Living in Santa Barbara
Re: Best town in California to live?
I read your question and thought of Santa Barbara, where I lived for 6+ years. It may be bigger than you have in mind, but I thought it is worth mentioning. In case you don't know the town is nestled between the ocean and 3000 ft mountains. That may not sound so high for mountains, but consider they are starting at 0 ft. So you have views of those mountains from everywhere. Tons of hiking trails. All kinds of beach experiences. Wonderful cultural opportunities. Sigh. Many places where lots of walking is possible, particularly near downtown, also in an area called the Mesa.
Politically/cultural it is interesting. There are various contingencies. There is certainly a progressive/liberal one, which I was part of. There were certain places that these people shopped, hiked, went to the beach, celebrated. So I found that I ran into people I knew constantly. I liked that small town feel.
Good wishes with your decision. Karin