Why Ukiah?

In a recent nationwide survey of more than 1,600 people, respondents shared some of the reasons they would consider leaving their hometown (or their home state) as opposed to what kept them there. This is interesting to me both as a real estate broker and as a community member.

One of the hot topics was the rising cost of homeowners’ insurance. The vast majority of respondents (90%) expressed concerns about rising costs, and 27% reported they are considering moving to a different state to reduce these insurance costs.

In addition, 57% of respondents said they would not buy a home in an area prone to frequent natural disasters (wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.), even if they were offered subsidies or tax credits. Presumably, this was not purely a financial consideration. People like to safeguard their health and possessions.

More than half of respondents (53%) also reported that they were highly motivated by good weather, so much so that they would move to a state with higher taxes for it, while 42% reported that they would also move to a higher-tax state to cut down their potential exposure to natural disasters.

All this got me thinking about why people might move to Ukiah as opposed to, say, Los Angeles or Kentucky. I came up with all kinds of reasons.

Ukiah is brilliantly situated in Northern California to take advantage of all sorts of adventures. We’re an hour and a half from the stunning Mendocino Coast and its redwood forests. We’re only two hours from San Francisco and all the culture and activity it has to offer. We’re about four hours from premier snowboarding and skiing in Tahoe. We have hiking and biking near lakes, through forests, and around town for all skill levels. We’re 45 minutes away from California’s largest natural lake, which is considered some of the best bass fishing anywhere. What I’m saying is that geographically, we have it all.

Notwithstanding the recent drought in California, Ukiah has really great weather. Our summers are warm; our winters are cool but moderate. During non-drought years, we get about 40 inches of rain, which keeps the Russian River flowing and our mountainsides green. With warm days and cool nights, I have a hard time imagining a better place to live.

I may be biased, but I also think we have more caring people in Ukiah than most communities of twice our size. If you take a look at the number of volunteer-supported and personal-donation supported community organizations that provide people of diverse communities to enjoy enriching, worthwhile activities, Ukiah has far more than many larger communities. Our non-profits range from the Ukiah Symphony and Ukiah Players Theater to the Alex Rorabaugh Recreation Center (ARRC) where kids and community members can play in open gyms for free.

Not only are folks willing to support community non-profits, many are also willing to do business on a handshake. A friend of mine says doing business at the “speed of trust” is the most efficient form of business there is. By that measure, we’re pretty darn efficient around here. It’s also nice to head downtown for a bite to eat and run into someone you know, which happens almost every time I go downtown.

I know Ukiah is not perfect (much as I like to think it is). We have some government bureaucrats I would characterize as overzealous, but so does every community. We’ve experienced wildfires, but so has much of California in recent years. We haven’t figured out what to do about the drug culture or homeless problem, but neither have any other communities.
And for some, rural just isn’t their thing. If you are addicted to the high-end cultural events of the Bay Area and you’re not willing to drive a couple of hours (through beautiful vineyards), Ukiah may not be right for you. If you want to snow ski every day after work, Ukiah probably isn’t your place.

For me, however, I cannot imagine living anywhere else. My kids went through local schools and received solid educations. I have a seven-minute commute and I can get from one end of town to the other in ten minutes with no traffic. Our weather is glorious and our valley is beautiful to behold. While our prices are higher than in the Midwest, the benefits of living here far outweigh those costs.

If you have questions about property management or real estate, please contact me at rselzer@selzerrealty.com or call (707) 462-4000. If you have an idea for a future column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to Schat’s Bakery.


Cover Photo Credit: Chris Pugh

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *