Moving to Humboldt County

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Related page: Moving to Eureka

November 2001

My family is very enamored with the areas of southern Humboltd county that include Garberville, Leggett, Redway, White Thorn. We'd love to hear from anyone with direct experience in any of these communities, the pros and cons of life in this rural area, especially for elementary school-age kids, and any recommendations for knowledgable realtors in the area. Deborah

I have very little knowledge of this area overall. However, I did visit a friend at her parent's house in the countryside outside of Garberville several years ago. The thing that struck me most was the precautions that had to be taken to avoid deer ticks which can carry Lyme disease in that area. The kids had to be wrapped up pretty well to play outside (this was a rural setting) and then checked thoroughly afterwards. My friend herself had to go on a regimen of antibiotics at one point because of concerns about possibly having been bitten by a carrier tick. Obviously this is only one aspect of hundreds when considering a move, but it is certainly something I personally would consider if thinking of moving there.

I assumed others would know more than me, but since there was only one reply, here's what I can offer. I lived in central Humboldt County for a short time, so my knowledge of the Garberville area is somewhat limited. Garberville is a small and pleasant town. Generally in Humboldt County, I found that people were divided into two camps: the loggers and the environmentalists, with sub-camps in each of those groups. Unlike the Bay Area, where there are so many different ways of looking at things, that you're used to people disagreeing with you, and you don't necessarily hold it against them. This is a broad generalization, of course, and everybody tends to know everybody and talk to everybody. The thing that surprised me is that for things that I thought were particularly fun and unique, like the Truckers Christmas Convoy - e.g., big trucks decorated with lights and music and all sorts of stuff in a nighttime parade, moderate friends of mine refused to go... and one of the trucks had a mural of a huge cut tree (though the rest of it was just plain fun). The division may be a little deeper in Garberville. There's also the marijuana issue, which is generally something to snicker about, though not entirely. I've heard people claim that folks go into Garberville and pay for a new SUV in cash, but I have no idea if it's true. I do know that people who work for public land-management agencies (BLM, USFS), have to be cautious about field work at certain times of the year. And one of the local radio stations announces when the CAMP helicopters are in the area. The tick problem as far as I know is no better or no worse than anywhere else, and I don't know a soul who has even been bitten by a tick, though I do know a few here in the Bay Area. You probably will spend more time outdoors--hiking and river recreation is great.... the air quality is absolutely superb! It's clear, and I swear it tastes good (as long as you don't live downwind of a mill--but I think the mills are all farther north than Garberville). It rains an awful lot, mostly in the winter time, but pounds so hard you think it's going to come through the walls. Restaurants and entertainment are a little hard to come by, and for shows you'll be either making the trip to the big community center nearby (I can't remember where it is offhand), or to Arcata & HSU. And everybody you know will be there. You'll probably also be travelling to Eureka/Arcata (1 hr north) for other things too, since the big stores are there, and things are a little pricier in Garberville. Housing is pretty cheap, which will be a relief compared to what you have here, but you'll also have to decide if you need to be in town, to be more connected with people. And you will drive much, much more than you do here. Employment is difficult.... and tends to be divided amongst, timber industry, public agencies (most of which are not in Garberville, but in Fortuna, Eureka, Arcata), and service/tourism. The radio stations are very interesting (e.g., KHUM, 104.7 or 104.3, and also on the web--check it out), and I swear when they give away free things, if you bother to call, you have a good chance of winning. There's also a public station or two. Life is a lot slower up there. Weather in Garberville is hot in the summer. (foggy along the coast). Fun recreation along the Eel. I don't think the schools are really great, and there are a number of social problems throughout Humboldt County (undereducated folks on the dole, with drinking or drug problems). ok. nuff said.