Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers title=
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers
35 Comments
Reads 16964

By edhat staff

For the third year in a row, Santa Barbara made it on the list of the top ten worst cities for first-time homebuyers.

Santa Barbara dropped down the list this year coming in seventh while in 2020 and 2019 it ranked as third. 

In 2020, 40% of all U.S. single-family home purchases were made by first-time buyers, and 14% more people became first-time buyers than the previous year. This growth is due in part to the fact that interest rates dropped dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to WalletHub.

WalletHub compared 300 cities of varying sizes across 22 key indicators of market attractiveness, affordability, and quality of life. Their data set ranges from cost of living to real-estate taxes to property-crime rate. Here is how Santa Barbara fared. 

Buying a First Home in Santa Barbara (1=Best; 150=Avg.):

  • 234th – Housing Affordability
  • 263rd – Cost of Living
  • 281st – Rent-to-Price Ratio
  • 174th – Median Home-Price Appreciation
  • 196th – Foreclosure Rate
  • 122nd – Property-Crime Rate

Santa Barbara ranks #294 overall and #132 among small cities.

The top five best places to purchase a home are Chesapeake, VA; Gilbert, AZ; Lincoln, NE; Cape Coral, FL; and Boise, ID respectively. 

Out of 300, Santa Barbara is followed by fellow California cities San Mateo, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, respectively.  Further condensed to city size, Santa Barbara's "small city ranking" determines it is followed only by San Mateo, Santa Monica, and Berkeley.

The typical home value of homes in Santa Barbara is $1,508,149 with home values increasing by 26.9% over the past year, according to Zillow.

Santa Maria was ranked 189, followed by Oxnard at 227 and Ventura at 257. Roseville was the "most affordable" California city for first-time homebuyers ranked at 56 followed by Elk Grove at 78 and Visalia at 87.

Source: WalletHub

Login to add Comments

35 Comments

Show Comments
Byzantium Oct 02, 2021 11:35 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

There is far more public housing in the city of Santa Barbara than any surrounding city I know about. Plenty of affordable housing - just no turnover and long waiting lists. However, never say when over 20% of housing options are subsidized public housing options means there is no "affordable housing". No affordable housing in Hope Ranch or Montecito - when do they provide their fair share since they are often collectively large employers of lower income jobs.

Ahchooo Oct 02, 2021 03:17 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

I’d like to see some of the rich people build a few ADUs on their properties and rent them affordably to their gardeners, cleaning staff, etc. The new state laws limit the city from having much say over this. So how about it, Oprah? Make a little Oprah village of three or four houses on some corner of your nice property. (How close is she to a bus line?) And really, not just Oprah, but a lot of the bigger places would be good spots for a few rentals. Some already have them. But now it will be easier to get permits.

a-1633276964 Oct 03, 2021 09:02 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

Let the servants live at the gate house, or the stable house, or the gardeners shack. Sounds like the perfect model of "noblesse oblige" European class society that we have tried to eliminate in this country until recently. If that is the social-economic model we are going to follow I will be interested to see how many of the 98% volunteer to be the serfs.

Ahchooo Oct 03, 2021 08:24 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

Yes, a cottage on the grounds near the Big House does feel a bit bad. Okay, so let the Montecito folk build some ADUs and rent them (cheaply) to random strangers instead of their servants. My point is that they have the land and now the legal rights to build. I’d rather see some cute cottages go out there than a lot of cheap, minimal garage conversions in areas that are already densely populated.

Basicinfo805 Oct 02, 2021 01:32 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

Yeah I agree, this shouldn’t even really be newsworthy. It’s just obvious supply and demand economics. I hope the intent of posting this isn’t to fire up even more cries for “affordable housing” in what is a premium coastal community that will always have a very high demand for real estate. It would be fantastic if we could all have a Miramar lane beach house, but hey….

biguglystick Oct 03, 2021 09:58 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

It's not desirable anymore when it's ONLY affordable for the very wealthy and normal people have to work three jobs just to make ends meet, much less a comfortable living. When cities become uber wealthy they lose all their charm, arts, music... and they die a slow soulless death. Pretty mountains and the ocean cannot be the only thing making a place desirable. There has to be a life to be lived too. It's a damned SHAME. I would give anything to go back to Old Santa Barbara.

a-1633296256 Oct 03, 2021 02:24 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

Always difficult to enter the housing market here. Growing up in Lompoc Valley, this was the "big City" -- good shopping, beaches and mountains to explore music and nightlife, it was paradise for a rural kid. As a new college grad (Cal Poly) in the 70's with a good job and local roots, still difficult because of limited housing even then.

SantaBarbaraObserver Oct 03, 2021 07:53 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

I will never understand the thinking of those who sacrifice their future for a what they believe is a better lifestyle in Santa Barbara. Why on earth would you live in SB, in practical poverty, suffering daily in order to meet your basic needs, when you can find a peaceful, easy life for a fraction of the cost in a thousand other great places? This town eats and digests thousands of these fools a year. There is a steady stream of people who come and try and live here without the financial resources, career opportunities or the where-with-all to make enough money. They are chasing some fantasy beach lifestyle and they are a big part of our city's problems. Like the endless flow of homeless, these fools continue to come here and expect a piece of something they have not earned. They are just as bad as the lazy Nth generation locals who feel that they're owed a piece of this town because their great grandfather moved here in 1939... as if. Work harder, earn your own way and buy your own piece of paradise. You are owed nothing, you are due nothing.

Byzantium Oct 03, 2021 09:14 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

UCSB turns out 5000 new graduates every year, who don't want to leave and have no skills to make it work to stay. They become the endless noisy ones, demanding someone else funds their lifestyle choices. Every year, 5000 more - past 10 year means potentially up to 50,000 voices demanding "affordable housing" so they can stay here.

biguglystick Oct 03, 2021 10:01 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

BYZ, I'm a native Californian and a long time local. I didn't come here 40 years ago for UCSB, and while you're right that they overenroll and many of those grads want to stay, they aren't the only ones calling for affordable housing. Affordable housing needs to be a thing here. Period. For the LOCALS.

ParvoPup Oct 03, 2021 06:20 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

Had a quickie electrical job for a house on Milpas just down from the Bowl. Typical funky Craftsman place probably from the '30s. Knock at the door, told my customer lives in the place behind the main house. The "Place" turns out to be a 19teens or 20's shed with open stud walls, no bath, no kitchen - just 8 feet by maybe 7 feet of 100 year old wood. Dude has a mini-fridge, a hot plate, a futon and a TV.

Finally had to ask - what do you do for a toilet?

"I get bathroom privileges in the main house twice a day!"

I ask what happens if you have to go three times?

Later I find out he pays $1150 bucks a month for this privilege of living in the 100 year old version of a Tuff-Shed.

I have to ask - "Why?"

His answer - "dude, it's SANTA BARBARA!"

I don't get it.

Byzantium Oct 04, 2021 09:00 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

What is the value added saying "it's Santa Barbara" that saying "it's Ventura" does not confer with the same fervor? Most likely the local complainers like living in a city where a long history private philanthropy and private property pride of ownership has bestowed multiple tangible and intangible gifts. They in fact do like being around "rich people". They need to own it. Otherwise, Ventura offers the same temperate charms.

letmego Oct 04, 2021 10:41 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

They don't call it the town of the newly wed and nearly dead for nothing. It's wonderful here, and it's definitely a great place to enjoy life. However, if you eventually get old enough that you want *more* (whatever that may be), decisions must be made. Condo? Commute? Different city /state altogether? Continue living with Mom and Dad? (note to my kids: not happening).

biguglystick Oct 03, 2021 10:11 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

You mean those first time home buyers who are lucky enough to be RICH enough to even enter the market here!!! I can never afford a home here unless something crazy happens, like a huge windfall. It's nuts. It's a horrible market.

Channelfog Oct 03, 2021 11:36 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

And a lot of those RICH people are not the mellow folks we care to hang with or live next to/under. You know the type, " We love the new Tesla but we're keeping the Mercedes and the Ferrari. What do you drive?"

Ehdat Oct 15, 2021 09:25 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

Many of my friends who have homes here are not RICH. They worked hard over the years and were first time studio buyers and first time condo buyers, often in buying partnerships building equity instead of paying the exact same rent, before they ever became first time home owners. It is really hard no doubt, but not impossible.

Luvaduck Oct 03, 2021 12:21 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

Interesting to correlate the various categories. (Would you rather live in a coastal city with a good climate, educated people and interesting activites or in some backwater with limited opportunities, a small percentage of educated people, not much cultural or entertainment opportunities and miserable weather?

Byzantium Oct 03, 2021 04:57 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

BigUgly, you keep coming up with the same complaints and the same story. Nothing about being a "local" translates as a right or relative income/skill level to get you any windfall housing. If you have been here 40 years and never got into the housing and/or good job market, not having a home today should not come as a surprise? There were windows where something could have worked, but not today. Dearborn Place was one of them. Mobile homes, easily could have been one of them. Local government pays extremely well and they always have job openings - you could have built up your skill package for any one of them. Health care skills - again could have worked. The licensed trades. Many others did leverage condos or mobile homes into their desired home over the past decades, and/or took advantage of either high paying vocational training skills at SBCC or obtained a degree at UCSB which repaid the investment of time and effort. 40 years was a long time for you to keep putting off your "tomorrow". Others did exercise a better sense of timing, took less than they wanted, sacrificed to make the mortgage, property tax and insurance payments, and then rode the market up into some tidy equity, if they did not blow it by refinancing and spending this windfall down on depreciating assets. It was never easy or a windfall. It was always about making prudent, long range choices and present sacrifices. Good news however is you now or will soon qualify for the many senior public housing units that are made available for low-income people. Contact SBHA and get on their waiting lists. Being a "local" might matter in this case. There are both public housing and private subsidized housing options in this town for seniors. Do some homework and make this work for you, even at this late stage of your own reality check. I am sorry you remain so envious which is not a good way to spend your second half of life. That is a choice; not a fixed condition. Thank you for sharing your story. Others can learn and hopefully know when to take some risks and sacrifices today to make sure they are not at the wrong end of this equation later when there probably are few do-overs. Buck up, SBHA just may be your best aging in place option. Thank the taxpayers for making this so.

Ehdat Oct 15, 2021 09:19 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

Spot on. This message is truth and a hard pill to swallow for most. I may fall into that group slightly, but I am well aware of my choices and dont complain. I only support the people who planned well, and not dwell on being envious.

Byzantium Oct 04, 2021 08:56 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

Lots of California public pension recipients move out of state. They take their California tax payer funded pensions with them because that money, as generous as it is, goes even farther out of the home state that provided it. Lose-lose for California taxpayers who are still stuck with paying off these public pension promises for life, while not benefiting from the recirculation of those dollars back into the state that is providing them.

PitMix Oct 04, 2021 02:19 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

Byz, I don't see how you can stop this for retirees. But I am more concerned with currently working local government officials that take their money elsewhere. Prime example is the LA Fire Captain who doesn't want to get vaccinated but who arranges his shifts so that he can live for most of the time in Texas. That means in an emergency, as a first responder, he is not available for work. Whoever signed that union contact is very short-sighted and wasteful with our dollars.

a-1633375258 Oct 04, 2021 12:20 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

I'm 62 years old, and it always seems like its been like this. Sure, SB prices were cheaper in the past, but they were cheaper in other places, too, so the relative "un-affordability" remains the same. People complain about crime now, but when I was in college in the late 1970's, people were complaining about crime then. People complain about the condition of State Street now, but I remember people complaining about it during the 70's, too. Along with SB's tough real estate market remaining unchanged, the fact that people complain remains unchanged.

SBTownie Oct 04, 2021 12:58 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

Tell us something we don't know.

Lately the neverending cycle of heat or fog (it's like we no longer have any other weather, just blasting heat, or overcast) has me looking at real estate all over the country. Homes in Minnesota are incredibly affordable. Colorado has some interesting stuff, too. North Carolina has a lot of dreamy, historic homes in what look like charming towns.

I'll probably go to my grave living here, but I do find the pull of getting out of here more and more enticing with each passing year. The secret is out on SB and I don't like the newcomers. They're changing the feel of places, and the tourism also feels out of control in a way it never used to. We barely have seasons anymore, and I don't want to live in perma-drought.

What good is the beach or the trails if they're so clogged with tourists and newbies that you can't even park? What good is our allegedly "great weather" if it's increasingly dry with each passing year and we start rationing water again, etc.

I dunno, man. I'm kinda souring on this place a bit. Never thought I'd say it. But here I am.

Basicinfo805 Oct 06, 2021 12:32 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked 7th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers

Fascinating combination of views expressed here. Everything from the realistic - no ones entitled to live in SB, to the downright sad - I’m a local and can’t afford it here! Throw in a little downtrodden like - I think I might have to move, it’s but like it used to be!

Keep it coming folks. Let’s see how many of the gimme gimme gimme types come out if the woodwork. Heavy taxpayers that work, have skin in the game, AND quite possibly are local - know from local politics there are A LOT of you out there. Make your voices heard!

Please Login or Register to comment on this.