I live in Santa Cruz County, In Boulder Creek, The San Lorenzo Valley area. The Schools are awesome, I moved here when my son was in the 5th grade, he is entering high school this fall. He LOVES it here. There are many parks and prices here in the valley are a bit lower than in Santa Cruz. I live in the farthest town from santa Cruz, but it only takes me 20-25 min to get onto the beach, less into Santa Cruz Proper. From Santa Cruz, Watsonville is a short 15 mn drive.
I live in Paradise. Homes here are not stuck on top of each other, there is a bit of room, TONS of redwood trees to keep it shady when you need it, and if it gets too hot, well, there is always the river or the beach.
The people here are extremely friendly and open and very accepting. I love where I live and can't think of anywhare else I would ever live in the US
You did not mention what size house you would like for that 600k, but there are some fine places in that range here.
Hope that helps, ask away with any more questions if you need!
You don't say much about your interests or the kind of place that would make you happy.
If you live in Watsonville, you will get more house for your money. There are a great many open spaces, which makes for a nice place to bring up a child. If it were me, I would make sure that I didn't live near a place growing non-organic strawberries, as the toxins are just undeniably unhealthy. Most people don't know that, but I think it's important to notice.
I love Watsonville, personally, and there has been a lot done to improve it in recent years. For a place with an unglamourous name (unlike "Napa"), it has much to recommend it. It's a little out in the country, but isn't that nice? Isn't it nice to be able to drive home on winding roads without traffic, where the occasional tractor slows things down?
I, for one, endorse things slowing down a bit.
Santa Cruz itself is much more congested, in every way.
But you should really come visit and see for yourself. And be glad you're not commuting over the hill.
Hope that helps a little. Tell a bit more about what you need, and I'm sure people will chime right in.
Yes, The San Lorenzo Valley has more of a small town feel to it, but unlike Watsonville, we don't have the problems with gangs and there is much for kids to do here. Having a 14 y/o son myself, the schools and community were very important to me. People really know each other and its really wonderful, but certainly not for everyone. If you are a city dweller and need to have the fast food and big name stores right down the street, Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Capitola (though more expensive) would all be good bets.
If you like the serenity and knowing your nieghbors and don't mind not having a McDonalds around the corner, it is the perfect place, in MHO.
Hi, and thank you both for that excellent information!!!
My job would be half in Watsonville and half in Santa Cruz. Boulder Creek sounds lovely but it sounds like my commute to Watsonville would be very long.
Also, I want my daughter to go to a TERRIFIC school, and so we should live near wherever it is.
In terms of a home, our dream would be 3 bedrooms/ 2 baths in a quiet, safe location. Right now we have a 3 bd/ 1 bath cottage in the country with an amazing view of the vineyards and hills.
My other job offers are San Diego, Santa Barbara, maybe Portland, Seattle, and maybe Honolulu. Or staying right where we are. But I'd love a place that has more going on culturally than Napa, and is more diverse, but still is safe and nature-oriented, and is not outrageously expensive (which probably rules out most of my choices).
So please share more thoughts. Thanks again.
p.s. Gangs in Watsonville? Would you please elaborate?
Celle, 60 Minutes recently ran a show about how gang members inside prisons are still able to run their gangs from behind bars. They cited Salinas and Watsonville as two cities that have serious gang problems. I live closer to Salinas and so hear a lot about the gang problems there and they are, indeed, serious. I know less about Watsonville. That said, I know that many people live in nice homes in safe areas of Salinas. It's, to an extent, a common sense thing. You do due diligence-- research the different areas and, above all, talk to the people who live there--before buying, just as you would in any new place.
I really think the gang problem in Watsonville is decreasing drastically. The outskirts of Watsonville (which the ladeeda people will not call Watsonville but "Corralitos" or "La Selva Beach") are lovely places, as is most of the town itself.
Watsonville has such a corny name, but it's really a nice little place with lots to recommend it. I probably wouldn't live in the city itself, because I like my space, but there is plenty of space around.
Don't loose any sleep over gangs in Watsonville, please. I live between Watsonville and Santa Cruz (for 22 years) and my grandkids have grown up in Watsonville. It's a great family town. The homes are much less expensive than anywhere else in the county except the Santa Cruz Mountains which is where the first replier is. You are correct, the commute from the mountains to Watsonville is very long.
Watsonville is the biggest town in Santa Cruz County, but also the least congested. The population is half Mexican-American. They bring with them a culture of patience and courtesy that you won't find most places. Finding a $600 home like you describe is possible there but not in the city of Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz to Watsonville is a 15 minute drive, but only when traffic is at it's calmest. Hwy 1 between Santa Cruz and Capitola gets very congested at rush hours. Add another half hour into the mountains and you have an hour or more of driving. Makes no sense to me.
Living on spectacular Monterey Bay is not something I would pass up for the other places you have mentioned. Good luck!
Thank you for all of the help. Complex issues.
So if you were going to work in a job that's half in Watsonville and half in Santa Cruz, where would you live? And is there a good private (non-religious) or public school there for my 8yo?
If you like to get out of your car and walk, try Capitola. We all love the fact that we can walk to the beach, the mall, banks and restaurants. However for $600K, you can only get a townhome, that's what we have. As for schools, it all depends on the individual teachers, not the building or district. We've had both awful and excellent teachers. Hope this helps!