Santa Rosa, California

Saint Rose

The BUZZ

What's it like to live in Santa Rosa

Is it worth it to move to Santa Rosa, California?

Worth it in what way? What are you looking for? Santa Rosa - temperate climate (a few nights of freezes in the winter) not often too hot, very clean air. An hour from San Francisco with world class theatre, ballet, opera, a number of museums, amazing restaurants. Santa Rosa in Sonoma County has 425 wineries, has just been named a prime area for craft beers (Russian River Brewing Company - home of Pliny the Younger), amazing cheeses. Twenty minutes from the gorgeous Pacific Coast with migrating whales heading south to Mexico in the winter and heading back to Alaska with the babies in the spring, visible from a number of places on the coast. Old Growth Redwoods. Russian River - great kayaking. Farm to Table restaurants. Bike trails everywhere and the new train has places for bikes on every car. Iron Man in the summer and lots of other bike races. Farm Trails, Cheese Trails, Art Trails. So, if any of those things are important to you…..

What is it like to live in Santa Rosa, CA?

Well it can be great in some ways, not in others. The good part is you’re semi-close to SF (The City) and Bay Area. Close to the beaches, redwoods/River Area, Napa, and Wineries. The parks in the area are great too: Trione/Annadel has great hiking, new Taylor Mtn. Area, Sonoma Mountain, Hood Mountain, etc.. These are “must hikes” if you’re a hiker, just watch out for ticks, rattlesnakes, and cougars! There is alot of good wine and beer as well, if that is your thing. Lots of good microbreweries downtown SR and wine bars, plus Sonoma Valley and Healdsburg/Geyserville areas. And most areas in SR esp. Rincon and Bennett Valleys and FG & Hidden Valley are safe even at night. Food is also awesome, with great Mexican food, thai places, and California cuisine (if you can afford > $40.00 for a nice dinner.).

The bad news is it’s VERY expensive to live here anymore. Very high rents if you’re renting, like > $1,100 + even for a studio apartment. The fires in ’17 really changed things in that regard. Very hard to find anything cheap anymore here. For a home you’re looking at > $550K. There is alot of traffic around the 101 and in Petaluma as well. Lots of folks (rich assholes IMO) moving up here from Marin and SF, so you have to deal with them and their shitty driving behaviors. People can be very pretentious (minus those who are from the aforementioned area). There are serious gangs in SW SR (South park and Roseland), W. 9th St., and also Apple Valley. Do not go there after dark and do NOT wear blue clothing or Dodger’s hats.

I grew up in SR and even then really did not care for the town. But then it was just beginning to be a bigger town and small city, in the early 90s. Downtown was still safe back then (but no longer due to the homeless and drugs) even after dark and rents not as high. Overall you have to ask yourself if you can afford the area now. I would not rent here in this area. Schools can be great but avoid the Roseland School District and inner city public schools.

Is Santa Rosa CA a good place to raise a family?

No, not really, not unless you are very rich, and your kids will inherit.

AS things stand now, unless your kid grows up to be a CEO or Doctor, they won’t be able to have what one would call a “normal life” in Santa Rosa, as they won’t be able to buy a house, have normal stuff, etc.

This is a big big issue, not just for SR, but for many “blue” left leaning “cool places”, as the folks who live there support good economics and sharing, but don’t want more building (to lower housing costs), and in fact just voted down some bonds to MAKE more affordable housing.

Lots of homeless here now. Regular folks struggle to make it.

Right now, only a quarter of folks can afford a house

Only 26% of Sonoma County residents can afford median home price

Now, it is fairly safe, weather nice, lots of fun stuff, beautiful area. But a place to PICK to raise a family? hmm, no. just no.

Go somewhere like Olympia WA, low costs, good schools, and some hope.

Moving to Santa Rosa in a few weeks. I have a few questions about the area.

Yes, there are some good farmers markets. The best farmers market is in the town of Sebastopol which is adjacent to santa rosa. It's a bit of a social scene with all of the organic farmer types hanging out there.

Weather is pretty mild generally. Winter temperatures are typically 45-65 highs and 28-40 lows. Summer temperatures are typically 80-95 highs and 60-75 lows. We get almost all of our rain in the winter and spring time. Some winters it will rain incredibly hard for a long time and cause flooding in certain parts of the county. During the summer and fall we can go 6+ months with no rain. This means we end up with extreme fire danger in the late summer and fall. In 2017, 2019, and 2020, parts of sonoma county ended up with mass evacuations due to raging wildfires. Certain parts of santa rosa were wiped out in the 2017 fire and have mostly been rebuilt. In september/october of this year a fire destroyed some neighborhoods in eastern santa rosa. Wildfire season is a real thing out here and many people talk about leaving the area because of it. Be prepared for extreme smoke in late summer/fall where its not healthy to hang out outside.

The best part of living in Santa Rosa are all of the cute small towns nearby with nice restaurants, wine tasting, ect. Also lots of options for outdoor recreation activities.

Santa Rosa, Ca - Should You Live Here?