or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Welcome to Mothering! › Connect With Other Moms › Moms In Your Area › California, Nevada › Living and Homeschooling in North Bay
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Living and Homeschooling in North Bay

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

 

My husband is considering a job in northern San Francisco (I think near the piers.) I will continue as a SAHM who homeschools our young ones. We don't want my husband to have a horrible commute. (Is that even realistic?)
 
Where could we live that isn't CITY? I'd love a large yard. House doesn't have to be big. It would be great to be in a safe area close to large undeveloped areas and lots of crunchy homeschooling/unschooling families. (And chickens. Could I keep my chickens?)
 
Oh, did I mention affordable? lol
 
I'm sure everyone wants what we want. Can that be done within a 30 minute commute?
 
How much money does he need to make to make life reasonable?
 
Thanks
 
post #2 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Backyard Hens View Post

 

My husband is considering a job in northern San Francisco (I think near the piers.) I will continue as a SAHM who homeschools our young ones. We don't want my husband to have a horrible commute. (Is that even realistic?)
 
Where could we live that isn't CITY? I'd love a large yard. House doesn't have to be big. It would be great to be in a safe area close to large undeveloped areas and lots of crunchy homeschooling/unschooling families. (And chickens. Could I keep my chickens?)
 
Oh, did I mention affordable? lol
 
I'm sure everyone wants what we want. Can that be done within a 30 minute commute?
 
How much money does he need to make to make life reasonable?
 
Thanks
 

Anyplace within a thirty minute commute will likely not be affordable, because if you don't want to live in a city you would have to live in Marin County. There are places in Marin that are really cool, and would have all the elements you are looking for (Mill Valley comes to mind) but, well, it is where the uber-rich live. Still you can keep an eye on Craigslist (if you are looking to rent) or Redfin (If you are looking to buy).

On the plus side the Bay Area is chock full of open spaces that are close to even the most urban of places. Land is at a premium though so most of us have to make the best of small yards. Chickens are pretty popular, but regulations vary town to town as to how much space you need to have them legally. Some people just opt to fly low on that one.

You would probably love Sonoma County but the commute for your husband would not be fun unless he could drive during off hours. And even then best case scenario would be an hour. In terms of his commuting needs, it sounds like he may be working downtown (?) in which case living close to BART or CalTrans would mean he could take public trans to work. This is a big consideration because gas here is about $4.30 a gallon and bridge tolls vary from $4 to $6 bucks to get into the city. Unfortunately BART stations tend to be in urban spaces. CalTrans is the train that goes up the peninsula (south of San Francisco from San Jose to SF) and there are probably spaces there that would meet your needs too. Unfortuantely again, the closer you get to the city the more expensive things tend to be. But the mountains are lovely and you would be close to the ocean. Maybe check out Pacifica or Half Moon Bay (although then he would have to drive as CalTrans doesn't go there)?

As to how much money, it depends on what you consider reasonable. Also on how much you commuting costs are going to eat up. And what kind of a deal you get on housing. Where are you coming from? I only ask to try and determine the extent of the sticker shock you might experience.

There are lots of crunchy people scattered throughout the Bay Area (I can't speak to homeschooling because my kid is still too young. Plus I'm not really the homeschooling type being a public school teacher lol.gif). Heck if you spend more time on MDC you will notice that a huge portion of the people here are living in the Bay Area. If there were ever a geographical revolution on MDC I think we have a quorum!
post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info. Is there anywhere in the bay area that would be reasonable and still in a 30 minute commute?

 

My husband currently makes about $55,000 a year. We pay around $700 for our mortgage. Gas is about $3.50 a gallon. We don't have toll roads. (I'm not saying where we live as a lot of people here know me IRL. I don't want anyone to comment around our kids, "Hey, I hear you might be moving." We don't know if we will, so let's not stress out the kids.)

 

According to COLA websites, he'd have to make $109,000 to have an equivalent lifestyle. I don't know that this job pays that so this may all be a moot point. Which is why I was trying to find out what folks here think about income needs. Just because a website says that's how much he'd have to make doesn't mean he really does.

 

There was another job in San Jose, but his gut said pass it by. I think I would have preferred to live there (from what I can tell from the internet.)

 

We'll only move if things would be better. The weather there would be better than here. But currently he drives (or bikes) 10 minutes to work. We're not moving if he has to spend half his day in transit.

post #4 of 26
Eeeee...welll...a thirty minute commute here is pretty unusually short. Especially for people who work in the city. Especially if you are looking to live somewhere more rural...and then add to that the affordability factor. It's a hard equation mama.

Depending on where in the city he would be working and how he would be getting there (and from which direction) it can take thirty minutes just to get through San Francisco...not counting driving to SF. But if commuting further is doable it widens your options.

Yes, there are places you could live and be within a thirty minute commute. The Richmond or Sunset districts of San Francisco are pretty affordable, and then he could take Muni. Daly City or South San Francisco are other close options. One good thing about living south of the city is that you don't have to pay a bridge fare. East of the city is Oakland and Berkeley which have tons of crunch factor but are urban.

But everywhere I know about (except Marin) within 30 minutes of San Francisco are urban spaces. SF is in the center of the Bay Area after all. I think even Pacifica would take longer than 30 minutes during rush hour, although maybe another mama will come on and let you know for sure.

Here is the other thing: If you are looking to buy you are not going to find many single-family houses in safe neighborhoods for under 500K. If you are looking to rent a place with a yard than you are probably looking at $2000 a month or more. Honestly there are lots of great things about the Bay Area but housing is the big downer. Go to Redfin and look at some of the local areas. It will give you a very good idea of what is out there. A few years ago I rented a tiny bedroom-and-a-half house out on 41st Ave (the cheapest part of the city really) and it was $1800...which at the time was a serious deal.

I currently live in San Jose and you are right about it being cheaper and having more housing options. But even SJ is pricey unless you buy downtown (a place that while cool is somewhat sketch). It is possible to find places with land though.

Right now my DH and I are surviving off of 67K and that is because our house is uber-cheap and he has no commute. Under normal conditions we would probably need about 90K.

Hope I am helping and not just freaking you out!
post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chamomile Girl View Post

Hope I am helping and not just freaking you out!


lol. Yes, I am freaking out. I just don't think he can make enough. If I'd get a job, we'd be fine, but we want me home with the kids.

 

 I think this place is near the piers. If not, it's near GGB. It is union, but it's a non-profit. I wish they'd just list salary range online when they post jobs.

 

post #6 of 26
Just so you know, its not unusual for $ to be a preliminary discussion for exactly that reason. If the $ isnt good enough, the job's not worth discussing.

As for location, the area that Cham has neglected is the E Bay. While it is true that Oakland and Berkeley are both super urban, there are other more ruralish areas... Along the BART line theres Castro Vly/ Hayward, Lafayette/Orinda, which both have urban and rural areas.

Another discussion to have is commuter costs. My DH didnt get any help w commute costs in his previous job, and it turned out we were spending about $10k/yr for his commute (gas, bridge toll, extra car upkeep). He takes BART now, and his co gives him commuter checks. We wind up paying nothing for his commute. So while he didnt get a raise, it was in effect a $10K increase when he switched jobs.

As for budgeting, housing is really a huge portion of that. We're lucky in that we bought before the bubble. But we could now never rent a house half this size for what our mortgage is. If you're lucky, you might find a foreclosure you like, but you'll be lucky to find anything under $300k, depending on the city (some cities are going to be higher).

Where i would really love to live here is Canyon, but you would have to drive him to the train station every morning. It's a tiny village set in the hills between Oakland and Orinda, lots of redwoods, lots of nature. No services (there's a PO and a school, thats it).

As for HS, pretty much anywhere in CA you'll find a HS community. The state of the public school system here is pretty bad, so there's tons of HSers.
post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thanks. That's really helpful.

 

How long is the commute from Castro Valley or Orinda if you take BART? According to yahoo maps they're a 25 to 35 minute drive, but I know that's not realistic. If we were to live in Canyon, could he not park at the BART station? How long a drive would that be?

 

This lifestyle is so different from what we're used to.

post #8 of 26
Cristeen is right, I know jack diddle about the East Bay (Its the one part of the BA I've never lived or even explored much).

Before you start looking at commuting possibilities you need to know your DH's possible job location, specifically. Because if it is Downtown, BART or CalTrain are great options, but if it is indeed near the GGB (there is not much by the Golden Gate Bridge, so probably not?) that is across the city from where BART can take him...so public trans becomes a less practical option. Because San Francisco is a peninsula there are lots and lots of piers all down the Bay side of the city (from Fisherman's Wharf down to Hunter's Point). So you should find out an exact location to see if these options would even work for his commute.

It looks like Canyon is about 4 miles to a BART station. Link to a map.

On the plus side...We have awesome weather, amazing locally grown food, the ocean, mountains, redwoods (all in easy driving distance). The Bay Area rocks...really.
post #9 of 26

I guess other people have broken the news to you that you have unrealistic expectations. Please forgive my brutal honesty in advance. I think that you would love living the Bay Area, if you had a comfortable income. But single, nonprofit income for a family of four is not going to be enough to live well here.

 

It takes about 30 minutes to get in or out of San Francisco during rush hour. You should give up hope of a 30-minute commute, at least if you are talking door-to-door time. I am guessing that you are not used to living somewhere with public transportation. The thing is, an hour siting in traffic every day can be hell, but an hour on a train reading is not so awful. While I know that people do it, personally, I have never heard of someone who commuted to S.F. in a car.

 

Your best bet is the East Bay. It is served my BART and has some almost affordable areas. You would have to choose between someplace with higher crime rates and a more urban feel (Oakland, Richmond) and someplace further away. I think you would probably be happier with the latter. It would be hell if your husband drove to work every day, but doable if he can take BART. I am thinking Castro Valley or Hayward are possibilities for you. Somewhere like Pittsburg or Antioch have some affordable housing because they have been hit hard by the housing crash.

 

Canyon is not really a possibility, because houses rarely come on the market and would not be affordable. Orinda was mentioned, but it is for wealthy people, as are Moraga, Lafayette, and Walnut Creek. The parking situation at BART stations is difficult - I am not sure what the likelihood of scoring a spot it. You can check out 511.org for realistic ideas about commute times.

 

In terms of money, $55,000 for a family of four is just enough to scrape by. This report has some very interesting information about the cost of living in California. I would say that you need to make around $100,000 to feel like you are not just keeping your heads above water. At the nonprofits where I have worked in the Bay Area, only the Executive Director is making anything like that. (You can look up tax information on for nonprofits, which will tell you the salaries of their highest paid employees and give you an idea of the possible salary range.)

post #10 of 26
You can go to bart.org to check commute times on the train. Like a pp said though, a 30 min commute being able to space/read/think is very different from 30 minutes driving in traffic. Also, like Cham pointed out, there are parts of the city that you would have to live in the city for, realistically. Public transit only serves certain areas. And there are few bart stations that have sufficient parking, which is why you would want to plan to drop him off or otherwise have it accesible (my DH walks to BART).

My parents commuted from the NB into the city for years across the GGB. There came a point that they were renting a timeshare apt in the city and paying a mtg on our house because it was just too hard. They left the house by 6 to start work before 9, and it was only 56 miles, IIRC. And that was 15 yrs ago, its only gotten worse since. Driving into the city daily is hellish.

As for the E Bay, years ago i would have agreed w the pp that Orinda/Moraga/Lafayette were rich people communities, but w the rates of foreclosures, thats no longer strictly true. Even Canyon has had some bank sales And Walnut Creek has never been that way - parts of it are, but the same could be said for parts of Oakland. You have to look to find affordable housing in any area here.
post #11 of 26
I have to agree with a pp that the $50-60k salary range is nearly impossible to comfortably support a family in the bay area with what you are looking for. Being a native in SF, it seems that most families with a SAHP often rent in the city or the working parent commutes over an hour. But, I do many families living in the sunset or Richmond districts of sf with chickens ;0). I also think people unfamiliar with the area greatly under estimate the amount of open space in the city and the easy accessibility to nature just outside sf. Between golden gate park, lands end, all the beaches, the presidio, etc., it's easy to be in the city and in nature everyday!
Bottom line is probably that you need to nail down exactly where the job would be and probably come visit to check out our unique way of life! Hth! Good luck!
post #12 of 26

I grew up in North Oakland/Berkeley and currently live in Pacifica.  If your dh doesn't want to drive into the city, your best bet is the inner East Bay so he could take BART.  Berkeley has Tilden Park (huge, lots of hiking, absolutely beautiful) and you would be a short drive away from many nice open spaces.  The Temescal area of Oakland is great, too, it really feels like it's part of Berkeley and since you HS, you won't have the school issue.  The East Bay is also more affordable.

 

That said, I love living in Pacifica. It's on the water and is a cozy, quiet community, but you have direct access to the museums, parks, food, etc in SF.  We have tons of open space, people are friendly, crime is super low and the schools are great.  There is an active HS group here.  It costs a little more than the East Bay and it's an older community and weathered by the ocean air. 


Edited by colemom - 10/8/11 at 6:47pm
post #13 of 26

 We live in the north bay - San Rafael area - and I'll echo the general consensus. DH commutes over the GGB to the Presidio every day and it is a pleasant, short commute (~30 minutes), but the cost of housing in Marin is ridiculous. We are a nearly-one income family at the moment. DH makes close to 3 times what your dh does and we just make it work. We own a small fixer-upper on a tiny lot, my car has 100k+ miles on it, and we carefully budget. It can be very difficult to live well in these parts if you want to be home with your kids.

 

post #14 of 26

We HATE affording this lifestyle. The Bay Area is jaw dropping beautiful, but we were not born and raised here and are finding it almost impossible to be a one income fam. DH makes less then 60k and we are so fricken strapped for money we can't even relax. It sucks. Don't do it Backyard Hens! Value your space and your 700 dollar mortgage. (That is jaw dropping, forget the scenery)

post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by bonjourmama View Post

We HATE affording this lifestyle. The Bay Area is jaw dropping beautiful, but we were not born and raised here and are finding it almost impossible to be a one income fam. DH makes less then 60k and we are so fricken strapped for money we can't even relax. It sucks. Don't do it Backyard Hens! Value your space and your 700 dollar mortgage. (That is jaw dropping, forget the scenery)


Thanks. We have no intention of moving there if we will be so tight. That would suck.

 

post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SundayCrepes View Post




Thanks. We have no intention of moving there if we will be so tight. That would suck.

 



It depends on where you live.  We lived fine in Sonoma County on less than half the salary we have now.

post #17 of 26

I live in the east bay (Oakland) and don't let its reputation fool you. It is a wonderful place to live, and you can get a yard for gardening and chickens if you want. The East Bay regional park system is amazing, and there is so much here to do for kids.

 

Yes it is urban, but a lot of Oakland does not feel that way, esp around highway 13. Lots of trees, greenspace, and nature. Single family homes, not apartments. And the benefits of urban (diversity, culture) are priceless. I am so lucky my son has this.

 

A 30 minute commute is the minimum in the Bay. It takes at least 30 minutes to get anywhere really, because of traffic. So I would expand the idea of a commute to 45 minutes, at least. Using BART will be less frustrating- you can rent a parking space to park the car and BART over to SF and back. Parking in SF is horrible, I would only drive on the rare instance that his company has parking.

 

The issue to me is always money. It is HARD to make ends meet in the bay, especially on one salary. Be sure and look at the job offer and cost of living with what you want before you say yes.

post #18 of 26

Wow, we're in almost the exact same situation. My partner is considering a job in SF, non-profit, and pays pitifully at 55-60K (by BA standards).

 

I lived in SF over ten years ago, before I had kids, so I get the basic "deal."  We had been wanting to explore northern CA options withing 2-3 hours of the city, then this job popped up. I'm not thrilled with the prospect of city living, but I did love the bay when I was there and know we would treasure much that is has to offer. I don't think we could eek out a decent life on this income, and while I would start practicing at some point it would only nominally add to our income.

 

 I have a couple of questions, maybe I'll start a new thread since this one is titled North Bay......

 

post #19 of 26

Novato might be a good option for you. It is in Marin County and a short drive to the Larkspur ferry that goes right to the piers in SF. It is probably the most affordable town in Marin. I saw a house for sale the other day there for $250,000 3 bedroom. I think that was bradley real estates website. If you look real hard you can find a house for rent in Novato for under $2000 a month. Look on craigslist.

 

As for homeschooling, Marin has an incredible homeschool community. You can find them on meetup.com also there are two public waldorf schools and a public montessori school in that area. Oh and a public school that is independant study (homeschool).

 

I know a lot of folks with chickens. There are lots of farmers markets, and csa.

 

About the income.... I saw recently that poverty level for a family of four in Marin is $81,000 a year. That being said, I am a family of five and below poverty level and don't feel deprived. We live within our means and seldom go without.

 

As for the east bay I don't know much. there are some getto areas but I've heard that some areas are great.

post #20 of 26

Novato to Larkspur is not a short drive during rush hour.  Otherwise, sure.  My mom drives from Petaluma to San Rafael for work every day and it often takes over an hour (she claims an hour and a half but I am skeptical, lol) and most of that time is spent between Novato and San Rafael.  101 backs up all the way to the narrows.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: California, Nevada
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Welcome to Mothering! › Connect With Other Moms › Moms In Your Area › California, Nevada › Living and Homeschooling in North Bay