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Marin County or East Bay as a base for working in SF?

Marin County or East Bay as a base for working in SF?

Old Mar 11th 2020, 10:12 pm
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Default Marin County or East Bay as a base for working in SF?

Hi there, I’ve seen loads of good advice on this forum (including lots of historic comments on what I’m about to ask) and just wanted to add a few questions of my own...

My office is transferring me from London to SF this summer along with my wife and two children (8 and 6). Salary sadly won’t change all that much but the wider package is really generous, covering relocation, family healthcare, private school fees, and 7K per month rental allowance. I’ll be working in the financial district, and my wife will be able to secure a work visa.

Unsurprisingly our two key concerns are the related questions of where to send the kids to school and where we should live. We’d like to live in a c2000sq ft house which I think means we’ll have to live well out of the City, but I’d also ideally like to have a sub-one hour commute- I’m well aware that I’m being quite greedy on this! A lot of people have suggested Marin as a good place that might work for our budget: Mill Valley has come up a few times. A question would be where to aim for in Marin not to feel too far from the City, with an easy commute, and where we’d likely be able to establish friends and a decent sense of community. In terms of schools, my understanding is that we’re very late to apply to either public or private schools, but I’d welcome any advice on particularly good schools in Marin (Marin Country Day has been recommended).

Finally am I missing a trick by not considering the East Bay Area- it seems there’s a strong constituency in favour of Walnut Creek on this forum, though I think that’s probably further than the 1 hour door-to-door that I’m hoping for…. If our 7K per month rental budget (which we can’t ‘cash in’ in any way), is good for Marin, then is that a better bet than Walnut Creek etc?

Thanks in advance for any local wisdom. I know this subject has come up again and again on this forum, but I’m keen to get views of Marin in particular.

Thanks!
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Old Mar 11th 2020, 11:48 pm
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Default Re: Marin County or East Bay as a base for working in SF?

Originally Posted by trin0510 View Post
Finally am I missing a trick by not considering the East Bay Area- it seems there’s a strong constituency in favour of Walnut Creek on this forum, though I think that’s probably further than the 1 hour door-to-door that I’m hoping for….
I've stayed out that way for work when there's been a shortage of hotel capacity in SF, and the you can certainly take the BART from Walnut Creek to Montgomery St.

In addition to paying for the BART, you'll have parking costs at Walnut Creek plus the various interesting characters that you'll encounter when travelling via BART in the Bay Area...

I don't know if you'll be able to squeeze it in under an hour once you add in your drive and parking time, but you won't be too far off it.
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Old Mar 12th 2020, 12:04 am
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Default Re: Marin County or East Bay as a base for working in SF?

I was in Walnut Creek for a while and I did not think it was a bad journey, a long time ago however.
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Old Mar 12th 2020, 1:27 am
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Default Re: Marin County or East Bay as a base for working in SF?

It’s been a long time since I lived in the Bay Area. I can’t even begin to consider the costs. My first job as a lawyer was at Bush & Montgomery streets. At the time I lived first in the Inner Richmond and later on Twin Peaks above Laguna Honda Hospital. Had many friends who lived around the Bay Area.

Marin County’s commuting connections will be mostly by ferry from Larkspur, Tiburon and Sausalito. Mill Valley is not on the water so you would have to get from home to the ferry.

For the East Bay, there is BART. Again, you would have to get to the train.

The Peninsula is accessible via BART and “Caltrain.” (Caltrain was Southern Pacific” back when I lived there).

Carpooling is not uncommon.

The word micro-climate applies, especially in summer. Walnut Creek and environs can get bloody hot while the City will be cool (shirtsleeve in Walnut Creek and sweater in the City). The other way, Pacifica, the Outer Sunset and Outer Richmond can be quite cool in summer while the Financial District is pleasantly warm.

Good luck.
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Old Mar 12th 2020, 6:59 am
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Default Re: Marin County or East Bay as a base for working in SF?

Thanks for the responses. Hadn’t really been thinking about the micro climates. How’s the weather in Marin? Guess Walnut Creek etc sunny and hot (actually sounds quite appealing after this london winter!).
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Old Mar 12th 2020, 5:17 pm
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Default Re: Marin County or East Bay as a base for working in SF?

Originally Posted by trin0510 View Post
Thanks for the responses. Hadn’t really been thinking about the micro climates. How’s the weather in Marin? Guess Walnut Creek etc sunny and hot (actually sounds quite appealing after this london winter!).
For 7k a month you could probably rent somewhere in Orinda or Lafayette, which are a little closer in than Walnut Creek. There are a few well-regarded private schools in that area too. You could also manage the outskirts of SF itself on that budget. But personally I wouldn't live in SF if I couldn't be closer to the Financial District. I used to walk, cycle or bus to work there, which is something I valued highly.

I like Mill Valley, but commute may be horrible - there is a ferry from Sausalito and Corte Madera further north. Otherwise you're stuck driving/busing the GG Bridge every day. If I were to live in Marin I'd probably pick the area to the west of 101 in Corte Madera, or further out in San Anselmo/Fairfax. Much longer commute from those latter two.

San Francisco - foggy May through September, although less so with climate change. Anywhere to the east of the Oakland Hills, pretty hot/dry in the summer/fall Southern Marin somewhere in between.

Last edited by Giantaxe; Mar 12th 2020 at 5:22 pm.
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Old Mar 12th 2020, 5:44 pm
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Default Re: Marin County or East Bay as a base for working in SF?

Originally Posted by S Folinsky View Post
It’s been a long time since I lived in the Bay Area. I can’t even begin to consider the costs. My first job as a lawyer was at Bush & Montgomery streets. At the time I lived first in the Inner Richmond and later on Twin Peaks above Laguna Honda Hospital. Had many friends who lived around the Bay Area.

Marin County’s commuting connections will be mostly by ferry from Larkspur, Tiburon and Sausalito. Mill Valley is not on the water so you would have to get from home to the ferry.

For the East Bay, there is BART. Again, you would have to get to the train.

The Peninsula is accessible via BART and “Caltrain.” (Caltrain was Southern Pacific” back when I lived there).

Carpooling is not uncommon.

The word micro-climate applies, especially in summer. Walnut Creek and environs can get bloody hot while the City will be cool (shirtsleeve in Walnut Creek and sweater in the City). The other way, Pacifica, the Outer Sunset and Outer Richmond can be quite cool in summer while the Financial District is pleasantly warm.

Good luck.
Marin has micro-climates also. I recall one cool foggy summer day when friends in Kentfield invited us over to swim in their pool. It was overcast all the way north including Sir Francis Drake Blvd. Damn if it didn’t clear up a half mile from our friends house.

I remember generally driving north leaving the Golden Gate Bridge in overcast and having to put on the sunglasses leaving the Waldo Tunnel.


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Old Mar 12th 2020, 7:08 pm
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Default Re: Marin County or East Bay as a base for working in SF?

Another consideration in the East Bay is Pleasanton. Easy access to BART, nice downtown area, good schools, safe area, low crime rate.
Downside to living anywhere in the SF bay area is chronic overcrowding, traffic nightmare and high cost of housing
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Old Mar 12th 2020, 10:21 pm
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Default Re: Marin County or East Bay as a base for working in SF?

Thanks everyone. Really appreciate your advice.
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Old Mar 13th 2020, 7:01 pm
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Default Re: Marin County or East Bay as a base for working in SF?

Originally Posted by trin0510 View Post
Thanks everyone. Really appreciate your advice.
Let us know how it works out. I see a lot of similar questions but rarely how from them again.
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Old Mar 13th 2020, 8:29 pm
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Default Re: Marin County or East Bay as a base for working in SF?

Originally Posted by johnwoo View Post
Let us know how it works out. I see a lot of similar questions but rarely how from them again.
Agreed! Planning to move in August so will aim to check back then...
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Old Mar 22nd 2020, 6:17 pm
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Default Re: Marin County or East Bay as a base for working in SF?

Marin is wonderful, but expensive (even by Bay Area standards) and commute to SF is not so convenient. There are some nice spots in the East Bay with good links, and it's more (all things are relative) affordable.

Good luck with the move.
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Old Mar 22nd 2020, 11:02 pm
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Default Re: Marin County or East Bay as a base for working in SF?

Marin is beautiful but really pricey and the commute into SF is awful, UNLESS you can fit into the ferry schedule and deal with getting to/from the ferry terminal. Walnut Creek - I used to commute from there to financial district for many (very happy) years. 10 minutes drive to BART; 10 minutes screwing around with parking / walking to train platform; 35 minutes train to Embarcadero; 5 minutes walk to my office. So that's exactly 1 hour. I personally loved the hot summers -80s, 90s quite common; one or two days (only) over 100. WC itself is a lovely town, and Lafayette/Orinda/Danville even nicer.

Having said all that ... do you have a snowball's chance in hell of actually doing this now under the current circumstances? And given the health insurance situation here, would you still want to, even if your company is 'paying for it' (beware the small print)?
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