Setting: Carpinteria enjoys a south-facing position 12 miles southeast of Santa Barbara and 85 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Sandwiched among the Santa Barbara Channel, Los Padres National Forest, and the Santa Ynez Mountains, the town encompasses one of Southern California's most beautiful coastlines.
Attractions: State and city beaches boast both beauty and safety. Tar Pits City Park and Carpinteria Salt Marsh Nature Park draw visitors, as do the Carpinteria Bluffs and a public trail winding to a seal rookery. Shops and cafés keep locals employed and tourists happy. Rincon Point thrills surfers, and the nearby Channel Islands National Park beckons for natural, undeveloped settings. The art scene remains lively.
Drawbacks: Property costs can be prohibitive, industry other than agriculture is limited, and fog loiters here in June.
Housing Options: Historic cottages northwest of Linden Avenue make up the most desirable housing downtown. Houses and apartments between Carpinteria Avenue and the beach put residents near water, and the Concha Loma development features tiny, albeit pricey, houses near the ocean. North of U.S. 101, 1960s-70s developments provide more affordable housing. Five mobile-home parks and sparse apartment complexes offer the most economical choices.
What It Costs: Homes in the downtown historic area start at more than $800,000 for fixer-uppers and soar well above $1 million. Even in developments north of U.S. 101, homes average $800,000. While condos seem more economically feasible, water-view spaces can cost as much as a single-family home. Apartment rentals average $1,000 per month.
Your Next-door Neighbors: Celebrities, retired Hollywood elite, small-business owners, antiques dealers, restaurateurs, farmers, professors (University of California, Santa Barbara), interior designers, field workers.
How You'd Spend Your Free Time: Exploring the salt marsh or hiking the bluffs, meandering white-sand beaches, antiques shopping in nearby Summerland, attending the avocado festival, and day-tripping to Santa Barbara.