Review of Santa Barbara, California


It's all a myth
Star Rating - 11/26/2020
If you are a multi-millionaire and can afford to live, shop and educate your kids within the bubble of Montecito, you can ignore this review. Moved here in 2001 and back then people were friendly, and for lack of a better word, "normal" and civil. Crime was virtually non-existent, traffic non-existent, no homeless on upper State street or wandering family neighborhoods, police could be seen patrolling the neighborhoods, our local school was top rated, and we got rain in the winter. The area lacked things to do in some ways, still does, and could get a little boring at times, but Santa Barbara was a great place to raise a young middle class family in safety and among friendly neighbors. Fast forward 15 years and a certain type of politics and mentality has taken over in the last 7 or 8 years that is speeding up a state of decline. Taxes and rents go up every year while quality of life declines, whether it's the healthcare system (6 months wait to see a doctor!), schools, care of the park system, or readily visible police. We saw health insurance choice go down to just 1 monopolistic company for over a year, homeless people living in creeks and starting fires near neighborhoods and along the highway, petty and organized crime in once untouchable neighborhoods now occur on a nightly basis, schools and math and reading proficiency are in the toilet, traffic on State Street incredibly frustrating due to high density housing, beaches are dirty and full of homeless remnants, and downtown is a mess, is half empty and has lost a lot of its charm of yesteryear. A huge part of the population who don't want to see their ridiculous property values go down as a result of this decline is in denial about all of this, and the community members like myself who dare to criticize these poor outcomes or the policies that create them are shunned. A lot of people who simply can't afford to live here vote for increased taxes on the upper middle class as the solution to the decline in schools and services, driving them down to a mid to lower middle class lifestyle despite making good money and paying their very high mortgages and property taxes. Yet still, the myth that Santa Barbara is one of the best places on earth to live persists and the housing prices defy logic given that long list I just wrote describing a city in decline. Yes, it's a beautiful place to visit once, or perhaps to spend your college years if you're an above average student, but that's about it. If you're looking to start a business and have it survive here, good luck - the taxes, high rents, and bureaucracy will kill it and you'll never save enough for a down payment on a modest family home. The only thing propping this place up besides the billionaires in Montecito and the persistent myth that this is one of the best places to live, is that if you go 1 hour north or south and it's much worse. The bubble will burst at some point. We're looking to cash out before it does.
Jen | Santa Barbara, CA
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