I’m so pleased to read that you found the ideal place to live for you and your husband. Having the opportunity to see/hear whales and dolphins is brilliant. Well done.
We also live by the beach (although the local attraction is penguins, not dolphins). The bike paths are great, since they run along the bay.
I think one of the reasons for our different perspectives is that having a school age child creates an entirely different day-to-day routine. A normal day for me is based around school activities (e.g., drop-off and pick-up if needed, team sports, homework, after-school visits with friends).
I truly enjoy our location, but we could live in almost any small- to mid-size city area and our routine would be essentially unchanged. As a parent, my daily life is defined by supporting our daughter’s activities. Whether we live in your beautiful location in California or in Cincinnati or Charlotte, I think 95 percent of my daily activities would be the same.
Therefore, I’d choose the less expensive option, since those savings would pay for our daughter’s school fees or university tuition/expenses. Although we only have the one child, I suspect that most parents would have similar child-oriented daily routines which would be the same regardless of their physical environments.