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My 'husband' and I want to move to either Benicia or Pinole. We currently live in LA and are pre-retirement. I not ready to drop off the vine yet, but I want a lifestyle change. My goal is to be part of a pretty active community in a walkable charming old seaport town. My husband is a professional musician (piano player) who makes his living playing for famous(and not so famous) singers. He arranges charts, rehearses and plays shows(mostly Cabaret and standards).
Benicia seems to have a condensed downtown with a nice mix of businesses, Pinole is closer to the city and looks to have its downtown more spread out, but also a very cultural, thriving community.
I would love feedback. thank you
Since you don't need to deal with the commute into SF (which can be horrendous, from what I've heard), the only downside I can think of is that you can see the oil refinery 'stacks' from some parts of the town (the neighborhoods above the freeway), and that kind of mars some of the scenery. But if you lived walking distance to downtown you would not see them. In regards to smells or whatever from the oil refinery, we were probably there about a half dozen times for several hours each time, and we never smelled anything. But it could be different on some days; I'm not sure.
If you're looking for a broker, the woman we worked with, Brenda Turner-Adams, was awesome. She treated us super well and drove us around to give us a feel of the entire town. She's lived in Benicia for over 30 years, I think, so she is really knowledgeable about the area, and she never, ever pressured us.
P.S. Pinole is OK. I spent some time there when we lived in the East Bay because there's a Chuck E. Cheese there that my kids liked, plus there was a Catholic shop downtown that I frequented on occasion. The core downtown area is kinda cute, but Benicia's got it beat by a landslide. Also, I am not aware of any arts scene in Pinole, though of course I could be wrong. I think you would be much happier in Benicia; from what I know of Pinole, it is not what you seem to be looking for.
Hope this helps! Feel free to contact me if you have more questions. Monica
My family is hoping to buy a home soon. We have two children under 2. It seems we can afford Benicia, Martinez and parts of Concord. We really like the look of homes in downtown Martinez and our commute to Richmond on the 4. Our main worries are the refinery, convicts and sound from the Amtrak/freight trains. Does anyone have any negative or positive experiences with the above, especially the refinery. Thank you! Kelly
Re: Moving to a cheaper area now that kids are gone
Our (only) son went off to OSU (Oregon)3 years ago. We live in Benicia, and moved here for the great schools. I find, though, that it is a great place for us empty nesters, too. It's definitely cheaper than Berkeley, safe, quiet, but with a great ''old town'' downtown.
The community often has little events that are great for meeting new people. We just made new friends sitting on the sidewalk, sipping an adult beverage with our dogs at our feet. (Great Pyrenees and Newfoundland; excellent conversation starters in their own right)
Benicia has lots of open space, a state park on the water, and plenty of places to hike.
Get some big dogs and move to Benicia! happy empty nesters
Hi I'm a mom with two teen boys. We're moving to the north bay area in couple of months. My hubby will be working in vallejo. We are very excited. This will be a big change for us. We are from a small city in south florida. Im looking for input on areas that have nice high schools(safe). I want to live where the boys can have a little freedom with stuff to do but not in a big city. We are looking in Novato, Petaluma, Santa Rosa or Fairfield/Vacaville, Concord areas. Not sure which area would be best. Also fairly close to a Macys without having to get on any major highways. I work for Macys and am scared to death to drive out there (foolish I Know) . We will be renting. Our budget is around $2200 a month. I appreciate any info/input you have. A commute of around 45 min from Valejo is ok. Also can you reccomend any good rental agents? Thanks again I really appreciate it.
There are two Macy's stores near Benicia - one in Concord (about 15 miles away) and the other in Fairfield (also about 15 miles away.) You can get to the Fairfield store from Benicia without getting on busy highways.
The North Bay is really a great place to live. Santa Rosa is at least an hour's drive from Vallejo. Fairfield is probably 20 minutes away and Vacaville is about 30 minutes away. Good luck on your move! Kathy
[Editor: Petaluma was also recommended
Re: considering a move to Sacramento
Have you ever consider Benicia??? I grew up in Sacramento actaully Elk Grove before all those houses were built. Antioch reminds me of Elk Grove now. I am sure things have changes since I left permanently in 1996 but Sacramento has so many suburbs so there maybe a neighborhood that is similar to Berkeley? I love the East Bay especially Berkeley. We actaully have a daughter who goes to a school in North Berkeley so I drive down everyday. Benicia is a very sleepy town with a little bid of Santa Cruz feel to it. If I need Berkeley or SF fix, we just drive down and can be on the Bay Bridge in 20mins with no traffic. We are also less than 20mins away from Napa. You may want to check it out. If you have any question, you can email me as well. Happy in Benicia
We are considering a move to Benicia with our two small children. We are looking for any feedback, both positive and/or negative, in regards to the community, schools, neighborhoods, and refinery. Any information would be greatly appreciated! JL
I can't really think of anything negative. Don't drive 29 miles/hr in a 25 mile zone, 'cause the cops will ticket you immediately. The town is very laid back, so the police officers seem to jump on any violation where they can. But since there are many children in that town I never minded that they were agressive.
The refineries are all ''down wind'' and don't really have any impact on your quality of life. With the new Benicia Bridge that opened late last year the commute to Contra Costa County is a breeze.
The town gets two big thumbs up from me!!! JOJ
Re: Safe, family--oriented neighborhood?
Have you ever consider Benicia? It's affortable and close to Easy Bay. It's 20 plus minutes to the Bay Bridge and 10 mins or so to Walnut Creek so it's not a bad commute and there is a ferry service into the city. If there is anything else you like to know please email me at email@example.com. A great and safe community with a lots of parks. Amy
Re: Kid friendly neighborhoods in the East Bay Benicia may be a bit too far North for you, but it is an amazing little treasure. The community is warm and friendly, the schools are very good, there are many (!) beautiful parks and the social activities in town are always wonderful. The downtown area is pretty flat, so it is perfect for strolling around or bicycling. We lived there for 10 years and I actually miss it tremendously. JOJ
Re: affordable housing
I highly recommend Benicia. We just moved there from Oakland in February and absolutely love it! It has excellent schools - all but one are California Distinguished Schools and are actually in the top nationwide. It is very much a small town. If you live downtown, you can walk to everything without a car. There are tons of community events, it is very safe, has that "small-town" feeling and is still affordable. Benicia is very family oriented with lots of parks and a weekly farmers market that has a petting zoo with pony rides. There is a wonderful library and community pool and lots more. An added bonus is that the town is located right on the water so you can see the ships go by, etc. Dylyn
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