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Old 10-15-2008, 02:49 PM
Location: Alamo, CA
6 posts, read 29,056 times
Reputation: 18


All towns are very nice places to live.

Walnut Creek: I have lived here (well, in Alamo, but RIGHT on the border) since I was born. I have seen this town's ten-year transition from a mostly middle-class bedroom community to a rather exciting mini-city with an upscale downtown featuring endless fine dining options and big-name stores like Nordstrom, Juicy Couture, Tiffany & Co., Tommy Bahama, and the soon-to-arrive Kate Spade and Neiman Marcus. If you like shopping, going out to eat, etc. on a regular basis, WC is the best option of the 4 towns you're interested in.
Homes in WC are less expensive and less upscale (generally) than those in Lamorinda. Some charming neighborhoods are Lakewood (situated off Homestead Ave, off of Ygnacio Valley Rd.), Tice Valley (has a semi-rural feel and is close to downtown), and parts of the Rudgear area (not the ugly '80s subdivision, though).
It gets HOT in WC between May and October - we're talking temps that are often 30 degrees higher than what it may be in SF. Think Palm Springs. In the winter, most days will be in the 50s.

Lafayette: Has a small but very nice downtown area with some great restaurants and boutique-y stores. Diablo Foods is a great grocery store. Most of Lafayette's housing is in the $750k to $2.5 million range, but Happy Valley is an exclusive and beautiful canyon with a top-notch elementary school (Happy Valley Elementary) where many homes exceed $4 million. It is considered the most desirable neighborhood of Lafayette.

Moraga: my least favorite of these four towns. True, the schools are EXCELLENT (Campolindo is rated the best high school in the Acalanes District, which ranks #2(?) in the state), but the town is just too inconveniently-situated for me - the freeway is too far away! I do prefer the weather here, though; it doesn't get AS hot in the summer as Walnut Creek, Alamo, etc. In terms of average home price, Moraga ranks above WC and after Orinda and Lafayette. Your kids will be bored here in high school - many get in to drugs, and prefer to call the town "Boraga". WC will keep them a little more entertained.

Orinda: has the oldest, most charming homes of the four towns, and is the closest to Oakland/Berkeley/SF. The Orinda Country Club neighborhood is classy and scenic - homes have views of the surrounding hills , and you can watch the fog try to come in over the hills to the west (and many times, it does). Downtown Orinda is not as large or interesting as Lafayette or WC. I would say that Orinda caters to a slightly older crowd than those towns. Once again, the schools are top-notch. Miramonte High has the most spoiled kids of the high schools in Acalanes District, sometimes leading to widespread drug use, but they also get A LOT of parent funding, making the school a wonderful place to attend.

If you care about the address, Lafayette and Orinda are more prestigious.

If you care about restaurants/bars/shopping, go to Walnut Creek.

If you want a more secluded small town, Moraga.

If you don't mind occassional fog, Orinda.

If you want a shorter commute and intend to frequent Berkeley/Marin/SF/anything to the west, Orinda.
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Old 11-19-2008, 08:56 AM
276 posts, read 1,187,325 times
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Anyone care to weigh in on the school systems in Walnut Creek and Pleasanton? Are there some we should stay away from?

It's hard to get this info, as realtors are not allowed to disclose this, but doing a search from the east coast, it's really frustrating to hear "Oh, all the schools are good".
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Old 11-19-2008, 10:09 AM
Location: Bay Area
3,846 posts, read 7,243,188 times
Reputation: 4211
I used to live in Pleasanton and now in Lamorinda. I honestly didn't like living in Pleasanton (it had a far too suburban, stepford wife/keeping up with the Joneses "feel") that I found to be really irritating. But, that's just my own experience and I'm sure others could say it's a wonderful place with equal enthusiasm.

I thought the schools were okay, but both of my children (both elementary and middle school age) complained a lot about the rote memorization and seemed really bored with the work since it was extremely focused on getting the good scores for the state tests and such.

At the middle school level, I was very disappointed with many of the teachers (some were downright mean and yelled a lot at the children). Creativity, (like picking a topic of interest to write about which was of actual interest to the child) was turned down and told to pick something more of the teacher's liking. So creativity/individualism was not encouraged IMO.

I don't have any information on the WC schools though, but the schools that my children are attending here in Lamorinda are just wonderful. I am very pleased with the elementary school in particular and have found the teachers are very communicative , very creative, and less test/rote memorization oriented. I can't comment on the high schools yet, but most in the area are supposed to be excellent. Many Olympians have come from the high schools in the area so the sports programs must be pretty good.
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Old 11-22-2008, 09:43 AM
104 posts, read 658,914 times
Reputation: 36
Alamo attends schools in both San Ramon Valley and Walnut Creek/Acalanes districts. There is an Alamo area near Tice Valley that attends Walnut Creek/Acalanes.

Also, there is an ares of South Walnut Creek that attends Lafayette and Acalanes districts. Look near Juanita and Kinny Drives.
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