Living in Sebastopol, CA. Good for kids? Friendly? Housing market? (San Francisco: crime rates, how much)
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We had to take a local police officer with me to the schools to fight for my son's right not to be bullied by students and teachers alike.
We had to take out a restraining order against a neighbor and video her behavior for the police to defend our family from completely made up accusations.
The police in Sebastopol are great but the town itself is rude and most people just want you to leave them alone. You understand why after trying to make friends.
Even the homeless people in the area act too good to talk to you. I come from the mid-west where we generally help the homeless. It was interesting to come across homeless snobs.
It's the strangest mix of rudeness and elitism from people that are essentially middle class and living in an apple farm community.
Thankfully, the Sebastopol police seem to know most people living there are nut jobs. If not for them, our crazy neighbor might have caused us more problems.
If you choose to live in Sebastopol, you should expect to be surrounded by drug addicts, crazy people and retired rude snobby people with a school system that condones bullying.
After one year trying to find some kind of peace there, we moved and my son refers to the town as Hades.
We are educated information technology professionals and were very happy to move to Silicon Valley where the IQ and general quality of living increased dramatically.
Sebastopol is a town with no morals and less manners than any place I've ever lived. If you do move there, make sure you hire a good lawyer first and pay him or her a nice retainer. You will need their services eventually.
Last edited by smart-middle-class; 12-12-2011 at 12:45 PM..
Thanks for your interesting information. It is definately worrisome info! I'm sorry to hear that you had so many problems there. I am glad that you found a place that you like, smart-middle-class. What city did you move to? What have you heard about San Rafael or Mill Valley?
I have another thread with similar info. Somebody asked about schools in that thread. Since this thread is longer...I will add my response here too. Maybe I can get further info about schools in Mill Valley and Sebastopol, if I place my answer here too. Any info is helpful.
Hello, Ioreoea. Thanks so much for your post (from another thread). Good timing. I have not moved, yet. My husband and I will be moving either this fall or by Christmas 2012, if all goes well. He is thinking of taking business trips out there to check it out. I am still pretty serious about Mill Valley or Sebastopol. I have begun to check out schools as well. I am finishing up my Masters in Education, so now I am incredibly concerned about the quality of schools. I am in the middle of my thesis/research project, so I haven't had much time to do my searches, in regard to schools. I have a 5 year old who will be in first grade next fall. I have had to switch schools, here, where I live, because she is "bored" at her kindergarten and I can't keep her busy enough! She is quite bright and I decided to send her to an inquiry-based school, where there is more hands-on and less worksheets and memorizing. I now have to drive 30 minutes away to get her to her new school. It has made me think about schools in California.
I have taken a look at the Waldorf school in Santa Rosa. I just emailed the principal and the science teacher because I am very concerned that I am not seeing science in the curriculum in the early grades. (A big concern for me- a biology undergrad major!) I haven't received a response, yet. I am also concerned because the Waldorf school keeps the same teacher, through-out 8th grade. I don't like this idea at all. To be fair, I haven't done a lot of research on the Waldorf method, but I am interested, as I like the over-all idea. I have done a bit of research on Montessori. I am not so interested. I am not against public schools, but I would like to see inquiry-based learning (amongst other qualities) in all schools.
I have done (minimal) school research online, so far, and there isn't a lot of information online in regard to each school in the Mill Valley or Sebastopol area. I am probably going to have to visit schools, before moving permanently. It has become a huge concern for me as well. I haven't researched Waldorf schools a lot, but as mentioned, I like the general idea. I was going to check and see if there are any Waldorf schools in the Mill Valley area. I am definately looking for an inquiry-based learning school and a school that will allow my child to move at a faster pace. I also need a school that is focused on utilizing and fostering childrens' creativity and independent thinking. I am asking a lot, I know. Although, I think that this isn't impossible!
So, another thought- I liked the idea of Sebastopol because it seems "down-to-earth". I wanted my daughter to have a dog, maybe a horse, and of course, our cats. I wanted her to garden, get dirty, and understand where her food comes from. I wanted her to have chores and learn responsibility through hard work. (Not hard labor! Hee, hee.) So, I liked the idea of Sebastopol because I could purchase a little bit of property, along with a decent house. (Yes, I have had to change my idea of what "decent" means, though! I am getting there!) I feel like Sebastopol offers family value, down-to-earthness, and long time friendships. (But, I don't really know.) Now, my worries about Sebastopol...my daughter is already advancing quickly in gymnastics and ballet. Believe me...I am not a tiger mom. Far from it. I want her to have fun, but be able to reach her potential. I am concerned that there isn't an excellent school, particularly, gymnastics, which is close to Sebastopol. I honestly haven't checked this out, yet. I am not really concerned about ballet, as I don't really think it is the healthiest type of dance. (Not that gymnastics is really super safe, either!) But she has done incredibly well at both, so I have a feeling that she may want to be active in both. How far will I have to drive, if I live in Sebastopol? I do demand great schools, for both of these, for a handful of reasons (safety and stimulation). I really am not a snob, myself, but I've discovered that great teachers make the learning process a lot more interesting, for my kid. OK, so another concern about Sebastopol has been the community. Mostly, I have heard a lot of good, but just like you, I have heard the occasional bad. Probably this is normal, though, but still, I have to wonder...Why? What is going on here? Really...what is the community like for outsiders? Would we fit in? Would we have to search out our friends or do they readily come knocking at our door? Do they have a friendly feel or do they have a snobby feel? What do they demand of their public schools? Is Sebastopol really that great? My other concern is the drive. I may attend school in San Francisco for 4 years. I would have to drive to San Francisco 4 - 3 days out of the week for 4 years. It doesn't sound like I will appreciate the drive. This forces me into Mill Valley, if I am serious about my school. But, for some reason, I have nostalgic feelings for Sebastopol (maybe reminds me of growing up on "the" farm), so I am not ready to let go of Sebastopol, just yet.
Cons: More expensive for less house and property. No horse and maybe no gardening. Smaller space to live in and run around.
Pros: Nice area and close to San Francisco (school for me).
I don't know about schools in Mill Valley, except that I've heard, just like
Sebastopol, that public schools are pretty good. I don't know what that means, really. I can't get any info off of the schools' websites. They aren't really very detailed. I haven't checked, much into private schools, etiher. Would love to know if there is a Waldorf school in Mill Valley area. Additionally, I have to think that there is just about anything that I want for my daughter, if she wants to continue in a certain sport, we can find pretty good sport schools in that area. I want to get her involved in yoga, meditation, Aikido, etc, as well. Now, my major concerns about Mill Valley is that my daughter turn into a snobby kid, who doesn't live in a farm-like community, which offers the things I mentioned above. What are her influences, in Mill Valley? Of course, it is up to parents to parent, but a child's neighbors and community are just as important. I need her to be "grounded", not snobby and arrogant. (Not suggesting that Mill Valley is that way, but I see Sebastopol more in the country and perhaps more "farmish" and grounded.) How will my kid turn out, depending on the locations' influences? And, what about schools? I definately need some answers on schools in both areas!
So, my "reply" is actually filled with the same questions that you have! I also welcome any information, from other experienced Mill Valley or Sebastopol locals, particularly in regard to community and schools. If you make the move before I do, please let me know what you find out! Would love to hear about it! I'm certain others would too. When I move, I will definately follow-up on my 2-3 blogs! I'm certain others would like to know what I will find out, after moving!
I posted a small post on your other thread as well. I live in Mill Valley and have for two years. Here's my take as a newcomer to the bay area and MV in particular. I do have a child in the MV schools that previously attended private school.
Schools are a good size....I feel many of the private here are too small.
Compare schools on greatschools.org (test scores, size, etc)
Parents raise kids very healthy- limited sugar, no soft drinks, fresh foods if possible, etc. - schools only allow fruit for birthday celebrations for example
A lot of outdoor opportunities-running, hiking, biking, soccer, etc.
Houses are smaller...try to stay where you get sun but some tree shade because there is no A/C in the homes
If you have a child, getting to know people is easy. The younger your child; the easier.
Kiddo is a program that provides art, music, orchestra, and dance to all elementray schools.
Elem schools have vegetable gardens that the children participate in every other week.
If your looking for new homes, chain stores, fast food, mill valley is not the place for you.
Very laid back- not snobby.
Good luck... If you have specific questions, I would be happy to help.
Hello, Keshmi. Thanks so much for your awesome and detailed information. I have heard that MV has pretty decent public school systems, which is what is keeping me interested in MV. I have a 6 year old daughter that is an amazing handful. So much, that I have had to consider that she may be gifted, which I hate to mention, but it is what it is. I will likely have her tested so that I know what I am dealing with. If she is, then I have considered taking her to a private school in San Rafael, if I can eventually afford it. (We might have to sacrifice to afford it.) But, if we can't afford it, or if she doesn't make it into the school that we are looking at, then we will have to be in a public school. My best option, I think, is in Mill Valley. But, correct me if I am wrong. I am only beginning to look at schools, but now it has become a huge focus for us, due to my daughter's educational needs.
We just spent 10 days in the Marin area. I checked out the housing in Mill Valley. It is quite expensive, as expected. I loved it, though. I also was surprised that I liked downtown San Rafael too. If I can afford it, I will choose Mill Valley first, though. I was intrigued with the housing in MV (and parts of San Rafael). It felt like I was in and amongst a bunch of tree houses, in the hills. I couldn't believe how the houses could be build on such steep hills! It was amazing. Anyway, I loved the redwoods and I don't think that I would mind having a house in the shaded redwoods, as I don't mind the coolness or lack of sun, but my husband is worried about the lack of sun and the bugs, etc. What can you tell me about a house in the shaded redwoods? Pros, cons? How about on the hill tops? In the morning, if I have to drive my daughter to school in San Rafael, will it take a lot of time to wind down those hills because of morning traffic?
I have definately come to terms with the idea that, at first, as our company grows, I will likely live in a smaller house. Maybe forever. I have begun to look at the 1,700 to 2,400 square foot houses, which I realize are considered somewhat spacious in the Bay Area! And, yes, I have begun to look at the little crooked cabins and the "crappy houses" with a tad more endearment. It has taken me a year and a trip to the area to shift my perceptions of what a million dollar house looks like in Marin. It's been quite an eye opener for me. Anyway, I do love the Mill Valley area. It is as many people have described. I am leaning towards Mill Valley because of the people that live there, the schools, and the advantages that my daughter will gain by living there. I also wish to consider law school, so planting myself in MV will give me that option, since driving is closer. I would, though, love to hear what people have to say about San Rafael? I feel more at home with MV, but what about San Rafael? The schools make me nervous. Any thoughts?
Keshmi, I love that you mention that it will be easy to get to know people with young children. If we go to school in San Rafael, I was a little afraid that my daughter wouldn't have friends in MV. What do you think? Are parents too busy to get to know us, or do moms have time for occasional play dates? Are parents open to this? MV is so full of houses and the city seems quite community oriented. It seemed encouraging. I really would love to be a part of a community and I would like my daughter to grow up in a community. What would that be like in MV and what would that be like in San Rafael?
I have many other thoughts and questions, but I will end here for now. I will have to write more, when time allows. Any thoughts on these questions, though, are much appreciated, from anybody! Thanks so much!
We have redwoods on our property and sun in the back. We have sun from morning until 4ish in the summer, less in winter. The front stays shaded with afternoon filtered sun. During rainy season (feb-apr approx) the shade does make it cooler, but during the warm months (aug-oct) it keeps the house at the perfect temperature. The temperature the rest of the year stays around 65-70'. You can plan on jeans and a tshirt with a possible sweater/ sweatshirt most of the year.
The farther you are from the highway, up mt. tam or not, you can add up minutes quickly. From town square area, it takes about 7-9 minutes to get to the hwy in morning commute traffic.
I know this may come across poorly when written, but I do want to mention it. MV and Tiburon are not very diverse. San Rafael is definitely more so. Considering how diverse San Francisco is you would think that would not be the case, but it is.
I have heard good things about Marin Country Day School, and they have a beautiful campus. It is pricey. Worth a look at least.
Thank you for your additional info, Keshmi. I appreciate it. When I visited MV, it was quite obvious that it was mostly white. I noticed this in the online statistics as well. And, yes, San Rafael is much more mixed, on the stats too. When I noticed that, when I visited, it didn't bother me, but I did worry a little, as to how I would be treated by the community, as I look Latino to some, but I am half Japanese. I love the Latino culture and the people, I just don't love how they are often treated by people of our country, particulary where I live, in Utah. It has been difficult for me, so I am sensitive to the issue. This is just something I will have to test out, when I get there, I guess. I don't imagine that I will have many problems, primarily because San Francisco is close and it is quite liberal. People, I would think, would be much more accepting because of this introduction to mixed cultures, etc. Let's hope! It's the major reason why I am trying to get out of Utah. Worse than the discrimination because of race, is the discrimination because of religion. Because we aren't Mormon, we aren't accepted. It's rough. I am hoping MV doesn't have any of these issues, although perhaps there are other issues? Anybody care to bring them up? I am curious. (In San Rafael too.) Thanks, all, for your thoughts!
"Issues" is an interesting issue in my mind ...... I've been trying to think of any kind of person that the communities in the Bay Area would have issues with ...... not too many at all, though I can't say specifically about Mill Valley. In general there might be a few issues with the aggressive proselytizing type of conservative/fundamenatlist, though there's high respect for entrepreneurship which is a different matter. It's not that big of a deal even to be a conservative as long as one is quiet about it. So there's that, and child molestation is looked down on, and violent crime to some extent. That's all I can think of.
The only real issues in the entire Bay Area are mainly financial ones, can you afford to live in a low-crime area. It seems to me that's about all that keeps creative, liberal, loving people from moving there from around the US by the bazillions to settle.
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