The best place to live in California is either Santa Clara or Santa Jose. Here, you will enjoy the beach, the beautiful sky during the day and also at night. You should get in touch with a Realtor in California so that he/she can recommend a good, comfortable to place in.
Santa Cruz has A LOT of bums (one of the highest rates in the state in relation to the size of the city), Oakland is pretty ghetto. If your going for the bay area I would suggest Palo Alto, Berkely, San Francisco or a little farther south is Monterey. If you like the mountains In northern California there is Tahoe and Truckee. In the foothills There is Eldorado Hills, Auburn and Folsom (just north of Sacramento). Southern Cali Some nice spots are San Louis Obispo, Anaheim, Malibu and San Diego. I've lived in Cali All my Life ;)... Love this state