Bigapplechick, Home Buyer in Mill Valley, CA

Seeking less square footage but want property valued at higher price?

Asked by Bigapplechick, Mill Valley, CA Sun Mar 6, 2011

My spouse and I are moving from New York City. We own a brownstone. We want to rent for a year or so to learn the market while we rent our place back east. We are willing to rent for $2500-4500 to enjoy our experience. We don't need to rent large, we'd rather get an interesting space with less square footage than pay that amount for 4 bedrooms we don't need, although we'd love a small yard. We are used to compact places. Is there an area catering to 2 people with urban tastes? We plan to keep our property back home as an investment but plan to buy here in the near future.

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Bigapplechick, Home Buyer, Mill Valley, CA
Sun Mar 6, 2011
Rent would be around $3500 but higher or lower $500 is reasonable. As far as home purchases, we haven't decided what we want but presume $800K-million mark with 20% down. At this time we own something valued at $650K. We have a 4.3% 30 year mortgage, pay $2200/month mortgage and have paid off $250K. We're coming from an area where our outgoing costs/month for parking ($150), storage ($275), property taxes ($15,500/yr) and whatever else we require to live in such a condensed urban setting will no longer be required if we moved.
1 vote
Lance King, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sun Mar 6, 2011
There are plenty of cool lofts in the city, some with big decks and usually green spaces nearby. I live in one and love it - 3 blocks from union square, 1.5 blocks from BART, and tons of restaurants/bars a short distance away.

In any case, it still comes down to budget. This will be a large part of your choices. And since you live in the city now and presumably like it, you may want to check out some of the areas outside of the city and rent there to see if you really are ok with a less urban environment.

Once you make that decision the rest is easy.
1 vote
Bigapplechick, Home Buyer, Mill Valley, CA
Sun Mar 6, 2011
We have 1350 square feet. It has a loft-like feel, 2 bedrooms, 2 bath and a small green space. We are big entertainers hence the kitchen area was the center of our living space. It has raw brick face and an industrial type look. We bought it because it had that raw, loft-like modern feel.

We love the outdoors too and enjoy biking and green space, but have an aversion to the 'burbs as we are a couple with no children and many of our friends are the same. We love an urban environment because of the opportunity to walk everywhere but we're tired of the crime and unpleasantness of neighbors on top of you. WE don't mind renting in a neighborhood outside of San Francisco either. Our jobs would require going in to Corte Madera and San Francisco but a lot of home office work and travel. We love design and original places and can't imagine renting without having something interesting to move to. The joy of a backyard would be incredible but we don't need a large space.

We don't plan to buy for 1-2 years. We're not panicked about interest rates, the perfect space matters more and we'd lease until we really learned where we'd want to live.
1 vote
Lance King, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sun Mar 6, 2011

Renting first is a great idea if you don't know the area well enough to decide where you want to live. Although interest rates will likely rise over the next year, I don't see anything that indicates to me that prices will and knowledge of the area could help avoiding a bad decision as a hedge against any higher costs.

The first question is do you want to be IN the city? If so, there are plenty of 3BR+ places for rent under $4K, but they will mostly be condos or flats with the possibility of a shared yard. If you want a single family your choices will be limited - either need to raise the price or go outside the city.

Outside the city there are a number of areas with downtowns that have the feel of a city neighborhood - Mill Valley, Rockridge, Piedmont, Burlingame, etc... but they are not the same as being IN the city. Either way, most single family homes will cost over a mil for any area you would likely want to be in unless small or fixers.

The best way for me/us to help you is know your budget, desired property type and min beds/baths as this will help direct your search. There are plenty of places in San Francisco where you can get a yard that aren't far from the action, even with a condo. If you are willing to trade a deck for the yard that opens more possibilities.

We work in all the above areas and with both out-of area and international clients, if you send me an email (address below) with more details I can help direct you to what area(s) you will likely be wanting to check out.

And there are companies that handle rentals but will help you get a feel for costs.

Best Regards,

Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker
DRE# 01384425
1 vote
Oggi Kashi, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Thu Mar 17, 2011

Your profile says Mill Valley however, if you plan to rent in SF, there are many cool and urban pockets you may find to your liking. I recommend North Beach, South Beach, parts of the Marina, Pac Heights, Hayes Valley, Mission, Yerba Buena and Nob Hill. Here is a link to rental listings:

Good Luck,

Oggi Kashi
Paragon Real Estate Group DRE 01844627
Web Reference:
0 votes
Honey Brooks, Agent, san Francisco, CA
Mon Mar 7, 2011
Helloo from one Bigapplechic to another,
As I left my brownstone in NYC to see if I wanted to relocate to SF,for a long term commitment. I learned so much! It is not just the money factor, the architecture, the shopping. I have been here now 16 years helping people to make the right Real Estate ,investment and most of all the "get it" factor for happiness in where they live. If I could simply address this in a Q&A box I would. This is not one of those "In a NY minute" answers. I would need to meet with you. If you are interested. My contact information is provided. We need more NY'r's here so I hope you stay!
Best Always,
Honey Brooks Realtor
SF Homes of Distinction
International Luxury Property Specialist
S.R.E.S ( Senior Real Estate Specialist)
W.C.R. (SF former President, Women's Council of Realtors)
DRE #01310883
415-425-2008 mobile
"Your Personal Business is My Confidentiality"
0 votes
Sylvia Barry,…, Agent, Marin, CA
Sun Mar 6, 2011
Thank you, Bigapplechick :-) That helps a lot. I have to go and do my open house now, but will get back to you later.

0 votes
Sylvia Barry,…, Agent, Marin, CA
Sun Mar 6, 2011
Marin county is a great place to be to get a taste of urban, suburban and one of the best nature surroundings! Southern Marin will be a great place to start. .

Your question mentioned 'less square footage' and not needing a 'four bedrooms'. Knowing that you have a brownstone in N.Y.C; I will be very interested in finding out what is the minimum requirement you might have in square footage, number of bedrooms and other amentities you might prefer (whether it's wants or needs) and your timing.

With a price range of $2,500 - $4,500 and wide open criterian, there are many possibilities. A little more details will be very helpful.

Sylvia Barry
Frank Howard Allen Realtors
(415) 717-0293
0 votes
Voices Member, , Cornelius, NC
Sun Mar 6, 2011
I recomend you look at Cornelius,North Carolina. It is located 25 minutes from the center of Charlotte that has professional sportstheater,orchestra,museums and all the culture you would want. Cornelius is on a lake with 510 miles of shoreline.It is resort type living near a major metropolitan area. Oh and did I mention we are only 90 minutes from the mountans and 31/2 hours from the ocean with a change of seasons that lets us play golf all year long.
0 votes
Jeannie Rorv…, Agent, Mill Valley, CA
Sun Mar 6, 2011
You should be able to find a nice rental at that price range. The real issue would be where the house is located weather wise, proximity to town, if you're commuting to SF or you want water views or live in the flats. I would suggest you find an agent to help you since we know all the neighborhoods, weather patterns and commute routes.
Craigslist is a good way to start searching but you won't know if it's in the fog belt unless you get some local direction.
0 votes
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