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Northern California Peeps!!!

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  • Northern California Peeps!!!

    So I am considering making the move to Northern California next year. I want to do some research first.

    My boyfriend and I are both in the restaurant business. I am a chef and he is a restaurant manager.

    I obviously also have horses. So I need a place that can be close to the horses, but to the big city to get good jobs. I am not in a position to own a house with horse property now, but would like to be able to someday.

    I don't want to be in a big crazy city, yet we have to be close for out jobs.

    We will probably be working in San Fran or Napa area.

    Any suggestions would be great.

  • #2
    Well the economy sucks right now for everybody. I used to live there. But the Bay area is a lot more boxed in. I don't know about the restaurant business up there as much. But for horses -check out this site, it has a ton of trainers/boarding places and is a pretty good starting point for you to get an idea. Then you can calculate your way-work/commute etc.



    • #3
      I would look all over Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties up here. This is the wine country and the number of incredible restaurants is unreal!! Here in Santa Rosa (Sonoma County) we have great horse facilities, hunter/jumper dressage etc. etc. etc. Super trainers and clinicians are all over the area.

      You wouldn't want to say, work in Napa and live in Santa Rosa, the commute would be brutal. You need to come up here, check with the various Chamber of Commerce offices and see what the area is all about. Spend some serious time driving around the area to see what would suit you. During commuter times of the day all the highways small and large can be parking lots.

      You could move a bit farther north and commute down into Sonoma County. Housing would be more affordable in say Forestville or Ukiah. Still a bit of a haul but may be worth it to you.

      Feel free to pm me if you have specific questions and I will be happy to help any way I can. I have been here for 20 years and love the area!!!
      Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!!


      • Original Poster


        Well see there is so many things to consider. My boyfriend is Irish and works for the Starwood hotels. So we are hoping he can get a work visa and get a job at one of the many starwoods in San Francisco. But he also has a phenomenal resume, so he could possibly find a job where someone would be willing to get him a visa. (not sure how all that works)

        He doesn't drive. He has lived in London for 8 years, so he would need to use the Bart system (isn't that the train that goes into San Fran?)

        I have a car and don't mind driving, but I absolutely hate traffic! I usually work the night shift. 2 to midnight, so hoping traffic won't be killer.

        I also work for a hotel, but don't need to transfer. I wouldn't mind working in Napa at a small restaurant. I have worked in Europe and have French and Itallian cooking background, so I should fit right in!

        Thanks for the input.

        Brookes, I may take you up on the offer!


        • #5
          What Brookes said! Yay for Santa Rosa!

          If you're looking for horses, Sonoma County is the 2nd biggest horse county in CA next to Orange County.

          If taking BART into the city is a requirement for you, you're more limited than you think and should probably be looking in the East Bay (which I'm much less familiar with and is a lot more expensive). Here are a map of the stations: http://www.bart.gov/stations/index.aspx Also realize that BART is being hit hard by budget cuts and is in the process of a lot of changes.

          511.org is also a great resource for public transportation and might be able to help you in your search.

          If public transport is negotiable, I agree with looking at Sonoma County, then Napa, then Medacino. All have "cities" with great restaurants (although I don't know about the business aspect) but you still get enough room to roam.
          Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique


          • #6
            Have you thought about Sacramento? The restaurant scene is not as big as San Fran or Napa, obviously but there are some pretty nice places here with well known chefs. There is also a lot of horse stuff going on and you are close to Sacramento, 1.5 hrs away from Tahoe and San Francisco. Since Sacramento did get hit pretty hard by the real estate bust, there are quite a few homes on the market so you would be able to find some pretty sweet deals. Also, there is not a ton of traffic.

            The only drawback...the weather in the summer. Its HOT. But, at least everything here is air conditioned and summer has never interfered with my riding.


            • Original Poster

              Well, I have been born and raised in Arizona, so it couldn't be any hotter then here!!!

              That is one of the reasons I want to leave. I am over the 6 months of 110 degree weather! I have a broodmare in Livermore, so I could possibly send my other horse there as well. Just don't know much about the area.

              Transportation is negotiable. He just isn't used to driving, so it would be a big change for him. I don't want to totally shell shock him!!!

              We would have to rent a studio or apartment until we could save enough money for a small house anyway, so we are open to different areas.

              I would like a small town. I am not a big town girl. I have to meet in the middle because this is a huge change for my boyfriend who has lived in London!

              I will look up about the transportation. Good to know about the Bart system. I don't know a lot about it, just that it got you into San Fran.

              Keep the info coming!


              • #8
                Also chiming in to suggest Sacramento area. Much much cheaper to live here than the Bay Area or Napa. Plus housing market has been hit very hard here, there are TONS of deals to be had. It's a very horsey area, and is a nicer smaller city. Your BF would def have to learn to drive, but driving here is much less challenging than in the Bay Area. There aren't a ton of nice restaurants in town, but the appreciation for them exists! We are always wishing for more nice ones, especially out in the eastern suburbs - Placer County has many wealthy communities (lots of folks moved here from the Bay Area) and they really appreciate nice restaurants.

                Summer isn't too awful - we might have one day of 110 degrees, LOL. Most evenings are cool (down to 60s or 50s) - we usually have 2-3 weeks per year of serious heat.

                I used to live in the Bay Area, south of SF (took the train in to work), but have lived here for the last 15 years. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions! Good luck with your search!


                • #9
                  If you live in S.F. you won't need a car at all. If you go to outlying areas within S.F, it is not very expensive. Look up craigslist-it will give you an idea of rents. Livermore is out there-you have to have a car to get to anywhere and it is hot in summer. Dublin/Pleasonton is the nearest BART station and in morning commute can take you half an hour just to get there. BART ain't cheap either.

                  The Peninsula all the way to the south bay is served partly by BART and mostly caltrain. Marin and Sonoma counies are served by the bus transit system and a ferry that have regular service to S.F. The bus is pretty good-I think it cuts off at 7 or 8 pm . But it could take an hour and half or more if you are coming from the far corners of Sonoma county. The link below gives you schedule for bus and ferry.

                  Napa is out there in terms of a commute to S.F. But anywhere else, you need a car. If possible, you could live in S.F and commute out to your horse(depends on how many times a week you are seeing your horse?) Novato in marin is at the border of Marin and sonoma and has quite a few lower priced stables. I looked at that before decideing to move to Los Angeles. Not bad for a commute to S.F either. Petulama is nearby and has a ton of stables. it really depends on the riding discipline and frequency you will ride/visit the horses too.

                  As for visas, it is tough now. USCIS asks a ton of questions nowadays of employers-but try and maybe log into an immigration forum that caters to that and they can give you current details for that particular issue. They still give visas, just are being very strict due to the high unemployment rate. Good luck!


                  • #10
                    I live in Penn Valley foothills of Sacramento lots of pines, oaks, horses, no traffic to speak of short commute to Sacramento. Another area by Auburn, Meadow Vista short trip down the 80. Also down the hill is Loomis and surrounding areas lots of horses.


                    • #11
                      also wanted to add...with how down the Sac area is right now, you could afford horse property now. Some places that are about a 45 minute drive from Sac are 1-2 acres, selling for under $300K.


                      • #12
                        I live in the Bay Area, about 45 minutes south of San Francisco. While it is more expensive here, you can't get the same salary anywhere else. If you live in between SF and Woodside/Portola Valley (about 30 mins south of SF), you are close to restaurant mecca, and the nicest horse country around. Trains run up and down this area, so it isn't too hard to find someway to commute without driving.

                        In my opinion, Sacramento is much to small for what you are looking for. There is honestly not much in the city itself, so job-wise might be difficult.

                        If you wanted somewhere a little cheaper than the Peninsula, I'd recommend the East Bay (around Crow Canyon Rd), but traffic can be brutal to SF.

                        ETA: Another form of transportation to look into is Caltrain and the Muni (in SF). In my experience, Caltrain has been much more accessible than BART


                        • Original Poster

                          Thank you.

                          Yes, actually living in San Fran is an option. Then I could drive to see the horses.

                          I have 3 horses. One is a broodmare who is being leased out and I can easily keep her where she is after the lease. (in Livermore) One is my retired show hunter which will probably stay in AZ only because he hates change and I have finally found a place he loves. The last one is my young horse that I plan on slowly bringing up and training myself to either do the hunters or jumpers. He will be 2 next year, so he will need turnout and light riding. I can ride him myself, so I don't need a trainer. I don't have to be at a show barn, but I would like to show lightly for the next few years with him.

                          Sacramento sounds nice too. I will look into it. I would love to be able to buy a horse property, but it really won't be in the cards for a couple of years. I have no savings and I really need to find a good job and start saving.

                          Salary is a big thing as well! Right now I am underpaid, but have great benefits and a job that is teaching me alot about the managing part of being a chef.

                          This is alot to take in. I am going to look into all these suggestions. I will also be planning a trip soon to look around.



                          • Original Poster

                            bumping for today!


                            • Original Poster

                              I certainly don't mind driving to see the horses. My guy will only be 2 next year, so its not like he will need to be in a major training situation. He is 2 hours away from me now and I just drive up to see him on my days off.

                              As far as San Francisco, is the pay really that much better there? I know the cost of living is more, so I guess it balances itself out. I am sure apartments are very pricey in San Fran?

                              My boyfriend is used to walking 2.5 miles to work every day so he likes to walk. Me on the other hand, well I like my car!

                              I certainly won't be using the transportation systems if they are iffy. Especially because I usually don't get off until 12 or 1 in the morning!


                              • #16
                                Honestly, I think the pay will depend on what you do. From my experience the difference in salary is not significant, at least not significant enough in my opinion to offset the cost of living. You may get a lower salary outside of SF but definitely more bang for your buck in terms of standard of living. Afterall, where I am from (San Mateo, about 20 minutes south of SF) small homes on postage sized lots are going for $800K. My friend who still lives there and has been looking for a 1 bdrm tells me the range is about $1500-$1800.


                                • #17
                                  Apartment rents in SF are indeed pricey. You would have several options of living near Caltrain stations up and down the peninsula area south of SF.

                                  San Mateo (where Katekat lives) has a thriving restaurant culture as does Walnut Creek in the East Bay.

                                  Sacramento is also an option as they have a lot of hotels if your husband is looking to stay in the hotel business. San Jose would also be another thought.

                                  I think you both have a lot of good options and will have to do a bit of research, but you will find there are plenty of decent places to board near any of the areas mentioned. It would only be a hassle if you lived in SF because your horse would not be as close as it could be if you lived elsewhere.

                                  I live in Mountain View which is about 40 mins south of SF and keep my horses in Palo Alto, so I'm happy to share more info with you when are looking around. Also, my SO lives in Sacramento, so I've become quite familiar with that area as well!
                                  Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!


                                  • #18
                                    Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito are also good options for both public transit and proximity to both restaurants and horses. You would be on the BART line for access to San Francisco, and there are plenty of restaurants in the East Bay. I live in Lafayette, work in San Francisco, and keep my horses in Briones, where there are several boarding places and great trail access. Lafayette is somewhat pricey, but Walnut Creek is the next town over, reasonably priced apartments and close to many boarding places, plus direct BART access. It's quite safe and I feel fine walking around Walnut Creek or Lafayette at night. I've also lived in both Berkeley (boarded in Briones) and Oakland. There are some stables in the Oakland hills, and Castro Valley is also a popular boarding area.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Ok guys, time to help me again!

                                      I am going to San Fran next week to check out some restaurants.

                                      What is the most economical way to get around. Is there a week card or pass or something that gives me access to the Bart and transit systems?

                                      What are the transit systems. I would like to maybe visit Berkeley and other cities outside of San Fran, just to see how easy it is to get back and forth.

                                      Any info would be great. I am excited to get a mini vacation and I hope that I can find a way to work it out and move next year!

                                      Remember that I would probably take my yearling to Livermore, since that is where his mother is. So I would like to be able to get there in at least an hour. I would love for it to be less, but I am also realistic with knowing that if I work in San Fran, it has to be in between!


                                      Also, where are the A hunter jumper shows in San Fran? Any hunter breeding stuff?


                                      • #20
                                        I just have to say I am so jealous that you are considering moving there. I went to SF a few months ago for a short vacation and fell in love. I loved everything about it, the places to go, the things to do, the architecture, the weather. I seriously would like to move there one day myself, but as a horsey professional it would require a career change, so maybe after college. My feeling from spending a few days there was that you could definitely get away without a car if you lived in the city, and even some of the suburbs/nearby cities like Palo Alto, San Jose, Berkeley etc seemed to have an excellent public transit system. Also, I didn't have any trouble with the driving in SF. The bumper-to-bumper from SJ into SF was certainly not fun and I can't imagine doing it everyday, but driving in the city overall was not bad. I thought it was going to be much worse (and I am not a longtime/skilled driver). It is definitely foodie/restaurant heaven so I am sure you would fit right in.

                                        As far as h/j shows, there's quite a few in Woodside. Pebble Beach isn't far away but they have moved most of those to Santa Rosa from what I hear from the people I work for (jumpers mostly). Also quite a few in Sacramento (Rancho Murieta).

                                        Good luck with your decision...you are so lucky!