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Hi! We're planning to relocate from just outside the Bay Area (where we both grew up) to either Petaluma or Santa Cruz. My inclination is towards Santa Cruz - probably b/c I've grown up knowing a bit more about it where I'm only just learning about Petaluma. I'd love input from anyone about either or both city - which you think might work best for us. Here are our priorities:

1. Like-minded community (vegetarian, AP-style parenting, etc.)
2. Alternative education for kids (Petaluma has a charter Waldorf school that we're very interested in, for example)
3. Natural childbirth friendly community (I'm a childbirth instructor, rent birth tubs, do maternity/newborn pics, etc. - so it's a huge part of my life)
4. Good shopping AND dining (these are my past-times)
5. Nature, established trees, etc.

I know Santa Cruz has the ocean (obviously) which has always been a big love of mine, and the redwoods which are just beautiful. I'd love to be surrounded by nature. Honestly I'm really leaning towards Santa Cruz, but we have friends in Petaluma (which makes some difference - to live near someone you know - although they're really dh's friends more than mine), there's the Waldorf school (we're much more interested in charter vs. private - I know S.C. has a private waldorf - I don't know if there's a charter there), 25 minutes to the beach (Bodega Bay), a cute downtown, and is supposedly birth & alternative living friendly too. So what do I do? I think we could afford a nicer house in Petaluma - that's part of it. I'd
an old (early 1900's) cute home and I don't think there's any way I could get something like that in S.C. We're going to be downsizing for sure, as we currently live in a very nice 2300 sq ft 3 year new home in the suburbs. Anyway, I'm just trying to figure all this out, so any advice would be appreciated. Also, while I'm familiar with S.C., I really don't know it all that well. We need to take a trip down there to check it out - ideas on what to see, etc. would be great. TIA!!!
 

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What a hard decision! I love both areas! When me and my DH wanted to move from Southern Cal. we were trying to get transferred to Santa Rosa (with our jobs), we love some of the outskirts of Santa Rosa, I'm blanking on names right now, but around the Armstrong National Forest (guinerville? something) Oh yeah, Sebastapol (spelling??) also! I would move there in a second! Awesome community! We ended up getting transferred to Menlo Park instead! A couple of years later we bought a house in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I love it here! You have the best of both worlds! I've been to Peteluma a few time. I think Santa Cruz had more options in dining and shopping, but the house prices are pretty high! There's lots of veggie restaurants. As for education, I'm not sure. We are expecting our first, so we still have a lot to learn
We need a birthing center here! Could you open one?? I think the community is pretty open minded and into natural childbirth. Good luck with your decision! Either way, I think you'll be very happy!

*erin*
#1 edd 10/29/05
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This isn't the most scientific or researched opinion, but my first instinct when I read your thread title was Santa Cruz. It definitely has the "crunchy" reputation, so you'll probably fit in just fine over there.

--Bay Area resident for 22 years
 

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I think that Petaluma might be close to Santa Cruz in terms of housing prices, at least the cute old-town part of Petaluma (the west side). The east side of Petaluma is cheaper, because it's new tract housing, not the cute old houses. I know the median house price for the county as a whole is $600,000.

Sonoma County is jammed with natural birth people. In Sebastopol, for instance, there are shops that sell only Waldorf toys (Earth Child) and shops where you can try out and buy organic mattresses. Sebastopol in particular has a ton of Waldorf charter schools. In fact, every single preschool in Sebastopol is Waldorf -- creating gridlock in the nearby preschools that aren't Waldorf (since some people don't do Waldorf).

Hope that helps some!
 
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