Lisa + Associates
PRUDENTIAL CALIFORNIA REALTY
our rates are comparable to other companies so please if you would like more information feel free to e-mail me at: crcwurzler@yahoo. com
I suggest exploring the area by coming to visit San Francisco. Most important, it would be wise to get Pre-Approved with a solid lender before you set your sights on buying out here. Knowing your "purchasing power" and your budget are extremely important, and will help narrow your search. You might also consider renting first to become familiar with a neighborhood. Check out these internet real estate sites to see properties/neighborhoods and statistics/home values: SFARMLS, Realtor.com, Dataquick.com, Yahoo and Google.
I am an experienced agent with Prudential and my office is based in SF. I have worked with many families who have moved to the Bay Area and have rented or purchased in the city and outside areas. Prudential has an excellent relocation program and many resources to assist with your moving. Please check out my site: http://www.agentlisa.net and give me a call or send an email, should you need further guidence and have questions.
Lisa + Associates
PRUDENTIAL CALIFORNIA REALTY
Sorry to have missed your question earlier. A great place to move to is Marin county, just north of Golden Gate Bridge; a great place to bring up families, and coming from Minnesota, I am sure you will enjoy the open space and nature setting Marin can offer.
Some information about Marin County: http://www.sylviasellsmarin.com/MarinCounty
Forbe rates Marin Schools Best for the Buck: http://www.sylviasellsmarin.com/Forbes+Rates+Marin+Schools+B
Novato (one of the Marin towns) selected as Best Affordable Suburbs in CA, 2007 by Business Week http://www.sylviasellsmarin.com/Novato+selected+as+Best+Affo
And, I happen to live in Novato; the most affordable town in Marin. My husband used to commute to the city (9th and Market Street) from Novato via the Larkspur Ferry http://goldengateferry.org/
Our price has dropped some during the past year, and you will be able to get a nice 3 bedrooms/ 2 baths, single family home with a nice yard in a great neighborhood school between $600K and $700K. If you go with nice town home, the price will be around $500K.
This is a great time to start looking. One way I recommend my out of town clients to do is to ask their Realtors to send them some listings so they can get familiar with the market here. When you are here, you can ask them to take you to different neighborhood you might be interested in to decide if that's a good neighborhood for you.
You have a lot of research ahead of you, but it will definitely be a great move! .
There are many good schools in San Francisco, but you have to enter a lottery and rank your top seven choices, so it is a bit of a crap shoot. Walnut Creek is purported to have excellent public schools.
This answer really depends on what type of community you are looking for. I would personally recommend the Walnut Creek area for its affordability, great schools, active downtown, and easy bart access. If you are willing to have a little more complex commute, I would say say the Campbell area of San Jose is a great place to raise a family. One of the big positives of both of these areas is that within the time frame you are looking to purchase, there should be some excellent deals because of the subprime difficulties.
Welcome to the Bay Area! Certainly there will be things to miss about Minnesota (I was born in St Paul) such as snow shoveling, brutal winters, and great public schools. I raised my kids here in the City and although I tried the public school system I ended up going the private school route, which is incredibly expensive. You could check out the parocial schools. Otherwise I would recommend schools in Piedmont, San Ramon, Danville, and a few communities in Marin ... if someone hasn't given you this site http://www.greatschools.net/search/search.page?state=CA& it is useful.
On the West side of town you should be able to find something in your price range as well as in San Ramon. Alameda is another great little community that has some good schools and is just across the bay and either a ferry ride away, BART accessible, or a drive across the bay bridge -- 20 minutes without traffic and maybe 45 minutes at the commute apex. I'd start a search there. Good luck!
Here is a link to an interactive map that shows how the Realtors break the city inot districts and sub-districts. http://www.sfarmls.com/docs/areamaps.htm With this tool you can look at the MLS http://www.sfarmls.com/ to see what area you might like and what the asking prices are. To find out the sale price you will have to contact a Relator. We have a great MLS and many tools to help you in your move. Sorry I can't embed the link but you can cut and paste.
Living in San Francisco is fantastic. I was born, raised and I'm raising my family here. It truely is a world class city and the neighborhoods do offer many different oprions.
Without knowing the ages of your children, I would guess that the schools would be one of the most important factors. San Francisco Unified School District has some strict rules that, perhaps, were not used in the midwest....Go to sfusd.edu for schools. Not all schools are great in my city.
Also with young children, you would want to be in a real neighborhood. Some areas have more crime than others. You can check crime statistics via sfgov.org/site/police.
There is also, for fun, a visitor's site - onlyinsanfrancisco.com.
You also do not mention how much you can spend or whether or not you want a house or would consider condominium living. This is crucial because various areas cost more than others. You can find descriptions on many websites - my own included - of the different areas. Do you want to be able to walk to a grocery store? Do you want to be within walking distance to a playground or park? What are your real "wants and needs" (besides an easy commute to downtown?) Everyone can toss out names of neigbhorhoods, but you need to give more answers to get the right ones for you.
I hope to hear from you.... if not, good luck in your seach. San Francisco is a wonderful city!
To be perfectly honest with you, most of the families are going outside of the city and the real answer to the best place really depends on exactly what you are looking for.
If staying in San Francisco is what is most important to you, I would say that Merced Heights would be your best bet. It's not the most exciting part of town, but its close to all the major conveniences and is affordable enough where younger families can enter the market. There have been a few single family homes in the neighborhood that have sold for the low 500's...plus you get a yard. Some younger families are moving to Bayview because there is a belief that the neighborhood is on its way up. However, the neighborhood is still dangerous and will take some time for this process to happen.
One thing that is really important for me to know, is what type of neighborhood and cultural aspects you are looking for. I know that you said that you lived in Los Gatos, and if you like the younger, professional type area, Campbell might be a great fit. The downtown area of Campbell has really blown up, but yet you can still find homes in great neighborhood for 700k probably even less in the upcoming months. You are right smack dab in the middle of all the shopping of San Jose, plus close to Santa Cruz.
Another area where you can really find deals is in Concord and Walnut Creek. There are a lot of families moving to that area because you can get more for your money and yet be extremely close to public transportation (BART). Downtown Walnut Creek is extremely active with nightlife and shopping during the day and there are tons of families that are out and about. The great thing about Concord is that its right next to downtown Walnut Creek, plus the subprime mortgage mess is leading to lots of great deals. Realistically, if you are patient and can find the right deal you will probably be able to get a nice 3bd/2ba home their for around 500k.
Anyways, this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you could tell me a little bit more about yourself and your situation, I can give you some more in depth answers and some recent sales histories.
http://www.greatschools.net - one of the best resources out there to compare and contrast schools
http://www.movoto.com - has good demographics and statistics
http://www.MyHousingGuide.com - primarily for the East Bay and shows proximity to BART and schools
http://www.Bart.org - can type in the Bart location from start to end to find out the commute time
http://realestate.yahoo.com/neighborhoods - find neighborhood profiles and city information
Hope that helps you get started! This is just the beginning....I have much more to send you if interested. I also have my own biased opinion on best areas in the East Bay for schools, value, community and commute.