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Why Sonoma County is Ideal for Families: Insights from REALTOR® Rene Richardson

Sonoma County has earned a reputation for having it all—beautiful scenery, limitless access to nature, incredible weather, world-renowned food and wine, and more. 

But it has also become a popular spot for parents looking to purchase homes for their families, be it starter or forever homes.

We sat down with Rene Richardson—a REALTOR® with Sotheby’s International who’s been in the Sonoma County real estate market for a decade—to learn why the region is ideal for young families in terms of affordability, investment potential, and a family-friendly lifestyle.

SOMO Village: What do you love about the Sonoma County area so much? What makes it a perfect place for a young family?

I grew up in Marin County, which is one county over from Sonoma. I’ve lived in Sonoma County for ten years and have been in real estate for the entirety of that decade. Having spent time living here and learning the landscape, both in terms of the community and the real estate market, I’m always encouraging young families to consider it for their next move.

I often compare Sonoma County with Marin County. Many people who grew up in Marin can’t afford to stay there, so they move to Sonoma because it offers the same quality of life at a comparatively affordable price point.

I think Sonoma is well-suited for young families because of the open space and our fantastic schools. The region is known for having outstanding public and private schools.

It also has just a really tight-knit community. There are so many small towns within Sonoma, and they all have great little downtowns that are super family-friendly. 

Then there’s the benefit of having a lot of access to the outdoors and being in nature. There are so many family-friendly wineries where parents can have fun, and the kids can come too. We move a little bit slower here in Sonoma, but it’s a fun place for kids to grow up. 

Lastly, Sonoma is super focused on wellness, which is great for the kids—they grow up learning that lifestyle and adopt it early on. 

SOMO Village: Would you say Sonoma will stay more affordable than Marin County? Or is Sonoma getting more expensive? 

Sonoma is more affordable than Marin on average. But prices are still increasing every year in Sonoma County. 

From an investment perspective, Sonoma County offers some incredible opportunities for investment. 

You can buy a starter home to break into the market and be confident that it will appreciate in value over time. That way, you can build equity and eventually leverage that to move up in the market.

SOMO Village: Do you see more young families buying their first homes in Sonoma lately? Do you have any recommendations for them? 

There’s such a range of buyers here. I definitely see a lot of first-time home buyers in Sonoma because, again, you can use it as a stepping stone—you can buy a starter home for $700,000 to $800,000.

Then, by the time you’ve lived in your starter home for four years, you might have $200,000 of equity, and you may be ready to move up to your next one. 

Rohnert Park, which is central to Sonoma County, is a great area for this. There are a ton of young families in the area, and you get the most value here, especially if it’s a new build like SOMO Village, and you’re not competing on price.

SOMO Village: What are your three key selling points for why young families should consider buying a home in Sonoma County?

First, ​​investment is definitely a key factor—the fact that so many people want to move to Sonoma, live in Sonoma, and buy in Sonoma creates a demand that clearly shows your investment will be safe for the long term.

Second, I would say the schools are a huge factor. In Sonoma, almost anywhere you live, you’re going to have a good public school in the neighborhood. But you’ll still have the option to go private and change schools within your district. 

Lastly, there are so many places connected to Sonoma—for example, the beach, wine country, San Francisco, and snow are all within three and a half hours of you here in Sonoma. All these places in Sonoma are places you can easily bring your kids to. Other family-friendly areas like Petaluma, Kenwood, Santa Rosa, and Healdsburg are all within reach too! There’s no other place in California that checks off all these points.

If you’d like to learn more about the Sonoma County Real Estate market or you’re interested in finding a home for your family in the region, contact Rene today by email or phone at 415-246-6354.

Learn more about Sonoma County’s best presale homebuying opportunity. 

If you’d like to learn about presale homes in Sonoma County, download our project brief to find out why SOMO Village might be the perfect community for you.