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Marin County

From Mount Tamalpais to Muir Woods, from Stinson Beach to Sausalito, Marin County offers an unparalleled combination of natural beauty and comfortable living. Located north of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin is a hilly area surrounded by water on three sides. It has a population of over 228,000 that is heavily concentrated along Highway 101. The county covers 606 square miles, a third of which is protected parkland.

Because of strict local regulations, housing in Marin is expensive. There is, however, a tremendous variety of homes, from downtown apartments to secluded homes in the forest. Some of the more exclusive areas offer mansions selling for well over a million dollars.

The schools in Marin are first-rate despite recent budget cutbacks. Those preferring private education can choose from a large number of private and parochial schools. You may see extensive information on California elementary and high school ranking on our site.

Marin residents also enjoy a wide array of outstanding recreational opportunities. In addition to the beautiful beaches and parks, there are a number of bike paths. The wonderful climate allows year-round outdoor activity. Though generally sunny and warm throughout the region, some of the coastal areas experience summer fog. We have spent considerable time to build a very substantial amount of Marin county community information on this site so you may fully appreciate the appeal of Marin County.

Marin County has a very low unemployment rate, and experts predict that expanding office space will continue to provide ample local employment. Many residents, however, make the short commute into San Francisco either via Highway 101 or the convenient ferry boats that leave regularly from Sausalito, Tiburon and Larkspur. The entire county is served by Golden Gate Transit buses.
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Located at the end of the Tiburon Peninsula, this is Marin’s smallest incorporated community with a population of approximately 2300. It is also one of the most exclusive. There is just enough room for some of the most expensive homes in Marin, many offering fabulous views, as well as the historic San Francisco Yacht Club. Belvedere, an island a mile long and less than one-half mile wide, is connected to Tiburon by a causeway. Students attend elementary and middle school in the local Reed Union School District, which is rated in the top one percent among California schools. High school students are included in the highly rated Tamalpais Union High School District.


A bit further north you will find Corte Madera. The former grant of pioneer John Reed, whose lumber mill helped build the San Francisco Presidio, it is now a residential community with a population of about 8300. Students are in the Larkspur School District, which has one elementary school in Corte Madera and one middle school in Larkspur—both rank among the state’s top two percent. High school students are part of the equally high-rated Tamalpais Union High School District. Shopping here is plentiful, most notably at The Corte Madera Town Center and at The Village. Residents and non-residents alike also enjoy the wonderful Town Park, which includes tennis courts, picnic area, a baseball diamond, and a children’s playground among its facilities.


Greenbrae is an unincorporated area which enjoys a great Central Marin location and is convenient for shopping, transportation, restaurants, and good weather. It had its beginnings in the 1940s when a developer named Niels Schultz, Sr. bought more than 600 acres of rolling terrain where he could create his vision of a total community, including single family homes, apartments, a shopping center, and offices. The homes sold quickly, and 50 years later Greenbrae remains an attractive and desirable place to live.

The combined population of Greenbrae and Kentfield is approximately 8500. Children in both communities attend Bacich Elementary School and Kent Middle School before going on to Redwood High School, which is located in Larkspur.


This is a charming community of approximately 12,000 residents. Housing styles vary from the small, older bungalow types surrounding the central downtown area to the large homes on large lots in the hills of Sleepy Hollow where many of the residents can keep horses on their own property. Academic rankings of the local schools are generally in the 70th to 90th percentile range. Recently, San Anselmo’s downtown has become the home of several fine restaurants; the many antique and specialty shops located nearby also make the area attractive to visitors and residents alike. The picturesque ivy-covered towers of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, with its enchanting chapel bell tolling the hours, are another special feature of the San Anselmo landscape.


The unincorporated community of Kentfield is distinguished by relatively large homes (by Marin standards) on relatively large lots. The rolling terrain has mature trees and lovely views of the surrounding hills. Much of the area evolved around the original home of the Kent family, which purchased the land in 1871. The Kents have long been involved in local political and conservation causes and donated the Muir Woods Monument to the United States in 1909. The flat, central part of Kentfield is the home of College of Marin and it is served by some neighborhood businesses, but for the most part it is simply a beautiful place to live. The combined population of Kentfield and Greenbrae is approximately 8500. Children in both communities attend Bacich Elementary School and Kent Middle School before going on to Redwood High School, which is located in Larkspur.


Novato is 28 miles north of San Francisco on Highway 101. As the San Francisco Bay Area expands, cities such as Novato, in what were formerly considered outlying areas, have become major centers of growth. The current population of 47,600 is projected to reach 65,000 in the year 2005. Before its recent development, Novato had the look of a small town adjacent to pasture and fruit orchards. Novato’s weather is hotter and drier than the rest of Marin. Much future growth will be the result of Hamilton Air Field closing and being converted to residential use. The Novato Unified School District oversees seven elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools. Its California Assessment Program scores have generally been among the top one percent in the state. Indian Valley, a campus of the College of Marin, is also located here. Housing options are plentiful, and one can generally get more house and more land for the money than in more southerly areas of the County.

In fact, several areas of Novato qualify as “horse country.” The presence of such major employers as Fireman’s Fund, Mindscape, and the Vintage Oaks Shopping Center also contribute to the growth potential of this area.


The downtown historic district of Larkspur includes many charming shops and restaurants. This can be contrasted with the much more contemporary Larkspur Landing Shopping Center, just across the way from a ferry terminal providing an easy commute over the Bay to San Francisco. The Corte Madera Creek is also enjoyed by windsurfers, kayakers, and the crew teams from several local schools. For additional recreation, Larkspur also offers hiking trails, parks, tennis, and the Mt. Tam Racquet Club which provides year-round swimming in an indoor pool. Public School students attend Neil Cummins Elementary School, Hall Middle School, and Redwood High School, all of which are highly rated. The 11,000 residents may choose their housing from many options: apartments, small bungalows, newer condominiums, hilltops with views or a marina subdivision with provision for a boat outside the back door, just to name a few.


Marin county community information would not be complete without discussing San Rafael, Marin’s oldest city, with a population of approximately 53,000, which is also our County Seat. The downtown area is being revitalized with new shops and restaurants opening, the remodeling of the art deco Rafael Theater into the showcase for the Film Institute of Northern California, and new development at the former site of a Macy’s Department Store. Nearby housing is usually of the charming old-fashioned kind, but as one moves away from the downtown area the housing possibilities can range from Peacock Gap Golf and Country Club’s contemporary homes and condominiums overlooking the Bay to the spacious traditional homes in the prestigious Dominican section. San Rafael has yacht clubs with outstanding docking and launching facilities, tennis and swim clubs, bicycle trails and many parks. The County’s Civic Center, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, attractively harmonizes with the rolling hills north of town. Also to the north are the unincorporated communities of Terra Linda and Marinwood, largely residential in nature, but home to Northgate Mall (the only enclosed shopping mall in Marin), Terra Linda High School, and Kaiser Hospital, among other community resources. Northern San Rafael has also enjoyed the recent addition of several large software companies.


Just west of San Anselmo is Fairfax, where a relaxed atmosphere is treasured by the 6,900 residents seeking privacy and rustic charm. This is a bargain area, by Marin County standards, for homes. The Ross Valley School District serves both San Anselmo and Fairfax. There are three elementary schools and one middle school in the district, which ranks in the top seven percent in the state. There is a charming, 60’s style downtown area. Fairfax has some lovely parks and is a gateway to the lands of the Marin Municipal Water District, where one can enjoy hiking trails, views, lakes, bird-watching, and beautiful wildflower walks.


Mill Valley, population approximately 13,000, is located on the eastern slope of Mt. Tamalpais, just 14 miles north of San Francisco. There is a quaint downtown area surrounding a central square where people gather to enjoy the fine weather, play chess, people watch, or read the paper over a cup of cappuccino. The art galleries, restaurants, and newly constructed Mill Valley Inn contribute to the “European vacation” atmosphere. Children attend one of several elementary schools, the Mill Valley Middle School, and Tamalpais High School, all of which are ranked very high academically. Housing possibilities range from small tract homes to large, modern houses with fine finishes. Views are plentiful and can include hills, the Bay, San Francisco, or just the house next door. With all the resources of Mt. Tam at its back door, Mill Valley is a nature lover’s dream.


Just 16 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge and a few miles west of highway 101, Ross is considered one of the most expensive areas to live in the United States. Shaded roads and lanes enhance this lovely town of large estates and luxurious mansions in park-like settings which often have accommodations for horses, tennis courts and swimming pools. There are approximately 2200 Ross residents and they take great pride in their outstanding elementary school. A very charming downtown area includes some small shops and restaurants. The Marin Art and Garden Center, a ten-acre park-like site, offers many classes and activities. Trees, lakes and gardens make the grounds a delightful place to visit. Ross is also the main access route to Natalie Coffin Greene Park and Phoenix Lake, two lovely areas for hiking.


Once a thriving fishing village, Sausalito today bases its economic viability on tourism, with many fine shops and restaurants attracting thousands of tourists who arrive daily by automobile, bus, and ferry. Located only six miles from San Francisco, Sausalito is an ideal, though expensive, commuters’ town of 7,500. Beautiful, high-priced homes hidden among the wooded hillsides usually boast outdoor decks and spacious windows overlooking breathtaking views of the Bay, Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline. For the non-traditional resident, Sausalito offers a choice from among hundreds of floating homes gathered in a unique waterfront community on the north end of town. The climate is generally mild with average temperatures of 70 degrees in the summer and 45 in the winter. Most of the recreation is water related, though there is wonderful hiking and camping nearby, especially within the adjacent Golden Gate National Recreation Area, one of the most-visited national parks in the United States, and certainly one of the most beautiful. The Sausalito Art Festival is very widely known, drawing over 50,000 people during a three-day weekend each year.


Tiburon is a hilly peninsula which juts into San Francisco Bay with lovely homes that are situated to enjoy panoramic views. Attractive shops and restaurants on the quaint Main Street lure visitors, who, along with residents, enjoy the convenience of the Tiburon Ferry. Yacht clubs, tennis and swim clubs and docking facilities abound in Tiburon. The population of over 11,000 residents is mostly housed in large, expensive, newer homes in the hills. The Old Town area is charming, with some smaller, older, but still expensive homes with great views, some of which are located directly on the water. There is a wonderful path which starts near the Richardson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and meanders past McKegney Green and a children’s playground along the water for a few miles right into downtown Tiburon. It’s a delight for strollers, skaters, and bikers alike who all seem to co-exist happily here. Downtown Tiburon has some fine restaurants and shops and also is the home of a ferry which services Angel Island State Park as well as San Francisco commuters.


Most of Marin’s population is to be found in the cities along the eastern edge of the county along the Highway 101 corridor, but the largest land portion of the County is still quite rural—rolling green hills spotted with cows and sheep, spectacular shorelines, and tens of thousands of acres of protected open space in the Point Reyes National Seashore, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and Mt. Tamalpais State Park. Many of the local businesses are focused on serving the needs of the visitors who flock to enjoy the great natural beauty of the area or supporting the residents and employees of the agricultural economy. The children attend small country schools or, in some cases, travel “over the hill” into the larger districts. Muir Beach and Stinson Beach are especially popular in the summer. Spectacular hiking trails abound.

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