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Old 07-11-2013, 11:24 AM
Location: Petaluma, CA
5 posts, read 10,275 times
Reputation: 14


My fiancee and I live in San Rafael but are moving to Petaluma because--in addition to the greater value for money--it's a cooler town with an up-and-coming vibe that San Rafael lacks. Petaluma is a hot rental and real estate market right now, and competition is relatively fierce, if not impossible. The town is divided roughly into West and East sections, split by Highway 101. The East side is sleepier and more suburban, as it doesn't contain the historic downtown, and you can get more space for your dollar if you rent a room in one of its many apartment communities. It's also closer to some nice open space, if you're into that sort of thing. The West side apartments are smaller, less numerous, and more expensive, but you get the vibrancy of downtown and a somewhat tonier neighborhood. If you are without kids, you may want downtown within walking distance--there are some small but awfully cool rooms for rent in some of the 19th Century victorians that still stand. Petaluma has a high concentration of families with children, but you won't feel left out. It has an "everyone's welcome" feeling that's somewhat unique in that area.

As far as employment, Petaluma is nicely positioned between San Francisco and Santa Rosa, which are bigger cities with more job opportunities, though Petaluma is growing in the tech sector. The commute to San Francisco during rush hour is horrendous (bring some good music in the car with you), but the freeway is expected to get additional HOV lanes in both directions by 2015. And you'll have the SMART train to look forward to in a few years, which will connect Northern Sonoma County to the Larkspur ferry terminal in Southern Marin, where you can catch the ferry to San Francisco. The commute to Santa Rosa is much better, so I'd have you and your wife look for work there too. However, as posters have alluded to, it's a spottier city with a more visible crime element and a town center that's no great shakes, so I'd go there personally and check it out for yourself, to see if you can picture yourself living there.
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