Homebuyers who want newer homes at lower prices -- as well as proximity to Sacramento International Airport and downtown -- can find that and more in Natomas.
As in other communities in the Sacramento region, however, not many homes are on the market.
"There are lots of buyers but a definite lack of inventory," said Marsha Bateson of Lyon Real Estate. "There's a very small supply of homes compared to the number of buyers."
With a moratorium on new construction until levee upgrades are complete, no home building can occur in Natomas. That's a plus for the resale market.
Homes prices start at $180,000, Bateson said. In pricier Westlake, prices are $500,000 to $600,000 for the community's larger homes set around a 18.5-acre lake.
"People want to buy newer homes because they don't need the maintenance of older homes," Bateson said.
Newer homes are in Heritage Park, a gated community for adults age 55 and older that has a clubhouse and several amenities and activities.
Heritage Park is smaller than adjacent Natomas Park, which isn't gated but has a private security patrol, a clubhouse and activities geared toward families. The community offers picnics, swimming pools, karate, wine tasting and dancing.
Bateson said many investors from the Bay Area buy homes in the Natomas area because it's close to downtown and within easy reach of other areas. There's also a high rental demand, she said.
"It's a 90-minute city," Bateson said. "It's 90 minutes to skiing and 90 minutes to the beach."
With rising prices, eventually more homeowners will put their homes up for sale, Bateson said. They won't sell at a loss, she said, because the equity in their homes is increasing.
And when the building moratorium is lifted, Natomas will benefit.
"We are the up-and-coming area because we have available land," Bateson said.
Bateson, who has 35 years' experience in the real estate industry, enjoys living in Natomas.
"I love it," she said. "I absolutely love it."
So does Danielle Marshall, president of the Natomas Chamber of Commerce.
"I feel it's big enough for all the amenities and small enough that you know your neighbors," Marshall said. "Natomas has so many different attractions. We are very much a community, very connected and easily accessible."
Marshall is among parents active in Natomas Unified School District, holding fundraisers and helping with school literacy programs.
In addition to public and charter schools, several upper-level schools are in Natomas: University of Phoenix, Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School, Performing and Fine Arts Academy and Universal Technical Institute, which provides automotive training.
Natomas Marketplace and the Promenade at Sacramento Gateway offer shopping opportunities, along with several small retailers.
Restaurants are popular among locals and people attending events at nearby Sleep Train Arena, formerly Power Balance Pavilion, home of the Sacramento Kings basketball team and site of conferences and concerts.
Many Natomas residents also work there. The area is home to several technical companies, medical headquarters, construction firms and state offices. Others residents commute about 12 minutes to downtown Sacramento or to the Bay Area to their jobs, because access to area freeways is easy.
Natomas has a long history, dating back 4,000 years, said Barbara Graichen, author of "Our Native American Heritage" on the Natomas Community Association website. Over the years, native people gathered food and traded pelts. In the early 1800s, approximately 10,000 Maidu-Nisenan people lived in the area.
"Remnants of villages, cemeteries, ceremonial grounds, trading sites, fishing stations, seasonal camps and river crossings still remain in Natomas," Graichen wrote.
The early residents named Natomas, which is a Maidu word meaning north place or upstream people.
The population was almost wiped out in 1832 when a group of Hudson Bay Co. workers brought malaria to the area. Within a few months, 75 percent of the people died.
Gold Rush miners and settlers destroyed villages and killed or forced people into slave labor. Many others died of measles or consumption. Their animal herds also disappeared, Graichen said.
The only reminders of the first settlers are names such as Elkhorn Boulevard and, of course, Natomas.