Trading San Francisco Nightlife for a Family-Friendly Feel in the Bay Area ‘Burbs

Mar 29, 2024

This young family was anxious to leave the city – and they found two Bay Area suburbs that felt right.

After a decade in San Francisco, Nick and his wife knew it was time to leave the city. With a newborn and plans to keep growing their family, they were ready to start their next chapter in the suburbs.

“We were in the Lower Haight neighborhood,” Nick says. “We had been living in cities for our entire adult lives.” 

The couple knew that moving meant more than picking a new home. It would bring changes to their social circle and the activities around them. They were excited about the new adventure, but they wanted to do it right. So, in 2017, the couple contacted Suburban Jungle and connected with San Francisco Strategist Pamela Goldman.

Taking that next (suburban) step

“Making a move like this was going to be a big change for us,” Nick says. “We connected with Pam when we were looking for help taking that first step. At the time, we weren’t even sure where we wanted to go or exactly what we wanted to do.” 

To jump-start their journey, the couple scheduled a 30-minute call with Pam to discuss their concerns and map out what next.  

“It ended up being 90 minutes,” Nick says. “It was probably 90% therapy – just us getting used to the idea of moving and getting some base knowledge from Pam.” After the call, he says, the couple felt better about navigating the suburb search. “Pam spent a lot of time just getting to know my wife and I, what was important to us, and what type of people we were. From that knowledge, she could recommend specific areas we may want to check out. Her knowledge of the entire region, and knowing exactly what neighborhoods we might fit into…I was incredibly impressed.”

Getting started in Oakland 

Armed with insights and recommendations from Pam, the family began exploring the ‘burbs.

“They were really open to the possibilities,” says Pam. “Making a move like this is exciting – but, I know first-hand – nerve-wracking, too. Going in with an open mind, ready to explore, is key. And they were ready to dive in!”

During ongoing conversations, the couple started to weigh the pros and cons of different communities and how their lifestyle and future plans aligned. 

“We realized we were willing to trade a lot of the things that you would find in a city, like walkability and proximity to restaurants, for a density of young families so we could have a lot of people to spend time with. We wanted a real neighborhood feel.” Nick says. Quickly, they landed in Oakland, in the Rockridge neighborhood Pam initially recommended. “We were chasing this dream of having our kids riding bikes outside the front of the house with other kids their age. So that was something we ended up looking for.” 

The family spent the next year in Rockridge, enjoying life in suburbia. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and pushed them to re-examine their long-term plans. 

Bay Area suburbs – take two!

A year into the pandemic, Nick and his wife started to rethink what next, and reached back out to Pam.

“At that point, we were a bit more restricted,” he says. “There was the big ‘return to office push’ happening. So we knew we would be back in the San Francisco Bay peninsula area.” With that in mind, the family reignited their search with Pam at their side.

“We saw many people revisit their moves or priorities during the pandemic,” Pam says. “Everything from work to lifestyle…suddenly, what was important changed – and, for many, that meant rethinking their moves. During our ‘take two’ we talked through towns they’d considered the first time around as well as new communities.”

This time around, Pam says, the couple landed in San Mateo. 

“Pam described San Mateo in an entirely accurate way. All the things she said we would love about this area have been true, and we found them. The things that she said might cause some friction or wouldn’t be our favorite parts, those exist as well, they’re also true,” Nick says.

While, ultimately, getting to San Mateo took many twists and turns, three years later, Nick is still confident this is the right suburb for his family. He credits Pam’s extensive local knowledge, honesty, and total transparency during their suburban search. “We always knew what we were getting into,” he says. “Pam opened our eyes and gave us the exact guidance we needed. She never promised something that she couldn’t deliver. And she was very honest about expectations.”

Ready to make a move? Schedule your free Suburbs Strategy session now. 

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