Cristal's Blog


September 16, 2022

Back to Articles

As our population continues to get older, aging at home becomes more and more important. Scientists predict that by 2050, the number of Americans ages 65 and older will reach 88.5 million. That’s more than double the 2010 count.


 An old man wave surfing to show how important exercise is for those aging at home

Whether you already live here full-time or are considering retiring here, Santa Barbara is a great place to age at home. We even have our own Senior Fitness Ambassador, Santa Barbara athlete, and fitness instructor, Sally Saenger. The 66-year-old competitive surfer and a member of the PE department at Santa Barbara City College since 1982 was recently named a 2022 Senior Planet Sponsored Athlete from AARP.

There’s also the Center for Successful Aging, a local nonprofit dedicated to promoting the social, physical, emotional, and spiritual life of seniors and families in our Santa Barbara community through a variety of programs. The organization offers a quarterly newspaper geared towards seniors, providing insights on important aging issues, useful health and safety tips, activities coming up in our community, and more.

The Santa Barbara Independent recently published a guide to making your golden years shine in Santa Barbara. The guide includes info on active aging opportunities, including how seniors can avoid phone scams, proper planning for retirement, volunteer opportunities with family service agencies, nutrition designed for longevity, and info on Lift’s Dial a Ride for Santa Barbara Seniors.

Active Aging for Seniors at Home in Santa Barbara
There’s proof that staying active is key to aging gracefully. It improves cognitive functioning, physical strength, and balance, all while fostering rich social interaction. Santa Barbara has some excellent options for seniors who want to stay active and healthy. For example, the Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department offers several senior-focused programs. Senior classes and activities at recreation centers in town include ballroom dancing, lawn bowling, pickleball, and a special stretch-and-tone course.

Aging at Home
No matter where you live, your home may need to be adapted to accommodate your needs as you age. Think safety, accessibility, and independence. The best way to accommodate your new needs is to start the process early and plan ahead. That way, the process can be done gradually. Here are ways to begin adapting your Santa Barbara home so you can age at home:

  • Add Grab Bars for Safety
    Falls can be a significant problem for seniors. By installing grab bars, you can significantly decrease injuries that result from a nasty fall. Install them in key places around your home. For example, you'll want grab bars in rooms where the floor might get wet near showers or toilets and where the floor transitions to a different level, like stairs and room thresholds. Always use a professional contractor to install your grab bars to reinforce them properly. Otherwise, the bar can easily be pulled from the wall and cause injury.
  • Nix the Steps in Your Entry
    Don't worry. Changing the access to the main level of your home to a ramp instead of stairs won’t alter your curb appeal, as long as you plan ahead. Wood or concrete ramps will provide the necessary gradual incline to the front door for those who need it. A contractor can design the perfect ramp that matches the aesthetic of your home. That way, your home will be accessible to wheelchairs, walkers, and for anyone who can’t use stairs.
  • Widen Doorways
    Walkers and wheelchairs require large door access. That means you’ll need to increase the width of your doorways. This, too, is a job for your contractor. You’ll want them to increase the standard 24" or 32" doorway to 36” to allow easy access for all.
  • Creating an Open Floor Plan is a Must
    Everyone needs room to maneuver around their home. A wheelchair, for example, requires a square five feet to move about freely. That’s why experts suggest seniors live in a house with an open floor plan. This easy fix can be done by a contractor who will remove full and pony walls to create cased openings. Of course, you'll also want to rearrange your furniture and appliances, ensuring wide and clear paths throughout. Seniors will also need to restrict living to a single floor, so make sure your home has a kitchen, a bathroom, and a bedroom on the main level. If not, you can hire a contractor to add whatever’s missing. Hint: add a laundry room on the main level, too. That one renovation might even increase the value of your home.
  • Remove All Thresholds
    Prevent potential injuries by removing floor thresholds between rooms. This problem is easily eliminated when you install ramps at every entry so seniors can move easily throughout the home's main level.
  • Shower Conversion
    A dangerous room for seniors is the bathroom because slippery floors create significant hazards. So besides adding grab bars and using bath mats that grip the floor, you also have to remove any miscellaneous tripping hazards. One popular option is converting a bathtub into a shower without a threshold, which allows easy access for seniors who have to use wheelchairs.

Check out my comprehensive website if you'd rather move instead of reconfiguring your current home IN Santa Barbara for aging. I have many listings in Montecito, Hope Ranch, or any of Santa Barbara's upscale communities that would be perfect for senior living. Just call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at If you’re looking to sell simultaneously, I have access to high-net-worth luxury buyers looking to own a piece of the coveted Santa Barbara lifestyle. Let me take care of finding you the perfect home and selling your existing home at the same time.

Back to Articles

Client Reviews

“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch