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Moving to the Grass Valley, CA Area

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Housing, Neighborhoods, & Moving > Moving to the Grass Valley, CA Area


March 2008

I am looking for feedback or insight on relocating to the Grass Valley/ Nevada City area from Berkeley. The reason I have narrowed it down to the Gold Country area is it is still affordable, you can actually get a decent sized house with acreage and its within a couple hours of SF (where my husband will need to commute two days a week) I just found out I am pregnant with #2 and have been contemplating relocating to a more affordable, rural area outside of the earthquake zone. I lived in North Lake Tahoe for a number of years so I am not afraid of snow or small towns. Has anyone had any experience with living in Nevada City/Grass Valley or any of the surrounding areas? Any feedback on the schools or life in the gold country that they would like to share? Thanks for your help. Seeking Advice


I was born and raised in Nevada City! I absolutely loved growing up there- great schools, amazing river, awesome community...... (similar to Berkeley in many ways).

This Summer my husband and my 15 month old daughter are moving back to the foothills, for many of the same reasons you are..... If you have any questions, send me an e-mail. Athena


My husband lived in the Grass Valley area from 1998-2001, so my info may not reflect the Grass Valley/Nevada City of today. We moved so that we could buy a house, which we were able to do cheaply, but that's not necessarily the case anymore. It's cheaper than the Bay Area, but so many people have moved there from the Bay Area that prices have gotten pretty high.

What we liked: It's a beautiful area!! If you like outdoor activities, you'll love it. You can hike, swim in the river, boat, fish, etc. There were 4 natural health stores when we lived there, including the outlet for the Mountain People's Warehouse (one of the largest distributers of natural food). The town centers of both cities are great, with lots of cool shops. There were 4 movie theaters and a few live theaters. Lots of cool bands play at the bars. People are very nice. Families can afford to have one parent stay home wit the kids and not go broke. The public schools are really good, and you even have charter school choices (like Waldorf). There was a great resource for parents called Sierra Madres and Padres, which was like a small BPN. Our friends loved to have parties, potlucks, picnics, etc. Because of the elevation, there was often the situation where Grass Valley was dry, while Nevada City was covered in snow. Sometimes, we'd get a good snowfall in GV, too, which was fun. Our neighborhood, which was in town, was THE place to go on Halloween; people really get into it! The expensive restaurants were great! Things we didn't like: Most of the affordable restaurants were mediocre, at best, except for the breakfast places. Jobs are hard to come by, so a lot of people commute to Sacramento, which is an hour drive away. At the time, my husband and I didn't drink, have children, or go to church, so it was hard to meet people. I was working as a nanny at the time (the only one in town!), so all of my friends were Moms from the Sierra Madres playgroups. They're all great people, but it was hard to find someone to go to a movie or to see a band with. There was very little diversity in race, religion, and sexual orientation. There were no Mosques or Synagogues, but if you're a Christian, you'll be set. Grass Valley is overwhelmingly Christian. There is one of those phony pregnancy clinics where they bully women into not having abortions, and a LOT of the doctors in town are pro-lifers who donate their time to this ''clinic''. I was part of a group that was bringing a small Planned Parenthood Clinic to town (for pregnancy/disease testing and birth control only), and we had to meet in secrecy because we were getting threatened. Letters in the local newspaper were along the lines of ''we don't want anyone teaching our teenagers about birth control''. During the campaign to ''Save Marriage'', there were anti-gay marriage signs on MANY lawns and businesses. There is a liberal faction there, too, with 2 Ashrams in the area, but they were a very small minority.

When my husband and I decided that we wanted to start a family, we dicided to leave Grass Valley. For us, we wanted to raise a child where he/she didn't feel pressured to be Christian and straight. We needed to be closer to employment opportunities. We missed being able to eat out at decent restaurants. We miss the beautiful outdoors, but have never regretted our decision.

Remember, this was only our experience. Most of our friends that we met there are still loving it. I guess I'm just a lefty city girl at heart! dawn


I've lived in both Grass Valley and Nevada City when I was a new teacher. It's a fantastic area to live in. Feel free to contact me directly and hopefully I can help answer your questions. j9
We have good family friends who live in Nevada City. They relocated from the Bay Area (marin county) about 6 yrs ago and I know they love it there. I can provide you with their contact information if you would like to hear specifics. I am sure they would be happy to tell you all about their experience there. Gretchen Davidson Gretchen_davidson@yahoo.com gretchen
I lived there from 7th grade until I left for college, my mom still lives in Grass Valley, and my step-mom (my dad died a few years ago) still lives in Nevada City. I went to middle school at Magnolia and High School at Bear River, which by far I thought were better than Nevada Union High School (a much larger school), and all my friends from school are up there too. But, my comparisons came from a private school in Hawaii (where we had moved from). It will be a tough commute on your husband, but at two days a week, it's doable. It will be harder on you alone with 2 kids! Do it if you can! We'd love to move there (closer to family & friends), but a 5 day commute just isn't reality for my husband. You can contact me by e-mail if you want more, but pleased be warned I do not get to e-mail frequently. kukana
My parents relocated to GV/NC a few years ago and love it. It's very pleasant and more affordable than the bay area. They say that the schools have a great reputation, but I don't know first hand. My experience in the area is visiting every month or so, and feel that there are lots of interesting things to do and see. The politics seem a bit quirky, but you'll be used to that from Berkeley. :) Lori
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