I'm Christina Lyon, a coffee sipping, piano playing, beach loving, word-obsessed freelance writer and musician. I'm on fire for helping freelance writers get paid and small biz owners succeed online. When I'm not reading or writing, I play music and explore the beaches and wild trails along the California coast.

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A Local’s Guide for Beach Living in California

Christina Lyon

As my 4-year anniversary of living in Redondo Beach, California approaches, I thought I’d write a post to share what beach living in California is like–and why I love it!

With our swaying palms, cool ocean breeze, and unmistakable California sunsets, there’s nothing quite like the laid-back beach vibes of Southern California.

Many people dream of living at the beach, and for years I was one of them. I wish I could say I created a strategic plan to move to the beach in California, but I didn’t. In fact, I can’t credit myself with moving to Redondo Beach at all, it just happened when I moved from Los Angeles.

It’s easy to see why–Redondo Beach is one of those hidden California beach towns that flies under the radar of tourism (thankfully)! Fact is, there are so many beaches in California to choose from, each with its own unique vibe.

Here’s my local’s perspective on beach living in California to help you decide if #beachlife is in fact, the best life.

*spoiler*

It is.

And for the skeptics who think California is simply too expensive, here’s my guide to living in California on a budget!

Which Beach City in California is Best?

What’s a good beach town in California to live in? As a Redondo Beach local, I’m gonna say Redondo Beach! Talk to a Laguna Beach native, a Venice resident or Huntington Beach surfer and they’ll tell you their town is the best.

Rightfully so! Our beaches are rad.

*Update since this post went live*

>>>I recently moved to Huntington Beach and bought a condo, learn about the HB lifestyle and home buying process here.<<<

Spanning the iconic 655 miles of Pacific Coast Highway, from Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara to San Diego, there’s no shortage of cute beach towns in California.

Seriously, there are dozens and dozens and dozens of beaches in California! Choosing between California coastal towns to live in depends entirely on your style of living. Of course, there is the conventional list of best beach towns in California to live: Santa Monica, San Diego, Malibu, Huntington Beach… but those are all pretty pricey beach towns.

That’s why it helps to broaden the map a bit and seek out underrated California beach towns, which will help lower the costs (slightly).

Best Beach Towns In California To Live

Looking for affordable beach towns in California? Then you’ll have to go north… like really north to Crescent City or Eureka. Temps will be lower, but so will housing.

Love the vibes of hippie beach towns in California? Right on, dude, two words for you: Venice Beach. Somehow, despite its startling gentrification, Venice Beach has retained its hippie vibe. You’d think it’d be cheap then, right? Think again. Venice is straight-up $pendy. Also, check out Ocean Beach near San Diego, and of course one of my faves, Santa Cruz.

Want a beach town without all the hype? I feel you, which is why I recommend the South Bay for underrated California beach towns. Somehow the South Bay beaches, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach, have managed to fly (mostly) under the radar. You’ll still find the steep cost of living here, but you’ll get more vintage, classic California beach vibes without the hordes of tourists you’ll find in LA.

The best way to decide which is the best beach town in California is to visit them! Also, scout out websites like Zillow and Neighborhood Scout to acquaint yourself with average rent costs, safety, etc.

When you move to California beach, you get the perk of exploring nearby islands, here Christina walks on the dock at Catalina island.
Mixing it up with a weekend getaway to Catalina Island, another perk of living at the beach in California: exploring California’s islands!

Expect to Rent in So Cal

Unless you’re wealthy or have a lump sum of cash to drop on a steep down payment, beach living in California means renting for most of us.

If you’re a So Cal transplant, renting is a great idea to help adjust to the higher cost of living and/or save to eventually buy property. Of course, people buy property inland where prices are lower, but then you miss out on all the perks of #beachlife.

Or, you can buy a smaller condo or townhome to stay close to the sand, which is what we did when we moved to Huntington Beach!

But up until this year, we rented.

How much is it to rent an apartment in So Cal? It completely depends on the area you’re looking at. In the beach cities of California where I live, (sup, Redondo Beach?) the average rent for a one bedroom apartment is about $2,300 a month and rising.

Yikes!

If you didn’t just slam your laptop screen shut or exit out my website faster than I eat a street taco (which is pretty damn fast), keep reading to see what makes beach living in California worth the rent.

An aerial shot of Redondo Beach, CA. When you live at the beach in California, summer's are definitely the busiest time of year!

Let’s Talk Finances

To get a good grasp of the cost of living in Southern California, check out these 2019 stats. By far, your steepest expense is going to be rent.

I’m not going to sugar coat it: it sucks. Rent prices rise every year and show no signs of lowering. Gone are the days of rent control and every year we get a lovely little letter on our door with the rent increase. It’s a brutal part of living in California that every Californian eventually accepts. Why? Because California is freaking awesome.

I know what you’re thinking, “you’re a native Californian, of course you love it.”

Duhhhh… but hey, man, I’ve traveled around the world! I’ve lived in Florence, Italy, and studied Spanish in Panama. Why does that matter? Because I’ve seen the world and still know why California is the best place to live: The sun shines almost 300 days out of the year!

In Southern California, wherever you go you’re only a one hour drive away from the mountains, desert or beach. Not to mention we’re a progressive cultural melting pot. Plus, bordering Mexico means bomb Mexican food. And the list just goes on…

But you already know all of this, right? After all, you’re the one wanting to move here! And honestly, us Californians are a people who welcome transplants with open arms. We’re not snooty or scoffing at newbies, because in general, we’re pretty friendly. Of course there are bad apples, but that’s everywhere you go.

Want to know how to move to California on a budget? I’ll tell you my super duper special top secret tip:

SAVE.

In addition, cut out superfluous expenses like Starbucks, eating out, Postmates, etc. Pick a reasonable number, for example, $200 and start saving every month.

Most people choose to move inland as it’s more affordable than California beach living. However, it all depends on your priorities. For me, I’d rather spend a few hundred dollars more a month to live near the ocean because it’s the place I feel happiest. I fund my extra rent as a sort of hobby, instead of spending that $300 on shopping or going out, I put it toward my rent.

Is it worth it? Hell yes. Why? Allow me to elaborate.

You’ll Get Vacation Syndrome

Whichever beach you end up moving to, sit back and allow yourself to slow down and enjoy beach life in California. Truth is, beach living is slowwwww.

How else would it be? With the Pacific Ocean wafting in that fresh sea salt and the warm California sun tanning your skin, you can’t help but slow down.

This is what I call Vacation Syndrome. You are actually living in a destination people travel to for a vacation, so how could you not feel like you’re on perma-vacation.

I know this sounds dandy and all, (because it is), but it is hard to resist becoming a beach bum, trust me, I’m an expert on the topic. Especially when you work from home as I do. Every day, I ask myself… should I stay inside and work, or go layout?

Well, obvi I gotta hustle otherwise I won’t be able to afford this beach pad, but it’s quite tempting to play hooky and go to the beach! Regardless, make time for both! If you are paying the high costs to live at the beach, you gotta make time to enjoy it.

That’s why I make sure to get a 2-mile beach walk every day and go to the beach on the weekends. Otherwise… what’s the point? Ya feel me?

California beach living means you'll go on lots of bike rides, pictured is Christina on a beach cruiser in Huntington Beach, CA.

Beach Life in California is Slooowww

I really didn’t know you could live in greater Los Angeles and enjoy a slower-paced life until I moved to the beach. One thing that really wears on me about Southern California living, with our ridiculous traffic and excessive freeways, is that life flies by. Certainly not as fast as somewhere like New York City, however, most Californians are pretty laid back.

Moving to the beach in California, it’s inevitable that life slows down. Like I mentioned way up there at the beginning of this post, #beachlife is the best life. (I know I’m cliché, deal.)

Truly, we are chill at the beach. You don’t have to be a beach bum or hippie to enjoy beach life, though that doesn’t hurt either.

You’ll Be More Active

When the sand is nearby, it’s hard to resist getting outside and enjoying the sun. With the beach as your backyard, getting active becomes a daily routine. Living at the beach in California means there are a ton of water sports to keep you active i.e. swimming, surfing, boogie boarding, paddle boarding, kayaking.

Not a water baby? No sweat. Daily walking by the beach is the best! I always feel better after going for a long beach walk and clearing my head. Maybe you’ll start cycling more? It’s a thing. Actually, a big thing at the beach.

Whatever activities you decide to get involved with, living at the beach really is a way of life, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself movin’ and shakin’ more.

Plus, most beach cities in California are extremely walkable. So much so that I literally never drive anymore and have contemplated selling my wheels. Tacos for lunch? Find a local taco stand. Morning coffee? Hit up the corner store which also has a coffee bar. The options are endless for walking around most beach communities.

The Beach is No Longer Just A Summer Thing

Yep. Living at the beach means going to the beach in off-season, too. Even when it’s cold and windy because, at the beach, you know we get that cold and windy chill. Does that mean staying inside? Nope.

In fact, it’s all about layers. Locals don’t let the weather keep them inside. We bundle up and enjoy what feels like our own little private beach community. The tourists are gone, and it’s just the neighborhood out and about.

Despite the chilly weather, the sun is usually out and I absolutely love winter at the beach. I’d honestly rather have it be chilly and quiet than packed and sunny. But, that’s me.

The Ocean Becomes Your Therapist

No joke. Any problem you have can be worked out with a solid beach sesh. Walk down, sit your bum on the sand, and let the ocean do her thing. Don’t believe me? Move here and tell me I’m wrong. I dare ya! 😉

A pristine, sunny day like many you'll experience with California beach living.
A gorgeous day at the beach in San Diego, California.

You Feel Like You’ve Discovered The Secret to Happiness

Ok, I know this sounds bold… but it’s true. People travel from all around to visit California beaches, and you live here. It’s hard not to feel like you’re living in a dream or you’ve solved the riddle for happiness. I never fully realized this until people would come to visit me at my apartment in Redondo Beach.

Their comments were consistently in the vein of “you’ve figured out the secret,” and I was like… “whoa, you’re right.” Oh also, you may start talking like us, too. Just go with it dude, it’s part of being a California local. And yeah, no, we don’t really say “Cali” but we do say “no, yeah,” and “yeah, no” a lot.

Confused? Whatevs, you’re at the beach so life is good, right? Right.

Bottom line: life is hard, we all face certain stresses, living at the beach is the antidote to stress. Will it solve all of your problems? No… but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Our California Sunsets

*sighhhhh*

When I talk about California sunsets, I might as well be talking about a lover because DAMN, he fine.

Seriously, California sunsets are the best. In fact, we are a little snobby about our sunsets. Oh, you saw a gorgeous sunset in Bali? WELL, IT WASN’T AS GOOD AS A CALIFORNIA SUNSET!

Not snobby, just right. Ok… a little snobby, I forgot that I’m a Californian and I don’t like confrontation, I’m sure that Balinese sunset was bomb.

Anywho, our sunsets are seriously amazing!

The burning orange sun blithers into a painted landscape weaving pastel colors across the sparkling Pacific as seagulls squawk and the breeze sings in your ears. It’s. Just. freaking. Amazing.

Locals and tourists amass every night to canoodle and congregate neath the setting sun as the waves gently lap their dreamy soundtrack.

There is no possible way I can articulate how gorgeous California sunsets are. Best thing about beach living in California? Watching the sunset over the Pacific.

A colorful California beach sunset in Hermosa Beach, sunsets are one of the reasons to beach living in California is the best!

And that’s why we all pay around 2K a month to live here.

Still wondering if you should move to the beach in California?

Honestly, you’ve got to weigh the pros and cons as it’s a completely subjective decision. We all have our preference and as you can see, I’m a beach lover. We all have our own paths, and finding the best place to live and thrive is a huge part of embracing yourself and living your best life.

Take it from a local beach bum: once you move to a California beach, you’ll likely never leave!

Can’t get enough of So Cal beaches? Grab some Huntington Beach vibes or Catalina Island tips before ya leave, dudes.

Also check back and subscribe to stay up to date, as I’ll be posting more of California living on the blog soon. Do you live at the beach in California? Fill us in below!

 

May 17, 2019

California Beach Life, Lifestyle

*This post may contain affiliate links, and I may receive a commission on purchases made through provided links (at no extra cost to you).

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  1. Krissy says:

    Oh my goodness, it sounds so awesome, love it……..maybe one day

    Oh my goodness,it sounds so amazing!!!

  2. Linda Weiss says:

    You are sooooooo right on!
    I do believe the beach, PACIFIC, is my soul mste

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