Photo credit: andrewr
A lot of people are asking me what’s so special about Santa Cruz lately, because I’m moving there over the weekend. After living there, in the Santa Cruz mountains, for 20 years, I’ve spent the past 7 years exploring new places — but now I’m moving back. Santa Cruz feels like home; I’ve missed it and look forward to settling there once again.
I suppose the most significant factor in making any place special, as far as where we choose to make ourselves at home, is the people. Friends, family, the culture, and community “vibe” — all these elements are of major importance. Ultimately, those are the things that are drawing me back to Santa Cruz. But what else makes it special? There are lots of things that stand out.
Location, location, location! Santa Cruz is situated on the northern part of Monterey Bay, about 74 miles south of San Francisco and 30 miles from San Jose. Its population is relatively small, at about 60,000 people. It is home to the University of California, Santa Cruz, and about 10% of the land area of the county is devoted to State Parks. The climate is mild, with average highs of 69 degrees Fahrenheit and average lows of 44. Rainfall averages 32 inches per year.
Photo credit: Wonderlane
So much for basic statistics, which give you an idea about the environment, but don’t really tell the tale. The wonders of the place start to come alive when you stand at Pleasure Point and watch the surfers — surfing is a popular pastime in Santa Cruz. There’s also the Boardwalk, the West Coast’s last remaining seaside amusement park. When you drive into town and then to the coast, the festive view of roller coaster, ferris wheel, and flags fluttering in the ocean breezes gives the instant impression of being on holiday. How great is that?!
Photo credit: mk94577
The median price for a home is $600,000, so it’s a pricey place to live. And I’ve heard many stories about the challenges and expense surrounding the whole building code and permit arena. But does any of that stop people? No. The area is thriving, and people come from all over the country to buy houses and land.
It’s such a beautiful place! And so convenient to other great places, too. In addition to easy access to San Jose and San Francisco to the north, when you head south around the Monterey Bay, you have Monterey Bay Peninsula treasures including Carmel, Pebble Beach, and then, further on, Big Sur. The vistas over the Pacific as you drive south are truly incredible.
Among my favorite places in the area is Big Basin State Park. It’s California’s oldest State Park, established in 1902. Home to the largest continuous stand of ancient coast redwoods south of San Francisco, the park consists of over 18,000 acres of old growth and recovering redwood forest. The old trees are so majestic and enormous!
Santa Cruz benefits from its close proximity to Silicon Valley and thousands of residents commute to the high tech companies “over the hill.” This sophisticated technological flavor permeates the environment, adding vitality and creativity to the whole area.
As the Mayor of Santa Cruz, Ryan Coonerty, says, “Exceptional people, world-class resources, a creative environment, and great natural beauty; Santa Cruz has it all. On behalf of our entire community, we welcome you.”