Ultimate (2019) Guide to Moving to Petaluma, CA

Moving to Petaluma, CA

Less than an hour from the coast and two hours north of San Francisco, you’ll find the beautiful, tranquil city of Petaluma. This city in the heart of California’s Wine Country is a top choice for families, with plenty of work opportunities, stunning homes, and top-rated schools. If you’re moving to Petaluma, you’re making a fantastic choice, but if you need more information before making your decision, keep reading.

Who Lives in Petaluma?

Today, Petaluma is home to a population of about 60,000 people across the city’s 14.5 square mile area. The median age in the city is 41.6, though the largest age bracket among residents is children aged 5-17. About three-quarters of the population is white, while 20% identify as Hispanic or Latino, and 4.5% are of Asian descent.

The median household income for people living in Petaluma is $81,000, which is $26,000 higher than the national median! The majority of residents earn their income through a salary, though about 18% of the population is self-employed. Overall, the city is moderately liberal; Sonoma County is commonly regarded as a “blue” area, and generally votes Democrat.

Schools in Petaluma

Families living in Petaluma are spoiled for choice when it comes to schools; between private and public institutions, the city has 74 schools in total. Two of the main public high schools in the area are Petaluma High School and Casa Grande High School. Casa Grande High School offers 18 Advanced Placement courses, as well as unique learning programs like Small Learning Communities for 11th and 12th-grade students. Petaluma High School also provides AP classes, as well as leadership opportunities through organizations like SkillsUSA.

Petaluma Jobs

Wondering what the top industries and employers are in Petaluma? The city’s local economy supports more than 30,000 jobs across numerous occupations. Healthcare is the largest industry in the area, followed by Retail Trade and education. Top employers in the city include Aabalat Fine & Rare Wines, Calix Inc, and Petaluma Valley Hospital. Since Petaluma is part of Sonoma County’s Wine Country, the wine industry is also a major part of the local economy, and many locals work at vineyards and tasting rooms throughout the County.

Best Petaluma Neighborhoods

Wondering where to live in Petaluma? The city has eight main neighborhoods, along with smaller housing developments for you to choose from, each with its own unique community feel. Finding the perfect neighborhood can take some time, but we hope the list below helps get you started:

  • Maker Alley: Want to live just steps away from Petaluma’s top breweries and distilleries? Them Maker Alley might be the perfect residential area for you! The area is characterized by its industrial buildings and loft-style apartments.
  • Adobe: If you’re looking for a family-friendly neighborhood in Petaluma, you need to check out Adobe. This large neighborhood is comprised of quiet streets with homes mostly built in the 1950s.
  • College: This Petaluma neighborhood is bordered by the Petaluma Junior College Campus. Here you’ll find a mix of student housing and apartments, along with high-end homes on large plots of land.
  • Oakhill Brewster: Homes in this desirable Petaluma neighborhood sell in the mid-$700,000s on average. The district is known for it’s beautiful Victorian, craftsman, and bungalow-style homes, and is conveniently located near local parks and Downtown.

The Weather in Petaluma

Like much of California, Petaluma benefits from amazing year-round weather. The city gets 260 sunny days every year, compared with the national average of just 205. Normally, the average temperature stays between 40-80 degrees, though it can dip into the 30s or rise into the low 90s depending on the time of year. Petaluma receives less rain than the national average, and you won’t find any snow in this west coast paradise!

How Much Does it Cost to Live in Petaluma?

The reality is, living in Petaluma isn’t cheap. The median home value in the area is $557,000, and about 60% of all homes in the city cost at least $500,000. Property values have only increased in recent years, so we might expect the cost of living here to keep going up. While two-thirds of residents choose to own their homes, the remaining third of the population is made up of renters, who pay an average of $1,500 per month for their apartments.

Other Petaluma living costs are also expensive, including healthcare, groceries and goods & services. Transportation costs in the city are 34% higher than the national average, and both repairs and fuel here cost more than in other parts of the country. Since most families in Petaluma own two vehicles and commute nearly 30 minutes to work, those expenses can quickly rack up.

Things to do in Petaluma


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One of the best parts about living in sunny California is the amazing weather and the coast’s incredible scenery. So it’s no wonder that the best things to do for fun in Petaluma is to get outside! While there are plenty of different green spaces in and around Petaluma, here are two of our favorite spots to visit.

Shollenberger Park

Spanning 165 acres, this wetlands park is the perfect place to get up close and personal with California wildlife. The park has three different trails open to both pedestrians and cyclists, each between 1 1/2 – 2 miles from start to finish. A variety of birds nest in the park, making this a perfect place to visit if you enjoy bird watching!

  • Park Hours: The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset, usually from about 8AM-6PM
  • Directions: 1400 Cader Ln, Petaluma, CA 94954
  • Visitor’s Center Phone: (707) 778-4303

Helen Putnam Regional Park

Helen Putnam Regional Park is another stunning park, located on Petaluma’s southeastern edge. The park offers 6 miles of looped trails, which are open to hikers, bikers, and equestrians! Like Shollenberger Park, this is a perfect area to visit for birding and has a fishing pond. You’ll also find playgrounds for kids, picnic areas, and some of the best panoramic views of Petaluma around.

Petaluma’s Top Restaurants

El Roy’s Mexican Grill

Hungry? Come by and get something to go or dine in! 210 Edith St, Petaluma Ca

Posted by El Roy's Mexican Grill on Tuesday, May 12, 2015

In addition to their sit-down restaurant, El Roy’s Mexican Grill also has a food truck that you can find in Petaluma, usually accompanied by a long line of customers. The large menu includes a variety of tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and more.

Pub Republic


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Enjoy organic, locally-sourced meals when you visit Pub Republic in Petaluma any night of the week. The upscale pub cuisine includes everything from juicy half-pound burgers to fresh and light salmon, making it a perfect choice for everyone in your party.

Old Chicago Pizza Restaurant


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Some days, there’s just no substitute for a fresh-from-the-oven, deep-dish pizza. On those days in Petaluma, locals flock to Old Chicago Pizza, where you can choose from a variety of toppings for a personalized pizza experience that will keep you coming back for more.

Moving to Petaluma Tips

Petaluma is a paradise city, surrounded by the beauty of nature and full of friendly, welcoming people. We hope this complete city guide has helped to show you all the reasons you should move to Petaluma! Before you relocate, here are a few last tips for moving to Petaluma:

  • Visit neighborhoods you’re interested in to get an in-person feel for the community.
  • Talk to locals about why they love living here. You can visit any local eatery to get a good idea of what the area is like (plus
  • you’ll get to enjoy a delicious meal!).
  • Choose a local moving company you can trust. This will make the whole moving process easier and less stressful!

If you have more questions or want help with your relocation, the team at Smooth Move USA is always here for you. Give us a call today at (661) 325-6683 to get started on your journey towards living in Petaluma.

Moving to San Rafael, CA (2019) | What Is It Like to Live There? | Smooth Move USA

Moving to San Rafael - What Is It Like to Live There?

Looking for a place to live that is close enough to visit San Francisco on occasion without having to deal with the hassles of a big city? Well, if you head north from downtown across the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll find the small area of San Rafael, CA less than 20 miles away.

This beautiful suburb has spectacular views of mountains in one direction and captivating looks at San Francisco Bay in the other direction. Around town, you’ll find large homes in affluent neighborhoods, along with some fun local activities.

There are so many great reasons to move to San Rafael and we’ve put together this comprehensive guide with everything you should know about living there. Take a look below for all the details!

1. Population and People of San Rafael

San Rafael is a wealthy city that has produced a number of famous celebrities, athletes, and musicians. Its population of 59,000 residents makes it feel like a small town compared to many other California cities. But the area offers a number of popular amenities and things to do.

Two of the most recognizable names from the city include James Hetfield, who is the lead singer of Metallica, and Carlos Santa, the highly respected Mexican-American guitarist. Another celebrity from the city is Michael Savage, the well-known author and former host of his radio show called Savage Nation. Another face you may even see around town is Michael Johnson, the massively successful 1996 Atlanta Olympics gold medalist sprinter who currently lives in San Rafael.

2. Origins of George Lucas’ Filmmaking Career

Have you ever heard of a man named George Lucas? You know, the one who created the timeless epics of Star Wars and Indiana Jones? Yeah, that guy.

In the year 1971, George Lucas came to San Rafael to film his first full-length major motion picture called THX 1138. And it was there that he started his movie production company which he named Lucasfilm Ltd. Since that time, Lucas has produced a variety of characters we all know and love from Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader to Indiana Jones and Short Round.

Numerous areas around San Rafael were used in filming scenes for Lucas’ film called American Grafitti, as well as for multiple Star Wars movies. Clips were shot at local buildings such as the Marin County Civic Center, which also inspired the look of many buildings within the Naboo city of Theed in episode one, The Phantom Menace.

3. Things to Do and Restaurants in San Rafael

If you’re looking at living in San Rafael, you’ll find a wide range of fun things to do there, including visits to the nearby state and county parks. China Camp State Park is a popular picnic area along San Pablo Bay where you can go camping and hike along more than 15 miles worth of local trails. Just about five minutes away from there, you’ll find McNears Beach County Park, an open area covering 55 acres with a swimming pool, tennis courts, and even a fishing pier.

China Camp State Park


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China Camp State Park, 100 China Camp Village Rd, San Rafael, CA 94901

McNears Beach County Park


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McNears Beach County Park, 201 Cantera Way, San Rafael, CA 94901

Once you’ve spent a day out on the town and worked up an appetite, why not stop by Sol Food for some contemporary Puerto Rican cuisine? If you’re in the mood for soups, salads, or sandwiches instead, head over to Theresa & Johnny’s Comfort Food. And for the best Mexican food around town, you won’t want to miss a visit to Taqueria San Jose.

Sol Food


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Sol Food, 903 Lincoln Ave, San Rafael, CA 94901

Theresa & Johnny’s Comfort Food


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Theresa & Johnny’s Comfort Food, 817 4th St, San Rafael, CA 94901

Taqueria San Jose


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Taqueria San Jose, 615 4th St, San Rafael, CA 94901

4. Classy, Affluent Neighborhoods

Anyone moving to the area will obviously want to know where to find the best neighborhoods in San Rafael. And covering only about 22 square miles of Marin County, you won’t have to go far to find the place that works best for you.

At the northernmost point of San Rafael, you’ll find a rural part of town known as Lucas Valley which was named after John Lucas, a 19th-century rancher (no relation to George Lucas, in case you were wondering). From there, you can head towards the middle of town to Los Ranchitos. Just south of the civic center, this area was developed around the 1950s and split up into large lots between one to two acres each.

And in the neighborhood on the far east of town, you’ll run into an area called Peacock Gap. Up against the bay, this community includes a golf club, local park, and is the location of McNears Beach as well.

San Rafael is a member of Marin County and covers the following zip codes: 94901, 94903, 94964. If you’re looking to change your phone number once you move in, you’ll likely get an area code of either 415 or 628, depending on your area.

5. San Rafael Has a High Cost of Living

Though the area has much to offer by way of beauty and opportunity, you can expect a high cost of living in San Rafael, even by California standards. The city is known for its large, upscale homes that come with matching price tags. When it comes to transportation expenses, the cost averages about 26% higher than the national averages for things like auto insurance, local transit, and gas prices.

Boats docked at harbor in San Rafael, CA

Potential homeowners looking to buy a property in the area will love the many house styles available to them, but should also be prepared to pay for the rising home values. Currently, the average cost of a home in San Rafael is $1,042,300, which is about 4.6% higher than it was last year. The prices aren’t exactly skyrocketing right now, but there are still projections estimating an additional 2% increase in the next 12 months.

Alternatively, if you are looking to rent a home, you’ll be joining nearly half the area’s population who do the same. The average price of rent in San Rafael is between $2,410 per month for a one bedroom location and around $5,000 or more for a home with 5+ bedrooms.

6. Great Primary and Secondary Education Options

San Rafael schools are split into two main districts: San Rafael City School District and the Dixie School District. There you’ll find strong programs at the elementary schools such as Dixie Elementary, Sun Valley Elementary, and Vallecito Elementary. While junior high aged kids between sixth to eighth grade can attend Miller Creek Middle School or James B. Davidson Middle School.

The two top-rated high schools in the area include Terra Linda High, the home of the Trojans, and San Rafael High, the home of the Bulldogs.

The only university in the city is the Dominican University of California, which is ranked among the top 25 Regional Universities in the West. Their academics include undergrad and graduate programs in arts, business, psychology, and more.

7. San Rafael Has a Diverse Job Market

Are you looking up jobs in San Rafael? Well, it’s home to a number of large companies with some fantastic opportunities such as BioMarin Pharmaceuticals. Forbes recently named BioMarin the 4th Best Midsize Employer in America, as well as the number one company in the ‘Drugs & Biotechnology’ industry.

Woman looking at specimen through microscope

Other major employers in the city include Autodesk, a multinational software corporation, and Westamerica Bank, a leading financial corporation covering much of northern California.

8. San Rafael Weather

The small San Francisco suburb joins the ranks of other cities in California known for their cool, comfortable climates. It is a rare thing for the temperature to go outside the range of between 41°F and 85°F at any time of year. You can expect long, dry summers and cool, partly cloudy winters with about 40 inches of annual rainfall.

Tips for Moving to San Rafael

When it comes to living in San Rafael, there are essentially four things you’ll want to know:

  • It’s a small-ish suburb of San Francisco with about 59,000 residents.
  • There are plenty of great activities around town.
  • Neighborhoods and homes are beautiful but expensive.
  • You will absolutely love the weather.

If everything about this amazing place sounds like a good fit for you, we’d love to help with your upcoming transition. The team here at Smooth Move USA is fully prepared and ready to make your move to San Rafael a smooth and simple process

Call us today at (661) 325-6683 to learn more about our services or fill out the form at the top of this post to request a free moving estimate.

Tips and tricks on how to get started with packing for your move


Are you moving and not sure on how to tackle this seemingly monumental task? It is not as hard as it may seem. The best way to get started is to wrap most items to protect them from scratching and breakage, before packing cartons. There are a variety of materials available, including bubble pack, foam peanuts and tissue. However, most professional moving companies use bundles of clean, unprinted newsprint (you can find those at your moving supply store).

Start by placing a small stack of paper on a flat, uncluttered table or countertop. Round glasses and jars can be rolled up in two or three sheets of paper; always begin from a corner of the sheet and fold the sides in as you roll.

Large or odd-shaped items require a similar technique. Place them in the center of the sheet and bring the corners together. It may be necessary to flip the item over and wrap it again from the other side. If in doubt, use more paper! When the corners are brought together, secure them with tape.

It is best to line the bottom of each box with a few inches of wadded paper to ensure enough padding. Then place large, heavy items on the bottom and lighter, more fragile items on the top.

Plates, books and things of a similar shape, should be loaded vertically to utilize their own maximum structural strength. Don’t overload cartons; keep them to a manageable weight. Fill in any voids and top off loaded cartons with wadded paper. Then tape cartons securely to avoid shifting while en route.

How to move your copier, printer or books


It is not uncommon for your move to include a copy machine and/or printer as well as a number of books. You might have asked yourself, how do I pack these items, so they do not break during my move? There are a few suggestions that will help making this task an easy one. There is one thing to consider, if your home copier turns out to be larger than desk size, it is highly recommended to have it serviced by a professional before it is being transported.

Here are a few steps to prepare your copy machine for moving:

  • Remove the paper tray and cartridge.
  • Secure the document cover, exit tray and alternate paper tray before packing.
  • If your unit comes with shipping pins, which keep the internal parts in place during transit, they should be removed from the storage location on the document cover and placed according to directions in the owner’s manual.

How to handle your printer:

It is best to remove the toner and laser cartridges of any laser printer. Dispose of them safely and get new ones at your new home or office. If your printer is a different type of  printer, then the print head should be secured by a professional, with preparation depending on the model.

How to move your books:

Even in our digital age, we cherish our books and want to make sure that they do not get ripped or otherwise damaged during a move. It is advised to pack books of the same general size together, in small book cartons.

Pack them either flat, or with the spine touching the bottom of the carton. Do not pack with spine facing upward, as glue can break away from the binder.
Expensively bound volumes of those of sentimental value should be individually wrapped before packing.