Whether you’re starting out, moving up or downsizing, one of these 10 neighborhoods might be the perfect fit.
South land park’s got midcentury stylePhotography by Rudy Meyers
It’s a beautiful day in these neighborhoods for those who are starting their careers—and their families.
GREAT FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONALS:
SOUTH LAND PARK
Midtown and downtown are obvious areas for fast-paced twenty-somethings. South Land Park, however, is gaining the younger work force’s wallet share for three good reasons: location, space and price. “The location is pearl—you can jump on Interstate 5 in minutes or just take the side streets to drive downtown to work,” says Tom Leonard, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker. “If you’re looking for well-built ranch homes in a safe neighborhood, South Land Park really gives you the best bang for your buck.”
How much buck? Mortgages are competitive for most salary ranges. “You can find homes from the high $200,000s to the mid-$500,000s, but many deals are to be had between $300,000 and $350,000—and most are three bedrooms, two bathrooms on a lot just shy of a quarter acre,” explains Leonard. These exact reasons are why Steve Kelly, an attorney who works downtown, moved to South Land Park earlier this year. “I like it because it’s a calm neighborhood, but it’s still close to Land Park, the golf course, downtown—basically everything that someone my age would want,” he says. Previously, he, his girlfriend and their two dogs were renting in East Sacramento, but the lack of space and the inflated home prices deterred them from staying. “It was pushing us over the edge,” he admits. “Now we have a huge yard for the dogs to run around, yet we’re not far away from where things are happening.” It’s true—South Land Park is closer to downtown than most like to admit. A $20 cab ride will take you anywhere you want and the commute in is cake. Says Kelly, “It takes me just eight minutes to get to work—10 if there’s traffic.”
Let’s not slight South Land Park on style, either. It’s home to numerous awe-worthy Eichler, Carter Sparks and Streng homes, a handful of which are open for public touring during the Sacramento Mid-Century Modern Home Tour.
GREAT FOR BARGAINS:
GARDEN OF THE GODS
Many consider Garden of the Gods the Mount Olympus for first-time homebuyers. “It’s the biggest steal in all of 95864,” says Coldwell Banker’s Leonard. Wedged between Arden Way and Eastern Avenue, this Arden Arcade neighborhood bordering Carmichael consists of roughly 1,124 homes, mostly built in the 1950s. The majority are three bedroom, one bathroom and range from $225,000 to $300,000—a perfect fit for young professionals and families.
In fact, nearly all of the houses from Ulysses to Venus streets have the same floor plan, just flip-flopped—though if you look at an aerial view of the neighborhood, you can see where people have added on throughout the years.
Not only can you find great deals in this area, you’ll also find desirable neighborhood amenities, such as great parks and schools, and Sacramento’s one and only Whole Foods Market. Multiple restaurants and bars, easy access to the nearby American River and a short distance to Tahoe-bound Interstate 80 also appeal to young homeowners.
Sara Cooke, who lived in Garden of the Gods with her husband and oldest son from 2005 to 2012, calls it the “perfect starter home” neighborhood. They moved to make room for their second son, now 1. “There’s a real mix in that neighborhood,” she says. “There’s single guys, there’s mommies at home, and there’s retired people who help with neighborhood watch—they all give you a sense of security and comfort.” Because it’s near so many other family-friendly neighborhoods, Garden of the Gods is a great entry point into the area. The popular progression is to start here, then move on to such coveted neighborhoods as Arden Park, Del Dayo and Wilhaggin. “I know a lot of people in Arden Park whose first home was in Garden of the Gods,” says Leonard. “Now they use them as rental properties.”
GREAT FOR YOUNG FAMILIES:
CRESLEIGH RANCH VILLAGE, ELK GROVE
Located in the southwest nook of Bruceville Road and Franklin Boulevard, Cresleigh Ranch Village is one of Elk Grove’s top spots for the younger set who are ready to settle down. Courtney Davis and Ashton Tyler are in the market for a place to call home in Cresleigh Ranch. Both first-time homebuyers, they instantly gravitated toward this neighborhood because of its newer homes and excellent public schools. “It’s new, it’s cute, and it’s safe,” says Davis, who has lived in Elk Grove her entire life. “It just feels like a place you want to raise your family—and that’s something we want to start doing in a few years.”
The vibe is obvious, but there are other bonuses to Cresleigh Ranch Village. Schools are a major draw: Nearby elementary schools include Arlene Hein and Helen Carr Castello, and Franklin High School is on the southern border of the neighborhood. Parks are plentiful, so you can expect to see lots of mommies pushing strollers around the area. And just a five minutes’ drive away, you have your pick of family-friendly restaurants, including T.G.I. Friday’s, BJ’s, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Chevys, Chili’s and Outback Steakhouse.
Because of all this—and thanks to the rebounding real estate market—there’s a good amount of demand to make a move to this neighborhood. “A lot of people are willing to get what they can get just to get into the area,” admits Mark DeGennaro, a Keller Williams real estate agent specializing in the Elk Grove area. Currently, three-bedroom, two-bathroom homes (most built within the past 10 years) start in the mid-$200,000 range—a price that hopeful homeowner Davis agrees is decent for younger peop
So, what’s next? Here are five ’hoods to consider when you’ve got more money and need more space.
GREAT FOR AMENITIES:
SERRANO, EL DORADO HILLS
Perched atop the rolling foothills of El Dorado Hills, Serrano is a secluded, swanky neighborhood filled with comforts and conveniences— all evident from the second you drive in.
These 3,500 acres of well-tended roadways, parks, meridians and homes are what Mia McDonald calls “the diamond that sparkles in the foothills.” Not only has empty-nester McDonald lived in Serrano with her husband since 2006, she also has worked for the area’s developer, Parker Development Company, since 2001, selling Serrano’s custom home lots.
Homes in Serrano are a minimum of 2,500 square feet but can top well over 10,000 square feet on major acreage. Thanks to its undulating topography, the houses have sweeping views of Folsom Lake, the foothills and Serrano Country Club’s golf course.
If you’re a member at the country club, you can enjoy hitting the links, dining at the restaurant, and using the pristine pool and sports facilities. And all Serrano residents are a few minutes away from El Dorado Hills Town Center, which is filled with dining, shopping and entertainment options for the entire family.
“It’s away from the busy, crowded areas, but all the Folsom amenities are still easily accessible,” says Kristen Becker, who moved to Serrano with her husband, Daniel, in 2009. They also love the 24-hour security and beautifully maintained landscaping, both included in the homeowners association fees. (Green fact: All of the water used to maintain front yards and common areas, including the parks, is reclaimed water.)
Whether you’re looking for a home to grow into or a place to downsize, one thing’s for sure: Once you move to Serrano, you’re pretty much hooked. “People don’t move out of Serrano,” says McDonald. “They move within Serrano.”
GREAT FOR WIDE-OPEN SPACES:
Located in East Davis along a beautifully verdant greenbelt, Wildhorse is an ideal place for people who want room to graze. In addition to the greenbelt, which snakes through the neighborhood, Wildhorse has a private golf course and multiple parks, including newer soccer fields developed by Nugget Markets that are big enough to host tournaments. In other words, there’s greenery galore.
The Wildhorse community puts all of this outdoor space to good use on a daily basis. “It’s active,” says Wendy Light, who built her house here in 2001. “Children get themselves to school on their bikes. On the greenbelts, you’ll see joggers, strollers, bicycles, horses and even the occasional coyote. Many people take walks after dinner, too.” Light loves the open space buffer surrounding the neighborhood’s north and east borders, where she takes her dogs to run around. Speaking of green, you’ll find insanely eco-friendly homes all over Wildhorse.
Light’s home, for example, has solarheated hot water, six-inch walls, maximum insulation (including in the garage and the skylights) and strategically placed windows to capture the Delta breeze.
As with any great neighborhood, Wildhorse has a strong sense of community, which is supported by the homes’ designs: There’s a CC&R that requires garages be set back from the street, which creates a welcoming effect by putting one’s front door closer to the street. Neighbors are considerate of each other by parking their cars off the street, giving notice of planned parties and participating in neighborhood watch.
“Even though the residents are culturally diverse, the vast majority put up lights during the holiday season and put out the welcome mat for trick-or-treaters at Halloween,” says Light. “It doesn’t seem to matter what one’s beliefs are; people seem to enjoy sharing this sense of community.”
GREAT FOR HIGH STYLE:
THE FABULOUS FORTIES
They don’t call them the Fabulous Forties for nothing. This section of East Sacramento has been considered one of our city’s most quintessential and fashionable neighborhoods for generations— and is a prime pick for those who want to live a well-appointed life.
Of course, living the good life here comes with a hefty price tag. According to Peter Rice, a Lyon Real Estate agent, you’re paying one of the highest prices per square foot in all of Sacramento. But just because the costs are lofty doesn’t mean the people are, too.
Cyril Shah, who lives in the Fabulous Forties with his wife and two children, loves his ’hood for its friendly dynamic. “I love the mix of outdoor enthusiasts on M Street every day, and I love our front porch—and the fact that our neighbors like to relax on their front porches, too,” he says. “Neighbors conversing in their front yard add another positive element to the great sense of community that exists here.”
Walk through its magnificent blocks, and you’ll spot myriad architectural influences: Tudor and Colonial Revival, Craftsman and Mediterranean are some of the area’s signature styles. You’ll also find nice, wide streets. That’s because the area used to be home to a streetcar network that needed lots of room to accommodate turnaround points.
In addition to its jaw-dropping mansions, the Fabulous Forties has even more to add to its swagger. While governor of California, Ronald Reagan lived in a 12-bedroom estate on 45th Street. And its picturesque, tree-lined streets made a cameo in the opening credits of American Beauty, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2000.
Ultimately, the Fabulous Forties has the elegance and charm that most of us dream of experiencing—and many of its residents can’t imagine ever leaving. “We love the walkability, the eclectic architecture, and the mix of parks, restaurants and retail,” says Shah. “This will probably be home for 20 years or longer.”
GREAT FOR ACTIVE FAMILIES:
WHITNEY RANCH, ROCKLIN
Calling Whitney Ranch familyfriendly is an understatement. In reality, the 1,296-acre community is completely family focused—thanks to a highly active community association and outdoor amenities galore. “The kids by far outnumber the adults,” admits Sandra Lemos, who has lived in the neighborhood since late 2006 with her husband and two sons, ages 5 and 7. “There’s always something fun going on—from Easter egg hunts to cookies with Santa to organized kids’ crafts at the community Ranch House every month. We have some pretty amazing street parties, too.”
If that doesn’t sound fun enough, there also are three impressive parks in the neighborhood featuring state-of-the-art play structures, a multipurpose sports field, a lighted ball field complex and a water park. Five miles of trails and a private community pool with cabanas mean families can stay active without having to pack up the car. Whitney Ranch also has desirable public schools. It’s part of the highly regarded Rocklin Unified School District, which includes Sunset Ranch Elementary School, Granite Oaks Middle School and Whitney High School.
Living large—the Lemos family home is 3,700 square feet, the community Ranch House more than 10,000 square feet—may be a Whitney Ranch signature, but so is living green. All of the association’s builders offer Energy Star-certified homes, and solar power often is an option. Residents also take part in Placer County’s One Big Bin program, in which all trash is handsorted to keep as much as possible out of landfills.
Ultimately, living in Whitney Ranch is like having a large, extended family. “There is a wonderful sense of community here,” says Lemos. “Everyone is always looking out for each other’s kids.”
GREAT FOR SCHOOLS:
It’s a real estate reality: Growing families want access to good schools. And that’s just what you’ll find in Carmichael’s Del Dayo neighborhood.
Located in the San Juan Unified School District, Del Dayo is affiliated with many of Sacramento’s preferred public schools. While both Arden Middle School and Rio Americano High School have excellent Great Schools ratings of 8 (out of 10), Del Dayo Elementary touts a highly praiseworthy score of 9. The neighborhood also is close to first-rate private schools, including Jesuit High School and St. Ignatius Parish School.
Lisa Geremia, a first-grade teacher at Del Dayo Elementary (and a neighborhood resident for 21 years), says the Del Dayo draw goes beyond high rankings and solid test scores. “It’s such a nurturing, wonderful place to raise children,” says the mother of two girls, now adults. “It truly is a place where the teachers and parents work together.”
Joe Curtis, who grew up in the neighborhood, bought a house here in the spring of 2010 and moved his family in after remodeling. He looks forward to sending his young daughter and son to the same schools he attended.
Del Dayo also is attractive to families because it’s adjacent to the American River. “Our neighborhood is very family oriented, friendly and active,” says his wife, Dawn. “Kids are always out playing, and adults are out biking and running. When we first moved here, I felt like we had moved into a movie set.” “It is kind of weird living around the corner where I grew up and going to the same parks and schools,” admits Joe. “But, as he always says,” adds Dawn, “he will know where to find our kids when they are teenagers.”
Ready to retire—from that big house? Try one of these neighborhoods that keep life easy without sacrificing excitement.
GREAT FOR EMPTY NESTERS:
The central city seems like the last place people would want to settle later in life, but heading that direction is a growing trend for empty nesters. They like the area’s walkability, the shorter commute to work and the easy access to cultural amenities.
Madeline Noell, a field agent for the Tapestri Square development at 21st and T streets in midtown, says empty nesters are the majority of their buyers. “They choose to move here because they want to be close to the entertainment they enjoy and not have to drive everywhere,” she says. “This is a lock-and-leave deal, so they can go travel for months at a time and don’t have to worry about who’s going to take care of the yard and the pool.”
In April of 2012, Mark and Dee Tannenbaum sold their home in Sierra Oaks Vista and now split their time between a beach house in Santa Cruz and a studiosize space in midtown’s L Street Lofts. It was a huge adjustment for them and their two adult sons, who live in the Bay Area. (Thankfully, all four have had to share the loft space only on one occasion.)
“We’ve been in suburbia for most of our lives,” admits Dee. “Getting the loft was a baby step, but it’s actually been the perfect transition to the next stage of our lives. Now our friends from suburbia want to come down here to see us.”
The Tannenbaums’ space is just under 700 square feet, yet they’ve had a dozen or so guests over at one time. “The high ceilings, windows and light make it feel larger than it really is,” says Dee. “And with the concrete walls, you don’t hear a thing. But, honestly, there are some spaces here that are so big, it’s not even like you’re downsizing.”
GREAT FOR EASY LIVING:
When it comes to true turnkey living, Campus Commons always is top of mind. Situated along the American River at Fair Oaks Boulevard and Howe Avenue near Sacramento State, this community was largely developed in the 1970s by Robert Powell, who’s also responsible for Gold River and a handful of other nearby communities.
Today, the 680-acre neighborhood contains approximately 1,160 singlefamily attached and detached homes, two lakes, clubhouse facilities, swimming pools, spas and tennis courts. It’s hard to believe that in the early 1900s, it was the site of the historic (and super rural) Horst Hop Ranch.
Joan and Craig Farmer lived in Campus Commons as newlyweds about 40 years ago, then moved back in 2003, a few years after all of their three children moved out. “We like it because it’s close to downtown but still very suburban,” says Joan. “We also love the beauty of it.”
She’s referring to the lush landscaping— from the common areas to the residents’ yards—taken care of by the Campus Commons Homeowners Association. “In Campus Commons, you don’t have any yard work or maintenance to worry about,” adds Peter Rice, the Lyon real estate agent. “You can just lock your door and leave town—the homeowners association covers everything except theft on the inside.” Some may consider that lifestyle too good to be true—but it is. The Farmers have had their condo’s roof redone, siding replaced and exterior repainted, all of which were covered under their HOA fees. (Dues range from $220 to $429 per month.)
Living in Campus Commons also means you get nightly security. Says Joan, “The guy will call us even if we leave our garage door open at 11 p.m.”