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Old 11-26-2011, 08:52 PM
 
84 posts, read 135,570 times
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My husband is planning on relocating from Seattle to the Bay Area for work. After talking to friends and researching online, we have decided that Berkeley and Oakland are the best places for us to consider settling down in.

But of course, these are large areas with lots of different neighborhoods, and we are feeling completely overwhelmed. We're headed down for a couple of days in early December to check out different areas, housing, etc. With so little time to investigate these cities, what should we be sure to do? We're looking for advice on neighborhoods to hone in on, good public elementary schools, restaurants to check out, and great family-friendly walkable areas with retail and parks.

Our current situation:

We're in our late 30's with two kids, 2 and 7.
We currently live in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle, which is quite walkable and safe.
We want to send our kids to public schools.
We love good food, arts and cultural activities, and being around lots of people.
Being from Washington, we'd like to avoid seriously foggy regions of the Bay Area. If we're going to move, we'd better get more sunshine.

Thanks in advance for your feedback!
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Old 11-26-2011, 09:04 PM
 
Location: The Bay
6,915 posts, read 13,547,285 times
Reputation: 3098
Quote:
Originally Posted by snarkadoodle View Post
My husband is planning on relocating from Seattle to the Bay Area for work. After talking to friends and researching online, we have decided that Berkeley and Oakland are the best places for us to consider settling down in.

But of course, these are large areas with lots of different neighborhoods, and we are feeling completely overwhelmed. We're headed down for a couple of days in early December to check out different areas, housing, etc. With so little time to investigate these cities, what should we be sure to do? We're looking for advice on neighborhoods to hone in on, good public elementary schools, restaurants to check out, and great family-friendly walkable areas with retail and parks.

Our current situation:

We're in our late 30's with two kids, 2 and 7.
We currently live in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle, which is quite walkable and safe.
We want to send our kids to public schools.
We love good food, arts and cultural activities, and being around lots of people.
Being from Washington, we'd like to avoid seriously foggy regions of the Bay Area. If we're going to move, we'd better get more sunshine.

Thanks in advance for your feedback!


What's your budget?
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Old 11-26-2011, 09:22 PM
 
84 posts, read 135,570 times
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We are planning on renting for a while, just to be sure, but when we buy we'd like to aim for $750,000 - $950,000. 3 br, 2 bath is great. A little yard would be the cherry on the cake for sure.
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Old 11-27-2011, 12:33 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
5,968 posts, read 7,339,430 times
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Rockridge/Elmwood is where I'd start looking
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Old 11-27-2011, 04:56 AM
 
Location: South Korea
5,242 posts, read 12,299,184 times
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Yep, Rockridge sounds perfect for you. It's a nice area, lots of families with young kids. Houses are around $600,000 and up.

Oakland elementary schools are supposed to be decent but the student body gets scary once you get into middle school and high school, Berkeley is probably similar. If you want better schools from elementary through high school but still want to avoid the cookie-cutter suburbs, I'd check out Albany and Alameda.

There's not really any good big parks in North Oakland. Lake Merritt is really nice but is way down by downtown. If you can drive, then Lake Temescal, Tilden Park, and Redwood Regional Park are nearby. Otherwise there are small parks with playgrounds here and there in North Oakland and Berkeley.
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Old 11-27-2011, 08:08 AM
 
84 posts, read 135,570 times
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Rockridge is definitely at the top of our list (from what we have heard/read online).

We're also considering Piedmont, Elmwood, and Claremont, Montclair, Oakmore and Glenview. Any thoughts?

Also, FWIW, I am a high school English teacher who has taught in both public and private schools - and I really, REALLY would prefer to avoid the whole private thing. Am I crazy for thinking I could send my kids to middle and high school in Oakland or Berkeley? I know some people think I am crazy for sending my 2nd grader to public school here in Seattle (which is ridiculous in my opinion).

Thanks for the feedback!
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Old 11-27-2011, 10:34 AM
 
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All of the areas you're considering are great neighborhoods that are similar in vibe, demographic, housing, and culture to what you're used to. The farther south you go in Oakland (Oakmore and Glenview), it becomes somewhat less urban, with fewer or smaller neighborhood districts, but housing tends to be less expensive for the same quality, and it is noticeably warmer and sunnier. Just a touch more suburban, but far from tract home suburban. Nice, older neighborhoods with character. Elmwood would be your coolest, foggiest of the locations, as it's the closest to Berkeley. And by "foggy," that means morning marine layer, not visibility-obscuring ground fog, which is very rare in the area. Not sure what you get up in Seattle in that regards.
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Old 11-27-2011, 01:20 PM
 
Location: The Bay
6,915 posts, read 13,547,285 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snarkadoodle View Post
Rockridge is definitely at the top of our list (from what we have heard/read online).

We're also considering Piedmont, Elmwood, and Claremont, Montclair, Oakmore and Glenview. Any thoughts?

Also, FWIW, I am a high school English teacher who has taught in both public and private schools - and I really, REALLY would prefer to avoid the whole private thing. Am I crazy for thinking I could send my kids to middle and high school in Oakland or Berkeley? I know some people think I am crazy for sending my 2nd grader to public school here in Seattle (which is ridiculous in my opinion).

Thanks for the feedback!

You wouldn't be crazy at all if you lived in Oakmore or Glenview and sent your kids to Sequoia Elementary or Glenview Elementary, two of the best and most diverse public elementary schools in the East Bay. Edna Brewer (in Glenview) is the best public middle school in Oakland, and Skyline High School (A neighborhood or two above Oakmore) is the best public high school in Oakland. It's also fairly easy to switch districts from Oakland to Berkeley High if you find Berkeley High a better fit. If you do end up deciding to do private though, some of the top-ranked private schools in the country - Head Royce School in the Lincoln Highlands (12 minute walk from Glenview) and College Preparatory School (10 minute drive from Oakmore) - are right in the area.

All of the neighborhoods you're looking at are very nice... be aware though that Piedmont is an entirely separate city from Oakland with its own school district. I would also add Trestle Glen (Oakland) to your list; it's one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the Bay Area and its right by Downtown Oakland.

Going back to your OP, there are a ton of great parks in the Glenview/Montclair/Oakmore area... Dimond Canyon Park, Joaquin Miller Park, W.D. Wood Park, Shepherd Canyon Park and Montclair Playground are all excellent parks.

Oakland is definitely a food city... you can get just about anything here and the vast majority of it is really good. Some restaurants you'd do well to visit include:

- Zachary's Pizza (Rockridge)
- Marzano's (Glenview)
- Soi 4 Bangkok Eatery (Rockridge)
- Fenton's Creamery (Piedmont Avenue)
- Pizzaiolo (Temescal)
- Plum (Uptown)
- Bakesale Betty's (Temescal)

^Those are some of the more upscale places to grab a bite... Oakland is actually more known for the quality of its mid-range and street fare offerings though. You can find everything from Cambodian to Vietnamese to Laotian to Mexican to Salvadorean to Soul Food to Nigerian to Senegalese to Ethiopian and it's all great...

Last edited by Nineties Flava; 11-27-2011 at 01:43 PM..
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Old 11-27-2011, 02:43 PM
 
84 posts, read 135,570 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tstieber View Post
Elmwood would be your coolest, foggiest of the locations, as it's the closest to Berkeley. And by "foggy," that means morning marine layer, not visibility-obscuring ground fog, which is very rare in the area. Not sure what you get up in Seattle in that regards.
Interesting. A morning marine layer is not a problem - it's the soul-crushing, nearly-constant dark, gray drizzle that is sucking the life force out of me and my family up here in the Emerald City. THIS we'd like to avoid.
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Old 11-27-2011, 02:47 PM
 
84 posts, read 135,570 times
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Nineties Flava - that makes Oakmore and Glenview much more attractive for sure. What's it like to drive from these areas to places like Rockridge or Temescal for dinner? This sounds like a weird question, but I'm trying to decide how much I am willing to give up as far as walking to shopping and good food is concerned. We have a great situation now in Seattle, but I don't necessarily think we need to replicate it.

And there seems to be a little bit of an edge when East Bay residents mention Piedmont...am I imagining things?
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