Where to live near/outside Sacramento, CA?
April 11, 2014 12:57 PM   Subscribe

Young professional couple, 30 y/o, being relocated from NY to work in Roseville, CA. Currently work in Manhattan and live right outside the city. We're hoping to live somewhere that is within close distance to bars, restaurants, shops, etc. but are not looking to live in the suburbs. Preliminary research has shown us neighborhoods either very suburby or college towns. We still are hoping for the california feel so are a little weary about living in downtown sacramento but are open to any suggestions. We want to avoid living in an apartment building full of college kids. We would like to be west of sacramento so in closer distance to san francisco/napa/weekend trip options.
posted by kmr to Home & Garden (29 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Roseville has decent transit to Sacramento and the Bay Area, believe it or not. Capitol Corridor is an Amtrak commuter train and it's quite nice (wifi, power, cafe). Roseville and Sacramento are adjacent stops, so that should be quick. San Francisco is not on the track route, so you'll have to take a bus across the Bay Bridge from Emeryville (Amtrak bus, synced with train schedule).
posted by ryanrs at 1:11 PM on April 11, 2014

By Manhattan standards, Sacramento is tiny. You don't have to go very many blocks to get out of downtown. Look at the East Sacramento, Land Park and Curtis Park neighborhoods.
posted by Longtime Listener at 1:12 PM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

We still are hoping for the california feel

What does this mean to you?
posted by rtha at 1:18 PM on April 11, 2014

Do you really mean west of Sacramento? Because that's pretty much Davis or Woodland (which may not pass the college-y suburb-y filters). Or do you mean west of Roseville / ease of escape?
posted by weston at 1:27 PM on April 11, 2014

My parents used to live in Cameron Park. It's not the suburbs, it's kind of on the way to someplace. It's a 30 minute drive to Roseville (my Dad made the commute) and it's really pretty around the lake. The cool thing is that a lot of the houses had airplane hangers and the neighborhood streets are also taxi-ways for small planes. (It's either a thing or not.)

As you get up 80/50, you're heading towards Tahoe and skiing. So if you like skiing, there's that. You will need 4WD or chains to get up 50 though. Donner Pass and all of that.

You might like Folsom. (yup, THAT Folsom.)

It's really pretty and it has some sort of an older, main street kind of thing going on.

Sacramento is pretty far away from the coast, and it's inland sprawl.

I'd find a smaller community within an easy commute of Sac, and go with it.

You can always to to San Francisco on the weekends.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:30 PM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: By "California feel", I guess I meant somewhere not congested. We don't really want to feel like we are living in a city, but don't want to feel isolated either. Not sure if that makes sense!

I have seen just Davis or Woodland which I think are too collegey, right? I guess our goal is to live somewhere within a decent commute to Roseville - so not more than 40 minutes - but where we are still in a location that allows us to take fun weekend trips without traveling for more than 2 hours in one direction.
posted by kmr at 1:32 PM on April 11, 2014

Long-time Sacramento resident--here's my take: Basically anything that's not IN Sacramento-proper and is within 30 miles of the city would be considered the suburbs. I would either reconsider the suburbs (Roseville actually has a lot of bars, restaurants, shops; as does Folsom) or look at Sacramento itself. Downtown is not an area where you'd want to be (and there isn't much decent housing down there anyway), but Midtown is really great; there's cool housing and lots to do. Land Park and East Sac are beautiful (my dream neighborhoods) but quite expensive--think $400K for 2-3 BR, 1 bath bungalow, and it goes up from there--I see nice rental houses but expect to pay at least $2k a month). Tahoe Park and Colonial Heights are up and coming (as a young-ish person living in Midtown, that's where I'm eyeballing for when we "settle down"), as is Oak Park (though I think it's still rough in some areas). Davis is actually really nice and more liberal than a lot of the surrounding areas (thanks to the university) but still not as colleg-y as you're probably imagining. Woodland is kind of isolated and has always struck me as boring and unappealing. Are you looking to buy or rent, and what is your approximate budget?
posted by lovableiago at 1:47 PM on April 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

There is nothing resembling a city in that entire area, including Sacramento proper (population only 475 K). Sacramento is town-sized and is surrounded by suburbs and rural areas. Most of your options will be California-style suburbs. If you want to be around bars, restaurants and a young, but not college crowd, maybe Sacramento's Midtown neighborhood would be a good fit.
posted by quince at 1:49 PM on April 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: We will be renting, hopefully a 2BR if we can find one under 2k a month. Budget still has to be worked out as we negotiate work salaries.
posted by kmr at 1:51 PM on April 11, 2014

OK so I may have inflated my rent estimations a little--here and here are two examples of rental houses in East Sac that are around $1,600, just to give you an idea of what you might encounter. There are a lot of these older houses (which I personally like, but again, if you're looking for something more modern you might have to reconsider the suburbs). I will point out that the good thing about living in Sacramento and commuting to Roseville is that you're going against traffic--something to consider when you are estimating drive times and all that.

I'd encourage you to look at Zillow or something comparable to get a feel for prices once you narrow in on some areas. Feel free to MeMail me if you have specific questions. Would be happy to suggest areas to avoid--whether for being sketchy or just squaresville--as well...
posted by lovableiago at 2:04 PM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Compared to Manhattan, nothing even within the city limits is going to be congested - Sacramento has about 5000 people per square mile to Manhattan's +60,000.
posted by rtha at 2:07 PM on April 11, 2014

Yes, I agree that you will be happy in many of the central city neighborhoods. As previously mentioned, East Sac, Land Park, Curtis Park and Midtown are all lovely.
You may also consider the Southside Park area which is cheaper than Midtown, but has a lot of the same charm. Midtown has the most restaurants, but any of this neighborhoods are an easy bike ride away. (Sacto is flat).

To generalize East Sac is family-ish, Land Park is a bit more hip and Curtis Park has a lot of rich people. Midtown is the youngest demographic.

I love Oak Park and have lived there for many years, but it is still "emerging" and is block by block. Memail me if you want advice on any particular block. It's a pretty racial diverse neighborhood, which is cool. Sacramento has one of the most diverse populations in the country.
posted by Duffington at 2:15 PM on April 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Midtown is what I think of as "cool/hip" part of Sacramento but leans more late 20s/early 30s crowd. Houses are old and small but are distinctive. Lots of cool bars/nightlife. Roseville IS Suburbia. Huge newly built Lennar etc "communities." Just look at the Galleria Mall and it's stores (we go there, but I mean seriously it's like the definition of suburban/spend all you can America). Don't get me wrong the homes are nice and there are some great, safe neighborhoods. There is an old downtown Roseville that has a decent nightlife scene.

Folsom is a lot like this but as you get near Sutter Street there is a small community of older homes close to a cool nightlife (but it's literally one street). Folsom is older too.

Also if you think of Sacramento like a clock geographically, downtown is on the left side, Midtown is at 7/8 oclock and Roseville is waaaaaayy up by 1. There are two main freeways and they run east west, with no north/south connection on the western side. Basically I think the commute from midtown to Roseville might not be that fun but I haven't done it.

2BR for <2k should be easy.
posted by Big_B at 2:20 PM on April 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

lovableiago: "I will point out that the good thing about living in Sacramento and commuting to Roseville is that you're going against traffic--something to consider when you are estimating drive times and all that. "

Oh yeah nevermind, you'd be going against normal traffic.

The good news is you're going to be renting so as much as moving sucks you're not going to be that tied down once you find the area you really jive with.
posted by Big_B at 2:22 PM on April 11, 2014

Yes and reading what Big_B says about rent, just wanted to clarify that I gave you East Sac examples because that is one of the nicest areas and I wanted to show you what your budget might get you somewhere like that. You could definitely find a nice 2BR for less than $2k--if you don't care about a yard then don't even look at houses because $1500 to $2k can get you quite a nice apartment "on the grid" (the square of urban land bordered by I-80 to the east, Highway 50 to the south, and I-5 to the west...west of 15th is considered downtown, east of 15th is considered midtown). OK I'll shut up about my hood now.
posted by lovableiago at 2:30 PM on April 11, 2014

Response by poster: This has been so helpful! Thank you all!
We probably want to spend 2k total a month on living costs so that would include utility bills, cable, etc.. but sounds we have good options.
posted by kmr at 2:35 PM on April 11, 2014

I guess our goal is to live somewhere within a decent commute to Roseville - so not more than 40 minutes - but where we are still in a location that allows us to take fun weekend trips without traveling for more than 2 hours in one direction.

Good news! Roseville itself fits the bill.

I've lived in Rancho Cordova and Cameron Park, either place seemed to allow for nice Bay/Napa weekend getaways with about 2 hours of travel (unless you time the traffic wrong, in which case, living in Davis wouldn't help you).

Second those who'd say that the Sac midtown/grid area or old Folsom would help you with access to restaurants and bars. There's also a number of other walkable downtown areas scattered throughout the suburbs, including Roseville itself if I recall correctly.
posted by weston at 2:40 PM on April 11, 2014

I found this map of neighborhoods that might be helpful to you.
Sorry to be confusing, but when we talk about Midtown we are really referring the those neighborhoods on the map that are called: New Era Park, Blvd. Park, Marshall School, Newton Booth and Richmond Grove, as well as Midtown. I am a particular fan of Boulevard Park.

By Oak Park, I am referring to North or Central Oak Park (probably not South, yet) Alhambra Triangle and Med Center.

They haven't been mentioned, but there are some cool parts of Alkali Flat and Mansion Flats.

My personal preference is to stay away from P or Q street in Midtown, they are little too busy.
posted by Duffington at 2:51 PM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

For what it's worth, I love Davis — it is a college town, but it's not a loud, gross, beer-soaked kind of college town, and you don't have to actually deal with the students much unless you're right on the edge of campus. I would at least have a look at it, because I think it would fit a lot of your other requirements. It's so incredibly green, it has very good culture for its size (the upside of the university is a lot of highly educated adults who have made it their home), and it's beautifully located for afternoon trips to Napa and the bay.
posted by you're a kitty! at 3:04 PM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I lived in Midtown the year I was 29 (and grew up in central California anyway) - 2011 - and loved it. We lived around the corner from this cafe's 21st Street location. There was also a corner store/bodega, a community garden, a small bakery, and a rare book store all a block or so from us. The neighbourhood is full of young professionals, leafy urban-residential streets (not NYC urban, but not SUBurban either!) with pockets of nice restaurants & stuff in walking distance. We regularly walked to pockets at:

(Here's what I remember)
H around 18th: Italian deli/grocery, a sandwich place, a diner...close to our place, so convenient.
L & 16th: Boutique ice cream/chocolates, Crepevine, Old Soul coffee, Scout furniture
Fremont Park: Indian, Pizza, frozen yogurt, thrift stores, Naked Lounge Coffee, stuff in the park
J and K around 21st: Peet's, Tapas, Vegan restaurant, burgers, deep-dish pizza, shoes, magazine store, token gay bar, Mexican... this was the largest pocket (I think they also have a first-friday art-walk fair type thing once a week in the summer)
Downtown (yeah, no one really lives there btw), but state museums/library etc.
We could also walk/easy bus to the public library (McKinley Park).
We did drive to Safeway and the Co-op for groceries, suburban style ;)

We rented a free standing 1-bed cottage for $1000/m (approx). Unique (I think to CA!) are these little one and two bedroom complexes of cottages, all seemingly built around the... 1920's? Great when you don't want an apartment, but don't want a house either. There's a nice example of one at 750 18th Street - we didn't live here (but were near by) so I haven't seen inside, but it's a handful of cottages with a shared garden in the middle. There were a handful of really nice renovated converted industrial > loft buildings in midtown too, and a number of old Victorians converted into units. We had street parking and it was never a problem. Sacramento is very flat, and would be pretty bike friendly. I think you'd be very happy in midtown in general if you want somewhere that you "don't really want to feel like we are living in a city, but don't want to feel isolated either".

Pick a few areas and google street view them!

I LOVE Davis, it is super cute, but rent is very high and the competition for rentals is fierce!

and... Awwww, I miss Sacramento!!! I'd move back in a heartbeat.
MeMail me if you have questions =)
posted by jrobin276 at 3:16 PM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm a Davisite too, and I think it's a great place to live. It's only college-y if you're near campus.

That said, one thing you need to know about living west of Sacramento (well, living west of West Sacramento) is that the area between Sacramento and Davis/Woodland is one big flood plain. There are only two roads that cross it: I-80 and I-5. That's it. There are no surface roads. There are no alternatives. Traffic on the causeway (the stretch of I-80 between Davis and West Sac) can be really, really brutal. Commuting to Roseville from any place west of West Sacramento might put you closer to Napa on the weekends, but it would suck during the week.

All that said, I think Davis is a great place. Midtown and Land Park in Sacramento are good suggestions too.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:17 PM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

One other out-of-the box suggestion, in the opposite direction, is Auburn. It's about 20 minutes NE of Roseville and is a neat little town in the Sierra foothills. It's very California, but it's Gold Rush California and not 90210 California. It's got excellent proximity to outdoor recreation, both summer and winter, if you're into that sort of thing. Another 20 or 30 minutes on the highway headed away from Roseville and you're officially in the mountains.

Amtrak runs from Auburn to the Bay Area if you feel like going there but don't want to drive.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:23 PM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

A resource for looking into Davis is the Davis Wiki. I think many of the closer-in Sacramento recommendations would be fine for anyone coming from NYC looking for California.
posted by aniola at 3:42 PM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

mudpuppie makes another good point - if you are into recreation/outdoors at all the western side of Sacramento (Roseville/Folsom) is ideal for getting into the foothills. They are both located right where the valley proper meets the hills and are essentially gateways to the Sierras (and Lake Tahoe).

I'd be weary of a Davis to Roseville commute - might check in with any of the Davis folks above if you go that route.
posted by Big_B at 3:49 PM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Davis to Roseville is forty minutes. Much as I also love Davis, I don't think I would recommend the OP move there. I'd just say to live in Roseville or whatever the closest other 'burbs are to it to make your commute shorter, honestly.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:01 PM on April 11, 2014

I agree with jenfullmoon - Davis is too far from Roseville. East Sac is beautiful and midtown has more happening stuff.
posted by gt2 at 10:43 PM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't recommend Davis. Great town and an awesome place to live, but making that drive to Roseville would get old quick. Traffic crossing the river and the floodplains can be brutal during rush hour as mentioned above, and it's not worth the 20 minutes it would save you on those trips every once in a while.

East Sacramento is a great area, and Midtown would work too. Much closer to great places to eat, drink, and shop. Totally agree with all the posts above.

As far as distance from the Bay or Napa for trips, East Sac and Midtown are about an hour and a half drive to San Francisco when there's no traffic. And that's going the speed limit... California speed is at least 5 over, as everyone knows CHP doesn't usually care unless you're getting up around 10-15 over. So even living in east Sacramento, if you want to make a Saturday drive to the Bay, you're looking at an hour and a half, tops, but probably even less.

(When you get up here, be sure to plan some trips to Monterey/Carmel, Big Sur, and Pismo/SLO too.)

And 2 bedrooms, under $2k should not be a problem whatsoever. Sacramento has the most reasonable cost of living of any nice California city. A $100k salary in Brooklyn is the equivalent of something like a $60-70k salary in Sac, so you should hopefully find plenty of options in your price range.

Good luck!

PS: When you get to Sacramento, here's two great chains that you might love. Nugget is the best supermarket chain ever in my opinion. There are several around the metro area. Think Whole Foods, only artsier, and with better prices, and usually even better selection. Total Wine is our liquor megastore chain out west, and it has an obscene selection of beers and wines and spirits at California prices (usually way cheaper than most states back east).
posted by Old Man McKay at 1:13 AM on April 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Another question if anyone is still out there for this post :) .
What websites do you guys in Sacramento used to find rental apartments? In NY, craigslist is usually an okay place to start. Mostly will lead you to other broker sites. What brokerage firms in Sacramento focus on rentals?
posted by kmr at 5:00 PM on April 24, 2014

Craigslist is an okay place to start.
posted by aniola at 4:09 PM on April 27, 2014

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