Mama to Marcus (1/05) and Arianna (3/10).
Growing produce without watering is not possible. It doesn't rain at all between say June and October. But most places come with a drip system so its not likely you will have to hand water everything. How much produce are you thinking? You can grow pretty much year-round here because the climate is so mild and that is a real bonus. And you won't have to water in the winter.
There are places around here that one can live on a good parcel of land, but everything is expensive. That said there isn't as much of a culture of home ownership as there is in other places. If you have to rent there is no reason why you can't find something other than a small apartment.
Right now I live (and garden) in a pretty dense area (near Santa Clara University), but I have also lived in the country in Sonoma County (sadly not within commuting distance of Silicon Valley). There are mountains nearby that are not really dry because they get fog moisture during the summer. Properties in the mountains (Santa Cruz Mountains) range from super-cheap (400K) to out of this world pricey (4+ million). Santa Cruz itself is a great town and it is in commuting distance from SV. Most of the towns IN Silicon Valley are super-suburban and have a high population density.
I don't know how much this helps...any other specific questions?
It is a bit of a drive to almost anywhere, for us it is 15 minutes to the nearest town with shops or restaurants, 30 minutes to a sizeable town with supermarkets, hardware stores, etc. (Half Moon Bay), and an hour to most other places including San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Cruz. On the other hand, we have plenty of hiking and biking right in our backyard, people come out to this area to go camping for the weekend. Although commutes can be long, they aren't stressful - I would rather spend the time on a beautiful scenic road without traffic than the same amount of time in stop and go traffic on the freeway.
We do have to plan ahead...there is no running out to the store for something quick in the middle of the night, we try to run errands on our way home from work etc. Our closest take-out option is a 30-minute round trip drive to get burritos.
We love it here, but it isn't for everyone.
How are the farmers markets there? Where does most of the produce come from?
Mama to Marcus (1/05) and Arianna (3/10).
I have a very small backyard and I have:
A Lemon tree
Loquat tree (this one I could do without)
About 15 tomato plants (all different heirlooms)
10 pepper plants
lots and lots of basil
Lazy Housewife runner beans
two kinds of cukes
two summer squash
a bunch of herbs (fennel, chamomile, valerian, comfrey, thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, marjoram, dill, yarrow, catmint, echinacea).
carrots, chard, beets, radish, cabbage (not happy),
Azaleas, hydrangeas, roses, bougainvillea, dahlias, nasturtiums, jasmine, and a bunch of other stuff.
Everything is doing well at the moment. Its a great climate to garden.
My neighbors have a larger yard than I do, and they have a mini orchard going on. They also grew a ton of fava beans in the spring. There is also a community garden on my block, so if I ever get my act together (and line up some child care) I can go over there and garden some more stuff.
ETA: My neighbors on the other side have an avocado tree! I would love that...
I just looked it up on Zillow and apparently my house sits on .09 acre.
In addition to the locations that Chamomile Girl mentioned, there are a fair number of crops grown out by the coast, from Half Moon Bay to the Monterey area (maybe farther), including pumpkins, artichokes, peas, and berries. I live by so many farms I don't go to farmers markets, I go to farmstands.
We live on 1.7 acres but only garden a small portion of that.
we're casually scouting for our place to settle down at the moment (with an eye to moving there to rent for a little while and then buy in 2-5 years), so exploring places that sound interesting. thanks.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you want to make it work on one income and not live in a crappy duplex or an apartment, you will probably have to commute AND have to move somewhere that has a bad reputation. Now that we're in Hayward I love living in the bay area, the weather is unbeatable and it is great being a short drive away from the city.
Julia, mama to Bumpa 2008, and The Mole 2011
Julia, mama to Bumpa 2008, and The Mole 2011
the santa cruz mountains sound interesting. any chance you could tell a little more about living there? and what the cost of living is like? what are the main things people do for income there?
What would buy you a condo or townhouse in most of the rest of the bay area will probably buy you a good-sized house with land here. It will depend a bit on town to town, there are some differences between the towns in the mountains.
Let me know if you have other questions!
There are a lot of farms and open space along the whole coastside. You can get more for your money -- more house, more land -- vs the other side of the hill. It's not as sunny, it's cooler and mistier, but that means it's also not nearly as dry as say, San Jose. If it weren't for the commute I'd be there in a heartbeat. I love it there.
And to answer your other question -- tell you about where we live -- I live in a denser area in San Mateo. Our lot is small -- less than 6000 sq ft. We have a little creek running behind our property so it feels like we have more room than we have. We have some herbs and berries in our yard and also do a lot of container gardening. We have a lot of tomatoes, some peppers, lettuces, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, the herb garden. We used to do potatoes and carrots but have decided it's not worth the amount of water required... we buy those at farmer's market or the grocery store instead. We have several local grocery stores that have pretty good, locally grown produce. We can walk everywhere from where we live so it's definitely more city-like, but that's something we actually want and like.
I have grown to really appreciate the size of our house with a little kid. I can let my daughter roam the back yard and house with very minimal supervision because it's hard for her to 'hide'. It's super easy to keep this place clean (when I'm not pregnant ) and I feel like keeping our stuff to a minimum is a good thing in general.
Fremont isn't high on my list of places I would move to on purpose because this is not the crunchy part of the bay area. We do have a Trader Joe's but mostly Safeway/Ralph's is the extent of our grocery shopping. There are some raw milk co-ops in town as well as an awesome farm share so I guess I should be more open minded. I like our farmers market even though it isn't as extensive as many of them in the bay. I have grown to appreciate the 'small town' feel here. I am getting to know my neighbors pretty well. If you avoid the chains there are some fairly good restaurants here where the owners quickly recognize you and you build ongoing relationships. (I'm very sad that our local Lebanese place just closed. But I suppose after 30 something years the owners deserve a retirement. My daughter is already missing them because they were very grandparent-like towards her.)
You will often hear the expression, "The great thing about Fremont is that everything is only 20 minutes away. The bad thing about Fremont is that everything is 20 minutes away." This is not the best town to be carless. (I speak from personal experience.) We are definitely the 'burbs.
I wouldn't have chosen this town, but I've made my peace with it. It's not so bad and given that living here means that our mortgage is low enough that we can have a 15 year mortgage and be done paying off the house by the time I'm in my very early 40's and we can still live in the bay area... it's worth it.
My advice may not be appropriate for you. That's ok. You are just fine how you are and I am the right kind of me.
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