Does "California Dreamin'" stir your soul? Then perhaps it's time to leave Old Man Winter behind for good and relocate to Santa Rosa, California. Although this Sonoma County location is a bit pricey-the median listing price is $883,540-if you're on a budget, there are still moderately priced homes to be discovered. You can opt for a modest country house, a vineyard or anything in between, and still experience the much sought-after California lifestyle-all you need is the help of an experienced realtor and a list of must-haves.
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The first item on your list might be the need for an all-around great climate. In Santa Rosa, the summer high is 87 degrees Fahrenheit and the winter low is 37 degrees, with zero snow and over 250 days of sun each year. Although the winters here are cooler than in southern California, you can enjoy the change of seasons without having to bear up under east coast temperature and storm extremes. And then there's the desire for outdoors activities. Santa Rosa is noted for on- and off-road cycling. If you aren't into bikes, though, how about hikes? There are 65 parks, and you'll find hiking trails in several locations. In addition, there are skate parks, athletic fields, boating lakes, fly-casting ponds and playgrounds for the kids-some 950 acres of parks and community spaces in all. The city has even provided for Fido with an assortment of dog parks.
No doubt the all-important dining and shopping scene has a place on your list. Santa Rosa's downtown offers a thriving, eclectic collection of shops from Fourth Street to historic Railroad Square. Dining spots abound as well. From Ike's Place for sandwiches to great Italian food at the Riviera Restaurant, your taste buds will be well treated. As an incentive to linger, you're invited to try the "Pre-Shop Stretch," a glass of wine and small snack from one of the downtown tasting rooms to warm you up for your shopping excursion. In short, Santa Rosa offers a laid-back mindset coupled with an inherent appreciation for the finer things in life, a combination that is reflected in the kinds of homes for sale. Though much of the real estate focus here is on high-end properties, your realtor can help you find the perfect home in a great neighborhood so you can begin turning your "California Dreamin'" plans into action.