San Rafael is the oldest, largest and most culturally diverse city in Marin, with 25 neighborhoods and approximately 59.000 residents. It stands out for the best weather in the region. San Rafael is most definitely one of the Bay Area’s most interesting communities and over time, it has combined a city rich in culture and tradition, tons of facilities and amenities, and warm and welcoming neighborhoods into a community that is both tranquil and exiting at the same time. San Rafael offers a wide range of fun things to do, including a wide array of County Parks. China Camp State Park is a community popular picnic area along San Pablo Bay where you can go camping, hiking and many other outdoor activities. Another community favorite includes the McNears Beach County Park, a 55-acre area with a swimming pool, fishing pier and tennis courts. San Rafael offers an active urban environment while retaining the comfort and coziness feeling of a small-town life.
The quality of life in San Rafael is impeccable, and other than the multiple parks and outdoor activity options, it’s famous for the Sunday Marin Farmers Market, which is the third largest market in the state with almost 200 vendors. There’s live music, lots of organic produce, and tons of tasty food. In fact the now iconic Puerto Rican restaurant Sol Food got its start here as a vendor.
If you are interested in going on regular shopping sprees, the retail scene in San Rafael is rich and packed with selection, no matter what it is that you are looking for. Residents and visitors can choose from small retailers, malls and department stores.
Since San Rafael is located on the Bay of San Francisco, it is also suitable for people who are interested in water sports. As previously mentioned, it definitely stands out for the amazing weather, as there are around 255 sunny days every year, while the average temperature ranges from 41°F to 85°F at any time of year. You can expect long, dry summers and cool, partly cloudy winters with about 40 inches of annual rainfall. If you are a sports enthusiast, good news, San Rafael’s fairly new basketball team – the Pacifics call the 1,000-seat Albert Park in the city their home and have won three championships since their founding in 2011.
There is also a reason San Rafael has earned the reputation of one of the healthiest places to live in the States, with a medical center that cares for more than a 100.000 people and multiple leading rankings for health outcomes, length of life, quality of life etc. It also has the lowest percentage of uninsured residents in the state.
This might sound too good to be true, but the economy is also one of the best in the States, with a low unemployment rate sitting at 3%, and even Forbes ranked the county at #1 for pursuing your career or starting a business.
If you’re an art lover, San Rafael also offers a place for you, downtown San Rafael has been connected into an immaculate center for culture, arts, events, and even a district specifically dedicated for the arts that has 4 galleries, around 25 art studios and more to fulfill your inner artist. The streets are also closed each June for the Italian Street Painting Festival, where artists showcase their talents with intricate chalk drawings on the asphalt.
From extravagant cuisines to luxurious houses and comfortable condo properties to great institutions, San Rafael is also one of the best commuter towns near San Francisco. While it is indeed a commuter town near San Francisco, the city of San Rafael never fails to provide its residents with the luxury of quality living. San Rafael, California living claims different amenities and facilities that are both fun and inexpensive as well. San Rafael is located just a couple of minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge and directly linked to the East Bay Area by the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. This, as well as the efficient bus and commute service in general that was previously mentioned, offers San Rafael business and residents easy access to the many flourishing cites of California’s Bay Area, such as San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland.
The schooling system is also above average, and the schools are split into two districts: San Rafael City School District and the Dixie School District. There you can find strong programs at the elementary schools such as Dixie Elementary, Vallecito Elementary, and Sun Valley Elementary. The two top-rated high schools in the area include Terra Linda High, and San Rafael High. Even though San Rafael has only one university to offer, which is the Dominican University of California, it is ranked among the top 25 Universities in the West. Their programs include art, business, psychology programs, and more. Eight of the city’s schools are ranked amazingly high and, looking at demographics, more than 38% of residents hold a college or professional degree.
In general, San Rafael is a wealthy city that has shaped a number of celebrities, musicians and even athletes. Some of the most famous names from San Rafael include James Hetfield, who is the lead singer of Metallica, Carlos Santa, the highly respected Mexican-American guitarist and Michael Savage, the well-known author and former host of his radio show, Savage Nation. Another familiar face you may even see roaming the streets of San Rafael is Michael Johnson, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics gold medalist sprinter. As mentioned, San Rafael is famous for its thriving film and technology sector. This was definitely influenced by George Lucas who founded LucasFilm Ltd. in San Rafael in 1971 and Industrial Light & Magic in 1975, bringing both the entertainment and high-tech industries to the city.
There are a lot of things to enjoy about San Rafael, as previously mentioned, and another one of which is relative affordability. While still being quite expensive when compared to other cities, San Rafael is certainly more affordable than its Southern Marin neighbors.
Nonetheless, the city of San Rafael is definitely a worthwhile option to consider when you are planning to move within the Bay Area.