Marin or Orinda? I grew up in Piedmont, lived in SF for 15 years after college, and have been renting in Mill Valley for the past several months.

Asked by Marin_moving, Orinda, CA Mon Oct 5, 2009

We have a 9-month old baby and are trying to decide where we should settle: Orinda/Lafayette or Marin. We have loved Marin so far but it seems you get more house for your $ in the East Bay, especially in the areas we are considering (Kentfield, Ross, Greenbrae, Larkspur). We'd like to spend roughly $1.5-2 mm.

We love the outdoors -mountain biking, hiking, tennis, skiing- and my husband is also a surfer/windsurfer. We are 40 years old and I want to be around other new mothers around my age (which I have found in Southern Marin). I want a community whose parents are actively involved in raising motivated, exceptional children, developing their talents, and promoting education. The So. Marin Mother's Club is very active which I like. I've also loved the huge range of Mommy&Me/child development classes in Marin: Bay Area Discovery Museum, baby yoga, music, etc. Finally, we want to be part of a family-oriented, close-knit community of friends which feels like family.

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Sylvia Barry, MAS,CIPS,SRES’s answer
Sylvia Barry,…, Agent, Marin, CA
Wed Mar 17, 2010
HI Marin Moving -

I was wondering why there is no Marin Realtor chime in and then saw that you posted the question in Orinda since you already know much about Marin county.

Your question was posted in October, 2009, I wonder if you have alredy bought a house or if you are still looking. If you are still looking, you must know that Soutern Marin's housing price has gone down a lot and you should be able to get a lot more houses than you could before. If you have not seriously looked at around the area, please take another look. I am sure you can find wonderful home with the price range you are in.

Good luck and let me know if I can help you.

Sylvia Barry', ePRO, MAS
Frank Howard Allen Realtors - #1 company in Marin
(415) 717-0293
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Soraya Goles…, Agent, Orinda, CA
Wed Mar 17, 2010
Hi Marin_moving,
It is a common question Marin or Orinda? We actually had to make the same decision and for us it came down to what we could get for the money. You probably know this, but the Acalanes School district is number 1 in the state of California and Miramonte and Campolindo high schools ( Orinda and Moraga respectively) are both in the top 100 in California. I know your children are not quite there yet, but the fact that they're so highly rated shows you that the community highly values education and their children. Also, Sleepy Hollow Elementary School in Orinda was rated #5 nationwide!
Regarding the activities you like... regarding biking, there are many trails and you always see bikers on the road. Regarding tennis, there is the Moraga and Orinda Country Clubs and as for skiing, we are only 3 hours away from Tahoe. As for surfing, Marin is definitely better. In terms of activities for the kids, they have just as many and there are also mother's clubs.
We are in Marin often since most of our friends live out there. The main difference I see is that it may be a little more casual here.
To me, it sounds like you really like Marin. Maybe you just need to take a look out here to either give it a chance or to rule it out. If you'd like, I'd be happy to give you a tour of the area and show you homes in your price range. I work with Coldwell Banker in Orinda. You can reach me on my cell at 925-808-8390.
All the best,

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Mike Rowland, Agent, El Sobrante, CA
Fri Mar 5, 2010
Hands down for me its Orinda.
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Potentialbuy…, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Tue Feb 23, 2010
Im a new, older mom and while there are some of us out here, I would say the further east you go, the ages drop by 3-5 years. I relocated from LA where I targeted the new moms where I lived to be around 37. Then we moved to San Francisco, Noe Valley, and it appeared most moms of toddlers/babies were over 40 for many cases looking like the grandma's. LOL. We spend a lot of time in Mill Valley considering it as a place to move. The vibe there seems more sophisticated and west LA like to some degree for nor cal, but the housing options are horrible under 1.5M. I don't know why people bother at that point.....but husbands office moved to Walnut Creek so we ended up out here and it is very different than the city and marin. More small town feeling and quasi midwestern. Many people work in SF and commute by bart. The moms here are a range from early 30's to those of us who had more serious careers and waiting till late 30-early 40's. I think it is very liberal here, but I feel that way about the bay area in general, but told it is not as exreme as berkeley.
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Bob Georgiou, Agent, Danville, CA
Tue Oct 6, 2009

From Piedmont the change to Orinda will feel the same. Most buyers I know consider both areas and when they settle for Orinda it is due to it's more suburban situation (If you can call $1.5-$2.0 Million suburban).

Marin county is Marin county though. The area has its own culture which is expemplified it the large number of open space and tougher development standards. These two outward characteristics exemplify an population that values an insular eco friendly lifestyle which is not a part of the east bay culture. This is probably the most important lifestyle difference between the two.

When choosing a home the cold economics of $ per square foot are really meaningless, especially if you value the outdoors, and it is true that in that price point Orinda is the better economic value.
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Suzanne Look…, Agent, Lafayette, CA
Tue Oct 6, 2009
Hi Marin Moving Mom,
I have lived in Marin and now in Contra Costa County and love both. If I was to choose a place to raise a family today, I would choose Lafayette. My younger sister just had her second baby, now only 5 days old, lives in Lafayette and I've been lucky enough to participate in every aspect of her older daughter's life there. Lafayette has it all, close to Walnut Creek for shopping, close to The City, mountains and Alameda for wind surfing.
I would advise you to choose a realtor and see how much home you can get in the Lamorinda area, familiarize yourself with all this county has to offer and then make the decision.
Prices are declining in most of the area, so your timing is very fortunate to purchase a great family home at that price range.
Good luck to you,
Suzanne Looker
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Kamal Randha…, Agent, El Sobrante, CA
Mon Oct 5, 2009
Looking at all the activities you are looking for and the kind of community, good schools, mommy/baby classes, etc etc.. Orinda seems like a good fit for you. Having worked and lived in and around Orinda, I've always enjoyed the vibe of the city. You know every city has it's own vibe, like Berkeley for instance has a fun crazy vibe, Orinda has a very "united" vibe. Have you considered Berkeley at all? There are so many possibilities in your price point, I wouldnt rush into anything. News nugget for you: Did you know that high end homes are going for approx. 10% less then asking right now?? Make sure you work with a knowledgable Agent. Good luck and please feel free to call or email me directly if you need any further information. Godo luck!!

Kamal Randhawa
"Straight answers all the time"
0 votes
Johnny Huang,…, Agent, Walnut Creek, CA
Mon Oct 5, 2009
I think you answered your own question...If you get more $/sqft, then you'll have to make new friends :-P
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