Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

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Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live
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Santa Barbara from the clocktower (Photo: Photopippo)

By Michelle Montalvo Staufenbiel 

Recently U.S News & World Report published an article titled, "125 Best Places to Live in the USA." Low and behold, our very own Santa Barbara has made the list.

As a member of this community, I would like to take a moment to rejoice in the fact that our city is awesome. Well, to be specific, it is ranked number 73 out of 125 metro cities. So not quite the very best according to this arbitrary ranking, but close enough. 

The city that made the very top of the list was Austin, Texas; which did have a bittersweet effect for me as my sister recently decided to move to Austin, Texas. She attempted to persuade me to move with her, her fiance and their animal farm. Obviously, the thought of not living in the same state as me was devastating, for she is leaving behind her favorite person, but as her favorite person it is my obligation to forgive and support.

As she tried to convince me that Texas would be “great” and “not that far”, she brought up a few aspects of Austin that U.S News mentioned in their article: booming music scene, no income tax, great outdoor opportunities. Well ok, it is not hard to fall head over heels in love with an environment like that.

As noted in U.S News & World Report “the median sale price for a single-family home in Austin is well above the national median”. But considering how expensive major cities in California are such as San Francisco ranked number 7 and San Jose who made 14 on the list, Austin is still a more financially sound option for young adults and new families. With all of this talk of finance in mind, it is important to connect once again to the city we hold in our hearts: Santa Barbara.

In the report on Santa Barbara, there was a mention of the rise of individuals working locally but living elsewhere due to expensive housing. It is no surprise then that the city of Santa Barbara is often called a “Playground for the rich and famous”, after all, Oprah Winfrey does have a house located in Montecito. Though I have yet to run into Oprah, I still have faith that one day I may get lucky. 

To declare that Santa Barbara is a perfect place would be biased as well as wrong. I still have yet to find a Chinese restaurant I adore, but along the way I did discover other things I love. It was here that I discovered rock climbing and realized that with enough hard work I can do a pull-up. It is here that I make the point of going outside and breathing in the fresh air, instead of staying trapped inside.

Some of the aspects of Santa Barbara that draw many towards this community is the sandwich effect of being wedged between the Santa Ynez mountains and the Pacific Ocean. It is a “paradise,” one built for active individuals who love the outdoors. A Saturday can be dedicated to a hiking outing with friends. Another day can be spent surfing in that huge puddle we call the Pacific Ocean.

Santa Barbara brings out the desire in many to be outside and engaging with the world around them. Not only is it all accessible, it's irresistible and, call me biased, but Santa Barbara should at least be ranked in the top ten. Right? 


Michelle loves to Rock Climb (if that wasn’t obvious by now) and is currently freaking out about the current season of Game of Thrones. 

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MasterChief Apr 29, 2019 09:56 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

I have lived all around the world. Nothing is as it once was. But SantaBarbara will ALWAYS be HOME! If your not happy here,Leave! Hope you find happiness somewhere. Good Luck! BYE-BYE!

Factotum Apr 29, 2019 10:06 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

Running away from the downtown problems and city mismanagement does not make this a better town. Stop playing in the mountains, roll up your sleeves and get working on making this town a better place again, when its signature used to be active civic participation; not using this city for self-centered recreation.

Robert247 Apr 29, 2019 09:08 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

This certainly doesn't make me an expert, but I have lived in both places. I remember our family bought/had built a 2000 sq ft house on an almost 1/2 acre corner lot between Austin and Round Rock in the mid 70's. Cost was about $42,000 as I recall. It was in a new subdivision with fields for baseball, soccer and football. Outside of that, it was miles of open fields for ten miles, all the way to Round Rock. Now it is all developed. There is very little if any open space in that area left. As a kid it was a great place to live. Many things to do to keep us busy. One of those things was exploring the open areas, creeks, ponds that were everywhere. Saw allot of wildlife from armadillos to deer to cotton mouths. Caught many species of fish, but mostly big cats. Almost any stink bait would get them biting. Sports, especially football was huge and a big part of most peoples lives either playing, coaching, or cheer leading. People were very friendly in that they would wave or say hello to you in passing. These were complete strangers. Weather in general sucked. It was terribly warm and humid for many months of the year and then in winter would get very cold. 18 degrees the day we left to move to SB. 12/13/1977. Two days later we arrive on SB. Driving up State st trying to find our way, it was 84 degrees. I hadnt wanted to move from Austin being that I was a young teen and had just started to build friendships, but damn 84 degrees in December? There must be something to SB. It was beautiful until a couple days after Christmas. Then it began to rain. It seemed like it rained every day that year. I hated my parents for moving us here. Then summer came about. I had made some friends finally, found the beach and what more needs to be said. I'm still here. Yeah the weather around here can be extreme from time to time, but more often than not, it is either absolutely perfect, or a little on the cool side. Yes it is true that SB has the 3rd highest recorded temp on earth, and I've lived through one winter here where for a couple months it was below freezing each night for a couple months with a low at our house of 22. But these types of events are not the norm and happen very infrequently. So in a nutshell, both places have seen major growth. Prices have increased dramatically in both locations. House in Austin now on Zillow says it would go for $300,000. The only thing that hasnt changed for either place is how pleasant weather wise it is to live here compared to there. Oh yeah and we don't have cotton mouths, thank god! I would love to go back some day for a visit. But only a visit. We do pay a premium to live here, but in this world, you get what you pay for.

Potif Apr 29, 2019 10:46 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

You must never have tried to even get close to the parking lot at Ala Moana Shopping Center in Honolulu during the Christmas season. There the streets around it become 'parking' lots at that time!!!

Thomas John Apr 28, 2019 09:51 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

Well, seeing all the dumb a** personal license plates that have SB in them it must be great. "lov in SB" "esq SB" . "surf SB" "loser SB" I figure they are all getting ready to move to San Bernardino.

Concerned4Calif Apr 28, 2019 10:49 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

Everyone says we have great weather in Santa Barbara. There are nice days for sure but we just finished a 7 year drought that completely sucked. It killed vegetation and created the perfect storm situation for multiple fires that lasted months and ended with terrible mudslides that sadly killed many residents. May and June are so bad they are called "May gray" and "June gloom". Yes there are nice days but maybe a little more humility is in order.

PitMix Apr 30, 2019 01:18 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

We're the most spoiled people on the planet. Probably only 2 days out of a year that you can't do something you planned outdoors because it is raining (called drizzle in the rest of the US) or is hot enough to be called a nice day in Arizona. The Scandinavians are the happiest people on the planet because they actually have to deal with freezing cold, and this gives them a mindset where they enjoy the good days they are given and find other positive things to do during the dark days. Even the poorest of us are 1 percenters when it comes to lifestyle!

a-1568636526 Apr 29, 2019 06:49 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

LOVE the "Graypril"!! I'm born and raised here (almost 55 years) and own a biz here. I'm obviously not leaving any time soon and have learned to work with what SB is - and proudly so. As for the weather - yes, it can be unpredictable...we do have those 80 degree Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years but it's unusual. You can pretty much guarantee the May Gray/June Gloom, that every few summers we'll have a "bummer summer" where it doesn't get warm until late August and that we get a heatwave as soon as school starts in September. The rest is go with the flow. Don't like it...move. I'll take this "unpredictability" vs. snow/tornadoes/hurricanes any day of the week.

Factotum Apr 28, 2019 10:32 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

At one time Santa Barbara had more psychotherapists per population than any other city in the Nation. Living in paradise was not the answer either. Life satisfaction is far more than weather.

Factotum Apr 28, 2019 10:30 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

Your state representatives, which include Hannah-Beth Jackson and Monque Limon, are demanding all single-family residence lots can now become four-plex units. Santa Barbara will quickly become another Oxnard or Ventura and lose its uniqueness entirely.

RHS Apr 28, 2019 10:05 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

What possible good does it do to have Santa Barbara ranked even higher? This jingoistic endeavor will only mean more congestion, higher rents and housing costs, poorer service in local stores for local residents and general exploitative behavior by business and individuals. I vote we move down to 437.

a-1568636526 Apr 28, 2019 08:31 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

Grew up here since the late 50’s - left for 35 years and recently returned. Santa Barbara isn’t what it used to be - however, the weather can’t be beat.

jak Apr 28, 2019 08:19 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

I’ve lived in a dozen places during the course of my life. I’ve spent over half my life in Goleta/Santa Barbara. While I always find something to enjoy about wherever life happens to park me at any given moment, Santa Barbara remains special to us. Yet it is not a particularly great place to live if you’re not already established there. Job opportunities are limited, cost of living is high to the point of being bizarre (no, not just housing) and people tend to be harder to get to know than most places and tend to be narrower minded than average once you do get to know them. Still, I suspect that we will be back at some point during retirement.

a-1568636526 Apr 28, 2019 07:51 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

Weather, community size and not knowing where to go are the reasons I stay. Exceptionally high taxes, filth, and community government’s inability (or unwillingness) to prioritize major concerns for the last 5 decades from elementary schools ranked in the bottom 5000 statewide and homelessness to replacement of antiquated infrastructure reduce everyone’s quality of life. Weather! Great weather!

a-1568636526 Apr 28, 2019 12:31 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

Santa Barbara is amazing if you avail yourself of the things it has to offer- if you haven’t hiked, taken a day trip to Santa Ynez, touched the sea (let alone paddle out), ate at one of the nice downtown restaurants with a buddy for lunch on a great day, well, you’re just paying a lot of money for the weather only. Get out and use your membership- the only things wrong with Santa Barbara are the things that California in general keeps getting wrong policy-wise. If it’s too expensive and you aren’t accessing the sea and nature as much as you’d like then yes you should consider moving someplace cheaper. Santa Barbara and California in general are very expensive places and aren’t getting any cheaper.

SBAtlien Apr 27, 2019 09:40 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

I’ve lived in numerous cities across the globe and while Santa Barbara may not be what it once was from all the comments I read, it is still a great place. Every place changes, and will continue to, so it becomes how to adapt to changes or to venture to somewhere else that fits what you want.

SBAtlien Apr 28, 2019 09:43 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

Going to a new place doesn’t always mean one has fled another place or one place is better than the other. Most are not colonialists. The world is greatly connected and opportunities and perspectives shift allowing change as a positive outcome. I realize many disagree.

420722 Apr 28, 2019 07:31 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

Some people say the locals are rude, we’re not. It’s comments and the attitude that basically say if you don’t like the changes we’ve made to your hometown you can move that leave us baffled and angry and somewhat defensive so of course we seem rude.

a-1568636526 Apr 27, 2019 10:30 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

SBATLIEN. Unfortunately, a lot of people move to Santa Barbara with the attitude of "It's better here than where I'm from," and then they proceed to turn Santa Barbara into the place from whence they fled.

Roger Apr 27, 2019 08:17 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

That is where I got frost bite in my leg stuck trying to find the freeway home 6 hours in well below zero weather if I knew then what I feel now I woulda stayed home...

Roger Apr 27, 2019 07:03 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

I lived in Fort Wayne for 5 years as a kid much of it on the streets witnessed a murder kid died in my arms there was alot of violence then sure there is now...Buffalo...yes Bogus all right.

a-1568636526 Apr 27, 2019 04:30 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

So did Flint, Michigan. There are lots of cities. SB ranked in the lower half of over 100 cities. Not really a great place to live lol. Aside from the weather that is.

NamasteYogi Apr 27, 2019 04:20 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

Yesterday we had to call 911 on someone breaking in entering into the next-door neighbors, I went to the 99 Cents store and had someone completely screaming in my face about milk, someone who I never had spoken to. It was frightening to even go there. This morning there was a man who fell out of his wheelchair and everybody was just walking by him at Jack-in-the-Box on Milpas. The other night I went to eat on State Street and saw a man pooing behind the bus stop down Haley from state. Its truly paradise.

PitMix Apr 30, 2019 01:22 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

Been living here 20 years, in all that time I have have each of those experiences you describe but not all in a short time. Just think, you got it out of the way and will have smooth sailing from now on.

sbmh2015 Apr 27, 2019 05:38 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

Completely agree with you, Namasteyogi. Do not agree with Michelle the rock climber. Besides being pretty, not much to write about in regards to Santa Barbara. This town shouldn't even be in the top 100.

CoastWatch Apr 27, 2019 02:03 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

If you have a Trust Fund that provided you Santa Barbara real estate with a "grandfathered in" $600 per year Property Tax or a Trust Fund account that pays out $300K per year, then yeah, SB is a cool place to live... The rest of us second guess our decisions every time we pull off the Freeway off ramps and get confronted by gutter rats. Or write our Annual Property Tax Check to the County Auditor for $10,000 , not so much...

a-1568636526 Apr 27, 2019 10:34 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

COASTWATCH. Or, if you're like my neighbors who moved here and purchased a house in recent times you think you're entitled to be the inconsiderate bullies of the neighborhood because you pay that $10,000+ in property tax.

a-1568636526 Apr 27, 2019 01:40 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

Santa Barbara was one of the best places to live back in the late 70s. Back then people were embarrassed to say that they'd come here from someplace else. As for Austin: I was watching a movie the other day and the one character lambasted Austin repeatedly. He said that Austin has become a travesty of what it once was, overrun with newcomers and that the traffic was abominable. Sound familiar? What made me laugh was when the guy said, "And thousands of people gather every night to watch a bunch of bats come out from under a bridge." Ha. That's the only reason I would go to Austin----to see the bats. (Plus. Let's not forget Austin is in Texas. Ugh. Texas.)

a-1568636526 Apr 27, 2019 01:10 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

Wow!.. Look at the places considered better to live in than SB!.. Perhaps they have a functioning police force..or working programs to combat homelessness.. Maybe their gov employees don't embezzle, or maybe one cannot buy drugs on every corner.. Do their down-towns reek of human waste?.. I'm amazed SB is even considered for such a list.

REX OF SB Apr 27, 2019 11:05 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Again in Best Places to Live

Des Moines, Iowa, is ranked #5 and Grand Rapids, Michigan, is #13. Santa Barbara was also bested by Fort Wayne, Indiana; Buffalo, New York; and Anchorage, Alaska. Which should tell you something about the validity of this bogus survey.

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