We are an active couple with a dog moving from Philly to work in Sonoma. Where should we live?

Asked by Linn Secreto, Philadelphia, PA Sun May 13, 2012

We have very little time to figure this out (3 weeks to be exact!) We love city life here, but could be convinced to try out a little piece of the country, especially if it has great views! Our interests are trail running, food, wine, and would like less then a 30 minute commute. So far, my Healdsburg friends have recommended Glen Ellen, Sonoma, and Napa to me. We really don't want an apartment as we are home owners here and have gotten used to having a bit more space. What about Petaluma? How is the community there?

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Scott Bergman’s answer
Scott Bergman, Agent, Forestville, CA
Tue Oct 16, 2012
Sonoma County will be less expensive than Napa County. Healdsburg is the most expensive city in Sonoma County.

With that said, it looks like you may want to be relatively close to your friends in Healdsburg, but you don't want the Healdsburg prices.

Click here to take a look at the map of Healdsburg and the surrounding cities: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Healdsburg,+CA&hl=en&…

Here's my input on the cities that surround Healdsburg:
*Cloverdale-Just north of Healdsburg, along Highway 101. This is one of the least expensive places to buy land, closest to Healdsburg. It has a quaint downtown, but is still very rustic. They don't have the nicer restaurants as Healdsburg, but it has a down-home kind of charm.

*Geyserville-This small town is between Cloverdale and Healdsburg, along Highway 101 (just north, you may need to zoom in on the map to find it). Due to it's proximity to Healdsburg, it's prices are higher than Cloverdale, but not as much as Healsburg, unless you are looking for Geyservile property on Dry Creek Road.

*Windsor-This town is just south of Healdsburg, along Highway 101. This community has a cute downtown, but is not as well received as other communities. Because of this, the property values are not as strong as the 3 cities listed above.

*Forestville/Guerneville/Sebastopol-These 3 towns are Southeast of Healdsburg and are more "low-key" and more ag-like. They are also very far to the left in their political beliefs (Sebastopol is known as "Berkeley North"). If you want a more country lifestyle, this area has some great pockets of land.

*Santa Rosa-This is the biggest city of Sonoma County. It is south of Healdsburg, along the Highway 101. This area has country-style homes along the outskirts of town, but not downtown.

*Calistoga-This town is closest to Healdsburg, in Napa county, to the East of Healdsburg. This is a great community, but the property values are pretty high (on par or higher than Healdsburg) and the Highway that connects Calistoga to Healdsburg (Highway 128) is very small (1 lane, either way) and it is very curvey.

I hope that this answers your questions about the area and please let me know if you would like some more information about the communities.

3 votes
Avram Goldman, Agent, Sonoma, CA
Mon May 14, 2012
Yes, Linn our rental inventory is slim. Here are a couple of suggestions. I would contact, if you haven't already, Sonoma Management @ 707.938.3177 or info@sonomamanagement.com. They are our largest property management company in Sonoma. You can also look on our local papers classified--Sonoma Index Tribune http://www.sonomanews.com If you want to look in Petaluma were you may get a bit more for your rental dollar you can contact Mahoney Davison, a property management co., at 707.762.7710 or mahoneydavison.com If you would like to discuss areas or need other questions answered please feel free to contact me.

Take good care,

Pacific Union Real Estate
2 votes
Terry Bell, Agent, Santa Rosa, CA
Tue Nov 27, 2012
Check out my blog about the many areas of Sonoma County that I've lived in since moving here in the 70s from NYC, to start with! You might consider that since you are willing to drive 30 minutes to work, why not live closer in to the Santa Rosa area where houses may be more reasonable due to a larger inventory, you would then be only 30 minutes to the ocean as well, and close to many other towns like Healdsburg, Sebastopol, Windsor and Petaluma, where there are many activities and wineries! Would be happy to send you some ideas, so email or call and I can send you a list of properties when I get an idea of your wants and needs! Best,
Terry Bell, CPS Real Estate, Santa Rosa, CA 707-292-5712 TerryinSR@aol.com
1 vote
I am exploring the idea of moving my family to Santa Rosa, CA...I am open to commuting 15-30 min if necessary, however I am looking for an area that has good schools and extra curricular programs for our kids. A downtown feel and close to shops if possible...any areas recommended? The new potential job would be in Santa Rosa, CA...just trying to get a feel for other areas near by. Thank you,
Flag Sun Sep 8, 2013
Linda Krisa, Home Seller, Sonoma, CA
Thu Sep 27, 2012
Sonoma is a lovely laid back community, I would live there. Very scenic with quaint shops, gourmet food, wine and cheese. what more could one want? If you are 55 or older check out Temelec, a retirement community with old world ammenities. See http://www.forsale55plus.com.
1 vote
Frank Howard…, , Sonoma County, CA
Sat Jun 30, 2012
Well, Sonoma is a great place. Where are you going to be working? Healdsburg is farther north from the bay area, Petaluma is a great town as well but it gets early morning fog and night coastal fog. Kenwood is a quaint little town more country like. Glen Ellen is also a small town, but a bit closer to Sonoma. As for community in Sonoma is great. Also there is the bike path that goes right through the town. Tuesday night Farmers market, the town comes out and has a big picnic in the park. Lots of events, just a lot of fun.

Hope that helps

Kendra Martin
Frank Howar Allen Realtors
428 First Street E.
Sonoma CA 95476
1 vote
Larae, Home Buyer, Rohnert Park, CA
Mon May 14, 2012
I'm sorry, I didn't read your question carefully enough. You will be working in Sonoma. My advice about the 101 won't apply to your home search around Sonoma but it will be useful for life in Sonoma County.

The drive from Petaluma to Sonoma is nice but can be 30 -40 minutes. However, it rarely has a traffic jam so it is just a brief drive through some beautiful views. $1,700 should get you into a rental in Sonoma though. It will get you a very nice rental in Petaluma.

Just a tip - Oakmont is a senior community so if you are looking there, you need to make sure you are old enough.
1 vote
Larae, Home Buyer, Rohnert Park, CA
Mon May 14, 2012
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. :) laraemeadows@gmail.com
1 vote
Hi Larae! Great contribution! Anytime you would like to guest contribute to my blog, I would welcome your perspective! Good stuff,thank you!
Flag Mon May 14, 2012
Linn Secreto, Renter, Philadelphia, PA
Sun May 13, 2012
While we own a house in Philadelphia, we will be looking to rent at least to start. We need at least two bedrooms and would like to keep our rent under $1700/month. I'd love to live in Sonoma, but there doesn't seem to be much inventory on the rental market, that's why we were broadening our search. I would love to talk to someone who can help me in narrowing down the search. We are not fond of the 'burbs, but if we find the right place we will consider it. We would like a single family or town home hopefully with a bit of charm.
1 vote
Avram Goldman, Agent, Sonoma, CA
Sun May 13, 2012
To be honest why commute further than 20 minutes. There are plenty of beautiful places in the Sonoma Valley between Sonoma and Kenwood. You can be close to all the things you love to do. If you want to be out of Sonoma Valley I recommend Petaluma. It meets your 30 minute commute distance and it has more of a city feel, but within minutes of rural areas. Plus it is close to the ocean. Only about 40 mins. What you should consider is what type of area you would like to live in--quaint neighborhoods, rural, or suburban. I am happy to give you advise and information on locations, type of housing, and amenities. You are coming to one of the best places to live anywhere. Welcome to Sonoma Valley.

Take good care,

Avram Goldman
Pacific Union Real Estate
1 vote
Jolene Cortr…, Agent, Santa Rosa, CA
Sun May 13, 2012
Hello Linn,
There are so many great places to choose from as you can see by all of the previous answers. You might take a look at Wild Oak, a little-known gated community with great views and close proximity to Annadel and Sonoma as well! You can visit http://www.WildOakCommunity.com for additional information.
Take care and good luck in your search!
-Jolene Cortright, Century 21 Valley of the Moon
Web Reference:  http://wildoakcommunity.com/
1 vote
Charleen Pri…, , Sonoma, CA
Sun May 13, 2012
I would recommend looking in Sonoma, Glen Ellen and Kenwood before Petaluma.
Sonoma Valley has a much smaller town feeling than Petaluma. What is your price range and what is your home criteria
Charleen Price
Sotheby's International Realty
707 477 8470
1 vote
Pam Buda, Agent, Santa Rosa, CA
Sun May 13, 2012
If you are in to trail running and working in Sonoma then someplace bordering the 5,000 acre Annadel State Park would be what I would seriously consider. You could find town or country living near Annadel in Santa Rosa, as Jeff said, Glen Ellen and Kenwood. The latter two are closer to Sonoma. Petaluma is a great community with a fun downtown and great restaurants but there is no shortage of fun dowtowns (well fun villages) elsewhere in the county too. Better trail access in the areas I mentioned earlier. Decent drive to Sonoma from Petaluma but personally I would rather be closer and not have to get on the freeway to get to work. I think downtown Napa would be a bit closer than Petaluma to Sonoma but would involve freeways as well. One of the things I love about living here is using scenic back roads as much as possible! You can watch the Tour of California Stage 1 today (5/13/12) at 2 pm Pacific on NBC to get a good feel for the beauty of those roads. ;)

There are a lot of great options and I would recommend a short term rental while you figure out where you want to be long term. Also make sure you work with an agent who works with a lot of out of town buyers and is familiar with the many communities in Sonoma County or Napa so that you can get some comprehensive advice.
1 vote
Jeff & Tracey…, Agent, Santa Rosa, CA
Sun May 13, 2012
You would also want to consider Santa Rosa due to both the active community and the proximity to Annadel, Spring Lake & Howarth Parks. If you want country, you may also look into Kenwood which borders the Eastside of Annadel Park
Web Reference:  http://www.Schweens.com
1 vote
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