Moving to the Monterey Area

Parent Q&A

  • Monterey/Salinas neighborhoods?

    (3 replies)

    Hi- My sister and her husband will be moving to the Monterey/Salinas area this summer - he has a job in Salinas, but they may prefer to be closer to the ocean.  They have a toddler and a baby, and are looking for suggestions on towns or neighborhoods to rent in (for the first year or so, thinking they'll buy later).  Their priorities: 

    • Walkable neighborhood ideally with parks/preschool in walking distance
    • A fenced yard for their big dog - many rentals don't allow dogs, so this is tricky
    • Moderate price - to save up to buy a house hopefully
    • Within a few miles of the ocean would be great, but not required

    Are there neighborhoods of Salinas that meet the first three criteria and have a friendly feel? What about other towns? Monterey is an obvious choice, but probably more expensive.  I'll be doing some scouting for them so specific places to check out (parks, coffee shops, book stores, etc) to get the feel of a place are welcome!

    I lived in Seaside (right outside) Monterey from 2003-5.  It's cheaper than living downtown and depending on where in Seaside, you'd be right near the beach and bike path which leads to downtown Monterey.  I went down to visit not too long ago and the neighborhood hasn't seemed to have changed that much.  Good luck!

    Hi JBMom, we own a second home in that area - Seaside to be exact.  Seaside is between Monterey and Salinas; a little north of Monterey and south west of Salinas.  It is easy to commute through the back hills to Salinas from Seaside and avoid congestion on highway 68 or highway 1.  Seaside is much cheaper than Monterey but it does have some rough neighborhoods.  I liken it to living in Oakland - there are some great neighborhoods, some not so much.  Good rule of thumb is the higher up the hill you are, the better.  Of course, that impacts walkability but there are some small parks sprinkled throughout the neighborhoods, like at San Pablo and Yosemite Avenues.  There is also a seemingly nice elementary school there, but I don't have any info on preschools.  I have a friend who is a real estate agent that does some rental management, too.  PM me if you want his contact info.

    I grew up in the Monterey/Seaside area and while a lot has changed since I left many years ago I can probably help a little. If they'll be working in Salinas I think your best bet (if you want to be near the ocean) is Marina. There's been a lot of new development since the army base closed in the mid-90's and it has seen a huge growth. So much that they finally built a new high school about 10 years ago (before kids had to go to Seaside). The drive to Salinas would be shorter than if you lived in Seaside (Monterey was very expensive back when I lived there and I can't imagine it got any cheaper). Most of my family now live in Salinas due to the large amounts of new housing they built in the last 15-20 years. My Mom lives in the area near Alvarez high school which I think is a nice neighborhood bounded by Constitution Blvd Nantucket Blvd and Independence Blvd. My mom and my young nephews (7 and 9) are always taking walks or riding bikes or going to the parks. There's also a few gated communities in the hills off of River Rd in the south that are really nice. I believe they're called Las Palmas. My grandmother currently owns a house there and the views are awesome but they do come with a pricetag.

Parent Reviews

Have you looked into the Monterey area?  When we had three kids at home, we used to travel there frequently for weekend trips to visit the aquarium, beaches, hiking trails, etc.  After paying for meals out, parking and hotels, we bought a small condo so we built equity and got to go to one of our favorite places, too.  We went the condo route because we didn't want to deal with yard maintenance and the like.  It was a little challenging to pack up kids, dogs and a weekend's worth food every Friday, then turn around and do it in the opposite direction on Sunday, but overall, it always made for a nice weekend.  Bonus:  the place we bought had a year round pool >and< was in (longish) walking distance to downtown Monterey.  If the weather wasn't "beach-y" we could take the kids to the pool.  We could walk to tourist-y events and enjoy the cheese and tacky without dealing with parking and traffic.   

It definitely meets your requirement for a short drive:  if no traffic, about 2 hours from most places in the Oakland/Berkeley area.  That was also key for why we chose Monterey over Tahoe:  half the drive (Tahoe is about 4 hours) and you don't have to deal with weather in the winter.  

Seven years later, we have bought our future retirement home (single family residence) in Seaside, a city just north of Monterey.  Seaside used to have a bad rap (think west or east Oakland) but there are many nice neighborhoods (think Rockridge, Montclair, Crocker Highlands) that are quite nice without the priceiness of a Monterey or Pacific Grove zipcode.  We rent out the condo for the same cost as the mortgage, so when we retire and the mortgage is paid off, we'll have a tidy little income property.    Many of the single family homes are currently selling in the high $400k, low $500k range, which is a little high, but you could start with a condo or town home as we did, you would likely find something cheaper.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Moving to Monterey...what to expect

Feb 2013

Dear BPN'ers, I have accepted a great job in Monterey and not being native to ca, I do not really know what to expect. We have lived in the east bay for 8 years now and love much of the culture. Will we be able to find some of it there? We really could use help finding resources, like where to rent ( we are a family of four), good doctors, hospitals, preschool/ daycare, and recreation for non tourists. Also my husband will be telecommuting to his job in SF, but will need to go in once in a while, travel tips? Any help would be much appreciated. Moving to Monterey


I lived on the Monterey Peninsula for 16 years prior to moving to the East Bay 8 years ago. I still have family and business there and visit often. I think one's view of a community is subjective but here are some basic answers to some of your questions:

1. Culture: There is some and they do well by it for a small community (total pop. in the 5-6 cities is 100,000), but it's not the Bay Area. As a resident there, I often travelled north for theater, music, art etc.

2. Rent: The five main communities of the peninsula are very different. Overall, I think you'll find rents to be cheaper than the East Bay. Not knowing your budget, here are some quick overviews:

a. Monterey is the business center of the area and a major tourist area (Aquarium, Cannery Row). Places on the bay are more active, and foggier. Inland (around the airport) is sunnier.

b. Pacific Grove is very family oriented and has a small town feel. It's also one of the foggiest areas.

c. Pebble Beach has an exclusive air to it but decent rentals can be found there. They will be in the foggier parts.

d. Carmel is the super-cute beachside town with quaint shops, lots of tourists and some quiet living areas.

e. Carmel Valley is warmer and sunnier, can be a bit rural and for some feels isolated. Very laid back.

f. Seaside/Sand City/Ft. Ord/Marina are 4 towns north of Monterey. They are more affordable, more industrial and have some of the sketchier sides of town (though very tame by Berkeley/Oakland standards).

3. Good doctors will depend on your healthcare plan. But there are plenty there. The Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula (CHOMP) is awesome.

4. There are some great places for non-tourist recreation. Not knowing you adventure level, here are some options:

a. Carmel- Stewart's Cove beach in Carmel. Not as popular as Carmel State Beach, but not touristy.

b. Garland Ranch Park in Carmel Valley. 2300 acres of trails from very easy to challenging.

c. Garrapata State Park. 10 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1. Great 5-mile loop with stream-side canyon scenes and steep climbs to awesome views.

d. Jacks Peak Park, Monterey. Even the locals don't visit her much but it has nice, easy trails and some great views.

e. Asilomar Beach area, Pacific Grove/Pebble Beach. Tide pool. coast-side trail and not very crowded, especially in the off-season.

f. The touristy spots can also be fun in the off season. I've had some great kayak trips on the bay off Cannery Row in the fall when the tourists are gone and the weather's at its best. Carmel and Carmel Beach are lovely.

Overall, the pace of life is mush slower in Monterey than the Bay Area. (Restaurants tend to close very early.) And there is less diversity and more consumerism and status mongering. But there are lots of very lovely people there who can be welcoming and supportive. Hope this helps and that your move is smooth and positive.

Monterey ex-pat

Thinking about relocating to Monterey

March 2006

My husband will be working in Monterey later this year and we are thinking about re-locating there with our infant instead of commuting. Can anyone send advice on the area in general, things to do there, services available (like the BPN?), and commuting to Monterey from nearby (and more affordable) areas. Thanks!
Moving to Monterey


We moved to Monterey from Oakland last August for my husband\x92s job. In general, we really like it. It doesn\x92t have the culture that the bay area offers, but it seems to us that it is a great place to raise kids. It has pretty good schools (depending on what part of the Monterey area you will be living in), great parks and beaches, and nice weather. It is a great place to be if you like doing things outdoors. A wonderful resource is \x91Parent\x92s Place\x92 in Pacific Grove. They offer \x91parent and me\x92 core classes where you meet once a week with the same group of people for two hours and do stuff with your kids. For the $50.00/quarter core class fee you also get to take free pre-natal yoga, post-natal yoga, baby massage, art classes with kids, gardening with kids, parenting classes, etc. (Some classes they charge extra for.) It is such a great place, I have met many friends there from a start of knowing nobody when we first moved down here. They also have an email list somewhat similar to the Berkeley Parents Network, albeit much smaller and it is a yahoo group email list. The Monterey Sports Center gym is also a great place. It is a really nice gym, with great classes and facilities, with daycare for $3.00 per hour (6mos and up). They also have a pre-natal fitness class and stroller-walk workouts.

A downside of living down here (for us anyway), are the crazy housing prices. At first when I found out we were moving here I thought, \x93Great! Now maybe we can finally buy a house since we are moving out of the bay area!\x94 Ha! I couldn\x92t have been more wrong. Housing prices are just as insane down here (if not more so). The best schools seem to be in Carmel, Pacific Grove, and Monterey, but to buy a half way decent 2 bedroom 1 bath house in any of those places it will be at least $800k (or 1.2 million in Carmel). In Seaside and Marina it would be $700k, and in Salinas it would be $600k. Salinas (or Gonzalas, or Prunevale, or similar) was the only place we could have maybe bought a house, but we wanted better schools so we are renting a tiny place (just like we were in the bay area).

I miss the bay area a lot, but Monterey is no so bad either. Like anything there are positives and negatives, but living here has mainly been positive for us. Best of luck with your move and maybe I will see you around Parent\x92s Place! anon