Jokes about Valley life abound.  But love it or hate it, Santa Clarita (and Valencia and Saugus) are more than just the jokes, folks.  Whether you call it “Awesometown” (which makes locals cringe), believe these burbs are as far away (and as hip) as Kansas or secretly love the tons of parking and fabulous schools, we set out to prove or disprove some “facts” about family living in the SCV.

Santa Clarita Six Flags Magic Mountain

photo credit: Jeff Turner via Creative Commons

It’s the Boonies: False
The conversation goes something like this:
“You live in Santa Clarita, where’s that?” asks New Friend.
“Near Six Flags Magic Mountain,” you answer.
“Ohhhh, waaaaaayyyyy out therrrreee,” Friend gasps with a shocked, disgusted face.

But it’s not as “out there” as you might think. By the numbers, Santa Clarita is:
– 33 miles from downtown L.A. (About an hour commute if you time certain freeways right like taking the 5 to the 210 to the 2 back to the 5 to the 110…OK, SNL and The Californians have a point, we do talk about which freeway to take a lot.)

– 21 miles from Sherman Oaks/Studio City areas (around 30-45 minutes)

– 34 miles to Santa Monica beach (about an hour)

– 36 miles to LAX (and 20 miles to the Bob Hope airport, which is always preferable)

– 42 miles to Ventura beach (via a gorgeous 50-60 minute drive on the 126)

Granted, these are traffic-average estimates. But the point is, it can take longer to crawl 5 miles down Ventura Blvd. or the 10 than to drive to Santa Clarita from wherever in L.A. you are.

Nightlife Jazz at Salt Creek Grille Santa Clarita

photo credit: Ian Kahn via Creative Commons

There’s No Nightlife: True (But You Won’t Miss It)
While it’s true there’s not much to do past 10 p.m., there’s a good reason. Like you, most people who live in SCV have kids. And the fact is, most of the time, all us parents can get up the energy to do is grab a latte in Starbucks as we close down Target. For the rare date night, there are are a few wine bars in town, there’s one nightclub (The Vu, in Newhall), the bar at Salt Creek Grille often has live music (of the jazz variety), and the Buddha Lounge inside Kisho offers dancing and drinks. The crowds are a mix between parents getting their grooves on to the 21-27 year old set that are home from summer break from college. The Alamo is also a popular place for late night, strong margaritas and is centrally located, walking distance for many. The city chooses to focus more on its daytime activities, which abound from 20+ miles of lighted paseos connecting the town to 30+ parks to 70+ miles of hiking and biking. (So, nobody walks in LA?  That’s why we like the Valley…)

Stevenson Ranch house

photo credit: Marco Varisco via Ceative Commons

Affordable Housing: True (Comparatively!)
There’s more of a desert breeze than an ocean one, but housing in Santa Clarita remains a great investment. Compared to the median price for a house in Santa Monica of $1,169,100 for a 1,455 square foot home and $3,500 monthly rent, the median price for a slightly larger 1,698 square foot house in Santa Clarita is $448,500 with a median $1,905 monthly rent.

Car temperature gauge summer hot

photo credit: Joanna Poe via Creative Commons

It’s Melt Your Face Hot: True (But Only For A Few Months A Year)
The average temperature in Santa Clarita from July–September hovers in the mid 90’s. Some days easily creep into the 100’s and the whole town is abuzz with air conditioners. It’s about 10 degrees cooler in San Fernando Valley and 20 degrees cooler on the westside. Sometimes, though, the increased warmth feels nice, like during winter months; when it’s misty and chilly in Los Angeles proper, it’s sunny and temperate in Santa Clarita. Counting in the year round temps and mild winters, the average temperature is 77 degrees. Plus, as they say, it’s a nice dry heat.

Kids working on iPads in class

photo credit: Brad Flickinger via Creative Commons 

Great Public Education: True
Many families move to Santa Clarita to save on private school costs and avoid LAUSD. Since it has it’s own school district, it manages its own budget and hasn’t had nearly the negative effects as elsewhere in the city with teacher layoffs, etc. Nearly two-thirds of elementary schools in this area have made the California Distinguished Schools List (many more than once), and many are walking distances from homes. Again, with the walking…

Desert cake and berries

photo credit: Alexis Fam via Creative Commons

There’s No Good Food: False
While there are no trendy, celeb-spotting, bank-breaking establishments (with exception to Le Chene’s French cuisine served in a castle amid secluded oaks), Santa Clarita has plenty of tasty offerings with the added perk that most of them are kid-friendly. Local favorites are Rattler’s BBQ, Egg Plantation, Newhall Refinery and Mom Can Cook (for Thai food). Also every Saturday night is Food Truck Saturday where the best of LA’s food trucks all park in one place, tables are set up and music plays on a hill with pretty sunset views.

Cowboy Festival Santa Clarita cowboys horses

photo credit: Rick R. 1 via Creative Commons

There’s No History or Culture: False
Santa Clarita is richer in culture than most Los Angeles area towns! From when it got named in 1769 by Spaniards on horseback to the state’s first gold discovery in 1842 at the “Oak of the Golden Dream” in Placerita Canyon, to the opening of the Saugus Café in 1887 (the oldest still-operating restaurant in LA) to its modern day annual Cowboy Festival celebrating its roots in Hollywood westerns, it has a rich history. Old Town Newhall has just been revamped and hosts regular arts and food markets and free concerts in the parks draw everyone out to mingle and dance. There’s also a local playhouse, not to mention the fact that Cal Arts Institute, ranked best art school in America by Newsweek, calls Valencia home.

Santa Clarita Valencia Town Center Patios Shopping

photo credit: Westfield Shopping Center via yelp

There’s No Good Shopping: False
While this would have been true ten years ago, when most people had to trek down to the SFV or westside for shopping, Santa Clarita now offers many options for shopping that aren’t chain-store dominant. With the recent opening of the outdoor shopping mall Patios to the revamped Newhall Old Town, there are many treasures to find from antiques to the latest boutique fashions to frequent.

When’s the last time you visited Santa Clarita?  Do you think we’re spot on, or we’ve missed the mark?

—Shannon Guyton