Santa Monica is a great place to live, I've always preferred the North west side, (i live there) i would look for something north of Wilshire, (or just a couple blocks south of it) It has a great school district, thanks to the city and a very strong PTA. I've always preferred Roosevelt and Franklin for elementary schools, both are on Montana, which is a lovely small street used by locals and has a few markets on it, including a Whole Foods. There are also some really good private schools in the area, if you prefer. My grandmother lives in the area as well and she actually relocated to be closer to the emeritus college, where she attends bi-weekly yoga lessons. She's actually closer to one of the (I believe 3) locations for farmer's markets. It really depends on your budget, Santa Monica is not cheap, but nothing on the westside really is. The good news is rent control so once you get into a place, the price is often fixed, with a slight annual increase. One of the downsides to Santa Monica is the homeless population, you will see homeless here, but you will see them where ever you are in LA really. just be prepared to come across one once in a while especially on the promenade, which is a pedestrian street that houses most of the local cinemas and lots of restaurant. Once you move into town there's a new residents package you can ask the city for. Welcome to Santa Monica.