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Old 01-05-2013, 11:45 PM
 
1 posts, read 542 times
Reputation: 10

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Hey Guys,

First time poster-- long time lurker. Appreciate any insight you guys can give into the East Bay real estate market and the cities/ neighborhoods below.

My SO and I are in our early 30s with 1 kid (elementary school age) renting a small house in North Berkeley area. We have more or less outgrown our place, looking to grow our family and settle down somewhere for a longer term. I also got a new job in San Mateo, so overnight my commute has turned to crap. MY SO, works in Walnut Creek so we are really looking at places where both us have ~45 minute drive or less during peak hours.

We are brainstorming the idea of buying a house. Our budget is 600K and currently do not have more than a 10% down payment. However, I am eligible for a VA loan.

Our "must have's" are as follows:

- Safe
- Excellent public schools
- At least 3 bedroom + 1.5 Baths
- 1500+ Square Feet

Two areas that are popping at the top of our list are Alameda and Castro Valley. I wanted to know your guys' opinions of this area and the pro cons of each if anyone has lived in both!

Thanks in advance.
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:27 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle, originally from SF Bay Area
14,812 posts, read 18,138,230 times
Reputation: 10357
We lived in Castro Valley for 16 years, and had a relative in Alameda. The Castro Valley School District is great, and home prices reasonable for the bay area, but watch out. If you buy below 580/Norbridge the home may be in the Hayward District and it is not good. The school district has a huge impact on the property values even if you didn't have kids. Look off of Center Street above Heyer, near Vannoy School, and pretty close to Canyon Middle School, with reasonably priced older homes.

Your spouse can take Crow Canyon and you can take the San Mateo Bridge. Both nasty commutes but very much in the middle. From Alameda that commute to Walnut Creek would be horrendous.
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Old 01-06-2013, 03:16 PM
 
Location: Newark, Ca
1,401 posts, read 2,156,256 times
Reputation: 1886
I agree with the above post. It's got great information. While reading the OP, the first place that popped in my head was Castro Valley. It may be the best compromise of affordability/commute distance/schools.
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:25 PM
 
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
25,306 posts, read 33,063,874 times
Reputation: 10724
Alameda is an excellent choice and your commutes shouldnt be too bad.
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Old 01-06-2013, 10:15 PM
 
Location: Northern California
159 posts, read 210,984 times
Reputation: 77
I was in Albany the other day and I quite liked it. It is north of Berkeley, and is a very small town of 20,000 people. It has a nice downtown, off Solano Ave. I think it seems perfect to raise a family and felt community oriented, but I'm not too familiar with it, but it definitely felt like a nice, middle-class town where raising a family would be very comfortable doing in. Due to its proximity to SF, Berkeley, and other places, it feels that it could be a place where exciting and educational activities would be in easy access to as well.
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