The Island is truly one of the most relaxing, family-friendly vacation spots in Southern California. There is no shortage of fun activities, local shops, outstanding restaurants and ice cream hotspots. Vacation rentals are still being booked with great frequency and more and more people of all generations are choosing the Island as their summer getaway. But what does LIVING here entail?
As a real estate agent and resident of the Island, I am frequently asked by those visiting or even contemplating a move to the Island what living here would be like. Among the questions frequently asked are: Doesnt it get really crowded in the summer? Do people like living that close to each other? What are home values like? All very good questions.
Living on the Island has been a terrific experience and I feel very blessed for it. I previously lived in a home with a great deal of space in the yard, was in close proximity to my neighbors (but not six feet close) and traffic was never an issue. But the difference in lifestyle here has met expectations and then some. Am I close in proximity to several neighbors? Absolutely. But theyre great people – fun, relaxed, and I enjoy seeing them daily. On our street, we even occasionally have movie nights where everyone gathers together and watches a movie outdoors on a large canvas screen and we also have the occasional block party. Its a classic neighborhood vibe, one where nobody would hesitate to ask another for a cup of sugar or some butter if needed.
How about the crowds? This was one of the things that surprised me most after living here for a while. I found the crowds to be not nearly as dense as one might think. The weekend days in summer are definitely crowded, but that really seems to apply on Saturdays and Sundays for eight weeks in July and August. Holidays and the Boat Parade bring great crowds as well. From September through May and even up to June however, the Island really blends a comfortable energy with moderate amounts of traffic. The difference from the summer to fall, winter and spring might be something not unlike the difference between a weekend summer day at Disneyland and a weekday in October. No Fast Passes needed for the latter. Parking really isnt an issue even on weekends – and the ferry line is usually not overwhelming.
Home values? I find that more and more of my clients are searching for a place where they can kick back, relax, have a barbeque and enjoy little-to-no maintenance on their properties. Though our values have been hit somewhat, weve been fortunate to keep values higher as a percentage than other local markets. Also, the demand for income properties by investors is still high as I’ve heard numerous clients say they feel more comfortable investing their capital in Balboa Island rental properties than the current stock market. That demand keeps inventory reasonable and prices have leveled off. Currently, there only 24 homes for sale on the Island opposed to about 45 at this time last year. As the inventory has dropped, prices and consumers themselves have seemed more bullish.
Overall, the experience of living on the Island is one I am very grateful for and one I dont at all take for granted. Its almost timeless. It has the feeling of a classic neighborhood in the 1950s bikes, ferries, classic beach cottages, frozen bananas and much more, yet is mixed with modern amenities, such as fine dining, some modern real estate, and yes even a local Starbucks. Whether youre young, old or anywhere in between, the Island is a fantastic place to call home. I hope to be blessed enough to live here for the rest of my life.