The name Petaluma comes from the Coast Miwok phrase for hill backside, referring to it's close proximity to Sonoma Mountain.
Located about 40 miles north of San Francisco, Petaluma, California is situated in Sonoma County. With a population of only 57,000 residents, it is a perfect location for people looking for an affordable small-town living. Very family friendly, more than 67 percent of the population of Petaluma lives in households with children under the age of 18. The weather is mild, and it is a great place to avoid cold winters.
Finding an Apartment in Petaluma
Even though the cost of living is less than San Francisco and other neighboring large cities, serenity comes with a price tag. Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but he likely left it there because of the high cost of living. Today, a lot of people are following his lead and leaving the big California cities for more rural areas where they can stretch their dollars. Keep these tips in mind when you are searching for your apartment, and you will be home before you know it!
How Much Will It Cost?
You should be sitting down before you read this. No, really, take a seat. With so many families moving out of the San Francisco and San Jose areas due to high rent and housing shortages, you will have to dig deep into your pockets to rent in certain areas of Petaluma. The good news is that, although Petaluma can be expensive, it's still cheaper than the large cities around it. You may be dipping into the piggy bank, but it will go a lot farther in Petaluma!
The Best Time to Rent
Summer is always a great time to find rental discounts and incentives in the Petaluma area. This is when many people are transitioning from local cities after graduating college. Lots of families move into new apartments at the beginning of the year when they receive income-tax refunds, so checking for vacancies and specials around February and March is also a good idea.
What You'll Need
As a general rule, you will need pay stubs for proof of income and employment. Also, if you have a pet, you may need to provide vaccination records, and be prepared to pay a non-refundable security deposit for your beloved furball. You may love Fido, but the person that you are renting from probably sees Fido as the enemy.
The Best Neighborhoods in Petaluma
Because urban growth limits were imposed a few years ago, there are no bad neighborhoods in Petaluma. Whether you are interested in country living or prefer a riverfront cityscape, the options are plentiful.
Historic Riverfront Downtown and the Westside:Once neglected and not considered a good residential location, the historic riverfront area of Petaluma was revitalized in the late '70s and early '80s. The Victorian architecture, waterfront access, and local businesses make a great location for young hipsters and families alike. Whether you are looking for a nightcap or want to spend time with your children at the local park, everything downtown is within walking distance.$$$
Outside the City Limits:Just a short distance out of the city are wonderful greenbelts for those who prefer country living. Wine country is beautiful, and Sonoma County is not without its share of aesthetic presence. Honestly, some of us prefer to live quietly without the drama of the big city to the south. Fresh air does come at a price, though. Be prepared to smash your piggy bank for country living.$$$$$
The Eastside:Petaluma is separated into the Eastside and Westside. The Eastside has a retro feel with lots of homes and apartments from the '60s and '70s. Its like strolling through history until you see a Starbucks or sushi bar. Whether you are single or have a family, there are always lots of things going on to keep you from being bored.$$$$
Life in Petaluma
Life in Petaluma is definitely lived at a slower pace than in the larger cities nearby. Even though most residents rely on personal automobiles for their travel needs, mass transit is readily available, and many travelers take advantage of affordable monthly passes.
There is never a shortage of things to do in Petaluma. For the history geek, Petaluma has a number of buildings on the National Historic Register. Petaluma was fortunate to escape the earthquake that devastated San Francisco in 1906. You could spend days or even weeks looking at all things yesteryear. For greenies, the outdoor space is endless. If hiking trails and state parks are your thing, you will not be disappointed. If you aren't interested in history or hiking, perhaps you prefer to eat, drink, and be merry. The city doesnt fall short here either.
The crime rate in Petaluma is very low. Not having to worry about your children playing in the backyard while you cook dinner is a huge plus. The city is very family friendly and has lots of young families.
The city is divided into two cool and diverse sides, separated by the Petaluma River. How cool is that? You are probably thinking, way cool! The Eastside is full of family housing and a suburban vibe, whereas the Westside is filled with history and has a very energetic nightlife. Petaluma is not a big city, but drive a short distance in any direction, and you'll be in one. Being centrally located to everything is a big plus. Living in a small town may be great, but we all need to get away sometimes and see what is going on outside the bubble. San Francisco is only 40 miles south, and Sacramento is a little more than an hour east.
The cost of living may be a bit high, but the suburban utopia of Petaluma is well worth the money. It is a great city with a thriving downtown and waterfront access. You will not regret choosing one of the best small cities in California to live in.