I have lived in Watsonville, California for several years in the past. Watsonville lies just East of Santa Cruz on the Northern California coast and is typically a lot cheaper than the surrounding cities. Watsonville sits on a stretch of some of the most beautiful beaches that California has to offer and is without a doubt one of the more affordable options for beach towns in Northern California. Less than an hour away from the bay area and situated right on the beach makes Watsonville a great city to live in if you can find work that doesn't require you to endure a long commute.
There are some drawbacks to the city, as there has been increased gang violence around the city consistently throughout the last decade. The fact that it is so close to Santa Cruz, which is also dramatically increasing in crime, is a growing concern for a great deal of the residents, but there are many neighborhoods and areas that are out of harm's way. Watsonville has become a sort of hub for illegal immigrants who work in and around the area and this can be a positive or negative based on your own individual perspective.
Although Watsonville has experienced an increase in the crime rate, most people that still live there today say they enjoy the charm of the small city, which is situated between a tall mountain range and the Northern California ocean. The beaches near Watsonville are about as close to empty as you can get for this stretch of coast, as the majority of people in the surrounding areas, either stick to Santa Cruz or head to Monterey, California, which is about thirty minutes south of Watsonville. There are certainly a lot of great things about Watsonville. If you can get a job that doesn't involve a long commute and can deal with some nearby gang violence it can be a rewarding place to live.