Santa Barbara is a little slice of heaven: and the Bible is wrong, heaven is for the rich only….
If you are from Bakersfield, every time you pay for something in Santa Barbara, you gasp. $17 for two small cups of imported German beer? $16 for a simple omelette at a breakfast place? $200 a night at the Best Western? And after paying $100 or more for even the most unassuming meal at a small family restaurant in Santa Barbara time after time, it ceases to be shocking.
Those prices are at least double what I would pay in Bakersfield. But don’t blame the poor shopkeepers: their expenses are sky high. The rent on a tiny, one bedroom, one bath condo place near State Street? $1850 a month. Would you like to buy a 3 bedroom, two bath house in an average neighborhood in Santa Barbara? Sure, we have several starting around $1.2 million. (Real estate and rental costs thanks to Trulia.com.)
It’s like an alternate universe where money has a different meaning. We did not do anything outrageous in Santa Barbara, but I am afraid to even check my account for how much it cost to vacation there for three days. Things that are free in Bakersfield, like parking, cost money in Santa Barbara. The air is free, but that is about it. I am sure the salaries for local workers reflect the high cost of living. One article in the local paper talked about a county government bureaucrat who was getting paid $300,000 a year. In Kern County, there isn’t a single county employee who makes anywhere near that. But I am sure $300,000 in Santa Barbara is a middle-class wage.
I had to wonder about what it would cost me to live my life in Santa Barbara. Let’s see, I live in a 3200 square foot, six bedroom, three bath house: stop right there. That type of house in Santa Barbara would be $4 million or more, far more than I could ever make. Pursuant to Numeo.com, a site that compares the cost of living, the cost of Santa Barbara is overall about twice that of Bakersfield, I bet it is at least that.
The next time you read that Bakersfield is the “armpit of California” just remember: the cost of living here is dirt cheap compared to other places in California. There is a reason that people in Santa Barbara have dogs with them at breakfast, not children. I had a good time, but I could not wait to get back on my side of the mountains.