Should we move to Sacramento or Davis
March 9, 2013 8:19 PM   Subscribe

My wife has been offered a postdoc position at UC Davis, she is having a hard time deciding whether to accept it or not. If she does accept, should we - as a couple without a car - move to Davis or Sacramento? More details inside of course. Thank you!

Is there any reasonable way to commute to Davis from Sacramento without a car? I have read about a UC commuter bus that leaves from a Sacramento hospital on a regular schedule, does anybody know how we'll that would work?

The main issue is Sacramento seems much more appealing, but less convenient for her possible job. What are your thoughts? Thank you!
posted by Slimemonster to Work & Money (15 answers total)
Check the Amtrak Capital Corridor costs and schedule: I know a guy who used to commute in to Berkeley from Davis on the train. Might be an easy way to commute in, or might be a way to say "heck, from Davis we can get to SF and up to the Sierra, we don't have to add to the commute".
posted by straw at 8:34 PM on March 9, 2013

No, don't try to live in Sacramento without a car. It will not go well. The commute to Davis isn't the problem (although it may also be a problem, I never tried it) but living in Sac without a car is not setting yourself up for success. You really can't live in Sac without a car. Yes, there are RT busses, but they are not reliable transit.

You can live in Davis without a car; it is very bike-friendly.

Davis is actually really nice. Living near campus is very pleasant.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:38 PM on March 9, 2013 [14 favorites]

If you don't have a car you probably don't want to live in Sacramento. You could live in midtown Sacramento without a car pretty easily, but it would be really difficult to get between the two cities without one.

I lived in Sacramento as a UCD undergrad. It was only manageable because I had a car, and my boyfriend (now husband) and I could get an inexpensive carpool parking pass. We tried the public transport options, and even biked from Sac to Davis a few times, but it was just too hard to make work.

Here is the information on the shuttle. The UCD Med Center is in Sacramento, but it is in an area that is expensive and not easy to get to on public transport, and not an area that would be easy to live in without a car.
posted by apricot at 8:45 PM on March 9, 2013

Why does Sacramento seem more appealing? Davis is pretty nice.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:46 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree with the above. I was commuting from sac to UC by train to do some volunteer work, and it's a massive pain in the ass...the best I could manage was Amtrak, but it's kinda pricy, infrequent, and a fair walk to campus.

I love Davis, I'd live there over Sac any day. Davis is really cute and walkable.
You will definitely want a car in Sac.
posted by jrobin276 at 8:50 PM on March 9, 2013

I have taken the Capital Corridor through Davis and Sacramento many times on weekends and holidays, and it's a pretty pleasant ride. There's usually lots of seats and it only gets crowded around Thanksgiving/Christmas. I'm not sure about commuting between those two stops, though -- the Sacramento Amtrak station is not convenient from most residential parts of the city, and the train gets delayed sorta often.

What appeals to you about living in Sacramento versus Davis? Davis has a great atmosphere -- it's a college town, but I wouldn't say it's rowdy. It's walkable, and of course bike-friendly. Based on my experiences visiting friends in both places, I'd much rather live in Davis.
posted by perryfugue at 8:52 PM on March 9, 2013

to modify my lady will probably want TWO cars in Sac, if you are both working. We did it on one, but I was working from home.
posted by jrobin276 at 8:52 PM on March 9, 2013

The main issue is Sacramento seems much more appealing.

It's not. I've lived in both cities and moved from Sac to Davis even while working in Sacramento, because Davis is nicer. Davis has a nice, friendly, fun, college town atmosphere. Sacramento is sort of a generic mid-sized city.

Davis is also very bike-able, the whole city is full of bike-friendly features. Alternatively, you *can* bike across the causeway between Davis and Sac, but it's pretty awful. I've done it a bunch of times but it's ugly and noisy and long.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:53 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I forgot to add that the only way in which Sacramento is better than Davis is that housing is less expensive and a little bit nicer (very, very much depending on the area of town you live in). Davis is definitely a college town, so you have college town landlords and prices. But in all other respects Davis would be a much more pleasant place to live. The benefits far outweigh cheaper rent. My husband and I stayed in Sac because we're lazy and didn't want to deal with moving, but we often regretted it!
posted by apricot at 8:59 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Always live near where you work for sanity and financial security purposes.

I grew up in a commuter suburb of NYC and learned this lesson quickly. It has never failed me 40+ years later.

Davis is nice by all accounts, so there ya go.
posted by jbenben at 9:17 PM on March 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

I lived in Davis for five years and loved it.

Davis is incredibly bikeable. If she's really into bicycle commuting, and you really need a big city, she could live in Sac and bike along the causeway. It's doable but not particularly pleasant. If she's really into bus commuting, here's a link to the buses she would be riding. I'm not sure whether this holds true for grad students, but undergrads can use their student ID to ride those buses for free. I've been a bicyclist for my entire adult life. As a general principle, I find it to be a lot more convenient to live near where I work/study. I'd rather spend my time on activities other than commuting.

There's plenty to do in Davis. You can always commute to Sacramento if you need Big City. And since the Amtrak's Capital Corridor is right in downtown Davis, in the same amount of time it takes to catch the bus out to Sacramento, you can catch the train and be down in the Bay Area.

Let me know if either of you need help finding any particular resources for Davis or Sacramento, like food, websites, bike repair, etc.
posted by aniola at 10:06 PM on March 9, 2013

Davis is a good place to live.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:24 AM on March 10, 2013

Another Davisiite without a car here. Move here! This is one of the few places in all of California where you can get away with not having a car. The town bus system is great. (The county one is kinda slow and weird, but manageable if you need to go to jury duty or something.) You can either walk or bike to most places, though that depends on your location. Amtrak will at least get you to the major cities of NorCal. If you have driver's licenses, we have Zipcar so you can drive to Sac.

Also, a friend of mine is a postdoc here and loves it and is glad she chose to go here. (And will be sorry to leave, but apparently postdocs aren't allowed to get permanent jobs here--or at least that's how her field goes.)

Probably about the one thing that kind of sucks about moving here is the inflexibility of housing. NOW is the time where everyone is scrambling for leases because apartments demand that you renew your lease in February/March, so start browsing the wiki for housing. I will warn you that we don't have month-to-month housing available* and almost everyone runs on a yearlong, September 1-August 31 lease (the Davis Model Lease). If you are moving here before or after September, you may have a more interesting time trying to find a place. You'll have an especially uh, interesting time trying to leave a place early.** If you're looking off schedule, you may need to resort to Craigslist/take an empty room in someone else's place. There's the occasional person who's going to be gone one quarter and needs someone to temporarily take over their lease, so that might be an option for you, it's just dicier.

* I've heard of one place, but they've got a waiting list and god only knows when you'll get in.
** Though my postdoc friend's apartment complex is the only one I've heard of that may be more flexible about these things--or at least they are not being super adamant about when she moves compared to everywhere else I know of. Her manager does seem really nice.

Good luck and welcome to town!
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:27 AM on March 10, 2013

I had friends at Davis who commuted by car from Sac, and if something went wrong on 80 they could be hours late. That happened 2-3 times per year, minimum. I commuted on the Capitol Corridor from Oakland to Davis, rode my bike to campus. It's possible to live near the train station in Sacramento and take the train, but you'd still need to get around the rest of Sacramento for groceries and stuff, and transit there is not awesome. Davis would be much easier to be car-free in; Unitrans is pretty decent and naturally you can bike. You'd want a bike on campus anyway- one of my classes was a mile from my previous class.

Davis is a cool little bucolic town. If you can afford it, live there.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:39 PM on March 10, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for your feedback everybody!
posted by Slimemonster at 7:40 AM on March 11, 2013

« Older How much is too much when you're empathizing with...   |   Line Up In An Orderly Fashion, and Don't Make a... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.