Moving to Carmel: 10+ Things to Know Before Making the Move

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Are you considering moving to Carmel? Carmel, California or Carmel-by-the-Sea is noted for being undeveloped, even pristine in some areas. The open spaces, wide, clean beaches, lush landscapes, smooth sloped hills, wildlife and temperate weather have impressed millions of visitors, and some folks live there year round. It tends to one of the those places that some visitors fall in love with because of the relaxed pace, clean air, physical beauty and moderate climate.


The climate is cool Mediterranean with average highs in August of 71 and average lows in January of 43.


Schools in Carmel have a rating of 10/10 according to You can visit the Carmel Unified School District website here. For higher education, there is Cal-State Monterey and the Monterey Institute for International Studies.


carmel house

The median home price in Carmel is $1.7 million. The median rent is $3,500 according to Trulia, but if you do a quick search on Craiglist, you might find some small apartments for about $1,500.

Carmel is located 120 miles south of San Francisco, which is one of the most expensive housing markets in the United States. This very small town is set in one of the more beautiful areas in the world, if you like coastal living. Because it is so appealing, it is also very expensive. If Carmel housing is too expensive for you, you can also try Pacific Grove and Carmel Valley. On Craigslist there are sometimes small apartments for less than $1300 a month. Carmel Valley is about 13 miles east of Carmel, and it tends to be sunnier and warmer, though there is some congestion between the two towns.



One of the best reasons a person may consider moving to Carmel is the natural beauty one can experience. Wide open clean beaches without massive crowds, coastal cliffs, sea air, marine wildlife like otters and seals, shorebirds, and green hills can all add up to something very enjoyable. The area is also not densely populated, so the pace is slower and it may appeal to people who are artistic or older.

The Carmel River flows about 36 miles from the Santa Lucia Mountains down to the Carmel Bay, which is near the town of Carmel. Dam removal on the Carmel River has increased hope that steelhead trout will return in greater numbers.

Pebble Beach is known for its beautiful golf course, and it is a public one at that, which means you can play there as long as you can get a time slot. However, it may cost hundreds of dollars, but if you drive a short distance to Pacific Grove, you could get a round for less than $100, or less than $50 with a discount.

Monterey and its famous aquarium are just several miles away as well.


Katy’s Place is almost a traditional eatery for breakfast and lunch in Carmel. Of course, because is located right on the Pacific Ocean, there are a number of seafood restaurants, like the Flying Fish Grill, AW Shucks Cocktail and Oyster Bar, Flaherty’s and Andree’s Bouchee.

Bruno’s Market and Deli is probably the most popular grocery store in Carmel, followed by the Nielsen Brothers Market. If you like cheese, The Cheese Shop, is very popular and well-regarded. If you prefer standard grocery stores, Safeway and Lucky are present too.

There is also a farmer’s market at the Barnyard Shopping Village.


For such a small town, Carmel has many art galleries representing hundreds of artists. In fact, there is a whole website dedicated to art in Carmel.


Carmel has many small shops which sell art, jewelry, crafts, clothes and home furnishings. It also has quite a few restaurants worth visiting, both for tourists and residents. The Barnyard Village referenced above is a small outdoor shopping center, with lush gardens. Carmel Plaza is also a small outdoor shopping center with gardens and outdoor furniture for pleasant rests.


Because of the cost of living, moving to Carmel without a job, or a good idea of what you want to do may not be the best idea. Some of the top employers are tourism-related, like hotels and restaurants. There is a local hospital outside of Carmel that employs many as well.


Community Hospital of Monterey is not too far from Carmel….only about 2.5 miles.
There is also a medical center in Salinas.


Monterey Salinas Transit provides public transportation all the way to Santa Cruz and San Jose, and it stops in Carmel. There is an Amtrak station at Salinas, which is 22 miles away. Monterey Regional Airport is not far at all from Carmel, but the largest nearby airport is in San Jose.


It almost wouldn’t be California without wineries, and Carmel and the surrounding area has its share too. In fact, if you like wine and are moving to Carmel, there are a number of local offerings.


Carmel Beach is very close to Carmel, and features light-colored sand. It is broad enough to accommodate many visitors, and dogs are allowed, and they can be off-leash. There is no lifeguard service here, so visitors have been advised to be careful around the water.

Point Lobos is a park with a very large beach, tidepools and many trees. You might also see a fair amount of wildlife here. It isn’t in Carmel, but a short drive will get you there. It can be crowded on weekends.

Carmel River State Beach is smaller, but tends to be less crowded.


If you are looking for storage in Carmel we have a facility here and can answer your storage questions. Just give us a call at: 831.250.6062.


Carmel is a very small town, with just about 3,700 residents, and was founded in 1902. In its first phase, Carmel was something of an artist’s village, with over half the people living there doing something art-related. The area is so appealing that many well-known people have lived there at times including, comedian Craig Kilborn, Clint Eastwood, Ansel Adams, Doris Day, Robert Heinlein, Sinclair Lewis, Dick Sargent and many more.

The character and beauty of Carmel is distinct and important enough that is doesn’t allow chain restaurants within the city limits. It also prohibits fast food and drive-in food restaurants. Carmel was the first town in America to have such restrictions, having done so in the mid-1980s. The town is also dog-friendly; some of the local establishments like restaurants and hotels allow dogs to enter. Another rule requires new buildings to be built around live trees; areas within the city limits must also maintain a minimum number of trees.

Native Americans lived in the area before it was observed by the Spanish in 1542, but these European explorers didn’t establish a mission there until 1770. In the 1800s, the local Native American tribe the Ohlone were decimated by diseases the Europeans brought with them. Eventually, the mission culture was absorbed by a growing residential population and commerce, such as baking and pottery making. The Carmel Post Office opened in 1902.

After the 1906 earthquake, many artists who were living in San Francisco moved south to Carmel where they could purchase home lots for $10 and make monthly payments of whatever they could muster.

By 1920, the population was about 600 and it peaked in 1980 with 4,700. Robinson Jeffers, a poet-builder constructed two structures in Carmel, made of local stones. They are still intact today, and can be visited.

Movies containing scenes shot in Carmel

Basic Instinct
Blind Date
Seems Like Old Times
The Muppet Movie
The Master Gunfighter
The Naked Eye
The Caddy
The Lady Says No
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir


City of Carmel
City meetings, beach rules, business info, etc.

Carmel Library
Location, hours, schedule, programs, etc.

Near Carmel

San Francisco — 120 miles

San Jose — 75 miles

Los Gatos — 67 miles

Santa Cruz — 46 miles

Salinas — 22 miles

Big Sur — 20 miles

Monterey — 4 miles

Pebble Beach — 2.4 miles

Moving to Carmel would probably be a good idea for someone who likes or loves the outdoors, enjoys nature and doesn’t need to be around many people. It would also help to be financially secure or to have an idea of what kind of work is available to do locally.

Image Credits:

Carmel house, Egil, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Beach with dog, Arzun, Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0

Cypress, I MadScientist, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0