keenan.I think you gotta choose mountains or beach in Cali. Living in the middle between the two seems like it kinda sucks - long drives, traffic, hot, and inability to ride or surf often. If you skate, the middle can work.
I live in Sacramento. I see about as many cars topped with surfboards going west as I see skis/snowboards going east. Same goes for the East Bay Area where I grew up. The further south or west you go the more likely surfing takes precedent, and the further north or east you go the more ski racks (and gun racks) seemingly become the norm - as expected.
IF you're going to live in the valley, there's really only one option, and that's Sac. Any other valley town is like living in the 16th layer of hell. Sacramento actually has shade trees galore to keep the heat from being too unbearable and access to multiple CLEAN rivers to swim in while having a severely underrated arts culture. Fresno, Redding, Stockton, and Bakersfield on the contrary are just horrible, and you only go to Chico if you're going to school or want to be perpetually hungover in 104 degrees, floating on a river drinking stones and natty with everyone else.
Living in the Bay Area or LA = traffic galore on an astronomical level - not to mention it costs 600$ a year just to park your car in front of your house in many places in the Bay Area on top of the already psychotic rental cost.
That said, both the Bay Area, LA, and even San Diego are fantastic places to live. Cultural, diverse, interesting, next-level night life, and growing job markets. I live in Sacramento because it's that much closer to skiing, and it's half the cost with most of the other great stuff, but I'd have no qualms if given the oppurtunity to move back to Oakland, or to downtown San Jose, or fuck, even LA sounds more acceptable by the day, and the more I talk to people about it.
**This post was edited on Jan 16th 2015 at 7:41:43am