Its not an easy situation to be in. We finally decided that we are ready to uproot from Burbank (Los Angeles), and would settle down somewhere else. I started travelling to projects to make the transition easy. Now the deal was to find an ideal place to live in the entire US, for us as an Indian family with two little ones 5 and 2.
It wasn’t easy to figure out what that some place could be. The place needed to be liberal and cosmopolitan such that we as immigrants feel comfortable.
Away from vagaries of weather and snow meant that east coast was not the best. And Chicago and Minneapolis. Florida and Texas was too hot and humid, though the real estate prices were enticing. And places like Austin fell out of the list based on economic opportunities.
California still seemed golden. If not south, we decided to consider the bay area. As we focussed more, it just seemed too expensive. A good school district and nice houses couldnt just seem to come together. Palo Alto, San Jose, Fremont. Then San Ramon came into picture. Though a litle away from center of action in the silicon valley, this city seemed to have it all – excellent schools and parks, new, nice, houses, a lot of Indians. Seemed like this was where the silicon valley was new and growing. So one day, we searched on internet to find the options for a three bedroom apartment on the ground floor – and it just so happened that we found availability in the small city of Dublin, next to San Ramon; signed up on the lease for six months, and within two weeks, moved there just in time before the schools started.
The idea was to continue scouting for houses as they came on sale, primarily, but not limited to San Ramon. As we started driving through the city we really liked the plenty of parks and schools, the library – it looked like a beautiful city with good roads, slightly hilly and scenic. The newer San Ramon, the Windermere and Gale Ranch and all, were either too expensive or too small. And with a higher tax rate. But then we found out that shopping and entertainment was a challenge in San Ramon. Going up to Walnut Creek or coming down to Dublin didn’t seem very practical – taking Dougherty Road all the way down didn’t seem easy. The idea of driving many miles for anything but schools didn’t seem very appealing, and we started questioning the very idea. Then some realtor gave us the long and short of living the tri-valley area. San Ramon afterall was designed as a family, residential community, with no plans for a mall or big shopping, other than plans for a high end shopping square. We weren’t so sure if we liked that. Even access to the BART system or nearest freeways seemed at least 20 minutes away. We heard the concentration of Indian and other Asian students was very high in the otherwise above par schools of the city. The schools were great, but we then also wondered if we instead would prefer a more rounded and cosmopolitan group in the schools…
We next checked out Danville; the downtown was cute, but the communities, many gated, seemed to have an over-emphasis on golf. If golf was not important, the city which was anyway even farther off from commute perspective didn’t seem very appealing in terms of the value of the houses.
We started checking out Fremont again, and Pleasanton. But couldn’t seem to be find a right balance between size, age, schools and location. By this time, we had already increased our price range by 25% since we had come to the bay area.
Then, we thought why not Dublin – we kind of seemed to like the town. Specifically the Hacienda-Tassahara area in the east. We saw that a lot of collataral benefit of the growth of San Ramon and surrounding area was actually coming to Dublin. It had in its catchment area big parts of San Ramon, Pleasanton, and probably even Livermore and Danville. We realized many people were actually coming down to the Hacienda area for restaurants, shopping or spending the evening. And some new, exciting developments were about to take shape – Whole Foods, the super new and up coming shopping area called TheGreen, The Promenade, etc. And that is where our daughter’s elementary school was as well – at no less than 945 API. And not to forget BART and the fact that 580 was right there. We quickly started scouting the Emerald Glen and Dublin Ranch area for any houses coming on sale. Dublin Ranch seemed like good value – but for some reason it just seemed to much of an extension or a new development and seemed a little far out there on the hill. Luckily a house came up for sale in a street right facing the Emerald Glen park within the main Dublin city, and we wasted no time in snapping it up.
We are all set to move in there with the closing around Thanksgiving this year (09). Only time will tell if east Dublin is really the best value in terms of weather, reasonable commute to an area of immense opportunity, good schools, and good value for the home in terms of age and style, in the entire US of America, or not. We have made out bet that it is!