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Old 08-21-2009, 10:42 AM
 
3 posts, read 14,597 times
Reputation: 10

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We are looking into moving to N. CA. We have moved a lot and are hoping to make our next move our last. To make that possible means that over the next 10 years my husband would probably work in both Petaluma and Alameda.

So where do we buy our home to make both those commutes tolerable (understanding that commuting in CA is not fun overall)?

We have four kids and they will be in elementary school but if we don't move again, will finish school through 12th grade as well so all levels of schooling are important to me. Odds of us being able to afford private schools for four are very low so my number one priority is quality of public schools (bad timing due to CA's budget crisis!).

What I would love in a community (ranked by priority)
1. Great public schools through 12 grade.
2. Great atmosphere for family (On parenting spectrum I am halfway between granola and yuppy. Liberal politics)
3. Decent commute to both Alameda and Petaluma.
4. Diversity.
5. Decent sized property for under a million dollars.

Thanks in advance for your advice. Since we are hoping to set down roots, I am feeling more pressure about this move than any previous moves!
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Old 08-21-2009, 10:49 AM
 
Location: 38°14′45″N 122°37′53″W
4,151 posts, read 10,627,061 times
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Sounds like Albany...maybe.

Although living in Petaluma would satisfy most of your requirements and cut the commute situation in half.
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Old 08-21-2009, 10:53 AM
 
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A friend who lives in SF also mentioned Albany. She does not have kids though so wasn't sure about school issue which of course is most important to me.

Are Albany public schools good?

Reading here about Petaluma does make it sound like a good fit for our family, I just wasn't sure about the 5 yrs or so when my husband would have to commute to Alameda.

Sebastopol also piques my interest but that is even further out.

Last edited by mdcmch; 08-21-2009 at 11:41 AM..
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Old 08-21-2009, 11:05 AM
 
Location: 38°14′45″N 122°37′53″W
4,151 posts, read 10,627,061 times
Reputation: 3432
Albany schools are great, which is why it is difficult to find a reasonable home and lot in Albany...you are definitely paying more per square foot there.
Sebastopol would make the drive to Alameda absolutely unbearable I'm afraid.
My husband used to commute from Petaluma to Oakland Airport...to fly to LA everyweek...
The worst part of the traffic to Alameda from here is the 80/580 merge through Berkeley and Oakland.
Having a hybrid with the stickers helps tremendously prior to that area.
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Old 08-21-2009, 11:41 AM
 
3 posts, read 14,597 times
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Thanks for your input!
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Old 08-21-2009, 06:52 PM
 
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Albany has good schools...it is a small district....
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Old 09-22-2009, 08:08 PM
 
72 posts, read 302,673 times
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Just saw your post.
Funny you should ask that.
I grew up in Albany (although I've lived in Tahoe and Reno more recently for job/family reasons.)
I still have relatives living in and around Albany.
And my wife and I are thinking of retiring to Petaluma.
With Alameda and Petaluma being your husband's job locations, you are looking at at a nightmarish commute, to one or the other, no matter where you live.
If there is any way possible your husband coud narrow his job location to Alameda OR Petaluma things become much easier for you.
Petaluma --- especially the west side, near the historic district, is a great place to live. Albany is also a great place to live. Those are 2 of the best towns in the Bay Area, especially if you have kids who will be attending public schools. (Snobs may say Petaluma is not actually in the Bay Area --- but its close enough.)
Albany and the surrounding cities are much more densely populated then Petlauma, which is surrounded by farming areas and open space. Depends on what you like. Petaluma has a slightly slower / country fill to it, but you are still relatively close to major metropolitan areas.
However, if your husband HAS TO work in both places, perhaps San Rafael. My aunt and uncle have lived there for the last 60 years. Prices have come down dramatically in the last 3 years and you can find a decent home in a decent area for 750,000 - 1 million. (You could not in 2005 or 2006.) Other areas of Marin County (Sausalito, Belvedere, Tiburon, Larkspur, etc, are more expensive, and not as well located re your husband's commute.) Marin County schools are very good in general, and with all of the park/recreation opportunities available in Marin County, its a great place to raise a family. STILL YOU ARE TALKING A LONG COMMUTE TO ALAMEDA TIME WISE. The commute to Petaluma would be much easier because your husband would be going in the opposite direction of rush hour traffic in both the morning and the afternoon.
You do NOT want to live in Richmond, El Cerrito, or San Pablo. Skip right over them when you are looking at the map. Good luck
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