Marin County California Real Estate Profiles – San Rafael

San Rafael is the oldest city in Marin County, and it may be one of the most interesting and diverse as well. Comprised of 30 distinct neighborhoods in addition to a lively downtown shopping district, San Rafael is an eclectic mix of the old and the new. Downtown you’ll find a vibrant city plaza, full of ethnic restaurants, retail shops, art galleries, and Victorian architecture. On the 16 square miles surrounding the downtown you’ll find California suburban life at its best.Only about 20 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge, San Rafael is a perfect base of operations for the commuter. It is out of the rat-race of the big city, but close to just about everything a family could want: good schools, recreation, shopping, and entertainment. Another attractive feature is that San Rafael real estate tends to be a bit less expensive than in many other areas of Marin County. There seems to be a trend that the farther north you travel in Marin, the more affordable the real estate becomes. This trend may not last, however, as people discover the north county. It has a lot going for it. The area is less congested and there is more open space within city limits than you’ll find in most of Marin County, but San Francisco and the other Bay Area cities are still very accessible to San Rafael.Out of San Francisco’s famous fog, but still within the coastal influence, weather in San Rafael is temperate and mild. Summers are warm enough for swimming and the outdoor living Californians love, but seldom will you find the heat that makes the inland areas of California so uncomfortable. In the winter rain can be plentiful, as it is throughout northern California, but ice and snow are all but unheard of, as are the tule fogs found in the Central Valley.San Rafael has some of the most diverse and interesting architecture in Marin County. Probably the most recognizable and famous landmark is the Marin County Civic Center, designed by internationally recognized architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Other interesting public buildings in San Rafael include the Mission San Rafael Archangel; the Boyd House, which is home to the Marin Historical Society Museum and is an extraordinary example of high Victorian Gothic; the Queen Anne style Falkirk mansion; and the St. Vincent’s School’s Italian Renaissance Mission-style.This richness in architecture extends to residential real estate in San Rafael as well. No matter what you are looking for, whether it be a traditional home, a Victorian, or something of contemporary design you are likely to find it in San Rafael. Each neighborhood has a distinct flavor from hip and modern to graciously classic, and homes range in style from sleek minimalist to the Victorian grand dame.To the mid-century modern home enthusiast, San Rafael real estate can provide some exciting house-hunting opportunities. In fact, San Rafael is home to the largest grouping of mid-century modern homes in Marin County. Most of the homes built by Joseph Eichler and the Alliance Homes Company during the 1950’s and 60’s are still standing, and homeowners today are rediscovering these ranch-style homes that were the cutting edge of home design 50 years ago.Beautiful surroundings, temperate climate, and proximity to all the conveniences of city life coupled with interesting architecture and relatively affordable housing make San Rafael real estate one of the more interesting markets right now. With the market leaning toward a buyer’s advantage, it just might be a good time to take a look at what is available in this very unique part of California.