The Beach or the Mountains? | California | Living in Mexico

The Beach or the Mountains?

In choosing where to live in Santa Barbara, you're faced with an tough decision. Beach? Or mountain?

The beach offers salt air breezes and recreation possibilities.


There is, however, the problem of privacy. All kinds of riffraff are allowed anywhere, in the water and on the land up to the mean high tide line.


One way to avoid the trespasser problem is to buy a house on a bluff. You want this one? Bring lots of cash. I'm guessing at least $15 million.

Scratch the beach. It's for the nouveau riche anyway. The mountains on the other hand, have a more exclusive cachet. As Matt says, they have the feel of old Pasadena.


The built-up hillside behind the large buildings is called The Riviera.


You'll still need pots of money to live here. Here's a relatively modest Riviera home that shouldn't run too much more than $7 million. What's mind-bending is that there are lots and lots of houses like this one. It's not like it's all that special—for Santa Barbara, that is.

OK. We can't afford the ocean and we can't afford the mountains. Let's look in a lower-priced neighborhood.


Now we be in the ghet-to. This place is a tear-down, and still, it'll go for more than a million when its owner finally decides to cash out.

Meanwhile it's a rental, like most houses in this neighborhood. Illegal immigrants (Oops. Undocumented aliens.), restaurant workers and such live in these places, four people to a room.

This house has maybe three bedrooms and a living room, $300 per month per person, grossing maybe $4,800 per month. Probably not quite enough to carry its present value, but selling it will be complicated by the need to build, say, four condo units on the site, each nice enough to go for $750,000 or so, so it may be awhile before a deal can be set up.

I can't afford even this dump.

So. Not the beach. Not the mountains. Not the barrio. Can you say "Lompoc?"