If hardened New Yorkers have started leaving The City for financial reasons, perhaps it’s not so crazy to think that a growing number of San Franciscans might consider doing the same.

People are discovering that with Manhattan’s high apartment prices, they can cash out and get much more for their money outside the city, where the inventory is growing and the prices are falling. Some buyers, not quite ready for picket-fence lives, are even finding pockets of urbanism that didn’t exist outside the city a few years ago.

And it begs the question, how will falling prices outside of San Francisco proper (or even in the outer districts) impact the demand curve (and prices) throughout the rest of the city?
Cashing Out of New York City [New York Times]

61 thoughts on “Cashing Out: If It Can Happen There, Can It Happen Anywhere?”
  1. I noticed that the NYTimes article was silent on the point of commute times. We’ve definitely made a time vs. money tradeoff. It costs a hell of a lot more to live in less in the City than in a burb like Antioch, but a 45-50 minute commute vs. a 20 minute commute winds up eating weeks of time over the year – time that we’d rather spend with family than in a car or on BART.

  2. The NY Times article is the same old story with one new twist. People have been moving out of Manhattan for many decades because you can get so much more for the money (space, quiet, etc.) in the surrounding areas (even though you give up lots of other things). The new twist is that the disconnect between prices in Manhattan and the outlying areas has grown tremendously in the last year as Manhattan prices have not dropped nearly as much as those in the neighboring areas, so it makes more sense than ever to cash out at what are still bubble prices and move a short distance away.
    The big picture story is that this shows Manhattan is not a real estate island (even though it is a real island) and the relevant market extends far beyond its borders — meaning that prices in Manhattan will follow the downward trends of the neighboring areas even if they have held up better so far. I completely agree with the point of nowonderitcostssomuchhere, but there is a point where one cannot justify paying so much more for so much less simply to shave a few minutes off your commute.

  3. I actually pay a LOT more to live in the city so that I can have the pleasure of a reverse commute to the burbs. If ONLY the Peninsula wasn’t such a suburban wasteland … think of the money and time I could save!
    (ok, that’s enough of those negative kinds of thoughts…)

  4. I think living in the city is worth every extra penny I spend. When I look out my front windows I can see the Golden Gate Bridge. Why would I dive 45-50 mins to live in the suburbs. The only thing I give up by living in the city is not having a pool in my backyard. Living in the suburbs you loose so much time out of your life, energy, and culture. I think even if I didn’t have enough money to have a house in the city I would still rather rent a small apartment then have a house/apartment in the suburbs.

  5. I agree with you all — I live in SF for the same reasons you note. However, we are in the minority — far more in the bay area do not live in SF than do live in SF. My point was, answering Adam’s question, that there are enough in the market (in fact, most) who will leave the city (whether it be SF or Manhattan) to buy in the neighboring areas if the price differential grows too large. That is the definition of a single market, and SF is not immune to the price declines that may now be more pronounced in neighboring counties for that reason.

  6. Unless you have children and crave living in a community with tract housing, I can see no reason to leave San Francisco for the suburbs – Dublin, Brentwood, Tracy, Vallejo, etc. It’s so boring and there is nothing to do. Granted, you can get an incredible deal on a house in these outlying areas right now – where the bust is having the biggest impact on housing so far – but trust me, you will miss the culture and diversity of the city – and most of all the lifestyle. That is precisely why we moved back to San Francisco. Now that the boom is over, the suburbs are simply boring. And might I add, fairly conservative as well.

  7. moving to the burbs could really hurt you if you don’t move along the bart or caltrain line for sf or the capital corridor line if you work in oakland.
    nyer’s will always have that advantage and opportunity over us in terms of train capable commutes into their city.
    take a drive in from tahoe on a monday morning to see how truly bitter that could make you for moving out of the city.
    i’d never be able to replace my sweeping views of the bay bridge, treasure island, east bay and south beach and ball park so i’m staying forever.

  8. Being in NYC right now I asked a few people what they thought, there are all sorts of little commuter areas being built in Jersey City and on the other side in Queens where you can actually afford to buy a place and still commute to the city within 20-30 minutes. What is the obsession with comparing SF with NYC ? They are 2 very different cities and not at all comparable IMHO.

  9. Movingback said: “Unless you have children and crave living in a community with tract housing, I can see no reason to leave San Francisco for the suburbs – Dublin, Brentwood, Tracy, Vallejo, etc. It’s so boring and there is nothing to do.”
    Vallejo has the largest collection of historic Victorians west of the Mississippi River. If you stay in the older parts of Vallejo, you also have great neighborhoods that were built in the 1930s and are as far from “tract homes” as you can get.
    It’s not “all or nothing” just because you move outside of San Francisco.

  10. your website about chicago properties is fascniating sabrina. i love it. especially the ebay and craigslisting of condo’s about to go into foreclosure or already bank owned. the trump tower stuff reminded me to ask what ever happened to that original winner of the apprentice? is he still involved in that project? how over extended is the donald in this market?

  11. Thanks for the tidbit of information, Sabrina, but that’s not enough to make we want to move to Vallejo and give up all that this wonderful city has to offer. I don’t know if you’ve been to Vallejo in the past 5-10 years, but there are tons of new tract home developments in Vallejo and American Canyon that were a product of the new construction boom in those areas.

  12. Oh, and I forgot to mention the strip malls as well. So many fun things to do there!
    I am sorry, Sabrina, but I beg to differ – outside of Napa and the Wine Country, living in the suburbs is terribly, terribly boring compared to living in the city. We’ve tried it, didn’t like it. I am talking from experience, not off the top of my head. Having another place in Napa or Sonoma might be nice, but come on, Fairfied? Brentwood? Tracy? Dublin? Vallejo? There is nothing to do. And not to mention the commute time if you work in San Francisco or points south. Forget it.

  13. And to answer the begging question – I don’t know how much falling prices will impact the equation. It’s been pretty pricey here for such a good chunk of time that I think a lot of people who can afford to buy homes in the city buy for reasons other than price. We could have purchased a place in Oakland (an easy commute to the City) or Berkeley or any number of towns years ago that would have been bigger and nicer than our box for the same price. My mailman was priced out of the City even during the real estate doldrums in the mid-90s which is why he owns a house in Vallejo. We could probably buy a 4 bed/3 bath house in Antioch right now (to me that’s the functional equivalent of living in Norwalk, CT and commuting to NYC) for ~300-400K but we won’t bother because of the commute distance. We can afford to construct a 4 bd/3 bath place here in the City even without mortgaging ourselves to the hilt. We briefly considered moving to burbs like Orinda, Piedmont, or Burlingame (the towns with good schools and slightly more reasonable commutes) but the prices are still high enough that’s not an attractive alternative when you factor in the commute time (I think those towns are great and if you get someplace close to their ‘centers,’ you’ve still got that great walkability that makes the City such a nice place to live).

  14. All good points, but people keep referring to the DEEP suburbs like Tracy, Antioch, etc. Hell no for most of us that live in the city. But what about Oakland, where prices are being slashed by 100-200k already from prices paid 1-4 years ago? Oakland is not necessarily suburbia at its core (depending on which neighborhood) and still very close to culture and even the city via BART or car. I love the city too and just sold my residence here and am renting now to wait and see what/when I will hop back on the ownership train (late 2008 at the earliest).

  15. It’s a no-brainer to live in Montclair or a similar ‘hood. You get:
    1) a house with views
    2) a yard
    3) low-crime
    4) no organic sidewalks (bums)
    5) a 20 minute commute
    6) easy access to other shopping/restaurants both in the East Bay-Rockridge, Berkeley and SF (se #5)
    All at a price 1/2 to 1/3 that of a SFR in a decent ‘hood in SF with views.

  16. It’s a no-brainer to live in Montclair or a similar ‘hood. You get:
    1) a house with views
    2) a yard
    3) low-crime
    4) no organic sidewalks (bums)
    5) a 20 minute commute
    6) easy access to other shopping/restaurants both in the East Bay-Rockridge, Berkeley and SF (se #5)
    All at a price 1/2 to 1/3 that of a SFR in a decent ‘hood in SF with views.

  17. Have to agree with David on this one. My ex-boss lives in Montclair and she said, “You can’t pay me to live in SF.” She’s got a huge house with a view and for the same price in SF, she said she would have a matchbox sized home in the city. And yes, she commutes to the city.
    BTW, you can have views of the bay and the bay bridge from the east bay too.

  18. Not all parts of Oakland are experiencing $100K – $200K drops. Crocker Highlands prices are holding/rising with some homes setting all time records for home prices in the area. A decent house will sell after one showing with multiple bids. And 15 minutes in the casual carpool puts you right downtown. My commute is better than it was from Noe. And we walk to Peets, Trader Joe’s, etc.

  19. Probably half of the units in my SF condo building are owned by 50+ year olds (both with and without kids) as either a primary or secondary residence. Obviously they find living full-time in the suburbs boring and want something more.
    So although many families move away from The City, many with enough cash have eventually moved back.

  20. Anon,
    Yes, not all are experiencing 100k+ drops, but it’s just beginning now. Yes, Crocker is a sweet hood but pretty small and only 1 part of many nice areas of Oakland. If you think Crocker is insulated from a slowdown, just wait. It’s just like SF – not every place slows down or at the same speed all at the same time….

  21. Happy new year!

    I moved to the east bay hills several years ago, and I’m happy. In fact, the reason I started reading SS was some east bay hills posts (they don’t do that anymore), and then I got sucked in cause I used to live in Noe. I also enjoy reading the existential angst of the spreadsheet-wielding SF renters 🙂

    We have nice views of the oakland hills and a short walk up the street gives us good views of Oakland, SF, and both bridges. And the hillside public elem. schools are pretty good. Closer to Tahoe, and I think the weather is better over here. It’s more diverse too (rather than SF, which I feel is balkanized). Off traffic peak, I get downtown in my car faster than I used to from NV.

    It’s true that about 2/3 of Oakland is an absolute sh*th*1e, so just stay out of those areas — the tenderloin does not accurately reflect SF (and in any case, it appears some of you have no problem paying up to live there). And oakland itself pales to SF’s natural beauty (tho on its own oakland isn’t too bad).

    Some SF folks ape sophistication but then betray such provincial opinions (outside SF == antioch or suburbs, only poor people move out, etc) it’s embarrassing. Also, “SF culture” has been eviscerated over the last 10-15 years, unless you are referring to burning man, anon salon, or web 2.0 office parties — you can’t credibly claim cultural advantages to living in SF. In any case, it remains available — a 20+ minute cab ride gets you home from your culturally-significant anon salon party for about 50 bucks — you may get home before the guy who walks home to his SOMA loft (and you won’t have to step in any p**p) 🙂

  22. Anon,
    Yes, not all are experiencing 100k+ drops, but it’s just beginning now. Yes, Crocker is a sweet hood but pretty small and only 1 part of many nice areas of Oakland. If you think Crocker is insulated from a slowdown, just wait. It’s just like SF – not every place slows down or at the same speed all at the same time….

  23. Vallejo has the largest collection of historic Victorians west of the Mississippi River.
    Oh please, Sabrina, its not like gays are moving out of the City into Vallejo. I mean, if this were the case, I’m sure you’d have seen this phenomena when the housing bubble first began… oops!
    As San Francisco’s rising housing prices drive people, gay and straight alike, out of the city, gays are finding cheap homes and tolerance in this blue-collar town.

  24. I’m a big fan of Oakland. There are lots of diverse Tier A neighborhoods such as Crocker Highlands, Rockridge, Claremont, Montclair, Haddon Hill and Oakmore. There’s some pretty good Tier B neighborhoods too including: Glenview, Redwood Heights, Adams Point (Lake Merritt) and Jack London Square. Prices have come down significantly in Oakland, including Crocker Highlands. Certainly not the 100-200K that’s currently being felt in the flatlands but they are on the way down.

  25. Willow, I agree 99% with you. Except, I can show you many listings in the Hills/Montclair that are down 100k+ compared to what was paid 1-2 years ago. They are abundant and just beginning.

  26. Perhaps I’m too young, not sophisticated enough, uncultured, etc., etc., but … who cares how many Victorians we have anywhere west of the Mississippi? I’ll take a new shoebox of a condo over a Vicky any day.

  27. Just one person’s perspective:

    I almost bought a house in the peninsula a couple years ago, but got cold feet when it needed about $100k of repairs that I didn’t want to deal with. I figured that I was looking at pre-paying for schools, needed a repair, and getting a longer commute (30-40 minute drive vs 20 minute walk).

    So I got a new condo in the city, after an economic tradeoff (+ somewhat cheaper, – monthly maintenance fee, + not hiring contractors to fix, – paying for private school in SF, + perception of lower ‘price downside’ in SF Condo when the crash happens, – grittiness of some of the city, + easy walking access to everything we need to live)

    If it turns out that close-in suburban housing drops a lot faster than the city proper, we may end up looking at moving out, though I’m not sure that I’d want to move my kid to a different school. If the cash part of the economic equation becomes a big enough number though…

    It’s nice to walk to all of the shopping I need to do, only fill the car up with gas once a month or so, and know that I’ve got a small ‘carbon footprint’ for my energy usage, but not sure how that goes into the economic equation. I wouldn’t have that living in the burbs though. A big enough cash-out check, though, would likely make me less concerned about that!

    Anyway, there you go.

  28. EBGuy: Excellent catch. You mean you also didn’t find the article about Randall Sexton, the San Francisco artist who lived in a North Beach apartment for 23 years before moving to, gulp, Vallejo?
    Sexton is adjusting to his new environs. “In many ways, I grew up in San Francisco,” he says. He moved there at 20 and lived in the same North Beach apartment for 23 years. He lived in the heart of the city where he knew the good coffee shops and the sushi maker by name. He still feels a tug at his heart when crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.
    “There are intellectual and practical reasons for doing things, but emotionally I wish I could catch up with that thinking. I had a process of making art, a well-oiled machine that was inspired by where I lived. Artists and musicians are being pushed out of San Francisco because of real estate prices, and if I could have bought a place in San Francisco that wasn’t a 400-square-foot attic for the same price I paid for this house, I probably would have done it.”

    He paid $377,000 in 2004 for a 1,250 square foot vintage home in the Heritage District.

  29. James: Trump is about to start closing on the hotel/condo portion of Trump Tower Chicago at the end of this month. The condos won’t be ready until 2009. Bill Rancic is the Apprentice winner you’re thinking of. He worked for Trump in Chicago for a few years but quit several years ago to do other things.
    The face on the project is Ivanka. She is featured on the website and in the print ads.
    The market is definitely a bit more interesting in Chicago right now than San Francisco- in terms of developers going under, foreclosures and, yes, some people trying to sell their condos on eBay. We also have several of the tallest residential buildings in the world under construction right now.

  30. City Life versus Suburban Life.
    There are no doubt many people who would be just as happy or happier moving to the suburbs, but those people are probably not the ones that truly love city life or perhaps they have other motives like kids.
    The things that really make city life appealing are kinda intangible. I go do things in SF that I would not do nearly as much if I lived in the Suburbs.
    For example:

  31. I agree with all of you who live in the East Bay/East Bay Hills – Crocker Highlands, Broadway Terrace, Piedmont, Montclair, etc. We used to live in Montclair as well – very nice neighborhoods indeed, with some great homes, history, walking distance to lots of great shops, restaurants, cafes, etc. Plenty to do in the hills of Oakland, not to mention the fantastic weather, and fabulous views.
    When I am talking about the suburbs, I mean out there – Vallejo, Fairfield, Dublin, Tracy, Brentwood, Antioch, etc. etc. Benecia, Martinez, and Hercules are even nice. I am talking about these communities that have suddenly grown from what was once nothing over the past 5-10 years. We looked at a lot of the new developments in American Canyon just as they were breaking ground in the late 1990’s through early 2000-2001. Besides being so close to Napa for diversity, culture, and food – not to mention the wineries – we could find no other reason to live in American Canyon. Just doesn’t seem to have any soul.

  32. As someone born in SF and raised on the Peninsula (and have family still in both and cousins raised in both) I have to make the observation that SF has become more homogeneous over the recent years while the Peninsula has become more diverse. Some of the truly unique things about San Francisco (like good ethnic food) you can get anywhere now. I would even dare say some stuff in better in the suburbs now (Japanese in San Mateo, Mexican in Redwood City, Vietnamese in San Jose)
    Nightlife aside and fancy restaurants aside (and I understand this is a big deal to some)
    the inner ring suburbs are improving. These were old towns that were mostly built out by the era of mallification after WWII. Many tried to go down that path but have really made recent efforts to revitalize their downtowns
    For me personally the inner East Bay is perfect.
    I can’t even see the point of trying to raise kids in San Francisco anymore or pay 800K for a dump in the Sunset. Just so you can say you live in SF? I’d rather get a nice place in Oakland or Albany

  33. @byron — congrats for being a single big shot with plenty of money, but eventually you may come to the following conclusion: the fillmore street fair isn’t a big deal after you’ve been a few times.

    If you must get drunk at this dime-a-dozen thing (a drink or two wouldn’t be a problem), check the bart schedule, take a cab there, etc… Even flop at a hotel/friend’s house after your revelry (!!??). I assume you have a different strategy for other street fairs in SF, which will require you to struggle with the lame SF public transit, or to drive.

    Of all the stuff you could have picked, it’s hilarious you are hanging your hat on the fillmore street fair! Again, I don’t like the suburbs either, but I think some of you provincial SFers don’t understand what it’s like in some East Bay/Piedmont neighborhoods! We have mundane street fairs “way over here” — just be prepared for these new annoying parking meters they’ve put in everywhere! 🙂

    whorfin has the best point: if you work or own a business in the city closeby or within walking distance (sweet) then of course it makes fantastic sense to buy/live in SF. But I know silicon valley humps who see less of the city than I do during the week (gone 10am-10pm M-F). Maybe that’s why these folks think a weekend street fair is so fantastic. I don’t know.

    Anyhow, to each his/her own, obviously. You can do worse than owning in SF 🙂

  34. Also in comment to the comparison between NYC and SF there really isn’t one
    My friend recently bought a place in Hoboken NJ and to be honest the area is more urban than a lot of SF and he can walk to the Path subway.
    We don’t have the old bones or the infrastructure they do to create a bunch of new urban pockets so easily. It would be great if we thought that way though. Imagine if they has has the vision when building Bart to create x6 Rockridges

  35. whorfin curious why you don’t think you could walk to do all your shopping in Albany or San Mateo (with a house in the right place?)
    Plus your kids could go to public school
    Not that I am against families living in the city. I wish it was easier and I am glad to hear you are making a go at it. Still there is a reason there are so many families in Noe Valley. Because it is just like Albany, Burlingame etc. Must be something to that

  36. “I would even dare say some stuff in better in the suburbs now (Japanese in San Mateo)”
    Posted by: zig
    I live in SF and work in San Mateo. The Japanese food in San Mateo doesn’t even compare with the options for Japanese food in the city.
    I live in the city because #1 there are more single women in the city. Restaurant options is probably reason # 2 and walking life is reason #3 . but all other points are moot without the 1st one.

  37. Two stories today about continued rising prices in Manhattan. One in the Journal and one in Business Week. The implication in this post is that if Oakland tanks it will drag SF down in the process.
    I suspect we won’t see a post pointing to these two articles. That might actually make a case for ongoing strength in SF…

  38. I know that the typical SFer can’t understand this, but continued escalation of unafforability can destroy a city, and it does cause a TENDENCY to push people out of a city. unaffordability won’t make everybody move out immediately (if it did, then prices would go down in the city), but it makes the idea of leaving more palatable.
    we left for just that reason. There came a time when I realized that we were working too hard to live a very modest lifestyle.
    so we picked up and left. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my life, and also in retrospect the best decision I’ve ever made. when you live in SF for too long, you feel like nowhere is as good as SF, and that life anywhere else is monotonous and boring and all that.
    but I found that there are many great places to live in the Earth, each with their distinct advantages and disadvantages. (yes, there are places that have advantages over SF, even though SF is a phenomenal city)
    It is odd to say it, but I doubt I’ll ever move back to the City again, unless it changes radically (lower cost of living, more city amenities, better public transportation, etc). it’s just not worth it TO ME. And that surprises me, because at one time in my life I thought that I’d never move out of my neighborhood, much less the city.
    there are parts of the city I miss, so we simply go to the city whenever we want. it’s pretty easy actually. it’s not like there’s some sort of forcefield or something!
    my point: after a while unaffordability makes people CONSIDER moving.

  39. interesting points in this thread as usual. zig is probably referring to sushi sam’s in san mateo which used to rock but has gone downhill in recent years.
    ex sf-er, you might be in denial. why are you reading and posting on a site about sf real estate if you are really happy that you left?

  40. Ex SF-er — exactly. There are some who would “never” leave the city. There are others who would never live here. However, there are an awful lot of Bay Area residents who would buy a place in the city or would buy a place in the surrounding areas — it depends on the price, the size, the yard, transportation, etc.
    The very definition of “relevant market” is a set of products which are regarded as interchangeable or substitutable by the consumer. If essentially nobody looking to buy in SF even considered anywhere else, it would be the case that SF prices would not be impacted at all by price trends in neighboring areas. But that premise is just not true. It is a bit shocking that people still make this claim when all evidence (both long- and short-term) indicates that SF price trends not only are in-line with those of its immediate neighbors but even with those of the state and the nation as a whole.

  41. Spencer, James
    Try these places in San Mateo if you are interested. I am not talking about run of the mill boring sushi places.
    Santa Ramen (one of the best in the Bay in many peoples opinion)
    Himawari (cool place, ramen and lot of other dishes)
    Izakaya Mai (Japanese bar food style)
    Chika (Izakaya and also they serve Japanese style American fare which is interesting)
    Anyhow, I know this isn’t a food blog but just trying to point out that diverse food no longer ends at the border of San Francisco. The suburds are becoming far more diverse. In fact the newish Japanese places in SF are often more trendy and less authentic IMO. Then you have the J-town stuff stuck in 1980. I totally get the desire to live in SF when you are young and single. I have for a decade. I just laugh at the ignorance when people try to proclaim places like San Mateo to be suburban wastelands of strip malls and TGI fridays while they eat over priced dragon rolls in Hayes Valley

  42. “ex sf-er, you might be in denial. why are you reading and posting on a site about sf real estate if you are really happy that you left?”
    I’ve answered this before… but there are several reasons:
    1) family/friends all there. I’m in SF about 3 weeks per year or so. (in the past it was 6 weeks per year, but now I’ve found other places I like to visit too) I like to keep up to date on the state of things in my hometown.
    2) in the future, we MAY move back part time to SF depending on cost of living, and my net worth. also, given family is there, sometimes you go back for family, no matter how expensive it is.
    As I’ve said, I make 2x what I made in SF, and my COL is 1/3rd. Thus, I’m racking up savings/investments much faster than I could in SF. Moving away was a means to an end, that end being early retirement
    My goal in life is early retirement, but COMFORTABLE early retirement. I have a certain standard of living that I want, and that includes decent lodging. Decent lodging (for me) would cost about $1.5-2 Million or so in San Francisco. I can not retire by 45 and buy a $2 Million condo… hence I choose to live elsewhere since retiring early is more important to me than living in SF.
    if prices came down significantly (which I don’t expect to happen), we would consider moving back.
    If not, there are other places I think we’d rather live, and simply continue to visit SF a few weeks a year.

  43. I think some people are missing the spirit of the article in drawing the correlation to SF. Norwalk, CT is 50 miles outside of Manhattan. And if you’ve ever tried to drive from NYC to Greenwich at rush hour, you’d understand what a painful compromise this would be on the commute.
    The equivalent here is not a move to Rockridge or Burlingame. It’s actually Antioch or Tracy. And the comparison works because prices have dropped significantly in those places relative to SF prices.
    If you can move that far away and survive the commute (or get a better commute at an outlying company) AND won’t miss the City, then you should go for it. People decide to leave expensive cities all the time for cheaper places. That will never change.
    The people in that article lived in Manhattan 25 years. I might be ready for some peace and quiet too after that long in SF…

  44. We still own a flat in Noe…. we moved to Oakland because of it’s great livability, great hills schools, the weather, swift commute,etc. etc. It’s a mistake to assume a person is broke and desperate to move out of SF….. you can have your East Bay sunshine and still get dinner at Firefly, coffee at Tartine, and lunch at the Burger Joint with a move to Oakland. Or you can eat at Wood Tavern and Bakesale Betty’s……
    Everybody raise their hands if they remember when they too thought the coolest thing on earth was the ability to roll out of bed and go hook up with your friends at the Fillmore, Union, “insert any street name here”… Street Fairs. Remember how “hip” it was to wait for a brunch table at Kate’s Kitchen, to go hear the great music at Radio Valencia???? Byron….. grow up.

  45. zig, thanks for the recommendations. i’ll try to get to them all in time. is one of those places the jazz bar/fusion place across the street from sushi sam’s?
    this story isn’t really breaking news, as we all know. you give up certain things when you move out of the city, depending upon where you go. rockridge seems to be the coolest place we found across the bay with walkability. everything else required an suv and lots of driving. that would be the hardest thing for me to adjust to. not walking to just about everything, including muni.
    the oakland hills firetorn country just sad to me. nobody knew where the funky streets where when we got lost. it would take 20 min drives down the hill to get milk. good luck with that.
    montclair seemed to be just as hit or miss at mill valley, meaning 9 out of 10 of the places needed to be torn down or gutted to the studs to make them livable.
    no thanks!

  46. Look there are pros and cons to living in a City versus the Suburbs. Saying one is better that the other is just a pointless exercise.
    To the people who are saying, “I lived in the city and now I am in the suburbs and its a better value”, it might be true for you, but not everyone.
    I can certainly see the benefits of moving out of the city for couples with or without kids, different strokes for different folks.

  47. dub dub I was channeling you! All the way from Paris where we are traveling for a while. (Yes indeed, people from Oakland can also afford to travel abroad.) And if anyone cares to argue with me about the relative merits of Paris vs Oakland, I am READY.
    Marais vs Montclair, any takers????
    haha. good weekend to all. be safe in the rain!

  48. I love reading these posts. People expressing confidence and optimism about the home choices they’ve made – be it Montclair or San Francisco (haven’t heard from Tracy yet). This is as it should be. With right thinking, we all find our happiness where we are.
    I would never work hard to persuade a friend to move to SF; and I have little patience for those would try to persuade me to move out of SF.
    Will I nonetheless ‘cash out’ someday? Perhaps life priorities one day will require it.

  49. I rent on the south west side of Pac. Heights, its expensive but rent controlled. I much prefer it to my old condo in Walnut Creek.

  50. I don’t know why, but I find that areas of the Oakland Hills, Rockridge and parts of Berkeley somehow feel more “Bay Area” than parts of the city when you consider how much things have changed in San Francisco. I know this sounds crazy, but sometimes for FUN I drive over to Rockridge and Berkekey to shop. Many of the stores and restaurants that spell “San Francisco” are actually in the East Bay. Market Hall Produce, Acme Bread, Chez Panisse, Peets Coffee, Kermit Lynch Wines, etc. etc. There is something to be said for neighorhoods of craftsman homes where you can walk a block to some of the best stores and restaurants in the country.

  51. @ sanfrantim – excellent point, so very well said. It gets very annoying reading many of the posts here and yours put things back in perspective nicely.
    @ anonrockridgelover – also could not agree with you more.

  52. I like to live in the city. Also, I don’t (and can’t) drive, so it’s much more convenient to have MUNI than be dependent on some once-an-hour-maybe suburban bus to a once-a-half-hour BART train.
    I have to wonder if people are factoring rising gas prices into their costs when they think about moving to the cheaper ‘burbs and commuting. But then again, a shocking number of property owners in the city seem to own cars and/or commute with them, so maybe they’re already paying for gas (and hoping the ‘burb gas pumps are a few cents cheaper).
    What’s up with the condo places in SF like the Bridgeview, whose only advantage seems to be highway access? You can’t take a leisurely stroll (to brunch or the street fair or anything much) from Rincon Hill, and right now, there’s a heck of a lot of nothing there. What’s the point of living in the city if you live in a neighborhood that’s a concrete wasteland? I don’t get it. I would think that people who wanted highway access could find a place with more character somewhere more interesting than a condobox with a great view of the highway. I’d say it was quiet, but that highway can’t be quiet. If all you’re going to do with the condo is sleep in it, why not get one halfway down the highway for half the price?
    I know people who are considering moving out of the city because of the schools, which is sad. They thought they could raise their kids in the city, but they’re becoming very disappointed in the school system here (and can’t afford or don’t want to go private). From what little I hear of Oakland schools, it’s no better there. Maybe the next hot new trend in condo amenities is private on-site daycare and schooling.
    I admit I am wondering if the prices will drop so far that buying a single-family home in a safe, transited neighborhood (and making it fully wheelchair-accessible, the tricky expensive bit) will become cheaper than buying a condo.

  53. @wheelchairgirl – “I know people who are considering moving out of the city because of the schools, which is sad. They thought they could raise their kids in the city, but they’re becoming very disappointed in the school system here (and can’t afford or don’t want to go private).”
    It is absolutely a crime that, with all the money in San Francisco, we do not have better public schools. Improving public education should be the HIGHEST PRIORITY of our public officials. SF public schools should be among the best in the country. It simply does not figure . . .

  54. “It simply does not figure . . . ”
    It’s called prop 13. It amazes me how many homeowners bemoan the state of the public school system but would give up their first born sooner than vote down prop 13.

  55. Yes, prop 13 is relevant. But, there have been many home sales in San Francisco since the run-up in prices starting in the mid-90’s. Hence, even with prop-13, the tax base has adjusted upward SUBSTANTIALLY in the last decade. Prop 13 is no excuse for SF failing schools. Especially not now.

  56. i winced in 1997 at how expensive sf was. Bought a ‘fixer’ in then-unknown temescal for 87k. Sold out 5 years later for rental upgrade in SF, bernal, thank you very much.
    you 510’s must really love the smell of your gas: your only deluding yourself if you think that your oaktown lifestyle is 20min. removed from SF. Or maybe you only commute between 11pm-5am.
    Sure, there’s plenty of homogeneous trending, and it’s insane to get in the market here, but life is short and sitting in a car sucks compared to walking around to everything and anything you need -on so many levels.

  57. G, I think the orginal comment about Oakland was from someone who still owns in Noe Valley also, not a bitter renter who wishes they could live in glorious San Francisco. This may come as a shock, but some actually desire and prefer to live out of S.F.! As someone who moved to this area orignially from a much larger city, I still laugh when neighorhoods such as Bernal, or the Sunset, or wherever are called more urban than a place like Rockridge as an example. Really? What exactly is the difference? One Bart Station, a retail street and turn of the century houses, both about the same amount of subway time from the financial district. As someone who has lived in both the center of Chicago and London, I find buyers of some neighborhoods in San Francisco really playing with the local urban nostalgia if they think that just because the postal address says San Francisco, they now enjoy a CITY lifestyle. I have this same problem with some recent buyers where my parents retired in Newport Beach. Some are now paying over 3 million to live in run down homes adjacent to John Wayne Airport because it is in the Newport P.O. but why? They are nowhere near the actual beach, the shops or any of the places that have caused that area to become one of the most expensive citys in California.
    Since San Francisco has water to seperate it from places such as Oakland, it may make us feel superior in our housing choice but is it? If you can walk a shorter distance from your home in Rockridge to better restaurants, shops and services, then who has the better lifestyle? The other thing to consider is that many of us do not work in the financial district. More and more work out of their home or in the the Peninsula-South Bay which is the economic and population center of the Bay Area. (I own in 94123 btw)

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