Happy New Year!

I finally made it out to the Sacramento/Davis area and checked out a few towns I had on my list. To back track a bit, Mr. LH and I have been toying with the idea of moving to Northern California from Southern California. We still aren’t 100% set on the possibility of a move, but there are some pros and cons of staying versus leaving and vice-versa.

However, before we can seriously begin to address the possibility of a move, we want to find a town that we love – or at least really, really like. To be clear, we love California and don’t really want to move out of our state. It’s a gorgeous state as I can attest to visiting or driving through almost every region of the state except the San Francisco/Bay Area (I know, I know, this is a huge gap in my California geography knowledge.)

From San Diego to Pasadena to San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles, we’ve checked out lots of towns in the Southern and Central part of the state. Some were too laid back and others were a little too removed from larger metros for our liking and some just weren’t far enough from the Los Angeles area to seriously consider.

But we finally made it up north and visited Sacramento, Davis, and out-lying cities in the area. As much as I liked the smallish, city-feel of Sacramento, the crime rate was a bit high for us to really consider making the move. We loved the bike lanes (yes, Sacramento has lots of bike lanes) and the light rail running through the capitol. The Capitol itself was beautiful and the old mansions and architecture was quaint. But for a town of under 500,000 people, it’s crime rate is higher than Los Angeles’ that has 4 million people. There’s something seriously wrong with those figures. Police vehicles were constantly roving around the Plaza located behind our hotel. It made me a bit nervous and I’m not a nervous-nelly.

We drove west to Davis, the Bike Friendly City, and though we liked all the bike lanes, the town was small in size. It’s footprint is only about 10-miles wide at its widest, and though I knew this, it didn’t sink in until I drove around the town 3-times within 40 minutes. The architecture was also just awful – boxy, square buildings with 1970’s paint jobs – blue trim with beige clapboard. I was greatly disappointed as this was the city we thought we’d really like.

Feeling a bit let down we headed north to Woodland just to check out a smaller version of Davis. Unfortunately, that town has suffered from the recession a bit more than Davis and had many empty retail spaces with run-down buildings. So, just for the heck of it, we headed east to Folsom, a city I had only heard of due to its state prison.

Pleasantly surprised, I figured out how to get there without a map (I call it my JPS – as long as I know my cardinal directions, I can find just about any place). Taking the scenic route (my JPS was a bit off) we drove through American River Canyon with beautiful homes and across an old bridge above the American River to historic Folsom. I loved it right away.

A smaller version of maybe Park City without the snow, historic Folsom is well-kept with lots of tourist foot-traffic keeping money moving through the town. It helps that it sits at the east edge of the American River offering bike trails and water activities. Even though it’s winter, there were plenty of people wandering the streets, shopping and eating at local restaurants. As we drove into the residential areas, the entire town was clean, graffiti-free and naturally pretty.

We looped around a few areas and liked all of it.

It will take us a few more visits to really know if this is the town we’d like to settle down in, but as of right now, it’s number one on our list.

All-in-all, the people in Northern California really are polite and nice. It felt like home up there.

Have you made a big move lately? Anyone familiar with Folsom?