Dh has a San Jose company that is pretty heavily pursuing him for a position (or two). It just kind of fell into his lap and now there is a lot to think about. We are currently in a semi rural area in the Midwest and know that if this turns out well for us, it will be a HUGE HUGE change. For starters, the COL difference will be a huge shock, especially for housing.
I am trying to get a feel for whether or not we will even be able to afford to live in an area that offers what we are going to require, and then what we would like. We are a non-vaxing, homeschooling, gluten-free, organic eating family. We know that we will have to forget being able to have our chickens anymore because we could never afford land where that would be ok, I think. It is very important that we live in an area with a good school district in case we need to stop homeschooling or want to stop.
I have been directed towards the San Lorenzo Valley area. Boulder Creek, Scotts Valley, Felton, Brookdale and Ben Lomond. Thoughts? :)
Income is really going to determine a lot. But really none of what you mentioned (no vax, HS, GF, etc.) is a real hindrance anywhere around here. Except the chickens. But there are cities that allow them even on small lots (my city doesn't happen to be one of them though).
It really depends on what you're looking for. I know that my DS' nana lives in a Mobile home park in Sunnyvale (San Jose suburb), and they have at least 1 foreclosure going for $99K. The trade off is that you have no actual land, and there are HOA rules/dues/etc.
One of the things to think about is that traffic is horrible, and commuting is a huge stressor, particularly if he's not used to it. Is this job anywhere near transit? If it is, then follow the transit lines. If it's not, then you want to try to get relatively nearby (20-30 minutes). And then you need to think about budget. And depending on the industry, a question to ask is what his expected work hours are. Some companies don't mind if you choose to work 10-6 or 7-3 instead of 9-5. Some companies will expect 50 or 60 hours/week. These are things to clarify now, particularly if you're looking at living further out.
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I haven't responded until now because we are still waiting for the official job offer package to arrive. It is funny how each day seems like an eternity when you are waiting on info that could potentially change your whole life. LOL I really hope it comes soon. So many questions and no answers yet.
We were tossing around the idea of renting for a while first, but the little that I could find for three bedroom rentals that allow pets were outrageous. They averaged $3,000+ It is one thing to pay that for a mortgage (and I sure hope we never end up in that kind of situation), but it is another to pay that for rent and never get a dime of it back. House prices seem to be dropping by tens of thousands at a time when reductions are made and I find that interesting. Around here, just a ten thousand dollar drop is a huge amount. Something to keep in mind when making offers I guess. We aren't into flipping or anything, but we do like to do our own improvements on house an make it really feel like ours. I have to laugh a little at what is considered a fixer-upper there. Half look like they should be bulldozed. ;)
I joined a homeschool list for the area and I am thrilled with the activity on that list. There isn't even a list here for people to converse on. LOL
Hoping to hear something on this soon so I can be more specific in my questions.
We moved here about 6 months ago from a rural area outside Seattle, and are in a similar situation. We chose to pay a little higher rent for a really nice home that is minutes from my husbands office. Even with the increase in income, we will likely not make the jump into home ownership here in this area. Home prices are just still so outrageous. My research was similar to yours, finding what amounted to total dumps renting for crazy amounts of money. We are really lucky to have found what we did, to include a so far amazing landlord.
We plan to homeschool our almost five year old daughter and have found a couple of great groups here locally. The local school actually seems quite good, it is a performing arts magnet. It is just a very large(1000 kids) and more urban environment than we are used to. And to be honest we just don't feel part of the community thus far.
You might try looking at the Almaden area, and Morgan Hill. I would consider those commutes to be a bit easier than Ben Lomond or anything past Los Gatos on Hwy 17. Traffic on Hwy 17 can be horrific during the commute, and it is a winding mountain road where people drive like nutballs(IMHO). I just didn't feel comfortable having my husband driving that route 2X a day. There are fringe neighborhoods in Los Gatos and South San Jose that we considered as well.
So far we are happy with our decision to move here. I am happy to chat with you more about our experience moving here, as well as put you in touch with the resources I have. Feel free to PM me.