Located a few minutes north of San Francisco, this small California town offers residents not just your typical picturesque landscapes, but also a strong business economy and a great quality of living. Situated perfectly between views of Mt. Tam, the valleys of wine country and the quirky chaos of San Francisco, San Rafael is a great choice for those who want it all. And who doesn’t?
San Rafael is a middle to upper-middle income area located in Marin County. It’s home to two major attractions—the Marin County Civic Center, Frank Lloyd Wright’s last structure, and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area which holds the title of largest outdoor park in the world. These behemoths of recreation and culture draw in tourists and locals alike. San Rafael is also home to almost 60,000 content residents who delight in its prime location, astoundingly great weather and all-around spectacular quality of life.
Speaking of the weather, it really is great here. The year round averages are right on the money, allowing residents to explore parks and risk broken legs and concerned mothers in a plethora of outdoor activities. It also allows local agriculture to grow well, providing fresh goods to residents in the ever-popular farmer’s markets. If ever there were an Edenic paradise this side of heaven, San Rafael is probably it.
With the presence of college campuses both in the city itself and nearby, as well as major businesses and a diverse population, the housing options and neighborhoods in San Rafael are as appealing and different as the views. The largest city in wealthy Marin County, San Rafael isn’t short on great neighborhoods. In fact, the only way to truly choose is to take a stroll around for yourself. You can bet that the apartment offerings will be stellar in whatever area you like, but as per California standards, will seldom ring in under $1200 for a 1bd or $1500 for 2bd. Units typically are pet-friendly, however, and full of upgraded amenities, so the only thing hard about finding an apartment here (after saving the money) is deciding whether you want a condo or a townhome, a bay view or a mountain view. Oh, the tyranny of choice!
Downtown Living downtown provides residents the ability to live in the cultural center of the city, most likely in a mixed-use development. Here, you can live in an apartment over the top of your favorite restaurant or retail shop while enjoying the nightlife, the weekend activities and the proximity to the 101 and public transit.
If traditional California homes with classic, Spanish-inspired architecture are your passion, consider the city’s historic Dominican neighborhood. Dominican University is here, so there will be no lack of youthful escapades and more than a few roomshares had here. One bedroom units can go as low as maybe $1100 on a good day, even for students, so you’d better have your financial aid lined up before you get here.
Gerstle Park and Peacock Gap
If waterfront Victorians and canal front living is appealing, head toward Gerstle Park or the Peacock Gap (east/northeast). Gorgeous views and golf course access abound, with plenty of renovated historical buildings comprising most of the rentals. Two bedrooms in this affluent area won’t dip lower than maybe $1400 for 700 sq ft, but everyone will agree that the location is amazing.
Tree-lined streets and more modern homes are abundant in the North Raphael region, for those traveling with children or just looking for a more residential area to settle into. People here also rave about the schools (figures), so your kids and their malleable young minds are in good hands.
Everyone knows that the Golden State is known for its eclectic towns and desirable neighborhoods, but San Rafael just so happens to be one of its little-known gems where you’re sure to find the perfect apartment and an outstanding quality of life. The truth is, no matter the neighborhood in San Rafael, you’ll be surrounded by friendly neighbors and amazing scenery. It may sound too good to be true, but almost disgustingly, it isn’t! So what are you waiting for???
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