Hi Emma, I have lived in ALL areas so here's a little breakdown of the areas...I was raised in the valley (Northridge) about 10 mi. from Van Nuys but most recently have lived in Westridge (Valencia), then headed out to the opposite side of the valley, living in Wood Ranch which is in Simi Valley, also in Agoura Hills, Thousand Oaks and Dos Vientos in Newbury Park. I would have to say that I LOVED Wood Ranch and Newbury Park.
I have come to know that shopping or visiting a city is completely different than living in it so we have continued doing the rental thing in search of where we want to call home permanently, I am now moving to Camarillo and we plan on buying in after this 6 month lease is up.
Valencia wasn't for me...though I did love all of the new construction, it gets really hot. And because of all of the new construction, and not too many older established neighborhoods (lots of foreclosures), there are ALOT of younger kids...teens, young 20 somethings which drive like a bunch of maniacs. The speed limit on most main streets is 50 but you constantly have a 20 year blaring their music riding your tail, then pass you going 70...really annoying. And don't even think about going out on the weekend...the mall is super packed and every restaurant has the longest wait time that I have ever experienced.
But moving to the opposite side of the hill has been a wonderful choice for us...there are way more established neighborhoods, people who have owned for a long time which gives a much more stable feel to the area. It is also alot cooler...the valley (Van Nuys) is usually about 10-15 degrees hotter than Thousand Oaks/Newbury Park and Wood Ranch is usually about 5-7 degrees warmer. I am in Thousand Oaks now and rarely have to have my air on and usually have a nice breeze that passes through the house. So here's the breakdown..
Wood Ranch is wonderful...lots of parks, wonderful friendly neighbors, safe, right next to the fire station and sheriff station...there is a childcare facility within Wood Ranch, and gyms, grocery stores, Costco, Target and even the mall are all within a 5 mile radius of the neighborhood. And having the option to take the 118 as opposed to the 101 is always nice...the 118 is way more commuter friendly and hardly ever has traffic.
Loved Newbury Park...friendly neighbors, very family friendly...a real safe, cozy not too busy place with all of Thousand Oaks' stores (the Mall) and all within a 5-10 minute drive...I was in Dos Vientos which has a YMCA with a wonderful daycare within the community, a lil' shopping center with a few restaurants and a coffee shop, gorgeous parks and beautiful views of the surrounding hills with hiking trails within walking distance...they also have a trader joe's right at the bottom of the hill which is nice.
Thousand Oaks is safe, you see alot of sheriffs around and you are smack dab in the middle of everything (whole foods, the mall, civic arts center, etc.) but it's a lil' busy for me...not too crowded, just a lil' faster pace going on overall.
Camarillo is our last stop before we decide on a place. We are moving into the Village at the Park area which is right over the hill from Newbury Park (7 miles further).
I have a feeling it's gonna be a toss up between Newbury Park or Camarillo but only because I prefer cooler weather and being closer to the beach as we spend a lot of time outdoors.
Feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any specific questions.
Best of luck to you,
And our family consists of 2 adults (early 30's) and 1 child (2 yrs old)
I didn't even try to re-read this, sorry for the babbling or typos...just been there, done that and thought I'd share ;)