Now that all are giving you great advise on where to live..... .In your situation, I will vote for Novato. In that case, you will probably hardly commute at all.
As Leslie said, the price is around $2,000 for a house and less for town home that's 3/2. The town is surrounded by hills. open spaces, bay, greenery, etc, and unlike other areas, it's not congested. Coming from Seattle, I think you will appreciate that.
It's sunny and warm, in a Marin sort of way (not hot, hot), breeze in the evening.
Tons of open spaces, hiking, biking, horseback riding. public / private pools, tennis courts, golf courses, nice parks, great recreational programs for kids and don't forget wonderful schools and some of the most friendly, down to earth people - I have the fortune to know them :-)
So,that's my short version of introduction to Novato. To know specifics about the area, feel free to contact me.
There are limited rentals on multiple listing. Craigslist has quite a few, and property management companies also have a few. The one specialize in North Marin is Dalmon properties http://www.dalmonprop.com/
If you do contact them, please let them know that I sent you.
Novato is also centrally located in the sense that it's pretty much in the middle of north bay, easy access to NAPA, Sonoma county, West Marin, East Bay, and the city. Since you are only going to be here 2 to 4 years, it will allow you the opportunity to explore the Bay Area.
Either way, give me a call, and I can tell you more about Novato - I just want to be able to help and help you find the right location to settle down!