Carlsbad is known as The Village by the Sea, and it’s every bit as charming as the title implies. Just 35 minutes north of San Diego, Carlsbad has seven miles of serene white sand beaches connected to three tranquil lagoons – all excellent for watersports or just soaking up the sun. Many neighborhoods offer gorgeous views of the ocean and surrounding countryside. And you’ll find a nearly unquenchable list of fun things to do – museums, parks, golf courses, Legoland, and so much more. Carlsbad restaurants are plentiful and unique, offering fresh Pacific Ocean seafood and locally grown produce in lovely outdoor settings. And you can dine outside year-round – the mild Carlsbad climate is just about ideal.

Carlsbad residents routinely praise the city’s municipal services and management of tax-payer funds; it’s the sort of place that always feels clean, safe, and under control. The local schools are highly rated and well-funded. Most people move to Carlsbad to escape the overcrowding and high crime rates found in other parts of California, to enjoy the coastal beauty, and high standard of living.

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Living in Carlsbad, CA: What to Know Before Moving to Carlsbad

California’s 5th wealthiest city, beautiful coastal Carlsbad, is home to about 115,877 residents. This charming town, located in north San Diego County, is part of the San Diego-Carlsbad CA Metropolitan Statistical Area and its 3,000,000 residents. Scenic white sand beaches, rural hiking trails, unique attractions, top-rated schools, and an almost perfect climate are only a few of the many reasons why Carlsbad will be a wonderful home for you too.

Pros and Cons of Living in Carlsbad

Review the pros and cons to see if the laid back Carlsbad lifestyle is for you.

Pros:

  • Beautiful year-round weather: Gentle ocean breezes, lots of sun, little rain, and no snow.
  • Coastal living: Grab your flipflops. Carlsbad is known for its laid-back casual lifestyle.
  • Uncrowded, beautiful beaches: Enjoy surfing, swimming, and sunbathing in the gorgeous Pacific.
  • Convenient to San Diego and LA: You can be in San Diego in 35 minutes or LA in two hours.
  • Small town atmosphere: Friendly residents, locally-owned businesses, and lots of charm.
  • Quality education: Carlsbad boasts many highly rated public and private schools.

Cons:

  • The high cost of living: The Carlsbad cost of living is almost twice the national average.
  • High housing costs: The median home value is $871,347 – the US average is $243,225.
  • State income tax: You’ll likely be in the higher tax brackets if you can afford to live in Carlsbad.
  • Tourism: Carlsbad’s charm attracts tourists and vacationers, so the town can get crowded.
  • Two seasons: If you love colorful falls and snowy winters, Carlsbad will disappoint.
  • Water restrictions: Very little rain falls in this semi-arid climate. The City of Carlsbad imposes mandatory water restrictions.

Tax Rates

  • Property tax: The average San Diego County property tax rate is 0.757%. On a home valued at $800,000, you’d pay $6,056 in annual property taxes.
  • Sales tax: The combined sales tax rate is 7.75%
  • State income tax: You’ll pay 1% to 13.3% in income tax based on your taxable income and filing status. The average California income tax rate is 9.4% on taxable income between $56,086 and $286,492.

Housing Market

The US average home value is $243,225, but in Carlsbad, housing is super-expensive, and prices continue to rise. If a median home value of $871,347 doesn’t scare you away, then keep reading: Homes currently on the market, as of February 2020, have a median list price of $891,995 – over $20,000 higher than the median home value. In 2019, home values rose 3.3%, and by the end of 2020, experts expect that they’ll increase by 4.8%. As you shop for a home, be sure to ask your realtor about any additional assessments or homeowner association fees.

About 35% of Carlsbad residents rent their housing. If you prefer to rent, expect a median rent price of $3,188 – over $400 higher than the San Diego-Carlsbad Metro area median price of $2,700 and higher than the US average of $1,594.

For housing that’s more affordable, check out the attractive mobile home parks in Olde Carlsbad and Carlsbad Village, or consider neighborhoods in nearby towns of Oceanside or Vista.

Cost of Living

At close to twice the national average of 100, the Carlsbad cost of living index is 191.7. Housing will be your most significant expense at an index of 378.5. Transportation, at 125.6, and groceries, at 113.5, are also higher than average cost categories. Lower than average costs are healthcare, at 89, and utilities, at 97.4.

If you have a family, you can get an estimate of how much a family of four would need to earn to live a moderately comfortable lifestyle in the San Diego-Carlsbad metro area. A family of four would need to bring in $97,547 annually, or $8,129 monthly – but remember, those figures are for the metro area – Carlsbad city will be higher. According to bestplaces.net, the Carlsbad family median income is $121,005, and the median household income is $87,416.

Weather and Natural Disasters

Just about every day of the year is perfect in Carlsbad. The semi-arid Mediterranean climate means you’ll only experience two seasons – mild beautiful sunny winters with very little rain and warm sunny, dry summers, sometimes with foggy mornings. The Pacific Ocean moderates Carlsbad’s climate, keeping it gently mild throughout the year. The Carlsbad comfort index, calculated by bestplaces.net, is 9/10 compared to the US average of 7/10. Only about 12 inches of rainfall annually – you’ll have 263 sunny days a year and very little humidity.

The two warmest months are August with average highs of 75, average lows of 64 and September with average highs of 74, average lows of 61. The coldest months are January, December, and February, with average highs of 64 and average lows of 45. Although rare, one or two nights a year will have freezing overnight temperatures, but you’ll never have any snow.

Heavy rain, flooding, drought, earthquakes, and tsunami are the major natural disaster threats than can affect Carlsbad. Be sure to review the City of Carlsbad Emergency Preparedness site so you can prepare for any kind of natural disaster threat.

Economy and Job Market

In 2019, the Carlsbad job market grew by 1.4%, and the unemployment rate was 3.1% – 0.8% lower than the US average of 3.9%. Future job growth over the next ten years is predicted at 34.3%, slightly higher than the US average growth of 33.5%.

The major industrial sectors include professional, scientific, and technical services; education; manufacturing; health care and social assistance; tourism and hospitality; and utilities. Top Carlsbad employers are Viasat, Inc; Life Technologies Corp; Legoland California; Carlsbad Unified School District; Smart Kids Publishing and Smart Kidz Media Inc; Omni La Costa Resort and Spa; TaylorMade-Adidas Golf Company; SGN Nutrition; Gemological Institute of America; and the City of Carlsbad.

Will you be looking for work in Carlsbad? The City of Carlsbad posts job opportunities, and you can also look into careerbuilder.com, glassdoor.com, ziprecruiter.com, and many more online job boards. For remote work, check out flexjobs.com.

Traffic and Transportation

You’ll have excellent access to public transportation in Carlsbad, even though the transit score is low. The Coaster, paralleling I-5 and Hwy 1 and SPRINTER, paralleling the Hwy 78 corridor, provide light rail service. Amtrak can take you comfortably to San Diego or Los Angeles and points beyond, plus North County Transit District operates the BREEZE bus services.

Major thoroughfares include I-5, which runs south to San Diego and north to Los Angeles, and State Route 78, which runs east along Carlsbad’s northern border from the coast to Escondido. Flying? San Diego International Airport, 35 miles south, is your closest major airport.

Traffic is usually relatively light in town, but freeway commutes are more prolonged than US averages. Carlsbad residents spend 28 minutes on their one-way commute compared to the US average of 26.4 minutes. During rush hours, Interstate 5 and Hwy 78 get crowded with 6% who carpool and 77% who drive their own car by themselves to work.

You’ll need a car in Carlsbad; walkscore.com sums up Carlsbad’s traffic and transportation by awarding a 30 walk score, 23 transit score, and 29 bike score. However, a few neighborhoods are walkable. Downtown Carlsbad has an 88 walk score, 35 transit score, and 72 bike score. The other most walkable neighborhoods are La Costa Oaks North, La Costa Oaks South, and Calavera Hills Village.

What to Do

Check out the Carlsbad Visitor Center at the old Santa Fe Railroad Depot. They’ll be able to give you details about all the kinds of activities and adventures you love. Here are some top things to do to get you started on some Carlsbad fun!

  • Museums and events: Highlights include the Carlsbad Historical Society Museum, the Leo Carrillo Ranch & Historic Park, Museum of Making Music, Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum, Biannual Carlsbad Village Street Faire, Carlsbad Village Art Walk on the fourth Thursday of every month, Carlsbad Chamber Music Festival, and the New Village Arts Theater for plays and performance arts.
  • Open spaces, resorts, and parks: For outdoor recreation, check out watersports and lessons at Agua Hedionda Lagoon, Batiquitos Lagoon, and Buena Vista Lagoon; the Carlsbad Skate Park; Alga Norte Skate Park; four golf courses; camping at South Carlsbad State Beach; surfing; Sea Life Aquarium at Legoland Water Park; and of course, the Legoland Resort. You can also throw your beach towel on the sand and take a soothing nap.
  • More fun: Explore Carlsbad and San Diego County from the air with an exciting biplane or helicopter tour. The 50-acre ranunculus flower fields at Carlsbad Ranch are breathtaking and worth visiting March through May.
  • Sports: Sports revolve around community events like the Carlsbad Triathlon, Carlsbad 5000 running race, Carlsbad Marathon, Carlsbad Grand Prix of cycling, and the Kia Classic four-day golf tournament. If professional sports is your bag, you can take the light rail or drive to San Diego to watch the MLB San Diego Padres play baseball.

Schools and Universities

The four pubic school districts that serve Carlsbad are San Marcos Unified School District (serving southeast Carlsbad), San Dieguito Union High School District (for junior high and high schools in south Carlsbad), Encinitas Union School District, and Carlsbad Unified School District. Of the 65 public schools, greatschools.org rates Pacific Rim, Kelly, and Magnolia Elementary Schools 10/10. Aviara Oaks Middle School is rated 9/10, and Valley Middle School is 8/10. Sage Creek and Carlsbad High Schools are both rated 9/10. You can also find many excellent private schools throughout Carlsbad.

Although not your traditional post-secondary institutions, the Gemological Institute of America-Carlsbad and Golf Academy of America-San Diego are both in Carlsbad. Two year and specialty schools located in or near Carlsbad include MiraCosta Community College and Palomar Community College. The nearest public universities include the University of California-San Diego, San Diego State University, and California State University at San Marcos.

Crime

Carlsbad is a safe city, especially when compared to US crime averages. Property crime is 28.5 compared to the US average of 35.4. Violent crime is 14.7 compared to the US average of 22.7. Some cities have pockets of higher crime, but in Carlsbad, the entire town appears equally safe.

Utility Providers

Moving is enough of a hassle. We’ve provided this list of utility companies to make it easier for you to set up your new utility accounts.

  • Electricity and Gas: San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE) provides electricity and gas service in Carlsbad. Call 800-411-7343 to set up service. Currently, SDGE doesn’t offer the ability to set up your new account online.
  • Water, Sewer, Trash, and Recycling: The City of Carlsbad provides water, sewer, trash, and recycling service. Call 760-602-2420 to set up your service, or you can also open your new account online. The city charges a $40 initial set up fee. Be sure to learn about Carlsbad’s mandatory water restrictions.
  • Cable and Internet: A quick and easy way to find out which providers serve your particular neighborhood is to go to highspeedinternet.com. Enter your new zip code, and the site lists all the providers, their various plans, download speeds, and pricing.
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Best Neighborhoods in Carlsbad, CA

From classic coastal neighborhoods, beachside mobile home parks, and elegant developments in the foothills, Carlsbad has a community to please everyone’s lifestyle tastes. Here are eight of the best:

Carlsbad Village

Bordered by Buena Vista Lagoon on the north, I-5 on the east, Carlsbad Village Dr on the south, and the beautiful Pacific Ocean on the west, Carlsbad Village, AKA Downtown, is the historic heart of Carlsbad.

Condos, apartments, townhomes, mid-20th century cottages, mobile homes, and some historic homes provide a variety of housing. In Carlsbad Village, home values rose 5.4% in 2019 and are predicted to increase by 4.9% by the end of 2020.

The historic Village is where you can experience the classic, laid-back California beach vibe. Taco stands, surf shops, year-round farmers’ market, locally-owned boutiques, sidewalk cafes – the Village is classically coastal Southern California.

All the activities that you’d expect to see in a small town happen here – from pet parades to Small Business Saturdays. Just a block from the beach and the train station, living in Carlsbad Village is convenient and fun!

  • Population: 3,360
  • Median home value: $882,034
  • Median rent price: $3,422
  • Schools: Magnolia, Buena Vista, and Kelly Elementary Schools; Valley Middle School; Carlsbad Seaside Academy, Carlsbad Village Academy, Carlsbad and Sage Creek High Schools

Olde Carlsbad

Directly east of Carlsbad Village, Olde Carlsbad borders by Buena Vista Lagoon, Jefferson St, and Hwy 78 on the north; El Camino Real on the east; Hillside Dr and Kelly Dr on the south; and the San Diego Freeway AKA I-5 on the west.

Olde Carlsbad has an array of housing types – seven-bedroom estates, mid-20th century bungalows, cottages, high-end tract homes, condos, and apartments. As of March 2020, home prices ranged from $349,000 to $4,390,000.

This community-centered neighborhood is known for its neighborhood parties, gardening classes at the community center, and Christmas and Fourth of July events. With four parks, highly rated schools, and safety, Olde Carlsbad is a great neighborhood for families.

From grocery stores to fitness salons, amenities are plentiful. Some favorites include Grubby’s Poke & Fish Market, Yard House, and Wokcano Carlsbad. Recreation is as abundant as the amenities – the beaches are just five minutes west, and Hosp Grove Park fills in an extensive part of Olde Carlsbad’s northern section.

  • Population: 11,098
  • Median home value: $866,112
  • Median rent price: $3,270
  • Schools: Magnolia, Buena Vista, and Kelly Elementary Schools; Valley Middle School; Carlsbad Seaside Academy, Carlsbad Village Academy, Carlsbad and Sage Creek High Schools

La Costa Oaks

Located in the southeast corner of Carlsbad, La Costa Oaks is an exclusive neighborhood about 15 minutes from Downtown. The borders include San Elijo Rd on the north, an irregular rural border on the east undefined by a road, an area just south of Calle Acervo on the south, and Rancho Santa Fe Rd on the west.

Home prices range from $345,000 for a one-bedroom condo to $2,200,000 for a stately seven-bedroom six-bath home. In La Costa Oaks, 39% of households have children.

You can walk to grocery stores, but you’ll need your car to run most other errands or commute. Residents report that they appreciate the well-lit streets and sidewalks, and feel safe walking at night. In the east portion of La Costa Oaks, you’ll find extensive foothill trails.

Locals enjoy Bushfire Kitchen and BleenChic Café and shop for groceries at Sprouts Farmers Market and Vons. La Costa Oaks also has movie theaters, salons, fitness centers, and many other convenient amenities.

  • Population: 7,450
  • Median home value: $1,186,560
  • Median rent price: $4,560
  • Schools: Mission Estancia, Olivenhain Pioneer, La Costa Heights, and Carrillo Elementary Schools; Diegueno, San Elijo, and Oak Crest Middle Schools; La Costa Canyon and San Marcos High Schools.

Calavera Hills

Slightly more affordable than other Carlsbad neighborhoods, Calavera Hills is just six minutes east of Downtown. The very rough borders are Hwy 78 and Vista Calavera on the north, College Blvd on the east, El Camino Real and Cannon Road on the south, and Carlsbad Village Dr on the west.

You’ll find housing in attractive condos, townhomes, and single-family residences, many of which sit on small lots with narrow side yards. About 74% of residents are homeowners. Neighborhood developers thoughtfully designed Calavera Hills with sidewalks, has well-lit streets, is dog friendly, and family-oriented.

Although a mainly residential neighborhood, you’ll find grocery stores, coffee shops, restaurants, and other conveniences such as movie theaters, home improvement stores, and fitness studios along El Camino Real and College Blvd. You’ll need your car to run most errands and commute.

Beautiful 21-acre Calavera Hills Community Park has a community center with classes and activities for ages 1-101 plus tennis courts, athletic fields, a playground, and covered picnic facilities.

  • Population: 9,845
  • Median home value: $688,568
  • Median rent price: $2,978
  • Median household income:
  • Schools: Calavera Hills, Hope, Breeze Hill, and Buena Vista Elementary Schools; Calavera Hills, Valley, and Madison Middle Schools; and Sage Creek, Carlsbad, and Rancho Buena Vista High Schools

Tamarack Point

Conveniently located just eight minutes east of Carlsbad Village, Tamarack Point is between the Olde Carlsbad and Calavera Hills neighborhoods. The borders include Hwy 78 on the north, Carlsbad Village Dr on the east, Tamarack Ave on the south, and El Camino Real on the west.

Two-story Mediterranean styled homes have mainly three and four-bedrooms; many have clay tile roofs and lovely landscaping with lawns, eucalyptus, and palm trees. Tamarack Point homes are forecast to rise in value by 4.6% by the end of 2020. This tightly knit community is convenient to I-5 and Hwy 78 for commuting.

You’ll find yoga studios, fitness salons, grocery stores, and cafes such as Hooked on Sushi, Spirito’s Italian Diner, and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Residents enjoy safe Hidden Canyon Community Park for its clean, well-maintained greenspace and beautiful views.

  • Population: 6,030
  • Median home value: $710,225
  • Median rent price: $3,065
  • Schools: Hope and Buena Vista Elementary Schools; Valley and Calavera Hills Middle Schools; Carlsbad and Sage Creek High Schools

Hedionda Point

Just two minutes south of Carlsbad Village’s southern border, Hedionda Point is a beautiful and unique neighborhood that borders Agua Hedionda Lagoon. Hillside and Kelly Drives form the northern border, El Camino Real is the eastern edge, the lagoon forms the southern border, and a small portion of I-5 forms the western border.

Hedionda Point has a lovely range of home types, from condos on the edge of the marina to large custom homes on rolling terrain with gorgeous lagoon views. Home prices vary hugely – from $285,000 to $3,700,000. This safe and secluded neighborhood has top-rated schools and is a great environment for families. Since Hedionda Point hugs the lagoon, you’ll see wonderful wildlife and a variety of birds.

Laguna Riviera Park and the lagoon provide fantastic recreation, plus Tamarack Beach is just five minutes west. You’ll find convenient amenities like fitness studios, a flower shop, and even floating yoga! Bobby’s Hideaway Café is a popular spot with locals.

  • Population: 2,666
  • Median sales price: $867,500
  • Median rent price: $3,860
  • Schools: Kelly and Magnolia Elementary Schools; Valley Middle School; Sage Creek High School

Robertson Ranch

About eight minutes southeast of Carlsbad Village, Robertson Ranch is bordered by Calavera Hills Village on the north, Cannon Rd on the southeast, El Camino Real on the southwest, and Tamarack Ave on the northwest.

Large four and five-bedroom homes sit on quarter-acre lots, and home values range from $700,000 to $2,500,000. Construction began in 2010 and continues. You can entertain or meet friends at the gorgeous community center with its resort-style pool area, recreation areas, and playground.

You’ll need a car to run errands and commute from this mainly residential neighborhood. Although there are few amenities, the outstanding schools and safety draw families to Robertson Ranch. Lake Calavera Trail Head-Cannon Road sits in the southeastern part of the neighborhood.

  • Population: 1,160
  • Median list price: $1,210,000
  • Homeowners’ association fee: Approximately $288 monthly
  • Median rent price: $3,120
  • Schools: Kelly and Hope Elementary Schools; Valley Middle School; Sage Creek and Carlsbad High Schools

Bressi Ranch

Bressi Ranch roughly borders Palomar Airport Rd on the north, El Fuente St on the east, Poinsettia Lane on the south, and El Camino Real on the west. Driving along El Camino Real, Carlsbad Village is about twelve minutes north.

Bressi Ranch offers a variety of housing types, from attached townhouses and condos to elegant single-family homes. The neighborhood is child-friendly with healthy schools and eight beautifully designed parks. The vast Alga Norte Community Park has athletic fields, a dog park, and skatepark.

Neighbors are friendly, and it’s an easy walk to restaurants and grocery stores, but you’ll need a car to run errands outside of the neighborhood. Lots of convenient amenities include Trader Joe’s, Stater Bros Markets, Fish District, and Board & Brew.

  • Population: 1,980
  • Median sales price: $1,195,000
  • Median rent price: $1,680
  • Schools: Poinsettia Elementary School, Aviara Oaks Middle School, and Carlsbad High School

Quality Moving Services from Carlsbad Movers

Planning, organizing, and executing a move feels like trying to juggle ten things at once. High-quality moving services make things much easier. They’ll take the stress out of your relocation and help you get settled into your new home with as few headaches as possible.

Interstate Moves

Are you heading to Carlsbad from out-of-state? The longer your moving distance, the more difficult it becomes to coordinate logistics and get your stuff (and family) safely moved. We’ve vetted state-to-state moving companies that can organize the long-distance routes and crews needed to pull off a cheap interstate move safely and efficiently.

Intrastate & Local Moves

It’s easy to think, “We’re only moving a few miles away. How hard can it be?” However, even the shortest moves take a lot of effort. A local Carlsbad moving company will make the process much more straightforward – even if you’re just moving across the street.

Small Load Moves

People who live in studio or one-bedroom apartments tend to think they don’t have much stuff – until they have to move it all. Beds, washing machines, and couches are tough to move. Why not get help? We can connect you with the best insured small load moving companies who can expertly manage long or short-distance moves.

Furniture Shipments

Of all your possessions, your furniture is the most cumbersome and challenging to move. Whether you’re putting your whole household into storage or moving an armoire to a new Carlsbad neighborhood, top-rated furniture moving companies can take the load off your shoulders.

Piano Transport

Moving a piano requires strength, skill, and experience. These heavy instruments are also quite delicate, so you should hire a professional piano mover to do the job right. We can help you find a top-rated company at the most affordable price.

Art & Antiques

Typical movers don’t have the training to handle fragile, expensive art or antiques. This task requires excellent care, skilled teams, and specialized equipment. Get free quotes and hire an exceptional art and antiques moving company that will customize your Carlsbad move down to the last detail.

Storage-in-Transit

If you need to store your items temporarily before they get moved into your Carlsbad home, put your mind at ease by using a trusted storage-in-transit service. A professional moving and storage company will pick up your belongings and organize them in a warehouse that’s clean, temp-controlled, and secure.

Car Shipping

If you’ve bought a car in a far-away location – or if you’re moving and can’t drive your vehicle – hire professionals to ship it for you. We’ll connect you with the best vehicle transport companies who have the equipment and experience necessary to move your car safely and affordably.

Packing Services

Getting your belongings packed up can take forever. Instead of doing it by yourself, choose a trustworthy company to pack for you. A trained packing team will carefully wrap and pack your items, so your things arrive at your new Carlsbad home organized and intact.

Residential Moves

Moving into your new house by yourself can be unexpectedly expensive, and the process can be overwhelming. A professional household moving company uses experienced teams of skilled and expert movers who will manage all of the hard work for you.

Commercial Moves

When businesses move, they need to be up-and-running quickly. It makes sense to hire a company that’s skilled at moving office furniture, important documents, electronics, and IT equipment. Get free quotes, and we’ll match you with expert commercial moving companies that can get you safely moved and back in business with as little downtime as possible.

Same Day/Emergency/Short Notice

If you’re frantically looking for a moving company that can help today, click ‘get movers now!’ and we’ll immediately connect you with top-rated affordable same day movers.

Moving Supplies

Need boxes? How about tape and packing materials? Every good move starts with good supplies, and we can recommend one-stop-shops near you.

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Simplify your Carlsbad move. Our free quotes will take all the stress out of trying to find the best, most affordable moving company. We’ve already vetted each Carlsbad moving company we recommend. Get started with free quotes now!

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Patricia McBratney

Between working as a clinical educational therapist and flipping houses, Patty’s lifelong love of horses found her riding the remote... Read More