Literally nestled between beach communities Venice (to the south) and Pacific Palisades and Malibu (to the north), Santa Monica is somewhere between those cities in vibe: it can be both boho and young professional, cleanly chic and polished executive. You can find comfy studio apartments and million dollar homes, cheap vegan eats and Californian fusion fare, you can shop Third Street Promenade – a popular outdoor center with mall standards Urban Outfitters, Banana Republic, Guess, and more – or browse Montana Avenue’s boutiquey designer offerings of Dries van Noten platforms and Commes des Garcons clothes. You can play away at an indie movie theater and art galleries, or get your wine bar and mindbodyspa on. And whether you prefer living in the Santa Monica closer to Venice or residing nearer to Malibu, you’re only minutes away from enjoying Los Angeles beaches.
Santa Monica’s Location in Los Angeles
Most Angelenos will tell you any two points in Los Angeles are about 30 minutes apart, and Santa Monica makes the urban myth reality: without traffic, Santa Monica is about 30 minutes from Hollywood’s Sunset strip (14 miles), from mid Wilshire’s business district (10 miles), from downtown Los Angeles (15 miles), and 15 minutes away from Venice and Malibu and Century City. If you’re in Santa Monica, you’re usually a five minute drive away from major freeways the 405, the 10, and the Pacific Coast Highway.
Los Angeles at large has a reputation for fabulous weather, and Santa Monica’s reputation is even better and more deserved. Santa Monica averages 60°F during the winter, 65°F in spring, and 70-80°F summer time. Santa Monica typically enjoys 325 days of sunshine a year, and less smog than the rest of Los Angeles due to its beach breezes.
Living in Santa Monica
Whether you’re a college student, working your first real 9-5, or managing a young family, you can live more than comfortably in Santa Monica. Santa Monica offers as much variety in rentals as its local cafes do in lattes: think everything from $800 per month bachelors to $1,500 luxe 2 bedrooms to $4,000 town homes.
Santa Monica runs its own award-winning bus line, Big Blue, throughout the city and parts of Los Angeles’ west side. Santa Monica is also served by Los Angeles’s MTA bus. There are currently no rail lines in Santa Monica, though LA County’s Metro subway is being extended to Santa Monica.
The 10 – or Santa Monica Freeway – runs between Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles, and east through LA County. Along Santa Monica’s coast runs the California Highway 1 – or the Pacific Coast Highway – from Santa Monica and north to Malibu and beyond. On Santa Monica’s eastern boundary is Interstate-405 – or the San Diego Freeway – a major north-south freeway in Los Angeles. The 405 is paralleled by Sepulveda Blvd., a major street often used as a 405 alternative.
Santa Monica Schools
Public elementary and high schools are part of Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Santa Monica also has its own community college, Santa Monica College (SMC), which is largely attended by students who want to transfer into the Univesity of California system. Other colleges and universities within 15 miles of Santa Monica include UCLA, Loyola Marymount University, West Los Angeles College, Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles Valley College, and Los Angeles Southwest College.