Jewish commmunity and quality of life in Sacramento (Arden-Arcade) (Carmichael: middle-class, cliquey)
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I'm sorry to use my first post to ask for help, but hopefully I'll be able to pay back your kindness in the future.
I'm a European-born Israeli scientist in my early thirties who is strongly thinking of moving to Sacramento from Manhattan. I realize that Sac is not NY, but I work so much that I don't have the chance to use all of the amenities that Manhattan has to offer anyway.
Basically, I'd like to be within walking distance to an Orthodox synagogue, and google maps reveals that most of the Jewish community seems to be located in the area enclosed by fulton, hurley, watt, and northdrop avenues, respectively. The closest area name I was able to spot is Arden-Arcade.
Can someone please give me an idea of what the general area is like? I see that there is a Whole Foods, some yoga studios, gyms, and a martial arts studio within driving distance, so it can't be that bad, right?
On the other hand, I was looking at reviews for some of the apartment complexes, and they read like horror stories: break ins, drug use, lack of cleanliness, etc... Are the apartment complexes safe there?
Socioeconomically I consider myself middle-class and I could afford to rent a house while I decide if I like the area, but I don't want to deal with the upkeep and the unused space. Can anyone shed some light on the rental situation over there?
Thanks so much for any input!
p.s. wikipedia seems to have decent things to say about the area, so I'm crossing my fingers
The Wikipedia entry covers some of it--the area is an unincorporated portion of Sacramento County, primarily postwar suburbs and shopping centers built on top of former farmland. This makes it part of what some call the "uncity," a cluster of unincorporated suburban communities that surround the city of Sacramento to the east and south. To give you some idea of their scale, there are about 450,000 people in the city of Sacramento, and about the same number in the "uncity"--if Sacramento annexed these adjacent unincorporated areas, our population would reach nearly a million!
There was a recent effort to incorporate Arden-Arcade into its own city, and there are occasional rumblings about annexation to the city of Sacramento. Because Arden-Arcade is not incorporated, it depends on police, fire, sewer and other services provded by Sacramento County. Because Sacramento County is in very dire economic straits (including layoffs of sheriff's deputies) these services have suffered. The area was traditionally considered a rather comfortable suburb, but in recent years it has gone downhill--I have seen many shopping centers become more vacant or even demolished.
Like most of the Sacramento metropolitan area, these are low-density, car-centric suburbs. Public transit is limited to the occasional bus on major streets, most of which stop running after about 6:00 PM.
Apartments are kind of hit and miss. Many are becoming more dilapidated. Many apartment complexes along Howe Avenue are housing for college students at Sacramento State, and college housing tends to have a lot of parties. If you prefer an apartment, look for newer complexes with higher rents. Houses definitely mean upkeep: these are postwar ranch houses, which means big lots and big lawns.
The neighborhood just to the east, Carmichael, is also in an unincorporated area but a bit more affluent. To the south and west are portions of the city of Sacramento that are comparatively affluent, including Arden Oaks (postwar big houses, some with horse property) and East Sacramento (pre-war streetcar suburb that no longer has a streetcar) and Campus Commons/Sierra Oaks (lots of CSUS students/faculty but less cheap and therefore less rowdy than the apartments up Howe), that are more of the target market of that "Whole Paycheck."
The oldest Jewish congregation in the city is the Temple B'nai Israel, which is in Land Park and dates back to the Gold Rush, but I think it is a Reform congregation so that probably isn't much help.
You might find the following useful. Attached is a story about the formation of an Eruv in Sacramento as well as a google map of it. You might have to zoom in on the google map a few times for the map to work.
In setting up the Eruv, they tried to pick areas with diverse incomes, so that Jews of differing incomes wouldn't be priced out of Eruv. If you look at tab on the left side of this link, you can also find maps of the area by educational attainment, race and host of other factors.
Generally the areas of Eruv East of Watt Avenue are wealthier and more owner occupied and are in a neighborhood called Arden Park. Towards the south of the Eruv, you start heading toward a neighborhood called Sierra Oaks named after the boundaries of local elementary school. The local elementary school is strong and so the parts of the Eruv in the attendance district for the Elementary school are more desirable.
In Manhattan, housing is very expensive and rent control is common, so people of all walks of life tend to rent fairly small spaces and often never buy anything. In this area, there is no rent control and housing overall is much cheaper. In this area how you control your rent is by buying your own home. As a result those who have the means to do so are generally more inclined here to buy something. The market for upscale rentals is comparatively smaller and the market for upscale rental apartments even smaller. A large part of the potential upscale apartment rental market is displaced by people who decide to rent single family homes in nicer neighborhoods instead. The nearest upscale rental condos are in Campus Commons or Wyndgate, but both of those communities are outside the Eruv.
I think your best bet would be to rent a small single family home in Arden Park of in Sierra Oaks with a gardener if you don't want to do upkeep.
There is a Jewish synagogue in Carmichael on El Camino Avenue, really not that far from the ones in the Arden-Arcade area. There is a very nice apartment complex next door, and a large number of nice townhouses.
I looked on the google map for all the orthodox synagogues in the Arden-Arcade area and although I was born and raised in that area (Morse Ave.) I wouldn't live there now. Northrup/Hurley seems a bit nicer, but there's so many apartment complexes in that area now, many with problems.
Thank you to everyone for the thoughtful and informative replies.
I'm in an oddball situation. I don't feel comfortable renting a single family house, because I don't have a lot of stuff and would dislike wasting money for unused space and upkeep, yet I can't envision moving into one of these problematic apartment buildings.
Thanks so much edwardius for the eruv links: I'm rather impressed that they have one!
I think my best bet is just to visit and try to figure out what to do.
For the most part the neighborhood you are looking at isn't that bad. Its no worse than midtown in terms of crime and its a lot better in terms of noise. I dated a woman who lived in both Woodlake and Timberlake when I spent the night there, I never heard anything in either place other than the waterfalls in Timberlake.
In terms of sketchy neighborhoods, the downtown grid is much worse than this neighborhood. There is nothing in this neighborhood that compares with Alkalai Flat or Southside Park. In terms of safety this neighborhood is orders of magnitude better than the downtown grid. The closest area at Alkalai Flat levels of sketchy neighborhood, is in the area behind the Arden Fair Mall, between Arden Way, El Camino Way, Ethan Way and Business 80. That neighborhood is probably is as sketchy as Alkalai Flat, but that also isn't where you are looking for housing.
What the neighborhood has is rental units.
In general people who rent in Sacramento are much poorer and less educated than people who own there own place. In this region, there isn't much of a market for high end rental apartments. As you go up the income scale, the rental market shifts from apartments to duplexs and single family homes offered up for rent. These are prefered because they offer you covered parking in garages, more privacy and reduce/get rid of shared walls.
But not all single family homes are big. You can find single family homes with less than 1000 sqft and a gardener.
I suspect you would be well served by a condo in Campus Commons, Timberlake, Woodlake, or Wyndgate (off American River Drive), or a small home in for rent in Sierra Oaks or Arden Park.
Hi We just moved to Sac in August- We don't exactly hate it but it is not the most spiritual community- we came here because it was less expensive than the BAy area-well I am here because we hate it and want to move- we are a family with young kids- the observant community is finniky- at best not to fun or friendly kinda cliquey- not so deep in torah or simchas- come for an extended visit-hard to get to know a place by one or 2 visits we thought is seemed great-Where in Ny are you from? anywhere else you like outta CA -the economy is broke here!
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