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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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