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Old 04-24-2010, 09:02 AM
21 posts, read 60,358 times
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I've been researching a place to move to for a little while now and some people have recently told me to check out Sacramento. I've never been there but I've read many of the threads here back about 10 pages and have gotten a general idea (I think). But some things I'd like to get cleared up:

1. I'm looking for someplace semi-urban. I'd like to be able to walk (or bike) to shops, restaurants, markets, cafes, etc. But not super-urban (high-rises, etc.). Also, I'm not into tons of night-life, bars and clubs, but it's nice to have options at 9 or 10pm instead of sitting at home. (And actually, I'd prefer to avoid heavy party (college nightlife) areas.) Does the "downtown" or "midtown" area of Sacramento fit the bill? Are there other areas/neighborhoods?

2. Are there areas/neighborhoods where it's possible to live (comfortably) without a car for day-to-day needs? I have a car, but if given the chance, I'd prefer not to use it on a day-to-day basis - only for longer trips such as to the mountains or occasional "big-box" or "big-item" shopping.

3. How bike-friendly is the area? I realize it's not Davis, but is there any bike infrastructure at all? Is any (more) on the immediate horizon?

4. How big the the farmer's market, local and organic food scenes?

5. I'm a little fuzzy on what exactly certain neighborhoods encompass. For example, is midtown the entire area inside of the river, hwy 50 and Cap City Fwy? (I'm using google maps to try to figure out where the neighborhoods are.)

6. How close is Sacramento to hiking and mountain biking? I do see that the foothills to the east start at Lake Folsom.

Just some background: I'm a single guy, 36, and I work from home. I've previously lived in Rochester (NY), San Diego and Boulder (CO) and am currently back in Rochester.

One of the other places I'm considering moving is back to San Diego, probably to the North Park, University Heights area. But I'd prefer somewhere new (to me).

I really liked Boulder, but I'd like something bigger and more diverse. Plus, it was a bit too far left for me. (I'm left-leaning, but closer to middle of the road.)

I've thought about the Bay Area, but it's SO expensive and I think it's too "frenetic" for me. I like urban, but mid and small city feel.

Thanks for any feedback!

Last edited by GregX999; 04-24-2010 at 09:12 AM..
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Old 04-24-2010, 01:29 PM
Location: SW MO
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It sounds like midtown bordering on downtown Sacramento is precisely what you have in mind.
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Old 04-24-2010, 01:48 PM
Location: Sacramento
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This map usually helps.

By narrowest definition Midtown is 15th to 29th and I to R, but most people include the surrounding neighborhoods in their idea of Midtown which are similar but generally more residential.

Bike lanes are throughout Midtown but suddenly disappear when you cross 15th Street heading Downtown.

Natural food scene is pretty big here, but so are burgers and steaks. It's very easy to grow a small vegetable garden. In summer there are farmer's markets nearly everyday. Year round there is the big one under the freeway at W and 6th Sunday mornings. There is also a Saturday one off the light rail line in Rancho Cordova. The natural foods co-op is on 30th and S, so accessible to most of Midtown.

If you can get a job within 5 miles of your home, you won't need a car. If you have a job Downtown, it's easier to leave the car and take light rail, or bike, or walk.
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Old 04-24-2010, 02:50 PM
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I'd agree sounds like midtown is a good place for you. You're about 20-25 minutes from decent mountain biking at Lake Folsom and 35-40 to Salmon Falls which is better. Auburn has excellent mountain biking and is around 40 minutes away. There's a pretty big mtb scene out here.
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Old 04-24-2010, 06:00 PM
Location: Happiness is found inside your smile :)
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Midtown! Of course! www.midtowngrid.com

The one thing you need to know if Sac Valley is a "commuters" area. Most people don't have the luck to work where they live and I'd say close to 85-90% of people must commute for their jobs, in a car.

I lived in Midtown nearly 10 years, and never worked in Downtown.
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Old 04-24-2010, 07:06 PM
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Midtown Monthly is another good source for information about Midtown and nearby neighborhoods that wish they were Midtown.

Now that the warm months are on us, there are many farmer's markets through the week in addition to the big one next to Southside Park:
Certified Farmers' Markets Times and Locations

We don't have a permanent public farmer's market anymore (we did until about the 1980s) but these are pretty convenient if you work downtown and can run over on your lunchbreak. We're the center of the agricultural breadbasket of the western United States, so we tend to have pretty good produce here.

The area within the river, the railroad tracks, and roughly 50 and Cap City Freeway is the "old city" or, as the kids these days call it, "the grid." I'm not sure when the term "midtown" came into play, but people tend to describe any residential area in that area, and some just outside of it, as Midtown. It's kind of like how people near Beverly Hills have taken to calling their neighborhood "Beverly-adjacent."

This area is pretty much the only part of the region where you can get by without a car most of the time, at least if you work downtown. Bike lanes are spotty but they exist, there are several bike shops and bike co-ops, public transit is halfway decent at least during the day. A car is still useful for certain things like visiting big-box stores or going to parts of the suburbs where public transit doesn't go if you don't feel like biking, but it isn't 100% required to survive.

If you don't want to be too near the bars and clubs, stay at least 2 blocks away from 21st Street or J Street, or R Street around 15th. There are a lot of small neighborhood bars scattered throughout the neighborhood, some are pretty quiet while others are not. Typically places within 2 or so blocks of the club-district streets get very parked up at night, and drunken revelers noisily file back to their cars and drunk-drive home at 2 AM. But it is nice being able to walk to see a live band or go dancing.

The foothills are a long way off, but there are some great nearby bike trails along the American and Sacramento rivers, and Sacramento's central city is a fun place to walk around--the streets are tree-lined and if you like old houses it's a real treat. Plus you can stop for coffee if you get tired--you pretty much can't swing a dead cat in the central city without knocking over some hipster's latte.

Politically, Sacramento is a conservative sort of left-leaning. Mayors over the past 30 years have all been Democrats, including one African American, one Mexican American, one Jewish and two women. The city consistently votes Democratic, but pretty much all the surrounding communities are moderately to strongly Republican. Culturally, Sacramento is very diverse. Our old Japanese and Chinese neighborhoods were demolished, but the southern half of Sacramento has a very large Asian population, including enough Vietnamese that a section of Stockton Boulevard was officially declared a "Little Saigon" business district. Midtown also has a large gay & lesbian community, centered around the nightclubs around the 20th & K-21st & L block.
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Old 04-24-2010, 07:59 PM
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Wow, thanks for these great replies guys!

Mr. Ozo - I like fresh fruits and veggies AND burgers and steaks too - so that sounds good to me! And that map helps quite a bit.

Beolin - That's great to hear about the mountain biking, thanks!

CityGirl72 - Thanks for the link.

wburg - Lots of good info and links! I've also been following another thread, "My Vision for Sacramento" - I like what you and kim racer have to say. Do you think Sac. is going in that direction?(If I move there, maybe we can meet-up and swing some dead cats!)

From the feedback I've been getting and what I've been reading here I'd say Sacramento is quickly moving up to the top of my list. I work from home (freelance web programming) and it sounds like Midtown (or "the grid" - gotta be hip!) is indeed exactly what I'm looking for.

Can anyone else add anything?
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Old 04-24-2010, 10:16 PM
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There are four different areas that might work depending on what things you value the most. Davis has the best bike infrastructure in the United States. The bike paths are well lit at night. There are tunnels or bike bridges over or under the freeways and just about all thoroughfare. Everywhere in Davis is accessible to everywhere else in Davis by bike without having to confront any type of traffic. More people get around by bike in Davis than anywhere in the country (around 20% of all trips in the region are by bike). Davis also has the best public transit system in the area. Buses run often and run late in Davis, so even if you didn't want to ride a bike, you can still get around Davis quite easily without a car. In this region Davis has the most people living without a car and by far the greatest share of people commuting by anything other than cars. Because of the students, you have a fair amount of clubs and restaurants in the area.

Davis has probably the best farmer's market in the region and it has its own co-op.

Welcome to the Davis Food Co-op
At the Market — Davis Farmers' Market

Streetfilms | In Davis’ Platinum City Even the Munchkins Ride Bikes
Davis Wiki - The definitive resource for Davis, California

You also have various trips organized by Outdoor Adventures.

UC Davis Campus Recreation - Outdoor Adventures

In this region Davis is probably the most liberal. It also flat. If you are into moutain biking, you are going to need to go to the foothills.

The next alternative is midtown. Midtown is less liberal than Davis. Its also significantly more car dependent than Davis and much smaller than Davis. What it offers is proxmity to downtown. If you are working downtown, its a lot easier to commute from midtown to downtown than from Davis. (you can easily walk it)

Welcome to Sacramento Natural Foods

There a lots of smaller farmers markets spread through out the grid.

California Certified Farmers' Markets

In terms of bike infrastructure, its lacking. They have added some bike lanes to some streets as part of a traffic calming measure, but you won't see any bike boxes in Sacramento, you won't see traffic lights with bike detectors or bike priority at intersections, there are no bike boulevards. Sacramento isn't just behind Portland, its behind Tuscon, Long Beach, Minneapolis.

Bicycling Magazine listed there top 50 cities in the country for biking. Sacramento didn't make the list.

America’s Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities Slide 2 : Bicycling Magazine.com (http://www.bicycling.com/topbikefriendlycities/slide2.html - broken link)

Which is suprising because its flat and generally one can pretty much bike here most of the year. It doesn't rain here as much as Portland, we don't get the type of snow you find in Minnesota.

What midtown has is lots of restaurants and lots of dive bars. If you were working downtown, its probably your best choice.

The third choice is Grass Valley/Nevada City. It also has its own co-op and there are several different farmers market through out the area. When Ricky Waters left the Miami Dolphins to smoke pot and do Yoga he came to sivananda yoga farm in Grass Valley.

BriarPatch Co-op Community Market

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm: Teacher Training, Yoga Retreats in California

Welcome to KVMR 89.5 FM Music of the World. Voice of the Community. Nevada City, CA 95959

Grass Valley and Nevada City were old Gold rush mining towns where a lot of hippies moved to grow pot in the 1970's. In some respects its probably a bit of Vermont in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. The Grass Valley Group which does a lot of special effects for TV stations (most of the stuff when you watch the TV weatherman is done by graphics programs done by the Grass Valley Group or one of the nearby spin offs from the Grass Valley Group in the area. So you also have a bunch of computer geeks up there as well.

For day to day biking, Grass Valley and Nevada City have bike infrastructure equivalent to midtown. But these areas are also in the foothills, so you have access to moutain biking as well. Some of the best mountain biking in the country is in Downieville (home to the Downieville Classic)

Downieville Classic - Mountain Bike Race and Festival - Downieville, California

Nevada City and Grass Valley are about an hour from Tahoe and about an hour from Sacramento. But they are about 20 minutes from Auburn and maybe 35 to Roseville.

The reasons you might prefer this area is that is has the best combination of mountain biking plus social liberalness. The reasons you might not is that its probably the most remote of all of the locations I have mentioned.

Lastly, you might also look at Folsom. Of all of the cities I have mentioned, Folsom is probably the least walkable and the most politically moderate. But it excells in enough other areas to merit a mention.

First there are bunch of mountain biking trails nearby including ones that go around Folsom Lake.

Mountain Biking: Folsom Lake - Epic - Ogrehut.com
Mountain Biking: Folsom Lake/ Auburn Area - Ogrehut.com
FATRAC | Folsom-Auburn Trail Riders Action Coalition

The CSUS aquatic center is also nearby. So if you want to go sailing, crew, learn how to kayak, that too is nearby.

ASI Aquatic Center

The city of Folsom also has a pretty good system of bike trails through out Folsom. Why they don't have Davis levels of bike facilities, they are probably have the best bike facilities in this region after Davis.

League of American Bicyclists * Bicycle Friendly Community Campaign

Folsom Website - Bike Map

Folsom doesn't have a co-op (but Whole Foods Market is supposed to be coming into the Palladio Mall), Folsom probably has the fewest number of farmers markets of any of the regions I mentioned. Outside of historic Folsom, most of it just isn't very pedestrianized. But it does extremely well in terms of outdoor recreational activities. You are in within biking distance to areas to go mountain biking. Its also part of the greater Sacramento area. It has some high end restaurants, but its lacking in dive bars playing live music. But you are also at an age where that may or may not be too important.
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Old 04-25-2010, 02:07 AM
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Sacramento and vicinity is home to nearly any kind of neighborhood you desire. Mid-town sounds like it should be your destination, but it is difficult to find upper echelon housing, if that is what you desire. Moving east of 30th St. gives you more single unit possibilties, while west of 30th is mostly multi-units. They are many old Victorian mansions that have been turned into multis. Old 30s and 40s style apartments with a common entry. Then there are a few more modern apartment buildings, usually less than a dozen units. There is more diversity of housing types in mid-town than in any other small geographical area of Sacramento.

It should be noted that there can be danger in certain area. Mid-town is not the vanilla suburbs, neither is it a ****-hole. Not by any means. Just do your homework
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Old 04-25-2010, 02:27 AM
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After re-reading your initial thoughts, you might want to take a closer look at Roseville. It is more up-scale, relatively conservative, less diverse (white folk) and has more of a small city feel. A very safe place to live, and closer to outdoor experiences. --Understand that there are parts of Roseville that are all new and very cookie-cutter and there are older areas that are throw-back to earlier times. Whether new or old, Roseville does stuff right. Sacramento County leaves a lot to be desired, by comparison. They also have an old area of town that is similar to Mid-town Sacramento in regard to walking distance bars. It is bike friendly, and only 15 miles from downtown.
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