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San Rafael

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About San Rafael

San Rafael is the picturesque county seat of California's Marin County, bordered by San Pablo and less than 20 miles from downtown San Francisco. San Rafael's close proximity to the junction of Interstate 580 and U.S. Route 101 makes it easy for locals to access many other California cities. The city is home to a vibrant economy and culture, and located in one of the most scenic parts of California. Nearly a third of San Rafael is made up of park lands and open spaces, ensuring plenty of space for hiking, cycling and camping.

The History of San Rafael

Like many other cities in California, San Rafael began as a Spanish mission town. Mission San Rafael Arcangel was established in 1817, in honor of Archangel Raphael. The mission was rebuilt in 1949 following extensive damage. San Rafael was one of California's original 27 county seats and became Marin County's first city when it was incorporated in 1874. By 1888, the city was linked to the national railroad network, which would prove an important factor in its growth and development.

The San Rafael Economy

San Rafael has a diverse and growing economy fueled by businesses in technology, finance, professional services, entertainment, retail and other industries. Autodesk and BioMarin are just a couple of the businesses headquartered in San Rafael, with other major local employers including Comcast, Safeway, Macy's, Guide Dogs for the Blind and Dominican University of California.

The city became a center of the entertainment industry with the arrival of Lucasfilm in 1971. Although the studio has since left the area, there are still many entertainment companies that remain, specifically those that are tech-based in nature. San Mateo has a significantly lower unemployment rate than the national average, which is good news if you're planning on searching for a job in the area.

San Rafael Schools

The majority of San Rafael's public schools are managed by the San Rafael City School District. There are several private and charter schools in the city as well, including parochial and college-prep campuses.

San Rafael is home to one institution of higher learning, Dominican University of California.

Resources for Moving to San Rafael

Here's a collection of resources to help you plan your transition to San Rafael:

  • Utilities: Pacific Gas and Electric is San Rafael's central energy provider, while the Marin Municipal Water District manages public water service and billing.
  • Garbage and Recycling: Marin Sanitary Service provides weekly collection of trash, recyclables and organic waste. You can choose your disposal can sizes, with smaller sizes costing significantly less money.
  • Transportation: Marin Transit facilitates a network of public transportation routes in and around San Rafael.

San Rafael Housing

San Rafael's neighborhoods reflect the city's long and diverse history. Older neighborhoods feature spacious, ornate dwellings that served as summer homes and the residences of wealthy locals, as well as simpler homes for local workers. Pre-war neighborhoods have narrow, tree-lined streets and homes with front porches for relaxing, and the city also features contemporary condos, townhouses and apartments.

The median home price in San Rafael is drastically higher than the California average, which has a lot to do with its desirable Bay Area location. However, recent years have shown the home prices leveling out slightly, so you may have the opportunity to find your home before they begin rising again.