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The 20 Best Places to Live in California Near the Beach

Newport Beach

Choosing a place to live is a personal decision, as each person prioritizes the various factors to consider differently. The lifestyle an area offers is often one of the essential criteria for those who want a better standard of living.

Some people dream of living by the beach and spending as much of their free time there as possible. California has some of the best beach towns in the United States, and the state boasts 840 miles of stunning coastline.

With so many locations to choose from along the coast of California, people then consider the other factors to help them choose the best location to meet their needs. These may include school rankings, safety, community diversity, employment opportunities, and ways to spend their leisure time. If you are considering a move to a beach location in California, here are the 20 best places to live in California by the beach.


20. Benicia

According to Benicia Magazine, Benicia is surrounded by natural beauty and has a small-town feel. It is an area of historical significance, and it is considered a Green City. Families enjoy living in Benicia as there are many things for them to enjoy, and the public schools are highly-rated. Other features of this Vallejo suburb in Solano County are commutability, low crime rates, employment opportunities, and a diverse community. This suburb is home to a little more than 28,000 people.


19. Goleta

Located just along the coast from the town of Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara County, Goleta is home to approximately 31,000 residents. It is a town that has something to offer everyone, from children to retired people. Families like this location because it has many activities and attractions for families to enjoy, and it also has excellent public schools.

Other factors that make this a fantastic location to consider are the direct access to the beach, the nightlife, community diversity, and the health and fitness facilities in the area. It has great transport links to local cities and the surrounding area, and the weather is amazing year-round. As with many of the most desirable locations, the cost of living is above the national average.

San Buenaventura

18. San Buenaventura

Although San Buenaventura is the official name of this beach town, it is commonly referred to as Ventura. Mini Storage says that it is one of the best places for surfing in California, and it is also one of the most affordable locations along the California coastline. It also has excellent music and food scenes, so there are some great places to go out in the evenings to enjoy food, drink, and live music. Those who enjoy nature will also enjoy living in Ventura, especially watching the gray whales in the ocean.

Manhattan Beach

17. Manhattan Beach

The Crazy Tourist lists Manhattan Beach not only as one of the best places to live by the beach but also one of the best places to live in California overall. Manhattan Beach is only a small town with approximately 35,000 residents. The high cost of living is possibly a deterrent for some people, but there are many factors that make this a fantastic place to live. It has highly-rated, there are plenty of activities and attractions to keep the resident entertained, and it is considered a safe place to live.

San Mateo

16. San Mateo

San Mateo is considered a prime location in the Bay Area. It is home to a thriving tech industry, and that means there are multiple job opportunities within this sector. There is an excellent food scene in this area, as it boasts some of the best restaurants in California. It also has a family-friendly and environmentally-friendly culture. It is a lively place to live due to the vibrant nightlife and the many outdoor activities to enjoy. Therefore, it is well-suited for those who enjoy a busy lifestyle. San Mateo is a suburb of San Francisco in San Mateo County, and it has a population of just over 105,000.

Redondo Beach

15. Redondo Beach

There is an excellent neighborhood community feel in Redondo Beach, which is something that the local residents enjoy. The housing options' diversity is also appealing, as there are homes in multiple styles to suit various budgets. Residents have access to many shops, parks, and restaurants, along with a wide range of leisure activities to enjoy. Furthermore, there are top-class schools and many job opportunities. Redondo Beach is a Los Angeles suburb that is home to fewer than 68 thousand people.


14. Alameda

An island suburb of Oakland, Alameda is a great choice for anyone who wants to live near the beach in California. It is a popular location amongst families due to the high standard of education in the area and the wide range of activities for families. Other positive aspects of life in Alameda include community diversity, high job availability, strong transport links to the surrounding area, and a lively nightlife. There is both a bridge and a ferry connecting this island suburb to the mainland.

Santa Cruz

13. Santa Cruz

The highly-rated educational establishments, the natural beauty of the area, and the excellent healthcare facilities are just a few of the reasons that Santa Cruz is one of the best beach locations in California. This town in Santa Cruz County is home to approximately 64,000 people, and it is widely considered one of the best places to live in California. Although this is an expensive location in which to live, there are activities for everyone, community diversity, and strong transport links.

Santa Barbara

12. Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara County is home to 435,000 people, while the city of Santa Barbara has just 90 thousand residents. The area is known as the American Riviera as the scenery is picturesque and includes beautiful beaches and a stunning harbor against a backdrop of a mountain range. The only downsides to living in this area are the high cost of living and steep property prices. It is an area that appeals to young people due to the lively nightlife, varied social scene, and multiple outdoor activities.

Seal Beach

11. Seal Beach

A suburb of Los Angeles in Orange County, Seal Beach is home to just over 24,000 residents. According to Niche, there are many positive features to this suburb that make it an appealing place to live for all demographics. Just some of these include low crime rates, great schools, multiple activities for everyone to enjoy, job opportunities in multiple sectors, and good transport links.

It also has a diverse community and vibrant nightlife. Seal Beach is known for its rich culture, gorgeous beaches, picturesque parks, and amazing restaurants. A further reason this is such a popular place to live is because of its proximity to larger cities, so it is a good option for commuters.

Morro Bay

10. Morro Bay

Morro Bay is a beach location in California that will appeal to retired people due to the quiet nature of the area. However, it also appeals to families due to family activities and excellent schools. There is a relatively small community in Morro Bay, as it is home to under 11,000 residents. Food and drink are important elements of the lifestyle in this town, as there are many local vineyards, restaurants, and bars. You will find this picturesque town in San Luis Obispo County.

San Clemente

9. San Clemente

If one of the reasons you want to live in a coastal location is to enjoy the surf, then one of the top spots in California is San Clemente. The beach town is also known for its pier, its outstanding seafood restaurants, and its Spanish architecture. San Clemente is a suburb of Irvine that has 65,000 residents. Some of the most appealing features of San Clemente are the excellent schools, the low crime rates, and the wide range of activities for people of all ages.

Hermosa Beach

8. Hermosa Beach

Hermosa Beach is a suburb of Los Angeles that appeals to a diverse range of people. The outstanding schools and family-oriented activities make it a fantastic place for families, while the health-conscious community and outdoor activities appeal to those interested in fitness. It is an area that offers the perfect beach lifestyle, and it also has a high-energy entertainment scene. Foodies love the area as there is a great food scene with many excellent restaurants.

Laguna Beach

7. Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is a stunning location that has seven miles of rugged coastline with magnificent cliffs and pretty coves. It is one of the top locations in California for those who enjoy an outdoor lifestyle, as there are 20,000 acres of protected natural land, which is ideal for hiking and cycling. The town also has a nice shopping district and excellent restaurants, says Pure Wow.


6. Coronado

Located in San Diego County across the San Diego Bay from San Diego, Coronado is home to almost 24,000 residents. It is a more affordable place to live than San Diego, as the median household income is more than $101,000. However, property prices are high in this resort city. Therefore, it is a good option for people who work in San Diego but cannot afford the property prices and the high cost of living.

Mill Valley

5. Mill Valley

Mill Valley ranks highly on the list of the best places to live in California near the beach due as it is considered one of the most liveable locations in the state. According to, this small city is home to just under 14 thousand people, and it is one of the safest places to live in California. It has some of the best schools in the state, boasts a stable housing market, and is surrounded by beautiful landscapes. Its proximity to San Francisco has made Mill Valley a popular location with San Francisco commuters.

Santa Monica

4. Santa Monica

The close proximity of Santa Monica to Los Angeles makes this Southern Californian town one of the best beach communities for commuters. It is a location that consistently makes it into lists of the best places to live in the United States due to its diverse community, walkable streets, and the wide range of amenities and leisure activities. Santa Monica has a population of just under 90,000. The one negative point of this location is the high property prices, as the median cost of a property in Santa Monica is $2 million.


3. Encinitas

Encinitas is in San Diego, and it is one of the most popular places to live in California near the beach for families. The two main reasons for this are that the schools are highly-rated, and there are multiple family-oriented activities to enjoy. Encinitas has a lovely downtown area, and there are activities and attractions for everyone to enjoy. Other reasons to consider Encinitas are the diverse community, the job opportunities, and the vibrant nightlife. Like many locations in California, the cost of living in Encinitas is high.


2. Carlsbad

Carlsbad is close to San Diego and Oceanside, and it has a population of around 110,000. One reason that Carlsbad is such a great place to live is the diversity of the activities you can enjoy in this coastal town. It is a location that will suit people who enjoy a busy lifestyle, as it has a great nightlife and multiple activities and attractions to suit people of all tastes and ages.

There are excellent restaurants, antique shops, golf courses, museums, wine bars, family attractions, and watersports. Although life in Carlsbad is expensive compared to the national average, the cost of living and property prices are significantly lower than the state average.

Newport Beach

1. Newport Beach

According to Patch, the best place to live in California by the beach is Newport Beach. It is a town that consistently makes it onto lists of the best places to live in California, as those who live in this seaside community enjoy a fantastic lifestyle. However, living in this location comes at a price as property prices and the general cost of living are high.

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Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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