Sonoma, California

Valley of the Moon

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What's it like to live in Sonoma?

Moving to Sonoma County






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1 yr. ago
Born in Vallejo and bounced around the Bay (mostly Sonoma County) for 30 years. Thoughts:

"Best" depends on what you value more. If you want somewhere to actually walk around and have something to do, Petaluma and Sebastopol have somewhat of a central downtown area. Santa Rosa does as well, but it's scattered between the 101 freeway, and there are patches of areas throughout town as well that feel a bit segregated. Hella people say it's "diverse" in Sonoma County and that is a joke. There is an overall friendlier vibe in Sonoma County and people try/pretend to be inclusive, but it's mostly white people in a white bubble if we are being honest. Tell me why you got cops waiting on Sebastopol Road next to the taco truck when they could easily be catching the girls in wine valley doing rose all day? Forreal though…

Vallejo (Solano County) is more diverse and cheaper, but you also got rough areas and angry people upset with the gentrification in bigger cities that are getting pushed to poorer areas. You get Six Flags but that's about it haha… Blue Rock Springs used to be nice when there were more playgrounds and wasn't overrun with ticks. Some people like Vallejo because it is more affordable, it is more diverse and has a lot more culture, but you get more crime out there too. There also isn't a whole lot to do, and again you have to drive everywhere.

20's to 30's you will probably like Petaluma downtown area (somewhat bro vibes), or Sebastopol downtown area (somewhat hippie vibes that kinda act as if it were mini SF vibes). Both have some nice art scenes, especially if you are into metal work/sculpture. There is generally more to do and more of a central city/community vibe. Petaluma is generally safer from the fires and has been an evac spot the past several years (although how the fires have been going it's not necessarily immune). Both have parks and a little closer access to different beaches along the coast (about a 30+ min drive depending what beach you go to). Petaluma has Butter and Eggs Day (big ass drinking day), and the Antique Faire. Sebastopol has Apple Blossom Fest. There are more 20's and 30's age group in Petaluma because part or SRJC is there, and in general more drinking/bar spots. Santa Rosa has some spots too, but it's harder to go bar hopping without driving. Petaluma and Sebastopol are more walkable.

Weather in Petaluma is generally about 5-10 degrees cooler than Santa Rosa on an average day, and gets more wind. The farther north and east you go in Sonoma County, the hotter it usually gets. If you like your summers to be average 90+ then you may prefer Santa Rosa or Sonoma. Lately it has been shifting, so summer-fall is a lot warmer seasonal time, hence the wind picking up the fires. It can also be random though. One day it's 55 and raining/cloudy, then the next it is 90 and hot as hell.

Sonoma is a little more pricey, but has a cute little shopping district. It's mostly tourists and wine people though, so you tend to see more white people mid-upper class here. It has some nice architecture and history with the Mission. If you can afford it and don't mind there being less diversity, this is a nice spot. The weather can get a bit hot though since it's in the valley. And again, you have to drive to get anywhere else.

Santa Rosa has various shopping areas and overall more "diversity" for most Sonoma County cities, but you will still see it segregated and in chunks. If you're into Snoopy, it's home to the ice rink and museum, and you get a lot of fun art around the city as well. You also get Howarth Park/Spring Lake etc. which is a good hiking/biking area. Downtown sometimes has events going on, and also does Sonoma County's Pride celebration. Santa Rosa tends to be a central spot for a lot of Sonoma County events because it is a bigger city. If Santa Rosa had a better downtown area and more to do without having to drive to different spots, then I would suggest living here over Petaluma/Sebastopol. If you don't mind driving, then maybe you might like it.

Moving to Sonoma County

Petaluma is probably your best bet for what you're looking for…but Sebastopol, too. Just a touch more isolated but a 10 minute drive from Santa Rosa. I drive out there and hangout at the Barlow a lot.

Here are the latest demographics per the census: 62.9% White, 27.3% Latinx, 4.6% Asian, 4.0% multiracial, 2.1% Black, 2.2% Native American, 0.4% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. We do have one of the largest LGBTQI populations in the county per capita. However, our general population is primarily Latinx and White. Many people of color also drive here from out of the County to work here, since it is so expensive and hard to find housing.

Hard to make friends. I met people through work, going to wine events, and bars. Also Facebook groups (I run Sonoma County Foodies, for example).

Pro - Beautiful and food/booze

Cons - I live in Sonoma and the majority of the population is 65+ which doesn't help my social life as a 41 year old woman who doesn't want to just hang out with retirees. Also climate change (I am a wildfire reporter) is really doing a number here. Also the rent costs. And tourists.

Pro/Con are tourists. Whether from across the country or from SF or South Bay. SOmetimes I love them, sometimes I hate them.

Sonoma lacks a lot of typical establishments, such as a mall, fast food franchises, and popular stores. However, we are fortunate to be surrounded by other towns that within a twenty-five mile radius that supply this shortage of urbanization. Our town makes up for it by having a large sense of diversity and providing a safe and vibrant community.

Sonoma is okay, it just lacks things to do for any group of people under the age of 21. If you are not into wine and dine then this is not the place for you. Sonoma would be better if they had more known restaurants, another common grocery store, and maybe a fun teen friendly spot.

Pros and Cons of Living in Sonoma Ca