Sonoma, California

Valley of the Moon

Sonoma's 4th of July Parade
Sonoma's 4th of July Parade
Sonoma Plaza
Sonoma Plaza
Sonoma Plaza Park
Sonoma Plaza Park
Sonoma Homes
Sonoma Homes



Sunny Days: 262
76100 Affordability
80100 Schools
40100 Diversity
87100 Safety

Heaven, is a place that is said to resemble Sonoma in the spring. - Herb Caen

The Best Thing About Sonoma?

The Plaza

One of the ironies of the Great Migration when many people fled big cities is that ultimately they craved smaller cities and towns with characteristics of the places they left - like city centers with lots to do. Sonoma’s 8-acre plaza, the largest in all of California, at the center of town is a gravitational core of the entire Sonoma Valley. `It is surrounded by amazing restaurants, cafes and bakeries, art galleries (including the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art), bars/wine bars, pizza places, boutique shopping and more. The Plaza itself is host to Tuesday night farmers’ markets in the summers, live music and other community events and more. Ultimately if you want to live in a town in Sonoma which has a true commercial center then this is the spot.

The Worst Thing About Sonoma?


It’s a cliche to complain about tourist season if you live in a city that is at the center of a tourist economy. The city of Sonoma, as the namesake of the valley, pulls in a great majority of the wine tourists and September/October is the height of the wine tasting/festival season. If you live in Sonoma then everything gets harder during this timeframe. Locals tend to avoid the Plaza during these months and once you hit November all returns to the chill bliss that makes this one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Lifestyle of Sonoma

Sonoma lifestyle, like in many wine country towns, feels split between two different ways of life. You have “locals” who live here year-round, work in the area in the wine or agricultural industries (or are retired), raise their children in largely suburban/rural neighborhoods and who love the land from which they make their living. The other way of life is comprised of wealthy owners of 2nd homes, or empty nesters who appreciate the warm climate and healthy, fun lifestyle of the valley, and who probably made their wealth in the Bay Area.

Regardless of which group you fall into expect to enjoy some universal truths about living here. The ocean is nearby so taking the short drive to the Pacific is common, daily hiking/biking on the nearby trails and nightly walks among the beautiful blocks are universal. It’s important to remember though that this is a working family town also. So little league games, playing at all the beautiful local parks, biking around town and just enjoying the intimacy of a small town still overrides all the tourist mishegoss for those who choose to live here.

Check out the Sonoma calendar of events to see what's going on throughout the year.

Worklife of Sonoma

Many locals of course work in the wine industry and enjoy short-ish commutes to work. Many newcomers work from home and so face no commute. If however you are going to live here and try to commute to one of the tech hubs you will be unhappy. Sonoma is a beautiful town that is built for people who work in the agricultural/wine/hospitality industries or the newly crowned, untethered class of those who don’t need to commute anywhere. That is the worklife culture of Sonoma and really much of these bucolic wine country towns.

Why You Should Move Here Now?

If you want to live in a wine country town that has the most active town center then Sonoma should be on your short list. While many Sonoma Valley cities can feel sleepy, and that can be a positive, Sonoma also offers a truly magnificent town plaza that give the town a more active energy than some of the others. If you crave that type of energy then Sonoma should be on your list.

Neighborhoods in Sonoma

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Young Professionals/Empty Nesters/Retirees/WFH’ers

Downtown Sonoma is of course most notable for the Plaza but it is also the neighborhood with many of the largest most historic homes in the area. If you can afford and can buy one of these beauties then more power to you. Living near the Plaza means glasses of wine on front porches and leisurely strolls to dinners and trips to the farmer’s market. Living in Downtown Sonoma feels most like the “urban” wine country life many imagine when they seek out homes in the area.

Also, if you are a young professional or couple working in the wine or hospitality industries then the apartments and condos in the Plaza area are choice ones to snag. There aren’t as many as you’d expect for a “downtown” but those on the Plaza or within walking distance provide a pretty cool and chill lifestyle.

Boyes Hot Springs


Boyes Hot Springs is well known as the site of the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. It is also though a suburban neighborhood where families live and enjoy being a couple miles from the city center and getting a breather from some of that traffic and tourist madness.

The neighborhood is smack dab in the middle of some of the best parks in the area with Maxell Farms and Ernie Smith Parks, and the Montini Open Preserve just to the south. So, if you’re a family that enjoys spending time outside playing, running, biking and hiking this could be your spot. You’re also just a long iron from the Sonoma Golf Club if that’s your thing. It’s an iconic private club with golf, tennis, swimming, spa services and excellent dining available to members.


55+ Empty Nesters/Retirees

Temelec is an unincorporated area just outside of town that has four major communities of single family homes, each with their own Home Owners’ Association - Temelec, Creekside, Chanterelle and Seven Flags. The namesake community, Temelec is a 55+ neighborhood with beautiful homes, common grounds and common facilities including the historic Temelec Hall for events, a pool, picnic area, pond and community gardens. The Hall is the center of community events and also has kitchens for communal cooking, a library and fitness center. The other communities in Temelec also primarily serve 55+ communities and each has their own distinct characteristics but expect beautiful landscaping, wonderful paths and shared community amenities in each.

One of the secrets to buying real estate in Sonoma Valley for empty nesters and retirees is to look at the 55+ communities. Even if you never considered yourself a likely candidate for a planned community the housing prices are typically much better than the general market rates and you get to enjoy the city you are near as much or as little as you like.