Moving to Davis
Austin, Texas is my hometown. (I'm a 4th generation Texan). I love Austin--but not Texas politics! We're moving to Davis because of the expense-- we've paid cash for a mobile home, 4 bedrooms/2 baths double wide in Rancho Yolo. You have to be 55 or partnered with someone who's 55, then you can be 45 yrs. old. Our yearly taxes will be $347. Yes, that's not a typo. The HOA fees will be $700. they increase $25 each year. Davis reminds me of Austin. -- BUT this isn't what you asked about. Austin RARELY has snow. RARELY. You'll get plenty of hot weather --- with high humidity (Davis is drier) Anyway, no worries about driving in snow. Texans ARE friendly, yeah! Because of Univ. of Texas, Austin is enough diverse, enough liberal, educated. Second choice would be San Antonio because of the Hispanic population. If you can put up with the weather, the blockheads who legislate, then you'll encounter delicious Tex-Mex food, awesome barbecue (something that no one in this state can do--Gawd!) Also, wonderful music, films. It is a very lively place. You could start off by volunteering, joining a liberal church, there's a couple of buddhist groups. Best of luck.
We moved from Berkeley to Davis and have been very happy so far. We actually found Davis as an idea on BPN, followed the suggestion in that post to visit on a Saturday farmer's market day or Wednesday picnic in the park and found what we were looking for. We moved primarily for better schools but what we have found so far is:
1. Better schools. Not as good as east coast schools, but better than Berkeley. There is real school choice - neighborhood school, Spanish immersion, public montessori, project based learning, even a small farm school. Also much more support for individual learning needs. In addition, there are resources available that we didn't have access to in Berkeley, such a a very strong robotics program and free coding classes for girls.
2. Lower crime
3. High bikeability
4. Numbers 2 and 3 mean that kids can have a lot of independence, which makes them happier.
5. Nice community. Having the university in town brings intellectual vibrancy and we feel the presence of the university in the community more so than we did in Berkeley.
6. Responsive and quality public officials. We were able to have dialogues with people in the education department prior to moving, compared to the black hole we found at the Dept of Ed in Berkeley. Davis town leaders come to the farmer's market to collect feedback from the public, then will contact you and let you know how they followed up on your suggestion. This blew us away after our experience in Berkeley.
7. Great fresh food from local farms. Lots of greenery and farmland, yet Sacramento and San Francisco are both accessible by train.
8. Warm weather. Perhaps too warm in the summer, but great the rest of the year.
It's not inexpensive, but we paid about 30% less than we would have in Berkeley. Overall, it's been a good move for our family. The only things we miss are the restaurants and the lovely walks, but we can visit for those.
Davis is a wonderful town with lots of diversity. There is great housing stock, lots of bike lanes, and trees. I would move to Davis over Sac any day. But it is a long commute into Oakland from either Davis or Sacramento. Best of luck in your move!
Davis public schools are really nice, and they are ethnically diverse because of the university. However, they are not very socioeconomically diverse so it can feel more homogeneous in Davis. It's still a long commute on the train from Oakland to Davis, but it's even longer if you have to go to Sacramento. Long commutes are no fun and really eat into family time. Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss:)
Davis makes the most sense. Fantastic schools, a good community, and much more affordable than the Bay Area. It's also fairly diverse (each person has their own definition of diverse, but as one point of evidence there are 35 different languages spoken at my child's public elementary school in Davis). The Davis Farmers' Market has been named the best in the country, and for good reason. Sacramento is underrated as a city---it's really on the upswing as people migrate their to escape the prices in the Bay.
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Davis for professional-creative family and mom?
Can anyone give me some recent perspective on moving to in Davis after living in Berkeley? We have a 5yo daughter starting K in the fall, and we lived in Berkeley for 13 years. We've been looking to leave the Bay Area for a long time (homes, pace of life, earthquake, etc) , but have been finding it hard (starting over). We are interested in Davis, b/c it seems a way to keep connections, but build a rooted community. But... we are struggling with it as we get close. We are a professional-creative family. Can anyone give some perspective. My husband and I both work in consulting loosely. We are looking to simplify, but want to stay engaged/interested. Is the university the only game in town? What about the lack, or availability, of professionalism outside of academia? I grew up in a medium sized midwestern town -- is this what I am getting? Looking for quieter, but creative. Can a non-academic survive? Deep, enthusiastic women?
You don't say what type of consulting you and your husband do, but I'm assuming it's environmental. I grew up in Sacramento then got an environmental graduate degree at Davis and lived there for 6 years prior to moving to Berkeley in 2010. I'll try to give you as balanced an opinion as possible.
The short of it is, Davis and (downtown) Sacramento are 15 minutes apart from each other when traffic is good. What you can't get (personally and professionally) in Davis you'll probably be able to get in Sac. But here's a breakdown.
Davis is a very family friendly town and much more affordable than Berkeley, but still not the cheapest place. For your 5 year-old it will probably be great - the education system there is rated very well and there's lots of education based activities because of the university. Every weekend (I think Saturday) and every Thursday from spring till fall there is a farmers market in the Central Park, just a block off campus towards downtown, that has live music and on Saturdays there are SPCA dogs for adoption and often a small pony ride. There are lots of kids running around freely, which brings up the point that Davis is so safe that lots of people there still don't lock their doors. I personally felt completely comfortable going for walks on my own late at night as a woman. There is no 'bad' part of town.
Everyone bikes (or walks) there so the cars are on high alert. But that's not necessarily true of the bicyclist who are known to cut pedestrians and cars off. Every Fall Quarter you'll want to avoid areas near campus for a few weeks because incoming students are learning the biking rules - some re-learning how to bike altogether - and it is chaos.
Diversity-wise, the demographics are mostly White and Asian, with most of the Asians being students. The town clears out quite a bit during summer.
Also along the lines of diversity, if you like to eat out a lot be ready to drive to Sacramento. Your food options are mostly (all-you-can-eat) sushi, thai, or pizza. There were two Indian/Nepalese places when I left, two Vietnamese, and two Mexican restaurants. There are more high-end California cuisine, one Prague restaurant, and one Irish Pub that popped up in the past year. There's not much fast food and Davis is very proud of that. They do have a great grocery co-op and lots of other good grocery stores though, so you can always cook other types of food. Almost all the food options close at 10pm.
Until the Target came in 5 years ago you either had to go to Sacramento for clothing and the local ACE hardware for anything else.
Professional-wise, Davis is one of the most highly educated towns - (other) students love it and don't leave. A lot of them are employed by the University or in Sacramento. If you are in environmental consulting there are lots of resources for you to take advantage of. Besides the multitude of talks you can go to on campus (Davis was yet again ranked the best agriculture school in the world this year) all the state and federal environmental agencies are headquartered in Sacramento. As a result there's a lot of environmental consulting companies there too. I'm not sure what your chances will be for free-lancing, but I should think that there would be plenty of environmental job opportunities in the area.
Weather-wise, winter nights can drop below freezing. The town proper doesn't really flood but the surrounding areas do. Normal summer weather is low 90's as highs and dropping to the 60's at night. But summer heat-waves will often go into the high 100's and only cool off to the 90's at night. They usually only last a few days but have been known to last for over a week.
A lot of people choose to live in Davis both for the small town feel and for it's proximity to a lot of other places - 2 hours east will get you to the mountains, 2 hours to the west will get you to SF. You're also really close to Highway 5 and 99 to go south or north. That said, it's necessary because besides the farmer's market there's not that much to do in Davis itself. But you should also check out http://daviswiki.org/ - it's completely run by the community.
How's Davis for Families?
For various reasons relating to dissatisfaction with current house/school/employment options in the East Bay, we are considering a move to Davis for the next school year. Obviously only my partner and I can best judge our employment possibilities, but can anyone speak to the relative friendliness of the neighborhoods and school communities? (We'd be leaving all our good friends behind in the E.Bay.) Any neighborhoods best for families with young kids? I understand the local school district is highly thought of; any thoughts on that? Is the town overrun with students, or is it more like Berkeley (i.e., if you avoid student-y areas, you don't see them much)? Thanks! Thinking About Growing Better Tomatoes...
It depends... My husband and I met in school at Davis, moved around, had kids, got frustrated with the Bay Area and moved to Davis with a 3 year old and infant for largely the reasons you describe and thinking while in college that it looked like a great family town. Four years later we moved back to the Bay Area because we did not belong there! It is a great small town, but it is just that: a suburban small town. Yes there is a University so you get access to arts and culture, but you are on the edge of the central valley, with Sac as your urban center and there is a small town mentality that pervades the adult community. There are a lot of similarities to Berkeley and Santa Cruz, especially when it comes to self-rightous judgments. There is an undercurrent of racism and anti-semitism, being something other than white and christian is fine as long as you don't live there. The schools are good because they are totally homogeneous - no miraculous teaching going on - just a lot of smart kids with active families, and you have one choice (local elementary, one middle, one high) - there is no find the right fit for your kid and if your kid does not fit in then that is your problem, not their's. I saw this with numerous families, our daughter fit academically but the problem was that we were jewish (70% of play dates stopped when kindergarten families found out).
All of that said, you do get to bike everywhere, kids get to play in the street, you know your neighbors, etc. all the great stuff about a small town. There are trade-offs with everything, pick the package of good that outweighs the bad and that's the best you can do! glad to be in Oakland
Davis is definitely a student town. Most people have some connection with the university so if that will bother you, don't move there. The schools are great but the pressure is huge so a lot of kids have issues with that. ucd grad
Moving from Oakland to Davis with toddlers
We are moving from Oakland to UC Davis on September 1st and will be living in student family housing on campus. What is the best way to meet other parents with toddlers? Are there certain groups or clubs that we should look into? Suggestions for general toddler well-being welcome, too! Restaurants, playgrounds, etc. Lauren
You will find toddlers and their families everywhere you go in Davis! We have been in Davis with our four year old for less than a year, and are not affiliated with the university, but we were pleasantly surprised at how easy it has been to get to know other toddler/preschool families. Friendly places we know include Slide Hill Park/Manor Pool, Community Park, the public library, and the playground at the Saturday morning farmer's market. We enrolled him in weekly gymnastics classes at Davis Diamonds as well as swimming lessons through the City's Rec Department and met several families that way. There are also classes for young ones and their parents at the Davis Art Center. And of course, preschool. Basically, do whatever you are interested in for you and your toddler, and you will find friendly and interesting people who are there doing it with you. anon
Hi - noticed some older posts (2004) and curious about any recent input on living in Davis - the culture, family life? Where do people work? We may be relocating (job in downtown Sacto) and hoping it's more slow-paced and less materialistic/competitive than the Bay Area. Realize that there are certainly 'cons' too but would love some recent input on living in Davis - especially coming from the Bay Area. Thanks. anon
I'm originally from the Bay Area, currently reside in SF and work in Berkeley. From 1989-2005, I lived in Davis and I can honestly say that I loved my life there. I went to UCD and then worked in downtown Davis for many years until I decided to make a career change and moved back to the Bay Area. There is a demographic that seems to be missing in Davis (singles w/o kids btwn the ages of 30-45), but it sounds like you have kids so you'll fit right in. Davis is a college town, very safe (although bicycle theft is prevalent), 15 minute commute from downtown Sacto, home to the Rocknasium (an indoor rock climbing facility for kids and adults), a close knit community with great schools and great people. It doesn't have the bay so it's a bit 'dryer' than this area, the climate is similar to Bay Area towns that fall inland where the summers are hotter and the winters are colder, and it's less diverse and has less cullinary appeal than this area. But more recently it has attracted more people from around the nation and even the world, has opened new restaurants, cafes, etc in both downtown Davis and Sacto and thanks to a hefty donation from the Mondavi family, a neat little performing arts center. It's only a couple of hours from Tahoe and an hour from SF. Go Aggies!
Davis is a wonderful place to raise a family! I grew up in the Bay Area, but went to UC Davis and stayed after graduation. I moved back to the East Bay due to a new job 2 years ago with my 2 small kids and 1 big kid, and I desperately wish I could move back. Kids can play outside and bike around without worries, top notch super safe public schools, friendly community, inexpensive quality childcare costs, great parks and rec dept, few snobbish judgemental parents, and slow paced family life! And for the same amount to rent a tiny, dark apartment here in a decent area, I was able to rent a house with yard close to schools. My oldest went to 3rd grade through 9th in Davis, and the public schools are amazing. Although we were not the norm (black/latino, lower income, single parent) family, people were very welcoming. It is competitive because nearly everyone is focused on education but not in a bay area way where you constantly feel inadequate (and definitely not materialistic). I'm jealous- best of luck! Missing Davis
I went to grad school in Davis and so I sent you question to a fellow colleague who is raising kids there while working. Here is her reply:
Living in Davis with kids... The best thing I can say about Davis is also the worst thing: It's a great place to raise kids. This means that it is very family-friendly, with good schools and lots of activities for kids. It's safe-- kids walk and ride bikes to school and all over town. The downside is, it's dull as dirt if you're single! But since this probably doesn't apply to the person who posted that, it might not be an issue.
Davis is not cheap to live in. Our housing market has only dropped a little since the big crash. You can get terrific bargains in Sacramento, but you'll still pay through the nose for a nice place in Davis. The upside of that is, it probably won't lose much value in the next crash, either.
If this person is renting, there are lots of family-friendly places to rent here, but the September-August lease situation gets to be quite restrictive. Rents are not cheap, either, compared to Sacramento. I pay $1275 for a kind of run down two bedroom apartment, which is a reasonable rate by Davis standards. To rent a nicer home in a family- oriented neighborhood (and not the student ghetto I'm in) will be quite a lot more.
The university is, obviously, the largest employer, but many people also work in Sacramento. The commute to downtown Sac only takes 15-20 minutes, and you can even take the train if you don't want to drive.
Family life in Davis tends to be of the typical upper-middle class sort where kids lead highly organized and rigidly scheduled lives. Their overachieving, highly educated parents are actively, even obtrusively involved in every aspect their children's educational, recreational, and social lives. As a result, we have a wealth of organizations, activities, and opportunities for kids because parents are so interested in staying involved and supporting them. Our community raised over $1million for the schools year before last to save science and arts education.
The downside of this is, if you're not one of those parents who wants to micromanage every aspect of their kids' lives, you really don't fit in, and the righteous PTA type moms really do look down their noses at you. Having a child in GATE who develops some special talent in a rather public way is a major status marker for both kids at school AND their parents. If you have a kid like that, you'll start moving in the social circle of those overinvolved parents, and for me, it's been majorly annoying. Since those families also have a lot of money and usually at least one stay at home parent, it totally sucks to be relatively poor, and single. But if you're married couple with at a six-figure income (combined or from a single earner), I imagine this is a really wonderful place to live.
For the kids, it's good because there are so many opportunities they can explore, and tons of support from teachers and parents to develop their interests and hobbies. But the downside of that is, lots of kids feel huge pressures to succeed and getting into not just a 'good' college, but 'the best' college is something they start stressing over (thanks to their parents) in elementary school.
The town is nominally liberal, but nothing at all like Berkeley. We have a huge and growing population of Republicans here, and a huge number of Christians as well. Davis' liberalness is truly only skin deep. However, lesbians and gays are very well accepted, and we have many lesbian families (I don't know of as many gay men families). Also, as you know, Davis is very environmentally conscious, and you can totally do the 'locavore' lifestyle here without any trouble, if that's what you're into. It's also an extremely animal-loving and pet-friendly town, especially for dogs. It's a great town if you have a dog because of all the parks and other dogs and dog owners.
I could go on and on. I've lived here since 1993 and can hardly wait to leave. But it has been a good place for my kids to go to school and safe and supportive enough. So, now I've got a little over 3 years till K's off to college, and then I can move back to the Bay Area. Andi
May be relocating for a job to the Davis/Sacto area. Working downtown Sacto. I went to undergrad at UCD and loved it, though, that was many years ago! Noticed some older posts about living in Davis as a family. Would love some updated comments on living in Davis - and which neighborhood/area as well as commuting to downtown Sacto. Thank you. go ags
I live in Berkeley now, but I spent a total of 14 years in Davis. My most recent time there was from 2003-2006. Also, my wife went to grad school there (total 7 years).
Stream-of-consciousness thoughts / recommendations:
Davis Wiki (www.daviswiki.org) is a great resource. It's a noncommercial resource for and by the community, hosted by a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit (disclaimer: I'm a founding board member)
the Davis Food Co-op is my fav grocery store anywhere. It's a co-op, so if you become a member you'll be a genuine co-owner (along with ~8,000 other member-owners). It's located in East Davis, a short walk from downtown.
If you're a renter who is used to the Berkeley setting, you're probably going to be in for a rude surprise by becoming a renter in Davis. Despite its reputation as a liberal-leaning enlightened college town, there is a very strong mix of NIMBYism, insular tendencies, and anti-renter sentiment, and as a result there isn't a lot in the way of renter protections as we have here in Berkeley. Even so, UC Davis has done a good deed by developing and popularizing the ''Davis Model Lease'', which is much more fair and even-handed than the typical one-sided real-estate-association rental lease. If you find a landlord who uses the Davis Model Lease, that's a really good sign.
Despite its relatively small size as a city, it can take almost 30 minutes to get on I-80 from certain parts of town. And getting across the causeway during conventional commute times can be a chore. If I were to move to Davis today, I'd look for a place in East Davis for the best compromise between access by bike/foot to downtown and the parks and access by car to I-80. (Watch out for school-morning traffic going past Harper Junior High on E. Covell - might want to take 5th/Alhambra instead.)
Another really nice part of town is Village Homes in West Davis. The whole subdivision is really well-planned, with energy efficiency, parks, community, and bike/pedestrian-friendliness at the heart of the design. For example, the front doors face the parks, not the street. It's pricier than East Davis, tho, and it's far enough away that it'll be more tempting to get in the car for trips around town.
I'm a strong proponent of local business, but when it comes to internet access, based on past experience I'd skip the local Davis-based ISP and use Santa Rosa-based Sonic.net instead.
The local newspaper, The Davis Enterprise, is available online on Mondays. (No other days of the week.)
My younger brother and I both went to the public schools in Davis (he went to elementary, jr. high and high school; I went to jr. high and high school), and we were both miserable. But, I've heard great things about the Montessori schools and the new Davinci High School - I wish that had been there when I was in school!
If you're interested in cooperative housing and/or want to make friends with people who are, it's worth asking the N Street Cohousing folks for a tour. It's an amazing setup, and they're really friendly, though in order to be respectful you should call/email in advance rather than just showing up.
Happy to provide more input and/or connect you with good people, Graham
We are looking into moving to Davis or Sacramento this fall. I have heard nothing to great about Sac public schools but everything seems wonderful about Davis public school, Davis reminds me of Berkeley, however no Trader Joes, etc.. I am concerned about having to drive to Sacramento for everything (shopping) and wondering if anyone can share experiences in regards to the school and town in general? my kids ages are 6,7, and 8. Nat
Davis is getting Trader Joes! And it has a very popular natural foods co-op downtown , in addiction to 2 safeways, alebrtsons, and 2 nugget markets (fancier, healthier family-owned local chain). Plus there's a farmer's market twice a week. It is an awesome town. It's family friendly, there's lots to do, it is the most bikable city anywhere, with bike lanes and paths and greenbelts to walk and bike all around.
I'd LOVE to move back to Davis in a heartbeat, but I can't imagine EVER living in Sac or any of it's suburbs christine
I grew up in Davis and would LOVE to move back there. This is even more true now that I have kids. We go up often to see friends with kids there and everything just seems so much easier for them. There are extensive bike paths (I think it was Bicycling Magazine that gave Davis the first ever Platinum rating for bike friendliness) so kids can have lots of freedom to go off by themselves -- to the park, to the library, to visit friends, etc. The schools are great and most are neighborhood schools so your kids will know a bunch of the same people from now until they graduate from high school. There are lots of great activities for kids (Picnic Day, the kids Nutcracker, tons of sports and parks) and lots of good things for parents too (Mondavi Center for concerts, great farmer's market, lots of groups to join). I find it much more relaxed and much friendlier than Berkeley both for kids and adults. We used to have block parties and would welcome new neighbors with cookies or at least a visit.
Even though you currently need to drive to Sacramento for Trader Joes, I have heard talk of one opening in Davis. In the meantime you can shop at the Co-op or Nugget Market. For non- food purchases, sometimes (but not often) you do need to go to Woodland or Sacramento to get what you need, but I find it easier to do that than to try to shop in or around Berkeley because there is little traffic and parking is easy. (In fact, I do most of my errands up there because it is so much easier than doing them here.)
I'm so jealous you have the opportunity to move there Davis Lover
I've lived in Oakland and Berkeley almost my entire life, but lately I have been thinking about possibly moving to Davis in order to (a) provide my children with better public schools and (b) have a simpler lifestyle. Other than the weather (Egads, the heat!), I'm trying to anticipate what this move would really be like. Davis is a University town, they have Peet's Coffee and Noah's Bagels, and a public library (all key requirements!), but what is it really like living in Davis compared with Oakland or Berkeley? Has anybody on this list made such a move, and if so, what did you miss the most? (Also, is there anything -- coffeehouses perhaps? -- in Davis other than bars that are open in the wee hours of the night?) - hesitantly exploring all my options
I have never lived in Davis since having children, but I was a graduate student there in the 90s and feel like I can compare it to the Bay Area. Most notably, it is much less racially and economically diverse than the Bay Area. While the University does bring in international students and of course offers a lot of cultural experiences, the grad students of color in my program complained how ''white'' the town was. Yes, it does have good schools at all levels, and there was a Spanish-immersion elementary school when I was there. (Of course school rankings are highly correlated with parental socio-economic status, and there just aren't many poor or working class folk in Davis-- they live in nearby towns like Woodland.) Davis has fantastic parks and a wonderful greenbelt system of paved paths that encircles the town--again, this is a town with resources! There is fine food co-op there, and decent restaurants--though not as many as you'd find here. I wouldn't want to move back, due to the diversity issue and small-town limitations, but then again I don't have school age kids yet. Good luck. Former Davis Dweller
My husband and I are considering moving our family to Davis from Berkeley this summer. I would appreciate input from people who live in Davis, especially people who moved there in the past few years from the Bay Area or elsewhere. We are considering moving there because we feel it might be a better fit for our family and the cheaper (relative to Berkeley) housing would allow my husband the flexibility to consider leaving his job to do consulting or work with a start-up. If anyone out there knows someone who has moved to Davis as an adult and who has school-age kids, I would really appreciate having my email address passed along to them. I read the posts from last December responding to someone's question about moving to Davis but I have additional questions that weren't answered. Here's what I already know: it's really hot there in the summer (but I think it's really cold here in the summer), it's a bike- and pedestrian-friendly community, the schools are pretty good-- and kids typically go to public school rather than private school, the housing stock is dreadfully uninteresting, the parks and greenways are nice, it's politically liberal. What I wonder: Is having a university connection crucial to developing a social life as newcomers? Are there any stores like Berkeley Natural Grocery or Monterey Market? Are kids getting a balanced experience in the schools, or are they stressed by unrealistic academic standards with too little time for art, music, etc? Can you find just about everything you need for kids (music lessons, drama groups, dance lessons, sports, etc.) in Davis without commuting to Sacramento? Should we compare the schools in the district before deciding where to live (e.g., is one middle school considered better for the arts, another for science, another for writing and humanities?) How do we get information about the schools...beyond test scores? Are people generally friendly with their neighbors? Do people share a general feeling of community? I'm sure there's more, but you see what I'm looking for. Any comments will be appreciated! mariab
I lived in Davis for 7 years, ending two years ago. My son was born since then in Berkeley, so I don't have experience raising kids there, but I do have a fair amount of experience with the community. So, in response to your questions: I don't think it is important to have a university connection for developing social connections there. The Davis food coop is a great store with good organic produce. Athletic program are excellent for kids and adults alike - much better than in the Bay Area in my opinion. The level of friendliness and community in Davis was on par with what I've experienced in Berkeley. Are allergies are an issue for any one in your family? The air quality in Davis is pretty bad in spring and summer. I started to develop seasonal asthma while I was living there and friends had the same problem. It's not an issue for everyone, but is something to consider. chris
due to the high costs of living in the immediate bay area, we are considering moving to davis, ca. i would like to go to grad school (teacher's ed) there, but also was interested in seeing how life in a smaller college town might be. would love to hear what it might be like to raise a family there. we have a toddler at present...
We lived in Davis for four years before moving back to the Bay Area. Some advantages of living there:
1)Great for families with nice parks, bike trails, recreation, and lots of interaction w/other parents and kids
1)Not as inexpensive as you would think. Housing prices have really increased in recent years.
2)Very hot summers with 100+ temperatures
3)Definitely not as much to do in the way of the arts, cultural events, places to go, restaurants, etc.
4)Definitely the family community is not as diverse as what you would see in Bay Area. Judy
From a friend who relocated to Davis last year:
We (me, husband, 2 boys) moved to Davis August 2002 from San Francisco. Financially it was a very good move. We can afford to live on one income here (my husband's--he's an attorney). We were able to buy a house here. Neither of those was possible for us in the Bay Area. Judging by home sales in our neighborhood, our house has appreciated pretty significantly in the year we've been in it. That's kind of nice.
But we wouldn't have moved unless we had to, and we really did have to (I'm on disability with a serious RSI that rendered me unemployable). If I won the lottery tomorrow, we'd all high-tail it back to the City. Here's what sucks/isn't so great about Davis:
*Hellish summers: 90 degrees can feel nice. 100 degrees is awful. 100 degrees for days on end, and I was nearly raving. People say you get used to it. I'm not sure this is going to be true for me. My kids hated it too. It was a rough summer. I'm already plotting how to get away for at least 2 weeks next July or August.
*Food: There are very few decent restaurants. Shopping is also a chore--seems like we often have to go to 2 or 3 grocery stores to get the ingredients we need. We desperately miss good bread. My mom brings Acme bread from the City when she visits, and the children sit on the kitchen floor with a loaf and consume great fistfuls like starving urchins.
*Small-town mentality: Davis prides itself on being really progressive, but the NIMBYism here is extreme. Anything that might remotely affect the value of real estate--like the University building more housing for students--is the subject of protracted discussion and protest. It can be exceedingly annoying.
*Bad air: Air quality is a real issue here. We have it all: Bay Area pollution that floats over here and doesn't leave; agricultural pollution (we can smell fields being burned even in town); horrible allergens. We all had the worst allergies of our lives this past spring. A bad place for asthmatic kids.
*Ugly houses: We moved from a very small but gorgeous Edwardian flat in the Mission into a very plain, one-story ranch house. Very few homes here are at all interesting architecturally. They were mostly built in the 60s and 70s, and look it. The workmanship's not great. But hey, it's my boring ranch house.
Okay, here's what's great/good:
*It's aggressively bicycle friendly. We do everything on our bikes. Our 6-year-old learned to ride within a month or two of moving here. The drivers here are way more bike-aware and friendly than any place I've ever lived (including Palo Alto). It's a great lifestyle (as long as the temperatures stay below 95).
*The public schools are excellent. No jostling for those coveted few spaces in the ''good'' schools. The entire district is just top-notch. The town continues to demonstrate its commitment to the school system by renewing bond measures that support the schools (meaning we haven't been as devastated by state budget woes as other districts).
*My kids have a yard. They have trees to climb in. We have multiple fruit trees that feed us. We have plenty of space for gardening. A giant mulberry tree provides branches for swings and shade for warm days. We spend a lot more time outside.
*It's safe. The weekly crime report in the local paper is one of my chief entertainments. There was more crime on my block in the Mission than in this entire town. I still have city instincts about leaving doors unlocked or kids unsupervised outside, but most people here are way more relaxed than I am.
*It's a real town, not a suburb. Local events like the weekly Farmer's Market and the annual Picnic Day actually bring everyone in town out. There's a small but charming downtown, and it's not all just chain stores. The place has character. I'm constantly running into people I know. It's friendly. There's very little attitude.
*I miss the City, but this is an easier place to raise kids, no question. The array of summer programs available to my kids this year was staggering--science camps, art camps, equestrian camps, swim camps, tennis camps, moviemaking classes--it went on and on. No waiting lists, no getting up early to camp out for a space in that popular program. And everything was much cheaper than in the Bay Area.
*There's a general acceptance of children here that I never realized was missing from the City till I left. I'm less apologetic about my kids everywhere--in the grocery store, at restaurants, at church. Our neighbors all came over to welcome us when we moved in & said they were thrilled a family had moved in. I couldn't believe it.
*Finally, I'd say Davis is equally friendly to both working and stay-at-home moms. There's a lot of support for working parents in the way of after-school programs and the like, and at least in my little sphere, a fair bit of mutual support between working and at-home moms. As a reluctant and not-by-choice at-home mom I was thrilled & relieved to discover that I have a lot in common with other at-home moms here (in terms of education, interests, values, etc.).
Good luck with your decision. Again, I miss the Bay Area a LOT. But I'd be lying if I didn't say my life is considerably less stressful than it used to be. The living is easier here. Anon.
Davis is a wonderful place to raise a family and I would love to move back there tomorrow! Not only did my husband graduate from UC Davis (we lived in married student housing on campus), but my brother is a professor at UC Davis and has lived in Davis for 13 years (they have two boys ages 9 and 13), and my mother moved there 5 years ago.
Davis is a very safe community offering many wonderful opportunities for kids, adults and seniors, but affordable housing is what prevents us from moving back. (Bay Area housing prices are moving east.) To give you an example, 5 years ago my mother purchased her house for $195,000 (approximately 1,600 sq.ft.). Last week the house 4 doors down from her sold for $450,000 and has less square footage. Since I don't work, my husband and I fall into the moderate income category, and Davis offers very little moderate income affordable housing. I have not actively looked into the rental market, but from what I have gathered from the Davis newspaper, rentals are beginning to surpass some bay area communities.
As a student, you could always first live in married student housing, which provides a nice community in itself. This would also give you the opportunity to scope out the town and see if this were a place you would want to settle.
As I said, Davis is a wonderful place to raise a family. There are wonderful city parks, lots of bike paths (Davis is the biking capital of the State), great churchs, and now with the Mondavi Center, wonderful performing arts and cultural events. Housing prices are the only major obstacle. Good luck with your decision. Charlotte
It looks like you got a lot of information on moving to Davis. I went to college there, and had a hard time at first because it's such a small town. But, it is a great town once you spend some time there, and seems like a great community in which to raise kids. I also wanted to mention that you will be very close to Sacramento, which many people deride, but which is actually a really nice city with lots of community activities, and some good restaurants. My favorite place to go there is Selland's Market and Cafe, which does amazing sandwiches and takeout. My mouth waters when I go in there, and I think it's better than many places in the Bay Area. They also sell some really good bread. The same owner also runs The Kitchen, which is an interesting restaurant concept. Corti Bros in Sac is a great grocery store which will stock most esoteric ingredients. Davis is not in the middle of nowhere, and is still only an hour and a half from San Francisco and less to Berkeley.
Hello. I will be moving to the Davis area late this summer with a 2.5 month old...and then starting school. Can anyone give me advice about childcare, neighborhoods, and some of the surrounding communities?? Is there a list like this for UC Davis (I haven't found one yet)? Any advice about housing? Thanks, future UC Davis student
My family moved from Albany to Davis last fall and had similiar questions (we have a child who is nearly 3 and one who is 10 months). I am sorry to report that I am not aware of any UCD parents list! One of the best resources for childcare information is through the city of Davis which offers a directory and in-home daycare listing (a la Bananas). Call 530- 757-5691 for more information.
As far as neighborhoods, it is hard to go really wrong here! I don't know much about student options (though Davis Commons area looks nice) but I can tell you that most anyplace you look will be relatively safe and your decision will be based on preferences such as aesthetics, budget and location. Keep in mind the market is tight. Be sure to go online and check out the Friday edition of the Enterprise for its real estate section and neighborhood classifications. Good luck! Kristin