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Old 04-25-2011, 04:40 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
9,671 posts, read 5,384,022 times
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Hi there,
I am from the UK and my husband has an interview with Genentech in South San Francisco next week. I would really appreciate any advice on recommended areas to live so that if he is offered a job we can make a decision on whether its the place for us.
We are a family with 3 children aged 9, 7 and 5.

This would be my ideal scenario in order of importance:
Good local schools and good local community
4 bed single family home with garden
Safe area
Period property if possible (Victorian / or Cape style)
Reasonable commute

We don't know yet what salary he will be offered but during his visit my husband will be getting a tour of various areas and has been told he will be shown properties between 1 and 1.5 million! ??

I've had a good look on the various real estate websites and found that even at within this price bracket you don't get a huge amount for your money.

I have found a couple of properties I like but I don't know anything about the areas.
I found one on Ingelside - Excelsior and one in Twin Peaks / Glen Park both which seem a reasonable commute?

I was going to look in the East bay as you seem to get a lot more space for your money but seems a long commute and not very safe in some areas? Also I prefer a 'community feel'. I like to get to know my neighbors and don't want to be out in the middle of nowhere.

Sorry I know this is all a big ask but I would appreciate any advice as we don't have long to make a decision.

My husband is also considering jobs in other US states so we really need as much info as we can.

Thank you in advance.
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Old 04-25-2011, 04:58 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
9,671 posts, read 5,384,022 times
Reputation: 6026
I have just noticed a very similar thread to mine. I'll look into the comments on that.
Nevertheless, any advice still appreciated!
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Old 04-25-2011, 05:04 PM
 
Location: South Korea
5,242 posts, read 12,553,953 times
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Well then you are looking for places in the suburbs of San Francisco, not in San Francisco. People here make a distinction between what is SF and what is not SF. Just so you know.

Yes prices here are high and it will really depend on your budget, and a 4br house is pretty big. I would look into Alameda to start with. Lots of Victorian houses (it's up to you if you can afford one though) and it has an older community sort of feel, it's really safe except for a few blocks here and there. Schools aren't the best but they're definitely a lot better than Oakland or SF. You will want to avoid the public schools in SF, some kids do ok in them but they have a lot of rough city kids and there is a lottery system which means they get assigned to random schools. Most public schools in SF are bad so you have a high chance they'll end up in a bad school.

Ingleside/Excelsior and Twin Peaks/Glen Park are in San Francisco. Ingleside/Excelsior can be a bit rough in terms of crime though it's a big area and it depends on where. I really doubt you'd easily find a 4br house with a yard in San Francisco, most housing in SF is apartments. A few parts have houses but they are not detached and can easily go for $900,000 or more.

SSF is a lousy place to commute to if you don't have a big budget. SF and Marin are expensive, San Mateo County is really expensive, and it's just far enough from the affordable parts of the East Bay to be a pain to commute from them. Alameda is really all I can think of. Walnut Creek has better schools but is an hour away on BART from SSF and probably even longer than that if you drive because of the Caldecott Tunnel.

Also you might find that you can rent on a lower budget compared with buying, you could probably rent for a lot less per month in Alameda. Somewhere cheaper like Hercules (which would be the commute from hell to get to SSF) would probably be cheaper to buy in. In any case I'd recommend renting for a year to get used to the region and figure out where you can afford to live, but that might not be very doable with a big family with a lot of stuff to move.
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Old 04-25-2011, 07:31 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
9,671 posts, read 5,384,022 times
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Thanks for the advice.
Alameda looks lovely and right up my street.

One question - what's wrong with it? The prices seem significantly lower than SF. Why aren't the prices driven higher given its proximity to SF? Can you tell me anything about its climate?

Also, if I am going to have to pay for private schooling, would you happen to know roughly how much that is going to cost per child?
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Old 04-25-2011, 08:04 PM
 
Location: South Korea
5,242 posts, read 12,553,953 times
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I don't know what it is, Alameda really seems to fly under peoples' radar maybe. It has a few shopping areas on the island, it has a good spread of housing stock from cheap and grungy apartments to really well maintained Victorian mansions, and it's right next to downtown Oakland and is near downtown SF. It's warmer and sunnier than SF in summer and it has a little beach though I don't think you'd want to go swimming in bay water, but it's nice to walk along the beach in any case, though the time I went there, there was a stiff breeze coming off the bay.

I have no idea about the price of private school, I know some schools can be $20,000 a year. I would imagine parochial schools are quite a bit cheaper but still would hit your wallet. If you were thinking of doing private schools you could look at Oakland, it has some really nice areas but you would want to avoid the public schools. I live in Rockridge in Oakland which is really nice and kid-friendly, lots of young families here. Houses can be kind of expensive though, around $550,000 to $700,000.
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:10 PM
 
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The non-religious private school tuitions are very expensive. Kindergarten starts around $20-25K, and middle school and high school is more expensive. High school private tuition is routinely higher than $30K per year per child and that does not include fees for sports, trips, extracurriculars, etc.

However, it is worth mentioning that tuition assistance is available at most schools.
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Old 04-26-2011, 01:19 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
28,234 posts, read 34,721,008 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kentmum View Post
Thanks for the advice.
Alameda looks lovely and right up my street.

One question - what's wrong with it? The prices seem significantly lower than SF. Why aren't the prices driven higher given its proximity to SF?
Hehe. Alameda is one of the secret bargains in the Bay Area. The only problem is you need to take a bridge or tunnel to get off the island. Some people do not like that. The bridges were also highly trafficked a few years ago while the tube was closed, so it was annoying to get off the island. Not a problem now. There are 2 bridges and the tube to downtown Oakland, so it isn't bad.

The grocery store and restaurant options used to be pretty crappy, but the food scene has improved over the past 7 or so years, (I lived there in 2001, and all of the restaurants sucked. We always went to Oakland or Berkeley) now there are lots of good options. There is also a Trader Joes and the Alameda Natural Market that has nice ingredients. There are 3 other mainstream groceries and a couple of farmers markets.
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Old 04-26-2011, 09:13 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
9,671 posts, read 5,384,022 times
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Thanks everyone. I've been reading lots of other threads and I think I've checked out every house on the internet in the whole of San Francisco and the Bay area! However, I'm still left with a lot of questions, most of which are probably unanswerable.
I visited San Francisco as a tourist years ago on honeymoon and loved it. I always thought it would be a nice place to live. But here's what I've concluded:
* Rule out living on the peninsula. Its cold, unsafe, not family friendly, too expensive and the schools are rubbish.
* Avoid Oakland like the plague.
* Anywhere else will be at least an hour commute.
* Any nice areas are going to cost upwards of a million dollars for a house.
* Wherever you go you run the risk of earthquake and losing everything and if you live in Almeda, tsunami as well!

Really sorry, I know this all sounds negative but my reason behind it is I've rarely found anyone with anything positive to say and its got me very confused. I could really do with some comments on what is great about living around San Francisco.
I always thought it was the climate but I even read a thread saying you cant sit outside to eat except in high summer!

Positive comments please!!

And finally, I've also been looking at Lafayette. Anyone any thoughts?
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Old 04-26-2011, 09:58 PM
 
81 posts, read 162,323 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kentmum View Post
Thanks everyone. I've been reading lots of other threads and I think I've checked out every house on the internet in the whole of San Francisco and the Bay area! However, I'm still left with a lot of questions, most of which are probably unanswerable.
I visited San Francisco as a tourist years ago on honeymoon and loved it. I always thought it would be a nice place to live. But here's what I've concluded:
* Rule out living on the peninsula. Its cold, unsafe, not family friendly, too expensive and the schools are rubbish.
* Avoid Oakland like the plague.
* Anywhere else will be at least an hour commute.
* Any nice areas are going to cost upwards of a million dollars for a house.
* Wherever you go you run the risk of earthquake and losing everything and if you live in Almeda, tsunami as well!

Really sorry, I know this all sounds negative but my reason behind it is I've rarely found anyone with anything positive to say and its got me very confused. I could really do with some comments on what is great about living around San Francisco.
I always thought it was the climate but I even read a thread saying you cant sit outside to eat except in high summer!

Positive comments please!!

And finally, I've also been looking at Lafayette. Anyone any thoughts?
Whoa,whoa, whoa. Slow down James Brown. You just discarded the entire Bay Area Peninsula which includes cities like Atherton, Palo Alto, Hillsborough and Los Altos among other beautiful, affluent cities with great communities and top notch public schools. *The weather in the Peninsula, especially in the more affluent hills is perfect! Sunny and cool for most of the year.

Oakland also has very nice areas, especially the Oakland hills which I necessarily wouldn't avoid like the plague. The city has a vibrant downtown, great restaurants and parks, lots of *culture, *and you are just a short commute *to SF. You should avoid East Oakland like the plague.

Lafayette will be an hour + commute. If your husband is willing to commute that far, you might as well live in Danville, Walnut Creek or Castro Valley. *Very far from SF, but great schools and safe neighborhoods.

If you are ok with the across the bridge commute Alameda is a great option.If you want to live in SF, Noe Valley is a great option for a family with kids. If you go to the Peninsula (really sounds like this is where you should be), try to stay as close as possible to highway 280. San Carlos, Burlingame, Milbrae*and Belmont are great options for someone working at Genentech. San Mateo as well, but the schools may be a 10 or a 1 depending on where you live so check out greatschools.org before you put your signature on a place. Redwood City, like San Mateo,is hit or miss. Also, this is where the Silicon Valley bottleneck starts to get ugly, so I would avoid this area. Genentech to Milbrae, Burlingame or San Mateo I don't even really consider a commute.

I know Genentech has shuttles all over the Bay Area and they are nice, luxurious buses that make for a very relaxing commute. You should look into that. Sitting in one of those busses with a good book while someone else drives to work might make for an easy breezy commute for your husband.

Are you able to take some time off to check these places out? It would probably be worth it to get a feel for the 'vibe' of each city.

Good luck!
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Old 04-26-2011, 10:00 PM
 
Location: SF Bay Area
802 posts, read 2,191,959 times
Reputation: 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kentmum View Post
I visited San Francisco as a tourist years ago on honeymoon and loved it. I always thought it would be a nice place to live. But here's what I've concluded:
* Rule out living on the peninsula. Its cold, unsafe, not family friendly, too expensive and the schools are rubbish.
Uh, which peninsula are you referring to?
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