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10 Things to Know Before Moving to Santa Maria, CA

10 Things to Know Before Moving to Santa Maria, CA Written by Aislyn Hobbs

Santa Maria, California, is a lovely historic community that is situated roughly 159 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, 121 miles west of Bakersfield, and 65 miles north of Santa Barbara. 

Rudolph Cook, John Thornburg, Isaac Fesler, and Isaac Miller founded Santa Maria in 1874, and their names can be found on local streets and school buildings. The city is a great spot to call home thanks to its pleasant climate, thriving wine industry, and delicious BBQ.

Let’s check out ten things to know before moving to Santa Maria, CA!

1. It’s a cheaper option for Californians

With an index of 121, Santa Maria has a higher-than-average cost of living compared to the rest of the country, but it’s still 28% cheaper than California as a whole. The city has lower-than-California-average prices for groceries, utilities, transportation, and housing compared to the rest of California.

With slightly under half of Santa Maria’s population owning their homes, the city has a relatively high homeownership rate of 49.7 percent. The median home price in this city is $562,270.

2. The city enjoys a Mediterranean climate

Santa Maria is a popular destination because of its Mediterranean environment, which has some of the best weather in the country. There are a lot of bright days to take advantage of because Santa Maria only sees about 16.5 inches of rain per year. Don’t forget your shades!

During the hottest days of summer, Santa Maria often has lows in the mid-50s at night and highs in the upper 70s during the day. Expect highs in the upper 60s during the day and lows in the upper 30s at night as winter draws near, so bring a sweater or a light coat.

3. Attend Santa Barbara Business College or Allan Hancock College

If you’re thinking about settling down in the Santa Maria area with your family, you probably have some questions about the local schools. About 13,700 children from Santa Maria and a few nearby towns are served by the Santa Maria-Bonita School district’s 15 primary schools and 4 junior high schools. The public high schools in the area are managed by the Santa Maria Joint Union High School system, the oldest such system in the entire state of California.

Four private higher education institutions can also be found in the vicinity. Allan Hancock College is one of the best community colleges in California, with campuses in Santa Maria, Ventura, Oxnard, and Santa Paula. Santa Barbara Business College, which has been around since 1982, is likewise located in the city. 

4. There are a couple of bars to visit at night

The nightlife in Santa Maria is not exactly known for being wild. You can have a wonderful time at Chodi Bar, Louie B’s Cocktail Bar, and O’Sullivan’s Pub, among others, but other than private parties and occasional beach bonfires, there isn’t much going on in town at night. 

Santa Barbara, Isla Vista, and San Luis Obispo all have vibrant nightlife scenes you can visit if you’re feeling adventurous. 

5. There are viable transportation options

In Santa Maria, having a car is a necessity for getting around. But if you don’t, you can figure things out. Both city and county-operated bus lines make up Santa Maria Area Transit (SMAT), a dependable local bus service. It links the city to the surrounding suburban areas. 

Allegiant Air offers nonstop jet service to Las Vegas from the Santa Maria Public Airport three times a week. The Santa Maria Valley Railroad does run, but the closest station is in Guadalupe; from there, you can take a bus provided by Amtrak to get to your destination.

6. Explore the different wineries and vineyards in the area

Moving to Santa Maria is not a bad choice if you have a passion for wine. The Foxen Wine Trail, made famous by the film “Sideways,” is thriving, and you will have a great time exploring it. Cottonwood Canyon & Winery, Zaca Mesa Winery and Vineyards, Firestone Vineyard, and Cambria Winery are just some of the numerous vineyards and wineries in the area. 

7. Register your vehicle once you get to California

If you’re moving to Santa Maria from outside the state, you should know that you have 20 days from the time you move to California to get your car registered. All owners listed on the out-of-state registration and/or title must sign an Application for Title or Registration, and you’ll also need a copy of your most recent registration certificate, as well as any necessary smog and weight certificates. 

In addition to passing the DMV inspection, you’ll need to pay any applicable costs. Get your California driver’s license as soon as possible after moving there, as you only have 10 days to do it. They are pretty serious about this stuff here. 

8. The city has a thriving agricultural and oil sector

Numerous vineyards and wineries contribute to the city’s thriving agricultural sector. The city lies in the middle of both Santa Barbara County’s wine regions (Santa Ynez and Foxen Canyon) and the neighboring Edna Valley-Arroyo Grande wine region. Strawberry, wine grapes, celery, lettuce, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli, and bean growing are also common, and several livestock ranches can be seen nearby as well.

The aerospace industry, communications industry, research and development industry, energy industry, military industry, and manufacturing industry are also important to the city’s economy. With 1,775 oil wells in the Santa Maria Valley, oil is a major industry in the city.

9. Enjoy the Santa Maria-style barbeque

Santa Maria is known for its great barbeque. Tri-tip steak, a soft cut from the bottom sirloin, is the popular secret to why it is so delicious. In Santa Maria, barbecue is often prepared on a rotisserie or grilled over red oak wood and then basted with a mixture of salt, pepper, and spices. The dish is completed with pinquito beans, fresh salsa, and garlic toast. 

You can enjoy this signature meal at any of the city’s many barbecue restaurants, including Santa Maria BBQ, Skip Gibson’s BBQ, and BBQ Land.

10. Catch a Show at The Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts

The Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, a prestigious theater school and production business, is located in the city as well. And their students run so many shows year-long. 

Purchase seats to a wide range of spectacular stage productions, from Shakespeare’s Macbeth to contemporary musicals like Hairspray and Legally Blonde: The Musical.

Final Thoughts

Santa Maria has a lot to offer, from its excellent school system to its thriving agricultural sector and lovely climate. The city might not have the most exciting nightlife, but if you’re in the mood for something more exciting, you can always check out nearby cities.

Learn More About Living in Santa Maria, CA

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