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Old 12-02-2008, 10:17 AM
Location: SF Bay Area
18,818 posts, read 31,747,945 times
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They both are nice places to live but fairly different overall.

San Diego wins for weather hands down. Petaluma is colder in winter and it rains a lot more but its nothing too bad or severe overall. Even though SD has a near perfect climate some people can find it too boring so if you like exciting/changing weather and seasons then you will not like SD's weather. But if you like sunny and 65-85 degree high temps year round then SD is the place for that.

The culture and "scene" is different between the two. Petaluma is more liberal and earthy/hippie, San Diego is more moderate to conservative but pretty down to earth overall. Both places are great for outdoor recreation. If you like forests and lots of trees then Petaluma is better for that, the Redwoods are great. San Diego doesn't get as much rain and isn't as lush and green as Petaluma.

Even though Petaluma is a small town its still part of the Bay Area, traffic along 101 will remind you that you live in an urban area. The Bay Area is twice the size of San Diego so there are more crowds, people, traffic, etc.. in the Bay but Petaluma is kind of on the edge of that. San Diego has plenty of smaller towns with a rural feel to choose from. Even closer in the city you still feel like there is space; there are a lot of large canyons in the middle of the city that give it space. Traffic is better in SD than the Bay Area. Crime is very low in SD overall and Petaluma is pretty safe overall too so I wouldn't worry too much about either place in that respect.

The Cost of Living in the Bay Area is higher but Petaluma is kind of out there so its not as expensive. I don't think SD is much more expensive if at all than Petaluma. Taxes and fees will probably be lower in SD as its one of the lowest taxed cities in CA. But it depends on what you make of course, if the salary is the same between the two then I don't think there will be much of a difference.
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Old 12-05-2008, 11:53 PM
Location: 38°14′45″N 122°37′53″W
4,151 posts, read 10,891,106 times
Reputation: 3437
Originally Posted by Jonotastic View Post

We were going to buy a restaurant/brewery in Petaluma and also thought whenever we want to go to San Francisco, it's only a short drive away...just trying to get the idea that it really isn't that short of a drive and there's at least some point where it will be bumper to bumper plus the high toll.
You were going to buy Dempsey's?

During non commute times it takes about 35-40 minutes into SF from Petaluma.
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Old 12-06-2008, 12:39 PM
Location: Manchester, NH
259 posts, read 591,654 times
Reputation: 278
Thanks so much for the info, everyone. Right now, my husband has interviewed with companies in Petaluma, San Diego, and San Jose. He doesn't have an offer yet, and it's not clear whether he'll get more than one. We'll go where the job is, but between those three cities, we have some pretty nice choices. It definitely looks like we're moving to California; we just don't know what city. :-)
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Old 12-10-2008, 09:17 AM
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I would choose San Diego first, San Jose second, and Petaluma last. Petaluma is plagued by commuter traffic, and it's a very small town. A cute small town, and near Santa Rosa, which is bigger, and the wine country is great, but it's all still a bit country. I think Petaluma and Santa Rosa are boring. I live part time in the Bay Area and San Diego, and SD has very little traffic compared to the Bay Area (especially San Jose), and it's very family friendly. In many ways, I think San Jose seems like LA more than San Diego does. It's flat, smoggy, sprawling, congested, and you have to drive everywhere. It's only 30 minutes to the beaches around Santa Cruz, but that's still longer than it takes to hit the beach in SD. Still, San Jose has more to offer in terms of all infrastructure than Petaluma, plus the weather is much better than Petaluma. SJ actually gets less rain on average than downtown LA, and it's pretty mild year round (averages 60 in winter, compared to 67 in San Diego, and about 55 in Petaluma). San Jose is also about as sunny as San Diego, though probably a little less sunny in winter and a little more sunny in summer.

They are all good cities though.
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Old 01-01-2009, 11:21 PM
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We live in Petaluma and a few years ago we went to SD to check it out for retirement. The traffic there drove my husband crazy. I liked the climate, but he said he would never live in SD with all the traffic and too many people. Petaluma is on the outskirts of the Bay Area and doesn't have the crowding and traffic of San Jose or the East Bay. There are many beautiful areas that you can visit very quickly, which is one reason I love it. I do a lot of hiking in Marin and Sonoma Counties. We also found SD too arid for our tastes. It depends on what you like. If you can work in Petaluma, all the better, since you would not be commuting to SF, as we did for more than 20 years.
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