Santa Barbara is sometimes referred to as the American Riviera - a moniker that makes sense given its stunning beaches, impressive mountains and Latin-inspired culture. Those who enjoy fine dining, nightlife, sandy beaches and rugged hiking trails will find themselves in luck in Santa Barbara, an 18-square-mile city packed with things to do and sights to see.
People in the market for Santa Barbara apartments for rent will find plenty of reasons to enjoy what the city has to offer.
Santa Barbara's history can be divided into periods. The Chumash Period ranged from 13,000 years ago until comparatively recently (the 1780s), when the Native American Chumash tribe populated the area. When the Spanish came to town in the late 18th century, they ushered in the Mission Period that involved the colonization and Christianization of the Chumash. The Mission Period and the Rancho Period - during which the area developed agriculturally between 1830 and 1865 - overlapped somewhat, but although Santa Barbara changed hands and became a U.S. territory in 1846, the locals living in this time weren't particularly affected.
Indeed, it wasn't until the post-Civil War Victorian Period that the city began to change. Victorian-style houses became more commonplace than Spanish colonials, although this changed after the earthquake of 1925. City officials noted that while most Victorian houses perished in the quake, the sturdier Spanish colonials held up considerably better. As a result, an ordinance was passed that required downtown buildings to ascribe to a Spanish-Moorish architectural style, which is the reason the city's distinctive architecture exists in the boom period of today, during which Santa Barbara has grown from a quiet community to a bustling city with a population of nearly 90,000 residents.
The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) is the area's best-known academic institution, although it's also home to Santa Barbara City College, Antioch University, Westmont College and the Brooks Institute of Photography. UCSB takes up more than 1,000 acres of California coastline and is attended by nearly 22,000 students. It was named the 8th Most Beautiful School in the United States in Newsweek's 2012 college rankings.
In terms of K-12 education, the Santa Barbara Unified School District is made up of 13 elementary schools and nine secondary schools, including an alternative high school of choice for independent study students. The district is one of the largest employers in the area, along with UCSB, the county government, the five-facility Cottage Health System and two local hotels, the Four Seasons Santa Barbara and Fess Parker's Doubletree Resort.
The median gross rent for apartments in Santa Barbara is $1,363, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. The area ranks high on City-Data.com's March 2012 cost of living index, registering at 123.1 - considerably higher than the national average of 100. The fact that Santa Barbara is home to several of the wealthiest communities in the state - and indeed the country - helps to push these figures up, so if you're not looking to live in neighborhoods like Hope Ranch and Montecito, then chances are you'll find some more manageable prices to work with.
Santa Barbara offers miles of beautiful beaches, not to mention around 50 public parks and picnic areas. Campers, swimmers and fishing enthusiasts can while away the hours at Gaviota State Park, which is around 30 miles west of the city, while hikers can climb to the hot springs of Gaviota Peak. Golfers will also be in their element, as Santa Barbara is recognized as a world-class golf destination and boasts six public 18-hole golf courses and several nine-hole courses to boot.
For some culture, look no further than the downtown area, with its restaurants, shops, historic sites, museums, galleries and more. On the first Thursday of each month, galleries extend their hours and offer free admission, while the streets become outdoor stages for actors, musicians and artists to showcase their talents.
To find your next rental apartment or house in Santa Barbara, take a look at our listings on Rent.com®.