Sunday, May 09, 2010

Sacramento

If you follow me on twitter or facebook then you know a bit about the rollercoaster ride we've been on the past few days... So, Thursday through today we were in Sacramento, with a mission to find a home to rent for the next year.  It was only Monday that Zach accepted the job offer, so we haven't exactly had much time to research different areas of town, but kept hearing over and over again how nice Roseville (a town on the outskirts of Sac) was and how cute its downtown was, etc.  We looked up Craigslist listings and the prices looked good.  So, that's where we first headed when we got into town.

I don't want to dump on Roseville as it certainly isn't a bad place, but, um, it was not quite what we'd expected.

Areas of Roseville were downright dumpy. I'll say that, and really any town will have those.  But it was also sooo spread out. With huge railroad tracks running through it.  And with strips malls eve-ry-where.  The downtown was... meh.  And certainly not very walkable-to, which was our big hope.  Eventually we found the newer suburbs, which are basically your classic suburbs with nice homes that are spacious enough, and built recently enough so the trees have quite a bit of growing to do before they provide any sort of shade.  We did find one home that fit our budget and seemed nice enough, with a bonus of being literally 4 houses away from a park.  Sure, it felt very secluded from anywhere interesting, and Zach's commute would likely be hell (10 miles, but filled with traffic), but otherwise it seemed good enough.  We went back to our hotel Friday night after seeing this place, thinking we may have made our decision.

Then Saturday we spent some time down in Midtown (downtown Sac).  We'd been told this area was very nice, but was a bit more pricey... but for good reason.  Both our jaws dropped as we drove through block after block of beautiful, well-kept victorian homes, with nice sidewalks, streets shaded by mature trees, cafes and shops interspersed throughout so as to be within walking distance of most everything. And this wasn't just a small pocket... nope, it goes on, through East Sacramento, and on to surrounding neighborhoods, a 50 square-block area in the middle of the city that was basically like this.

Coming from the bay area, where the overwhelming attitude about Sacramento is that it's practically the armpit of California and worthy only of a brief stop-over on your way up to Tahoe, this little slice of heaven was quite a surprise.

We stopped into a crepe restaurant for lunch, and as we were standing in line to order Zach and I looked at each other and he said, "Does it feel like we're in San Francisco to you?"  And I'd just been thinking the same thing.  It felt like a cleaner, bum-free version of many "hip" neighborhoods in SF.  As we ate our meal, Zach looked over at me again and this time said, "Honey, I don't think I can move to Roseville."

We looked at 2 places in Midtown that day.  Neither of them were quite right (one was too expensive, the other didn't have designated parking... and the landlord seemed a bit odd) but they were both stunningly beautiful.  We also stopped by nearby McKinley Park, which also blew me away-- large pond with ducks and geese swimming around, a huge play structure that D fell in lover with, rose garden, open green fields, public library next to it-- and in the course of hanging out there for about an hour we happened to strike up conversations with 2 different families who were both incredibly nice, and incredibly helpful in giving advice on what areas to look for housing.

So, Roseville seems to be out.  It's discouraging in a way to have spent 4 days in Sacramento and not have found a place.  But, we now have a much better idea of what Sacramento looks like, and where we want to be.  We'll keep scourging craigslist and try to set up some appointments to look at things this week, and either Zach will go look at them on his own or we'll try to go up together again.  Unfortunately there's just not a whole lot up for rent in East Sac... but there's a lot up for sale.

Which leads to the other idea budding in our minds, of finding someplace to rent month-to-month short-term and then look to buy a house sometime in the next 2-4 months.  Which in some ways seems crazy... and in others, makes perfect sense.  We have lots of research, and lots of thinking, to do to figure out what the best next step will be... and we'll see what turns up.

To sum things up... thursday afternoon as we drove through the suburbs and strip malls, I had a bit of a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Now that I know what the core area of Sacramento is like, I'm much more excited about this move.  There's this whole area that's beautiful, has parks everywhere, schools are apparently excellent, people are friendly and open (at least the ones we ran into), and there are gorgeous homes that we might just be able to afford.  This. Is. Nice.  We could really live here.

3 comments:

  1. yay! I'm glad you found a place you like. And I don't think it is crazy, we did something similar in Calgary (in our case we were lucky to have friends to stay with for a few months instead of the short term rental but same idea). I think you can get a feel for a neighborhood pretty fast and know what you will like/not, plus talking to a few people about the areas. (although it is funny that you heard good things about Roseville, the main thing I know it for is a nice mall I like to go to when I need the full mall experience :) which always seems to have tons of people walking their kids around in it, doesn't seem like your kind of thing
    Good luck!

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  2. I'm so excited for you guys! A couple of things to consider:
    *Zach renting something small/cheap for a few months near work while you stay in SJ until you find a place to buy (not ideal but maybe an option)
    *contact realtors that specialise in that area - often such places are niche markets and your average realtor won't have the "in" - they may know of rentals or of sellers willing to rent, esp if the house has been on the market a long time.
    *get to know more people there by hanging out at local places....often times rentals are more by word of mouth or local listings (i.e. a sign) rather than listed on any place formal

    Good luck!

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  3. Yeah, I've driven past Roseville several times and it's your typical suburb. I even remember telling my girlfriend, "I could NEVER imagine living here!" Glad you found other areas that are more to your liking!

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