Figuring Out the WHERE: The Biggest Decision in Our Move to the San Francisco Suburbs​

Jun 25, 2016

Pamela Goldman and her husband had made the tough choice to move from Manhattan to the San Francisco suburbs, complete with two young children in tow. But what was even harder than make this tough choice was figuring out what—or, more accurately,WHERE—to go next…

Step 1: We had made the hard choice to move across country to the San Francisco suburbs far from our family and friends.

Step 2: So…which town do we move to and how do we find a house??

In so many ways, decidingwhereto live was infinitely harder than making the decision to pack up and leave New York City for the San Francisco suburbs. I didn’t know anyone in the Bay Area ‘burbs or, specifically, Marin County, where I’d had my eye since we first dove in.

My husband lept into action from the moment we settled on moving. He reached out to everyone he’d ever worked with who lived in the northern suburbs of San Francisco. My takeaway?Everyoneloved their town! Helpful…andnotso helpful. With each call came another passionate suburbanite, waxing on about the beauty, lifestyle, and access to the city. Most of them had kids in public school and were very happy with their districts. While it was nice to hear, I wasn’t getting any closer to figuring out the differences between the towns, the schools, the commutes, and the communities. Suburban Jungle wasn’t in San Francisco when I made this move—but I really wish it had been!

So what did I do? I rolled up my sleeves and did what any almost-suburban mom would do. I did as much online research as I could. I looked up school accountability reports for the elementary schools in four towns in Marin I had heard the most about: Mill Valley, Tiburon, Larkspur and Corte Madera. These reports had class size, demographics, test scores, average student expenditure, and teacher student ratios.

My head was spinning after reading them.

While I was comfortable with the information I found in these reports, I still felt the intangibles were very hard to glean. It just felt one dimensional.

I continued concentrating on which town would work best for our family while my husband looked at houses every time he traveled to San Francisco. He took pictures and videos, and we debatedthishouse overthatone, over and over again. As our move date got closer we got more anxious. Would we have a place to move into or would we be staying in a hotel? How would weeversettle on a place to callhome?EVER?!

In the end, we didn’t see a house we loved and didn’t feel like we truly understood the towns—but we were still gung-ho about our cross-country journey and, specifically, our journey to the San Francisco suburbs. We knew renting would give us some time to figure things out and find The House…but that would also mean movingagain.


Fast forward one month post-move and we’d found our dream house. It was a short sale which took several months to be approved by the bank. Luckily, my husband had worked a six-month out clause into our rental home, so we were able to pack up and go—just a mile down the road, in the very next town over.

And we never looked back.

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