7.8 out of 10

Santa Monica

Ranked 28th best city in California
34.0249000688284 -118.482979359455
Great for
  • Internet Access
  • Gym & Fitness
  • Medical Facilities
  • Shopping Options
  • Parks & Recreation
Not great for
  • Cost of Living
  • Lack of Traffic
  • Parking
  •  
  •  
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Beach Lovers
  • Retirees

Reviews

4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
2yrs+

"A City by the Sea"

When people think of Santa Monica, they mostly think of two areas, the Pier and the Downtown area along Ocean Avenue. They think of it as a rich overcrowded neighborhood with beautiful views and nice restaurants. It certainly is this, but it is perhaps better to think of Santa Monica as what it is, a fairly complicated city, rather than just than one neighborhood in Los Angeles. Santa Monica’s 80,000 residents run the gamut of ages, races, and classes. In the northern part of Santa Monica (North of Montana) you have an older, richer, whiter crowd, while down by Pico, just south of the Santa Monica Freeway, you get a younger, working class Latino demographic. Along the beach, in the Downtown area the residents tend to be younger but more affluent, while south of the Santa Monica freeway, along the beach you get some of the hipper, artistic sort of crowd. Put simply, there is a wide variation in terms of the people that you get in Santa Monica—it’s a group of neighborhoods rather than one monolithic group.

The look of the area is just as varied. The beautiful beaches down beneath the cliffs look much like other LA beaches until you get to the Pier. Up along Ocean Avenue, at the top of the cliffs, you feel as if you are on Miami Beach with lots of storefronts opening up onto the avenue. North of Montana, the neighborhood there feels much more like Beverly Hills, with leafy streets and expensive older homes. Between Montana and Wilshire on the other hand, it is virtually all apartments—many of them upscale, though progressively less so as you draw inland. Much of the inland area of Santa Monica is not at all beautiful, filled with car dealerships and ugly 1970’s style apartments, and along the freeway in the Pico area, things have a rather rundown look—as you might expect since it is the home of the Graveyard Crips—a notorious local gang.

There is lots to do in the Downtown area of Santa Monica, from the world famous pier that has appeared in dozens of movies to the pleasant Third Street Mall—a pedestrian open air shopping center with four movie-plexes. There are lots of restaurants and nightspots as well, where you can have some wine and chill or go dancing to Cuban beats to all hours of the night. If you are more in a G-Rated frame of mind, you can take the kids to beach or to one of the many parks—like Clover park by the Santa Monica airport, where they can play and watch the planes take off.

The schools in the area are solid, if not great. Santa Monica High School is one of the most diverse schools in Los Angeles with a mix of students from all backgrounds and Santa Monica College is a really well-loved community college not only for its proximity to the beach but because of the positive learning environment it has managed to foster.

Crime can be a bit of an issue in Santa Monica, but considering the 80,000 plus residents and the fact that most of the more violent offences are contained within one area of the city, Santa Monica is not too dangerous of an area. The cost of living can vary quite a bit as well, with rents being far higher along the coast and in the northern areas than inland and to the south. Overall, you can find just about any kind of lifestyle you want in Santa Monica, so long as you are willing to get past the cover.
Pros
  • Beautiful
  • Restaurants
  • The beach
Cons
  • a bit of crime in spots
  • Expensive
  • Lots of tourists
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
2yrs+

"So beautiful but so expensive"

Santa Monica is a great part of Los Angeles because it has a pretty beach but it's still in the city and has a lot of city life going on within it. The only problem is that the accessibility combined with the beach serenity makes for a pretty expensive neighborhood that's also usually pretty crowded. It's also a little bit more vanilla than, say, Venice or even Manhattan Beach. There are a lot more apartment buildings than bungalows or houses and they're all pretty much from the 1970's - brand new. Also, most of the apartments have carpet which is pretty gross.
But, the beach is beautiful and there is plenty to do. Chaya Venice, Ivy at the Shore, and Capo are the best (and most expensive) restaurants in Santa Monica. Dining at Capo was one of the top five best restaurant experiences I've ever had: everything about it is impeccable. Bay Cities Deli is a must for the Santa Monica experience. It's a perpetually packed Italian deli / market that has the most amazing sandwiches. It's perfect for a lunch to take to the beach.
Main Street in Santa Monica is such a fun area for shopping and bar hopping. There are amazing boutiques and a ton of bars lining the streets and it's always pretty happening. Of course, there's also 3rd Street Promenade, which is great for mall-like shopping but I tend to avoid it because it's always so overrun with tourists.
The Santa Monica Pier is fun for a quick walk up and down (and a photo op) but it's definitely not a local hang.
And, Montana is worth mentioning, as well. It's a more laid back street with a more mature crowd. But, it's lovely, there is some great shopping and Father's Office is one of my favorite bars in the city.
Pros
  • The beach
  • Restaurants
  • Beautiful
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Lots of tourists
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
4/5
2yrs+

"busy road, but a straight shot to the beach!"

Wilshire Blvd is a main thoroughfare that runs through Los Angeles and Santa Monica. There is endless shopping, both upscale boutiques and tourist traps, restaurants- fast food and fancy, and entertainment of all kinds along this road. It is very congested so it can be hard to get pulled in and out of places is the only drawback. But overall it is a safe area with a lot to offer, and an easy route through Santa Monica to the beach, it ends up right near the Santa Monica Pier.

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Best Neighborhoods in Santa Monica

"Aflluent, chic, beautiful."
34.0387877813662 -118.501571484503
2

Ocean Park

4.5/5
"Prime beach neighborhood in Santa Monica"
34.0044528843279 -118.47862789888
3

Mid-City

3/5
"Car Dealerships and Low End Hotels"
34.029997718211 -118.479891708203

Unranked Neighborhoods in Santa Monica

City Center

2.5/5
"Third Street and the Pier"
34.013221257186 -118.490771703122

Northeast

3/5
"Sleepy Santa Monica"
34.0410025565464 -118.478682875584

Pico

2/5
"High School, College and Gangs"
34.0241930731685 -118.471210939284

Sunset Park

3.5/5
"Clover Park, the Airport, and Reasonable Rents"
34.01503785608 -118.465809377145
"LA's best neighborhood"
34.0283094123809 -118.495063913068

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