|by Tom Wark|
The Pros and Cons of Living in Napa Valley
The longer you live in the paradise known as Napa Valley, the more you appreciate the benefits and downside of being a resident of paradise and the more apparent the "Quality of Life Equation" becomes. And there is an equation.
On The Positive Side:
CLIMATE: There simply is no arguing this point: The climate in Napa Valley is a near perfect environment for humans. The air is dry, save for the quickly developing and dissipating fog, which is itself moderate and pleasant. The sun shines consistently and rarely is too intense. The chill is never bracing and almost always pleasant and welcome. We play golf 12 months per year. Humidity, oppressive or otherwise, simply does not exist.
NATURAL BEAUTY: Valleys. Rolling hills. Mountains. Rivers. Creeks. Bays. Abundant agriculture. Often stunning sunsets. Majestic oaks. Open space. it is a distinctive kind of natural beauty, but true natural beauty nonetheless.
CULTURE: Napa Valley possesses a concentration of fine dining that is remarkable. The available recreational opportunities range from golfing, fishing, and hiking to numerous sporting, competitive and biking and more. Numerous entertainment venues exist from jazz clubs to headliner performances to comics. Religous communities are well represented. We have a community college that offers everything from remedial education to expanded adult classes. The Valley's proximity to San Francisco and Oakland provides access to the most sophisticated cultural opportunities on the globe.
COMMERCIAL/SHOPPING: From boutiques to chains to services, most of what one needs access to is readily available in the Valley.
PROXIMITY TO EVERYTHING: Everything...Literally. Snow. Ocean. Three airports. Metropolitan area.
On the Negative Side
COST OF HOUSING. It's ridiculous. Pure and simple. Here is a list of homes on the market in Napa County between $450K and $550K. Now, consider this list of homes on the market in Yamhill County, Oregon in the middle of the Willamette Valley wine country. The difference is stark...and depressing. Try to buy one acre and a 3 bedroom home in Napa Valley. You have to pay $600K and be willing to live in such a remote place that it will take a half hour to get anywhere. Moreover, you have to be willing to live in a piece of crap home. For that same price in Yamhill County you get 4,000 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 3 acres, just outside the town of McMinnville. Bottom line, Napa Valley is unaffordable for the vast majority of Americans. Rent is no better.
REGIONAL TRAFFIC: I left San Francisco the other day at 2 pm on my way home to Napa Valley. I arrived in the town of Napa at 5:30 pm. It was a 55-mile drive. This is par for the course. The traffic from Napa Valley to the rest of the Bay Area can be impossible.
LOCAL TRAFFIC: Some folks rail against the traffic in the Valley. It CAN be bad duringcommute times, going up and down Valley.
CHILDCARE: For low and middle-income families, there are relatively few quality and affordable childcare options and activities for children of most ages.
COMPANY TOWN: It's all about wine. Sure there are other "industries" and "services", but this Valley is a nearly mono-commercial. This is monotonous.
The bottom line on Napa Valley is that it is a beautiful place to live with numerous amenities if you can afford it.