It’s no secret that Huntington Beach is a fantastic place to live. Between its stunning Pacific Ocean beaches, perfect year-round weather, and happening nightlife and food scene, you’ll be delighted that you’re moving to this sunny southern Californian paradise. Home to the annual US Open of Surfing, Huntington Beach is known for its great waves, classic beach culture, and active outdoor lifestyle. It’s called Surf City USA for a good reason.
Since the 1900s, Huntington Beach has been a popular destination for transplants looking to move to the Golden Coast, many drawn to the oil industry. While only a few of the ubiquitous oil derricks that once fueled the economy are still pumping, the influx of new residents to the area continues to grow. The result is a melting pot of rich culture, showcasing traditions and cuisine from Asian, to Mexican, to Middle Eastern. You’ll soon be joining locals at The Tuesday Surf City Nights, where you can shop the farmers’ market, watch great entertainment, and munch on amazing food – all in a neighborly atmosphere that appeals to everyone – from singles to families. With all this going on, there’s only one thing missing – you.
Living in Huntington Beach, CA: What to Know Before Moving to Huntington Beach
In Huntington Beach, your California dream will become a reality. You’ll enjoy salty air, picturesque drives on the Pacific Coast Highway, and some of the most scenic stretches of sand along the Southern California coast – not to mention fantastic varieties of cuisine, craft cocktails, wine, and beer. Even though Surf City has 200,000 residents, it still maintains a small town, friendly feel.
Pros and Cons of Living in Huntington Beach
- Weather – Welcome to sunny Southern California, home to one of the most consistent and sought-after climates in the country. You’ll enjoy average year-round temperatures hovering around the mid-70s.
- The Beach – Whether you’re planning to take up surfing, love to swim in the ocean, or want to enjoy the sand, you’ve found the right place.
- Culture – Many cultures influence the city. The mix of ethnicities frames a diverse culture.
- Nightlife – Craft breweries, fine dining, bars, live music – no matter what your ideal night looks like, you’ll have plenty of possibilities.
- Lifestyle – It’s no secret that Huntington Beach is one of the top destinations because of its attractive casual lifestyle and upbeat energy.
- Traffic – While Southern California is picturesque in many ways, if you find yourself on the 405 around rush hour, you won’t enjoy the view. Because of the lack of public transportation, the traffic around Huntington Beach is some of the worst in the country.
- Weather – The weather here is consistently temperate, which means there’s little to no change between the seasons. If you enjoy a summer rain or a winter snow shower every once in a while, you’re not going to find it here.
- Natural Disasters – California’s natural disasters, especially fires, are constantly in the news. Being on the coast, Huntington Beach is unlikely to experience wildfire, but with various fault lines running throughout the state, there’s always a possibility of an earthquake.
- Cost of Living – Due to its ideal location and high property values, it’s no surprise that the cost of living in Huntington Beach is higher compared to other parts of the country.
- Property tax – Huntington Beach is in Orange County. Property tax here is .715%. The national average rate is 1.211%.
- Sales tax – The city sales tax rate is 7.8%, compared to the average US rate of 7.3%.
- State income tax – California income tax is based on income brackets. The average rate in California is 9.3%. The highest rate, for those in the top tax bracket, is 13.30%, according to taxfoundation.org.
As of October 2019, zillow.com reports the median home value is $841,100. Home values rose 1.4% in 2018-19 and are forecast to rise another 1.7% in 2020. The median list price is $899,000.
Zillow reports a median rent price of $3,300. According to bestplaces.net, about 40% of residents in Huntington Beach rent their homes. Cheap housing options are few and far between, but if you’re willing to live a bit farther from the coast, you can find less expensive housing. Check out neighborhoods like Goldenwest or Beach Boulevard.
Cost of Living
It’s no surprise that the cost of living in Huntington Beach is sky-high compared to the rest of the country. Huntington Beach, due to its prime coastal location, has a cost of living index of 183.8 compared to the US average of 100. According to bestplaces.net, higher than average expenses are Housing at 359.2, Grocery at 105.2, Transportation at 117.4, and Miscellaneous (repairs, childcare, eating out, etc.) at 105.6. Lower than average expenses are Health at 95.9 and Utilities at 96.4.
A family of four will require a yearly income of $103,174 to meet annual living expenses in Orange County, as reported by epi.org. The median income in Huntington Beach is just over $82,000.
Weather & Natural Disasters
What’s better than sunshine, the beach, and a perfect climate? Huntington Beach features what many would call perfect year-round weather. The two warmest months, August and September, feature average highs of 72 and lows in the mid-60s, according to usclimatedata.com. The coolest months are December and January, with modest highs of 63 and lows of 50. The area sees just under 11 inches of rainfall annually, and if you’re fleeing cold winters, you’re in luck – you won’t see a flake of snowfall in Huntington Beach.
While it’s mostly clear skies and sunshine in Surf City, there is a chance for natural disasters – mainly earthquakes, tsunamis, and drought. Because of Huntington Beach’s southern locale and proximity to the water, wildfires aren’t likely to occur. Huntingtonbeachca.gov features a preparedness website so residents can know how best to ensure safety during a natural disaster event.
Economy & Job Market
Even though job growth was fairly flat over the past year, Huntington Beach offers plenty of opportunities for quality employment. The unemployment rate is 2.9%, quite a bit lower than the US average of 3.7%, but job growth was only 0.6% in 2018-19. The per capita income, reported by bestplaces.net, is just over $45,000, and the median household income is $82,554.
The major industrial sectors are manufacturing, aerospace, retail, and tourism and hospitality. Major employers in the area include Boeing, Zodiac Aerospace, Huntington Beach Hospital, Quiksilver, and Cambro Manufacturing. If you are looking for a new job in Huntington Beach, check out all the options on indeed.com, linkdin.com, simplyhired.com, and the many online job boards.
Traffic and Transportation
Getting around Huntington Beach is largely dependent on car travel. There are currently nine bus routes throughout the city, offered through the Orange County Transportation Authority. The transit score is 32.
The major thoroughfares are the north-south Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1), which runs parallel to the coast, and the San Diego Freeway (I-405), also running north-south, and creating the city’s the eastern border. Both of these roads experience heavy traffic, especially the 405 during rush hours, so you’ll likely get to know less traveled routes quickly after relocating.
Depending on which part of the city you call home, walking or biking might be a good option. Huntington Beach’s Walkscore is rated 55, and the most walkable areas are Downtown, Oak View, and Yorktown. With a bike score of 65, the city has ample bike lanes and bike parking. Locals love hopping on their fat-tired beach cruisers so they can spy on the early morning surf, or head over to their favorite spot for sunset cocktails.
What to Do
Huntington Beach is a popular beach destination for many people moving to and within So Cal. The beaches promise awesome swells for surfers and warm sands for sun-worshippers. Take your pick between Bolsa Chica State Beach, Huntington State Beach, and Huntington Dog Beach if you want to romp with your four-legged friends. Kayaking and stand up paddle boarding are popular activities in Huntington Harbour, and Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve offers tours and walking trails.
But Huntington Beach isn’t all surf and sand. Totaling 758 acres, the city’s 78 parks are full of amazing amenities – from ball courts to playgrounds and pools to golf courses. Huntington Beach Central Park features a Disc golf course and an adventure playground. Take a walk down Huntington Pier, stroll downtown for a bite or a drink, or ride along the Huntington Beach Bike Trail.
Lots of delicious food, wine bars, distilleries, and local breweries are available all around town. Downtown offers a variety of options, like Duke’s for Hawaiian-style cuisine, and Sugar Shack Café, a local surfer breakfast and lunch spot, all just a short walk from the beach.
When it’s time to get a break from the sun, check out The International Surfing Museum, the Surfing Walk of Fame, a thriving art center, and lively shopping areas such as Bella Terra, Old World Village, Downtown Main Street, and Pacific City.
Schools and Universities
The Huntington Beach City School District, comprised of elementary and middle schools, serves the Huntington Beach area, and the Huntington Beach Union High School District serves high school students. According to niche.com, Huntington Beach public schools receive an A rating, with many individual schools, such as Jack L Weaver Elementary and Junipero Serra High School featuring A+ ratings.
The city is home to its own community college, Golden West College, and is fairly close to many universities. California State University at Long Beach is just 12 miles north, and the University of California Irvine is only 11 miles south.
Huntington Beach is relatively safe when compared to the national average crime rates. According to bestplaces.net, Surf City has a violent crime rating of 14 compared to the US average of 22.7. The property crime rate is 34.4, while the national average is 35.4.
- Gas service: Southern California Gas Company – Head to their website to schedule service.
- Electric service: Southern California Edison – Visit their homepage to turn on service.
- Water service/Trash pick-up/recycling service: The City of Huntington Beach – To start service for water, sewer, and trash services, call the Municipal Services Billing Section of the Huntington Beach Finance Department at (714) 536-5919 (then press 9). You’ll have to provide the city with some information about your new home. For a full list of information and steps to start service, check out the city’s website.
- Internet/Cable service: There are a few options for cable and internet in Huntington Beach. Enter your new zip code at highspeedinternet.com to find available services and rates.
Best Neighborhoods in Huntington Beach, CA
These are some of the top neighborhoods to call home in California’s Huntington Beach:
Sunset Beach, annexed from Huntington Beach in 2011, is a classic small California beach town at the north end of Huntington Beach. Bordered by Warner Ave to the south, Huntington Harbour to the east, Surfside to the north, and the coastline on the west, Sunset Beach has an infamous history that dates back to the Prohibition era.
If you’d love to live in a quaint beach town, this might be the perfect location. Similar to other smaller towns along the California Coast, Sunset Beach consists of one main strip along the Pacific Coast Highway. Because of this, there are limited residential opportunities. Housing options include single-family homes and multi-family units, which tend to be pricey because they’re just steps from the beach.
While the Pacific Coast Highway provides good access north and south from Sunset Beach, the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge is directly inland, which restricts the direct access to larger highways toward the east. If you work along the coast, you’ll have an easy drive along the water to get there. But, if you’ll require a commute inland, you’ll face longer drive times.
When it’s time to quench your thirst after a day in the sun, take a walk down PCH and find watering holes like riip beer company, a local brewery serving up all types of craft brews, or Mother’s Tavern, a local dive bar with funky décor and live music. The area also has some great restaurants. You’ll want to check out Romano Cucina for classic Italian fare, and Sam’s Fish Camp for fresh seafood.
- Population – 1,655
- Home Price – Median list price is $654,400
- Rent Prices – Median rent is $1,763 per month
- Employers – Employers in Sunset Beach will mostly be limited to the variety of retail, service, and hospitality business in the area
- Schools – There are no schools in Sunset Beach. Schools in Downtown Huntington Beach and Huntington Harbour are a short drive away.
Stretching west of the I-405, this neighborhood is bordered by McFadden Ave to the north, Warner Ave to the south, Springdale St to the west, and Beach Blvd to the east. Goldenwest is bordered at its northeast corner by the I-405, which provides great access for commuting. If you want to avoid inevitable rush hour traffic on the 405, use main local thoroughfares such as north-south Beach Blvd and east-west Warner or Heil Avenues.
This neighborhood offers some of the best dining and shopping in Huntington Beach. Home to the Bella Terra mall, an open-air shopping center, you’ll have great access to a variety of department and clothing stores, movie theaters, and a Whole Foods Market. If a mall is too mainstream for you, Goldenwest offers local-targeted options like the Old World—a Bavarian-style village featuring live entertainment, authentic cuisine, and more—and the Golden West College Swap Meet—a pop-up flea market at the local college.
As long as you’re willing to sacrifice direct beach access – and not to worry, both Bolsa Chica and Huntington State Beaches are just a short drive away – Goldenwest will likely be among the most practical neighborhoods for your next home. You’ll have great local go-to amenities. After you’ve shopped at Bella Terra or Old World, you’ll want to check out Lazy Dog and Eureka! for a bite and a craft beer. You’ll also have great access to authentic ethnic cuisine—Mitasie for Vietnamese and La Choza for Mexican.
- Population – About 20,000
- Home Price – Median list price is $825,000
- Rent Prices – One-bedroom apartments from $1,600 per month
- Employers – Boeing, C&D Aerospace, Cambro Manufacturing
- Schools – Sun View Elementary, College View Elementary, Spring View Middle School, Ocean View High School, Coast High School
If you’ll be living in Huntington Beach, there’s no escaping the surf culture – they don’t call it Surf City for nothing. Bolsa Chica is bordered to the north by Warner Ave, the east by Huntington Beach Park, the south by Downtown, and the west by the Pacific Ocean. The main thoroughfares are Pacific Coast Highway, Slater Ave, and Warner Ave.
Bolsa Chica State Beach is one of the most popular Southern California beaches among surfers and is the main draw to this neighborhood. Here you’ll find a perfect balance of classic California style and contemporary life. You can spend your afternoons relaxing in the sand, catching waves, or sampling local wine at SeaLegs at the Beach. In addition to the beach, you’ll also find Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve – a sanctuary for birders and those who enjoy fresh air and green space.
While it’s a treat to have the beach and 1,300 acres of preserved wildlife in your backyard, you’ll also enjoy plenty of options for wining and dining, including Seasalt Beachside Burger, and Pacific Kitchen, serving up light fare oceanside. If you find yourself inland, check out The Hangout Restaurant and Bar, a local favorite with a casual atmosphere.
- Population – 39,144
- Home Price – Median list price is $1,320.000
- Rent Prices – One-bedroom apartments from $1,600 per month
- Employers – Employers in Bolsa Chica proper are limited, but with the Pacific Coast Highway and other main thoroughfares close by, commuting is a good option here
- Schools – Huntington Seacliff Elementary, Hope View Elementary, Marine View Middle School, Mesa View Middle School, Ocean View High School, Coast High School
Downtown Huntington Beach has been the place to be since 1914 when surfing was first introduced right by the iconic Huntington Beach Pier. Throughout the birth and boom of the So Cal surf craze culture – think Dick Dale, the Beach Boys, Woodies – Downtown has stood the test. Stretching from Goldenwest St to the north, to Huntington St to the south, this neighborhood is where it all happens. Main thoroughfares include the Pacific Coast Highway along the coast, as well as Goldenwest St, Main St, and Huntington St, running north and south.
Getting around Downtown is a breeze. It’s among the most walkable neighborhoods in town, with structured blocks, walks along the beach, and the pier. Downtown provides the best of both worlds – the beach just a short walk away, and a thriving urban hub is at your fingertips any day or night of the week. Grab a burger at 25 Degrees or stop in for daily happy hour specials. Secret Spot Cafe serves up plenty of vegetarian and vegan options for plant-based aficionados. Take a trip to Pacific City, offering oceanfront dining, shopping, and entertainment. You can grab a pint at The Dudes’ Brewing Company after picking up some new board shorts.
- Population – About 10,000
- Home Price – Median list price is $1,300,000
- Rent Prices – Average rent is $2,528 per month
- Employers – Quiksilver, California Resources Company, Coldwell Banker-Campbell Realtors
- Schools – Agnes L Smith Elementary, Ethel Dwyer Middle School, Huntington Beach High School
This neighborhood’s namesake, Beach Boulevard – or Route 39 – runs the vertical length of Huntington Beach, north to the I-405 and south to the Pacific Ocean. The main thoroughfare in this neighborhood is obviously Beach Blvd. Running north-south, this road provides access to the Pacific Coast Highway for travel along the coast, and the I-405 to take you up to Long Beach and Los Angeles, or down to San Diego. This five-mile strip of the city features a variety of living options, with great access to the beach and surrounding cities.
This neighborhood provides a suburban lifestyle with shopping, cafes, and restaurants dotted all along Beach Blvd. For comfort food and cocktails – and breakfast all day long –check out Mama’s on 39, and for something more upscale, head over to The Black Trumpet Bistro, serving Mediterranean tapas inspired by Italian, French, Greco, and Moroccan cuisines. If you find yourself parched after a day in the sun, head over to SeaLegs Wine Bar (their other location!), offering a variety of wines, signature cocktails, and a full dinner menu.
- Population – About 40,000
- Home Price – Median list price is $739,000
- Rent Prices – One-bedroom apartments from $1,600 per month
- Employers – Huntington Beach Hospital, Cambro Manufacturing
- Schools – Oak View Elementary, Joseph R Perry Elementary, SA Moffett Elementary, Agnes L Smith Elementary, Ethel Dwyer Middle School, Fulton Middle School, Talbert Middle School, Huntington Beach High School, Ocean View High School, Coast High Schools
Southeast is the southern-most neighborhood in Huntington Beach. It stretches from Beach Blvd to the west, down the coast to the Santa Ana River, and inland as far as Garfield Ave. The main thoroughfares in Southeast are the Pacific Coast Highway to head up and down the coast, as well as Beach Blvd and Brookhurst St to head inland and to the ocean. Also, Adams Ave, located at the north end of the neighborhood provides convenient access to Costa Mesa and Irvine.
The area offers a reprieve away from the hustle of Downtown, with the same great access to the shoreline and greenspace. Check out Edison Park, a 40-acre family- and dog-friendly park. During peak season certain beaches restrict surfing, so this stretch of oceanfront is a great option if you’re not looking to surf – or if you’re just learning and looking for a more mellow atmosphere. Check out Banzai Surf School, and you’ll be hanging ten in no time. For off-the-beach fun, this neighborhood has options for everyone. If you’ve got cash burning a hole in your pocket, check out Massimo’s, an old-fashioned, cash-only pizza joint. For some chic options, head up the coast to Pete’s Sunset Grille or Watertable, both located in the Hyatt Regency and offering oceanside dining.
- Population – 40,211
- Home Price – Median List Price is $880,000
- Rent Prices – One-bedroom apartments from $1,625 per month
- Employers – Huntington Beach School District, Hyatt Regency
- Schools – William E Kettler Elementary, John R Peterson School, Isaac L Sowers Middle School, Edison High School
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