7.1 out of 10


34.3984532671269 -119.514822588524
Great for
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Public Transport
  • Clean & Green
  • Cost of Living
  • Eating Out
Not great for
  • Childcare
  • Pest Free
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
  • Beach Lovers


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

"Zookers and Moon Doggies on the Sand"

Carpinteria is a tiny seaside town just to the southeast of Santa Barbara. When I was a teenager, I had a friend that would spend half her summer here and I would occasionally go along to make her company. Unlike a lot of seaside communities in So Cal, this is definitely not the domain of the super rich. Partly this is because of Carpinteria’s proximity to very unromantic Oxnard (ick, just the name is unpleasant off the tongue, “Ox” and “nard”). Partly this is because this has the feel of an older community—sort of your grandparents’ vacation town.

It’s really apartment city around here. Lots of boxy seventies style apartments and 80’s style town homes, but this is not like the kind of places you get in Manhattan Beach, where even though the apartments are small, you feel as if you are getting a cool, seaside flat. Here, if it were not for the weather and the not too distant sand, you would really not notice much difference from anywhere else. You could be in Van Nuys for all you know.

But, of course, the sound of the breakers, the drizzly beach weather and the shorts and flip flops dress code are a constant reminder of the nearby Pacific.

Although the year round population of Carpinteria is only 13,000, in the summertime it must double as all the people who keep their summer apartments here descend on the little coastal village. Catering to these vacationers are a number fairly square restaurants like Zookers and Sly’s Steakhouse. I am not putting them down. I actually like Sly’s—it is definitely the place to go for steak. I am only saying that they are not exactly cutting edge cuisine.

As to my favorite spots to go in Carpinteria, I would recommend The Spot—a beach town burger stand. Very yummy. As far as somewhere to go out for drinks, I would forego the better known Island Brewery in favor of The Palms and I have heard that Moondoggies is good for a kind of beach dive bar vibe, but have no first hand experience of said lunar poaches.

In terms of safety, locals often warn about there being gangs in the area both from Oxnard and from Santa Barbara. They also warn not to be taken in by the bucolic beach setting. This may be the case, but the crimes statistics for Carpinteria don’t seem to validate their claims. The overall crime rate in Carpinateria is about a third of the national average and murders and other violent crime are relatively rare. There is some property crime but it is not that significant.

The local schools also get a pretty bad rap with a lot of locals sending their kids to private school as they hit middle and high school because they consider Carpentiria High School a recruiting ground for local gangs. Supposedly there are a lot of fights and such at these schools. Again, however, the objective statistics don’t seem to paint such a bleak picture. CHS’s API score for example, ranks it just above average as far as California schools are concerned. Its STAR tests give a similar impression with students testing just slightly above average in all subjects except for science where they fall off precipitously for reasons I can’t explain.

Put simply, I don’t know whether the apprehension I have heard regarding gangs in the area is not just a reflection of fears having to do with the diversity of the city (Carpinteria is roughly half white and half Hispanic).

My read on it is that this is a great, affordable place to live, whose main problem/blessing is that it is too far away from the really main urban areas to draw on those who would drive rent and property prices up. I would certainly not mind living near the beach like this.
  • Beach Side
  • Affordable
  • Good Eats
  • Boxy Apartments
  • Average Schools
  • Too Close to Oxnard
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
  • Beach Lovers

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