Best Places to Live in Calaveras (For You)
When moving to Calaveras County, there are several factors to consider when picking the area within the county that is best for you. Out of the gate, if you will be commuting somewhere for work then we can immediately narrow it down to the western end of the county, so Angels Camp, Copperopolis, San Andreas, Valley Springs, Rancho Calaveras, Burson, Jenny Lind and Wallace areas would be in your best interest to reduce car time. So with taking that out of the equation the rest of this post will assume you won't be commuting out of the county on a daily basis and will give more weight to the 3 other factors to consider, should you have the luxury of being retired, working out of your home or coming here to start a local business. Ps. If you are a commuter and enjoy the road than by golly read on to get a glimpse of other considerations.
The county, approximately 1,000 square miles is laid out in a way that makes for very diverse weather. The western end borders San Joaquin valley and its hot temperatures in the summer and moderate temperatures in the winter while the eastern end borders Alpine county high country serving cold snowy conditions in the winter but comfortable temperate summers. It basically boils down to picking your poison and which season you care about most based on your favorite activities and lifestyle.
If you are a ski bunny, than a chalet or cabin in Arnold or Dorrington might be for you. Remember to consider access when looking at properties as some roads are not maintained by the county or subdivision HOA during the snow season and you will have to hire that out.
Also, consider driveways and stairs and your daily chores in the winter season and whether you see yourself shoveling snow on the regular or not. The smell of fresh pines and a gorgeous white winter can outweigh any of those drawbacks, plus you get a free workout. Summers in these areas are very comfortable allowing you to be outdoors in the height of July and August, typically the warmest months where others in the county would be stuck in front of an A/C with popsicles.
If you want easy access to the slopes without worrying about the issues involved with 4,000+ feet and above than you might want to consider other communities lower on Ebbetts Pass/Highway 4 corridor like Avery and Hathaway Pines which are around the snow line at approximately 3,000+ feet and make daily living easier.
If golfing during the winter is your thing than I'd definitely suggest Saddle Creek in Copperopolis, Green Horn Creek in Angels Camp, Rancho Calaveras near Valley Springs or a little higher up but still below the snow at Forest Meadows which is just up from Murphys. All of these are gated communities and offer something different.
Terrain Plays a Role
The terrain in Calaveras County is just as diverse as the weather with two opposite extremes. As an example, you could choose to live at a higher elevation because you want the temperate summers but you have the blessing (or curse) of very tall pines packed tightly that could block the sunlight into your home. Catch 22. Do you see the balancing act I'm depicting when choosing where to live here? It can be complicated, but It's okay, that's why I'm here.
The terrain categories can essentially be narrowed down to 3 but there is crossover in certain areas so its not perfectly delineated, consider this a general guide.
The Foothills mostly consist of flats and rolling hills, lots of open spaces studded with oak trees and an occasional pine. A lot of the undeveloped land in this section is used for cattle grazing. The hills are warm golden hues in the summer and fall months and a glorious green in the winter and spring. It is more common to find properties here that have a higher percentage of usable land if that's on top of your list.
East of the Foothills and in the sweet spot before you reach Forest is Transition which consists of chaparral (a lot of manzanita) and a blend of various oak and pine species. The terrain is mixed but mostly sloped in varying degrees. Properties available here typically have amazing distant views and often have different levels carved into the land offering a different experience on each pad.
Not a whole lot of explanation required here, as you might guess, lots of tall pines close together. If you are looking for a larger parcel, there are very few available at forest level but they do come up once in a while. The majority of the properties in the forest are on 1/2 to 1 acre lots (less the latter) and are typically within planned communities with public water.
Access to Stores & Services
When moving to a rural area, access to services are a big consideration for some. If you have health challenges, the last thing you want to do is move an hour drive from a hospital. We do have a small hospital in San Andreas and an urgent care clinic in Angels Camp with a larger hospital in the next county over in the town of Sonora. There is an ambulance service based in the Highway 4 corridor so for people with this concern, I recommend living along that or near Highway 49 in or near Angels Camp, Vallecito or San Andreas. Angels Camp also has a selection of pharmacies, CVS and RiteAid, the largest grocery store, SaveMart, a movie theater and familiar fast food chains while Murphys boasts the biggest selection of unique shops and fine dining.