In an earlier post within this series, I narrowed down my city choices to a handful of locations near central and northern California. For a refresher, I live in Los Angeles county and really need a change of scenery after 35 years. I’m also trying to select cities that are slightly less expensive than where I currently live. Since my husband is self-employed and I am in a position where I can move, I think relocating within the next 2-3 years is possible.

Visiting Paso Robles, California

One of the cities I had researched was the Atascedero/Paso Robles area just 18 miles north of San Luis Obispo. My husband was a bit hesitant about visiting Paso Robles; he immediately pictured some small, dying town out in the middle of no where. We were both pleasantly surprised.

The biggest benefit with Paso Robles is that there are so many cities surrounding the area, including the larger San Luis Obispo, a bustling college town. Not only is the historic downtown area of Paso Robles adorable and well-maintained, the small town seems to be growing as well.

Victorian Paso Robles House
Victorian Paso Robles House

I’m a total sucker for historic architecture and the town is full of Victorian-era homes and office buildings. The idyllic setting surrounded by vineyards and rolling hills is exactly the image I picture in my head when I think about where I want to live for the next 35 years of my life.

A few of their streets also had bike lanes, a definite plus. Yet, I didn’t see many people bicycling. This doesn’t deter me from setting an example for others, though. I cycle in my community where there are hardly any bike lanes and am just fine doing so.

Another benefit of Paso Robles is that is it exactly the mid-point between Los Angeles and San Francisco off the 101 highway; something I didn’t think about when selecting this area, but ends up being a happy-accident. This would mean that within a 3-hour drive, north or south, I could be in a larger metro area.

The cost of living is just slightly less than where I live. Using as my housing indicator, there are several homes below $300,000, which means we could actually afford to purchase a house. Rent is also less expensive.

Since the climate is almost identical to where I currently live, I’m accustomed to their warmer summers – even if that means a week or so of 100-degree heat.

One down-side is that the adorable Victorian homes that I fell in love with are in the $400K range – too expensive for me at this point. But who knows? Maybe by the time I move, my income will have increased. Or maybe I’ll luck out on a fixer-upper for less.

The only other problem I foresee is the job market. As a teacher, there aren’t many jobs anywhere in California, including the Paso Robles/San Luis Obispo area. If predictions are correct, jobs will open up in 2-5 years as the baby-boomers retire. One down-side of a strictly tenured profession – having to wait in line for jobs.

I’m looking forward to another visit to Paso Robles later in the summer. Will I visit the other cities I had researched, like Concord or Roseville? I won’t know until I have a better feel for Paso.

Want to read my series? Check out my series posts page.


  1. That house in the picture is absolutely gorgeous! Good luck on your search! I’m sure you’ll land up on one soon!

  2. Before I comment, you may want to know I live in Los Angles and moved here 40 yrs. ago from New York. I have traveled up and down the coast. As I recall Paso Robles is pretty although a little pricier than San Luis Obispo. The central coast is similar to the Midwest. In my opinion, there is no perfect place! If you like what you are doing, you will like where you live. Good luck

  3. retirebyforty Reply

    That’s a really cute house. We have only drove through that area and never really stopped. Sounds like a nice alternative to the big cities though. I can’t live in Southern California, it’s just too busy.

  4. I think it’s great that you’re carefully researching potential cities. My husband and I want to retire to Florida and need to start planning trips there to check out various cities.

    Thanks for the inspiration to start researching and planning.

  5. Untemplater Reply

    Paso Robles sounds like a nice place. I used to live in an apartment inside an old Victorian house. And although the house was beautiful on the outside, the inside hadn’t been modernized so everything creaked and the bathroom could have used a remodel. If you decide to go the Victorian route down the road I’d advise getting a really good inspection b/c house repairs and remodels get super expensive really quickly.

    As for Roseville, I’ve driven past it tons of times going to Tahoe and there is always a lot of traffic congestion there on highway 80 FYI. I haven’t driven through the residential areas so there may not be any issues getting around the town but just thought you might want to know. -Sydney

  6. It’s tough getting a job as a teacher in California right now. Keeping the job is even harder, as long tenured teachers are keeping their jobs while the new ones are losing them.

  7. @krantcents
    Thanks, Krantcents. There are plenty of things I like about LA, but I’m ready for a change. I priced checked Paso Robles and it’s a little less than SLO, but about the same price as the “Valley” in LA. If teaching jobs open up there, it’s a go. If not, well, I’ll have to work on a plan B. 😉

  8. @retirebyforty
    One of the reasons I’d like to move – I’m tired of the traffic here! Paso Robles had no traffic to speak of, even during the week. I really liked that. Better air quality, too. 😉

  9. @Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer
    I’d definitely suggest visiting the cities you research. Last summer, we visited San Diego and didn’t really like it as much as we thought we would – no offense! We also visited a tiny town called Fillmore and it was a complete dive. Visiting the cities really help us narrow down our options. Good luck on your Florida research.

  10. @Untemplater
    Thanks for letting me know about Victorian houses and the traffic on the 80. I’d still like to check out Roseville, but I know my husband thinks it’s way too far from Southern California. Still, I’d like to visit.

  11. @Edwin @ Cash The Checks
    That may change someday very soon. California is trying to move to a performance based review of teachers instead of a tenured based one. I’m sure it will take many years for the districts to change, but it could help recent hires in the future.

  12. youngandthrifty Reply

    Cute house! It’s great that your husband is so portable 🙂

    Living between San Fran and Los Angeles sounds fantastic. Warm enough yet close enough to two very different cities. You could visit either based on how you might feel that day.

  13. Hi Little House, Paso Robles sounds lovely. It’s over 95 for a couple months here in Dallas so the weather sounds fine to me, and you would be centrally located. I was in Mountain View a couple weeks ago and it was so pretty but prices are brutal. Hopefully you can find a job nearby soon. Sadly, many people are pushing off retirement because they haven’t saved enough!

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