Moving to San Luis Obispo

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Possibly moving to San Luis Obispo

Aug 2008

My husband has a job opportunity in San Luis Obispo, and we're considering relocating from the ebay. I noticed some posts about living in the area, dated 2003 and wondering if much has changed in 5 years (probably not). What is it like for family life? Culture? Diversity? Open-minded politics? Schools? Neighborhoods? We would like a slower pace but am wondering if we will really miss the Bay Area. Thank you. anon

Like any place San Luis Obispo is a mixed bag. If you are outdoorsy people there is a lot to offer. There is ample hiking, mountain biking, surfing, and beautiful coastline. The weather is great year round, gardens flourish and there is definitely a strong sense of recreation. Perhaps due to all the college students, or just the location, but people take their recreation seriously and there are always bike races, triathlons, open water swims etc taking place. There is also a relatively new performing arts center at Cal Poly so music and dance do come through town, there is a brand new Children's Museum downtown and several arts and music festivals throughout the summer. There is a very busy farmer's market downtown on Thursday nights and they close the main street and it is a crowded mass of food, entertainment and activity. For kids there are wonderful parks, a great beach with gentle surf, community pools and loads of classes/camps etc.

On the flip side it can still be a provincially minded small town, conservative politically, economically and socially. People seem to know each other's business. There is an active, outspoken right wing Christian movement in the area. There is certainly a lot of influence from large property holders, ranchers, and the agricultural community (the grape industry has grown a lot in that area). The county tends to vote republican - though SLO itself is maybe 50/50. SLO tends to lean more Southern Cal in its attitudes than Nor Cal. Diversity is rather limited. There are large Hispanic populations but they are not well integrated and the Asian population seems to be mostly associated with the university.

Oh - and nearest major airport is at least 3 hours away so you are rather locked in. SLO is the largest city within hours so it can feel a little out in the middle of nowhere. Also real estate has changed quite a bit in the last 10 years. It used to be a great place to escape from the high property prices and crowds of the metropolitan areas. However, the real estate boom made SLO a highly desirable location so property values went way up disproportional to the local salaries. Add the demand from college students for rentals and housing can be a real issue. It may be getting better now as the market declines.

Schools are not particularly great (especially high school) but no worse than Berkeley or Oakland schools, though less crowded. Issues tend to be more about small town boredom (drinking and drugs for lack of better things to do, uninspired teachers, lack of funds) than violence or gang activity.

SLO does have a great laid back surfer town vibe in general and it seems to be a good place to live if you have young kids, since it is safe and mellow. I have family that live there and they LOVE it. What probably matters most is if your husband likes the new job, you find a good place to live and make a few close friends. That is really the most essential thing anywhere isn't it. Prefer the big city

March 2003

My husband and I are considering relocating to the central coast because it meets our criteria of great weather, no allergies and natural beauty coupled with a slower pace of life and lower cost of living. I'd love to hear from people who have lived there as adult professionals (I know lots of Cal Poly graduates who loved it!). Was it too boring? Enough culture? Good place to raise kids? Thank you so much!
ready for some sanity

I grew up in the SLO area -- so my impressions are from 20 plus years ago. I don't really know how much has changed since then. I have fond memories of growing up in the area. As you mentioned, the natural beauty is overwhelming -- and my parents felt safe allowing my brother and I to canoe, hike, build forts, etc... out in the wilds on our own. However, while not exactly culturally void, it is rather isolated -- four hours from any major city. It seems that my parents made a HUGE effort to have the family travel as much as possible -- weekend trips to Santa Barbara, LA and SF, plus vacations abroad and throughout the US. I don't remember attending too many cultural events in the city itself, but many on our weekends away. Good Luck!

I grew up in San Luis Obispo, and have a lot of family there, and it's a great place to bring up kids. As far as cultural stuff goes, well, it's not a big urban center, but it is a college town, and that helps. As for no allergies, however, you are sadly misinformed. If you are talking about pollen, you should know that the situation is MUCH WORSE in SLO than it is around here (by which I also include at least western Contra Costa county). It is, after all, a fairly rural area with a significant amount of agriculture going on. My hay fever is much much more severe there than it is in Oakland, Berkeley, SF, or Walnut Creek. Wendy

I grew up in San Luis Obispo. It is a great place for the weather, the beauty, the safety and it it certainly slow! (SLO town being the motto) The issues I have with it are number one the real lack of diversity. Espeically if you in in the town of San Luis Obispo and not in town around it. There is the new PAC theater at Cal Poly that brings big name entertainment if that is something you like, other than that there isn't a lot going on.

It is a college town and there will be a lot of college parties. That needs to be a really serious consideration when you think about what neighborhood to live in. It is pretty middle/upper middle class which has it's ups and downs. It's primarily conservative although there is a small but strong contingent of open-minded liberal thinkers, it's very republican.

Lately it has gotten itself into hot water with education. There has been a serious slash of funds that wasn't planned for and I have heard they are going to increase class size to 35 kids in K-8. That is a serious consideration for me. The town continues to loose it's young student population because the cost of living is so high and there aren't many jobs to support it. The housing cost is the last issue. My best friend just sold her 1000 square foot house with NO YARD for $425,000. Housing is not cheaper there. What you don't have to deal with is bad neighborhoods relative to here. I think daily about moving closer to may parents who live there but I'm not ready. Other considerations could be Arroyo Grande and Atascadero. Both are cheaper, better school districts and slow as well. Good luck! Chelsea