17 Reasons Not to Move to Monterey, California (Voted by the locals!)

The Old Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey, California, a famous tourist attraction

Monterey, California has been making quite the name for itself in recent years. Tourism is becoming more popular in that area and some people choose to never leave. While Monterey may be a great place for some, for others it may only remain a favorite vacation spot.

While Monterey’s beauty may be appealing at first, there are so many things that make Monterey a hard place to live. Here you will find 17 reasons you should not move to Monterey, California. These reasons come from some locals and what they would do differently if given the opportunity. Keep in mind that some of these reasons to stay away may be your reasons to move to Monterey. Either way, this should give you more insights into the area.

17. Cost of Living

California in general is a pretty costly place to live, and Monterey is no exception to that. The cost of living in California is higher than the national average making California one of the biggest money pits. The cost of living in Monterey, California is outrageous compared to some other California areas. 

The cost of living is the main reason people choose not to live in Monterey. Unfortunately, the cost of living stays pretty pricey and consistent despite national economy changes. Housing is by far going to be the priciest thing, but once you factor in food, real estate, taxes, transportation, entertainment, and other necessities, it’s almost impossible to live in Monterey.

Before you even consider looking into moving to Monterey California, begin to price things out and budget for how things cost in California. The high cost of living will most likely turn you away from the state in general.

16. Crime Rates

The other thing California is known for is its overall high crime rates. Monterey is very crime ridden despite being a tourist town. The crime rate is what makes the cost of living not worth it. There are very few neighborhoods that are safe in Monterey. If you want a safe neighborhood in the area, you will be paying unbelievable amounts for that home.

Unfortunately, there is gang activity in Monterey and a high amount of drug abuse making it more likely to be a crime ridden area. If you have children or plan to start a family, I would highly suggest moving elsewhere. While crime rates have been going down over the past 10 years, it still is unusually high.

15. Homelessness

Homelessness is going to be a struggle anywhere you go. There will always be people who cannot afford to live on their own or support themselves. With this being said, Monterey has one of the worst homeless populations. Unfortunately, this problem continues to get worse instead of better.

Due to the high price of living, many people find themselves homeless in the Monterey area. This homelessness problem is always what spikes the overall crime rate. If you’re looking for a clean town with minimal trash and very few homeless people, this is definitely not the place.

A homeless beggar man sitting outdoors in city asking for money donation.

14. Tourism

I have lived in a tourism town myself and this is the one thing that made me move away. A tourist town sounds great on face value, but once you’ve lived in a tourism town, you will never want to do it again. 

The appeal of a tourism town to most is that there will always be something to do, there will be a booming economy, and it will always keep things interesting. This is the farthest thing from the truth. Tourism in Monterey is so overwhelming and makes getting around the area almost impossible. In the summer months, don’t expect to be able to do anything outside of your home in a timely manner because there will be thousands of people wanting to do those same exact things.

On average Monterey sees around 4.6 million tourists annually. For being such a small town, this is a lot of people that come and go throughout the year. I would consider living somewhere else that is not a tourist town.

13. Traffic

Due to the high amount of tourism, the traffic in Monterey is pretty bad. I have been to Monterey several times in my life and every time I go, the town gets busier. It is hard to be anywhere on time because traffic can be unpredictable.

Transportation in Monterey is near impossible with traffic. If you can avoid driving a vehicle yourself, that is probably the best way to get around. Monterey does have a great public transportation system, but in the summer months, it can be hard to get a spot on the bus.

If you do choose to live in Monterey, make sure you plan accordingly on how you are going to get somewhere. Make sure you plan for cost, time, and traffic. If you’re not a fan of traffic, I would suggest moving elsewhere.

12. Natural Disasters

Natural disasters can happen anywhere and are unpredictable. If you are not familiar with living next to an ocean, there can be some added risks when it comes to natural disasters. Most homes will even require you to purchase insurance for certain natural disasters.

California is known to have a lot of earthquakes, so be prepared for that. With earthquakes comes the risk of tsunamis and a good amount of flooding. Rain, especially in the Monterey area, can often cause flooding which then causes landslides and mudslides. Recently a part of Big Sur was washed away due to a mudslide.

You will always want to prepare for the worst when moving to Monterey, California. For me personally, the risks outweigh everything. There are just far too many risks and knowing that I will have to insure my home and items because of those added risks, it just doesn’t make living in Monterey worth it.

Car parking on the street and show level of water flooding in Bangkok, Thailand.

11. Flight Options

If you like to travel a lot or have to travel for work, you are pretty far from the nearest major airport. Monterey does have a regional airport, but it is very small and doesn’t have flights to many places. So, your flight options are very limited and you will most likely have to travel in order to get on a plane.

The closest major airport is San Jose which is around 53 miles away from Monterey. The second closest major airport is San Francisco which is around 75 miles away from Monterey. So, if you are planning on traveling by plane, make sure you plan accordingly.

10. Bad Drinking Water

California is known to have some of the worst water. The drinking water in California has many harmful chemicals that include arsenic and nitrate. Ingesting these chemicals without filtering the water first can cause long term harm to the human body.

Even if you are not worried about the contamination, the water just tastes gross. The water tastes unfiltered from most restaurants in the Monterey area. To guarantee that you are not getting any harmful chemical in your water, I would buy bottled water or filter the water yourself.

9. Running Out of Things To Do

One of my favorite things about traveling to Monterey is the things you can do there that are so unique to the area. The issue is these things will get boring quickly. While there is a lot to do in Monterey and you may struggle to fit it all into one vacation, living there is going to be a different story.

Monterey is actually very small and because of that it has very little to do. You’ll find yourself going to do the same things over again. If you want something different, you’ll have to travel quite a long way to do it.

Monterey also has very few restaurants. If you were to eat at one new restaurant a day in Monterey, you will have eaten at every restaurant in the area within a few months. If you’re a foodie like me, this can get pretty boring very quickly.

Moral of the story, things can get boring fast in Monterey. So, if you’re looking for something that is a little more lively and will give you things to constantly do, this probably isn’t the place for you. 

Monterey; USA – july 14 2016 : cannery at the fisherman wharf in the historical city centre

8. Weather

Weather in Monterey is very consistent and usually stays between 50ºF and 80ºF year-round. There is quite a bit of rain that passes through the area throughout the year as well. This may seem like a plus for you, but for others, they may be looking for a bit warmer temperatures.

Although you are directly on a beach, this beach is far from the warm ones you see in Southern California. This beach is similar to Oregon beaches where it is quite rocky and cold. You can absolutely still swim in the ocean, but plan on it being much colder water. 

7. Boring Night Life

One of the biggest complaints from young people who move to Monterey is the night life. Monterey shuts down very early in the day; some places even close as early as 4:00pm in this small town. Monterey prides itself on being a quieter town, so they try to keep things alive during the day, but quiet at night in the area.

If you’re looking to get a bite to eat past 8:00pm, you may find it a little hard in Monterey. Fast food places don’t even stay open late, which isn’t typical. The only things that stay open a little later in Monterey are the bars, and there are so few bars in Monterey that your choices are very limited. So, if you are a night owl and prefer night life, then Monterey is definitely not the place for you.

6. High Real Estate for Older Homes

One of the biggest things when moving somewhere is the cost of real estate. I covered this topic slightly in the beginning, but I wanted to dive deeper into this exact topic and why this may be an issue for you.

The first thing I want to look at is the quality of homes in the area. Monterey is known for it’s historical homes. Majority of the homes in Monterey were built between the 1950’s and the 1980’s, sometimes even older. There are very few homes in Monterey that are new than that. For these older homes, that are less than 2,500 square feet, you will be paying extremely high prices for them. These prices are even higher than typical California standards.

Most people, when they choose to move to California, are looking for those bigger, newer, beach front homes and in Monterey, those just don’t exist. Monterey has a certain look to it and you are paying for that historical look. 

The other thing you will want to consider is that some of these homes will be fixer uppers. You will already be paying quite an expensive amount, to then have to put more money into the home to make it livable for you and your family. If you are someone who loves fixer uppers and your dream is to live in a historical area in Northern California, then this may be a great option for you. Otherwise, I would suggest looking somewhere else for much better real estate prices and overall homes.

5. Small Town

If it hasn’t been mentioned before, Monterey is a small town. To get from one side of Monterey to the other, without much traffic, it would take you 20 minutes tops. Monterey is very small and pretty far from any large city. 

This may be a pro to you if you are looking for that small town vibe. There are definitely benefits to a small town like Monterey. One of my favorite things is the fact that you can get almost anywhere on foot if you wanted to.

The only major downside to Monterey being a small town is the tourism. You will always have more tourists than you will have locals and that can be really hard if you are just trying to enjoy where you live. So, if you’re looking for a small town that doesn’t see millions of people annually, I would consider going elsewhere.

4. Unemployment Rates

The unemployment rates in California in general are pretty high, but with Monterey being that small town and having very few places to go, unemployment is especially bad. Not only do you have to pay top dollar to live in Monterey, but employment is so hard to come by. This is what makes the homeless population continue to grow.

With that being said, even if you do hold a job in Monterey, the pay is not going to be enough to make a comfortable living in the area. Most places in Monterey do not pay enough to help with the cost of living. If you are considering moving to Monterey, make sure you already have a job lined up that will help you afford the cost of living there.

3. Demographic

If you are looking for a place that has a lot of diversity and fun cultures, Monterey is not the place for you. Monterey’s demographic is very white with little to no diversity. Monterey has a population that is 78% white, 13% Hispanic, 7% Asian, 2% African American, while the remainder are all other races. The population itself is not very diverse, but with tourism, it does bring in that extra diversity.

Seascape of Monterey Bay at Sunset in Pacific Grove, California, USA

2. Politics

California politics have leaned liberal for decades now, but due to this, California’s economy can be all over the place. Monterey is liberal itself and has a hand in California politics. If you are looking for a place that is a little more moderate in politics or leans conservative, then I would consider moving elsewhere.

1. Atmosphere

Something that I would consider looking at, that some people don’t, is the overall atmosphere of Monterey. Yes, you are close to the ocean, you are in a historical town, you do have some fun things to do, but long term, is this what you want?

I find that Monterey is such a fun place to vacation, but I personally could never live there. Not just because of the high cost of living, but in general, I could see myself getting bored of the area, especially for how small it is. I would absolutely look ahead and think long term if that is a place you want to be. Overall, the atmosphere is great for short periods of time, but long term, you may find yourself wanting to go somewhere else.

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