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Retiring in Northern California
Old 07-13-2015, 03:13 PM   #1
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Retiring in Northern California

We have been in the East Bay of Northern California for the past 20 years. Our home, which we've owned outright since paying it off in Dec 2005, has more than recovered from the recent downturn.

We'd like to find a nice place, but the net we've cast is a bit too wide: everywhere from Monterey to Mendocino, and east to Sacramento. We'd like to find a smaller town near the ocean (yes, I know... who wouldn't!!??), that won't eat up all of our equity, be near health care, and not too far from SF. We've looked at Bodega Bay, Sebastopol, Napa (a definite 'maybe'), The Sea Ranch, and even up to Gualala and Mendocino.

Anyone have any ideas as to a smaller coastal-ish town we might consider that maybe just hasn't popped up on our radar?

Thanks!

RTR
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Old 07-13-2015, 03:45 PM   #2
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Old 07-13-2015, 03:52 PM   #3
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Are you sure that you want to leave your current home? At least you know what you have there.

Ha
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Retiring in Northern California
Old 07-13-2015, 04:15 PM   #4
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Retiring in Northern California

I have been on a similar quest and I keep going back to Sonoma Co. I have written off Santa Cruz and Monterey. It is a beautiful area but many people complain that there is not much to do there and that access to specialized services or retail often requires a trip over the mountain to San Jose (and traffic can be a nightmare along hwy 17). Pacifica to Half-Moon Bay remains a possibility although there is little RE inventory in that area plus it is often foggy. I love Marin co. but it is not much cheaper than SF for the most part - except perhaps north of San Rafael like in Novato. I have a few Friends moving to Davis, but I have never been there. Personally, I would like to stay close enough to the coast for the milder climate.


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Old 07-13-2015, 04:28 PM   #5
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Since you like Napa, you might also like Healdsburg.
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Old 07-13-2015, 05:08 PM   #6
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Are you sure that you want to leave your current home? At least you know what you have there.

Ha

Our house is just around 3000 ft sq and we'd like to get to around 1800 feet or smaller with smaller front and back yards... and pocket the difference.

RTR
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Old 07-13-2015, 06:20 PM   #7
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If you like Mendocino, you could try Fort Bragg. You might want to rent for a while before getting rid of your East Bay place though. The fog and endless damp of a north coast winter can be rough if you like the sun. You could also try Boonville or Geurneville, which are about half-way between 101 and the coast.

I grew up in Novato and my parents still live there, so I visit fairly often. It's about twice the size now that it was then, but there are still some less populated areas. I think if I were going to move back to Marin, I'd look in the San Anselmo or Fairfax areas. I also like Inverness, but it's really isolated and has the same foggy/damp winters as the Mendocino County towns.
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Old 07-13-2015, 10:26 PM   #8
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Boulder Creek?
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Old 07-13-2015, 11:13 PM   #9
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San Luis obispo ?


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Old 07-13-2015, 11:46 PM   #10
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Guerneville, Monte Rio, Duncan Mills and Jenner might be worth checking out. Close to the ocean and the Russian River, and not far from Santa Rosa.
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Old 07-14-2015, 10:25 AM   #11
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San Luis obispo ?


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Great town! It is on my retirement location list and I just visited it in May. Loved it!
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Old 07-14-2015, 10:38 AM   #12
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[San Luis obispo] Great town! It is on my retirement location list and I just visited it in May. Loved it!
If we ever returned to California (a long shot) this would be near the top of my list.

It's far enough from the huge metropolises, but not a bad day's drive for visits.
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Old 07-14-2015, 12:20 PM   #13
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Our house is just around 3000 ft sq and we'd like to get to around 1800 feet or smaller with smaller front and back yards... and pocket the difference.

RTR
I understand. Yet all things considered, it seems likely that your possible savings from this change will be less than dramatic. And the disruption, risk, stress and unfamiliarity in your new place will be greater than you anticipate. What I mean by risk is all the things the sellers know, that you do not.-about the house, the community, the neighbors, etc.

You don't say where in the east Bay you live, and there are huge differences place to place, but you may be surprised at what you give up to gain perhaps little or nothing. A big change always costs more than one might imagine, in money, time, stress, and disruption. If you are currently well served by BART, that alone is a lot to give up.

I realize that this is minority opinion, relocating upon retirement has risen almost to the status of a religion.

Ha
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Old 07-14-2015, 12:45 PM   #14
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I understand. Yet all things considered, it seems likely that your possible savings from this change will be less than dramatic....If you are currently well served by BART, that alone is a lot to give up.
We've looked around and at least for now have come to similar conclusions. BART means easy access to the airports and the city for fun outings as well as easy job access if we decide we need or want to work again at regular jobs in the future. I am hesitant to give that up. So far we've kept the house and cut other costs, like eliminating the landline, lowering the cable bill and making our house more energy efficient instead of downsizing.
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Old 07-14-2015, 12:47 PM   #15
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Since you like Napa, you might also like Healdsburg.
We live in Healdsburg (both born and raised here). It definitely meets the OP's requirements: only an hours drive from Golden Gate Bridge; 45 minutes to the coast; and many great restaurants, etc. It's a great place, but it has attracted a lot of former Bay Area residents over the past decade and now has the most expensive real estate in Sonoma County.

Windsor, which is ten minutes south of Healdsburg, is a bit less expensive, and twenty minutes farther north, Cloverdale is quite a bit less expensive.

Regards,
Wino
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Old 07-18-2015, 06:40 PM   #16
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Love Healdsburg. :-)
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Old 07-18-2015, 06:58 PM   #17
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SLO, for sure. That was high on my list.

What about going a little further south to Oxnard or Ventura? Prices are better, they are larger towns with more amenities, and you are closer to the big city and the (really big and several smaller) airport.

You could also look at the Oregon beach towns. No sales tax.
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Old 07-18-2015, 09:37 PM   #18
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As a native born Duck I caution you about living on the Oregon Coast.

!) Except for Gold Beach (where often the winds come out of Sacramento) the weather is chilly.
2) There isn't a vibrant cultural life.
3) You will need to transit the Coast Range for specialist medical care.
4) Salt air is hard on buildings and automobiles.

In Oregon, consider Ashland. Further north Portland, or in central Oregon Bend, Sunriver or Black Bute.

One advantage of Portland for Bay Area natives is the relatively cheap and frequent flights to SFO and SJC.
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Old 07-19-2015, 08:37 AM   #19
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If you are willing to swap big rivers for ocean, Portland is a really nice city. I still lobby for retiring there.
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Old 07-19-2015, 10:05 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RTR2006 View Post
Our house is just around 3000 ft sq and we'd like to get to around 1800 feet or smaller with smaller front and back yards... and pocket the difference.

RTR
We're in Sonoma County area. It seems your desire to be fairly close to the coast and SF could be had here.

Neighborhoods are so different that it's hard for an outsider to know about them. Also the right house for you might come on the market only occasionally depending on your flexibility too. Just driving around streets and looking at infrastructure is only a first step.

I'd suggest talking to a few realtors to get some better ideas of actual neighborhoods and maybe help define your house requirements better. I could suggest one we used 18 years ago (PM me if interested) when we moved from Silicon Valley to a nice house on the edge of town with easy access to a large state park.
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