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10 Things to Know Before Moving to San Rafael, CA

Written by Allie Gardner

San Rafael is a city north of San Francisco. San Rafael, which refers to the Angel of Healing, Archangel Raphael, was a popular destination for early nineteenth-century priests on missions. Thanks to its range of residents, which has helped to minimize differences and highlight skills, San Rafael quickly became one of the best locations to live in Marin County. 

Because it is mostly hilly, San Rafael also provides its inhabitants with a pretty perspective of San Francisco Bay. San Rafael is well-known for its vibrant nightlife and pleasant weather all year round. Many families and young individuals move there because of the urban lifestyle that residents can experience.

Here are ten things to know before moving to San Rafael, CA!

1. Housing prices in San Rafael are exorbitant

San Rafael isn’t exactly known for its cheap housing options. Compared to the rest of California, this city has a 45% higher cost of living. 

The San Rafael housing market is largely to blame for the exorbitant prices in the city. The cost of housing in San Rafael is 350% higher than the national average. San Rafael real estate typically sells for $1,240,000. The city is seeing a steady rise in costs, and the average rent costs about $3,188 per month.

2. Live in San Rafael neighborhoods like Terra Linda, West End, Gerstle Park, and San Rafael Hill

Terra Linda, West End, Gerstle Park, and San Rafael Hill are among the most sought-after communities in San Rafael. 

With 9,035 residents, Terra Lina is a more substantial community. The neighborhood is popular with retirees because the residences are relatively small compared to the rest of the city. The West End area is less expansive and mostly inhabited by families with older members. Due to the larger mansions and attractive landscaping outside, the properties in the area are slightly more expensive. West End is widely regarded as one of the top areas in San Rafael for raising a family, thanks to its mild nightlife and proximity to excellent schools.

With only 1,955 residents, San Rafael Hill is San Rafael’s tiniest neighborhood. Because of the smaller and more affordable dwellings in the neighborhood, many young adults choose to live here. Living in San Rafael Hill is like living in paradise for nature lovers, thanks to the abundance of parks and trails in the area. The best San Rafael neighborhood, according to many, is Gerstle Park. There are different housing sizes and types available, but the residences are on the pricier side. 

3. Enjoy mild year-round climate

San Rafael has a Mediterranean climate, which is why most people go there for the weather. San Rafael enjoys long, pleasant summers with mild temperatures averaging 76°F and 54°F. Winters in San Rafael, on the other hand, are relatively chilly, with highs of 59°F and lows of 42°F. 

With an annual rainfall of 41 inches—higher than the national average—San Rafael receives a good quantity of rainfall. Because of its mild climate and lack of major temperature swings, this city is a great place to live all year.

4. Work in the retail, health care and social support, or professional and technical services sectors 

San Rafael has a median household income of $87,262. The majority of San Rafael’s 30,175 workers are employed in the retail, health care and social support, and professional and technical services sectors. 

At the same time, those working in the insurance, financial, and real estate industries earn the most money. Compared to the rest of the country, San Rafaelites have a slightly longer commute, taking an average of 26 minutes. On the other hand, many commuters go to San Francisco for work, which is 18 miles away. 

5. San Rafael schools are highly rated

There are two major school districts in San Rafael, California: the Dixie School District and the San Rafael City School District. The top four schools in San Rafael, in order of popularity, are Sun Valley Elementary, Dixie Elementary, Miller Creek Middle, and Terra Linda High. Academic achievement and high standardized test scores have earned these schools numerous accolades from Greatschools. 

San Rafael is equally home to a number of excellent private schools, such as Marin Waldorf School, Saint Raphael Elementary School, Star Academy, and University of Play, among many more.

Dominican University of California, the only institution of higher learning in the city, is one of the top 25 regional universities in the Western United States. They offer undergrad and graduate courses in a wide variety of disciplines, including the arts, business, psychology, and more.

San Rafael is an affluent city that has given the world several well-known actors, singers, and athletes. With only 59,000 people calling it home, it’s practically a tiny village when compared to other major cities in California. However, there are a lot of prominent services and attractions in the vicinity.

James Hetfield (lead singer of Metallica) and Carlos Santa (renowned Mexican-American guitarist) are two big figures from the city. A native of the area, Michael Savage is also famous as the author and former host of the radio program Savage Nation. If you happen to be in San Rafael, you might even run into Michael Johnson, the incredibly successful sprinter who won the gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

7. Satisfy your taste buds at Sol Food, Crepevine, or Taqueria San Jose

San Rafael is home to many restaurants catering to different needs. You’ll definitely find something that your taste buds love.

Why not treat yourself to some modern Puerto Rican food at Sol Food after a day of sightseeing? Stop by Crepevine if you’re craving a combination of sweet and savory flavors. No trip to town would be complete without trying Taqueria San Jose, the finest Mexican restaurant in town.

8. Visit China Camp State Park or McNears Beach County Park

Nearby state and county parks are just a few of the many enjoyable activities available to potential San Rafael residents. With almost fifteen miles of local trails, campgrounds, and a picnic area right on San Pablo Bay, China Camp State Park is a favorite destination for outdoor enthusiasts. 

Approximately five minutes away is McNears Beach County Park, a 55-acre open space with a pool, tennis facilities, and a fishing pier.

9. Explore the famous Marin County Civic Center

Designed by the renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Marin County Civic Center stands as an architectural masterpiece. Take a guided tour or wander independently through this striking structure, adorned with futuristic elements and distinctive lines. 

The building’s unique design has drawn admiration from architecture enthusiasts worldwide and is a must-see for anyone in San Rafael.

10. Immerse yourself in San Rafael’s history at Falkirk Cultural Center

Step into the Falkirk Cultural Center, a historic landmark that hosts a diverse range of cultural events and art exhibitions. The center, nestled within an enchanting Victorian mansion surrounded by manicured gardens, offers a glimpse into San Rafael’s cultural heritage. 

Attend art shows, concerts, and workshops that celebrate creativity and enrich the community’s artistic spirit.

In Conclusion

Moving to San Rafael, California, means high living costs but vibrant neighborhoods, great weather, job opportunities, top-rated schools, diverse food choices, and a rich culture. 

It’s a city with something for everyone, offering a fulfilling living experience amidst history and natural beauty.

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