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Which Southern California beach
Old 04-28-2010, 02:45 PM   #1
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Which Southern California beach

Hi,

We currently live in NorCal but we are to wussy to enter the water here. Although we haven't spent a lot of time in SoCal, the beaches we have seen seem very appealing.

So I am looking to purchase a possible retirement single family home say 3 bed 2 ba within walking distance of a good surf beach, reasonable little downtown with cafe or two (not nec walking distance) reasonable access to an airport (for kids to visit) and reasonable retirement support (apart from general medical I can't identify any specific requirements - other than supermarket). Hoping to get something around $600k.

We don't intend to move there for about 10+ years, but I thought it might be a good time to get a foothold into this type of area and rent it out until we retire. We have three teens so I don't know where they will end up but think West Coast might be a good bet and a beachside home might lure them to visit.

My thinking is that we don't need to spend $$$ for upscale La Jolla, Del Mar or even Hermosa and Redondo even as our primary retirement home. Someone suggested San Clemente as more in our target price range. Other classic retirement places I have seen mentioned include Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas.

I intend to visit some places in a few weeks and hoped someone familiar with these areas could help me compile a list.... I guess we are looking for a good value "LBYM" type place if that is not inconsistent with California beach. ie willing to pay $$$ for walk to good surf beach but no $ for name or dinky shopfronts.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-28-2010, 03:49 PM   #2
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So I am looking to purchase a possible retirement single family home say 3 bed 2 ba within walking distance of a good surf beach, reasonable little downtown with cafe or two (not nec walking distance) reasonable access to an airport (for kids to visit) and reasonable retirement support (apart from general medical I can't identify any specific requirements - other than supermarket). Hoping to get something around $600k.
Does it have to be in California?

BTW anything within "walking distance of a good surf beach" is frequently within walking distance of tidal/storm surge and tsunamis.
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Old 04-28-2010, 04:07 PM   #3
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Hi,

We currently live in NorCal but we are to wussy to enter the water here. Although we haven't spent a lot of time in SoCal, the beaches we have seen seem very appealing.

So I am looking to purchase a possible retirement single family home say 3 bed 2 ba within walking distance of a good surf beach, reasonable little downtown with cafe or two (not nec walking distance) reasonable access to an airport (for kids to visit) and reasonable retirement support (apart from general medical I can't identify any specific requirements - other than supermarket). Hoping to get something around $600k.

We don't intend to move there for about 10+ years, but I thought it might be a good time to get a foothold into this type of area and rent it out until we retire. We have three teens so I don't know where they will end up but think West Coast might be a good bet and a beachside home might lure them to visit.

My thinking is that we don't need to spend $$$ for upscale La Jolla, Del Mar or even Hermosa and Redondo even as our primary retirement home. Someone suggested San Clemente as more in our target price range. Other classic retirement places I have seen mentioned include Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas.

I intend to visit some places in a few weeks and hoped someone familiar with these areas could help me compile a list.... I guess we are looking for a good value "LBYM" type place if that is not inconsistent with California beach. ie willing to pay $$$ for walk to good surf beach but no $ for name or dinky shopfronts.

Thanks in advance.
I believe that you have the idea on where to look for a decent SoCal retirement home.

Southern California beach communities can be expensive and crowded. For a retiree I would think the beaches north of San Diego could be appealing. The Carlsbad-Encinitas and even Solana Beach or San Clemente areas used to be quite affordable and relatively (for SoCal) sparsely populated. but prices have gone higher in the last few years and development goes on unabated.

In spite of the TV image, Southern California beach communities are not always sunny and are overcast and foggy for a number of months (maybe 5 or 6 months) every year. If you go inland just a few miles it can be warm and pleasant yet foggy near the beach. So if you don't love that coastal overcast foggy weather you may want to rethink the beachhouse idea.

I had a relative that lived in a Bohemian beachhouse, a stones throw from the sand, in Newport when he was in his 20's. He loved it for several years and always looked forward to Bikini season. He would tool around on a rusted out bicycle and enjoy the beach scene along with all of the other full-of-life younguns. And then after several years of that, it was time to move on. At the end he described it as a place where a different group of knuckleheads came every week. Parking and noise were perpetual problems. Now he lives inland in a quiet suburban neighborhood with his girlfriend.

Buying now and renting it out may or may not be a great idea.
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Old 04-28-2010, 04:24 PM   #4
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Farther north you may also find some options, though perhaps not what you want in the $600K range. Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County is just about perfect if you are retired (the commute to Ventura or Santa Barbara is short but gnarly in the morning). The Five Cities area in San Luis Obispo County (Grover Beach, Atascadero, Pismo Beach, Avila Beach) is also lovely. Grover Beach is much less expensive than the other areas, but not quite as nice.

Worth a weekend trip, though, for sure -- and check out San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara for a idea of what the main metro areas in those locales are.
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Old 04-28-2010, 07:16 PM   #5
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I believe that you have the idea on where to look for a decent SoCal retirement home.

Southern California beach communities can be expensive and crowded. For a retiree I would think the beaches north of San Diego could be appealing. The Carlsbad-Encinitas and even Solana Beach or San Clemente areas used to be quite affordable and relatively (for SoCal) spasley populated. but prices have gone higher in the last few years and development goes on unabated.

In spite of the TV image, Southern California beach communities are not always sunny and are overcast and foggy for a number of months (maybe 5 or 6 months) every year. If you go inland just a few miles it can be warm and pleasant yet foggy near the beach. So if you don't love that coastal overcast foggy weather you may want to rethink the beachhouse idea.

I had a relative that lived in a Bohemian beachhouse, a stones throw from the sand, in Newport when he was in his 20's. He loved it for several years and always looked forward to Bikini season. He would tool around on a rusted out bicycle and enjoy the beach scene along with all of the other full-of-life younguns. And then after several years of that, it was time to move on. At the end he described it as a place where a different group of knuckleheads came every week. Parking and noise were perpetual problems. Now he lives inland in a quiet suburban neighborhood with his girlfriend.

Buying now and renting it out may or may not be a great idea.
+1 on everything MasterBlaster said.
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ellwood beach
Old 04-28-2010, 07:20 PM   #6
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ellwood beach

i lived on ellwood beach drive in goleta ca. just a few miles north of
santa barbara. when i was in college

paste: Ellwood Beach Dr, Goleta, Santa Barbara, California 93117

into google maps to get a map.

i could walk down a dirt path to the beach which was a real nice beach
which was relatively secluded compared to most other socal beaches.

i don't remember it being a hot surf spot though.. that's the place i would
first investigate it i was looking for a beach area house in SoCal.

do some searches on ellwood beach goleta if this peaks your interest at all..

there was also a bus line nearby, a few minutes walk, that
went right into downtown S.B.
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Old 04-28-2010, 07:29 PM   #7
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Iīm from So Cal, and the only beach community I have any fondness for is San Clemente. $600k sounds low to me. Everything said about clouds, and especially traffic, is true. I hate to harsh your mellow, but there is just no way to escape crowds and traffic in Southern California. If they donīt bother you, you might enjoy it.
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Old 04-28-2010, 09:56 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the replies and good advice.

Nords, Yes it has to be California, I was thinking it would be cheaper for kids to visit than Hawaii... I will plan on a long uphill walk to minimize the tsunami effect

Thanks for the fog warning, I have experienced quite a lot of this on NorCal beaches dressed in jeans and overcoats... if commute to the beach is short and the water is warm we will be ahead.
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Old 04-29-2010, 12:49 AM   #9
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I think that everything within walking distance to the beach in the Manhattan/Redondo/Hermosa area is pretty pricy. (BIL lives there.) Just for kicks I looked up the following on Zillow (not BIL's house)

- Walking distance to beach, but
- Located on Rosencrans in Manhattan Beach (a really crappy, busy street to live on)
- 788 sq ft
- 2173 sq ft lot
- 2 bed/1 bath
- Built in 1939
- Zillow value: $788k

I think that this area is great if you want an active outdoor life style and live within walking distance of the beach but you pay for it!

What about Ventura county? I'm not intimately familiar with it, but my guess is that it is probably the least expensive coastal area in SoCal.
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Old 04-29-2010, 01:02 AM   #10
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As someone who's lived a block or so from the beach in SoCal for many years, I can also confirm the issues with the crowds, traffic, and clouds. But like everything else in life, there are a bunch of caveats: The crowds and traffic are only really a problem during holidays and summer - most of the year, it's not really that big a deal. As for the clouds - yes, June Gloom does hit late spring and early summer, but you also often get amazing weather during times when most folks are freezing their a** off.

What it boils down to is that, during the months that people think it's great to visit SoCal beaches, it sucks - the crowds, traffic, and sometimes the marine layer add up to an unpleasant experience for locals and tourists alike. But October-May are fantastic. If you're looking to make a case to have children/grandchildren come visit during those months, SoCal is going to be tough to beat.

That said, there's another reason why I don't live down there anymore - the cost. It's hard to make the case to spend that kind of money to get into housing (renting or owning) by the beach in SoCal. I would think you would be far better moving closer to your family than trying to make the case to have them come to you...
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Old 04-29-2010, 12:46 PM   #11
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Skyline thanks for the local perspective.

I agree, it would be cheaper to live within striking distance of kids... and that would be my ideal. However, since we have teens and 3 of them, I suspect the chance of getting all three in one spot is low... but I figure I have NorCal covered since we live there now, so maybe halfway between LA and San Diego gets us within striking distance of two other major CA employment centers.

Strangely or stupidly, or strangely stupidly cost is one of the reasons to consider this. I figure my time horizon is 10+ years and after thinking and reading lots I can't say with any conviction where the stock market is going to be in 10 years... but I have a lot more confidence (misplaced?) that a carefully purchased $600k walk to beach property will be worth more.... if I purchase with 50% equity, I think rent will cover costs, so I will double any capital gain %. With leverage, I expect our gain on property will be about equal to stock market... but could be better, could be worse... just a form of asset allocation. If I knew which asset class would triumph I would be 100% in that.

BTW I am aware that taking $600k and buying 1-3 cashflowing properties with capital gain potential would be a better return, but I don't know anything about multi-unit properties so could buy very poorly and not sure I want 3 more single family homes... maybe this is stupid and should be my approach
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Old 04-29-2010, 01:57 PM   #12
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Try Mexico. There is no fog anytime, you can swim in the water without wet suits, and you can drive to it. And the negative US press about drugs (and anything else they can think of) has depressed prices.

How about right on the ocean in a 3BR condo with pool for $450k. The beach is fantastic, sand for miles, and kite surfers in season. My friend in the building can be your contact. World class restaurants and the only busy times are Christmas, Easter and spring break. No pollution.
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Old 04-29-2010, 02:07 PM   #13
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There are some condos along Ocean Blvd in Long Beach that you could probably get for $600K. My younger son is at CSULB and that beach area is really nice. I like to go kayaking in the harbor there. Not much for surfing as really large ships frequently going through the area.
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Old 04-29-2010, 08:05 PM   #14
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Not much for surfing as really large ships frequently going through the area.
"Wake surfing!"
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Old 04-30-2010, 10:15 PM   #15
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Have you thought about the areas around Santa Maria? My parents moved there in the early 90s. It was cheaper than a lot of beach communities. It stays in the 70s year round sometimes 80s. It's about an hour north of Santa Barbara.
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Old 05-04-2010, 11:21 PM   #16
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Can't walk to the beach in Santa Maria. And even if you tried the wind would blow you away. Blech.

Gotta be my least favorite town in the county and I've been to both Lompoc and Casmalia.

If you look at the Ventura area, be wary of Oxnard. Lots of gang activity there, it's a huge problem for Oxnard and all the cities within 50 miles of it.
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Old 05-05-2010, 02:38 AM   #17
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I'm no expert on SoCal beaches, but my experience with them is that the water is COLD year round. I've seen lots of wet suits being worn in summer in the stretch between San Diego and LA. So, if warm water is a must, I don't think SoCal is for you.

One off the wall suggestion - buy a condo in Hawaii for $450K and use the remaining $150K to help your kids visit you from time to time. There are many nice 3/2's in the $450K price range right now. You can rent them out for $1600 to $1900 until you are ready to move in. The water is warm and the surfing is year round (though maybe not at the beach you could walk to as our surf tends to be north shore in winter and south shore in summer.) Just a thought.
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Old 05-05-2010, 04:12 PM   #18
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I'm no expert on SoCal beaches, but my experience with them is that the water is COLD year round. I've seen lots of wet suits being worn in summer in the stretch between San Diego and LA. So, if warm water is a must, I don't think SoCal is for you.

One off the wall suggestion - buy a condo in Hawaii for $450K and use the remaining $150K to help your kids visit you from time to time. There are many nice 3/2's in the $450K price range right now. You can rent them out for $1600 to $1900 until you are ready to move in. The water is warm and the surfing is year round (though maybe not at the beach you could walk to as our surf tends to be north shore in winter and south shore in summer.) Just a thought.
Yes, the water is fairly cold year round . you need a wet
suit if you do a lot of surfing..

If you are really focused on surfing and beach activities
the hawaii scheme sounds pretty good to me. I'm curious what the
cost of living is like. Any links / thread refs
dealing w/ that would be interesting to hear about..
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Old 05-05-2010, 04:20 PM   #19
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Yes, the water is fairly cold year round . you need a wet
suit if you do a lot of surfing..

If you are really focused on surfing and beach activities
the hawaii scheme sounds pretty good to me. I'm curious what the
cost of living is like. Any links / thread refs
dealing w/ that would be interesting to hear about..
You might try here HawaiiThreads.com

I can tell you from experience that Hawaii is relatively expensive, but I'm not so sure it's that much worse than Calif. if you are flexible. Much of what I enjoy about Hawaii is free. Sunshine, beaches, flora, fauna (beach), etc.

Surfing is year round too.
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Old 05-05-2010, 04:36 PM   #20
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I've lived in Laguna Beach for over 8 years and even though I would highly tout living here... it is very expensive now to own/buy a home.
I enjoy going to Encinitas especially because it still has that 'old beach town' feeling that most of the other towns have lost.
Any coastal town will definitely increase in value again and quickly once the real estate/loans loosen up! Just watch!

I think Encinitas, Oceanside and Carlsbad are good bets, San Clemente is already too influenced by Orange County values and I'm afraid there would be no bargains there.
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