Carmel-by-the-Sea is worth seeing! The Esselen and Ohlone people lived in the Carmel CA area for thousands of years before Spanish colonists arrived in 1542. Carmel by the Sea joined the United States in 1848, quickly becoming popular amongst artists and businesspeople. The town was founded in 1902 and incorporated as a city in 1916.

What is Carmel by the Sea known for? The city is best known today for its connections with artists and celebrities, including Hollywood stars, and its unusual laws, including bans against wearing shoes with two-inch heels. Is Carmel California a good place to live? Yes, it’s a quaint and nice place to live, with beautiful outdoor attractions, delicious and luxurious restaurants, and spacious homes for sale.

Living in Carmel by the Sea is great for everyone. But before you start moving to Carmel, you should figure out what life in the community is like. Here’s what you should know about this lovely city.

Where Is Carmel?

Carmel California is in Monterey County and the Salinas metro area. Where is Carmel California? Carmel borders Del Monte Forest, Carmel Highlands, and Monterey. As the name suggests, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a seafront community bordering the Pacific Ocean. It has a well-developed residential and commercial center surrounded by mountains and green spaces to the east, north, and south.

It is 4.0 miles from Monterey to Carmel. Carmel California is one of the most notable cities near Monterey. Monterey Salinas Transit provides bus services to Carmel and other communities in the Monterey area. You can take various bus routes in Carmel by the Sea, including bus route 24, which runs through the center of the city. You can use these system maps to see where routes and stops are. You can also take Amtrak Thruway buses to the Amtrak stop in Salinas. California State Route 1 runs through the eastern neighborhoods of Carmel, which can help with moving to Carmel CA.

Carmel by the Sea Population and Demographics

The Carmell in 2020 was 3,296, and the Carmel by the Sea population density was 3,105.7 people per square mile. Carmel California is one of the oldest communities in California, with 48% of the population being 65 years or older. The population declined by 12.6% between 2010 and 2020, in part because the population is aging and fewer residents are having children.

Many famous people have lived in Carmel, including Clint Eastwood, Brad Pitt, and Betty White. Notable Carmel by the Sea demographics include:

  • 52.8% female, 47.2% male
  • Median age: 63.6
  • Racial and ethnic composition: 93.7% White (89.9% non-Hispanic), 4.8% two or more races, 1.4% Asian, 0.1% Black or African American, 0.0% Native American or Pacific Islander
  • Median household income: $100,365 (roughly 20% higher than the state median)
  • Educational attainment: 95.8% of residents older than 25 have graduated high school, 74.7% have a bachelor’s degree
  • Foreign-born population: 12.2%

Here are the FBI crime statistics for Carmel-by-the-Sea from 2020:

  • Overall crime rate: 2,876 offenses per 100,000 people (11.4% higher than the state, 22.6% higher than the country)
  • Violent crime rate: 392 offenses per 100,000 residents (11.3% lower than the state, 1.1% higher than the country)
  • Property crime rate: 2,484 crimes per 100,000 people (16.1% higher than the state, 26.8% higher than the country)

While Carmel by the Sea has slightly higher crime rates than the state average, there are safe places to live in Carmel CA. The Carmel Police Department serves residents living in Carmel CA, and employs 14 officers.

Carmel by the Sea Cost of Living

The Carmel CA cost of living can be hard to estimate, but you can use statistics for Monterey County as a baseline. The cost of living index for Monterey County is 137.8; items in the county cost 37.8% more than the national average. According to the Economic Policy Institute, a family of four would need to earn $114,198 a year to live in Monterey County. Is Carmel by the Sea expensive? While Carmel and Monterey County can be pricey for some, the county’s cost of living index is lower than the statewide index of 144.8. You can cover the cost of living with a full-time job in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Carmel real estate can be very expensive. According to Redfin, the median cost of Carmel homes for sale is $2,200,000, with a median price per square foot of $1,610. The average home price in Carmel CA has risen by 20.5% since 2022. The average cost of apartments in Carmel is $2,455 a month.

Typical Carmel-By-The-Sea* Living Expenses

  • 1 loaf of white bread: $2.77
  • 1 pound of local cheese: $3.87
  • 1 pound of oranges: $1.41
  • 1 gallon of gasoline: $4.79
  • Average Carmel CA* utilities per month: $248.06
  • 1 summer dress: $50.00

Source: Numbeo
*Statistics for Monterey

Carmel Neighborhoods | Where to Live in Carmel

Carmel CA contains several neighborhoods, giving you plenty of options for Carmel homes for sale. Here are some of the best places to live in Carmel CA.

Mission Fields | Most Affordable Carmel-By-The-Sea Neighborhood

Mission Fields borders California 1 to the west, and it’s just southeast of downtown Carmel, making it a great neighborhood for commuters and shoppers. Some residents call Mission Fields the “entry-level neighborhood” because it’s the most affordable neighborhood and very popular amongst new residents. You can purchase two-bedroom homes for sale in Carmel CA covering 1,800 square feet for $1.3 million with fun features like covered patios and kitchens stocked with eco-friendly appliances.

Golden Rectangle | Cottage-Style Homes for Sale by the Water

The Golden Rectangle is the most famous neighborhood in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The neighborhood is well-known for its cottage-style, bohemian architecture, with many properties built in the early 1900s. The neighborhood contains several hotels, restaurants, and attractions, including Carmel Beach, making it great for families and retirees. You can find four-bedroom Carmel CA homes for sale covering 1,700 square feet for $4.5 million. Many homes have views of the ocean, high ceilings, and floor-to-ceiling fireplaces.

Carmel Weather and Climate

The Carmel-by-the-Sea climate type is cool summer Mediterranean, meaning the community has mild and cloudy summers and warm winters. September is the warmest month of the year, with an average temperature in Carmel CA of 60 degrees and an average high of 66. January and December are the coldest months, with an average temperature of 52 degrees and an average low of 45.

While the Carmel weather by month stays mostly consistent throughout the year, the cloud cover changes drastically during the summer. August is the clearest month, with 91% clear, mostly clear, or partly cloudy days. After September, the weather becomes very cloudy, with 52% of days in December being overcast or mostly cloudy. Carmel by the Sea receives 17.8 inches of Carmel rain on average every year.

August is the best month to visit Carmel. It’s the clearest and warmest month of the year, but you can wear a light jacket during the morning and remain comfortable. However, Carmel CA weather averages are always mild, so you’ll stay cozy while living in Carmel CA.

Things to Do in Carmel by the Sea

You can find incredible things to do in Carmel, including beautiful and free outdoor parks and nature preserves. Carmel Plaza is an upscale, outside shopping center covering over 100,000 square feet. It contains luxury goods retailers and major brands like Sur la Table and Anthropologie. You can also find numerous locally-run stores throughout the community, including Carmel Bay Company and Paloosh.

17 Mile Drive

17 Mile Drive is a scenic road that starts in Carmel and stretches along the coastline, providing incredible views of the Pacific Ocean and natural wonders like Cypress Point. You can enjoy beautiful sunset views that are perfect for photographs, and you can use the road to visit nearby attractions like Cypress Point Club.

Starts at Highway 1 Gate, Carmel-by-the-Sea, 93923

Carmel Beach

Carmel Beach is a white-sand beach popular amongst surfers and dog walkers. Carmel Beach allows fires on the sand, letting you stay warm during cold mornings, and you can enjoy scenic hiking trails off the beach.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, 93921

Point Lobos

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a nature preserve open to the public for wildlife viewing, hiking, and scuba diving. The park is also open to field trips and home to summer programs for children and teens.

Off Highway 1, Carmel-by-the-Sea, 93923

Additional Things to Do in Carmel-By-The-Sea

The Public Works Department of the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea takes care of Carmel beaches and parks. The Community Activities Department plans and organizes special Carmel events like parties; you can use the upcoming events page to see when the next Carmel by the Sea events will be.

Carmel by the Sea Restaurants

Monterey County is well-known for its farm-to-table cuisine and fresh local wines. You can find plenty of great wines and delicious meals from local farms in restaurants in Carmel, including international cuisines.

La Bicyclette

La Bicyclette Carmel is one of the best restaurants Carmel by the Sea for romantic nights out. It’s a classy French restaurant that serves fresh salads, seafood, and steak, with the menu changing every week. You can also enjoy breakfast and brunch on weekends, including fresh-squeezed juices.

Dolores Street & 7th Avenue, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA, 93921, 831-622-9899

Dametra Cafe

Dametra Cafe is a casual Mediterranean restaurant, making it one of the best restaurants in Carmel by the Sea for family-friendly nights out. You can enjoy numerous Greek and Lebanese specialities, including kebab wraps and gyros.

Ocean Street & Lincoln Street, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA, 93921, 831-622-7766

Little Napoli

Little Napoli is a casual Italian eatery that offers Neapolitan pizza, pasta, and salad for lunch and dinner. You can order dozens of different Italian and local wines, including aged wines you can’t find in any other Carmel restaurant.

Dolores Street, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA, 93921, 831-626-6335

Carmel Jobs

Roughly 1,930 people have jobs in Carmel. Carmel added nearly 500 jobs between 2019 and 2020, with the job market growing by 34.8%. Retail trade is the largest sector for jobs in Carmel CA, accounting for 36.8% of the job market. Accommodation and food services is the second-largest, accounting for 9.4%, while administrative services is the third-largest at 8.8%.

According to Payscale, the average salary in Carmel is $71,000 a year, while the average base hourly rate is $20.26. Major employers in Carmel include La Playa Carmel, Carmel Valley Manor, and Pacific Repertory Theatre. You can apply for jobs in Carmel by the Sea using Indeed, and you can apply for city of Carmel by the Sea jobs here.

Carmel Schools

Carmel School District serves students living in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The school district contains three elementary Carmel by the Sea schools, one middle school, and one high school. US News ranks Carmel River Elementary School in the top 200 elementary schools in California. 83% of Carmel River students test at or above the proficiency level in mathematics, more than twice the state average. 

US News ranks Carmel High School in the top 500 high schools in the country and as the best high school in the Salinas metro area. 68% of students pass at least one AP exam. The school is home to over 40 extracurricular organizations, including mock trials and robotics teams.

The closest major school to Carmel is California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) in Oceanside. US News ranks CSUMB in the top 10 public schools in the Western United States. The college provides 25 undergraduate majors and nine graduate majors, including psychology and business administration programs.

The Harrison Memorial Library is in downtown Carmel CA. The library offers extensive genealogical and historical resources, including oral histories with lifelong residents.

Carmel Statistics and Information

  • County: Monterey
  • Carmel area: 1.06 square miles
  • Carmel by the Sea zip code: 93921, 93922, 93923
  • Carmel area code: 831
  • Carmel elevation: 223 feet
  • Carmel time zone: Pacific Standard Time (UTC-8)
  • Closest airport to Carmel CA: Monterey Regional Airport (MRY), 7 miles from Carmel

Carmel Map

You can find great Carmel restaurants, things to do, and stores using this map of Carmel by the Sea!

Living in Carmel by the Sea is fabulous, and not just for movie stars! Retirees will love the safe streets and cozy homes for sale, while families will love the good schools and free attractions.

Moving to Carmel is easy, especially if you hire experienced Carmel movers. Southbay Moving Systems serves over 1,200 customers a year. Call 831-786-5537 to get a free, personalized moving quote for moving to and living in Carmel CA.