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Old 03-27-2018, 10:36 AM
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Good morning! My husband has a job opportunity in Ventura so I've been doing some research on the area. We are an outdoors loving, somewhat eccentric family with two young boys, planning to homeschool. We are a little "crunchy" so we were originally thinking Ojai, but it sounds a little isolated for homeschooling resources and like drug use is pretty prevalent.

From reading and thinking more about what's most important, I think I've narrowed our best options to Moorpark, Newbury Park or other TO, Camarillo, and Wood Ranch/Simi Valley. We're hoping to find somewhere with character and a friendly, super safe community, not a huge prevalence of drugs, good proximity to homeschooling resources and outdoor "wild" space, and not too "keeping up with the Joneses". General thoughts or comparisons would be super appreciated, though the questions I'm having trouble finding answers to are:

How prevalent are drugs in these areas, especially for kids? I grew up in a town with a drug problem and really want to avoid that.

Is there a big difference in the fire risk each year for these areas?

None of the forums seem to compare Camarillo to Simi or TO, is that because it's not considered as nice or on par? For that matter, I see a little town called Somis too, should I be looking there?

Can anyone comment on the homeschooling community in these areas or if one has better proximity to homeschooling resources (classes, art, field trips, and such)?

We're hoping to keep the commute no more than half an hour to Ventura, and it seems possible with all these locations (except maybe Simi) by checking Google Maps during rush hour, but is this accurate? Because Google makes it look like drive times hardly change during rush hour and I thought traffic would be pretty intense (maybe most is doing LA commute, not Ventura)?

Everyone is always so helpful here so thank you in advance, you are the best!!!
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Old 03-27-2018, 10:47 AM
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Impression I've gotten from research so far:

Small town with strong community, maybe a little too sleepy, but very safe

Newbury Park
Supposedly more down to earth, used to be ranching area, safe, friendly and affordable, a little cooler than Simi, haven't read a downside except that it's a little further from LA

Rest of TO
A little more fancy, beautiful town, good outdoor space access, lots of good food and shopping, some say more keeping up with the Joneses or a little snobby

Closest to Ventura, cooler but doggies weather, maybe not considered quite as nice or safe, has some character, more affordable

Wood Ranch in Simi Valley
Master planned community, more blue collar comparatively, lots of police live here, big box conveniences, weather gets super hot, people say a little boring or not much happening
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Old 03-27-2018, 12:50 PM
Location: California
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Your impressions make them sound like very different areas when the reality is they are mostly the same. At the same time they are diverse within themselves, some bad areas and some super nice areas. If you are crunchy in the hipster sense, you will feel out of place in all those areas. Wood Ranch is probably less blue collar than most of the other places, not the other way around, and there is hardly a temp difference there. Drugs exist in all the communities, probably more in Newbury Park than the others you listed. I never heard of anyone describing TO as fancy or snobby...

Homeschooling not very popular here since the actual schools are so nice and normal. Very little right or left wing ideology has a foothold here.
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Old 03-27-2018, 07:49 PM
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Thank you DKM, that's just the kind of input I'm looking for! It's so easy to get the impression that these places are so different when reading all these different descriptions but it makes sense that they are actually mostly the same. Interesting to hear that homeschooling isn't very popular there, I wonder if that would make it hard to go that route or if there are still enough homeschoolers for there to be a good network of resources. Thanks again.
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Old 03-29-2018, 04:35 PM
Location: TOVCCA
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Ventura is the only city out of the 10 cities in the county that could even remotely be described as having "character." That includes diversity, interesting architecture, historically significant features, and non-chain shopping. It has the most action as the county seat, the greatest assortment of jobs, the coolest weather, and the least air pollution. Also, some crime, homeless, etc. but VC Police are vigorous in their capture and prosecution rate.
Moorpark is barely a city, just houses around a very large shopping center and a small city center. Almost all in a short stretch of streets. People go to Simi or TO for most things.
Newbury Park is half older middle class houses and half deluxe Dos Vientos tract houses. It doesn't seem to have much identity. There is a lot of development happening there now, though.
Camarillo is on a flat plain that goes from the hills to the ocean. Sunnier than Ventura. No central area, no real downtown except a few blocks of "old" Cam, which is nothing. Still lots of agriculture (note: about half the County's space is ag---strawberries, flowers, citrus, avocado, etc.) but also a lot of housing tracts. Quiet, safe, no culture to speak of, but it has the giant luxury outlet shopping mall and movie theatre complex.
Simi Valley probably the best bang for the buck house-wise. Super safe as many LAPD live there. Good family-oriented city, lots of big-box shopping, some newer developments. Wood Ranch is nice, and right across the street from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library! Our tax dollars at work, lol. Simi gets hot.
Thousand Oaks is considered the most status-y. It gets hot, too, and has the worst air pollution. There is heavy code enforcement--you can't paint your house any color that's not an "earth tone," you can't park your RV in your driveway, etc. There are many gated tracts and restrictive HOA's. Good shopping, so-so restaurants. As DKM said above, homeschooling is not much of a thing here; kind of looked on like a cult-type thing (and with the recent Turpin family "homeschool" abuse nightmare, homeschooling is coming under increased scrutiny by the State). The schools are excellent, that's the point for families moving here. It's the main linkage to friendships, with carpooling, school functions, etc. for parents and kids. It's very keeping-up-with-the-Joneses. It is adjacent to the large estates of North Ranch and high schoolers all have their own (newer) cars and have $200 sneakers. On the eastern end, here's a house going for $85 million: Billionaire Thomas Tull lists a small village in Thousand Oaks for $85 million
Ojai should be reconsidered. It's not remote, has class, crunchiness and quirkiness, has a homeschool thing, and better access to Ventura.
Somis is not even a town, just a bunch of semi-rural houses.

About commuting: Between TO and Ventura, at least 45 minutes in rush hours, but maybe more door-to-door depending on how far you live/the job is from the 101. Simi and Moorpark is doable via the 118 west on the back road all the way to Ventura, a nice alternative to freeway madness. Simi has the Metrolink trains that go all the way to Ventura, too, an advantage the other cities (except Oxnard) don't have.

Also, not so evident on maps, but on the 101 there is a big mountain (the "grade") to cross over between Newbury Park/Conejo Valley and Camarillo. Big rigs can jam up the slow lanes when the dreaded Caltrans Weigh Station at the top is open, which forces regular drivers into the fast lanes. The grade has enough elevation (1,000 feet) to catch clouds and have its own microclimate. (Actually the county has six micro-climates, more than any other county in the U.S.). Many times it's been hot and sunny in TO but at the top of the grade it was completely fogged in, presenting a sudden driving threat, then driving down to Cam it would be sunny again. Other times it would be dry on both sides of the grade but raining hard on top.

Then there is daily wear-and-tear on vehicles, especially brakes on automatic transmission vehicles, or ones that overheat and die in a hot summer, or slow-moving vehicles with poor torque (more a consideration than engine cylinders, IMO). This includes the little overloaded pickup trucks like gardeners or pool cleaners have that we see so much in SoCal and which are exempt from the weigh scales. Of course, those that can't do the speed limit are urged to go into the slower lanes (refer to notes about big rigs, above) which can be intimidating. Vehicles that break down are out of luck, for there are no services anywhere nearby. My personal experience gripe: the last exits off the 101 before and after the grade are 10 miles apart, so if you space out and miss your exit, you get no second chance--you have to go all the way up over the grade, go down it, then go back up over and down again!

About fire risk: Right now I'd say TO has the most risk, as it has not burned for awhile. Ojai and Ventura just burned, so they are safe for awhile. Newbury Park burned in 2013. Cam is low risk due to terrain; Moorpark has nothing to burn; Simi mostly burns north of the 118 which is brushy hills without houses, and the freeway access makes them easily extinguishable.

Drugs: This is SoCal, after all. Weed is legal, VC dispensaries are coming soon. TO has the best drugs access being near the LA County border (if you call weed a "drug."). There is some heroin around; but there was just a major bust that broke up a cartel ring. In the cities you're interested in, all about the same.

Last edited by nightlysparrow; 03-29-2018 at 04:51 PM..
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