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Old 04-02-2017, 07:42 PM
 
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Hey everyone,

Thanks in advance for your opinions/advice! My boyfriend and I are moving to the Bay Area from Chicago...the dates are still flexible but it will most likely be in June. I'm taking a really exciting job at a company with offices in Downtown Berkeley, and I'm thrilled. I've lived in SF before (on a short-term basis...I stayed there for 3 months for work about two years ago) and I have some very close friends/family members there. They live in the city, but since I'll be working in Berkeley, and it seems slightly cheaper, I'm currently thinking I'd like to live in Berkeley to be close to work.

So here are my questions. I'm not as familiar with Berkeley as I am with SF. What are the best areas to live in, and ones I should avoid in particular? I'd ideally not like to be in an area with lots of undergrads. My boyfriend and I are mid 20s/early 30s, so we want something youngish, but I don't want to be in an area with a ton of 18-year-olds.

Secondly, thoughts on Oakland? It'd be nice to be able to walk/bike to work instead of taking the train, but as I do have so many friends in SF, Oakland could be convenient. What are the nicest areas there, and ones to definitely stay away from?

Things to keep in mind: My boyfriend is working remotely to start, so his income will probably decrease a bit until he finds something more permanent. We want to stay as budget-friendly as possible. We're thinking $2,500 for a 1-bedroom.

And secondly, we'll only have one car between the two of us, so walkability is absolutely crucial. I'd like something relatively safe as well, but I'm not one of those people who thinks that anything that isn't completely yuppie is the ghetto. I lived in Humboldt Park/Logan Square in Chicago for the past few years and love it, if that gives you an idea.

Oh, and one last thing. I'm really dreading apartment hunting in the Bay Area, I know how insane it can be. Do you think working with a leasing agent could help? Or is it not worth it? Any other tips?

Thanks again!
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Old 04-02-2017, 09:49 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
88,128 posts, read 82,085,526 times
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Working with a property management company might not be a bad idea. It would be less stressful.

That's great that you're working in downtown Berkeley! Good neighborhoods served by public transit are: Elmwood (south Berkeley) and Rockridge (north Oakland, bordering Elmwood). Very walkable, lots of shops, restaurants, an movie theater, great non-corporate-chain grocery options. Also: various parts of north Berkeley. There's an area just north of downtown with good restaurants, called "gourmet ghetto" that's almost walkable to downtown (there's a bus, too). There are parks in the residential area east of Shattuck Ave., quiet streets. Virginia St. has some condo rentals, and there are other small apt. buildings in the area. Vine St. has a nice, funky little shopping cluster. Farther north is Solano Avenue--a shopping main drag with locally-owned shops and restaurants as well. That's a nice area, too. There's a BART station in the vicinity that can take you downtown, and bus service as well. Berkeley is known for walkability.

Check Cragislist to get an idea of rents in those neighborhoods.
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Old 04-02-2017, 11:14 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Basically anything north of the lake and east of Shattuck would be fine for you, minus the area from roughly Grand to MacArthur west of Broadway in Oakland. There are some sketchy looking blocks there, serious crime is rare but you wouldn't want to wander around alone at night.

I personally don't like many of the areas west of Telegraph, but they are safe save car break-ins. The lake area is probably a little further than you'd want to bike so I'd stick to Temescal, Rockridge, Piedmont Ave and the areas between. I live on the far side of Piedmont Ave near the Rose Garden. It takes me around 30 minutes to bike to downtown Berkeley. I live a mile from BART so if I have perfect timing it takes about 30-35 minutes to get to downtown SF if I bike to BART.

A quick note about biking in Berkeley - there are bike boulevards on quiet residential streets but Berkeley tends to just drop you off on a really busy street from the bike lane, so you'll want to be comfy on city streets to ride. There aren't many protected lanes around here. On the upside the areas north of the lake in Oakland ans leading up to downtown Berkeley are mostly a grid, so you may find a parallel street you like better.

Also if you BART to Berkeley from Oakland - you are in the off peak direction so it is not too crowded. And the BART ride, from my home station, MacArthur, is about 8 minutes. It is the fastest way to get to downtown Berkeley.

PS Rockridge might be too yuppy for you, but Berkeley/Oakland yuppie is way hippier and more alternative than Chicago-land yuppie.
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Old 04-05-2017, 01:41 PM
 
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Thank you both! This has been really helpful. I initially wouldn't have even looked at those areas because, outsider than I am, I assumed they would be part of the "South Berkeley ghetto" I'd read about. I've looked into it further thanks to you both and they seem like lovely areas. I will definitely be looking into them!
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Old 04-07-2017, 12:27 PM
 
379 posts, read 704,029 times
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I have a lot in common with you guys- early 30s, from Chicago, previously lived in Berkeley (now in SF). I'm familiar with the Logan Square area. If I were moving to the Berkeley / Oakland area to work in DT Berkeley tomorrow, these would be my top choices:

In Berkeley:
1. Elmwood. Cute, slightly upscale area on the Berkeley / Oakland area, access to BART (Rockridge) and an easy bus or bike ride downtown. Some students but not overrun by any means.
2. Gourmet Ghetto. Walking distance to downtown, adorable area with lots of shops and restaurants and a more mature vibe than the immediate downtown. The student presence here is mostly graduate and older students.

In Oakland:
1. Temescal. A little younger, edgier, and more hip than the Berkeley neighborhoods, if that's the vibe you're looking for. Near a BART station and easily bussable to DT Berkeley. Low student preseence.
2. Grand Lake. Lovely, very safe part of Oakland in a lively part of town on Lake Merritt, the Grand Lake Theater, and lots of other activity. About 1.5 miles to BART, and unfortunately your commute would be a bit longer on bus / BART than from Elmwood, the GG, or Temescal.

Other options:
1. Rockridge. Right next to Elmwood and very similar, but a little bit older - 30 and 40-somethings with younger children is the demographic here. I find the rents in this area a little high for what you get and would choose Elmwood as someone without kids.
2. Adams Point. A nice area on Lake Merritt about a 20 minute walk from BART, 20 and 30 somethings and generally safe. Not quite as desirable as these other neighborhoods, but a good choice for something a little lower priced.

Other generally safe areas in Oakland include Piedmont Ave (quite upscale), Trestle Glen (the area around Mills College - less convenient to transit), and the Oakland Hills ( Most of East and West Oakland is not gentrified. There are decent pockets, but it's probably not the best place to start when you're new in town.

Best of luck with your move.
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Old 04-07-2017, 08:53 PM
 
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Just don't forget, all these "safe areas" are the places where the people from the nearby not-safe areas go to get better stuff.
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Old 04-07-2017, 09:09 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorCalLover View Post
I have a lot in common with you guys- early 30s, from Chicago, previously lived in Berkeley (now in SF). I'm familiar with the Logan Square area. If I were moving to the Berkeley / Oakland area to work in DT Berkeley tomorrow, these would be my top choices:

In Berkeley:
1. Elmwood. Cute, slightly upscale area on the Berkeley / Oakland area, access to BART (Rockridge) and an easy bus or bike ride downtown. Some students but not overrun by any means.
2. Gourmet Ghetto. Walking distance to downtown, adorable area with lots of shops and restaurants and a more mature vibe than the immediate downtown. The student presence here is mostly graduate and older students.

In Oakland:
1. Temescal. A little younger, edgier, and more hip than the Berkeley neighborhoods, if that's the vibe you're looking for. Near a BART station and easily bussable to DT Berkeley. Low student preseence.
2. Grand Lake. Lovely, very safe part of Oakland in a lively part of town on Lake Merritt, the Grand Lake Theater, and lots of other activity. About 1.5 miles to BART, and unfortunately your commute would be a bit longer on bus / BART than from Elmwood, the GG, or Temescal.

Other options:
1. Rockridge. Right next to Elmwood and very similar, but a little bit older - 30 and 40-somethings with younger children is the demographic here. I find the rents in this area a little high for what you get and would choose Elmwood as someone without kids.
2. Adams Point. A nice area on Lake Merritt about a 20 minute walk from BART, 20 and 30 somethings and generally safe. Not quite as desirable as these other neighborhoods, but a good choice for something a little lower priced.

Other generally safe areas in Oakland include Piedmont Ave (quite upscale), Trestle Glen (the area around Mills College - less convenient to transit), and the Oakland Hills ( Most of East and West Oakland is not gentrified. There are decent pockets, but it's probably not the best place to start when you're new in town.

Best of luck with your move.
Adams Point is really pricey now. Piedmont Ave area is actually cheaper in almost every case and closer. It skews a bit older but all demographics are represented. It also has access to better transit options. Particularly since the new 33 bus runs later. Since the prices are good for comparable stuff in less safe area it offers a good value. And if you don't like the places on Piedmont Ave you are a mile to Temescal or Grand Lake. East bus ride to grand lake. Temescal is better to bike to.
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Old 04-07-2017, 09:44 PM
 
5,162 posts, read 2,389,463 times
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Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
Adams Point is really pricey now. Piedmont Ave area is actually cheaper in almost every case and closer. It skews a bit older but all demographics are represented. It also has access to better transit options. Particularly since the new 33 bus runs later. Since the prices are good for comparable stuff in less safe area it offers a good value. And if you don't like the places on Piedmont Ave you are a mile to Temescal or Grand Lake. East bus ride to grand lake. Temescal is better to bike to.
I live in Adams Point but in the upper section near Oakland Ave and 580. Is AP really more expensive than Piedmont Ave now? I looked at places to buy right off Piedmont Ave but didn't like the apartment building (even though I knew it was a more desirable location -but, that was almost 10 years ago!!!) I do know that it is hard to get an apt in AP now. Lots of competition and little availability. The 1,000+ new units being built nearby may ease that competition. Don't know... Glad the new bus line is going to run later (I assume you mean the 11 replacement). Cheers neighbor...
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Old 04-07-2017, 11:24 PM
 
655 posts, read 1,821,305 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oakformonday View Post
I live in Adams Point but in the upper section near Oakland Ave and 580. Is AP really more expensive than Piedmont Ave now? I looked at places to buy right off Piedmont Ave but didn't like the apartment building (even though I knew it was a more desirable location -but, that was almost 10 years ago!!!) I do know that it is hard to get an apt in AP now. Lots of competition and little availability. The 1,000+ new units being built nearby may ease that competition. Don't know... Glad the new bus line is going to run later (I assume you mean the 11 replacement). Cheers neighbor...
Piedmont Ave is still more expensive than Adams Point for comparable apartments; I think jade may just mean that the average apartment might go for more in AP because many have gone condo and been significantly renovated over the last 10 years or so. But I'm not sure that's true, either--there are a lot of older units in less desirable buildings that still haven't been updated, and I know there are several 2BRs near us that are listed below $2K right now, which I don't think you can find near Piedmont Ave anymore. You still pay a premium to be walking distance to Piedmont shops, even though the walk to BART is longer. Also, the 33 goes through Adams Point too.

For the OP, though, I'd look in Elmwood with your budget. Rockridge would fit too but be mindful of the fact that the BART line there doesn't go to Berkeley; you'd be looking at a bus commute (although the bus lines to downtown Berkeley on both Telegraph and College run frequently). Also remember that South Berkeley is huge, and can't be lumped into one bucket. People who talk about South Berkeley being rough probably mean Southwest Berkeley, which has historically been lower income and is rough around the edges in areas (but also has plenty of areas that are great places to live). Most of SW Berkeley doesn't have great transit access except for a few pockets close to Ashby BART, though, and it's consequently less expensive than Elmwood ($1-2+MM homes, bounded roughly by Telegraph, College, Dwight, and the Oakland border) and Southside (north of Dwight in the same area--lots of undergrads here). If you can swing $2500 for a 1BR, you should have options in the more walkable/transit-accessible areas.
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Old 04-08-2017, 09:55 AM
 
Location: East Bay
701 posts, read 1,262,516 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by artemis78 View Post
Rockridge would fit too but be mindful of the fact that the BART line there doesn't go to Berkeley; you'd be looking at a bus commute (although the bus lines to downtown Berkeley on both Telegraph and College run frequently).
That is incorrect. You can absolutely take BART from Rockridge to Berkeley. You ride the BART one stop to MacArthur and switch there to the Richmond line. Rockridge to Berkeley should take only about 20 minutes. Easy peasy.
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