But I think I agree with Teri, that you might want to rent short term anyway. If you were going to and from the airport alot, I would tend to stay within a comfortable distance of the airport. If you were trying to put roots down as part of a Sacramento community, then it would be a matter of learning the different 'personalities' of some of the areas and making sure it reflected your lifestyle. You can go as far as Roseville and be within 30-35 minutes of the airport. So you have alot of options.
Good luck on your efforts. Contact us when you come to town. I'm sure you'll learn alot from each person you talk to. From there, you can get the best insight into which areas interest you the most.
Sacramento has prices all over the board, so where to look is dependent on your budget & lifestyle. If you want to be able to walk your neighborhood, mid town is very popular, vintage homes, some townhouses, condos. Downtown has newer lofts, condos.
Our prices have been on the increase as our inventory is low. You can visit my website and run Trendgrahix there to see market trends.
Traffic compared to your area is less, commute times are the "worst" but not bad.
My suggestion is always to rent for 6 months and see what you like or don't like about the various areas.
Good luck in your election.
Depending on your personal taste I might recommend a bit outside of downtown like North Natomas. It's a newer area, desirable and only 10 mins from downtown. The market is very competitive, fast moving and values are increasing. I'm a Broker Associate, live and work in Sacramento full time in Real Estate sales. Contact me if I can help. You can contact me at the link here, my cell phone is there as well.
Are you going to be commuting back to San Diego each week, or moving to Sacramento? That will help determine which option is best for you. If you are commuting each week, you will probably want to find something closer to downtown, but if you are staying in Sacramento, I would look oustide downtown, which can be expensive, and traffic can be challenging.
I hope you "Catch Fire" and win!