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Old 12-04-2006, 06:50 PM
 
Location: Lincoln, NE
38 posts, read 285,742 times
Reputation: 70

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I’ve been living in “flyover” country for 9 years now and hate it. I moved to Nebraska from Chicago where I lived -- in the city, not the suburbs -- for 25 years. I absolutely loved Chicago but my husband’s business is in Lincoln, NE, so here I am. He may have an opportunity to sell his interest in the business and, if so, we could move. While I’d go back to Chicago in a heartbeat, he has no interest in it. Both of us love the west coast and could be happy living anywhere from San Diego to Vancouver. Given a choice, though, I’d prefer a moderate climate with 4 seasons but no snow, rainfall of more than 24 inches annually but less than 40, more sunshine than fog, and clean air. Clean air is a MUST as I have asthma.

Does Santa Rosa meet my criteria? If so, what’s it like living there? What kind of home can I expect to buy for under $500k? How’s the traffic? How are city services? Are there recreational and cultural amenities? Is there easy access to farmers’ markets and natural foods, particularly natural and organically grown meat and poultry? How easy is it to meet people and make new friends? Do people readily admit new members to their social groups or do they tend to be insular?

Any information from current or former residents would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 12-04-2006, 07:18 PM
 
1,313 posts, read 6,027,400 times
Reputation: 1993
Personally, I rather like the Santa Rosa area. All of Sonoma County, for that matter, is to-die-for gorgeous and has a benevolent three-season climate. I came close to buying a property in Santa Rosa last year, but I gotta tell you...this has to be one of the most overvalued real estate markets in the state. A half million will get you a starter home in a depressing neighborhood. My impression is based on prices from a year ago, and much has changed since then, but I meet a lot of people who are coming to southern Oregon from the Santa Rosa area because they want to be able to buy a house without out taking out an interest-only loan on a $1 million dollar ranch home. Additionally, the traffic on Hwy. 101 going toward the bay is gridlocked 18 hrs. a day.
All the amenities you talked about are there, but if I had the money, Santa Rosa wouldn't be at the top of the list. You could live in San Luis Obispo County for what it would cost you to live in Sonoma County.
Air quality is generally "moderate" with regards to ozone and particulates. Violations of federal air quality standards occur 20-30 times a year (http://ci.santa-rosa.ca.us/default.aspx?PageID=508) (broken link). Pristine air quality will not be found in inland locations where there is significant agricultural activity. You might want to look for a coastal or alpine climate if air quality is the limiting criterion.
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Old 12-04-2006, 08:34 PM
 
Location: Lincoln, NE
38 posts, read 285,742 times
Reputation: 70
Question Is My Quest For a Decent $500K House Hopeless

Steve97415,

Thanks for the info. In Lincoln you can buy a very nice house for $400-500k. A McMansion will only cost about $1mil. Is there any way to get a decent 2,500 SF house anywhere in Sonoma or Napa counties for about $500k? We could afford more but I wouldn’t want to sink all my money in a house.
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Old 12-08-2006, 08:08 AM
 
Location: state of enlightenment
2,404 posts, read 4,859,641 times
Reputation: 2482
Default build a home

Quote:
Originally Posted by AngelikaV View Post
Steve97415,

Thanks for the info. In Lincoln you can buy a very nice house for $400-500k. A McMansion will only cost about $1mil. Is there any way to get a decent 2,500 SF house anywhere in Sonoma or Napa counties for about $500k?
Yes, build it. I've seen some very cheap lots on realtor.com. You'll wind up in a very nice home for under $400k. If you build an AI Dome like I'm doing in Norwalk, CT it will also be virtually earthquake proof and very energy efficient. And you'll make a very nice profit when it's time to sell.
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Old 12-09-2006, 01:43 AM
 
1,313 posts, read 6,027,400 times
Reputation: 1993
Be suspicious of inexpensive land in California. Go to the city or county planning office and ask about building on the prospective lot before buying anything. There are a lot of "septic-orphan" lots in Humboldt, Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. They are beyond the legal limits of cities where sewer service is available, and they have failed the wet-weather perc test, so the county cannot grant septic approval for them (nor will they permit compost, incinerator or digester toilets). You can get the land...and it may be zoned residential...but you can't get a building permit for it. Lots of careless buyers would love to unload their orphaned lot on YOU...caveat emptor!
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Old 12-09-2006, 03:49 AM
 
Location: PDX
108 posts, read 440,743 times
Reputation: 77
You won't get anywhere close to your desired square footage for that price, but houses in CA are smaller than many other parts of the country. Napa is 1000 or so square feet for around your maximum price. Sonoma (town of) is more $. Santa Rosa I can't say for sure, but I'd guess it is about the same as Napa. Maybe more since it's a straight shot down the 101 to SF whereas Napa is a little out of the way. Neighborhoods can be iffy at these prices, too. So it (of course) would be hard to really know just by looking at listings online, unless you know the street/block/neighborhood. I don't mean iffy like full-on ghetto, but they can have some issues. The prices have softened up a bit, but not as much as they should.
Anyway, if you can find a nice one in a decent neighborhood, 1000 square feet isn't all that bad in CA. You can be outside most of the year, and that's a CA thing: small house, amazing outdoors.

Last edited by checar; 12-09-2006 at 04:00 AM.. Reason: clarity x 2
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