Living in Sebastapol/Santa Rosa

We are planning to relocate from Menlo Park to Sonoma County (job will be in Rohnert Park).  We have narrowed it down to Sebastapol and Santa Rosa, based on commute distance and talking with friends.  Can anyone comment on desirable communities in this area?  By this, I mean areas with nice homes, low crime, good schools, access to open spaces/parks/sports teams, diverse residents, and good grocery stores.  We have 3 kids ages 6 months to 4 years.  We are interested in the public Waldorf Charter schools they have in Sebastapol, as well as the private Summerfield Waldorf school.  We are also interested in the arts enrichment program in the Gravenstein elementary school district.  If anyone has made this move from the Bay Area to this part of the North Bay, I'd love to hear about your experience.  Any recommendations for neighborhoods, schools, realtors, etc are greatly appreciated.  

Thank you so much!  

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I grew up in SR and even went to kindergarten at Summerfield Waldorf. The Rincon Valley area of SR is generally considered to be the "nice" part of town with bigger newer homes, near parks like Annadel State Park and Spring Lake and near Oliver's Market, my favorite grocery store hands down. Rincon Valley is somewhat suburban but near open space and parks. It feeds into the "nice" (read: wealthier) public schools. Don't know about the elementary schools other than a fairly new French/American bilingual charter school that's really popular. 3 of the high schools in town tends to draw transfer kids from all over the city depending on interest. Santa Rosa High has the ArtQuest program and draws all the artsy kids. Montgomery (where I went) has an International Baccalaureate program. Maria Carrillo is the Rincon Valley HS and has a reputation these days of being a stressful academic pressure cooker. Don't know how it compares to Silicon Valley public schools in that regard.

West Santa Rosa, closer to Sebastopol and Summerfield Waldorf, around Guerneville Rd, Hall Road, Willowside Road area, is beautiful and much more rural/agricultural. (A friend who grew up off Guerneville Rd around there raised chickens and a llama in her backyard.) I don't know much about the public schools in west Santa Rosa. If your kids will be at one of the Waldorf schools, though, that may not matter as much. 

Good luck! It's a wonderful area to grow up. 

Have you considered Petaluma? We moved from the East Bay up here and love it. The schools are great, and Live Oak Charter school ( is Waldorf. It has everything on your wish list.

In Sebastapol, I've heard the Twin Hills School District is good. The whole town seems like a "good neighborhood" to me – it's small and community-oriented, not much crime. You could probably just visit for a weekend, check out the farmers' market or The Barlow, and just strike up a conversation with some families. 

We don't know Santa Rosa as well, but we have friends who live in Bennett Valley and love it.