Living in Santa Monica

Santa Monica is one of the few locations that truly embodies the beach town lifestyle of classic Southern California.

With its iconic pier, beaches, and relaxed atmosphere, Santa Monica draws many tourists. But what is daily life for residents?

This guide explores living in Santa Monica from a local perspective. Every day living by the beach, housing expenses and utilities, well-liked neighborhoods, and resident-only facilities and attractions are all covered.

By the end, you'll understand if Santa Monica's balanced coastal and urban lifestyle may be a good fit. Do not hesitate to contact us if you need more encouragement to decide whether Santa Monica is the right move for you.

Santa Monica's Prime Location

Santa Monica's beachfront location along the Pacific coast gives residents easy access to beaches, pleasant weather, and city conveniences. Nestled between ocean views and nearby Los Angeles, it offers the best of both worlds.

Over three miles of public beach stretch along the coastline, where locals often relax in the sun. Residents also enjoy cultural activities, dining variety, and job opportunities in a large city nearby.

The central location allows a true California beach lifestyle with urban perks. Residents enjoy an array of activities during the day. Only a short drive away, the big city beckons with vibrant nightlife action.

With its ideal setting near mountains and sea along Highway 1, Santa Monica also enjoys mild weather year-round.

Mediterranean Climate

Thanks to its coastal setting along the Pacific, Santa Monica boasts an enviable Mediterranean climate. Temperatures usually range from 65-75°F, and coastal breezes help stay comfortable.

Annual rainfall is minimal at 15 inches on average. This climate ensures warm beaches and ocean temperatures regardless of season.

When the weather is warm, residents may indulge in water sports like surfing. They may also spend time relaxing outside when it's cooler. All year long, the weather is pleasant enough to allow for outdoor activities.

Many flock to Santa Monica for its coastal charms and plentiful sunshine. This Mediterranean climate also fosters a relaxed atmosphere focused on the beach lifestyle.

However, living close to the California shore has its price, the same as living in any other coveted location.

Real Estate Market: Pricing Matches Prime Pacific Views

While Santa Monica offers unbeatable weather and activities, homeowners will find prices reflect the immense desirability of this coastal community.

Recent data shows the median home value is $1.7 million, double the LA County median. Condos average over $1 million.

Real Estate Prices in Santa Monica and Other Cities (September 2023):

City Median Home Value Median Condo Value Median 1-Bed Rent
Santa Monica $1.7 million $1 million $3,500
Malibu $3.2 million $1.5 million $4,500
Beverley Hills $3.1 million $1.4 million $4,000
San Francisco $1 million $600,000 $2,700
San Diego $725,000 $500,000 $2,500
Los Angeles $815,000 $550,000 $2,400

Note: The table provides a general comparison using the latest available data.

Most locals choose to rent, with the average 1-bed rent over $3,500. Unsurprisingly, 68% of locals choose to rent rather than own. Popular areas such as Main Street or the beach bluff demand over $4,000/month for small spaces.

Check listings and you will find waterfront estates surpassing $10 million. High costs mean most residents have higher incomes, though some dual-income households can also find opportunities.

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a property, our team can help you stay ahead of the competition.

A Paradise for Beach Lovers

When it comes to things to do, Santa Monica offers endless opportunities for water recreation. Boasting over three miles of coastline, let's explore some popular activities.

One of the main draws is the beaches. There's something for every skill level, from swimming and surfing to stand-up paddleboarding and sailing. Joggers, cyclists, and volleyball players also flock to the sandy shores daily.

A visit to the famous Santa Monica Pier is a must for any trip. This well-known landmark offers restaurants with picturesque views, an arcade, fishing rentals, and carnival games.

Another fantastic outdoor location is the nearby Palisades Park. The park, which stretches across the bluffs above the coastline, offers expansive views of the Pacific, biking, and hiking trails, and bouldering areas.

This community is appealing because of its inclusive spirit that extends beyond the waves, whether one is lounging on the beach or visiting parks and attractions.

Upon further exploration, it becomes clear that this community is well-known for its wide range of cultural offerings.

Melting Pot of Cultures

Beyond its beaches, Santa Monica has developed a diverse cultural landscape that showcases the world's diversity.

Santa Monica routinely ranks among the most multicultural US cities, a testament to its amazing population diversity. More than 40% of locals identify as members of an ethnic or racial minority.

The vibrant arts scene in Santa Monica is likewise diverse. In addition to museums, theaters, and performance spaces, the city is home to more than thirty galleries. The artistic talent of the area is on display at events like the Montana Avenue Street Fair.

Santa Monica's diverse identity is reflected in its culinary scene as well. There are options for every taste, including Michelin-starred steakhouses, izakayas, and tacos.

Highly regarded for its well-balanced fusion of coastal charm, art, and cuisine, Santa Monica cultivates a welcoming community. You are sure to feel at home among its varied galleries and dining options.

Plus, traveling around this quaint area is made simple by the excellent transportation links both inside and outside of it.

Getting Around Santa Monica

Getting around is easy whether you use public transit daily or hop on for weekend trips. Although Santa Monica has a casual beach town feel, both locals and visitors can still access well-connected transportation.

The average commute times in California:



Santa Monica


Beverly Hills


West Hollywood


Culver City


Marina del Rey


Note: The table provides a general comparison using the latest available data

  • Public transportation: Throughout Santa Monica and Los Angeles County, the Big Blue Bus system runs more than 100 routes. In roughly thirty minutes, the Metro Expo Line light rail connects Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles.
  • Ridesharing: Well-known companies such as Lyft and Uber offer rides in and around Santa Monica.
  • Biking: Santa Monica boasts 20 electric bike providers and more than 50 miles of designated bike lanes, making it a bike-friendly city.
  • Water transportation: A water taxi connects Marina del Rey and the Santa Monica jetty in the summer.
  • Travel times: From Santa Monica, commutes to major locations like LAX, Hollywood, and Westwood take about 30 to 40 minutes on average. Within the city, commutes take an average of just 23.6 minutes.

Without a car, getting around Santa Monica is simple, whether you take public transportation, bike, or use ridesharing services. The abundance of transit choices contributes to a sustainable and carefree culture. Apart from that, the city values high-quality education at all levels.

A Hub for Educational Excellence

Complementing its extensive transportation, Santa Monica offers renowned schooling opportunities. From elementary to college, its public K–12 district in particular receives excellent ratings.

K-12 Education

Along with prestigious private schools, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) gives families outstanding options from elementary through high school.

With 13 elementary and 3 high schools, SMMUSD maintains a 19:1 student-teacher ratio for personalized learning. Nationally recognized high schools cement the district's reputation for public education excellence.

Apart from the public schools, Santa Monica is home to several private schools. They include Santa Monica Alternative School, Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts, and Crossroads.

Higher Education

For higher educational pursuits, nearby colleges include Santa Monica College, Loyola Marymount University, and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. UCLA, USC, and Caltech are also close by.

With its acclaimed public schools and proximity to major universities, it's clear why Santa Monica nurtures academic excellence at all levels.

The seamless transition between learning environments makes it a great place for education at all levels. In a similar vein, professionals find plenty of work in this vibrant city.

Plentiful Employment Opportunities

Complementing its appeal as a family-friendly locale, Santa Monica also offers many job opportunities across diverse industries.

Key industries seeking talent in Santa Monica include:

  • Technology - Over 1,200 tech firms call the city home, from startups to big names such as Snap and Hulu. Santa Monica is emerging as an AR/VR hub as well.
  • Entertainment - Proximity to Hollywood lands the city over 800 production, talent, streaming, and media companies.
  • Tourism and hospitality - The city's attractions like the Santa Monica Pier employ over 12,000 people in this sector.
  • Healthcare and biotech - These fields are experiencing rapid growth in Santa Monica.
  • Retail - Downtown's historic Third Street Promenade sustains thousands of retail jobs.

With lower unemployment than Los Angeles and California overall, Santa Monica demonstrates resilience through economic shifts.

Professionals appreciate the opportunities and business-friendly climate within this enviable beachside community. In addition, the balanced economy reflects Santa Monica's focus on health and wellness as a walkable, outdoor-oriented community.

Walkability and Well-Being

With the majority of people preferring to walk as the main transportation mode, it's no surprise that Santa Monica prioritizes wellness and an active lifestyle.

Demonstrating this focus:

  • Fitness: Popular studios like PilatesPlusyoga and outdoor gyms like Muscle Beach and the Santa Monica Stairs keep residents active.
  • Nutrition: Independent markets like The Bruery emphasize fresh, healthy options. Numerous farm-to-table and vegan restaurants also support wellness.
  • Community: Residents regularly attend group fitness classes together and organize wellness challenges and buddy programs for motivation and support.

Additionally, community events such as the Santa Monica Classic 5K/10K Run further foster community involvement in healthy activities.

The walkable streets, world-class amenities, and genuine neighborly spirit centering on wellness showcase why Santa Monica is a paradise for those seeking balance and inspiration right by the coastal waves.

Live Your Future in Paradise: Discover Santa Monica's Coastal Dream

As we've explored, Santa Monica has a well-deserved reputation as a dream destination in California for good reason.

This includes:

  • A thriving wellness culture fueled by residents' zest for life by the ocean waves
  • An idyllic beach lifestyle with an iconic coastline, pier, and boardwalk always within reach
  • A walkable playground as one of SoCal's most pedestrian-friendly cities under a sublime climate
  • A tight-knit community with culture, arts, and joy
  • Great schools, restaurants, shops and plentiful things to do Santa Monica truly has it all—from a cultural scene and charming neighborhoods to an idyllic coastal environment.

There's no doubt that this Pacific paradise captivates everyone who experiences it. Are you interested in the Santa Monica lifestyle? Contact us to find your new home by the sea.

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