The Happiest Place in America
With a population of approximately 45,000 the City of San Luis Obispo lies between Los Angeles and San Francisco, just minutes away from Central California’s world-famous Pacific Ocean views. While still considered a small town, it has become ever-increasingly popular due to its natural beauty and quaint, family-oriented reputation. In 2010, it was named the “Happiest City in America” and featured on the Oprah Winfrey show.
Known as “SLO” to those who live here, one of San Luis Obispo’s most desirable traits is its relaxed lifestyle and rural feel. With the city surrounded by a series of volcanic mountains, its beauty is unsurpassed and its climate is considered ideal. The weather, mild most of the year, offers an added incentive for those who enjoy an abundance of sunshine, fresh air and the great outdoors. The annual temperature average is around 70 degrees and there’s a casual friendliness that permeates this town.
There are many features that support those who are committed to a healthy lifestyle. The city was the first in the county to institute a ‘no smoking’ policy. There are miles of biking and hiking trails. San Luis Obispo hosts two fabulous Farmer’s Markets, one on Thursday evening in its downtown area and one on Saturday morning in the parking lot of the shopping center off of Madonna Road. And there is an abundance of recreational activities, small, workout facilities and restaurants that offer seafood and vegetarian options.
Some larger chain stores, such as Target, Costco and Kohls are slowly moving to the area along with those who choose to move from larger, more populated areas. People who work from home often land here as do retirees, who sometimes venturing into a second career in areas such as the wine industry.
San Luis Obispo Real Estate
Within its 10.5 square mile area, a plethora of neighborhoods and housing options are available and there are numerous San Luis Obispo homes for sale in and around the city. With a mixture of new and historic areas, upscale housing is on the rise as well as affordable housing units. The city hosts 43% of San Luis Obispo County’s jobs and 17% of its housing. The median home age is 32 years old. Most neighborhoods are close to a number of larger retail areas, schools and parks. Madonna Plaza, Laguna Plaza, Marigold Plaza and Foothill Plaza are just a few of the more popular shopping areas found in and around these mixed residential neighborhoods.
Parks are plentiful (Meadow, Mitchell, Sinsheimer and Laguna Lake) and people actively visit them for multi-purpose activities. With the warm temperatures year-round, people thrive on the outdoors and community gardens as well as outdoor sports are popular.
There are some new housing developments although affordable housing has previously been of concern in the area. The rise of foreclosures has present some fabulous opportunities but the competition is stiff. With an annual population growth of 2.6% and a median age of 30, it is considered desirable place to begin and raise a family. The largest category of San Luis Obispo homes for sale is currently single-family dwellings with an estimated 20,300 residential units overall.
There are also numerous unincorporated areas that lie on the outskirts of San Luis Obispo. An example of this is the Country Club Estates, a gated neighborhood with approximately 60 townhouses, 185 single family homes, greenbelt areas and a private country club.
While San Luis Obispo County has sustained enormous growth over the past two decades, the city of San Luis Obispo has not because of a slow growth policy. Combined with the need for student housing and a climate that attracts new residents from around the world, these factors have lead to a sometimes challenging market. Presently, Cal Poly State University is in the process of increasing its on-site housing for students and faculty while the city continues to carefully monitor the needs for more affordable housing through entities including the Housing Authority of the City of San Luis Obispo.
Since it is a college town, it is quite common for affluent parents to buy a house for their child while attending college, and sell it after graduation. Close to 58% of the population is under 29 years old and numerous San Luis Obispo homes for sale fall in this category each year.
So who else resides in the city besides students and affluent retirees? What is the population made up of and who raises a family here? How do working families afford to live here? Cal Poly State University and the San Luis Obispo County Government Center, along with nearby Diablo Power Plant are among the areas largest employers. The wine industry is thriving along with other tourism-oriented services, additional forms of agriculture and industry.
San Luis Obispo had been recognized nationally as a wonderful place to live on several occasions. In 1998, “Money” Magazine rated San Luis Obispo as one of the west’s best places to live and in 2004, Frommer’s “Cities Ranked and Rated” named San Luis Obispo one of top 3 places to live in North America. It was National Geographic Magazine’s book “Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way,” which named San Luis Obispo the “Happiest City in America.”
For these reasons and more, San Luis Obispo homes for sale are desirable for a wide spectrum of potential buyers.