On another note, there are a couple of nearby nice, well-priced areas that will have many homes under $350k. Try Tahoe Park (95820 neighborhood bound by Broadway/65th/14th/Stockton), Hollywood Park (95822 just southeast of William Land Park, bound by Sutterville/Freeport/Fruitridge/24th), or South Land Park (95822 & 95831 fairly large area south of William Land Park, roughly bound by Sutterville/I-5/Train Tracks/Florin Road).
It will be difficult to do a general search of those zip codes online and find what you will be looking for. If you are interested in having me (or anyone else on this forum) email listings directly to you, just contact me by clicking on my profile.
You've already figured out that Downtown & Midtown is a great place to be, and the other agents here have provided a lot of great info. I'm going to add one relatively small tidbit since it seems no one else pointed it out: if you're searching online, be sure to include the newest ZIP Code in the central city, 95811.
This new ZIP Code was added in 2007 and snakes between Downtown and Midtown--and covers the entire Railyards area. While we won't see homes selling in the Railyards for a few years, I don't want you to miss out on great homes in Midtown that you might otherwise spot online!
I know right where you are coming from. I have been in the midtown area for 7 years and can't imagine being too far. I have chosen to commute out of midtown myself rather than moving.
It seems you know what you are looking for so instead of saying too much I just decided to do a search for you on the MLS. All of these homes are under $350k and in the 95816, 95819, or 95818 zip codes and all are showing that they are available to view. Some are bank owned properties so they will need the updating you were talking about. If you have not seen what $350k can buy you lately, check out these listings and if there is anything you want to see, please feel free to let me know.
Hope this helps.
Good luck in your search,
Also you might look around T street, just north of the UC Davis Med Center. -- I can't add any entire zip codes for you and still keep your commute to Natomas and Midtown under 15 minutes.
Town and country (95821) and Arden (95825 and 95864) Areas are nice but then your commute to both your midtown haunts and Natomas job start to stretch out to twenty minutes or longer some days.