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Antioch, CA is located along the bank of the San Joaquin River in the Bay Area and it is a diverse and buzzing city. It is also one of the oldest in the state, named after the city in Syria. It boasts a population of just over 100,000 people and its origins can be traced back to 1848 when a man named John Marsh who owned the Rancho Los Meganos, constructed a landing there that was named after him. It was meant to serve as a shipping point for the ranch all year round. It included a slaughterhouse, smokehouse for curing hams, rodeo grounds, and even a 1½-story dwelling which served as home to the manager of the landing and his wife.
2 years later, 2 brothers, William and Joseph Smith started a town not far from the landing and the following year the name of the town was changed to Antioch. About 10 years later it was discovered that there were generous deposits of coal just south of the town and the community, in addition to agriculture and dairy, was able to add coal mining to their economic activities. The discovery allowed the town to grow and soon there were additions such as Nortonville, Somersville, Stewartsville, and Black Diamond (now Pittsburg, California). The cities fortunes continued to unfold when in 1863 copper was discovered nearby. You will be happy to know that Antioch is the home of the milk carton as we know it today – Fibreboard Research, a local company, patented it.
Today, Antioch is what is described as a bedroom community – most people who live here work in surrounding larger cities, mainly San Francisco and Oakland. As the population has continued to grow in the Bay area and in the city in particular real estate costs have forced many families to look for homes outside the Bay Area, leaving mostly a population of young single people. That is not to say that it is impossible to leave there as a family. In fact, families make up 46% of the population. If you work with the right real estate agent you will definitely find something in your price range.
Antioch was the recipient of some negative media coverage in 2009. According to Wikipedia, “In late 2009, Antioch received worldwide media attention following the news of kidnap victim Jaycee Lee Dugard being discovered alive there, and became the focus of several news stories regarding its 1000 registered sex offenders. The Los Angeles Times ran a story titled “Sex offenders move to Antioch area ‘because they can'”. The Independent ran a story titled “How Jessica’s Law turned Antioch into a pedophile ghetto”, and CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Larry King both did similar stories for television; the latter with commentary by TV judge Judy Sheindlin. However, the Contra Costa Times and affiliated newspapers contradicted their claim: “Disturbing, if true. Only it’s not, according to a Bay Area News Group analysis of sex offender addresses and census data.” The report concluded that the 94509 zip code ranked only 39th in the state with 1.5 sex offenders per 1000 (k), with Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Bethel Isla
nd and Vallejo ZIP codes ranked in the top ten. Monte Rio ranked first with 4.5 per 1000”.
Living in Antioch
Like every other city in California, living in Antioch is great although it can have some down sides. There is a higher crime rate than there is in California but people generally enjoy their lives there. To start with, the cost of living is reasonable – 13% below the California average. The median household income is 7% higher than the average statewide, and median home value is 35% lower than in California. This makes it ideal for people who are looking to reduce their cost of living. The population is diverse, consisting of people of different ethnicities.
Like in the rest of the state, the weather is generally hot and dry with an average of 13 inches of rain. The winters are mild and wet. As for neighborhood, since it became a bedroom city the crime rate has increased which means that you have to look for an area where it isn’t so high. There are some safe neighborhoods with affordable homes. A good example, according to http://www.movers.com/moving-guides/moving-to-antioch-ca.html, is “…Nortonville/Stewartville area is made up of medium to large sized single-family homes. Single-family homes located in West Hartley are of similar size and price range (around $350,000 to $400,000), but many tend to be newer.”
There are 4 high schools, 4 middle schools and a number of elementary school, but if you want a private school you have a wide selection to choose from. For College you can choose between Western Career College, CPR and First Aid Training School, Contra Costra Medical Career College and Carrington College Antioch Campus.
Employment is not bad. The economic crisis increased unemployment levels which subsequently fell to 9% higher than the national average. The main employers include Kaiser Permanente, Antioch Unified School District, Sutter Delta Medical Center, Contra Costa County Social Services, Wal-Mart, City of Antioch and Target and you can expect to earn about $65,000 if you get a good position.
What to do in Antioch
Like in most places in California there is plenty to do outdoors. The city has 4 locations that are listed in the National register for Historic Places: Black Diamond mines, Roswell Butler Hard House, Riverview Union High School Building and the Shannon-Williamson Ranch. You can start by visiting these as they are some of the defining monuments of the city.
You should also make a point to visit the El Campanil Theater, which was founded downtown in 1928 and is home to all kinds of entertainment – comedy, ballet, symphony, film and live theater to name but a few. If you are a fan of the arts make sure to stop by the Lynn House Gallery which promotes local artists. You can also have a taste of the universe by going to the ESPACE Academy for their planetarium.
Where to eat in Antioch, how about you go to Cocina Medina? They have an excellent menu and there is family and patio dining. According to one very pleased patron, “the BEST chile relleno dish and fajitas in our area. Great family owned restaurant, superb atmosphere and fantastic wait staff. Friendly, great dish recommendations and I absolutely LOVE their chips and salsa! It’s a great place to take friends and family and even a business mtg. I can’t recommend this enough, great food.” Others to try include Celia’s Mexican Restaurant, Sylvia’s Country Kitchen and Mac’s Old House.
There is a municipal marina as well as a number of private ones as well as boatyards and yatch clubs and even a fishing pier. If you want to fish out of town you can head to the San Joaquin River.
There are more than 30 parks where you can enjoy the outdoors as well as many walkways where you can take long strolls.
As you can see, you should not be discouraged by any negative press you read about Antioch – it has a lot going on and you can easily become a part of it.