Relocating to Carmel
The name Carmel-by-the-Sea conjures up visions of pristine white sandy beaches, Pacific sunsets, fairytale cottages set among piney forests, pet-friendly streets, exquisite dining and shopping, fine-art galleries and a kind of rustic quaintness. It's a place where you can wake up to the salt air, wander downtown for a morning coffee, chat with locals and visitors, and cherish each day as a wonderful creation. Whether the fog hugs the city streets, or the sun enlivens them, the enchantment of Carmel is always present.
If you're thinking about making Carmel your home, or perhaps starting a business here, this website will help answer many of your questions.
This website, along with the Guide to Carmel can help you learn about many of our popular attractions: the Carmel Mission, Monterey Bay Aquarium, 17-Mile Drive, Big Sur, Robinson Jeffer's Tor House and Monterey Wine Country to name a few; and our outstanding recreational activities: world-class golf, scenic walking and hiking trails, cycling routes, scuba diving and more.
Understand our rich history, get a glimpse of our cultural events and shopping opportunities, get connected with local realtors and business services, and use our handy maps in the Guide to Carmel to get your bearings.
Getting Your Bearings
Carmel is located on California's central coast, approximately 120 miles south of San Francisco, 70 miles south of San Jose and 350 miles north of Los Angeles. The 'village' of Carmel-by-the-Sea is only one-square mile, but other surrounding areas are also referred to as Carmel. You'll know you're in the village if you do not see street addresses; homes have quaint names; and businesses are located by street names, not numbers.
The 'mouth of the valley' where Carmel Valley Road heads eastward includes a large shopping and business area, with residential neighborhoods all around. Homes, condos and retirement areas are found throughout the Carmel Valley area.
To the north, within ten minutes driving, are the Monterey Peninsula communities of Monterey, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, Seaside and Marina.
The Carmel Unified School District schools consistently rank high in Monterey County. Children of families located in the Carmel area would attend one of the following: Tularcitos Elementary (serves Carmel Valley), Carmel River School (an elementary school serving Carmel-by-the-Sea), Carmel Middle School (serves Carmel, Carmel Valley and Big Sur), and Carmel High School, (serves Carmel, Carmel Valley and Big Sur).
A strong selection of private schools from pre-school through high school is available for children from Carmel to Monterey Peninsula. California State University Monterey Bay, Monterey Peninsula Community College, and other colleges provide higher education and add to the area's culture.
The Harrison Memorial Library, located at Ocean Ave. and Lincoln St., is a city architectural treasure. It's branch at Mission St. and Sixth Ave. houses a children's library and the city's historical archives.
Parks & Recreation
A variety of parks - 90 acres in all - range from scenic Carmel Beach on the city's western edge to the Mission Trail Nature Preserve bordering the southeast. Pt. Lobos State Preserve on the coast and Garland Regional Park in nearby Carmel Valley feature a fine selection of hiking, walking, biking and equestrian trails.
Seniors especially are drawn to Carmel's tranquil atmosphere and scenic beauty. One community gem is the Carmel Foundation. A membership-based nonprofit, it offers a wide range of services and activities for those 55 and older. Daily lunches, hot meal delivery, transportation, classes, excursions, lectures, and many other programs are available.
Young children can run free at the beach, enjoy the playground at Forest Hill Park, and participate in story time at the Harrison Memorial Library. The Carmel Youth Center, founded by actor Bing Crosby, offers older kids a great place to go after school.
The area abounds with medical services and is home to an outstanding hospital, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula (CHOMP).
Monterey Peninsula Airport
The Monterey Peninsula Airport is close to all peninsula cities and has direct flights to many major national destinations. The Monterey Jet Center serves private planes that frequently come to the peninsula for business and special events.
Doing Business in Carmel
Different sets of rules apply depending on your business location.
Approximately two million visitors are drawn to Carmel every year to experience the beauty of the city's natural and built environment. To preserve this beauty and the city's village character, Carmel-by-the-Sea has developed a unique process to review business licenses and exterior design changes.
Retail items sold in a business are reviewed for their consistency with the store's classification. Standards have been developed to determine where specific types of businesses must be located based on their impacts on the residential neighborhoods. There are also numerical caps on some businesses like restaurants, bars, tasting rooms, jewelry stores, hotel rooms and art galleries.
All exterior design changes must be reviewed by the Department of Community Planning and Building. This includes building construction and additions, but it also includes minor changes like business signs and paint colors. All changes are closely scrutinized for their visual compatibility and for consistency with the City's design ordinances and guidelines. Minor design changes can be approved after review by the City's planning staff. Larger projects require review in a public forum by the Planning Commission or Design Review Board and interested persons are encouraged to participate in this process. Carmel's Planning Department can help guide businesses through the process of establishment. Stop by or call City Hall to discuss plans and obtain a business license.
Unincorporated Monterey County
If setting up shop in unincorporated Carmel (includes any Carmel address outside of the 93921 zip code) and the name of the business is different that the owner's legal name, a Fictitious Business Name Statement must be filed with the Monterey County Clerk's office within 40 days of the businesses opening.
Buying a Home in Carmel
Whether moving to Carmel for business, family, retirement or purchasing a second home, the area is a dream location. There is the rugged beauty of the coastline, the charm of the village or the allure of sunnier inland properties. Whatever your needs, a qualified realtor will help you find the perfect home. See the Guide to Carmel, or this website, for a complete listing of real estate agents and development companies.
If you choose a home in the one-square mile area of Carmel-by-the-Sea, be aware of the city's policies for building and/or remodeling. Carmel has established careful guidelines for both residential and commercial property (including cutting down trees, parking, signage, and more) in order to retain the historic and nature-based character of the city. Contact the city's Planning Department for any questions or help with the process.
Homes located in the area surrounding Carmel-by-the-Sea (including Pebble Beach, Carmel Highlands, Carmel Valley, and any other Carmel address outside of the 939321 zip code) are under the jurisdiction of Monterey County. The Monterey County Planning Department can answer any questions about building or remodeling in the unincorporated areas.