Money Monday: Retiring in the San Francisco Bay Area

My friend Affinity chided me for looking outside of the Bay Area and away from family, when I can very well retire here at home. She was totally right. She wrote a guest blog post on retiring early here. It was one of my most highly-trafficked posts.

I spent some time on Zillow and found the following places. There are some serious deals to be had.

$250,000 – 3 bedroom, 2 bath home in Vallejo, CA – 30 minutes to wine country,  40 minutes to SF by car

It’s like a cheap version of Falcon Crest or Dallas, right? Clearly a little dated, but definitely has character. A retired couple like me and Dean have no need for 3 bedrooms, but just wanted to showcase the breadth of what’s available.


$169,000 – 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo in Hayward, CA – 1 hour to wine country,  30 minutes to SF by car

This is perfect! 1 bathroom for me, 1 bathroom for Dean. 1 bedroom for me, 1 bedroom for Dean. Haha! This place is a score at the price. I might have to buy it now. Rent this place out and have it completely paid for by the time we retire. Who I am kidding? We can write a check for the list price, forego the mortgage, save 4% on interest, and rent to college students since Cal State Hayward is across the street! I’m seriously going to ponder this investment.


$155,000 – 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath home in Concord, CA – 45 minutes to wine country,  35 minutes to SF by car

This price is a steal. I am tasting retirement! 55 here we come.

Ring Mountain Hike

We went for a hike up Ring Mountain on Saturday. It’s so weird to live in a place for as long as I have and to discover completely new terrain. Ring Mountain sits atop the billion dollar homes in the Tiburon hills. There are like crazy mini White Houses behind gated fortresses in this neighborhood. Ritzy!

Ironically, across the hill on the other side of the bay is a place close to Johnny Cash‘s heart…San Quentin prison. Yeehah! See it up close and center in the 3rd picture below.

Two things that make this open space preserve special: 1) million dollar views of the Bay Area, including San Francisco, and 2) a unique geology of soil so toxic to most plants that the ones that do survive are extremely rare. At the very top of the mountain is Turtle Rock which rock climbers frequent.

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Good Friday

My previous post ended on a whimper, and I don’t ever want to be viewed as someone who isn’t tremendously grateful for everything in her life, so let’s start today–Good Friday–off with a bang.

First, I want to thank all of you for supporting me. I am so grateful for every comment and email. Thank you, thank you!

All these years of hard work moonlighting as a blogger are starting to pay off. I signed with the Clever Girls ad network which opens my blog up to brand name sponsors and is a major milestone in blogging. I freaked out when I read their email.

I’ll soon be a featured blogger on the SITS Girls website, which is a phenomenal community of bloggers. SITS is simply amazing. I love, love, love the community I’ve become a part of through SITS. I’ve been patiently waiting since November and I’ll get my turn in April or May. Stay tuned on that.

Our world is full of beautiful people, from my husband who cooks me a gourmet dinner every night (yes every night!), to this lovely couple who has entrusted their home and animals to us for the past 10 days, to the coworker who brought in bagels for the whole floor today because it’s her 1-year anniversary.

Lastly, I need to comment on my environment because I am a San Francisco-based blogger, and this is one of the facets that makes my blog unique. After I lived in Chicago for two years, I returned home, thinking that SF wasn’t as illustrious as I had previously thought. I felt I had grown up in a bubble with every Bay Area person believing that we lived in a coastal paradise, not realizing there was another world of beauty outside of the sunny state of California. In cocktail conversations, everyone seems to be surprised that I’m native. They say that most of the people living around here are transplants. I think that’s so wrong because 98% of the people I grew up with still live in the Bay Area. They never left!

But particularly now, having experienced a multitude of locales, I can objectively say that San Francisco is one of the best places to live in the world. Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, it’s often bone chilling cold. But where else in the world can you travel easily to enjoy wine country, snow, and Burning Man! The food, arts & innovation, the funding & intellectual capital. It’s here. It’s all here!

Best Ever Day Trip to Half Moon Bay

We spent Thanksgiving locally here in the Bay Area. The following day I volunteered at my high school’s homecoming event. By the time Sunday rolled around, I was itching to get out of town. I spent Saturday night researching places until 3am. Still hadn’t figured it out in the morning, then settled on Half Moon Bay since it was already Noon and figured the drive was only about 30 minutes.

I furiously scrawled down restaurants, beaches, state parks, a church, and other points of interest around Half Moon Bay on the front and back of a yellow piece of construction paper.

We had a beautiful drive down the Pacific Coast Highway and stopped in the beachy town of El Granada for a late brunch at Cafe Classique. Too cute and the food was delish. I got a ginormous chocolate chip cookie that I can only describe as fluffy. I considered buying a couple for the road.

With happy tummies, we back-tracked literally a few seconds away to the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach. After all these years growing up in the Bay Area, I’d never heard of this place. Tidal pools are best for marine life viewing during low tide (duh); so it’s best to check the tidal schedule which I found online. Seems like other people were just as smart as I was because there were definitely other groups of people there, including a Boy Scout troop.

This is probably the best educational, science-y, day trip experience I’ve had since Roatan. We saw: sea anemones, urchins, sponges, starfish, shrimp, tiny fish, hermit crabs, regular crabs, harbor seals, and a heron. I could’ve spent hours there. Forget Monterey Bay Aquarium. This is the place to be! The docents are rockstars–generous of their time and extremely knowledgable. Also check out the 2 pairs of marine life I found mating. I bet they were super annoyed that I picked them up to take their picture. Hey, you gotta capture the moment!

We ended our day walking around downtown Half Moon Bay, and watching the Niners game at a majestic bar serving very tasty bratwursts. I am falling in love with the Bay Area all over again!

Food Truck vs Restaurant

I don’t understand the food truck craze. There are food trucks sprinkled throughout the Financial District with long lines of people in suits waiting to order and then waiting for their food. If you’re going to wait in the windy corridors of San Francisco without a place to sit, you’d expect maybe a discount? But no, food truck fare is just as expensive and often even pricier than the nearby deli where I can have a seat, wait for my friends, and be shielded by the cold indoors. I also get to use metal versus plastic utensils.

I don’t understand the food truck appeal. Yet there are crowds of people flocking every single food truck. There are the insanely popular Off the Grid food truck events that happen all over the Bay Area including Civic Center and Fort Mason. I saw on their website that they also go to my hometown shopping center Alameda South Shore!

Thoughts? Which food trucks do you feel are worth it?