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Old 04-11-2011, 10:39 PM
 
14 posts, read 25,920 times
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Would love to hear some info from locals about the reputations of all the different areas to live in the Bay Area. My husband and I are trying to gather info as we are considering a move. We are overwhelmed with all the different options. We currently live in a suburb of Dallas.

A little about us: We are early 30's with a 1 year old boy and a small dog. Our son will go to a non-parochial private school. Politically we are libertarian. I am a SAHM. Husband will work in SF financial district and doesn't want a horrific commute but is willing to drive a little more for the perfect situation. Looking to spend 550 - 750k. Willing to rent or buy.

Our ideal would be a city that is family friendly with excellent non-parochial private schools near by. Weather would be sunnier and warmer than SF proper.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 04-11-2011, 11:16 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
2,589 posts, read 3,518,623 times
Reputation: 1955
Your budget and requirements works well for a lot of different places in the Bay. Your husband will also have the option of taking our transit system, BART, to and from work (cheaper than commuting and possibly paying for parking in SF).

I'm an East Bay kind of guy, because you can get more for your money in the East Bay, or you can certainly choose to simply save.

Pinole and Hercules are both good, safe (albeit boring) communities with drive times into SF at roughly 25-40 minutes dependent on the time of day. It's about a 10-minute drive to the El Cerrito del Norte BART station ($1 to park). Single Family Homes will start in the mid 2's but you'll expect to pay mid-3's for something 'nice.'

Homes in the hills with a view and near BART can be had in El Cerrito beginning in the mid-4's. My newest listing is a 2,600 square foot, 4-bedroom home with a 180 degree view of the Bay in the mid-6's. That's an example of what you'll find in the hills, though there are also a few million dollar + properties.

Alameda is a terrific place to live, albeit pricier than the aforementioned. Husband could take the Ferry, or drive into Oakland and take BART, though the commute from Alameda to SF isn't nearly as short as you'd think considering it's practically right next to SF. =)

Speaking of Oakland, since you're sending your children to private school anyway, I would most certainly take a look at some of Oakland's neighborhoods in the lower Oakland hills - Montclair, Redwood Heights, Trestle Glen, etc. You can start seeing Single Family Homes in nice neighborhoods in the mid-4's, to be sure.

Fremont, considerably to the south, is a good community where you can get more for your money and also have the option of taking BART.

Going past the Caldecott, you'll enter the more distant East Bay communities. Lafayette, Orinda, and Moraga have some of the best schools in the country, but 550-750k won't be enough despite the market's downfall.

Walnut Creek, on the other hand, is a terrific place to be and certainly more affordable than Lamorinda. Nice SFHs with pretty good schools and quiet, family-oriented neighborhoods can be had between $450-$650.

Concord, Pleasant Hill, etc are bargains, but drive times increase. BART access as well. You'll really want someone to point out neighborhoods in Concord - some are labeled hit or miss. I like the city (big time bargain), but I know plenty of people that can't stand it. You can stay close to Walnut Creek, though, and enjoy nice SFHs in quiet areas for a fraction of the cost. Again, though, drive time to SF is 45 minutes to an hour. From BART, it's a $7 dollar round trip ride to and from SF per day (free parking).

My recommendation would be to pull out a map and jot down little notes. Start researching the communities people bring up in response and when you visit, it'll be easy to decide what you're comfortable with and what you're not. There's much more I'd like to say about all the areas I mentioned but I just meant for this to be a very basic, starter sort of thing.

Another thing: when searching for homes, you'll find cheap areas plentiful in Antioch, Pittsburg, Richmond, Vallejo, parts of Hayward, etc, but these are some of our more notorious areas. I never like to write off whole areas, but I'd see little reason to move there when so much more has been opened up with the fall of the market.

Kudos to you for researching early. Good luck.

Last edited by llowllevellowll; 04-11-2011 at 11:25 PM..
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Old 04-12-2011, 12:53 AM
 
941 posts, read 1,271,861 times
Reputation: 654
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imperfectmom View Post
Would love to hear some info from locals about the reputations of all the different areas to live in the Bay Area. My husband and I are trying to gather info as we are considering a move. We are overwhelmed with all the different options. We currently live in a suburb of Dallas.

A little about us: We are early 30's with a 1 year old boy and a small dog. Our son will go to a non-parochial private school. Politically we are libertarian. I am a SAHM. Husband will work in SF financial district and doesn't want a horrific commute but is willing to drive a little more for the perfect situation. Looking to spend 550 - 750k. Willing to rent or buy.

Our ideal would be a city that is family friendly with excellent non-parochial private schools near by. Weather would be sunnier and warmer than SF proper.

Thanks in advance!
What is your income level?
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Old 04-12-2011, 12:23 PM
 
Location: South Korea
5,245 posts, read 6,881,040 times
Reputation: 2839
Great list by Parti R. We should link to it when people ask general questions about the East Bay.
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Old 04-12-2011, 01:26 PM
 
1,791 posts, read 1,263,834 times
Reputation: 1392
Since you're sending your kids to private school, I'd bypass Walnut Creek and its surrounding areas because you'll be paying a premium for a good public school system that you won't use.

I don't know what kind of house and/or condos you're looking for and I don't know how far is a "horrific" commute for you, but Parti Rhinocéros made a good list. I'd also throw in the following neighborhood because while they are safe, nice and family oriented, they have average to poor schools and tend to be cheaper:

Concord (southern part next to Walnut Creek)
Lafayette (north of 24 and east of Pleasant Hill Rd)
South San Francisco (note that South SF is NOT part of SF)
Brisbane


In addition, parts of SF is very sunny and warm. SF is a strange place where the weather is different in different parts of the city. Usually the eastern part is much warmer than the western. Good, warm SF nabe that I recommends for family:

Noe Valley
Mission Dolores
Castros (aka Eureka Valley)
Potrero Hill
Bernal Heights
South Beach / Mission Bay (condos only, no houses)
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Old 04-12-2011, 01:27 PM
 
116 posts, read 216,530 times
Reputation: 74
Stay out of these crime-ridden areas:

Contra Costa County:

Antioch
Richmond/El Sobrante/San Pablo/El Cerrito
Pittsburg
Bay Point
Oakley
Concord

San Francisco County:

most of San Francisco (smells like urine and feces and homeless everywhere)

Santa Clara County:

East Palo Alto
San Jose

Alameda County:

Hayward
Oakland
San Leandro

Solano County:

Vallejo (bankrupt)

Also, you didn't mention your desired racial mix for your neighborhood.
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Old 04-12-2011, 01:29 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
527 posts, read 887,431 times
Reputation: 313
Quote:
Originally Posted by beb0p View Post
they have average to poor schools and tend to be cheaper:
Concord (southern part next to Walnut Creek)
Lafayette (north of 24 and east of Pleasant Hill Rd)
South San Francisco (note that South SF is NOT part of SF)
Brisbane
Lafayette is neither cheaper nor does it have poor schools.

Lafayette Schools - Lafayette California School Ratings - Public and Private
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Old 04-12-2011, 01:39 PM
 
Location: Bay Area
3,159 posts, read 4,627,703 times
Reputation: 2929
Quote:
Originally Posted by mileena View Post
Stay out of these crime-ridden areas:

Contra Costa County:

Antioch
Richmond/El Sobrante/San Pablo/El Cerrito
Pittsburg
Bay Point
Oakley
Concord

San Francisco County:

most of San Francisco (smells like urine and feces and homeless everywhere)

Santa Clara County:

East Palo Alto
San Jose

Alameda County:

Hayward
Oakland
San Leandro

Solano County:

Vallejo (bankrupt)

Also, you didn't mention your desired racial mix for your neighborhood.
Oh goody. Another lame new poster with nothing of value to add.
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Old 04-12-2011, 01:39 PM
 
116 posts, read 216,530 times
Reputation: 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parti Rhinocéros View Post

Concord, Pleasant Hill, etc are bargains, but drive times increase. BART access as well. You'll really want someone to point out neighborhoods in Concord - some are labeled hit or miss. I like the city (big time bargain), but I know plenty of people that can't stand it. You can stay close to Walnut Creek, though, and enjoy nice SFHs in quiet areas for a fraction of the cost. Again, though, drive time to SF is 45 minutes to an hour. From BART, it's a $7 dollar round trip ride to and from SF per day (free parking).

I would never group Concord and Pleasant Hill together. Pleasant Hill is a beautiful suburban community, free of all the traffic and lack of parking of Walnut Creek. Whereas Concord is the new Antioch. So many Mexicans and homeless there driving you are bound to be in an accident sooner or later. (In California, they have a saying for bad drivers: "You drive like a Mexican".) Many houses have 10 cars in the driveway and front lawn. Day laborers hang out everywhere. And Concord just had two murders in two days!
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Old 04-12-2011, 01:43 PM
 
116 posts, read 216,530 times
Reputation: 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by clongirl View Post
Oh goody. Another lame new poster with nothing of value to add.
Post reported.
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