectural design, characterized by a V-shaped roof structure resembling butterfly wings, came into existence in the post-war era. Sight these structural wings flapping around the city providing a unique cityscape to Santa Monica.

In conclusion, moving to Santa Monica is akin to stepping into a casually sophisticated slice of paradise, one that celebrates natural beauty and offers an exquisite lifestyle. From beach life to architectural quirks, there's a dash of spontaneity in every corner. Level up your living game in Santa Monica and let life strike a perfect beach-and-city balance!

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Pros and Cons of Living in Santa Monica

Pros of Living in Santa Monica

Beachfront Location

Living in Santa Monica provides access to beautiful views and a beachfront lifestyle. Residents can easily enjoy sunrises or sunsets at the beach, engaging recreational activities such as surfing, swimming, and beach volleyball or simply take a relaxing stroll along the picturesque Santa Monica Pier.

Year-round Pleasing Climate

Santa Monica boasts a Mediterranean-type climate which means mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers. The year-round sunshine coupled with an ocean breeze makes for some of the most enjoyable and spectacular weather in the world.

Healthy Lifestyle Features

Santa Monica promotes a healthy lifestyle with its abundance of outdoor spaces, health food stores, vegetarian and vegan restaurant options. The city also has an excellent network of bike lanes and paths, making it easy for residents to stay active and environmentally friendly.

Cultural and Entertainment Opportunities

Santa Monica hosts a wide variety of cultural and entertainment experiences, including performing arts venues, galleries, museums, festivals, and a vibrant nightlife. Third Street Promenade, an iconic outdoor shopping district, is a popular spot for entertainment featuring frequent street performances and diverse retail shopping options.

High-Quality Education

Santa Monica is home to highly competitive public schools and colleges, such as Santa Monica College which is known for its strong transfer program to four-year universities. In addition, the city's proximity to other top-ranking colleges in Los Angeles provides numerous opportunities for higher education.

Cons of Living in Santa Monica

High Cost of Living

Residing in Santa Monica can be expensive as it's one of the most affluent locations in California. This impacts all aspects of living from housing and utilities to groceries and dining out, making the overall cost of living significantly higher than the national average.

Traffic and Parking

Santa Monica, like much of Los Angeles County, is known for its high traffic congestion especially during peak hours. Parking can also be quite challenging as free spaces are limited and public parking often requires payment.

Limited Housing Options

Due to the high demand and limited space, there is a scarcity of housing options in Santa Monica. It can be especially hard to find reasonably priced single-family homes or larger apartments for families.


As a popular tourist destination, Santa Monica can get overcrowded, particularly in the summer months and weekends. This can make places like the beach, parks, or popular shopping areas extremely crowded and less enjoyable for residents.

Noise Level

As a bustling city with a vibrant nightlife, Santa Monica can be noisy. Noise from traffic, street performances, restaurants, bars, and other city activities can be a drawback for those seeking a quieter lifestyle.

Modern day picture of Santa Monica, CA highlighting pros and cons of living in Santa Monica, CA

Is Santa Monica a Good Place to Live?

Santa Monica, CA is a great place to live because of its beautiful coastline, vibrant arts scene, and year-round sunny weather. More so, it boasts of a bustling tech industry and an array of delicious local and international cuisines to feast on. Additionally, with a plethora of exercise facilities and outdoor activities, Santa Monica is not just a hub for fitness enthusiasts but it's also one prime spot for building and nurturing a holistic lifestyle.

What Is Santa Monica Famous For?

Iconic Santa Monica Pier

Marked by its vibrant Ferris wheel and bustling pier, Santa Monica is well-known for offering entertainment, food, and stunning Pacific views. It's a must-see spot featuring old-timey arcade games, street performers and an old-fashioned carousel that has been turning since 1922.

Third Street Promenade

This lively pedestrian street teems with shops, restaurants, street performers and movie theaters, all ripe for exploration. At night, the area comes alive with twinkling lights and often hosts live music performances, making it the perfect location for an evening stroll. Learn more about Third Street Promenade here.

The Sunny Beaches of Santa Monica

Featuring more than three miles of sandy coastline, Santa Monica Beach is a major draw. With it's well-kept beach, bustling bike paths and quirky characters, this beach is much more than a great place to soak up some rays--it's quintessential California living at its finest.

The Original Muscle Beach

Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like. Since the 1930s, the stretch of beach just south of the pier has been a gathering spot for acrobats and athletes showing off their skills on balance bars, rings and tightropes. Learn more about the Original Muscle Beach on a sunny afternoon!

Capital building of Santa Monica, CA in artistic rendering

Overview of Tax Rates

Property Tax

In Santa Monica, CA, the general property tax rate stands around 0.76% as of 2023. Compared to the national average of 1.07%, property owners in Santa Monica pay relatively less in property tax.

Sales Tax

As of 2023, the sales tax rate in Santa Monica is approximately 10.25%. This is greater than the national average sales tax rate of 7.12%, making purchases in Santa Monica more expensive due to the additional tax.

Income Tax

Santa Monica residents, like all Californian residents, experience a statewide income tax rate that can range from 1% to 13.3% as of 2023, depending on income levels. This is substantially higher than the national average top marginal income tax rate of roughly 5%.

Housing Market

The housing market in Santa Monica, CA is majorly upscale, with a median home value that's higher than many other parts of the US. As of 2021, the median listing price is flagged at around $1.7 million, in comparison to the national median of about $350,000. Renters too face a premium, with median monthly rents around $4,200, substantially above the national median of $1,200. A buyers' market, high property costs are accompanied by premium amenities and proximity to commerce and the beach. Analyzing financial circumstances and long-term goals is crucial when considering residence in Santa Monica.

Cost of Living

Santa Monica, California is one of the most expensive cities in the United States, with a cost of living that is approximately 93% higher than the national average. Housing is the primary component of the heightened cost, significantly outpacing other U.S. cities. However, the area also boasts impressive amenities, high living standards, and a desirable beachfront location. Thus, while the cost of living is high, many deem the quality of life in Santa Monica worth the expense.

Weather & Natural Disasters

Situated in Southern California, Santa Monica's climate is classified as warm and Mediterranean, marked by mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers. Temperatures remain relatively moderate year-round, albeit cool sea breezes influence the area due to its coastal location. This city has abundant sunshine, averaging 310 sunny days a year. Rainfall is scarce, especially from May through September, while the months from October to April occasionally bring light rain. As with much of California, Santa Monica is situated in an area susceptible to earthquakes due to its proximity to the San Andreas fault line. Nonetheless, it's relatively sheltered from severe weather phenomena like tornadoes or hurricanes. Yet another environmental concern is the seasonal wildfires that can impact air quality in the region. Despite these, Santa Monica's climate is largely regarded as one of the most agreeable in the world.

Typical weather in Santa Monica, CA

Economy & Job Market

* Entertainment and media industry

* Tourism industry

* Information technology industry

* Aerospace industry

* Health care industry

The beautiful and bustling city of Santa Monica, located on California's coast, boasts an economy that's as dynamic as its ever-curling waves. Historically, the defence and aerospace industries planted strong roots within Santa Monica's economic landscape; however, with changing times and rising opportunities, realms like tourism, the overall entertainment industry, healthcare and IT have taken centre stage. After all, who wouldn't want their work life to blend with the fun of the entertainment world, or the sunny vibes of California's tourism industry? Right now, tinsel town's glamour is reflecting brightly on Santa Monica's job market, with media-related companies galore. Additionally, its IT sector sparkles too, courtesy of the innovative startups blooming in what's often referred to as 'Silicon Beach'.

If you're considering a move to sunny Santa Monica, you'll be happy to hear that the city maintains a relatively low unemployment rate, and is known for its high earners - a testament to the thriving local economy. Culinary delights, arts, wellness, and sustainability are also shaping Santa Monica's job market, so if your career aligns with any of these fields, you may just find your dream job waiting for you! So, whether you're an IT enthusiast, a healthcare expert, a media maven, or a professional surfer, Santa Monica may just be the wave you want to ride. It truly has a smorgasbord of job roles that form a beautiful mosaic of opportunities. Ready to make your mark in Silicon Beach and enjoy endless sunset views from your office?

Traffic and Transportation

Get ready to cruise around Santa Monica, CA! Our average commute time is a breezy 26 minutes. Not too bad when you consider the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Forget about revving engines! Here, we embrace public transportation. Our Big Blue Bus system conveniently connects you to Los Angeles, and trust us, it's much cooler than it sounds. If you're more into rails, hop on the Metro Expo Line and you'll be exploring Downtown LA in a jiffy! Up for some air travel? You're in luck! Santa Monica Airport, with its rich history dating back to World War II, makes us a travel hub, while Los Angeles International Airport, aka LAX, is just a short drive away for your more international adventures. Buckle up, folks! Whether you're on the road or taking to the skies, Santa Monica will keep you moving with style.

What is the traffic like in Santa Monica, CA?

Best Neighborhoods in Santa Monica

1. Ocean Park

First up is Ocean Park, a neighborhood brimming with charm. You'll find tree-lined streets, quirky bungalow-style houses, and an artsy vibe echoing from the independent galleries and boutiques. Notable for its walkability, Ocean Park is ideal for leisurely strolls, with its Farmers Market, quaint cafes, and the lovely Ozone Park. And let's not forget, the stunning beach is just a short hop away - you're almost close enough to smell the ocean!

2. Downtown Santa Monica

If you want to be at the heart of the action, downtown Santa Monica is the neighborhood for you. Think city living with a cool coastal twist. Bursting with dining hotspots, upscale shops, and nightlife, there's always something happening. Cultural contributors like the iconic Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade add their own touch, creating a buzzing, vibrant atmosphere personalized with street performers and appealing to both residents and tourists alike.

3. Wilshire Montana

Known for its serene vibe, Wilshire Montana, affectionately known as "WilMont", is a lush, green neighborhood full of character. Covered in beautiful historic homes and towering palm trees, it's one of those areas where everyone seems to know everyone, adding a great sense of community spirit. Wilshire Montana is also recognized for its top-rated schools and the famous Montana Avenue, a shopping and dining district par excellence.

4. Sunset Park

Another neighborhood that feels more like a small town is Sunset Park. Primarily a residential area, it's known for its laid-back charm, friendly locals, and close-knit community. But there's a lot more to Sunset Park. The district is studded with parks, local shops, and eateries that serve up an array of cuisines. To top it all off, you'll get some of the best views in Santa Monica from here, with incredible views of the Los Angeles basin and the Pacific Ocean.

5. North of Montana

Last, but by no means least, is North of Montana, the creme de la creme of Santa Monica living. Known as Santa Monica's most affluent neighborhood, it's brimming with expansive lots, elegant estates, and a quiet and serene environment, which could trick you into forgetting you're just a stone's throw away from the bustling downtown. You'll also find luxe amenities like high-end boutiques, sophisticated dining spots, and some of Santa Monica's top-rated schools in and around this area. Plus, the neighborhood is in close vicinity to the Santa Monica Stairs, a favorite workout spot for locals.

So there you have it, five of the best neighborhoods in lovely Santa Monica, each with its own distinct vibe. These five gems make the decision a little tougher but remember - you can never go wrong when you're moving to this beachside haven!

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Things to Do

Get ready to discover the laid-back, sun-soaked neighborhood of Santa Monica! This bustling coastal oasis, located on the west side of Los Angeles, is jam-packed with tons to do. From iconic landmarks to quirky hidden gems, the following guide is set to make you fall in love with your new city. Here are 7 top things to do in Santa Monica, for all you fresh locals out there.

1. Experience the Santa Monica Pier

Start off with Santa Monica's heart - the famous Santa Monica Pier. Enjoy a whirl on the Pacific Park's rollercoaster, savor a churro or two, and savour the stunning vista of the Pacific Ocean. With countless food stalls and frequent outdoor concerts, it's hard not to fall for this vibrant hub's charm.

2. Stroll Along Third Street Promenade

After exploring the pier, make your way to Third Street Promenade. A pedestrian-only street, it offers a broad selection of shops, bars, and restaurants. Don't forget to catch the talented street performers that enliven this shopping paradise.

3. Dive into Art at The Bergamot Station

This former train station turned art centre houses more than 20 galleries! At Bergamot Station, you can immerse yourself in contemporary art exhibits or even attend live drama and music performances. The Station also hosts various cultural events year-round.

4. Discover the lesser-known Camera Obscura Art Lab

Here's a hidden gem you likely won't find in tourist brochures. The Camera Obscura Art Lab, located in Palisades Park, offers a fascinating optical experience. Enter a dark room and watch the world outside projected onto a circular table. This unique attraction offers workshops in dance, music, and digital arts too.

5. Explore the Santa Monica Stairs

Get ready for some cardio! The Santa Monica Stairs, located in a residential area, are a favorite among fitness enthusiasts. Climb up and down these notorious concrete and wooden steps, and get treated with stunning views. It's a fun way to get your workout and meet locals.

6. Unwind at Tongva Park

Tucked away in Downtown Santa Monica, Tongva Park is a serene urban retreat. The park offers beautiful walking paths, picnic areas and an impressive water feature. Take a break from the city hustle and watch the world go by in this lush space.

7. Revel in the Mystic at the Gnostic Society's Library

Our second hidden gem takes you to the intriguing Gnostic Society's Library, which offers an extensive collection of Gnostic scriptures and mystical-philosophical texts. Here you can attend lectures or participate in meditation and chanting sessions. It's a peculiar and enchanting sanctuary for those curious about esoteric traditions.

Santa Monica is more than just a beach town - it's a blend of sun, sea, art, and unique experiences waiting to be discovered! This list has given you just a glimpse of what awaits you. Unearth the magic of Santa Monica, traverse its streets, and let it surprise you at every corner.

Things to do in Santa Monica, CA?

Find Movers for Your Santa Monica Relocation

Having delved into all Santa Monica has to offer, it's easy to see why this city is an irresistible place to call home. Uniting a gorgeous coastal setting with a thriving local culture and economy, it's the ideal place to embark on your next chapter. At this juncture, Great Guys Moving steps in, ready to streamline your relocation with our network of trusted, affordable movers. By simply sharing some basic information about your move, we can provide you with a selection of licensed and insured moving companies to choose from. Don't delay any longer - request your free moving quote and start your Santa Monica journey today.

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