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Where in CA to live?

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
We are thinking about relocating from Maryland to California sometime later this year, but we're not sure what part of the state would be best for us. So here are the things we're looking for in a place--although I'm not sure if all of this exists in one place (in fact I'd be amazed if that were the case!)

- IT jobs, particularly network security and Linux jobs.
- Warm, as warm as possible! Don't mind the heat.
- Green and lush--not in the desert.
- Access to outdoorsy stuff--hiking, swimming. Ocean a plus but would choose mountains over ocean if we can only have one.
- Not too urban--affordable housing (HA, right?!) with 1-2 acre plots.
- Fast Internet.
- Farmers markets, organic food co-ops, etc.
- Homebirth midwives.
- Active AP community.
- Art galleries.

Any thoughts? I know it's a tall order. Is there a place that even has most of these things? Thanks in advance!
post #2 of 37

Hi there! Native Californian here, considering a move to Baltimore ironically.


So Berkeley is an awesome place. Has, quite literally, everything you desire except for the cheap housing. 

IME, you will have a hard time finding a place with all of the great things, like farmers markets, galleries, homebirth midwifes*, etc. 

Unless you are in one of the urban areas, such as the Bay Area, the coast line (farther south, central coast too), San Diego, and Los Angeles area.

We once lived in the North Bay, Petaluma to be exact and I loved it. Not as pricey as the direct bay area, but had every wonderful amenity. Seriously, great weather, nice people, small town feel but urban types, local produce, midwifes, etc.

We would be there now if my DH didn't work where he does. 


Anyways, CA is so big and I have never traveled north of Ft Bragg so I couldn't say how the Humboldt area is. It is a beautiful state with a lot of gems, but my is it expensive. 


Where are you guys considering?

post #3 of 37
Scope out the Santa Cruz mountains. Close to Silicon Valley for jobs but cheaper housing with larger plots. Close to San Jose and Santa Cruz for all the other stuff.
post #4 of 37
Thread Starter 
We've been looking in the San Diego area mostly, but it's looking too urban/expensive for us, as most of the houses we could afford barely even have a yard greensad.gif and at the very least we require a decent-sized, private back yard as we have a big dog and need a veggie garden. I know what you mean about all the good stuff being in the cities!

Now will definitely look more seriously into Berkeley--thanks so much for the suggestion!
post #5 of 37
Thread Starter 
@ChamomileGirl Thanks! We are looking there too. It's a question of DH finding the right job without having to commute 2 hours/day. It's hard doing the search from the east coast!
post #6 of 37

Oh I bet it is so hard! San Diego is so beautiful and fun, and probably quite a huge change from Maryland!

Can you start small and get bigger? Honestly, we have so many friends (Berkeley area, San Diego, SF) who all live in the smallest space possible in order to live in a really cool city. 

I second the Santa Cruz idea!

post #7 of 37

Check out the greater Sacramento area.  I have no idea what the scene is for IT jobs, but it has a lot of the other things you mention.  Not necessarily right in Sacramento (which is okay as cities go, I prefer the country), but all the surrounding areas, including up into the Sierra foothills, from Placerville north to Grass Valley, and valley communities like Chico and Davis.  Real estate prices in the whole area are way down, but probably still more expensive than in a lot of other states.  It's an organic/local food paradise around here, quite a few midwives, larger lots with decent amenities like fast internet aren't hard to find, spring/summer/fall are very warm (often quite hot), winter is generally mild and wet, tons of outdoorsy stuff, equidistant between ocean and mountains.  Art galleries - um, Sac has a few, and smaller surrounding cities have some, but it doesn't compare to the more megalopolis-like Bay Area in that regard.  Air quality in the summer can get a bit icky, but not nearly as bad as LA or the cities in the southern part of the Central Valley.


Even the non-desert areas of CA don't get regular summer rain (except for occasionally in the far north), so "green and lush" isn't really how I would describe it.  This area (meaning the northern half of the state, except the far northeast which is high desert) has so many trees and they all stay green, but the ground cover in wild, non-irrigated areas mostly goes brown in summer, it's not like east coast kind of green - way greener than the southern part of the state though.  The green comes back when the rain starts, usually in Nov.

post #8 of 37

Well, the South Bay area (Santa Clara, Cupertino, etc.) has the IT industry (aka Silicon Valley), but you've got to remember there were tens of thousands of layoff in the last few years, and there are still far more IT workers with work histories in the area who'd likely be hired first.  I've got a lot of friends on the east coast who considered moving here until they realize how slim IT jobs really are.


Before you pick a location, scout the jobs and see what the market is.  There's no point in moving here if you can't find enough job openings.

post #9 of 37
Thread Starter 
Great advice guys, just the kind of info I'm looking for--thanks! Must have a chat with DH!
post #10 of 37

We are maybe moving to Lake Forest....Anyone care to share what they think of that area?? Thanks.. :) Also, does anyone know of a online moms group for that area??

post #11 of 37

Kibba, I grew up in Southern Orange County.  My experience is that it is very conservative, politically and otherwise, and not very culturally diverse.  I'm not knocking it, the beaches are beautiful, you can't beat the shopping(including lots of cloth diaper retailers, organic foods, etc.), and great restaurants.  Not a whole lot of family activities compared with where I live now(Sacramento).  I did live in Lake Forest for a short time, one thing that was tough was that you have to drive everywhere, no walking, and unless you are a serious athlete most of Orange County is hilly/mountainous and tough to bike.  The weather is absolutely divine.


Radicaleel, I must echo the Sacramento suggestion.  I have lived in both Southern and Northern California and prefer Northern.  The best things about Sacramento:  lots and lots to do, including lots of live music, art shows, theater, hiking, river activities, and sooo many free family activites.  You get the perks of living in the city without all the hullaballoo.  The trees are BEAUTIFUL and plentiful, the area is flat so you can bike everywhere.  There are enough midwives to go around, I had a homebirth with two wonderful ones.  It has one of the only free standing birth centers in the area.  Short drive to Lake Tahoe and the Bay area, and a bit longer to get to Yosemite, Santa Cruz, Monterey...


I have lived in Orange County, San Diego, and spent a considerable amount of time in the Bay area and Santa Cruz.  Sacramento is where I chose to stay and raise my family.  As far as IT jobs... not sure sorry!


Oh and the weather is fabulous, nice season changes.

post #12 of 37

One thing I feel compelled to add to my post above about the Sac area is a caveat - the low-lying areas of the valley are in a danger zone for flooding, on par with New Orleans (minus the hurricanes, flooding here is caused by big, wet winter storms melting snow in the mountains and overwhelming waterways) because the levees are not adequate and a lot has been built in flood plains (stupidly, IMO).  However, you can avoid that by paying attention to specific areas, as there is plenty of space above the flood plain. 

post #13 of 37

I also live in Sacramento. I've also lived in Winters, Davis & Vacaville. I adore Davis and plan to move there as soon as we can afford to. This last year was very difficult for us financially so we moved to Sacramento because it's cheaper and there was more job availability for my wife. We are both excited to move back to Davis when we can. It is a little more expensive than Sacramento but I love the feel of the town and feel much safer there. Their farmers market is amazing and I've heard good things about their homebirth midwives.





My sister and her husband are moving to Santa Cruz in a few weeks so I can get info from them regarding the area if you'd like.


Good luck! I can't wait to hear where you decide.





post #14 of 37

Think of Sonoma County.  We lived there and would move back in a heartbeat.  I don't know what the current IT scene is like, but it had some great industries before we moved away. 


As far as affordable is concerned, we are in the Redding area, but IT is lacking up here.  It's beautiful, and HOT (July has been known to have highs over 100 all month.) 


Green landscape is a tough call in CA year round, since we don't have much summer rain, but the Sonoma/Mendocino area stays greener. 


Good luck, and enjoy your search and subsequent move!


post #15 of 37

I'm not sure what you consider affordable, but you might look at Ojai -- it is within commutable distance to Ventura and Santa Barbara, and potentially northern LA county.  Then there is also Topanga (a community in LA which you might also want to consider) -- both are on my list of my dream places to move in the next five or so years :)

post #16 of 37
I have lived in both the southern seaboard and desert parts of SoCal and on the peninsula of San Francisco bay. I have to say that over the years SoCal has improved significantly and even though we are in tough economic times the quality of family living in the communities there has changed for the better. Currently we live between India and Palm Springs. My husband has an IT startup and the more work it seems he has, the more traveling we do. Our daughter is currently homeschooled by me, but she is missing her friends and class structure, so we will also be going back soon.
I like the valley area because there are many families and outside activities. Palm Speing has an old western/hippi chic modern vibe mixed with creative people of all ages. The farmers markets and local art festivals are filled with more than you can imagine. People who have grown up there still enjoy living there and generally good people and happy family attitudes.
NorCal for me, in most surrounding suburbs, did not seem like a very flourishing community feeling like that of SoCal towns. Crime rates are a bit higher near San Francisco. Palo Alto, Cupertino make for lovely neighborhoods. Expensive and high end communities, not too sure what it is like to live there though. Hope that helps. Now we are looking for a home coastal of San Diego county - if any of you ladies know a good family community in that area with good schools, farmer markets , good library, healthy living lifestyle and good parks in a safe neighborhood please let me know where the area is. We are exploring all SoCal options with out a pricy lifestyle attached. Take care:)
post #17 of 37


Edited by member234098 - 6/6/12 at 5:35pm
post #18 of 37

I grew in up in San Diego and now live in Berkeley. While I much prefer the bay area and adore Berkeley, there were things I loved about San Diego as well. Did you consider living in a more rural part of san diego county, like Ramona or Jamul? You can get land and larger houses for much less cost while still only having a 30-45 minute commute from anything you'd want to do. Both are much closer to the mountains as well. 


While I love Berkeley and highly reccomend it, it is even pricier here than in San Diego and the amount of land you get is way less. We have a postage stamp yard - much smaller than I recall when I was growing up. 


I agree with previous posters about santa cruz area and sonoma county. I have a number of friends who've chosen to move to sonoma county. They still paid an arm and a leg but they have beautiful homes on more land and a more low key lifestyle. Both of my friends who live out there have husbands who commute to San Francisco for work. I also had coworkers in the city who lived in sonoma - so it can be done. 



post #19 of 37

If you would consider working for the government.... check out the national parks in the state. Most of them have 'villages' where there are offices and corporate housing either in or near the national park but you can live wherever you want. I'm not sure what the hiring situation is but you could probably find a job at one of the NPs in the state before moving there. I would  say that Yosimite would be the best and the mountains there are so beautiful or Redwood National Park which is close to the coast, or Lassen-volcano. Okay, there are a lot of beautiful national parks in CA and the rural areas around them have a bit lower cost of living because the only jobs that arn't through the parks are at hotels and restaurants or campgrounds. I've spent more than my fair share of time in the National and State forrests throughout CA although I have never worked for them I have family members who do.

Good luck

post #20 of 37

I live in Costa Mesa in Orange County and loooove it. But, if it's any help -- it's not what you're looking for! Our lists are different in some ways (I wanted urban, close to beach...it does have some things in your list though) but I know that knowing what would not work also helps. =)

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