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Moving to California
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Moving to California
We're planning on moving from Chicago after living here our
entire lives (we're now in our mid-30's). We have 3 kids, ages
5,3 and 1. We're looking for a place with an emphasis on
natural beauty and a real connection to the outdoors. Our
kids will most likely attend a Waldorf school. We want a
progressive, liberal community. I'd love to be near the ocean
and as long as I'm fantasizing, have it be warm enough to swim
in! We can spend about $750k on a home. We want an easier
pace of life--more walking, less driving and commuting. Does
such a place exsist in California? If so, please help us
find it! We'd be forever grateful!
My husband and I moved from Chicago 19 years ago, initially to San
Francisco, then 6 years later, after we had 2 kids, to
we currently live. Just about anywhere in the Bay Area has a better
connection to nature than Chicago. Based on your criteria, you should
consider Berkeley--it is close to Tilden and other regional parks, the
ocean, is a liberal community and has neighborhoods with walkable
One of the main problems may be finding all this in a
desirable neighborhood in the price range you mention--for this, you
may need to consider a more suburban community further East (Contra
Costa County), or North (Napa county). I'm not sure where the closest
Waldorf school is located. I'm sure you will get lots of opinions on
the best community, and if you are flexible, you should check out all
of them before you decide.
translplanted Chicagoan who loves California
first of all, CA is a huge state! reading your description, the
cruz area comes to mind in norcal. it's nature-oriented and by the
beach without being too out of the way like the very north parts of
CA. btw, the water is SO COLD!!! unfortunately, you need lots of money
to live in santa cruz, but i think the cities just outside of santa
cruz are more affordable.
You might look at some of the communities in the
Santa Cruz mountains;
that will get you your outdoors and Waldorf... Even just in outer Los
Gatos there is ''the mountain school'' which would place you nicely
for community. well, you won't get your warm-to-swim in oceanside
home, but you have to head to SoCal for warm oceans in CA.
I read your question and thought of Santa Barbara, where I lived for
6+ years. It may be bigger than you have in mind, but I thought it is
worth mentioning. In case you don't know the town is nestled between
the ocean and 3000 ft mountains. That may not sound so high for
mountains, but consider they are starting at 0 ft. So you have views
of those mountains from everywhere. Tons of hiking trails. All kinds
of beach experiences. Wonderful cultural opportunities. Sigh. Many
places where lots of walking is possible, particularly near downtown,
also in an area called the Mesa.
Politically/cultural it is interesting. There are various
contingencies. There is certainly a progressive/liberal one, which I
was part of. There were certain places that these people shopped,
hiked, went to the beach, celebrated. So I found that I ran into
people I knew constantly. I liked that small town feel.
Good wishes with your decision.
We have lived in Santa Cruz
for about two years now and I think it
fits all your criteria except for the warm water. Many people swim
without a wetsuit, but I wouldn't say the water is warm. Santa Cruz
is a wonderful place to raise a family, and you could get a good house
in your price range here. There is so much natural beauty around that
we rarely spend money on ''entertainment'' for our family. We spend
every weekend at the beach, hiking in the redwoods, going for walks,
biking, or taking short drives to the state parks (Big Sur, Big Basin,
Ano Nuevo, to name a few)in the area. We are an hour and a half south
of San Francisco and half an hour from San Jose. There are great
services and events for families here. The Live Oak Family Resource
Center offers great programs for toddlers that meet there as well as
in the local parks, making it really easy to meet other families here.
Capitola has many festivals; both Santa Cruz and Capitola have outdoor
concerts on the beach, free, all summer long. There are Waldorf schools here, as
well as many options for private, public, and charter. The community
is very unique with many progressive thinkers, lots of holistic
healing, and great availability of organic, locally-grown produce
year-round. I feel so lucky to be here.
You might find it helpful to take the quiz at
http://www.findyourspot.com/ -- it asks questions about your
preferences, politics, things you want access to, etc. and recommends
towns. I think you can limit results by state and definitely by
region. I did it just for fun (no move planned) and felt it pretty
much nailed the recommendations.
Apparently I Should Be in Oregon
I must say that I was surprised that not more folks responded
to this question. Now I feel compelled to weigh in!
Your question is so broad. I have lived in Southern CA and
now in Northern CA. I prefer NoCal for many reasons, mostly
related to traffic and smog. That being said, there is
plenty of traffic in NoCal! Depending on how large a
community you want, and whether you have jobs that are
transferable (e.g., are you self-employed?), you may want to
consider Arcata (where Humboldt State is located). I tried
to re-locate there for about a year, but couldn't find a job.
Housing prices have jumped tremendously in the past few
years, but with the downturn, your range will definitely get
you a home there. It is right next to the ocean, and
completely remote: a six hour drive from the Bay Area. It's
a terribly liberal place.
Other recommendations are Nevada City (northeast of
Sacramento); again, tough to find jobs, but close to Auburn,
Grass Valley, and Placerville. There is no ocean, but many
amazing river confluences with camping, and not far from
Truckee, which is another beautiful but outstandingly
expensive (your $750K may not get you much) and job-tight.
Sacramento is turning into a fine little city, and jobs are
plentiful due to the Capitol, Sacramento State University,
and UC Davis (both medical center and the university, in
Davis, which is 11 miles away). Davis is nice too, but very
White and somewhat smug. The recession is staying somewhat
at bay in Sacramento, and housing prices have plummeted--so
again, your money would get you quite a bit.
Aptos (just south of Santa Cruz) is just lovely, and Marina
(about equi-distant between Santa Cruz and Monterey) is
turning into a nice little community. You may be outpriced
in Aptos, but Marina could be a good bet. A friend lives in
Marina and works in Monterey (at CSUMB) and her commute is
not too long.
Best of luck!
always looking for the next adventure
this page was last updated: Jul 31, 2010
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