Novato Named “Best Affordable Town”

October 16, 2008 by  

As reported in the Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Marin County (California)56 Bahama Reef 004was named by Business News magazine as one the nation’s “Best Affordable” towns near a major and expensive metropolis–in this case, the San Francisco Bay Area. Numerous factors went into the analysis including housing prices (averaging a relatively affordable $750,000 in Novato in November 2007), crime rates, schools, unemployment rates, commute times, shopping, and entertainment.

Indeed, with lots of newer homes at prices far lower than the home prices in towns located just 10 miles south (e.g., 10 miles closer to San Francisco), Novato has long represented a major value. Recent years have brought many former residents of Southern Marin to Novato as retirees downsize and transfer their tax base under Proposition 60 and young families looking for more homes that can accommodate growing numbers. Novato also has abundant horse properties, waterfront living with access to the Bay, and a robust luxury and ultra-luxury housing market (something for everybody).

Novato’s schools are also top-notch. It is home to the highest scoring school in Marin County–Rancho Elementary. The offices at Hamilton Field include numerous businesses and is the future home to a Disney production venture. Downtown Novato (Grant Avenue) has evolved into a robust shopping location with something for everybody, including some very good dining options. Below are some facts as noted in the Marin IJ online.

NOVATO AT A GLANCE:

  • Population: 51,518
  • Size: 28 square miles, including 3,600 acres of open space
  • Median home cost for 2006: $816,000
  • Median annual household income: $75,445
  • School district: Serves more than 7,600 students, kindergarten through high school with nine elementary, three middle and three high schools. College of Marin’s Indian Valley campus serves some 1,000 students.
  • Shopping: Vintage Oaks shopping center includes more than 50 stores; downtown Novato includes numerous small specialty stores and boutiques received more than a $10.7 million face lift in 2003 to upgrade Grant Avenue.
  • Incorporated: 1960 as Marin’s northernmost city.

Other key facts:

  • The Buck Institute for Age Research, one of the world’s foremost nonprofit, independent biomedical research firms, is located in Novato
  • The Chosen Family hippie commune lived in the old Burdell mansion at Olompali State Historical Park in Novato until it burned down in 1969. Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead played there.
  • Olompali State Historical Park is named for a key Miwok settlement, Olemaloke, that dates back to 1300. The Bear Flag Rebellion, which led to California’s statehood, was fought at Olompali in 1846.
  • Mount Burdell at 1,558-foot elevation, is the highest peak in Novato and overlooks the Petaluma River and San Pablo Bay.
  • Novato claims its share of rock-star talent, including Metallica’s James Hetfield, Journey’s Jonathan Cain and Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers.

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