Situated in central California, miles south of San Francisco, Santa Cruz is a popular surfing destination and beautiful beach town. With its rocky coast and picture-perfect ocean views, locals are proud to call Santa Cruz home.
“The natural beauty of the place is something that grabs a lot of people,” says Gregg Camp, who has lived in Santa Cruz for 33 years. “There’s something inherently calming about seeing the ocean every day.”
Getting around: While driving is the most popular way of getting around Santa Cruz, Camp says there are plenty of other ways to commute. The bus and rail system is well organized and popular among students and seniors. He also says there is a big community of bike riders who have no problem navigating the roads. And in some beachside communities, it’s easy to walk from place to place.
As far as traffic is concerned, Camp says aside from the typical morning and evening rush-hour congestion, it’s not too much of an issue.
Owning a home: When dealing with real estate, Camp says, Santa Cruz Proper is divided into a west and an east side. Homes in the west side are generally more expensive because of the demand caused by students attending the University of California, Santa Cruz. Average prices for two- and three-bedroom homes there are between $850,000 and $1.3 million.
On the east side, however, homes are more reasonably priced, between $550,000 and $600,000 on average, says Camp, a real-estate broker who owns Property in Santa Cruz, an area brokerage.
Finding fun: With Santa Cruz’s proximity to both the water and the forest, it is an outdoor lover’s paradise. “You can go from towering redwoods to the ocean in 45 minutes,” Camp says. If you like being outside, you can surf, hike, fish, sail, kite board, golf or participate in a variety of sports. If you’re a nature lover, you can explore the butterfly sanctuary, bird sanctuary, Neary Lagoon, 30,000 acres of parks or the nearby redwoods forest.
Aside from the outdoors, there is plenty of nightlife and entertainment to enjoy. One local hotspot is Captiola Village, which offers dining, shopping, live music, art festivals and other events year-round.
Tallying the cost of living: Camp admits the cost of living is higher in Santa Cruz than it might be in some East Coast beach towns. But, he says, residents balance that with the perceived quality of life there. With all the natural beauty and opportunity for fun, Camp says it’s totally worth it.
Living here “has a lot of value and emotional appeal. In a busy world, having this much calm is something Santa Cruz can bring to you,” he says.