Setting: Larkspur sits 13 miles north of San Francisco, in southern Marin County. The Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay ferry service provide easy access to the town, nestled halfway between Sausalito and San Rafael. Mild summer temperatures hover in the 60s and 70s, and the sun shines much more frequently on this side of the bridge than in The City.
Attractions: Small-town aura (population just more than 12,000); fantastic schools; excellent dining scene with a range of prices; access to some of the Bay Area's most appealing natural environs; friendly neighbors; noteworthy period architecture; free street parking.
Drawbacks: Sky-high real estate prices seem to be going nowhere but up. There's little to choose from in the housing market, as those who come here don't often leave. Boating waterways abound, but there's no immediate beach access.
Housing Options: Larkspur's most desirable neighborhoods lie just off Magnolia Avenue, within walking distance of the restaurants, cafés, and shops of this main street. Madrone Canyon, rife with redwoods, is family-friendly, with a park for children. Housing around Greenbrae Marina hugs the lagoon, nice for kayaking. A new development called Niven is in the works.
What It Costs: A one-bedroom condo in Larkspur fetches about $345,000, and those with a view command closer to $500,000. A single-family house begins at around $600,000 and climbs into the millions, depending upon location and level of restoration. Three-bedroom homes begin at about $750,000. Four-bedroom homes rarely come on the market and go for seven digits when they do. Rentals average $1,800 a month (for one- and two-bedroom homes or condominiums) and fly as high as $6,000 monthly for a larger home.
Your Next-door Neighbors: Investment bankers, computer engineers, chefs, artists, gallery owners, actors, designers, architects, jewelers, consultants, doctors, professors.
How You'd Spend Your Free Time: Hiking Marin County's magnificent trails; meeting friends at the renowned Emporio Rulli; hobnobbing in San Francisco; tasting wine in the Napa Valley, less than an hour's drive northeast; shopping the boutiques and galleries downtown or the shops of Larkspur Landing.
published November-December 2004