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Old 08-17-2010, 02:26 PM
 
9 posts, read 29,620 times
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Hello,

We have narrowed down our house search to Orinda and Piedmont based on the public school system.

We have a hard time deciding between the two:

Orinda:

+ Significantly larger, better house in Orinda vs Piedmont for the price
+ Feels much safer
- Commute to SF will be painful (I work in SF and need to drive)
- Country like (feels like everything is slow and remote) / need to drive everywhere

Piedmont:

+ Feels more urban / walkable
+ Commute to SF is much easier
- Significantly smaller, older house in Piedmont vs Orinda for the price
- Been informed that burglary, theft could still be an issue given its location within Oakland

Please kindly share any personal thoughts / experiences. Especially, I would be interested in hearing those who went through the similar decision making process.

Thanks!
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Old 08-17-2010, 07:36 PM
 
14,220 posts, read 26,484,274 times
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Depends... have friends in both and all are happy where they are.

Piedmont has been described as an Eastern city where as Orinda is the quintessential California suburb...

Both have good schools and an excellent police force.

My preference would be Piedmont because I don't like the extreme hot and cold weather once you go through the tunnel and I don't like commuting through the tunnel... although, they are building a 4th bore as I write... so it should get better

East-bay climate is superb based on a study looking at the number of heating and cooling days per year.
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Old 08-17-2010, 11:05 PM
hsw
 
2,067 posts, read 4,402,426 times
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Most who are familiar w/social instability (ala LA riots of early '90s) prefer a mtn btwn them and Oakland/880 corridor....and don't really like risks of daily-driving through a slum, even on an elevated fwy

Those who understand risks of major quakes don't like bridge&tunnel lifestyles like EastBay/Marin, where no economically relevant local employers exist

Would also consider PaloAlto/PortolaVy region for a far faster, more scenic blitz into SF on 280 and with a more educated, more affluent local population (as well as more local high-income jobs for maximal career liquidity)...and suspect such a higher IQ, higher-achieving local economy ultimately influences any local schools or career aspirations of kids
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Old 08-17-2010, 11:28 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
17,336 posts, read 12,350,376 times
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I am not sure I believe that "there are more burglaries because it is contained by Oakland." The neighborhoods on all sides have property values marginally lower than the equivalent Piedmont homes, so their isn't really a difference in terms of crime etc. Piedmont is a bit more urban and east coasty and you are a lot closer to "the city." It really depends on whether or not you want to live in the city or the 'burbs. And that is the main determination (and potentially commute time to SF). Piedmont is a bit further away from BART if you are headed to SF, but it is close to the freeway, and there is a bus that runs during commute hours to SF. It is about a 20 minute ride from Piedmont to Downtown (closer to SOMA) SF. The commercial districts, in Oakland, that are close to Piedmont are cute and charming: Montclair, GrandLake and Piedmont Ave with cafes, wide varieties of restaurants, boutiques and typical amenities: post office, drugstore, groceries.

If I were choosing, Piedmont would win for me, since I prefer things to be a bit denser and more urban. And everything is a really quick drive from Piedmont. (I could be a bit biased since I live about 3 blocks from the city of Piedmont now.)
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Old 08-18-2010, 12:02 AM
 
9 posts, read 29,620 times
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Thanks for wonderful insights.

Living in the east bay is the only option for us right now (i.e. we are not considering other areas such as peninsula, or Marin...), and Piedmont or Orinda fits what we are looking for.

Having hard time figuring out what we value more and how our taste will change over time.
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Old 08-18-2010, 12:20 AM
 
52 posts, read 99,784 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hsw View Post
Most who are familiar w/social instability (ala LA riots of early '90s) prefer a mtn btwn them and Oakland/880 corridor....and don't really like risks of daily-driving through a slum, even on an elevated fwy

Those who understand risks of major quakes don't like bridge&tunnel lifestyles like EastBay/Marin, where no economically relevant local employers exist

Would also consider PaloAlto/PortolaVy region for a far faster, more scenic blitz into SF on 280 and with a more educated, more affluent local population (as well as more local high-income jobs for maximal career liquidity)...and suspect such a higher IQ, higher-achieving local economy ultimately influences any local schools or career aspirations of kids

Just curious - do you have kids? As a parent, this post just doesn't resonate. There are simply many pros and cons to raising children in the many different parts of the Bay Area. Having lived and worked in many different parts of the Bay Area, I don't agree with promoting the "Palo Alto/PortolaVy region" as the only worthy place of living/raising kids. There are definite downsides to living there as well, just like any other Bay Area region (the Palo Alto teen suicides being just one example). As a Harvard graduate, I would have to say there are many paths to a child's success (I am from the Berkeley/Oakland area).
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Old 08-18-2010, 03:34 AM
 
334 posts, read 648,656 times
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If you are choosing between Piedmont and Orinda, both schools are equally good. You need to decide how important amenities are to you, being able to walk places, and getting around. Orinda only has 1 grocery store, a couple of restaurants and a Bevmo. Thats about it. You basically need to take the freeway to get anywhere from Orinda including neighboring towns. It is very difficult to get in/out of Orinda due to the winding roads and hills where most of the housing exists.

My family has been contemplating Orinda vs. Marin and It is soooo tempting to buy a house in Orinda or Lafayette because you do get so much more for your $$$, but for me personally, it is very remote feeling being through the tunnel, and not very exciting or sophisticated even though the housing is pricey. We are leaning toward Marin for being closer to the city, more mild weather, natural beauty, fresh air, and slightly more sophisticated crowd, even though the housing stock leaves little to be desired. We are considering buying a fixer and remodeling to our taste over time vs. trying to buy something new. I think most young families have to do this in order to "get into" Marin and possibly Piedmont neighborhoods..plus not a lot of available homes for sale.

You do have a big selection of homes for sale in all price ranges right now in Lafayette/Orinda making it even more tempting due to being able to get a nice house and strike a good deal.

Its a hard choice to make, but if you are thinking long term, and schools being equal in both places, look at what your lifestyle really is about, and that should help you make your choice.
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:23 AM
 
Location: Piedmont, CA
1 posts, read 7,111 times
Reputation: 10
Default Census-based comparison

Hi: Here's a census-data based summary of Piedmont vs. "Lamorinda" from my files as a Piedmont-based real estate broker with Pacific Union:

[CENTER][CENTER]Comparing Piedmont to Lamorinda[/CENTER][/CENTER]

Many relocating households consider two areas: Piedmont, in Alameda County’s East Bay Hills, and Lafayette, Moraga or Orinda, also called “Lamorinda” through the Caldecott Tunnel in Contra Costa County.

Different households have different preferences—some have no interest in public schools. Some prefer more modern architecture, which Piedmont has significantly less of compared to Lamorinda. But data from the 2000 Census (see links below) show that Piedmont:

--Is the most diverse
--Is the smallest/most compact
--Has more children under 18 (and slightly larger families)
--Has the highest proportion of residents with a college degree or higher
--Has more residents in the labor force
--Has the shortest average commute
--Has the highest household, family and median income (and the highest home prices)

According to the state’s Academic Performance Index, Piedmont schools also rank higher than each Lamorinda public school, at each level (see http://api.cde.ca.gov and search at the county levels for districts and schools).

(Note that US News and World Report just gave Piedmont High School its Gold ranking, while the Lamorinda schools rated a Silver ranking—See http://www.usnews.com/articles/education/high-schools/2007/11/29/americas-best-high-schools.html

In fact, San Francisco magazine ranked Piedmont the number one community for families (and, as we like to say, for everyone else too!) in its October, 2005 issue. See the following articles in that issue, particularly Best Bang for the Buck, which ranks Piedmont above the three other communities--

Just the Facts, Mom:

http://www.sanfran.com/archives/view_story/1097/

Best Towns for Families:

http://www.sanfran.com/archives/view_story/1002/

Best Bang for the Buck:

http://www.sanfran.com/archives/view_story/1001/

Census information:

Orinda: http://www.bayareacensus.ca.gov/cities/Orinda.htm
Lafayette: http://www.bayareacensus.ca.gov/cities/Lafayette.htm
Moraga: http://www.bayareacensus.ca.gov/cities/Moraga.htm

Piedmont: http://www.bayareacensus.ca.gov/cities/Piedmont.htm

In pulling this together I considered the issues my spouse and I (both trained at Harvard) considered when making the choice among Piedmont, Lamorinda, Berkeley and Marin (his home county) for our family of 3 boys.

I'd also note that there's likely a reason that values have dropped and there is so much available in Lamorinda right now, while homes in Piedmont have generally held their value well. While incomes are pretty consistent, Piedmont equity figures tend to be higher--likely because of some passed-down houses, but also because of fewer take-out refis.
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Old 08-18-2010, 11:34 AM
 
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
25,348 posts, read 33,173,101 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hsw View Post
Those who understand risks of major quakes don't like bridge&tunnel lifestyles like EastBay/Marin, where no economically relevant local employers exist
Really?

The most economically relevant employer in the entire State of California, Chevron, has its World Headquarters in the East Bay-MOVING ACROSS THE BRIDGE FROM SF because that's where most its high ranking executives and HQ staff reside. Who knew?

LOL...guess they didnt get your memo.


Quote:
Would also consider PaloAlto/PortolaVy region for a far faster, more scenic blitz into SF on 280
Its also much farther away and a bit less practical than simply catching BART right to underneath Market Street.

Quote:
and with a more educated, more affluent local population
Palo Alto is not more affluent than either Piedmont or Orinda.

Quote:
higher-achieving local economy ultimately influences any local schools or career aspirations of kids
The East Bay has many more schools than the Peninsula that rank at the top when it comes to actual test scores.

And I always found that odd, but its totally true.

San Mateo County for example has zero high schools with an API of 900+, SF only has 1.
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Old 08-18-2010, 11:41 AM
 
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
25,348 posts, read 33,173,101 times
Reputation: 10742
Anyway as far as the OP, I personally would rather raise children in Piedmont. Both Orinda and Piedmont have materialism to a degree, but Piedmonters are less competitive when it comes to cars and clothes and much more competitive when it comes to academics and Piedmont is a bit more East Coast-like in that respect. Piedmont feels like old money, is closer to culture and art, excellent restaurants, great amenities literally at your doorstep.

With respect to crime, Piedmont has a very low crime rate, just like many of the Oakland neighborhoods that surround it, many of which are very wealthy and safe themselves.

Ultimately I think it all depends on your lifestyle and what your values are. If you want a more rural setting and want to feel secluded, then Orinda is definitely the place for you.

If you want to be in a more refined environment in a more traditional suburban setting with sidewalks and tree lined streets then Piedmont is more your cup of tea.

You really can't go wrong in either as far as schools and their cirriculum.
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