Santa Monica vs Venice Beach – Guide for Visiting & Living in 2023

Choosing between Santa Monica vs Venice Beach may be hard if you want to visit or live in one of LA’s main beach destinations. But, this guide will help.

Some of you may even wonder what’s the point of comparing them. Picking either  Santa Monica or Venice Beach seem to be the same choice since they are located next to each other.

It’s a strong argument except for a few details that make each location unique, just like in the case of Newport Beach vs Huntington Beach.

But, let’s start with a couple of their similarities. Both are beachfront locations close to Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood.

Additionally, both are popular tourist destinations that are known for their beaches, shops, restaurants, and oceanfront promenade. Everything looks quite the same then, right? 

Now, let’s dive into the main differences. Our research was based on the following criteria: the atmosphere, types of amenities, things to do, cost of living, job market, and culture.

After reading this article, we bet that you will be surprised about their differences. But, you’ll surely make the right call when deciding between Venice Beach vs Santa Monica in California for your next trip or your next move.

So, without further ado, let’s see how these beautiful beach cities stack up.

1. Santa Monica vs Venice Beach – Overview

Though they are located right next to each other, Santa Monica is part of Santa Monica City in western Los Angeles County, California, and Venice Beach is technically a neighborhood of Los Angeles. 

However, when comparing Venice Beach vs Santa Monica, Santa Monica is considered more upscale thanks to its collection of high-end restaurants, hotels, shops, boutiques, and other facilities.

Santa Monica, California

Though it’s open to all tourists, you will need some extra cash when shopping, dining, or staying overnight in Santa Monica.

It offers a great variety of excellent hotels and bars, but they are more expensive as well.

Meanwhile, Venice Beach is a neighborhood that falls under the jurisdiction of Los Angeles. It was designed to feel like a beach resort by millionaire Abbot Kinney in 1905. Venice Beach is known for its beach, canals, the Venice Beach Boardwalk, and its fishing pier.

Venice Beach, Los Angeles, California

When choosing between Santa Monica or Venice Beach in terms of their walkability and bikeability, Walk Score gives us the same results:

  • Santa Monica – Walkability: 83
  • Venice Beach – Walkability: 83
  • Santa Monica – Bikeability: 88
  • Venice Beach – Bikeability: 88

There is just a small difference in their transit score, where Santa Monica scores an extra 8 points.

2. Santa Monica vs Venice Beach – Things to Do for Travelers

Tell us, do you wish to visit a place where you can enjoy beautiful sunsets on the beach, take some bike tours in the mountains, try a good wine in a fancy restaurant, or feel like a Hollywood star? This place actually exists and it’s called Santa Monica. 

You can find almost everything you could wish for in this city. You can also take a full-day tour of LA, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and much more.

But let’s talk more about Santa Monica’s beach. Of course, it doesn’t have a boardwalk like Venice Beach while everything is more expensive.

Santa Monica Pier

But you get great hotels, trendy shops, boutiques, and the famous Santa Monica Pier with its amusement park. You can even take some surfing lessons or fitness classes by the Pacific Ocean.

Venice Beach Skatepark

What does Venice Beach have to offer? Well, almost everything that Santa Monica can. But, the hotels, shops, and restaurants are not as upscale, although they are less expensive.

Similarly, Venice Beach has a boardwalk, which features a mixture of artists, acrobats, surfers, and skateboarders.

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3. Santa Monica vs Venice Beach – Things to Do for Residents

Being a tourist in Venice Beach or Santa Monica is a delight. But, you may eventually want to move to one of these locations since they are both ideal places where you can relax and have fun.

Let’s take a broader look and compare Venice Beach vs Santa Monica in terms of their lifestyles and opportunities. 

Santa Monica’s quality of life ranks quite high. This city of 90,000 residents is one of the most desirable places in the US for people who want to enjoy a relaxed lifestyle close to the beach.

Also, thanks to its proximity to Los Angeles, there is no problem living in Santa Monica and commuting to Los Angeles, which we named as one of the best cities to live in California for 2023.

Furthermore, Santa Monica has a high-quality public education system and it is one of the most sustainable cities in the country. Generally, the prices are high, which corresponds to the lifestyle.

Canals in Venice Beach, Los Angeles

Meanwhile, Venice Beach is slightly less glitzy and glamorous, though not by much. With over 35,000 people, it is a smaller-sized Los Angeles neighborhood that is great for families or young professionals looking for an urban-suburban lifestyle mix.

Its education system is also well-rated, with multiple schools that earned a “A” grade from Niche.com.

4. Santa Monica vs Venice Beach – Cost of Living

When discussing living costs in Santa Monica vs Venice Beach, there aren’t significant differences. The livability score for Santa Monica is 69, which is about the US average, but higher than Venice Beach’s livability score of 61.

Generally, both locations are about 120% more expensive than the US average.

The median household income for Santa Monica is around $82,000 with a median home value of about $1,700,000.

Meanwhile, Venice Beach has median household incomes of roughly $97,000 and median home values are about $1,800,000

The median rent price in Venice Beach is $1,900 per month, which is a bit higher than Santa Monica’s $1,600 per month. 

Overall, the differences are small, and if you have the money, living in Santa Monica or Venice Beach is really a dream.

5. Santa Monica vs Venice Beach – Job Market

Let’s check how easy it is to find a job or live on a salary in Venice Beach vs Santa Monica. As always, the numbers will tell the differences. 

The income per capita in Santa Monica is $67,138, which is more than double the US average of $31,177. Its unemployment rate is 7.9% and the average salaries here are $74,534.

Also, the job growth in Santa Monica has been positive, as jobs have increased by 0.7% over the past year. Future job growth is also expected to be about 25-30% over the next 10 years.

How does it compare to Venice Beach? The income per capita in Santa Monica is $70,587, with an unemployment rate of 6%, and an average salary that is also about $74,000.

Venice Beach’s future job growth is expected to be slightly lower than Santa Monica’s, with a 10 year outlook of 20-25%.

So what do you think about these numbers? Would you be willing to move to either of these locations?

6. Santa Monica vs Venice Beach – Culture

Now, how does the culture compare in Venice Beach vs Santa Monica? After all, they are right next to each other. Could there be any differences?

Surprisingly, yes. As we already mentioned, Santa Monica is a bit more exclusive and fancy. It doesn’t mean you need a special invitation to be included.

But, you will need some extra discretionary income to enjoy its shops, boutiques, restaurants, and hotels.

Venice Beach is much more of a mix of funky, urban, and edgy residents and visitors. It’s a lively place where you can enjoy various artists and entertainers.

Venice Beach is all about having fun, living in the moment, and creating memories. And yes, a big part of Venice Beach’s culture revolves around its fantastic beach.

Santa Monica vs Venice Beach – Summary

If you are still deciding to move to or visit Santa Monica vs Venice Beach, we think that you should choose based on your lifestyle. Santa Monica is a little more posh, while Venice Beach is a bit more artsy.

But remember, these are two of the most popular beach destinations in Los Angeles and are actually next to each other. You can enjoy them both without having to make a choice on either of them.