Relocating to Marin County?

  • Jeff Marples
  • 08/11/22

Relocating to Marin County?

If you are considering relocating to Marin County, you will find an abundance of housing options available,  wonderful cities / towns to select from and amazing communities throughout.  I encourage you to use my knowledge of the area to focus your search, to help you sort through the towns such as Sausalito, Mill Valley, Tiburon, Belvedere, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, San Anselmo, Fairfax, and San Rafael. The goal is to find the right community, the right home that is a fit for you and your family.

Many people who are relocating to Marin are coming from San Francisco, just list like myself and our family 14 years ago.  We moved from the Haight Ashbury neighborhood (actually at the corner of Haight at Ashbury of all places) up to Tiburon for the schools.  Shout out to St. Hilary School.  We have 3 kids and wanted our family to grow up outside of the city but close enough to it for me work and all that the city has to offer.  

For newcomers to Marin, one of the first things you'll need to do is familiarize yourself with the different towns. See how the locations can affect your lifestyle, especially if you plan to commute. To get you started, I have put together a comprehensive overview of the towns, schools and various resources.  This guide that I will share over a few blog posts, will give you a feel for what communities might work for you, regards to location, lifestyle, community and housing preferences in Marin County.

As you explore the various communities in Marin, you'll also want to contemplate the decision to either purchase or rent a home.  A consultation, such as myself, can help you clarify the steps associated with the logistics of selling property in the city or elsewhere, identify homes or condos within your price point, work to find the right lending solution to bridge the gap financially, learn the best places to live that meet your goals, especially if you have kids and considering school options.

Marin County Relocation Guide: Step-by-Step!

Are you thinking of moving to Marin County? We relocated our family up from the city to Marin when our first child started kindergarten.  We were living with 3 kids in diapers and a dog in a top floor flat at the at the corner of Haight and Ashbury.  It was clear that we needed to commit to a larger home and upgrade our quality of life. 

Visualizing yourself moving from here to there sounds really easy, but when rubber meets the road there are so many moving parts that people need teams of people to help in the process. Some times you just need a roadmap and a starting point, thus the creation of this guide.

My job is to make this process as straightforward and uncomplicated as possible for my clients.  By taking a moment to look at each step independently, the entire process becomes much easier to understand and navigate.

Reasons to Move to Marin

Parent Community – As you probably already know, Marin if full of families.  To me the parent communities allow people to foster strong bonds with others, creating life long friends. This to me is the best part of living here, having created some amazing friends as my kids grew through middle school. Thus the top of the list.  

Outdoor / Recreational Sports – Marin County is known for offering over 80,000 acres of open space for hiking, biking , camping and so much more.  

All roads lead to the coast! In Marin you can surf Rodeo Beach up to Bolinas.  Climb Mt. Tamalpias, and explore our local forests including Muir Wood.  People kayak, paddle board, sail and boat throughout the Bay and beyond the Golden Gate.  There are a number of fun and challenging golf courses in Mill Valley, San Rafael and further north, but don't forget we are still close to Presidio. 

I do have to say that driving the roads in western Marin is an absolute joy in the early morning. 

Helpful Links to set the hook – 

Great Commute to the City – The commute to the city is one of my most enjoyable parts of the day, and for a commute that says something.  The commute for me has always been very easy into the city, a far cry different than the East Bay or even coming up from the peninsula. I do find that coming during afternoon traffic that it does get jammed up as you come towards the Tiburon / East Blithedale exit. I find that beyond that for about a mile traffic slows down dramatically as you crest the hill and drive through the turns in Corte Madera, opening up once again as you pass the exit for the Richmond / San Rafael exit. Once past that however the traffic seems to always open up again.

If you are considering towns like Ross, San Anselmo or Fairfax, you will have to be okay with traffic on Sir Francis Drake. This road bottlenecks in Ross as it narrows to a 2 lane road, plus there are schools on this main road, so timing is everything as you don’t want to get trapped in school pick-up and drop-off times.

Ferry access is also very popular, the daily riders of the ferry love their post work cocktail. Ferry Terminals are out of Sausalito, Tiburon and Larkspur.

If you work in the East Bay then the Richmond/San Rafael bridge is your route, in the mornings this is a reverse commute in your favor.

Proximity Wine Country, Spas and Racing – 30 minutes north and you are in the heart of Sonoma county with charming historic town squares, world class wine makers and delicious food.  Offering wonderful afternoons of wine tasting or overnight luxury escapes in resort spas or old time Inns.  Last and one of my favorites, if you are looking for a little adrenalin rush, I can say Sonoma Raceway is right up your alley. 

Small Town Feel Close to the Big City –  It is true, unlike the East Bay or Peninsula where cities blend into one another, Marin towns / cities are distinctly separated and have their own unique characteristics.  Homes and condos are found throughout Marin however home values are clearly mirrored by the public school districts they are found in.  The public schools are a big draw for families and home prices clearly reflect that.

Things To Consider:

To Start, Should I Rent or Own? One road is a little easier than the other when it comes to relocating into Marin.  Clearly both renting and buying possess advantages and disadvantages. If you are new the area and under time constraints than renting for the short term does make a lot of sense. It is financially more flexible for you to enter into a new life in a new location. Renting also allows you to be somewhat non committed to a home or neighborhood, the typical lease term is at least 1 year. During that time many of my client will take their time to learn the different towns and neighborhoods, tour homes and move forward on purchasing those homes that work for them within a time that suits them.

Need to Sell Before You Can Buy?  Renting also allows people to effectively sell their property on the backend of the move. It is always easier to prepare a home for sale while it is vacant.  Once the home is vacant our teams of painters, floor refinishers, handyman and stagers are able to bring the property up to move-in condition, which always set the bar higher on home values. 

Financial Options Also Play A Hand in Establishing A Strategy:  When planning your move you should be discussing your financial options with a qualified lender. Get your financial house in order is always the best place to start. Know your limitation on values and options if you can bridge the financial gap, meaning you can buy your new home and close escrow and either sell or rent your old home on the back side.  

It Might Make Sense to Rent Your City Residence: Depending on your financial portfolio, it might make sense to keep the city residence and rent it out for a few years. That is exactly what we did and to our clear benefit. Not only did we break even on overall cashflow, the market was appreciating so holding for an additional 3 years really helped us out. SF real estate market changes quickly and we clearly benefitted for holding on to the asset for a few more years. Once again, it really comes to your overall financial portfolio and if it makes sense to hold. Also, you would need to consider what type of real estate you are holding, if rent or eviction control comes into play.

Do you have kids and considering schools? This is really one of the main reasons people decide to move up to Marin. The schools throughout the various communities offer an excellent variety of schooling options that are a good fit for you and your kids. I can say firmly that in our circumstance, we found the quality of education along with small class size to be a plus, plus the community of parents was outstanding.  You will have the choice of public, parochial, and private schools throughout.

Work With Jeff

I first strive to understand your unique situations, whether you are buying or selling. Through asking questions and attentively listening, I support and guide you in finding the best fit.

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