Moving to Napa: 15+ Things to Know Before You Do
Moving to Napa is something that many people consider each year — are you one of them? If you are, this article is intended to provide some insights to help make the decision easier.
Napa draws many tourists each year for the beautiful weather, wine and cuisine. A number of people don’t just visit — they move there permanently. It’s a place that many enjoy, including life-time residents.
Napa is the second largest city in Wine Country; the first is Santa Rosa. It is the largest city within Napa County and it is the county seat. The population is a little over 80,000 residents.
What is the cost of housing?
The median home price in Napa is $659,000 according to Zillow. This figure may seem very high, but in places like Saint Helena and Glen Ellen the same metric is much higher. You also might find some condos in Napa for less than $500,000. If you are open-minded, there are also some mobile homes with prices less than $200,000.
The average rent in Napa is about $1500-$1700 on the low end of the scale.
One thing to consider if you are moving to Napa is that the area is in such demand by tourists that you could rent out a room, or in-law apt. online through Airbnb, if you owned your own home. Doing so just might generate a respectable side income – which might be especially welcome if you are retired.
What is the cost of living?
It costs almost 40% more to live in Napa than it does to live in the rest of the United States, on average. (Obviously, there are much cheaper places to live than Napa, like Kansas City.) Napa actually made it on to a list of one of the least affordable places in the United States.
People who move to Napa and California in general do so for the mostly warm, sunny weather and the lifestyle that goes with it, so they are most likely aware of the trade-offs. In other words, though Pittsburgh and Dallas are more affordable, Californians may still prefer California because of the ‘sunshine income’, and some of the cultural advantages. Moving to Napa will most likely appeal to people who like nature and getting outdoors, with the culture advantages available like the dining and wineries.
What about jobs?
Some of Napa’s top employers are listed here.
Napa Valley Marriott
The Carneros Inn
Auberge Du Soleil
Health & Human Services
Sutter Home Winery
Veterans Home of CA
Napa Valley College
How are the schools?
Napa’s public school system is rated above average by Great Schools. For adults, Napa Valley College is a community college with over 6,500 students; it offers many associate degrees and certification programs. If you are unfamiliar with California’s community college system, it frequently provides quality educational experiences, and very affordable. The in-state tuition at NVC is only about $1,100 per year.
As one might easily imagine, there are also educational opportunities available related to the wine industry in Napa.
How is the food?
It’s well known that Napa is a destination for gourmands and assorted foodies. Here is a list of some of the top-rated restaurants:
Clemente’s At Val’s
Cole’s Chop House
Hog Island Oyster Co.
Napa Valley Bistro
Galpao Gaucho Brazilian Steakhouse
The Boon Fly Cafe
Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin BBQ
The Corner Napa
Tarla Bar + Grill
Bistro Don Giovanni’s
Eight Noodle Shop
Blue Note Napa
Napa Palisades Saloon
Juju’s Mediterranean Kitchen
Mango on Main
Il Posto Trattoria
Oxbow Public Market
Whole Foods Market Napa
Nob Hill Foods
Browns Valley Market
A farmer’s market operates in Napa from April to November with over 40 local farms bringing in vegetables, fruits eggs, herbs, flowers, meats, and seafood.There are also specialty items like cheese, jam, honey and baked goods, and some of the foods are organic.
There are also a number of farms you can visit to purchase some of the same local, fresh foods.
Big Ranch Farms, Hurley Farms, and Hoffman’s Farm are several. Moving to Napa would be a good choice for someone who is particular about food, or for whom it is a priority.
How is the weather?
The climate is Mediterranean with the typical highs in summer in the 80s and winter lows can be in the 30s and 40s. During the other seasons, the temperatures are between those two levels, and there isn’t much rain, but during fall and winter there can be moderate amounts.
Are there parks?
The city of Napa has over 48 parks with about 800 acres of land.
Some of the top-rated ones are:
This is a park where dogs can run off-leash.
Westwood Hills Park
Skyline Wilderness Park
Veterans Memorial Park
Skyline Wilderness Park
How is the transportation?
Napa has both buses and shuttles available for public transportation. Within Napa County, there is a small airport. Of course, there are many roads and some highways. Traffic is nothing compared to San Francisco, but there can be many tourists visiting at certain times of the year, so be prepared. If you are moving to Napa from San Francisco or LA, the traffic in Napa will be much lighter and less stressful. Moving to Napa might prove a great relief, due to the more relaxed pace, open space and culture.
What fun things to do are there?
Visiting art galleries
Riding the wine train
Attending the Napa Film Festival
(It began full-scale operation in 2011, and has drawn tens of thousands of viewers ever since.)
Going to concerts
Attend a wedding
Visit a park.
Although fishing might not be the first thing that comes to mind, when we think of Napa it is possible to fish in the Napa River and fly fish in Putah Creek.
Napa is a great place for biking because of the natural beauty. There are places to ride recreationally and there are some bike races each year.
Moving to Napa is probably a good idea if you like the outdoors, wine and food. If you have a dog to walk or a bike to ride then you might enjoy it very much. If you are not currently in California, you might be shocked to see how much housing can cost.
Is there any wildlife?
Napa is known for wine and food, but it also has wildlife in certain areas – including mountain lions and there have been some bear sightings. (Black and brown bears almost never attack humans, and their diet consists mostly of plant-based foods.)
Within the Napa area, there are also raccoons, bobcats, deer, fox, bats, mice and many birds. About 400 species of birds live there, but not nearly that many are present year-round. Napa is also part of the Pacific Flyway.
Yellow and red-legged frogs, Pacific giant salamanders, newts, snakes, turtles, and the pacific tree frog are some of the amphibians and reptiles.
Over 50 species of fish can be found in the Napa River watershed. The California freshwater shrimp is endangered.
Places to Visit
diRosa Art Gallery – this facility has about 2,000 works by 800 artists.
Napa Opera House
This venue hosts musicians of many kinds, so don’t be misled by the name. It was unused for 89 years, but restored in 2003 and has been active since then. It first opened in 1880.
How are the politics?
Napa residents typically vote for politicians who are Democrats, and the number of Republican voters isn’t that close.
What is the history?
Napa County was one of the original counties of California and dates to about 1850. The first courthouse was constructed in 1851.
Native Americans once lived in the Napa Valley in significant numbers, but by 1850 there weren’t many remaining.
The city of Napa was founded several years before the counties were designated, in 1847. The first general store in Napa opened in 1848, but six years before that the first ship made its way up the river in 1842. In 1850 a steamship carrying passengers navigated the river to Napa. Main Street in Napa by the mid-1850s had many horses and visitors on a daily basis. The first commercial winery was opened in 1859.
The California Gold Rush created a surge in industry and population. A number of miners began to work on ranches, and in the lumber businesses. A tent city was erected to accommodate these workers. A silver rush a little later also brought in miners, and some of them were from China.
Eventually, by 1900 or so, there were about 300 Chinese workers living in the area. Napa Valley became an economic center about this time as well. An influx of Italian workers from rural villages in Italy contributed to an even greater racial and ethnic diversity.
Rail became active in about 1905, which brought in more people. Agriculture, retail, leather, glove making, and some technology like the Jensen speaker were becoming economic drivers.
In 1900, the population was about 4,000 but it grew to 50,000 by 1980, as more people were moving to Napa, and having their own families.
Napa in the Movies
Shots and scenes from various movies have been created in Napa or Napa Valley over the years.
A Walk in the Clouds
Napa Valley Dreams
The Parent Trap
Are there places of Worship?
CrossWalk Community Church
First Christian Church
Hillside Christian Church
The St. John Baptist Catholic Church
First Presbyterian Church
Napa Valley Baptist Church
Hopewell Baptist Church
Congregation Beth Shalom
Is there storage available?
Yes, we have storage in Napa, including wine storage, and can answer any of your questions.
What is near Napa?
Sacramento — 61 miles
San Francisco — 49 miles
Marin — 42 miles
Oakland — 43 miles
Walnut Creek — 38 miles
Sonoma — 14 miles
So, if you were considering moving to Napa before you read this article, what are your views now?
1. Oleg Alexandrov, Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)
2. Napa River, public domain
2. Brocken Inaglory – Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)
4. WPPilot – Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)