Home to Big Bear's only airport, Big Bear City is the largest geographical area as defined by the Big Bear MLS. In general, it extends from aptly named Division Drive (dividing Big Bear Lake from Big Bear City) clear east to Baldwin Lake. As one would imagine from such a vast area, there is quite a number of different neighborhoods, each with their own distinct feel. Regardless, I have heard it said that 70% of Big Bear Valley's permanent residents live east of Division. As such, in Big Bear City, you are much likely to find full time residents than in Big Bear Lake.
One of the reasons permanent residents live in Big Bear City are real estate values. Homes in Big Bear City are much less expensive than in Big Bear Lake, where vacation home demand drives up prices. The main inconvenience to living on the "east end" of the valley is the 10 - 15 minute commute to the lake, shopping, resorts and village. To many, this is a small price to pay for a more reasonable cost of living, particularly when you consider the length of a typical commute in more urban areas.
Because Big Bear City is home to more permanent residents, in general, it tends to have a more residential feel to it. In neighborhoods such as Forest Springs, the gated Tanglewood development, Valley View Estates or Maple Ridge, you might feel more like you're in a typical suburban neighborhood rather than in mountainous Big Bear.
Yet there are exceptions. To the eastern end of Big Bear City, you'll find Shay Meadow, an area populated with larger acreage horse properties for more of a ranch feel. As well, you'll find homes backing to National Forest on both the north and south shores offering a more backcountry type feel.