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Old 08-16-2011, 11:27 AM
 
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May have to relocate from Southern California (Irvine) to San Francisco. Focusing heavily on Mill Valley or Orinda for the close commute to downtown (Market St), good schools and what appear to be family-oriented cities. Walnut Creek and Danville are getting a little to far out so not considering these areas at this point. Will plan on renting a home for the intermediate/near-term for $4-5K/month give or take. We are 44 years in age and have two daughters 7 and 11.

Please share your comparative thoughts on the key differences between the two cities focusing on family and kids, typical neighbors, ease to meet other families, and perhaps touch on weather and amenities. We're politically moderate, perhaps slightly left of center and into sports, education and outdoor activities.
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Old 08-16-2011, 12:43 PM
 
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
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They are both excellent but I prefer Orinda.

Orinda has some of the best schools in the entire state and it has its own BART station which basically makes your commute into the City a relative breeze.

Like Mill Valley, Orinda is heavily wooded, very upscale(but in my opinion more family oriented than MV) and Orinda has decent retail and good dining options for a city its size. Plus, you are directly on the other side of the hill from excellent cultural and culinary offerings in Berkeley and Oakland as well as the city itself-----yet being in Orinda, you feel totally removed from urban life, even though its 5-10 minutes away.

Being on ther other side of the hill gives you a little warmer and sunnier climate-warmer than Santa Monica but nowhere near as hot as the San Fernando Valley.

Mill Valley is actually similar but artsier than Orinda, has proximity to other Marin towns and is in the heart of Marin County, but the commute is not as convenient if your going to take Public Transit.

The best thing to do would be to visit both and see which one suits you.

Also, neighboring Lafayette also has a BART station and it is larger than Orinda and has more amenities including a pretty vibrant downtown/retail area. Its also worth checking out as it also has top tier schools and easy access to SF.
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Old 08-17-2011, 03:14 AM
 
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Orinda is a much easier to commute to Market Street if you take the BART.

Politically center to left-of-center could get you considered a right-winger in Mill Valley. I would call myself center-right and I can have a conversation about current affairs in Orinda. In Mill Valley, it's more like a battle.
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Old 08-17-2011, 10:33 AM
 
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If I could slide in a quick question on Orinda:

How hot do the summers get there?

also...how long to downtown SF via BART?

Thanks!
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Old 08-17-2011, 10:50 AM
 
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OakAve2OakLand View Post
If I could slide in a quick question on Orinda:

How hot do the summers get there?

also...how long to downtown SF via BART?

Thanks!
As far as summer, I'll say low 80s to low 90s(on an unusally hot day)--the temperature difference between the Oakland side and Orinda side of the Caldecott Tunnel in the summer is amazing. When I was a kid, I used to go with my dad to his contracting jobs in Lamorinda and I remember coming home in the evening, its warm to hot in Orinda and when you get to the other side of the tunnel in Oakland, you instantly feel a cool blast of ocean air---feels like the AC was instantly flipped on-OUTSIDE. LOL.

The commute into the City via BART should take about 30 minutes.
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Old 08-17-2011, 10:57 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Orinda is about 7-10 degrees warmer than Oakland in the summer (think high 70s, low 80s). The BART ride is about 30 minutes.
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Old 08-17-2011, 10:57 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 18Montclair View Post
As far as summer, I'll say low 80s to low 90s(on an unusally hot day)--the temperature difference between the Oakland side and Orinda side of the Caldecott Tunnel in the summer is amazing.
Zoiks. I think I'll do my best then to stay west of the Caldecott Tunnel. Thanks for the info.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 18Montclair View Post
...when you get to the other side of the tunnel in Oakland, you instantly feel a cool blast of ocean air---feels like the AC was instantly flipped on-OUTSIDE. LOL.
Now THIS sounds good!
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Old 08-17-2011, 11:19 AM
 
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It does sound like Orinda is the better fit for your family, although I personally think Orinda is a little boring (I don't have kids though). I don't think the weather in either place is that different. Orinda can get hotter than Mill Valley, but being just past the Oakland hills, it does get a good bit of morning marine layer spilling just over the ridge, and although it gets warm in the summer, it's often a little breezy and it's still about ten degrees cooler than Walnut Creek, 10-15 minutes to the east. Growing up in WC, we'd visit friends in Moraga in the summers, and we could never have dinner outdoors, because it would always cool down so much by sunset (good for A/C bills I suppose), while in WC, we often ate outside.

Orinda is definitely more politically moderate if you're coming from Irvine, whereas Mill Valley is rather strongly liberal. Orinda used to be a very Republican area actually. Besides proximity to SF and Oakland, you'll also be close to downtown Lafayette and downtown Walnut Creek, both of which have tons of nice restaurants and, in the case of WC, big movie theaters and upscale shopping (Nordstrom, Tiffany, Neimans, Cheesecake Factory, that sort of thing -- the things you might be used to in OC). So it's kind of got access to the best of both worlds.
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Old 08-17-2011, 01:59 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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I like the east bay: better commute options to SF, good access to interesting restaurants/nightlife. Orinda would be a good fit for you.
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Old 08-17-2011, 02:01 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OakAve2OakLand View Post
Zoiks. I think I'll do my best then to stay west of the Caldecott Tunnel. Thanks for the info.
I go east of the tunnel when I feel like we have been missing summer too many days.
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