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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all -- Considering a relocation from Boulder, CO to the Bay Area and wanted to get any input you can share on mt biking (and life) in Marin -vs- Santa Cruz. I used to live in the Bay Area and have ridden many miles of Skeggs point and Mt Tamm but that was in the late 90s and from what I understand (based on all the MTBR posts) is that many of the Mt Tamm trails have now been closed to bikes.

I can work out of either SF or San Jose and am not interested in living on the Peninsula due to traffic and personal lifestyle choices (want a bit more space, trees, fresh air to escape grind). So my question is whether there is any real single track left in Marin beyond Tamarancho, China Camp, and Tenderfoot on Mt Tamm and in contrast is Santa Cruz still the mecca?

Also do any of you commute 17 to SJ... is there any way to beat it? coming in super early/leaving early? I have only driven it on the weekends (a decade ago) and remember it being pretty brutal.

All insight appreciated... Thanks!
 

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It all depends on where you'll be working and what kind of riding you like to do.
I live in Fairfax and it's awesome, especially for riding. Santa Cruz is rad, but I wouldn't want to live there.
 

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Wēk Sôs
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All other factors excluded (schools, pricing, etc.), if I were to do it again, I would look in Los Gatos, Saratoga, and Scotts Valley. SC itself, not as good/safe, though crime has a way of expanding. If pricing, I would add in Campbell.

Commute, sucks, no other way to put it. It sucks from every location unless you are commuting in the opposite direction of most people.
 

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These types of questions/discussions come up fairly often on here and I'll go ahead and state the obvious...only you can decide whether such a move makes sense and what a bunch of anonymos people on a mountain bike forum say should be taken with a serious grain of salt.

That said, as someone who lives in Santa Cruz County, yes it's still the mecca for mtb and getting better by the day in that regard. There are a few people who do the 17 commute on here so they can speak to those specifics. If I were in that position I would take a serious look at living in Scotts Valley as it will cut some time off the commute in addition to some sort of ride share situation.

The haters will come on here and tell you about all the negatives of living in/around Santa Cruz (homeless/mental health issues, price of housing, etc.) but to me the positives far outweigh the negatives. Whatever you decide, I hope it works out for you and just out of curiosity, why are you leaving Boulder?
 

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Paper or plastic?
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In case house prices influence you:

DQmarch-home-sales.png

Los Gatos, if you can afford it, would be sweet with easy access to all the good stuff. I like SC riding better than Marin, and it's indeed getting better with time.
 

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Wēk Sôs
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^ Yes, Carl. I wouldn't want to live in SC proper, but Scotts is OK.

That said, I commute every day. Sitting in traffic really sucks. I would take a serious look at living closer to work and trails even if it is not the "mecca". Anything, just anything, regardless of what you may be thinking as a glorious living style. Years of 1hr commute each way really grinds you, and in a very bad way. I've started biking to work now, but 25mi each way and riding along side idiots has me concerned when I do it.
 

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^ Yes, Carl. I wouldn't want to live in SC proper, but Scotts is OK.
See and personally, I would much prefer SC proper to Scotts Valley but then again I don't commute over the hill. Different strokes for different folks and what not.

Los Gatos could be a happy medium for the OP but he better bring his Brinks truck with him.
 

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I prefer Scotts Valley to Santa Cruz proper. All the good trails in SC are a short ride away from SV, and you can put together some epic loops. SC has issues that just make it undesirable in my opinion. I only go there for the bike shops, to eat, and walk on the Westcliff.
 

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If you work in the Valley and live on the coast you lose 10-12 hrs at least a week in your car in traffic. You'll burn 250-300 miles worth of gas. And that drive will stress you out big time.

I live and work on the Peninsula and spend about 4 to 6 hours on average a week driving my car to fun zones (surf/ride) and it adds up to 300+ miles. My commute to work is 10 minutes. 30 minutes to Skeggs. Waterdog is 10 minute pedal away.

So many choices.....YMMV.
 

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I would not write off the Peninsula before checking out the coastside. I live in Montara and it is a different world out there. Ok, there is more fog on the coast than on the other side of the hills, but it is not as bad as one might assume. Anyway, the important part is that from my front door I'm about 3 blocks to dirt, which is Montara Mountain. Besides the famous part (Pacifica side), the GGNRA is clearing trails all over Rancho Corral de Tierra opening up near areas to ride. Finally, probably because of FoF (Fear of Fog), housing prices are a lot lower coastside than just on the other side of the hills. Anyway, my $0.02 fwiw.

PS From my house it is not a horrible ride to Skeggs and back... 10 miles coastal bike trail then up and back through Purissima.
 

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Ben Lomond/Felton FTW!

Doesn't have that Scotts Valley strip mall feel, less scum bag factor than Santa Cruz proper, some cool neighborhoods and downtown areas, and lots of very sick riding very close! ;)

I am looking for a house there right now if anyone's got one in their back pocket!

I would never, ever, ever commute to SF from the SC area. Even if it was on a Google bus.
My preferred commute is 25-30 minutes by dirt.
SJ is manageable depending on where exactly.

Marin is cool if you have a few million to spend on a house and don't mind battling horse back riders. Ranger Danger Mecca for the good trails!
 

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You're right about Marin - very little in the way of legal singletrack. (PVD rides illegal trails). There are a lot more trails in the South Bay / Santa Cruz area, but it's nothing compared to what you've got around Boulder. If you like mountain biking, you are insane for moving back to the Bay Area from Colorado.

We're also hitting a new record in housing and rental costs too, so hopefully you get paid extremely well.
 

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I like the Santa Cruz area (Scott's Valley/Felton, Aptos). A lot. The riding is epically awesome.

The idea of commuting over the 17? Daunting. But I can usually drive there in less than 30 minutes on the weekend from San Jose.
 

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The commuting Scotts Valley to/from San Jose area isn't terrible if you're not going during peak hours (on road before 6:30am ideally to San Jose and leaving by 4pm - 2:30/3pm on summer/hot Fridays back to Scotts Valley). The road is really windy and can be treacherous if you don't like driving much, but I enjoyed doing it for 2 years in a Subaru Impreza 5-speed manual. It is definitely stressful though. There is great riding in that area though. I had immediate access to trails less than a mile from the house while I was there so it was easy to get a ride in after work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks all! As suspected there is an overwhelming consensus that the trails are better in SC than Marin. And yes, the housing costs/bubble is outrageous! I would definitely rent a year before attempting to buy to ensure that I can handle the commute on 17 or the Larkspur ferry from Marin.

Boulder is awesome! but winters here are long -- I live in the mountains @ 7000 feet and my wife has absolutely hit her breaking point. My dream mountain retreat has become my wife's worst nightmare resulting in an earful every time she has to spend 15 minutes driving down the mountain to get into town. The other problem is that I work in IT and the level of toxicity in my current job is beginning to exceed even the most epic living situation. 60 hours of my week I get beaten down by a company that only cares about shareholder value rather than winning markets or growing their employees.

In contrast, there are some great places to work in the Bay area.. but they come at a steep price (commute, cost of living, etc) -- so I'm just trying to make a sound decision.

Keep the input coming... really appreciate it. And I hadn't even considered Montara but it looks like some great deals can be had there as well!
 

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One more data point. Lived in Santa Cruz for a year, and loved it. Riding from your door, ride your bike to the beach, brewery, mountains, good road riding, great music scene and yes, a bit of grit. But that's life. I spent very little time in the car when I lived there. I like Marin too, have very good friends there, but some of the self-important twits engage my *****-slap reflex much more quickly that a mentally ill heroin addict does. I suppose I bristle around rich people. Just me. If you are the easygoing, tolerant type, I'd vote for SC. If homeless/street people make you uncomfortable, then Marin. Commute kind of sucks either way, unless you do off hours like someone has mentioned. I've never found a place in the valley that I would consider home. Cougars scare me.
 

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Thanks all! As suspected there is an overwhelming consensus that the trails are better in SC than Marin. And yes, the housing costs/bubble is outrageous! I would definitely rent a year before attempting to buy to ensure that I can handle the commute on 17 or the Larkspur ferry from Marin.

Boulder is awesome! but winters here are long -- I live in the mountains @ 7000 feet and my wife has absolutely hit her breaking point. My dream mountain retreat has become my wife's worst nightmare resulting in an earful every time she has to spend 15 minutes driving down the mountain to get into town. The other problem is that I work in IT and the level of toxicity in my current job is beginning to exceed even the most epic living situation. 60 hours of my week I get beaten down by a company that only cares about shareholder value rather than winning markets or growing their employees.

In contrast, there are some great places to work in the Bay area.. but they come at a steep price (commute, cost of living, etc) -- so I'm just trying to make a sound decision.

Keep the input coming... really appreciate it. And I hadn't even considered Montara but it looks like some great deals can be had there as well!
As usual, everything is a compromise:
- SC, best riding, but over the hill from employment centers. Limits where you can work
- Marin, good riding if you like evading rangers at night. Uber expensive, limits your job search to the city
- Peninsula: very expensive, good riding but have to put with MidPen radar toting rangers. No night riding (legally).
- Montara, Pacifica: good riding nearby, cheaper, limits your job opportunities to SF/ San Bruno. No need for air conditioning, ever!
- East bay: crappy riding, far from where the good jobs are, way less expensive, closer to Tahoe.

Good thing about the SF bay: economy is booming. Bad thing about the SF bay: economy is booming. :)

Good luck.
 

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As usual, everything is a compromise:
- Montara, Pacifica: good riding nearby, cheaper, limits your job opportunities to SF/ San Bruno. No need for air conditioning, ever!
Good luck.
Well... yes and no... I work at Stanford (SLAC actually) and commute to/from in an electric car (Fiat 500e) - charging only at home at night (meaning its not that far). Yes, 92 can get stacked up, in particular when there is an accident. But, as these things go, it is not as bad as everyone thinks and I'd take that commute (along the ocean, over the mountains, down 280 alongside Crystal Springs) over most others.
 

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You're right about Marin - very little in the way of legal singletrack. (PVD rides illegal trails). There are a lot more trails in the South Bay / Santa Cruz area, but it's nothing compared to what you've got around Boulder. If you like mountain biking, you are insane for moving back to the Bay Area from Colorado.

We're also hitting a new record in housing and rental costs too, so hopefully you get paid extremely well.
+1 I love Marin because I grew up here. If I had moved from a bike friendly place like Boulder I would prefer to live in Santa Cruz.

I have lived in Santa Cruz but the commute "over the hill" would be the end of me.
 

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I live in Southern Marin. My wife bike rides to work most days across the GGB. That is a fantastic way to commute to SF. Cheap too as no parking, ferry or Bridge toll fees apply. Mountain biking... I got a monstercross bike to make the local riders more fun--there is quite a bit of mixed terrain riding from Marin if you are into that sort of thing. I mountain bike less because I now live in Marin, and ride way more dirt and gravel roads.

Also, if you need to drive and plan live north of Corte Madera, forget about Marin if you abhor sitting in traffic. The 101 NB commute is consistently rated one of the worst in the the SFBay area.

Marin has lots of other plus/minuses I'd be happy to let you know about.
 
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