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Cloverdale, CA

small town gem - 8/9/2012
Pros: Relaxed, small town atmosphere, friendly people, low crime, tons of civic pride, a surprisingly vibrant arts and music scene for a town of its size (check out Friday Night Live in the summer), affordable given that it is in very desirable wine country in Sonoma County, 90 minutes to San Francisco (traffic permitting), 45-60 minutes to the Sonoma coast/90 minutes to Mendocino, 15 minutes from vino-chic Healdsburg, proximate to 3 major wine growing areas: Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River, and it is an excellent place to retire since the weather is great (except for the height of summer when it routinely gets in the 90's +) and there is excellent healthcare in Santa Rosa (30 minutes away).

Cons: local economy is very sluggish (empty storefronts) few decent restaurants (although that is beginning to change) and very little retail (except for the hip Ken Knight store), racially not diverse (whites/hispanics), may be way too quiet for urbanites and for teens, and traffic to the Bay area can be very bad during commute hours - currently, no decent mass transit as it is the northernmost town in Sonoma County.

Conclusion: an largely undiscovered gem in northern California for those wanting to downsize or just slow down and enjoy Sonoma county at its most unpretentious. if the economy recovers, relocating to Cloverdale will prove to be a very smart move.

Disclaimer: I am a resident of the "'dale" and do not work for the Chamber of Commerce!

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