Sonoma County, home of Petaluma, Glen Ellen, and Sonoma, is generally a good place to live. It goes west to the ocean, east to the more spectacular vineyards. We have tons of parks, and nature galore. Sonoma County grows bushels of produce, raises meat, eggs, dairy, and of course makes world class wine wine. Food and wine are extremely important to Sonoma County. We get a bit crazy about food, but in most of the county it is enthusiasm and does not veer into a pretentious. It is about an hour and a half from San Francisco so you can still have a city whenever you need urban energy again. You should know though, Sonoma County is very large. Traffic is certainly something to think about while you are selecting.
If I were moving here for the first time, and I was trying to pick a town, I would really want to know about the traffic, as that will be your day to day grind. The 101 (our major freeway) is heavy going south - toward San Francisco - in the morning and heavy going north in the evening. So if you live in Cloverdale (very north) and work in Petaluma which is 50 miles, it can take two hours to get to work on some days. If you choose a hometown that is south of your work town, you should be golden. I would suggest that you look into your work town first. Getting across some of these towns (Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Cloverdale, Sonoma and Napa) can take more than 1/2 an hour.
Petaluma is great. It is large enough you can be private and small enough that if you want to make a name for yourself you can. The people are friendly (most of the time) and the views are amazing. The schools are excellent. We also have a JC in case you want to take some classes yourself. Community service is really important to Petaluma and I am often astonished how generous and caring are the people in Petaluma. Petaluma has tons of outdoor areas, including parks and active ranch lands which make for great views. There are active clubs of many kinds, so you would have opportunity finding new friends. Petaluma has been called the center of telecom valley but since the recession that is less true. Still, Petaluma has a ton of tech companies who are surviving. Petaluma has about a million restaurants (215) because we love eating out here. When we are strapped for cash or just want to stay in, we love eating our local produce. Petaluma is the home of the best milk (Clover Stornetta), and the best eggs around. West Petaluma is home to gorgeous Victorian architecture and downtown has been featured in too many movies and commercials to count.
However, it can be expensive and sometimes it can be a bit clickish. If you will be working in milk, or chickens or eggs, you will need to know that there are families who think they run the show and can be horribly exclusive. Don't let them define Petaluma for you because in every other area, including Petaluma's tech industry, including new people of different backgrounds is essential. Petaluma is known for its world class pot holes. It also has some areas that are more sprawl than rural community. There is a rivalry between the east side of town and the west. Petaluma has a night life and if you live downtown it can really disrupt your life.
Cotati, Rohnert Park, and Penngrove are more affordable choices and are not far from Petaluma. Healdsburg, Sonoma, and Napa are more expensive than Petaluma. Sonoma and Napa are far more clicky and hoity toity than Petaluma. Cotati is populated with rich hippies. Rohnert Park is a sleeping community. Santa Rosa is the largest city.
The order of our larger towns on the 101 freeway are from north to south: Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Windsor, Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma. Sonoma and Glen Ellen are on highway 12 and are the eastern part of Sonoma County. Bodega Bay, and Bodega are west along the coast.
I hope this helps you. Email me if you want some more answers. I have lived in most of the cities in Sonoma County as well as many of the major ones in the country. I'll give you an honest, resident's view. When you come to town, we can have coffee. :) email@example.com