I was wondering why there is no Marin Realtor chime in and then saw that you posted the question in Orinda since you already know much about Marin county.
Your question was posted in October, 2009, I wonder if you have alredy bought a house or if you are still looking. If you are still looking, you must know that Soutern Marin's housing price has gone down a lot and you should be able to get a lot more houses than you could before. If you have not seriously looked at around the area, please take another look. I am sure you can find wonderful home with the price range you are in.
Good luck and let me know if I can help you.
Sylvia Barry', ePRO, MAS
Frank Howard Allen Realtors - #1 company in Marin
It is a common question Marin or Orinda? We actually had to make the same decision and for us it came down to what we could get for the money. You probably know this, but the Acalanes School district is number 1 in the state of California and Miramonte and Campolindo high schools ( Orinda and Moraga respectively) are both in the top 100 in California. I know your children are not quite there yet, but the fact that they're so highly rated shows you that the community highly values education and their children. Also, Sleepy Hollow Elementary School in Orinda was rated #5 nationwide!
Regarding the activities you like... regarding biking, there are many trails and you always see bikers on the road. Regarding tennis, there is the Moraga and Orinda Country Clubs and as for skiing, we are only 3 hours away from Tahoe. As for surfing, Marin is definitely better. In terms of activities for the kids, they have just as many and there are also mother's clubs.
We are in Marin often since most of our friends live out there. The main difference I see is that it may be a little more casual here.
To me, it sounds like you really like Marin. Maybe you just need to take a look out here to either give it a chance or to rule it out. If you'd like, I'd be happy to give you a tour of the area and show you homes in your price range. I work with Coldwell Banker in Orinda. You can reach me on my cell at 925-808-8390.
All the best,
From Piedmont the change to Orinda will feel the same. Most buyers I know consider both areas and when they settle for Orinda it is due to it's more suburban situation (If you can call $1.5-$2.0 Million suburban).
Marin county is Marin county though. The area has its own culture which is expemplified it the large number of open space and tougher development standards. These two outward characteristics exemplify an population that values an insular eco friendly lifestyle which is not a part of the east bay culture. This is probably the most important lifestyle difference between the two.
When choosing a home the cold economics of $ per square foot are really meaningless, especially if you value the outdoors, and it is true that in that price point Orinda is the better economic value.
I have lived in Marin and now in Contra Costa County and love both. If I was to choose a place to raise a family today, I would choose Lafayette. My younger sister just had her second baby, now only 5 days old, lives in Lafayette and I've been lucky enough to participate in every aspect of her older daughter's life there. Lafayette has it all, close to Walnut Creek for shopping, close to The City, mountains and Alameda for wind surfing.
I would advise you to choose a realtor and see how much home you can get in the Lamorinda area, familiarize yourself with all this county has to offer and then make the decision.
Prices are declining in most of the area, so your timing is very fortunate to purchase a great family home at that price range.
Good luck to you,
"Straight answers all the time"