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Old 06-02-2020, 10:41 AM
4 posts, read 977 times
Reputation: 15


Looking to get out of Seattle after ~25 years and back to California. Anticipate move in 2025-2027.

Wife and I grew up in California, her Bay Area, me San Diego. We've lived/worked in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco.

We want to get closer to my wife's family, who live all over the Bay Area: Monterey, Mill Valley, Redwood City, Danville, the City, Oakland, Berkeley.

We are 48 and 52 yo at the moment, 1.7mil equity in Seattle house (market appreciation in Seattle has been a great boon), retirement accounts piling up. We have ability to scale back on work and work remotely at reduced salary, so looking at this potential move as a move toward future life in retirement. Also a relocation to open up in state tuition for our one kid who will be headed to college in 2027 (god willing, creek don't rise, etc).

We aren't extravagant people, but solidly upper middle class, buy the cheapest Mercedes and drive it for 200k miles types. We are active and love the outdoors: cycling road and mountain, hiking, I've surfed avidly my whole life. We like more modest good value ethnic restaurants, brew pubs, wine and wine country but not really wine tasters or $100 bottles.

My wife likes to get into the city fairly regularly - she's more of downtown type. I'm fine with that but tend more toward enjoying towns (she does too, doesn't want to live in the city). She really loves the country and animals too. We have two large dogs.

We value walkability and bicycle insfrastructure. Definitely not the into the "garage to Costco" lifestyle.

She would have to get to an airport sometimes to fly for work, could use a smaller airport but would do a lot of connecting then that could be a pain in the neck. We realize that from both Sebastopol and Fairfax air travel is a bit of PITA.

But we wouldn't be commuting so in general commute traffic would be not such a problem.

We know the Bay Area well and are narrowing to Sebastopol and Fairfax. We like both places.

Given our budget (we'd essentially swap our house for like value, or less in a downsize) and preferences, can an argument be made for one place over the other? We're torn - Sebastopol better coastal access and fewer people and somewhat more down to earth, Fairfax still has that lovely Marin magic if you don't have to commute.

Thanks for your insights!
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Old 06-02-2020, 01:14 PM
Location: State of Transition
86,036 posts, read 79,200,521 times
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Fairfax is great, probably not as hot as Sebastopol. There's biking through the redwoods, Golden Gate Transit buses to SF and the airport. Mill Valley is even better, but as you probably know, more expensive than Fairfax.
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Old 06-02-2020, 03:18 PM
Location: Richmond, CA
881 posts, read 706,171 times
Reputation: 1083
You won't get as much bang for the buck in Fairfax, both in terms of housing and day-to-day expenses. Fairfax is closer to your family but not that much closer than Sebastopol. Sebastopol is better for walking and biking around. Fairfax has a bit of a hippie-who-sold-out vibe going on, which can be a bit off putting, although it isn't universal and I know some nice people out that way. (Really that's a reflection of Marin County in general.) Overall, I think you would be a little happier in Sebastopol, both financially and in terms of day-to-day living. Plus it's closer to Sonoma County Airport, so you wouldn't necessarily have to head down to SFO or OAK for all those flights.
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Old 06-03-2020, 08:13 AM
4 posts, read 977 times
Reputation: 15
One vote for each! And a pitch for Mill Valley.

David I totally get the sold out hippie thing in Marin, and cringe at the super boutiquey nano-brew beers with lavendar and sumac that cost $11 and taste terrible. Caught up wealthy lifestyle hipsters + sold out echo chamber hippie-crits makes for some annoying neighbors. But lately as I've become older and more secure in all senses of the word I've been much better able to ignore caught up people who want to drag you into their reality. I think I could float past the sillier people of Marin and just enjoy the place itself and all the (lots of) nice normal people who live there.

That said Sebastopol is lovely and a great location.

One think I've noticed looking at real estate adds is that Marin houses are far more likely to have views. It is nice to look out on a beautiful expanse of some sort to be sure.

Maybe it comes down to quieter life or more bustle (of a sort that is pretty pleasant ...).
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