Where to live for jobs in Santa Rosa and Alameda?

Hello!

my husband and I currently live in Walnut Creek with our 14 mos old.  I recently took a new job with locations in Sonoma and Santa Rosa. My husband works in person on alameda island. 
my hours are 8-5p. His hours are 7-3p.

our son will be starting full time daycare or nanny in august when my job starts. We really are conflicted about where to move in terms of commuting and daycare etc.  is it best to live very close to one of our work sites, or better to live at the half way point? If the latter, would our son commute with one of us to attend daycare close to our work site? 
Would love any insight or ideas. 
Thanks! 

Parent Replies

Parents, want to reply to this question? Sign in to post.

I think it would be helpful to know what kind of budget you have and whether you plan to enroll in public or private school in the future. 

If I were in your shoes and assuming that the hours are pretty firm, I would choose a location that is about halfway but slightly closer to Alameda — I’m thinking of Richmond, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, San Pablo, Pinole. You could do the drop off in the morning near your house and your husband should be able to make the 5-6 pm pickup deadline even in bad commute conditions driving up from Alameda. But, the commute sounds awful for both of you. EV would help with commute as you could use the HOV lane. As a backup, I would line up a number of sitters, nearby relatives or kind neighbors / parent friends nearby who can do a pickup if there is a major incident on the freeway and pickup will be delayed. 

I think it is best to live near one of your workplaces so that one of you does not have to commute far. Likewise, the daycare should be near your home so that your children are not subject to a long daily commute. This way one parent is nearby and can easily pick your child up when they inevitably have to be sent home early due to illness or doctor appointments, etc. If you are half-way between both workplaces, then you could both have a 1-hour plus commute depending on traffic. My husband and I were faced with this dilemma when we were living in Oakland but he got a job in Sonoma County. We decided to buy a house in Petaluma and put our young children in the excellent schools there. However, I work in Oakland and my commute is soul crushing. It would have been better if we had stayed in Oakland and had my husband commute north. 

I live in Alameda and work up in Contra Costa. My reverse commute is a breeze compared to anyone that does the standard commute into San Francisco. I see the cars backed up the entire distance, miles and miles. In the morning and in the afternoon. Traffic never flowed even during the dark days of Covid. For your husband's sanity you should live nearer to his job. 

Hi! I don't envy you on this decision! It is not an easy one. However, I would opt for living near one of your workplaces -- ideally if one of you has a more flexible type of work it should be near them. I am thinking of times when your child might get sick and need to be picked up early or if, God forbid, there is an emergency and you need to get to him quickly. Also, if you plan on having a second child, the need becomes even greater. Either way, the commute will really suck for one of you. Could you look at traffic patterns and figure out which way would be less painful? Luckily, Alameda or Sonoma area are both nice places to live. Alameda has good schools, not sure about the Sonoma area, though, so that would be something else to research. If you do opt for the halfway point, I would seriously consider hiring a nanny over daycare as the latter is more rigid about pick up times. Having had to commute from Berkeley to SF back when my babies were in daycare, it could be pretty stressful trying to get there on time.

Also, one more thing to consider -- although it seems like the baby days and toddler-hood will last forever, time goes by so quickly and you will soon have a kindergartner on your hands. If this is a job you envision staying at long term, I would seriously think about the future and where you and your partner envision being happiest and having a thriving family. We ended up moving from SF to Berkeley when the kids were in elementary school and I wish we had done it sooner. The transition has actually been hardest on me because I left behind a wonderful support group of friends and haven't yet made such good friendships in the four years we've been here. Best of luck to you!!

It's the Bay Area, live where you can afford and get ready for hours commuting.  Have you looked at commute times?  With people going back to work the traffic is terrible again.  One of you will easily be spending over 2 hours commuting.  Probably best to be in the middle someplace like Richmond, Vallejo or Hercules.

Best of luck