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Old 11-04-2013, 07:07 PM
 
10 posts, read 21,508 times
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Hi,

my handle "movingtoqueencity" was motivated by searching for info about Charlotte NC 1+ years ago, when we moved from Cincinnati OH. Received great advice at that time and hope to be as lucky now.

Spouse is being interviewed for a job in Watsonville. We are a family of 5: husband and myself plus 16yo, 5yo, 1yo.all girls (+dog).

Like I said, we were really lucky when we moved to Charlotte and I hope to find the same things i did here in this new area...these things being:

1. great neighbors- i want open, friendly people that would welcome us to the neighborhood
2. great schools (because of age span it would have to be HS, ES and preschool- is montessori to much to ask for?! an ES IB program?)
(we certainly prefer public schools but could consider alternatives)
3. good dance studio for 16 yo . that does hip hop/jazz AND pointe/classical
4. great YMCA or the like (i LOVE LOVE LOVE the Y in CLT- started doing triathlons there and found a great group of people to befriend) close by
5. preferrably short commute for my husband (30 min. max)

We are open to all areas north and south of Watsonville. We would most probably rent but if we *find* the right house we would consider buying.
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:59 PM
 
Location: Monterey County, CA
5,480 posts, read 12,281,678 times
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Hm, you have a lot of requirements. But I guess its good to know what you want, right? Have you ever visited the area? How much have you read about it?

I am not sure how much or little you really know about Watsonville and the surrounding areas in general. So I'll start with the very basics which are the most important - the schools. Watsonville itself and much of the surrounding area have very poor performing schools. These areas tend to represent the lower end of the California school system which focus a lot of no child left behind, ESL, overcrowding problems and other issues. These towns nearby (Watsonville, Castroville, Aromas, Salinas, Gilroy etc...) are primarily farming communities. There are gang and other crime issues to deal with as well. Take a look at this school performance map and zoom into the areas in question: California School Performance Maps

Based on what you've described your best bet would be to consider moving to Aptos or Scotts Valley. They have some of the best public schools in that vicinity. I don't know about the particulars such as dance lessons, etc... But those are minor issues compared to schools and the high cost of housing in the nicer areas such as Aptos and Scotts Valley. Do you have a housing budget and are you aware of CA prices?

I've seen how these things go for families such as yours moving from places like NC. Housing sticker shock is followed by education system shock, followed by questioning the reasons to move, then trying to somehow reconcile one's desires with the realities of the area. We love living in Monterey with our family. But it does come with some rather large caveats like accepting the high cost of housing.

Derek

Last edited by MtnSurfer; 11-04-2013 at 08:20 PM..
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Old 11-04-2013, 09:00 PM
 
10 posts, read 21,508 times
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Thanks for your prompt reply.
Yes, I am aware of house prices. I know that the house I have now in Charlotte would probably be around 1.5 mil in California, if not more (and thus out of our monetary capabilities). We are willing/ able to downsize and adjust to the realities of a different city in terms of real estate. This would not be the first time, overseas included. . That's why neighborhood is probably more important than house (although I know they probably go hand in hand).
I did see the map that you mentioned with the school info and saw a couple of places that were possibilities. Definitely Scotts Valley and Aptos but also Toro Park and some in Santa Cruz. I was wondering which way traffic heads so that my husband can avoid nightmare commutes. Also I don't know if any of these neighborhood/areas are more or less uptight or more or less welcoming... The thing is I had a rough experience when I moved to Cincinnati, no friends, not even acquaintances (I only had my oldest when I moved there an volunteered at her school and the other parents barely said hi to me... I went there 2/3 times per week, a neighbor came by and introduced himself 3 years after we had moved in to the house in front of his... In Charlotte I' VE had the opposite experience, people have been super welcoming and kind. That is what I am looking for...)
I have only been to the area once about 3 years ago and did not look at it from a possible relocation point of view. So I don't really know... The wife of a colleague of my husbands' got relocated there from Cincinnati (she is also in Charlotte now.). She chose to live in Carmel - a smaller older rented home, very different from the one she had either in Cincinnati or I'm Charlotte ... She was in Carmel and she loved it. Her so went to public school and she made friends. That's about all I know. But I think Carmel is too far from Watsonville... Probably 1 hour commute, no?
Thanks again for you input
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Old 11-04-2013, 09:14 PM
 
10 posts, read 21,508 times
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One more thing... and this is being honest with myself as well... i do realize that saying is one thing and living is another totally different and that the adjustment might be tougher. I am counting on a good offer from the hiring company in order to consider the move... it would be a huge opportunity for my husband and a big step up professionally so i am hoping that previous experiences moving from one place to the next will help us adjust in Ca...

that being said, that's why i am looking at what would be the best place for us, to see if we could manage it $$. May i ask what you would consider an appropriate percentage of a budget be allotted to housing in the area?
to see if we can find a place that meets our families needs and that is 'affordable'' . there should be a familiarization trip down the road (soon) so i want to know areas what i should target.
thanks,
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Old 11-04-2013, 09:48 PM
 
Location: Monterey County, CA
5,480 posts, read 12,281,678 times
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Much of what I'll say regarding your specific questions about the community will be *generally speaking* since I don't live in them but know folks who do. The friendliness of any particular neighborhood is the hardest to quantify as it can vary literally street by street depending on the year and who those neighbors are. But generally the South is known to be more hospitable in that regard. While we've talked with our various neighbors and spent time with some who happened to go to our church we never received the *welcome mat* of baked cookies, come on over dinners, etc... The folks are generally more reserved than that. But we are from California and used to this general desire for more privacy. Ppl tend to warm up once you get to know them more.

Aptos would be your best bet hands down in terms of commutes. I think Scotts Valley next. Toro Park is actually a really nice community, one which we have considered buying in. Some friends of ours with kids live there and really like it. The schools are good thru middle school. High school is another story with Salinas High. But we and they both homeschool so that is not an issue for us. Private schools are pretty pricey in these areas but of course an option as well. Salinas has a YMCA that I'm aware of. Carmel has the best schools overall. Many families sacrifice home size for the Carmel school district. But it is too far to drive for your husband and for that reason I would not consider it.

I don't have a specific number in mind for housing as a % of income. I think this is too highly dependent on the families needs, goals, etc... But I will say that in CA ppl can become way overextended in terms of their house payment or rent when compared to the rest of the nation. So that is something to be careful of. You really need to look at your own budget and what you are comfortable with in terms of a ceiling. Of course if this is a good career move for your husband it may be worth downsizing for a season to allow him to grow and all eventually benefit from that growth, even if that means some shorter term creature comfort sacrifices.

Derek
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Old 11-05-2013, 10:52 AM
 
643 posts, read 743,464 times
Reputation: 598
Quote:
Originally Posted by MtnSurfer View Post
Hm, you have a lot of requirements. But I guess its good to know what you want, right? Have you ever visited the area? How much have you read about it?

I am not sure how much or little you really know about Watsonville and the surrounding areas in general. So I'll start with the very basics which are the most important - the schools. Watsonville itself and much of the surrounding area have very poor performing schools. These areas tend to represent the lower end of the California school system which focus a lot of no child left behind, ESL, overcrowding problems and other issues. These towns nearby (Watsonville, Castroville, Aromas, Salinas, Gilroy etc...) are primarily farming communities. There are gang and other crime issues to deal with as well. Take a look at this school performance map and zoom into the areas in question: California School Performance Maps

Based on what you've described your best bet would be to consider moving to Aptos or Scotts Valley. They have some of the best public schools in that vicinity. I don't know about the particulars such as dance lessons, etc... But those are minor issues compared to schools and the high cost of housing in the nicer areas such as Aptos and Scotts Valley. Do you have a housing budget and are you aware of CA prices?

I've seen how these things go for families such as yours moving from places like NC. Housing sticker shock is followed by education system shock, followed by questioning the reasons to move, then trying to somehow reconcile one's desires with the realities of the area. We love living in Monterey with our family. But it does come with some rather large caveats like accepting the high cost of housing.

Derek
Um are you from watsonville or have you lived there? Im born and raised in watsonville and was there until I graduated high school. Im not not too far away in MOnterey, but watsonville is where my parents are and it will always be my home. That being said Watsonville is a great, sleepy, at times boring place. It has a ton of personality and lots of nice people there. It is a primarily Mexican ag town, but its not a bad place. As far as education, yes the schools arent the best, but they arent the worst. I went to public schools in watsonville then high school at Aptos High and I did alright. So to the OP, watsonville is a great spot! Aptos isnt too bad either, but Scotts Valley is blah. I wouldnt recommend Scotts Valley.
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Old 11-05-2013, 03:09 PM
 
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Scotts Valley will require a commute on highway 1 where the traffic really sucks. I recommend you stick to Aptos, the heavy traffic generally peters out by State Park Dr (if you are coming from Santa Cruz). I love the Corralitos area, inland from Aptos.

The schools in Aptos are good, Watsonville has plenty of good private schools in the area, if you can afford it. Watsonville actually has less crime than Santa Cruz.

Most housing in Aptos sells for about 600,000+, rent will probably be 2,500 to 3,000 for a SFH with 3+ bedrooms (a condo/townhome might go for less).

For a 30 minute commute, you're going to want to stick with Aptos. Heading south into Seaside/Sand City on a dangerous 2 lane road will take closer to an hour.

Last edited by zombocom; 11-05-2013 at 03:18 PM..
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Old 11-05-2013, 07:30 PM
 
Location: Monterey County, CA
5,480 posts, read 12,281,678 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zombocom View Post
Scotts Valley will require a commute on highway 1 where the traffic really sucks. I recommend you stick to Aptos, the heavy traffic generally peters out by State Park Dr (if you are coming from Santa Cruz). I love the Corralitos area, inland from Aptos.

The schools in Aptos are good, Watsonville has plenty of good private schools in the area, if you can afford it. Watsonville actually has less crime than Santa Cruz.

Most housing in Aptos sells for about 600,000+, rent will probably be 2,500 to 3,000 for a SFH with 3+ bedrooms (a condo/townhome might go for less).

For a 30 minute commute, you're going to want to stick with Aptos. Heading south into Seaside/Sand City on a dangerous 2 lane road will take closer to an hour.
Yep, this is probably the best advice. Stick to Aptos unless there are very compelling reasons to pick Scotts Valley or Toro Park over Aptos.

Derek
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Old 11-05-2013, 07:45 PM
 
Location: Monterey County, CA
5,480 posts, read 12,281,678 times
Reputation: 5808
Quote:
Originally Posted by California831 View Post
Um are you from watsonville or have you lived there? Im born and raised in watsonville and was there until I graduated high school. Im not not too far away in MOnterey, but watsonville is where my parents are and it will always be my home. That being said Watsonville is a great, sleepy, at times boring place. It has a ton of personality and lots of nice people there. It is a primarily Mexican ag town, but its not a bad place. As far as education, yes the schools arent the best, but they arent the worst. I went to public schools in watsonville then high school at Aptos High and I did alright. So to the OP, watsonville is a great spot! Aptos isnt too bad either, but Scotts Valley is blah. I wouldnt recommend Scotts Valley.
That's fine and good for you, seriously. But to be fair you did go to HS in Aptos which is a better school than Watsonville HS. I base my overall view of the schools on their test scores along with a teacher I know who taught there. If you look at the school performance map I linked to the low statistical averages are shown. But that's not to say someone can't go to a generally low performing school and do well, beating the odds. I know ppl like that who have attended schools in Salinas, Marina, King City, etc... who did fine. But most families looking for 'good schools' like the OP do care about their overall performance along with other known issues.

Derek
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Old 11-06-2013, 03:13 PM
 
Location: Anaheim
1,893 posts, read 3,481,592 times
Reputation: 1232
Quote:
Originally Posted by California831 View Post
Um are you from watsonville or have you lived there? Im born and raised in watsonville and was there until I graduated high school. Im not not too far away in MOnterey, but watsonville is where my parents are and it will always be my home. That being said Watsonville is a great, sleepy, at times boring place. It has a ton of personality and lots of nice people there. It is a primarily Mexican ag town, but its not a bad place. As far as education, yes the schools arent the best, but they arent the worst. I went to public schools in watsonville then high school at Aptos High and I did alright. So to the OP, watsonville is a great spot! Aptos isnt too bad either, but Scotts Valley is blah. I wouldnt recommend Scotts Valley.
How can someplace be boring and yet have a ton of personality? I guess it's just like some people at different times?
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