Watsonville

Nestled between Santa Cruz and Monterey, Watsonville, California is an overlooked gem offering visitors affordable accommodations, rich cultural experiences, and easy access to the region's natural beauty. From tours of lush farmland to rugged hikes in majestic redwood forests, Watsonville provides a home base to explore the Central Coast's vineyards, mountains, and beaches while immersing yourself in the town's vibrant local culture. Discover why Watsonville is the insider's choice for an authentic California getaway. Read More

Real Estate Statistics

Average Price $1.5M
Lowest Price $4.8K
Highest Price $16.3M
Total Listings 88
Avg. Price/SQFT $681

Property Types (active listings)

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More About Watsonville

Historic Downtown Watsonville is an eclectic mix of old and new, with local shop owners and national retailers sharing charming sidewalks, pocket parks, and historic facades. As the heart of the community, this once bustling retail district is on the cusp of a renaissance with untapped potential. With development opportunities and a loyal customer base within reach, the best is yet to come in this growing community.

Watsonville's historic downtown features many Victorian-era buildings designed by renowned architect William Weeks, including stately commercial structures lining Main Street that lend a traditional "Main Street USA" character to the area.

The Victorian buildings and 1880s storefronts lining the streets of downtown Watsonville create a historic ambiance. The town's central gathering place, Watsonville Plaza, hosts lively celebrations and festivals. Just a few blocks from the plaza, the Henry J. Mello Center is renowned for its superior acoustics. Nearby, the Pajaro Valley Arts Gallery showcases rotating exhibits, and the Pajaro Valley Historical Museum traces the area's rich history.

Download a copy of the Historic Walking Tour Brochure (PDF). You can also obtain a printed version by visiting the City Offices.

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Watsonville and the Pajaro Valley offer visitors a diverse range of attractions and activities. From the Watsonville Municipal Airport, where aircraft adventures await, to the historic downtown with its charming buildings, Watsonville boasts some of the best dining experiences on the Central Coast. Nature lovers can go birdwatching in the morning, pick fruit at a farm in the afternoon, take a sunset stroll on the beach, or attend one of the area's signature festivals. With strawberry fields and apple orchards providing a picturesque backdrop, this scenic destination has something for everyone.

The Wetlands of Watsonville Nature Center displays a diversity of wildlife habitats, including the Pajaro River, the Watsonville Sloughs and Pinto Lake. Over 200 species of waterfowl, raptors and songbirds live in and migrate through the wetlands, making it and ideal place to watch for feathered creatures, or enjoy one of the many trails winding through the area. Nearby, the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Reserve is one of California's last undisturbed coastal wetlands. The annual Monterey Bay Birding Festival each September is a captivating way to take in the sights.

Every Friday afternoon, the lively Watsonville Farmers Market takes place in Downtown Watsonville's City Plaza from 2-7 p.m., offering visitors a cornucopia of locally grown fresh produce, flowers, and prepared foods all year round. Shoppers can browse bountiful selections of fruits, vegetables, and artisanal eats while supporting local farms and food makers in this vibrant community gathering space.

The strawberry fields and apple orchards of the scenic Pajaro Valley, visible from the summit of Mount Madonna, provide a gorgeous backdrop that welcomes visitors to the communities of Corralitos, Freedom, La Selva Beach, Pajaro, Royal Oaks, Pajaro Dunes, and Watsonville. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities, from early morning bird watching and afternoon trips to u-pick farms or museums to sunset strolls on the expansive beaches or attending signature festivals.

Take a tour of the Agricultural History Museum, located at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. This museum features restored horse-drawn equipment, interpretive exhibits, and other vintage farm items. Participate in "2nd Saturday on the Farm" events, where agricultural experts highlight daily farm life through interactive activities, arts and crafts, and more.

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Marvel at the expansive acres of lush produce as you drive through the region where fertile soil and mild climate yield some of the nation's finest crops. Buy your own fresh produce, flowers, and one-of-a-kind art at the Watsonville Certified Farmer's Market, open every Friday year-round.

Enjoy free cider tastings at the original Martinelli's Company Store and tasting room. Here you can sample complimentary Martinelli's products, purchase items by the case, shop for apparel and merchandise, and learn about Martinelli's company history.

In the southern part of Santa Cruz County, Manresa and Sunset State Beaches are frequently uncrowded, making them ideal for sunset strolls along the water. Meanwhile, Watsonville's distinctive terrain offers abundant opportunities for enjoyment and adventure.

Spend lazy days soaking up the sun on the sandy beaches of the south coast. Manresa State Beach welcomes leashed four-legged friends to enjoy walks, runs, or relaxed days basking in the sunshine. Picnic atop the bluffs at the provided tables for panoramic views of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay. Drive past the scenic Pajaro Dunes Resort, a Watsonville strand of beachfront vacation rentals boasting breathtaking vistas and prime wildlife viewing. Manresa State Beach provides ideal wildlife spotting on both land and sea. In early spring, Snowy Plover hatchlings emerge along the sands, observable from a safe distance.

Watsonville offers numerous excellent dining options, which you can explore further on the city's Yelp page.

In 2004, the City of Watsonville established the Nature Center in Ramsay Park through the Department of Public Works & Utilities. The goals were to create a space for community environmental education and wetland exploration, and to serve as a gateway to the city's award-winning trail system. For the past 17 years, the humble trailer in Ramsay Park known as the Watsonville Nature Center has provided a place where community members of all ages can learn about local habitats, get free conservation items, and join guided nature walks. The Center has also been a hub for residents to learn about recycling, composting, water conservation, pollution prevention, conservation rebates, and other environmental topics.

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Watsonville is located minutes from beaches, redwood forests, wine and mountain bike tours, whale watching, birding and more. Below is a list of just some of the things you can do in Watsonville.

For more information on activities in Santa Cruz County, please visit the Santa Cruz County Conference and Visitors Council website.

The Pajaro Valley is a major agricultural hub. If it were its own county, it would rank 5th in California for farm production. The leading crops include strawberries, apples, fresh flowers, cauliflower, broccoli, and artichokes. Watsonville food processors freeze and ship more fruits and vegetables than any other area in the U.S. Over $280 million per year is spent transporting fresh and processed crops worldwide from the Pajaro Valley. Though agriculture and food processing dominate the local economy, other industries like electronics, manufacturing, services, and non-farm distribution centers have been growing in the city, diversifying its economic profile.

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Watsonville's main industries are agriculture, construction, and manufacturing. Several major national company headquarters located within the city limits include Driscoll's Strawberries, Martinelli's, California Giant, Monterey Mushrooms, Graniterock, Granite Construction, West Marine, Vendwize, and Fox Racing Shox.

Schools

  • Pajaro Valley Unified School District consists of 34 schools of which some have received California Distinguished School and Blue Ribbon awards.
  • 20 Universities and colleges within a 50 mile drive including UCSC (University of California-Santa Cruz), CSUMB (California State University-Monterey Bay) and SJSU (San Jose State University)

Parks & Facilities

First Time Homebuyers

The City of Watsonville offers a First Time Homebuyer Program to help low income households purchase their first home.

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Eligibility

Anyone who has not owned or held ownership interest in a home or other real estate within the last three years; and households whose annual projected gross income does not exceed the income limits based on size is eligible. The program is funded from various sources. View the current income limits (PDF) by funding source. Homebuyers must be able to provide at least 3% of the sales price toward the purchase of the home and successfully complete a City-approved homebuyer education class.

Home Requirements

  • Must be located within the City limits
  • Cannot exceed maximum allowable sales price for the area
  • Must be on a permanent foundation
  • Must be vacant for a minimum of three months or be owner-occupied prior to offer to purchase
  • Must be able to pass a housing and lead-based paint inspection
  • Loan Terms
    Repayment of the loans is deferred for 30 years at 1% simple interest and must be repaid upon the first of the following occurrences:
  • Home is sold or transferred
  • Borrower ceases to occupy the home as their principal place of residence
  • First mortgage loan becomes due and payable
  • Home is refinanced with cash out
  • 30 years from the loan date
  • The amount of assistance is based on the lesser of the following:
  • Program funding subsidy limits
  • Affordability gap

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Application Process

Prospective homebuyers should start by getting pre-qualified for a first mortgage loan with a lender who is either familiar with or willing to work with the Program. First mortgage loans must be fully amortized over a minimum of 30 years at a fixed interest rate. Once pre-qualified, the homebuyer should start looking for homes within the price range recommended by lender, which should be determined taking into consideration the amount of the first mortgage loan, down payment and our Program limits should you need additional assistance.

After the homebuyer has entered into an agreement to purchase, their lender must contact the Community Development Department, Housing Division to begin the application process. The City will review the application and work with the lender to determine eligibility and complete the transaction.

Additional Information

For more information about the City's Housing Programs, call 831-768-3080 or submit our Contact Us form.

Resources

Affordable Housing

Watsonville's Affordable Housing Ordinance requires most new housing developments to include units that are affordable to very low to above moderate income households. These units may also be referred to as inclusionary or deed restricted units. The units are restricted to specific income categories based on the requirements of the Ordinance. Prospective buyers may purchase units at or above their projected annual household income based on household size.

Prospective Buyers

All prospective buyers must be approved by the City and agree to abide by various requirements designed to ensure that the unit remain affordable. These requirements include, but may not be limited to the following:

  • Unit must be owned and occupied as the buyer's principal place of residence
  • Unit cannot be sold for more than the maximum resale limit
  • Unit must be sold to an income eligible buyer

Program Limits

Program limits change on an annual basis and may differ depending on project. The City is not involved in the sale of individual units except to approve the prospective buyer(s) once the sales contract has been executed and prior to close of escrow. Additional Information For more information about the City's Housing Programs, call 831-768-3080 or submit our Contact Us form.

Affordable Housing Resources

If you are interested in units for rent, visit the Housing Authority's website for lists of affordable housing.

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