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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We're planning on moving just as soon as humanly possible from our conservative mainstream town to Sonoma county. We're pretty set on Petaluma but keep hearing how we "need" to be in Sebastopol (since the primary reason we're moving is to live around more like-minded (AP/NFL) people - that plus the desire of a charter Waldorf school which both cities have). I haven't actually ever been to Sebastopol so I don't know too much about it. I'd love to get a feel for the town from anyone who knows. What's the community like, the shopping, dining, downtown, parks, nature areas (think "Waldorf-y")? Anything else? Please help - I want this next move to be our last.
 

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The traffic in Petaluma is AWFUL, and it's got a lot of yuppie spillover. It is therefore "nicer." It has a very cool downtown with a lot of expensive boutiques. But, the parks/nature will pretty much be gone by the end of the decade.

Sebastopol is "where the hippies went to die." Traditional Medicinals, the tea company, is based out there. It doesn't have trendy downtown. But, one can still breathe. For the time being.

Or course, I moved way out to the sticks. If I had to be in Sonoma Co. I'd be in Guerneville, hands down.
 

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Both are quite nice, imo, just different. Petaluma used to be all farmland, and there is still quite a bit on the outskirts. Petaluma's downtown is a bit bigger and grander than Sebatopol's, but Sebastopol's is "crunchier" and friendlier. They aren't too far apart (less than 1/2 hr) so you could always live in-between. Both are beautiful--you can find nice homes with land still. I have a friend who lives 10-15 min from downtown Sebastopol, on a gorgeous piece of land off a dirt road. It is so quiet and peaceful! Pm me if you need more info.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So is Sebastopol foresty at all - like with Redwoods? Or will I have to travel for that? I'm going to try to make a trip there soon to check it out first hand but please keep the info coming. Your perspectives really help!
 

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I grew up just 4 miles south of Sebastopol and my Mom is living in town now. I really liked growing up there. This was back in the 70s and 80s and the town has totally updated since then. Old buildings gone and new ones in. There is a Whole Foods there and 2 nice independent grocery stores. No idea about schools as I went to the public schools and they were great 30 yrs ago!

I lived in the country on a private road with lots that were at least an acre big. Everyone had animals and I was in 4-H. Petaluma is more rural and farming oriented and I spent alot of time on my friends ranches and dairies. The redwoods are everywhere but for big groves you need to head west toward Guerneville and Forestville and the Russian River. I really miss the wine country around that area and am heading home with the kids this weekend to catch up with family and see some friends and drink some wine!

I would move up there again and live in Sebastopol, but I like where we are at so its fun to visit!

Good luck with your decision!
 

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You asked specifically about forestry in Sebastopol. No. But, from Sebastopol it is a short trip (20 minutes or so) to reach the beach, the redwoods, or Santa Rosa.

I love Sebastopol. Especially if you're looking for that "small town" feeling. However, it is not a cheap place to live. The independent grocery stores are fabulous, but you might as well be shopping at Whole Foods, the prices are about the same. There is a Safeway and an Albertsons in town, or else you have to head into Santa Rosa for more choices. There is a great local produce stand, and Farmer's Market every week during the warm season.

Organic is a way of life in Sebastopol, there are vegetarian restaurants, and nobody would look twice at someone babywearing or breastfeeding.

On the other hand, Petaluma isn't going to be much, if any cheaper. About half of Petaluma (W of 101) is "small town charm" and the other half (E of 101) is mainstream America. Petaluma is much bigger than Sebastopol, they don't have the local ordinances controlling growth that Sebastopol has, and it is further to drive to get to the redwoods, or the beach. It is closer to San Francisco and Marin, though (if that makes a difference to you). There will be less AP "options" in Petaluma than there will be in Sebastopol, because so much of it is mainstream.

If you're looking at renting, rent in either place is going to be pretty comparable. To buy, they'll probably be pretty comparable as well. That is to say, very expensive.

Which one you wind up in may need to depend on the work situation, as in where will work be, how long a drive, how heavy of traffic (cause traffic is awful in SoCo), how many backroads are available, etc.

If the commute isn't an issue, but the cost is, you may want to look into Guerneville or Cazadero. It is cheaper (although not cheap), it's further out, smack in the middle of the redwoods (I made an offer on a house there once, 2/3 of an acre, all redwoods, the back porch extended out to within an inch of a giant redwood, beautiful), the Russian River is right there, tons of nature. The big problem with Guerneville is that floods are not uncommon, which can mean closed roads, and always ask about flooding before signing on the dotted line.

If you have any more specific questions, feel free to PM me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This is all such fabulous info! Thank you all so much. Based on this thread, I'm leaning pretty heavily towards Sebastopol. I've been to Petaluma to check it out (plus we have some friends there) on several occassions and liked it okay. It was mostly the #1 choice b/c of the charter school (which Sebastopol also has) and b/c it's closer to dh's work (he's in the Bay Area but does not have a typical commuter schedule so it's not a huge deal). Anyway, people just keep telling me that I *need* to be in Sebastopol and I really get the feel that I'd fit in better there. What a novel idea to be accepted into a community and not always be the weird one with the hippie ideas.
I get a little nervous at the smallness of Sebastopol though - I think I'm more of a city girl - but Santa Rosa *is* really close so it's not like I'd be in the boonies. I do like to shop.
: I think we'll be there this weekend to check it out. I hope I love it as much as I think I will! Thanks again for all the info and please, if anyone can add anything, I'd love to hear it. Oh yeah, and the vegetarian dining options - what I wouldn't give for that (we're all vegetarians and NEVER have good options for food where we live)!
 

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My dh has a cousin in Sebastapol, they seem to love it. We considered it, but since I am more of a city person we are moving to Marin this summer. However, I have to say it did not give me a bad small town feeling, it didn't feel really small, it felt like there were plenty of options. I didn't decide against it based on how it felt, but based on the proximity to San Francisco. I guess what I am trying to say is if you are at all like me and sometimes don't feel as comfortable in small towns, I think you will still like Sebastapol. Also, if you like to shop definitely check out downtown healdsburg when you move, it is really cool!
 

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I'm kind of jumping in late here, did you make a decision yet?

Seems like everything has pretty much been said about each town. I was born and raised in Petaluma. I do not like it there anymore. Too busy and crowded. Sebastopol is wonderful. Great little town.
We actually live in Guerneville which is smaller than Sebastopol, but only about 15-20 min away. We have the Russian River(great beaches!) right in town with us, we have Armstrong National Forrest in town, the ocean is about 20-25 minutes away which is a nice place to cool down on a warm day!

good luck making a decision! If you want a smaller, nice community feel-Sebastopol would be a great choice!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yes! We went and visited and we really loved Sebastopol. Soooo, our house is now on the market and if it ever sells (so far no lookers) then we'll be heading that way. It really was different there then I expected, but in a good way. Not too small townish. Seemed like a regular place (I was afraid of there being something like just a corner market and nothing else - real isolated) but very crunchy in nature, which appeals greatly to me. We're vegetarians and I just loved how all the menus I glanced at had a good number of options - not just the obligatory Gardenburger like places around here. Anyway, it was very nice and I think we'd be real happy there. Some of the surrounding cities sound great but I feel like this is about as far north as we should go since dh works in the Bay Area.
 

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Congrats on deciding on Sebastopol! I lived there for many years, and while my husband, daughter and I currently live in Tennessee, we are moving BACK to Sebastopol this summer!

You're going to adore it there. It's such a warm, fun, relaxing place to be, and raise a family.

*You ought to PM me (for some reason, I cant PM you) so we can plan to meet up once you get moved.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by 2+twins View Post
Yes! We went and visited and we really loved Sebastopol. Soooo, our house is now on the market and if it ever sells (so far no lookers) then we'll be heading that way. It really was different there then I expected, but in a good way. Not too small townish. Seemed like a regular place (I was afraid of there being something like just a corner market and nothing else - real isolated) but very crunchy in nature, which appeals greatly to me. We're vegetarians and I just loved how all the menus I glanced at had a good number of options - not just the obligatory Gardenburger like places around here. Anyway, it was very nice and I think we'd be real happy there. Some of the surrounding cities sound great but I feel like this is about as far north as we should go since dh works in the Bay Area.

Thats awesome! Glad you enjoyed it! Its a great place. Very calming, peaceful. Always some funky activity going on there. You will love it!
We are vegetarians to and our most favorite place to eat is Slice of Life. It doesnt get better than that place. In fact, DH is bringing home their pizza for dinner tonight!

Please feel free to PM when you move closer. I would love to find a crunchy, veg friend!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
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Originally Posted by Sparkle*Mama View Post
Thats awesome! Glad you enjoyed it! Its a great place. Very calming, peaceful. Always some funky activity going on there. You will love it!
We are vegetarians to and our most favorite place to eat is Slice of Life. It doesnt get better than that place. In fact, DH is bringing home their pizza for dinner tonight!

Please feel free to PM when you move closer. I would love to find a crunchy, veg friend!

Thank you! I'll try to remember to do that. It will be good to know someone, kwim? Oh, and we ate at Slice of Life while we were there. I loved it. It reminded me very much of Berkeley which is my favorite place to be.
 

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I'm glad you got to eat at Slice of Life! Dh and I passed it up frequently thinking it was just a "slice of pizza" kinda place. One day we were out and werent going to be near home, and we were starving. Decided we could make pizza pretty vegie and went in. We were so happily surprised! LOL
 
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