Avw, Other/Just Looking in Mill Valley, CA

Mill Valley: Tam Valley or Shelter Ridge, any feedback?

Asked by Avw, Mill Valley, CA Fri Apr 2, 2010

We (me, my husband and our 6 month old) are considering moving to Mill Valley from SF because our apartment is getting too small for us and we want some sort of outdoor space (deck/yard). We are currently looking at homes in Tam Valley and the Shelter Ridge community (just west of 101). Does anyone have any recommendations and/or feedback? What is the weather like in those neighborhoods? Is it a pain to be living on a hill in Tam Valley when having a small child? Are there more young families living in Shelter Ridge? Thanks so much!

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In my opinion Tam Valley is darker and foggier and depending on where you live you'll be walking up and down hills which is not kid friendly. A

s a mother with a very active child I needed to be close to playgrounds, walking paths and stores. I also wanted my child to be close to schools either in walking distance or within a 5 minute bike ride. I decided to settle in the Altos section of Mill Valley (near Horse Hill). that area was more in line with what I was looking for and it also offered me the best weather. When other areas of Mill Valley are cold and foggy I always seem to have the sunshine and less fog than other areas.

I am wondering why Tam Valley and Shelter Ridge? Depending on what your financial comfort zone is you could look for homes in Altos or even around Sycamore Park or Homestead Valley. Most people think that all areas of Mill Valley are out of their reach price wise but more Sellers are willing to negotiate, more short sales are coming on the market and there is opportunity for you.

I'd suggest making a priority list first. Is your top priority to be near schools, near shops, walking areas or is the price the only deciding factor. If its price then I'd suggest you have your realtor pull all homes in Mill Valley according to price and then take a good look at the map. I give all my clients a map of Mill Valley with the various neighborhoods and then do a graphic search so clients can see where average prices are in each area. There are so many options in Mill Valley that it might behoove you to check out other areas.

Feel free to contact me if you'd like a copy of the map or the trendsgraphix report that I generate as it might make the decision process much easier. I work and live in Mill Valley and can be contacted at the following:

Lydia Puller
Alain Pinel Realtors
100 Shoreline Hwy Suite 115
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(415) 599-5028
Web Reference: http://www.LydiaPuller.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 3, 2010
Thanks for your amplification about relocating to Marin.
http://www.HousingMaps.com is a mashup app of CraigsList.org and maps.google.com. Select "SF - North Bay" and...
Zoom in then move south a bit. Change from "Map" to "Hybrid".
This Rental Map of the North Bay is a great tool. You can use it as a FSBO source when buying as well.

http://maps.google.com has a similar capability - different database. Together... You've got it covered.

I recommend adding Sausalito since you're planning on moving again anyway. Then you can find the cutest place available within your price range to begin your quest.

When you're ready to consider buying the MLS, where REALTORS® post their listings, the brunt of the market, http://www.Great Homes.org is the official site but almost every agent/broker has a version on their website - I do.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 3, 2010
The micro climates of Tam Valley consists of pockets of foggy areas and hills that block the sun..so I always make it a point to take my clients back to see the property of choice- several times prior to writing the offer -to see what the exposure is and feel comfortable that the pattern of the sun allows for plenty of light/sunshine.

It still boils down to the various choices and what your buying power is...

1.Single family homes in Tam Valley that are in the flats, sunny, totally child friendly with lovely back yards with outdoor space for entertaining.

2. Up in the hills they tend to have decks with steep drops that are nerve-racking and worrisome to parents.
Ofcourse great ridge views that can be blocked by tall trees and effect your sun exposure, making it colder weather wise.

Shelter Ridge is a whole other life style...condos and townhouse that can be sunny and nice, close to shopping, schools,101 freeway, walking paths, they do have HOA dues and the kids have to be driven to a park or go to the common areas to play. It tends to be more of a singles and couples lifestyle..obviously less conducive to children's needs. But again many childern live there and enjoy it!

It is all good at the end of the day...bottom line you are investing in Marin (great spot to do so) and you are buying a lifestyle that will change you life for ever.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 3, 2010
Apart from the commentary relating to weather (Tam Valley incrementally cooler and foggier) and topography (yes, hillside living is not for everyone), I think it is also important to note that as a young (and possibly expanding) family, you will likely want to move again in 3 to 5 years.

Accordingly, you need to be able to sell whatever it is you decide to buy once you decide you want to move. From that perspective, I strongly recommend that you focus on a single family home, not a condo. Not only are condo prices continuing to fall in general, but we don't know where the bottom is. I think most of my colleagues would agree that we are at or near the bottom at the entry level here in MV. Think sweat equity and embrace the adventure.

BTW, Tam Elementary is top-notch with some of the best test scores in the County. There are some nice and relatively affordable options within easy walking distance to the school.

Kyle Frazier
Certified Residential Specialist & Broker Associate
Morgan Lane Real Estate
Text/Tel.: (415) 350-9440
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 2, 2010
Why not include Tiburon? Greenbrae?

I recommend that you establish your geographic area of consideration based on commute time. I'm assuming your hubby works in the city and you're a housewife. I am proposing you expand your area of consideration so as to have the largest selection of homes, each of which will be unique, and to increase your choice of communities/neighborhoods, climates and cultures.

In the end your selection will be site specific. Micro climates abound given our mountainous terrain, differences in exposure, aspect and cover can often make significant differences between immediate neighbors. Topography and vegetation, nearby shopping and infrastructure make each home site unique in Marin, It's easy to let interesting opportunities slip by if you depend on generalizations and fail to consider all possible options.

Usually first-time home buyers find that after determining their price ceiling, minimum square footage, bedrooms and baths, etc. their field to choose from is small enough that they can preview all and be assured they've found best value and most complete satisfaction.

If I can help...
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 2, 2010
I was going to talk about the differences in weather in both areas, just to add to the reply you already received, a lot of my clients leave SF to move to MV, then a few years later make the move to north of Corte Madera as the weather is general is much warmer than MV in the summer. As Tam Valley can be even colder than other parts of MV, it's really important to keep that in mind if you are looking to leave SF to come to the sun.

Also, as a mom of small children myself, I always counsel my clients to keep the following in mind:

1. Your children will grow up and will need more space and would like to be able to walk places on their own.
2. Hills can be very stroller unfriendly and sometimes you as a mom just want to get out for a quick walk, and having to pack everyone in the car can be much harder than just stepping out your door if you are in a stroller friendly area.
3. If you have more children in the future, your needs will change even more, so keep that in mind. Talk to someone who has small children, older children and more than one children to help you make your choice.

My last thought, I helped a family move to Tam Valley (before they had their first child) and I counseled them that they will likely not like the location once they have children as the house is on a street that is hilly . They ended ups selling again (to move out of state) and she told me that she clearly remembers me telling them that they will likely not be happy on the hillside home once they have children, as it was definitely the case for them. You are welcome to talk to my clients Elvia email if you like, just send me an email and I'll get you in touch with them!

Liz McCarthy
Broker and mom to 2 children
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 2, 2010
Both areas have their pluses and minuses. We have friends who live in Tam Valley with two small children and love it. There is a great community center that is close by, and their is more of a feeling of being out in the "country," with more trees and wildlife, (including some beautiful peacocks...) yet you are not so far away from shopping, restaurants, and groceries in Tam Junction and it is still an easy drive to downtown Mill Valley. Shelter Ridge probably gets more sunshine and less fog than Tam Valley, and is close to the shopping on Blithedale where the new Whole Foods is going in. Both have easy access to the 101 and are an easy commute to San Francisco. We live in Mill Valley and would be happy to help you with your search! A link to our website is below. Kevin and Jovana Keyser, Keyser Homes - 415-596-7358.
Web Reference: http://www.keyserhomes.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 2, 2010
Keep in mind that opinions are often suggestive, consider--visit the areas more than once and at different times of day, look at everything that is important to you, and if the opportunity arises chat with the neighbors/locals--then make your own determination--will you be happy living there.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 2, 2010
Thank you all so much for your feedback! I guess I should have given a bit more information. I am a stay-at-home mom and my husband has clients in SF, the East Bay and Marin. We are hoping to have another baby within the next two years or so. We are currently looking at rentals in Marin so we can get to know the area better before we buy a home (in the $500,000 range), which we're planning on doing in about a year from now. We've found Mill Valley to be the most convenient, but aren't ruling out Tiburon, Larkspur, Greenbrae, and Corte Madera. Thanks again for your time!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 3, 2010
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