Tell me about Santa Rosa

Contemplating life beyond Oakland/East Bay. We just returned from a lovely visit in Santa Rosa and other areas in Sonoma. The housing market is not as low as we would like, but it is *far* more affordable than the East Bay has become. We liked Santa Rosa (as opposed to Sebastopol or Petaluma) because it feels like a city in the same way that Oakland (our current home) does, at least for the time being: diverse, still sort of gritty, and just not overwhelmingly hip, shee shee, or pretentious. We visited the local co-op, the library, the farmers market, the downtown area, a few thrift stores, and some of the playgrounds and state parks/swimming areas. It was all really great, and the area seems walkable/bikeable, and close enough to get to SF or meet up with people in the East Bay every once in awhile  ~ but, yet, I am not sure we will be happy there. I know it will take some time to settle into whatever new place we end up in, but I'm just not sure whether that place is Santa Rosa or not. Have others moved there from the East Bay and found happiness? Or moved to the East Bay from there for particular reasons? Pleae share any insights you might have. Thank you!

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RE: Tell me about Santa Rosa ()

I lived in Santa Rosa for 15 years in the late 80's, early 90's. That is obviously some time ago but I still visit often and so feel like I still know the area pretty well.  If you're looking for a non-hipster locale then definitely Santa Rosa is the better choice than the smaller parts of Sonoma. Many of the outlying areas  (like Sebastopol and Petaluma) that used to be dairy farms have become vineyards and, sadly, have lost their character in their rush to become hip. Santa Rosa, on the other hand, is still a working-class cow-town at heart, even though it has grown up and become a city with all the useful amenities one might require. Whether or not you will be happy there depends upon what it is you like/dislike about the East Bay. It's a little slower up there, reasonably diverse (Latino mostly), lots of outdoor activities. But, lacking the influence of a major university, it is not as culturally or intellectually sophisticated and it is not as politically engaged. If that all sounds fine to you than you might love it there.

RE: Tell me about Santa Rosa ()

We lived in Sebastopol for a while and ended up moving back to the east bay for various reasons. Based on your post, you might like Santa Rosa.

We didn't find commuting to SF occasionally for work and East Bay for friends very easy, especially with a baby. Traffic is bad in the North Bay too. But people have different takes on how much they hate to commute and you might not plan to.

When we rented our house in Sebastopol, we got * a lot* of applicants from Santa Rosa. All of them mentioned crime as a reason about why they wanted to move.

We had some neighbors using roundup on our property line and who had outdoor cats that killed a lot of songbirds. (Hot button issues for me.) So I ended up feeling like the area was more anti-environmental/anti bird than it probably was.

I'd recommend considering the possible commute for jobs/friends and spending some time in neighborhood parks in the areas you're considering renting/buying. Bike around to confirm it feels safe. Check the job market in case you decide to get a job in the area.

Santa Rosa might be more walkable than Sebastopol. We actually ended up feeling like we had to drive everywhere because there were so many busy roads.

But! We liked driving to the beach so easily, the regional parks were pretty good, Santa Rosa has some nice tree-lined streets, parking was so much easier than in the Bay Area, and there were really great people there. If we had had more time, I'm sure we would have settled in. We were stressed and tired during our time there, which also might bias my take on Santa Rosa.