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Living in Alameda CA
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Hello, We are moving to the Bay Area this July. My husband is taking a position in Alameda. Thus we are currently researching info to aid us in deciding about where to live. We desire a relatively short commute (30 minutes give or take) and currently have 3 kids in elementary school. Specifically one of the kids and possibly 2 are currently in excellent gifted program (public school) so that will be an important factor. Does anyone have recommendations about specific neighborhoods, schools, rentals, commuting from Alameda, etc? Also I'd love to find a church that is more contemporary or charismatic (Roman Catholic). Feel free to email me any specific info. Thanks!
This makes no sense. You should absolutely live in Alameda! It's a lovely wonderful community and how lucky for you that your husband will work there too! He could ride his bike to work! He could be one of the few people in the bayarea with a less than 2 hour commute, he could easily come to school for meetings and sports, stop by home for lunch sometimes, meet at a nearby cafe for dinner on the way home. Imagine the quality of your life! Think of what he'll save in time, money, stress by living so close in a charming town. This seems really great for your family, how lucky. You'd be crazy to look at any other town. I'll let the experts on Alameda to recommend specific schools and neighborhoods. anon
(My son is too young to attend the public schools yet so I cannot speak to the specific of the programs here). You can have the best of both worlds
Greetings -- long story short, we are looking hard at making the move from Piedmont to Alameda because of an exciting Democratic-based Charter School there called NEA [not to mention the affordability issue]. We love the homes in the Gold Coast neighborhood, but everyone seems to be steering us to the East End/Fernside. Can anyone with experience living there compare and contrast the two areas? Many thanks! Meg
Wondering if anyone can provide some up-to-date advice about living in Alameda? From everything I've read on this forum, it sounds like an ideal place to live. My husband, 1 year old daughter and I will be moving from the East Coast. We will both be working, likely in Berkeley, Oakland, or SF. We are looking for the usual things-walkable downtown, neighborhood with older homes and character, lots of young professional families, cultural and economic diversity, and easy access to the outdoors. Our housing budget is up to one million. Decent schools would be a plus, but we are less concerned with test scores as long as the school is safe. We love living somewhere where we can quickly get to a decent restaurant or cafe, but also go on a nice jog right out our front door. What are the downside to living in Alameda? What is the rush hour commute like to Berkeley? Google maps with traffic prediction doesn't make it look too bad, but not sure how accurate it is for the island. Is commuting by ferry to SF realistic? Coming back to Cali
It is realistic to take the ferry if you work in downtown SF. Transfers from the ferry to other SF locations are not super easy but can be done. There are two ferry terminals in Alameda, so which one you take depends on where you live. Lots of free parking at the ferry terminals if you live too far to walk or bike.
Finally, Alameda has the most sense of community of any city in the East Bay. It is well defined geographically, and this seems to help foster the community spirt. Note that one area of Alameda that might not meet your criteria is Harbor Bay - it is nice, but much more suburban feeling, with fewer stores and restaurants but good nature trails around the lagoons (and potentially walking distance to the ferry). A Happy Alamedan
Upsides: Friendly, safe, walk-able, and bike-friendly (I regularly see kids play outside in the afternoons and people walk their dogs after dusk); lots of character (streets are lined with trees and Victorians, downtown has lots of great restaurants of varying cuisines, and the city sponsors family-friendly events throughout the year); access to suburban comforts (parking and Target); lots of parks and a beach with a great view of SF (I'm sure the beach is man- made, but it's a nice place to jog nonetheless); a decent set of options for commuting (AC Transit, Casual Carpool, ferry -- I know people who have used the ferry, but I always found AC Transit to BART more convenient for going into downtown SF).
Downsides: There's only a few roads that connect Alameda to the outside world (making rush hour not-so-fun -- the commute into Berkeley is probably not so bad, as most people are travelling the opposite direction); the selection of big box stores are not to my liking; it's definitely much easier to get around with a car.
At any rate, good luck! cynthia
I do not live in Alameda, but am a Realtor who has sold property in that fair city and am familiar with the area.
All the plusses that you have identified are for real. Alameda is a low-crime, walkable city with good schools, abundant retail, fine parks, clean air, and much natural beauty.
The downside is that transport by car or bus to Berkeley or Oakland can be a challenge. There are three bridges into Oakland: High Street, Fruitvale, and 23rd Stree; all lead to routes through non-upscale neighborhoods for three miles or so. To get to Berkley, one would take the Webster Street tube from Alameda into Oakland Chinatown, which is a very congested - though charming and vibrant - district. One could take the 880 or 980 freeways to Berkeley, but some locals would avoid this route due to congestion.
It is indeed feasible (and enjoyable) to commute to San Francisco on the Bay ferry from Alameda, but hours of operation are limited. There is no BART station in Alameda. Closest BART stations are Fruitvale and 12th Street downtown. Hope this helps. Amelia the Realtor
Hi - my husband and I (and two small kids) are considering a move to Alameda from the East Coast, as we have heard such great things about it on this and other forums. I will be in town on 12/10 and was wondering if anyone can recommend a real estate agent who wouldn't mind showing me around properties and the area? Also, does anyone have experience with the Bay Language Academy in Alameda and thoughts on it - good or bad? Particularly looking at it for Italian lessons for adults and kids, and any after-school programming. Thanks so much!
For real estate agents, I recommend our friend Anthony Lim (http://lim-realestate.com). I've recommended him on this forum before. He really takes the time to get to know his clients and drives them around to get to know the area. He's a full time agent and is available anytime you are. You can also check out his yelp reviews. I know all agents say they are honest and work for the client, but since we know Anthony, we can vouch for him that what he says is actually true.
I don't know much about the Bay Language Academy, but Alameda has a parents network that you can join and ask questions. It's a yahoo group called 'Alameda Parents Network'. Welcome to Alameda!
We have been considering buying a house in Alameda for some time now, but we still feel pretty ignorant about the different neighborhoods and schools. Fernside is the most consistently 'nice' area we have looked at, but it's at the outer edge of our budget.
We have seen some great houses in the Bronze Coast area, but it's harder for us to get a feel for the neighborhoods and schools there. I'd love to hear from families who live in this area - what do you like about where you live? What would you change? How are the schools (specifically, Lum Elementary and Wood Middle School)?
Also, on a somewhat unrelated topic, how are the charter schools on the island? We have really loved Berkeley Public Schools so far and I am not sure how to compare the two districts, so I am curious about whether the charters offer anything different/better than the 'regular' public schools.
Thank you! Alameda Dreamin'
As for getting to know the island, I would recommend asking a realtor to help you out. We went with our realtor when we were house hunting and she showed us houses in several different districts, and we very quickly discovered what we liked and didn't like about each. Our friend is a realtor and I don't mind doing a shameless plug for him as he's my husband's best friend and a really easy-going, no pressure realtor. He has taken potential clients around the city to get a feel for it and can give you a walking/biking/driving tour. (http://www.lim-realestate.com/)
Alameda has our own yahoo group. (http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/alamedaparentsnetwork/info) You need permission to join. Be aware though if you post to this group everyone of course will say their neighborhood is the best. So it might be a good idea to get that realtor tour, narrow down your choices, and then post to the yahoo group to get feedback on specific schools and neighborhoods.
Last of all, and I don't want to discourage you, but the real estate market in Alameda is overheated right now. So before you get too attached to a neighborhood, check out the prices of the houses to make sure you can afford to put in a competitive offer. It's a GREAT place to live so I hope you can move here, but it is not easy buying a house here right now.
Re: Where in the Bay Area we can afford?
I would recommend Alameda as very family friendly. Craig's List has a few 2- bedroom apts for less than $2000/month, but you should definitely drive through as well to look for vacancy signs. loved it when I was there!
Re: Bay area spot w/ great biking/schools/lots of kids
Read the responses to the above question on Alameda and the BPN archives. Your list of things you want in a community so perfectly describes this town it's almost comical. Our only weak spot on your list is that a large yard may be hard to find -- they're out there, but you might not be able to find one right away. In every other way you're describing Alameda to a T. Schools are solid all the way through, great sense of community, walkable and bikeable, swimming pools at Lincoln and Franklin park (membership costs $380/year), and lots and lots and lots of kids. We even have an annual back yard chicken coop bicycling tour! And we're closer to the Oakland airport than most of Oakland. Depending how much house/yard you want, it should be in your price range. lovin' it
My husband and I are looking for a 3 BR home to raise our young family in (we have a 15 month old daughter, and another on the way). We planned to purchase a home in Berkeley or Albany, but seem to be priced out of the market here. We are now considering moving to Alameda which seems slightly more affordable, but we haven't spent a whole lot of time there. We have read so many rave reviews of Alameda on BPN. So, is Alameda really as fabulous as these reviews claim? Is there anything we're missing? Also, it seems like everyone likes the Gold Coast and East End neighborhoods. Any other neighborhoods to check out and/or avoid? Thanks so much! Alamedan Hopeful
The West End is more easily accessible from the North (avoid the worst of 880) and a quick run to the Bay Bridge. Awesome schools, relatively safe and quiet.
We are renters who literally live on the bay with our own private beaches and a first rate view of SF- right outside our doorstep. There are a series of condos for sale at Ballena Bay Marina. Not sure what you're looking for but cannot beat that location IMHO. The beach is just a few blocks from any of the West End homes.
We love it! A quiet buffer from the city with a proximal view like no other and just 10 -15 minutes to anywhere else. Love the West End
Attitude: Yes, the 'Gold Coast' Old Alamedans sure can have an attitude. If you moved here in the last 25 years you are 'new.' Quiet: Boy, everyone sure goes to bed at 11pm. Pretty nice! Safety: I now habitually leave my car unlocked all over the place. Many spots even with the windows downs. Nice People: I couldn't find where my spouse and son parked around Xmas time, and two young people helped me find them! Good luck! New Alamedan
- not a ton of excellent restaurants. There are some good places but few that are knock your socks off excellent. We go out probably once a week but when we want a special meal (birthday, etc.), we leave the island.
- Weather can be a bit cool and windy given proximity to the water.
- Traffic on/off the island can be congested especially if your main route is through the tubes. I-880 sucks, even more now with the construction. Consider driving to/from where you'd like to live in Alameda during rush hour. (Note, this isn't really any worse than getting across Berkeley during rush hour, it can just be frustrating waiting for a draw bridge to close at 8 am).
- The housing market is fierce right now. Rentals are expensive and competitive, and buying is full contact sport. Several houses have gone for 20%+ over asking in addition to huge concessions back to sellers (months of free rent, buyer's payment of all transfer taxes, real estate agent fees, etc.). There are few places on the market which makes things even worse. So be prepared.
- would be somewhat dull to a person in their early 20s but there are a lot of cute bars on Park St.
Otherwise, it is lovely. There are tons of families with kids, lots of great parks. Good schools. The restaurants can all deal with a screaming toddler in the corner, it is really walkable and has some great bike trails over flat ground. The little crime that we have is handled by our very friendly and helpful police department. Every time we walk past the fire station when the trucks are outside, the firemen come outside and give my son a sticker. Alameda has a lot of small town features like this which makes it easy to know your neighbors; being an island you have sense of place. You may miss the hippie/alternative/hipster coolness that happens in Oakland and Berkeley, but you won't miss the crime and the dirt. Alameda has good features of the suburbs without too much of the staleness. It is a good as it sounds
1) Small community--tight-knit, small town feel. People who live in Alameda feel really loyal to Alameda.
2) Has everything I need--schools, shops, restaurants--within a short drive or bike ride.
3) Relatively safe. Kids ride their bikes to school, etc.
4) Great weather--it never gets too foggy (like SF) or too hot (like over the hills)
5) Beautiful environment. Everywhere you look there is water, there are parks and trees.
Of course there are things that I don't love about Alameda:
1) Proximity to some really bad neighborhoods in Oakland--Alameda feels so safe, but once you cross a bridge, you run smack into some of the highest crime areas of Oakland. This feels unnerving and unsafe to me.
2) Presence of crime--Yes, even in Alameda, where people still keep their doors and cars unlocked. When the economy went down, reports of thefts went up. It's not dangerous here, but know you won't live in a bubble.
3) Lack of really good restaurants--the restaurants in Alameda are good, but not GREAT. If we want really REALLY good food, we need to drive elsewhere.
4) Far from BART. Fruitvale is our closest BART and requires a long bus ride or a car ride, and I don't feel safe going there at night.
We live on Bay Farm, which you might want to check out in addition to the Gold Coast and the East End. And look quickly. Our friend is a real estate agent and the price of houses keep ticking up every month (week?) as the competition gets fierce. The best time to look was about a year ago...sorry!
We are seriously thinking of moving to Alameda for the schools, the communty, the commute and the lifestyle. It seems more relaxed there and the families seem as involved with their schools as familes in Albany. While Albany is our first choice, Alameda seems more attainable in terms of housing. We really like the East End, by the water and prefer not to be in Bay Farm. Anyone out there who likes OR doesn't like the East end, the schools, or Alameda life? We are moving from a single family detached spacious home in the east bay to perhaps a smaller home, maybe even a townhome attached to another in Alameda, but with the hopes that we'll be doing more walking and biking and that the kids will be able to visit parks more often. We have three kids 9 and under, so they can be loud at times. Should we be concerned living in a 'duet' home (2 separates homes attached by one wall, side by side)? What about concerns living right next to the water? What advice can you give about living in Alameda and going to the public schools? What areas should we check out, similar to Solano Avenue? Will there be kids our kids' age that do live near us, who go to Otis or plan to go to Lincoln? What are the similarities and differences between alameda and Albany schools? Is alameda the right place for us?
Alameda is beautiful, flat, close to the water, and has a lot of nice pockets with restaurants and mom & pop stores. The housing inventory is low and there is a lot of demand recently. In the past month I have met five families that own homes in Albany and in Piedmont and they chose to rent out those homes and live in Alameda in order to send their kids to the Alameda schools. It's also very bike friendly-I see a ton of middle and high schoolers biking to school daily.
I hope someone else that has more knowledge of specific areas gives you more detailed info than I can. Good luck and check out the island! anon
Hello! My partner and I are going to be moving to the area in the next few months -- we are really very serious about living in Alameda. I know the Bay Area is generally pretty liberal but I am wondering about Alameda specifically. We are two gay dads with two young children and I want to make certain our kids live in a community where they feel open and, not only that, see families like there own. I've been reading a lot on this forum about how wonderful Alameda is for children and we're really excited about the possibility of raising our family there -- but I did want to make certain a family like our would A) feel welcome there and B) that there is a diversity of families. Thanks for any advice!
I am not part of a same-gender family but am an advocate for diversity. I look forward to hearing what the same-gender families have to say. An Ally
I'm a middle-aged heterosexual mom of a teen. As you know, parents tend to socialize more with the parents of their kids' friends, and demographically, none of my daughter's friends have gay dads. We've lived in Alameda about 13 years. Came for the safe, quiet streets and neighborhoods. Alameda is sometimes called 'Mayberry by the Bay' but really, it's always been an industrial town, and a navy town. It was hard-hit economically by the military base closure and has been slow to recover. Compared to Berkeley and San Francisco, Alameda has been a bit slower, I think, to accept the gay community and that's caused some conflict, BUT there are quite a few gay families; I am pretty sure the lesbian moms are more visible than the gay dads are. Alameda has also been referred to as 'The place where hipsters go to breed.' Take that as you will. I wear a lot of black and work in the arts.
Unfortunately, there is a conservative streak to Alameda. Not everyone will welcome you. But that demographic is changing over time. There was a serious debate over the inclusion of gay families in anti-bullying curriculum in our public schools. That caused a real flap but I'm proud to say that there is now some wording in our curriculum to help educate conservatives' children and, we hope, protect yours.
Your commute is an important factor. Getting off-and-on Island in peak hours can be maddening, and the section of the Nimitz Freeway off Alameda is a chewed-up horror of cracked asphalt and claustrophobically narrow lanes. There are quite a few bus lines, including express lines to the City, and our nearest BART station is Fruitvale. The walk or bike to Fruitvale BART is neither safe nor pretty, once you're over the bridge into Oakland.
Come on over, check out our neighborhoods and amenities, see what you think, and remember to be patient. The low density housing is one of Alameda's charms but it can make the process of finding a home - whether to rent or purchase - arduous. Lots of people want to live here. I hope your family finds Alameda a nice fit. ...Your MIleage May Vary
Does anyone have a recommendation of real estate agent to SELL my house in Alameda? (Fernside District) -- (and possibly help find a rental in Oakland depending on into what school my daughter gets accepted.) Thank you in transition
Re: Moving to Oakland with small children
You may want to consider Alameda, which borders Oakland. We know MANY Kiwis here on the island and it's a great life - right on the water, fantastic for walking, wonderful parks, decent schools and more. alamedamama
Re: Moving to the East Bay from SF - where to live?
You may want to try Alameda. From my home I can walk/bike to Trader Joe's, Safeway, multiple parks, and our great school (we live near Otis Elementary but there are many other fantastic schools.) If you don't have a car I would suggest living walking distance to Park Street which is the main commercial area, complete with fantastic movie theater, great bookstores, etc. Alameda is cheaper compared to nearby walkable cities. People have this idea that ALameda is so much father from SF compared to neighboring cities but that really just depends on where you live in Oakland/Berkeley. It takes us less time to get to SF now that we live in Alameda. I usually only end up driving once, if that, a day. Rockridge in Oakland is also doable w/out a car if you can find a place walking distance to Rockridge Bart. Good luck. Alameda Neighbor
Re: Moving/staying - Lamorinda vs Alameda
Have you really looked at costs in the two towns? Things have probably changed in the last 1.5-2 years since we looked for and bought our house in Alameda, but Lafayette was quite a bit more expensive then. I know the housing stock in Alameda is generally a good bit smaller. But if you're not in a huge rush to move could you resolve some of your dilemma by waiting for a bigger house to turn up in Alameda? also a happy Alamedan
Re: Relocating to the Bay Area, looking for a walkable neighborhood
If you're relocating to the Bay Area, I hope you'll consider Alameda. It's less expensive than San Francisco, has a few destination restaurants, some nice shopping areas, a mall with a future despite past struggles. Alameda has a great climate, has an up-and-coming art scene, and the schools - despite admitted funding issues - are decent to excellent (as far as I'm concerned, the distance from ''decent'' to ''excellent'' is as wide as these three letters: ''P-T-A''.
Alameda was formerly a base town and has been something of a hidden treasure (some might say a backwater) but more and more young, progressive families are moving in. Most neighborhoods are walkable. There's a rather sparse but decent network of buses connected to AC Transit and BART, and on the West End there is now a bike commute shuttle through the ''Posey Tube'' connecting Alameda to Oakland, BART, etc.
In terms of preschools, talk to Fuzzy Caterpillar, Little Lions, Rising Star, KinderHuis, KinderCare and Child Unique Montessori - among many others.
Drawbacks (or benefits, depending on your POV)
- no big-box stores
- occasionally if a drawbridge is up over the estuary, it can be hard to leave town
- 25 MPH speed limit even when I'm in a hurry
- public beach isn't great for swimming, and public pool arrangement is lame
- very limited range of seasons: we get spring, we get something sort of like fall, no real winter, and summer has cool nights
Hi, my husband and I are considering our options of where to move with our 3 young kids before we hit kindergarten years. We are a mixed-race family and are very proud of our family's working class roots. Fortunately, financially we have the option to move to a city with a good school district and I have narrowed it down to Piedmont or Alameda. We can barely afford Piedmont, and the house we would have to get there would be a considerable downsize from our current house in Oakland (and forget getting a yard!). But Piedmont has the schools, hands down. I don't want to feel like we are the Beverly Hillbillies in Piedmont, and although we would appreciate the education my kids would be getting,, my husband and I also want to be around like-minded, low key, double career parents. I'm not sure if I'm feeling it with Piedmont. Now I'm leaning towards Alameda. I love the family feel, the water and playgrounds are either walking or biking distance and I'm hoping to be able to walk/bike to Park street from our neighborhood. Although the 'nicer' neighborhoods I am just beginning to look at don't seem diverse, per se, I know Alameda in general, econonically and ethnically, is more heterogenous. I also am hoping that we can buy more house there with a nice big yard and in a family friendly neighborhood. The big unknown for me is: 1) are the schools K-12 good/great? Which ones?? 2) how will my husband's commute be to the Mission District in SF? He likes BART, but he's concerned that getting to/from Alameda to a BART station (via public transportation) would be a hassle? 3) any recommended neighborhoods for us to look at in Alameda? We are interested in a nice older house, close to playground (Franklin park?) and hopefully Park St. Any recommendations would be really appreciated. We are hoping to make this big move, then staying put until the kids are out of high school-- a long haul and consequently a big decision! Thx, in advance. M.
Re: Moving into Bay Area from Brooklyn with 4-year-old
I hope you'll check out Alameda. Buying is less expensive than San Francisco or Berkeley, although rents are probably higher than Berkeley's because Alameda doesn't have rent control.
We have at least 29 languages spoken in the public school district, which like all districts in California, struggles for funding and does a decent job considering everything.
There's a reasonable diversity of restaurants and small businesses. There are a couple of shopping districts with cute boutiques; there are several independent bookstores that kept a toehold while Borders came and went. We have a mall called 'Towne Centre' which unfortunately is nowhere near the center, often referred to by its old name, 'South Shore'. Towne Centre was recently purchased by a major developer and there are improvements in shopping choices in the works. Currently the mall is kind of low-rent. But there is a Trader Joe's with the best parking lot of any Trader Joe's I've ever shopped (usually they're a nightmare for some reason).
Alameda's flat (great for riding bikes and trikes), has many well-kept parks. Alameda has a low crime rate, 25-per-hour city-wide speed limit, and most neighborhoods have high walking index scores. There are many lovely views of San Francisco Bay. Housing options are diverse, all the way from hideous 70s era apartments to adorable bungalows to Victorian mansions and storybook cottages and beachfront condos, the occasional art deco or midcentury modern and... ok, no mud huts.
Note, I'm not a real estate agent or professional booster or anything, I just love this town - have lived here 10+ years and while it can be a little on the sedate side, it's getting more interesting every day. I hope you'll check it out. +++ happy in Alameda Welcome to the west coast! I feel your pain about moving, but know that you are moving to a WONDERFUL and vibrant place - I HIGHLY recommend you look at living in Alameda, it has everything on your list and more! Alameda is a small island directly across the Bay from San Francsico, great commute, great weather, tons of families and great schools. You can rent through one of the many agencies in town. For sales I highly recommend Valerie Ruma with Alain Pinel Real Estate, (510. 579-3614 or firstname.lastname@example.org) she's lived in ALameda for 20+ years and knows the town and the East Bay like the back of her hand - good luck! island mama
Another good neighborhood is Piedmont, although it's pretty upper-crust and expensive. The schools are amazing, though. And Berkeley and Albany are both really great cities with great restaurants, good schools, and lots of little neighborhoods within them. I lived in Berkeley and Albany for a decade, and finally moved to Alameda because I was sick of fighting with all of the people who crowd those two towns for a parking space, restaurant reservation, daycare spot, etc. I find Alameda to be much more relaxed when it comes to those kinds of little things that make life so much easier, and I've been happy that I moved ever since. If you need specific Alameda location recommendations, feel free to email me. Cassie
Re: Seeking safe area with diversity, culture, quality food
I highly recommend Alameda. Alameda is a small island off Oakland, and many parts of it still have a small town, Leave it to Beaver vibe. I can ride my bike everywhere--to the supermarket, to the shopping district on Park Street, and since the speed limit on the whole island is 25mph, it's pretty safe. We see kids riding their bikes or walking by themselves to go home from school all the time. The food on the island is good but not great but San Francisco and Oakland are short drives away. The weather is also great--not as cold and foggy as San Francisco, but not as hot as the areas on the other side of the hills, like Walnut Creek or Dublin. There is a small community feel in Alameda that we like a lot.
When we moved to the Bay Area we drove through many of the neighborhoods to get a feel for all of them. I recommend that as it was educational to actually be on the streets, instead of just looking at real estate postings. --Loving Alameda
Re: New job in SF - where's a sunny place to live?
I live in Alameda. The commute to downtown SF can be less than 30 minutes (depending on exact downtown destination). My son attends a RE preschool on the island (Home Sweet Home). Alameda is sunny and walkable and I have great neighbors and... I love it. Best of luck with your relocation. your new neighbor?
You can drive to downtown in 30 minutes (more with traffic), take BART (unfortunately you'll have to be driven to BART in Oakland), or take the ferry (very convenient). I hear some people carpool into the city from Alameda. A 45 minute commute seems like a lot when you are not from the Bay Area, but you will find that you have to drive at least 20-30 minutes just to get anywhere, so you might have to readjust your expectations. At least within Alameda, everything is just 5-10 minutes away. Oh, and did I mention the weather is good? It's never too hot, and we don't get the fog. Good luck with your move! --Vote for Alameda!
Re: My family is in the South Bay, we work in the East Bay
You have described Alameda perfectly. We are walking distance to great schools, the beach, movie theaters and lots of coffee shops. It is very, very much a community feeling yet has many of the desirable aspects of suburban life. Lots and lots of fantastic parks (I use to drive her for the parks/playgrounds when I was 20 minutes away.) We love it and can't say enough about it. Alameda has the reputation of being faraway but it actually takes me LESS time to get into the city. Good luck with your move. lovin' la vida Alameda
Re: Wife works in Oakland, husband works in Hillsborough
I highly recommend Alameda. It is close to BART and also to the freeway (#880) going either to SF or Hillsborough. I have lived here for 22 years, raised my kids here and have found it to be a wonderful community. good luck!
I've read the archival posts about Living in Alameda (all 18 pages once printed up), but the most current is from March 2008, and wanted a bit of an update.
My husband and I are looking for houses, and he really wants to move to Alameda for all the compelling reasons--low crime rate, good public school system, good economy. It seems like a smarter idea to buy there than in Oakland, where we now live.
But I'm so hesitant. I love living in Oakland. Two years after moving here from SF, I have a community of new moms and have all my bearings. (Our daughter is 16 m.o.) I really don't want to have to uproot all that. (I know that Oakland's not far, but it won't be the same as calling someone up for a playdate and driving five minutes away to a park we know.) I'm also worried that I'll feel isolated, that no one will come visit, that I'll never leave the island coz it's just too much trouble, and that my DH and I will be the oldest parents in residence (we are older). But all that may just fall under the suck-it-up category.
Here's my real worry. While the idea of ''small town'' and wholesomeness sounds like a nice way to raise a child, I don't even know what a child ends up like with that upbringing. I grew up in Manhattan, and to me, growing up in a city is the greatest kind of upbringing you could have. I almost feel like I'd be depriving my daughter by not giving her that opportunity. (I know many people would feel the opposite.)
I guess I'd like to hear about the kids in Alameda, what they're like, etc. I'd also like to hear about converts who were really really hesitant to move, but have ended up loving it. And, has anyone ended up not loving it?
Thanks for your thoughts. M
Alameda has become much more sophisticated in the last decade. Many older veterans and more conservative homeowners are aging out; younger families are moving in, many from places like SF and Berkeley. But there are many folks whose families have been here for generations, and who'd never consider living anywhere else. This has kept Alameda fairly stable in the face of the housing boom and bust.
Folks are usually pretty friendly. There is a lot of diversity here - I think there are over 50 languages spoken in the district. Proportionally, I'd say there are more whites and Asians than other ethnic groups; I'm sure there's census data on that somewhere. We've made some wonderful friends - and there is enormous community-oriented spirit. The pace in Alameda is a little slower - in fact the speed limit tops out at 25 mph, Island-wide. Most of the city seems very safe and police/fire response is REALLY prompt. There is a bit of crime and druggy stuff, but it could be a lot worse.
We live on the East end of the Island; offspring attend public school. Parents in their teens & 20's are unusual in this area; most are older homeowners - 30's to 50's, even a few in their 60's. In other areas of Alameda, the demographics may be different.
The Alameda Theater, several decent restaurants and a few great restaurants, a burgeoning artist community, and the gorgeous outdoors - including flat walkies with many parks - make for a varied and stimulating environment. Saturdays are Garage Sale Heaven around here. There are several places to do workouts: harbor bay club; marina village club; bladium; a small gym on Park Street, a 24-hour fitness satellite at the mall, and a regular 24-hour fitness across the high street bridge near Home Depot. Several venues offer live music; Not a lot of hiphop or rock around here that I know of - acoustic to reggae to swing to Americana to jazz. It's not every night and it's not the amazing variety you'll find in Berkeley, but it's improved over the last 4 or 5 years.
There are a lot of small independent specialty stores with plenty of charm (and stuff!).
In terms of housing, you can find anything from cheesy 70's apartments to Victorian mansions, bungalows, ranch houses, etc. There are many walking-friendly neighborhoods. Depending on how quiet your street is (there are a lot of culdesacs) you may find a gaggle of children playing outside or running from home to home. You are never more than a mile walking distance from the bay or estuary.
Alameda is even more temperate than Berkeley & Oakland because it's surrounded by water. You can grow bananas, avocados, citrus, poinsettia year round. A tomato plant on a south-facing wall can last well into November if protected from frost. But the wind coming fresh off the bay in the afternoon can be quite cold. The lack of frost can mean a dearth of fall color. Sometimes I really miss snow.
Yards and lots tend to be very small unless you're willing to fork out serious dough. However, most of the parks are nice.
Alameda's FLAT. The tallest inclines are the parking garage at the theater, and the Bay Farm pedestrian bridge. I gained 2 inches on my thighs when we moved here from the hills. This flatness also tends it toward dampness, drainage problems under homes and in streets, and mold. Caveat emptor. There are even a few artesian wells around, so be careful how deep you dig!
The community spirit can turn ugly when people disagree on big issues such as school curriculum, development at Alameda Point, bringing in big-box stores, even street tree maintenance. Alameda's diversity means a diversity of opinions from right to center to left. And since the population is very small, it's easy to butt heads with a neighbor. We are definitely in a fishbowl here.
While Alameda schools are for the most part very good, the school funding is a nightmare. Like some other towns hit by military base closures, Alameda lost some federal per-child funding that has never been compensated by the state of CA. If you plan to put your children in public schools.... expect to do a lot of volunteer work. Most of the private schools are run by churches. Several of the AUSD schools are converting to magnet or charter models.
There are a lot of activities for young children, but not for kids between around age 9 to 18 unless they have after-school practice for team sports (which are threatened by budget cuts).
Shopping is something of a pain. There are plenty of chain groceries - 2 Safeways, a Nob Hill, a Trader Joe's, and (maybe?) an Albertson's. But there are few places to buy clothes; we have a TJ Maxx (ugh) and a Kohl's (bleh). We could dearly use a higher-end clothing store and a large variety store (Target tried but got shot down because of a traffic uproar). Although I'm not crazy about big-box stores, we probably go ''off island'' at least twice a month because for things like large hardware items, clothing suitable for mature adults with taste, a rain jacket, or an economy-size container of laundry detergent. Alameda keeps itself poor by limiting its sales tax revenue.
Jobs in Alameda are quite limited and seem to pay a bit lower than Oakland or SF.
If a bridge is closed, or there's an accident in the tube, it will take you at LEAST 20 extra minutes to get off-island. Bay Farm is a peninsula near Oakland Airport and has only one main access road aside from the Bay Farm bridge to the main Island of Alameda. (note: Bay Farm Island is formerly an island but has been filled into a peninsula; while Alameda is formerly a peninsula but was dredged to form an island. Go figure). nothing could be sweeter than to be in Alameeter in the moooornin
We are thinking of moving to Alameda and are finding Craigslist sorely lacking in viable rentals for us. We are a family of 3 with 2 dogs and a cat, so a yard is a must. Do Real Estate agents have a monopoly on rentals on the island? What is the best way to go about finding a nice safe house in Alameda for our nice little family?
We are considering moving to Alameda (from Berkeley). I've gone through the BPN archives and have driven around the island - I can really see my family being happy there. I have a few questions though that I did not see addressed in the archives: 1) what is the airport noise like there? Is it horrible? Do you just get used to it? Where is it worst? We are woken up by planes where we are now and I would expect it would be louder in Alameda...?
2) What is the commute like to SF, particularly from the east end or fernside areas? We would like to take the ferry but I would imagine that the trip across the island to get to the ferry might take a long time in the morning. How long does it take to drive in to SF during commute hours?
3) We would be looking for a play-based preschool. Any recommendations? Are the waiting lists for the preschools in Alameda as long as they are in the rest of the east bay (6 mo to a year on the waiting list)?
thanks for your input! Ready to be an Island Mama
We live on the East End and are not bothered at all by commercial airline noise. We spend a lot of time in our backyard and sometimes the little private planes buzz overhead (I only ever notice while I'm on the phone outside), but it's not a big deal at all. Bay Farm residents might hear more plane noise from jets, during peak take-off/landing times, but I've not heard anyone I know complain about it. During fog, the jets change their route and fly over the West End, but that's just occasional. I personally like the proximity to OAK -- a lot. I used to travel for work. But even if you don't, it's very convenient for personal travel and for picking up visiting family!
The preschools do seem to busy and last year I heard there was a ''shortage.'' I know some Kindergarten classes were too full and had to put a lottery system in place. There are lots of schools to choose from though, and new ones are popping up (Fuzzy Catepillar, Small Size-Big Minds are examples of 2 newer ones). Check out savvysource.com for more specific preschool info. My daughter LOVES her play-based and developmental preschool (google Peek-a-Boo preschool on Windsor Drive). The have a great little art studio as well. It's in a private home and year-round. It's been a wonderful place for her, even though they don't have the big park-like play yard/structure that other schools have (Peter Pan, Bayside Montessori, Rising Star Montessori, Garner Learning Ctr - for ex.).
I can't tell you about driving to SF during commute times. I used to go in just after 9am and I could often get to my SOMA office at 6th and Howard in 18 min! My hubby takes BART, which can take 45 min door-to-door depending on where in the city you work and how long it takes you to park at (busy) Fruitvale station. It's less than 20 min on the train to downtown SF, as I recall. In addition to the ferry service on Main St., there's also a ferry on Bay Farm island which is very easy access from the East End. If you take the Ferry at the West End (Main St), my guess is that itb
ll take you 10-12 min to drive there from your East End home during peak times. Ferry travel times are published, not sure how long it takes. Seems a relaxing and civilized way to go though! My commute to downtown San Rafael was 45 min with no traffic (if I left my home at 8:30am) and up to 1.5 hrs one-way during the winter/rainy season (I had to leave by 5-sharp) - that was NOT so manageable!!
Good luck. :-) NSM
I couldn't tell you the last time I heard an airplane. I notice it when I go to the beach, but it's not bothersome. Maybe I did just get used to it? But I don't remember the noise ever being bad or annoying. When the fog is low, or it is very rainy/cloudy, they do fly lower coming in and going out of Oakland airport, I've noticed. This has never been a problem or distraction for either me or my husband.
The commute is pretty great--better than one might expect. My husband used to BART from MacArthur Station to downtown SF, in about 25 min (mornings). Now he takes the ''O'' Transbay bus, and gets to the SF terminal in around the same time, if not shorter, and then walks to work from there. On many days, his commute is on the shorter side, and he says the ''O'' is really comfortable-- not to mention the great view over the bridge every morning. I would not really recommend driving, when the ''O'' line is so easily accessible, comfortable, and quick.
We're just expecting our first child, so I'm not sure about preschools... I've only done basic searches on Yelp.com so far.
Good Luck Island Mama! Crystal
We live on the east end of the island on High Street and we don't really hear the airport noise much. The big planes do not fly directly over the island, only smaller planes, so you do hear some noise, but not constantly and not too loud.
The commute from Alameda depends on where you are on the island, but from the East end where we are it's fantastic. There is an express AC transit bus that we catch on the corner and it's a 25 minute ride to the transbay terminal. Alternatively, from where we live, it's a 15 minute bike ride along the estuary to the Harbor Bay ferry, and then a 25 minute ride to the ferry terminal. On beautiful days it's a wonderful way to commute to work.
I'm not sure about play-based preschools. My daughter goes to Peter Pan near the Webster tube and it's great. There is a long waiting list, though. I'm pregnant with #2 and we won't be able to get the baby in there until it's 7 months old (next April).
Alameda is really a wonderful town. I'm sure your family would love it here. Good luck! Mary
The commute from the East End is easy. We use the Harbor Bay Ferry, and get to it on the #50 bus or by car, a drive of less than 10 mins. This ferry only runs commute hours and not at weekends. If we're driving to the Alameda Point ferry we allow 20 minutes in the mornings. The #63 bus goes there but is notoriously unreliable at meeting the ferry - especially on the way home, and it's not that nice a place to wait 20+ mins for the next bus. There are also several transbay buses which are comfortable, and there is also good bus service to the Fruitvale Bart station. Another plus is the bus to Oakland airport - only 15 minutes! My husband gets that if he has an early morning flight.
If you're determined to drive, fastrack or carpooling are good options. If we're a carpool, I allow 45 mins to get to the city from the East End in the morning, extra for parking etc. The beauty of coming from ALameda is that the 880 drops you right up near the toll plaza. I STRONGLY suggest fastrak, if you don't have it already.
Not sure about pre-schools, we're going to use the Alameda Parks and Rec program. Happy in Alameda
1) airport noise varies between Bay Farm and the main island. The big jets fly closer to Bay Farm but we don't hear them at all on the main island. We live on the East End and what we hear are the smaller commuter planes. They are also more likely to fly at different times than the big commercial planes. I remember noticing them when we first moved here, but I can't really remember the last time I actually heard one. I certainly haven't been woken up by one.
2) There are 2 ferry terminals, the Alameda/Oakland ferry leaves from ''Alameda Point'' by the old airbase and the Harbor Bay ferry terminal is on Bay Farm. The Bay Farm one is purely commuter hours, with the last one out in the morning at 8:30am. The Alameda/Oakland ferry is operated by Blue & Gold and has service (though infrequent) throughout the day and on weekends. Commuting by ferry is the best, if you can make the schedule work for you. It takes about 15-20 min for me to get from the far east end of the island to the Point on the far west end. It only takes 5-10 for me to get to the Harbor Bay ferry. The only real traffic that I know about in Alameda is getting to 880 from Bay Farm in the mornings and sometimes getting through the tunnel during rush hour. It shouldn't take any longer to get across the island in the morning as at any other time.
Depending where you are going in SF, it can be less than 30 min door to door and I did drive when my work was right off the freeway with subsidized parking. But now I work downtown and take BART. It usually takes me 45 min door to door.
3) It can seem like most of the schools are Montessori, but play-based developmental preschools do exist. We love Fuzzy Caterpillar Preschool (our younger child has been there for 2 years, since shortly after it opened.) I think there is a waiting list currently, but I'm not sure how long the wait is. (www.fuzzycaterpillarpreschool.com)
As I said, we really like it here. It is a very family-friendly, neighborly kind of place. --happy resident of ''Mayberry''
I used to live in the High Street/Broadway area of Alameda and wanted to comment on your questions.
From visiting friends, the airport noise on Bay Farm/Harbor Bay is pretty bad, but I had no problems whatsoever on the east end. The weather is so pleasant that we were frequently outdoors and with open windows with no complaints about airport noise. Practically forgot it was there, except when we were enjoying the fact that it was only ten minutes away.
The major morning traffic that I see is on Island Drive for those people leaving Bay Farm/Harbor Bay. Many people Bart in to the city via the Fruitvale station. Parking there is plentiful. There are also AC Transit Transbay Express buses that run through the east end. You will occasionally have to deal with a bridge delay if you are leaving town via High Street, Fruitvale or Park Street bridges.
I relocated out of Alameda a year ago and am fortunately still connected to the community through friends and our daughter's pre-school. It is a great place to raise kids. Unfortunately, I can't recommend the play-based pre-school where we started out but there are lots of quality pre-schools in Alameda. Don't want to trash the play-based school we hated on BPN, but I will say that we have happily gone the Montessori route.
Good luck with your move! Anonymous
1)Airport noise: Personally, I haven't experienced this to be noticeable in the two locations I have lived in: along Shoreline and in the East End. I think it may be more pronounced in Bay Farm.
2) Commute: The best kept commuting secret in Alameda is our AC Transit Transbay buses (O, OX and W). I have taken the W bus for years to SF-- the stop is right near where I live, I always get a seat, and the buses come frequently during commute hours.
I do know people who take the ferry and have never heard an issue about the drive to the terminal as Alameda crosstown traffic is really pretty light. The ferry itself is very quick to SF. By the way, BART is also a viable option since Fruitvale BART is close by and there is plenty of parking. Plus, there is a casual carpool on Encinal and Park Ave.
In short, there is no real reason that you would need to drive in to SF-- we have a wealth of transit options. I have carpooled in the past and can tell you that if you need to take your car, the drive is only about 20 mins. if you are able to avoid the toll plaza.
Good luck with your potential move. Alameda is a great place to live! Alamedan
1)The airport noise is loud depending on where you live on the island. I grew up on the East end between Fernside and High Street near the Bay Farm Bridge (Harbor Bay Bridge). The noise level is noticeable and you do get used to it. Although I do remember having to turn up the volume of the TV with a remote when a plane went over. Harbor Bay has noise also. When I moved back I temporary lived on Harbor Bay while we looked for a house to buy. The noise out there was noticeable if you were inside and you had to raise your voice if you were outside. That said, there are tons of great walking trails out there and GREAT schools. Also there is a commuter ferry out there.
We bought a house in Central Alameda near Park Street *estuary side of the island). We love it there because we can walk everywhere to do our shopping and errands. I never hear airplane noise at our house.
2)My husband commutes to SF and he works near UCSF Mission Bay Campus. If he leaves Alameda at 7:40 near the Harbor Bay Bridge (where day care is located) he gets to work around 8:45. If he leaves our house in Central Alameda at 7am he gets to work around 7:45. The time involved is door to door. The traffic is not so bad in Alameda. It may take 15 minutes to get from one end to the other.
There is a casual car pool line up near Park Street and Encinal. Plus we are very close to Fruitvale Bart. There is also a commuter transbay bus (#O) that is clean and comfortable.
3)My daughter's pre school is Small Size Big Mind 521-8025. They are located on the main island of Alameda off of Otis at the foot of Harbor Bay Bridge. We are happy with it. I know they have waiting lists, but not sure of the details. You can also check savvysource.com for more preschools in the area.
There is also a Peter Pan preschool near the tube on the West end that seems nice.
Hope this helps! Island Mom
As for preschools, our eldest went to Sugar and Spice by the Webster tube - it is a play based preschool and then transitioned very well to a montessorri school - Children's Cottage/Rising Star (run by the same people - CC is for younger kids). Our youngest is now at Sugar and Spice. zeta
Another version of the moving from SF to the East Bay question...! The posts on living in and schools in each of Alameda and Piedmont are helpful but some are a bit old and we are also wondering if anyone else has considered moving to either one and what the reasons for choosing one over the other were. Or even if you just chose one for particular reasons... We are looking for a school district with strong parent involvement; are there other neighborhoods out there we should be looking at? (SF is not an option -- we are first-time buyers and the East Bay provides so much more square foot for the dollar...) Thanks! anon
We're moving and trying to figure out where to settle. I've visited Alameda and it seems to have a great feel and good schools and I want to move there. My husband doesn't want to because he talked to someone who lived there ~12 years ago and convinced him that it is a redneck town.
For him: Is it a redneck town? Are there other professors who live there? Are there ''cultural'' things to do -- lectures, music, etc.?
For me: Will I be able to find SAHMs to hang out with? If I go back to work, will I be the only working mother in my child's class? Searching....
Alameda seemed conservative to me (compared to the City) when I first moved here, but friendly nonetheless. It feels like there's far less of the element you described in your post, although I have not lived here 12 + yrs! My husband and I moved here to buy a home after living in SF for 7+ years. I missed it so much at first, I used to continue to take my dry-cleaning to my old neighborhood!! Now, I'm very happy here and have made some great friends who are progressive, educated and nice people in general. :-)
Alameda does feel a bit like the town in which I grew up in the Midwest, in terms of the friendliness and overall ''pace'' of life – but it's definitely more diverse than the Midwest in general, and ANY Chicago (for example) suburb!
People who live here truly care about their community and their kids' education. It is more progressive than it seems, and I believe that has to do with a significant influx of young couples/families coming from SF and nearby communities, as well. The demographics are shifting a lot. So much has changed in the brief time I've been here, especially in terms of shopping, dining & entertainment options. You can see the changes and things are being built and improving as we speak. Alameda has good schools (very good, relative to much of the Bay Area).
There are many parents working part-time and LOTS of SAHMs to connect with (and I've met some SAHDs as well) and great programs for kids including the infant/toddler set: music, tumbling, singing, art, etc. Many of us who are home, plan a return to work once our little ones are a bit older. And I would say it seems the young families here are educated and even highly educated. I'm not sure about ''academic-types'' & ''professors'' living here, but you'll find people who are successful in all the major Bay Area industries. I still miss SF (although I would NOT want to live there with small children) and my life feels too busy to do the cultural/city things I used to enjoy, but I get my ''fix'' when I need it! Tell your hubby it is a great place for families; and remind him that Berkeley and SF are just 10-20 min away. Alameda Resident of 7+ yrs
We are renters (close to 45% of Alamedans are renters) but nearly all of our neighbors are homeowners, and the ones with children do not send their kids to the neighborhood elementary school (Haight) as it is perceived as a ''bad'' school for various reasons, some of which (after touring the school, visiting the kindergarten classes, etc.)seem unwarranted. It does feel strange that my kid will be going to kindergarten at the neighborhood school with no actual close neighbors in attendance, but c'est la vie. Culturally, I think things are coming up: there's a great new cultural/arts center called Rhythmix down near the Park St Bridge, they have all kinds of activities for adults and kids, google for the website. There are a couple of theater companies, and really terrific parks and a fabulous Parks & Recreation Dept.There are a few good restaurants, and I think more are coming from what I've heard through the grapevine. I've known SAHMs (I was one for two years) and women who work part-time, fulltime, and all seem to get along as far as I can tell.
I've been running into more moms recently who balance work, childcare, and create art as well & I take this as a very positive sign that more artists and creative types who are not just after the big bucks are moving to Alameda.
The times I've felt lonely/angry about life ''on the isle'' are the occasional comments-- not by hicks, but by college educated, professional people-- made about Oakland. Maybe I'm sensitive because I lived in Oakland for a long time, and my mother is from there, I don't know. There is a definite contingent of people with a real ''island'' mentality who would blow up the bridges and tunnels so ''those people'' would not come over. Well, a big movie theater is opening in few months downtown and inevitably more of ''those people'' will come, so it'll be interesting to see how the reactionaries deal w/it! Adjusting to Alameda
Pluses: it's flat and easy to bike and walk everywhere, we have highly-functional neighborhood schools, a good variety of grocery stores independent (Encinal, The Market Place) and chain (Nob Hill, Trader Joe's, Safeway). Alameda is diverse in that wonderful melting pot way--fewer than 60 percent of the residents are white (2000 census says, 57 percent white, 26 percent Asian, about 10 percent Latino and 6 percent African-American). Alameda is an easy commute to the city by bus or by BART or casual carpool. Our parks are frequented by moms and, too, nannies, and we're a close hop to many of the Bay Area's best kid-friendly places. Many families chose Alameda over going through the tunnel. Park Street, one of the main shopping districts, has totally been revitalized in recent years, and is now a vibrant district for shopping and socializing with dozens of kid-friendly (and, too, adult-friendly restaurants). Soon the restored theatre will open there, and we'll be able to skip 880 and walk to the movies. Park has a Starbucks, a Peet's and several independent cafes, two book stores, a toy store, kids' clothing stores...you get the idea. You can walk, run or bike for miles along the Bay, the city's recreation department sponsors a huge range of children's activities, including a preschool program based in the parks. People are friendly and warm and glad to be here. But, no, it's not Berkeley, not North Oakland, either, not as completely upscale, not as totally upper class lefty. But there are kid activities galore--dance studios, art studios, every kind of martial art, music studios, everything you need and want with young kids--and young families are moving in like crazy. So come hang out for a bit and see what feels good to you. Alameda Anon
Having lived in Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley and Alameda, I think that my children have the best quality of life here. Culturally, Alameda is a very diverse (I think more so then Berkeley) little city with a very active community.
It is an easy commute either by bus (51 is a direct line to Berkeley--bring your bike, too) or car via the 24... Alameda Mom
I moved here last year to start a cultural arts center www.rhythmix.org and have been pleasantly surprised by the changes in Alameda. Good food and coffee can now be had without going to Oakland! There are lots of professional working moms here, my son goes to a great preschool with lots of cultural diversity (Child Unique). In fact, it was hard to choose a pre-school because there were some great ones (we almost went to Home Sweet Home). There are tons of kids activities here (Ruby's Tumbling Room, the Bladium, etc), good schools and family friendly restaurants. There are even a few nice restaurants.
Our art center has given adults and kids a new venue for cultural experiences - we've had lots of great arts and lectures here (4 Cellos, World Music Series, classes, gallery shows, camps, one act plays etc). There's also Frank Bette Gallery and the Altarena Theater. The Auctions by the Bay theater does stuff occasionally too. There are a nice group of people that frequent the art events called the First Friday Salon - they are all professor types. And several of the kids who attend classes here at Rhythmix have two PhD parents... there are definitely profs on the Island!
Alameda can be a little backwards in certain respects (politics mostly), but its come a long way from 12 years ago. I remember during the Rodney King fiasco the mayor of Alameda said he would raise the bridges and close the tunnel if there were riots on Oakland. There were no riots in Oakland - there was a candlelight vigil at Lake Merritt - and the Alameda Mayor was slammed for being such a racist.
But bay area real estate being what it is, there are lots of diverse and educated people here now, and plenty of amenities to suit their interests. Its not North Berkeley, but its not Tracy either. Jennifer
I grew up in a Midwestern university town and Alameda reminds me of there. I love living here after living in Berkeley and Oakland for 5 years combined. It is quiet and residential - doesn't feel like a big city or a suburb. It has never crossed my mind to think of it as ''redneck.'' There is a theatre here, some light opera, chamber singers, etc. No, it's not an outstanding place to go to hear lectures, but we're so close to Cal and Oakland that it's easy to cross the bridge to get to those.
I'm a SAHM and in my original mom's group of 12 there are 3 of us remaining who are still home full-time (our kids are 18 months old). It's not hard to find SAHMs or working moms. We don't have the huge ethnic diversity of Oakland or Berkeley, but on our block we have Polish, Japanese, Mexican, and Filipino neighbors. At the playground we regularly hear several different languages spoken. Our library has bilingual English-Spanish and English-Chinese story times. I think Alameda's a great place to live and raise a family! ann
There are housing developments from the 1960's, Victorians, Mediterraneans, Apartment complexes, houseboats. Professors live everywhere. Alameda. San Leandro. Oakland. You do have to drive off and on the island to go places and then come back home. That means either driving through tubes under the estuary or over bridges, or taking ferries over the bay to S.F. Alameda is SAHM-land. There are many SAHM activities and places to go and meet.
I love the place. I lived there before kids, moved to San Leandro to afford a home and miss Alameda a lot. Mary
THere are plenty of professors (my sis lives here and is one, and my father lives here and just retired from being one) and other intelectual types. As far as stuff to do, there are beautiful beaches, parks and a bird estuary, there are great cafes, restaurants, bookstores and soon there will be a movie theater (then we will never have to leave the island). There are plenty of SAHMs but probably most work once the kids get school aged if not before hand. I am due in a few weeks and will be a SAHM for as long as finances allow.
For us we chose Alameda over hipstery Oakland to be near my family (though none of us is from here per se)and to get away from the violence in Oakland. Last week 2 people were shot, one fatally, on the corner we were going to live in near Mac Arthur BART. So many reasons. I wish you the best of luck and feel free to email me if you have more questions or move here and want to get together. carmen
So let me just try to describe Alameda. We moved to Alameda two years ago with our young children. My husband and I both have multiple graduate degrees. We are not professors, but we both value friends who can have intellectually challenging conversations with us and who value education. My fantasy would be to live in a university community where the families are ''rich'' intellectually rather than rich economically. Not sure if that is what you guys are looking for, but that is what we look for and I'll respond with that bias. Alameda is not exactly that, but we still are content. In terms of the people, I feel like Alameda is split into two groups. Older Alameda is literally older, perhaps lower socioeconomic status and more conservative. Newer Alameda consists of professional families, slightly wealthier, who have moved to the Island relatively recently. There are a LOT of young families and plenty of things to do for SAHPs with young kids. I haven't found as many over-educated parents as I might have wished for, but I have really liked the families we have met. What I was surprised at here: While Alameda's navy base is closed, there still is some military influence on the island - for example, a lot of Coast Guard families. As a liberal, I would have assumed they would be really different than me, but I have been proven wrong, happily. The Island is diverse racially, but I get a sense there are relatively more low income, under-educated white families here than in say, Oakland or Berkeley. Probably not a huge proportion but striking when compared to cities like Oakland where socio-economic status and race seem so closely tied (i.e. poor people in Oakland are more likely to be dark skinned). I don't think there is more poverty in Alameda compared to other cities. It's just the color of poverty here that makes it stand out. I guess I would sum up by saying that Alameda is NOT Cambridge or Berkeley, or Princeton, but I think most of my professor friends would be content here. overeducated Alamedan
As for finding other Moms in the area there are plenty of both SAHM and working Moms here. My friends with kids are equally divided in both categories. Come visit Alameda and walk around in the neighborhoods you are interested in. You will find it is a very friendly community. Alameda Momma
Our Family is considering moving to Alameda. Could someone tell me the pros and cons of living in Alameda? Candice
The only ''con''... and it took me a while to think of one, would be Bart - we do not use it as much as we did before when we lived elsewhere in East Bay. It is too far to walk to (Fruitvale station in Oakland) and train service is occasionally unreliable in the morning rush.
The only other ''cons'' are soon to change - right now, we do have to leave the island to go to certain stores, like a decent sporting goods store, Target, electronics, several other things. However there are currently several projects in the works that will bring more retail and business to Alameda, one of which is the renovation of the south shore mall (Old Navy, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Borders are coming soon), a movie cineplex/parking structure near Park Street, and a few other big developments. There is lots of debate now as to how much traffic these projects will bring to Alameda and there are some who would like to preserve the ''sleepiness'' of the town, but Alameda has so much potential and really could be the next Rockridge... for better or for worse. In any case, I think it's a great time to buy here. Good luck and hope you will find what you're looking for in Alameda, as we did. new Alamedan
So overall, we left for a larger house with a larger yard on a cul-du-sac, in a very quiet and safe neighborhood. But overall, I really miss the pedestrian friendly, park friendly aspect of Alameda, and the downtown area. It's a great town! Oh yeah, the commute to SF is decent too. Esp. depending on where you work...there are 2 ferries that go from Alameda to SF, and the 880 onto the bay bridge is not as bad as any other approach to the bay bridge. Good luck wtih your decision. I hope this helped! anon
Having lived in Alameda for the last 27 years, I can heartily recommend moving here. Although I hear a lot of people swear by Berkeley and what it has to offer, Alameda has a lot to offer as well and if you love Berkeley, you're only 20 mins away.
Alameda is a great place to raise a family with great parks and schools and relatively little crime. We are centrally located so that you can get to any place in the East Bay or San Francisco usually within a half hour. Alameda has great schools with outstanding API (Academic Preformance Index) scores that have made our local paper (check out the Alameda Sun or the Alameda Journal) or the district website (www.alameda.k12.ca.us). We have great parks that offer classes and enrichment activities as well as summer programs (check out www.arpd.com). Rents are a bit steep but that's the price for living in the Bay Area. Plan on $1200 to $1500 for a 2 bedroom and houses sell for $500,000+ easily. The upside is that you feel safe here walking around, we have a great downtown and our shopping center is going to be fantastic once they are done remodeling it.
If you like older homes, Alameda has more Victorians per capita than San Francisco and due to a density limiting ordinance passed in the 1970's, not as many box style appartment buildings as other cities of similar size but we also have new developments as well.
Truthfully, knowing the pros and cons, I wouldn't want to raise my son anyplace else. For me, Alameda has it all. Laura
The schools on the East end of the island are a little better than those on the West end. That said though, I would seriously consider Paden Elementary school on the West end. The teachers are outstanding! They have a state of the art library, & the parents are extremely involved. Their play yard has a spectacular view of the harbour. Definitely the best on the island!
The down side for me has been the lack of diversity, but even that has been ever changing for the better. I would highly recommend Alameda, but then again, I'm biased, I've lived here for the past 10 years. A happy islander
Great beach and close to the water Small town feel Lots of kids, always run into people you know Mostly high test scores at schools, depends on neighborhood neighborhood schools trader joe's and more shopping coming to town great dim sum place lucky juju pinball gallery 4th of july parade old vic's and flat streets ''safe'' great bike city ferry commuting to SF lots of new people moving in so demo is changingcons
no private schools except catholic schools, upper grades, lots of Montessori schools preschool lack of play based preschools lack of part time preschools hangover conservative from Navy base drive to Berkeley for shopping not great parks not great restaurants, gotta really search for the good ones and there aren't that many, not a foodie town. Lots of bad mexican and sushi everywhere not great farmer's market, only one organic stand usually have to leave island for a lot of shopping and kid activity stuff, but that might just be meOverall, it's nice here, but not perfect and it really depends what you are looking for. there is kind of an ahhhhhh feeling when you cross your bridge into town. It's not Berkeley politically or otherwise, so if that's what you are wanting, then you should move there. Alameda mom
1.Safe neighborhoods – because it is an island, it is a destination. You can't just drive through it.
2.Pretty good schools – it's not Piedmont but they are pretty good.
3.Convenient stores – there's Peets, Trader Joe's and an organic market. Need I say more.
1.Heavy handed city government – you need a permit for everything. You need a permit to replace the wax seal of your toilet (no joke).
2.Morning traffic- it can be tough getting off the island in the morning.
We recently moved to Alameda and I have a 6 month old son. I am
looking for a Mommy & Me type group to join to help get to know
more people in the area. I know there is a Music Together class
on Park Street. Does anyone have any additional recommendations
for meeting other families?
They also have music and dance classes at the multicultural center (842 Central) for babies/toddlers with parents. I think they even have a spanish sing along class. Classes are $2. There is Wee Play Wed and Friday mornings on Central across from the library in the Veteran's building. Ruby's tumbling has fun classes. Music Together on Park Street (Lisa is super, both my kids LOVED her). Former Alameda Mom
Hi, My husband and I just relocated to the Bay Area with our 2-year- old daughter. We're staying someplace temporarily in San Francisco, and are looking for a permanent apartment. Alameda is one area we are considering.
Can anyone please recommend an apartment complex that is family- friendly there? Also, it would be great if it were within walking distances of shops, etc. Are there a decent amount of preschools in Alameda? One of the hardest things about moving was pulling our daughter out of her beloved preschool. She was doing so well there. I'm not looking forward to starting the process all over again. Sigh.
And is there a commuter bus from Alameda to the city or at least to Bart? My husband works in downtown San Francisco. We don't have a car at the moment, but are planning to buy one. But he still wouldn't drive, I don't think.
Thanks very much, Kristin
We have a Trader Joe's, Noah's, Peets and a HUGE Safeway and there's talk of Traget coming to town- I may never leave the island! Alameda is centrally located and that makes it easy to go pretty much anywhere. If driving it takes 25 minutes to get to downtown SF, on AC Transit depending on where you live and catch the bus it can take anywhere between 15 minutes to 45 minutes. We do practice Casual Carpooling in Alameda so if you are waiting at a bustop during commutter hours you might very well get picked up by someone driving in. Fruitvale BART can be driven to in a matter of minutes or you can take the local 63 to it. There's lots of kid friendly places to eat and our little Movie Theatre- Central Cinema has family times. The school system is good so you won't have that expense later on. It also has a real town feeling instead of a burb feel which I like but generally neighbors know each other- at least well enough to wave.
In terms of meeting people, I know in my Mommy's Group at Smart Healthy Babies in Alameda ( a program that has new mommy groups, free visiting nurse and lactation consultants for new moms in Alameda) there were women who were going it alone. As a side note, my twenty something dog sitters who normally live in SF have decided to move to Alameda they love it so much- hey we have a Tiki Lounge now- what's not to love. I think I should join the Alameda Vistor's Bureau! Juliette
I recently relocated to the Bay Area with my husband and 2-year- old daughter, as my husband was recruited here for a job. We've been having marital troubles for a while, and he now tells me he wants to separate (won't try counseling again). He says he'll co-sign a lease for me (I work part-time from home as an editor (self-employed), making about $3,400/month and I'm five months pregnant), and help me pay for my rent as needed.
He'll also pay for our daughter's preschool or daycare, if/once we find something, and give me some money for expenses. Needless to say, I feel overwhelmed.
I'm trying to find someplace affordable and safe to move -- max. $1,200 for a one bedroom. I'm not familiar with Alameda, but saw some nice-looking apartments there for not too much. And it sounds like a nice place for a child. But I guess I'm worried that it's so ''family-ish'' that there won't be many other single parents around. It would be nice to meet others in the same boat as me. I'd be interested in recommendations on any other areas in the East Bay as well. Thank you. Anonymous
First, you should easily be able to find a nice one-bedroom for $1,200. If you email me I'm happy to give you a list of the apartment rental listings you need to check. There are three main realty/rental agency lists to keep track of.
In picking a neighborhood, think ahead to what school you'd want your kids in. I didn't really think about this at the time, but given the turmoil you'll be going through you probably don't want to move more than once in the next few years.
I also work at home, as a freelance writer, and I'd recommend finding a place where you can walk to Park Street or some other neighborhood center that has a coffee place you can take your kids, a park you like, and other attractive options. One advantage of Alameda is its walkability. There's a great network of parents here, and I don't think your single status will matter much. That said, I know that I don't fit in neatly with the families here. It was definitely easier when we were nuclear. But I think that can be worked out. Feel free to write me, I'd be happy to be a resource. Jan
Hello Alameda-savvy moms! I need to entertain my almost 3-year- old boy in Alameda on Thursdays from about 4:30 to 6:30 while his big sister attends a gymnastics class. I'd appreciate any suggestions for good playgrounds, fun stores, libraries, classes or activities or any other ideas. I'll be coming over the High St or Fruitvale Ave bridges so that end of town is preferable, but we can try anything! Many thanks! Dana
My partner and I are considering moving from Berkeley to Alameda
(buying a house). I don't know the island very well and could
use some advice from Alamedans.
We have: a toddler, left-leaning politics, and an appreciation
of ''amenities'' (being able to walk to a playground/ grocery
store/ cafe/ library/ restaurant). We also have a 10-year
attachment to Berkeley, with lots of friends and playgroups
based there. BUT we also have a growing distaste for the way
Berkeley houses sell for 20% over the asking price!
Think we can find happiness in Alameda?
I love Berkeley, but...
There have been some ugly incidents. Many years back, the police department was
caught with racist messages. Someone with a rainbow flag received threats, too. But
overall the town is improving. In a recent parade, an exhibitor's hate message at the
end of the parade stunned everyone. A church group, acting quickly, counteracted
that by rejoining the parade with its pro-diversity message.
We just moved to Alameda and we're looking for kids classes and activities. We've found great parks and the libaries, but I'd love to find classes my 4 year-old can take--maybe martial arts, swimming, music? I'd also love recommendations for kid friendly restuarants in Alameda. Thanks! Clare
You've got to join the Alameda Swimming Pool Association (It's $250 and some volunteer hours per year). There are pools at Lincoln Park and Franklin Park. It's open only to Alameda residents.
Chevy's is very kid friendly. It's near the tube. The Aculpoco (how do you spell it?) on Lincoln is an Alameda staple that has been there forever and has classic Mexican food. There's the Alameda marketplace (Park St and Buena Vista) with lots of Berkeley-esque food and food-related vendors. There are two bakeries within and the Feel Good Bakery (it's the one further back) will give your kid a free tiny sugar cookie when you purchase something and their pizzas. (though they are very grown-up pizzas) are OUTSTANDING.
I don't live there, I just visit family that does...
We've just moved to Alameda from SF and my baby is due in late
September. I am trying to get connected with other new moms in
Alameda before s/he arrives. Does anyone know of an Alameda
mom's group/playgroup? If not, anyone interested in getting
I read what's on the website but hope some more people
can chime in about life in Alameda. My husband and I are
looking for a house in the East Bay and are thinking about
including Alameda in our search. We've been living near
Lake Merritt for two years (which we love) and previously
lived in New York City. We love being able to walk to
bookstores, movies, cafes, etc. and living in a diverse
community. From what we know, Alamedia offers good
schools and nice houses, but we're worried about feeling
isolated, and like we're living in Middle America as opposed
to in the Bay Area. What does Alameda have to offer in
terms of arts/culture/intellectual life and community? (my
husband is a writer who works at home) Are there good
bookstores and cafes on the island? What neighborhood
would offer us the most pedestrian access to amenities? Is
it true that Alameda is more conservative than Oakland and
Berkeley or is that changing with the closure of the military
bases? Re: the schools -- what do people like about them?
(We have a baby and plan to have one or two more, believe
in public shools and can't afford private school.) And finally,
what is traffic like getting on and off the island?
In Search of the Ideal Place to Live
People say that the island is changing, and I think is is even though people have been saying that for 10 years now. Indeed, as we were moving out, there was a new organic grocery store going in, a new Picante (both on Park), Trader Joes, a German food beer place that is supposed to be good, etc. The island has definately been short on services in the past, especially good restaurants, and this definately helped to fill a void. There is a good coffee shop on Park and there was a good bookstore but it recently closed due to high rent (which indicates to me that demand is going up for those spaces). There is a bookstore on Encinel that people rave about, but I got fleas the one time I went there. There are good nurseries, several in fact, a good sandwich place, a good burrito place (in addition to Picante), an excellent ice cream place, a good sushi place and a bakery all in the Park area. We lived close to Park and could walk there, which was nice. Also as we were leaving we had started to notice a new brand of people moving in-there was a couple with a baby around the corner and a same sex couple moved in across the street (and they were, suprisingly to us, embraced by the neighborhood).
One of the other great benefits of living on the Island is that, depending on your neighborhood, you can walk to the waterfront. We were a 5 minute walk from the beach, and the view of the bay and cityscape is not to be beat. Really nice walks there.
Just keep in mind that in all liklihood (unless you get luckier than we did) the people around you will not raise their kids like yours. Our neighbors had large-size children that watched TV, played Nintendo and ate McDonalds almost constantly. We didn't have kids when we lived there, but if we had, I might have had second thoughts about the constant exposure to lethargy and junk food. Some of the kids did play out in the street-which depending on your street works OK-so like everything about Alameda, this too is a mixed bag.
I don't know about the schools except that the same cultural influnces that I mentioned would also be present there. We never had a big problem with traffic.
Given that its very safe, clean and mostly kid-friendly, we would probably live there again if the opportunity presented itself. We were happy to move back to Oakland and have a more diverse neighborhood, but Oakland definately has its problems too, and I think in the end Alameda is probably at least a safer environment for kids. But its not Oakland, its not Berkeley, its a whole land of its own!! anon
That said, there seem to be some distinct neighborhoods with different feels. The east end of the island is expensive, comparatively, and I see fewer people outdoors in the evenings there. Nice landscaping. . . but more suburby feeling.
The ''Gold Coast'' and the ''Bronze Coast'' areas are lovely, and seem to have a lot of activity. People are out and about.
The west end is a mixed bag. There are some subsidized housing areas that routinely show up in the police records for violent crimes like assaults and other crimes like drug busts, property crimes, etc. But ''routinely'' has to be taken with a grain of salt. It's not somewhere I would want to live, but I lived near them with zero fear or problems.
The west end has some really vibrant areas. People are out, about, and playing a lot. Plus, from there you can walk to the lovely nature area at Crab Cove, along a section of the bayfront trail, and to the dog park at Washington Park.
All areas have some retail, but the main shopping area, including Trader Joes, is south and central. There's a new natural grocery store and attendant shops on Park Street, in the middle of town, and Park St. has a lot of coffee shops, retail, etc.
Another grocery complex is up in the north end of town, near the Webster Tube, but I don't like that area -- much less walkable, less diversity of houses.
I don't know much about the schools firsthand, as we homeschool. I know people mention the name Paden and then all the schools on the east end as ''good,'' and the high schools have some rivalry, and I think Alameda High is considered ''better.'' But it's all hearsay. I do know that over 70 languages are spoken in the schools -- so much for an all-white enclave.
I've found wonderful, openminded people here. As more ''new'' people move here, it just gets better. I've heard some grumbling from old-timers, but it really can be hard to watch property values spiral out of your reach. (We had a grumpy neighbor once.)
There's at least one community theater, it's bike-friendly, the library is staffed with wonderful, helpful folk, and the parks are great for kids.
Downsides? Well, there isn't much in the way of topnotch restaurants, although the new German place is wonderful and there is a great bakery on Park St.; you have to go elsewhere for movies right now, although there's hope for the future; and if you want to live somewhere that's consciously cutting-edge, this ain't it.
Feel free to email me if you have other questions or want a guided tour. stefani
Alameda is a wonderful place to be a stay at home mom. There are a lot of
good parks, libraries, the beach and it is easy to get around on foot. I
rent here and may be forced to buy in Berkeley because I can't afford to
buy in Alameda. If you can afford it, I'd recommend buying in Alameda.
We are looking at moving to Alameda. I saw one posting but wanted to know if anyone had comments about the weather, crime rate/safety, best areas to live - in terms of public schools and generally niceness/safety of the area. What are public schools like? We would be moving from Lamorinda - how do they schools compare? Is it very foggy? Thank you for any comments at all.
I particularly like the Alameda Civic Light Opera (really good productions), the Adelphian (a local music venue), the Altarena playhouse, the Park Street business district. Small town feel, you can walk and bike a lot of places without feeling like you're taking your life in your hands or going on an epic trek. Nils
Unless you don't like the heat, commute, lack of diversity, or cost I don't know why you would want to go to Alameda Have looked both places and choose Alameda with private schools
Re: Safe, family--oriented neighborhood?
You're in luck - such a place does exist! We were looking for a similar place as you describe, and we found it in Alameda. It's a very neighborly, friendly place, where most people will say hi to you as you pass on the street, kids play together outside and the ice cream truck stops on the corner in the summer. The schools are good - some have better reputations than others, and I cannot attest to that as my kids are not yet in elementary school, but you can check out the basic stats on www.greatschools.net.
We love that we can walk to the park or to dinner, and there is a good mix of people (ages and ethnicities) and young families. Holidays are fun here - the whole town is out for the 4th of July parade, Halloween is so fun and tons of kids abound, and over the holidays we love going to ''Christmas tree lane'' to see the lights.
Lots of changes/improvements are in store over the next year or two - the historic theater downtown is getting renovated, the mall is undergoing a revitalization and will have more restaurants and shops, including Borders books, and plans to develop the old military base on the west end are in the works. I think it's a good time to get in the market here.
Prices vary, with the gold coast neighborhood and the east end being the most expensive - gold coast due to the concentration of large mansions there, and the east end due to the good reputation elementary schools and proximity to shopping on Park Street.
Come on down and take a drive through the town - you won't be disappointed. I would recommend it over Lamorinda - you can actually walk to school/grocery store/restaurants here and there is more diversity. Good luck! at home in Alameda
Re: Neighborhoods for car-free life with a toddler?
Though not as urban as Berkeley, you may want to consider Alameda - it's a really great place to live with a toddler. I have an almost 3 year old, and rarely drive anywhere. We walk to several grocery stores, downtown cafes / restaurants, a great bookstore, the library, parks, preschool, tumbling, music, etc. The neighborhoods are quite safe, and public schools are good. The parks & recreation department runs ''Wee Play'' two mornings a week for the 0-3 set, and good preschools (2, 3 or 5 days / week) in almost every park for ages 3-5. Both are very affordable. Housing costs seem comparable to Berkeley. We can't easily walk to BART, but my kid loves buses (including Trans-Bay), and the ferry. BART is only a few miles away.
Good luck! - a former Berkeley resident
Re: Kid friendly neighborhoods in the East Bay Alameda! I don't think there is a more family friendly community in the East Bay. Great victorians and craftsman homes as well as new cookie-cutter homes available in Bayport as well. Great parks and a beach. Need I say more? EA
Since Alameda is very flat, it couldn't be more stroller friendly. The city parks and rec department has lots of activities for kids and families, including a program offering free swim lessons for all kindergarteners.
Park Street has lots of fun shops, good food and coffee, much like Solano or College Avenues.
The housing stock in the Gold Coast neighborhood is older, with lots of turn of the century Victorians. In our house-shopping, we found that homes in this neighborhood were pretty well- maintained, and the prices weren't completely insane (at least by bay-area standards).
For shopping, there's a Trader Joes and new Safeway in the Alameda Towne Center. Target is also interested in building a new store there, but they're getting a lot of opposition. Near the Park Street bridge, The Marketplace is like a mini Rockridge Market Hall.
Happy Alameda Mom
Re: East Bay neighborhood that's commutable, progressive & kid-friendly
alameda is a wonderful place to live! flat, so biking/stroller stuff is easy. easy bus ride to the city, 35-40 min. schools pretty good i think (we homeschool). lots of scouts, soccer, little league, churches, etc. trader joe's and a new marketplace (organic stuff, fish, bakery, niman ranch meat) in town. quick to get just about anywhere in the bay area from here. good luck! peggy
Re: Seeking a friendly neighborhood w/kids
We recently moved to Alameda, because we wanted to be in a neighborhood that's good for raising children. In our neighborhood at the East End of Alameda, there are lots and lots of children, friendly families who all know one another, quiet pretty streets with kids playing on the sidewalks, lots of kid activities and parks, relatively less crime than most other parts of the bay area, good public schools, several nearby at- home daycare places that are less expensive than those in Berkeley or Oakland, good preschools nearby. It's a nice place to be raising our children, and is very convenient to many other parts of the Bay Area (10-20 minutes to many parts of Oakland or Berkeley; not too bad a commute to San Francisco or other places east or south of here). There are lots of rentals as well as owner-occupied houses, and when I was looking for a house I found prices for both to be somewhat less than in Berkeley, Albany, or Oakland. I think most of Alameda is very family oriented. It feels like a small town hidden in the Bay Area. Alexandra
I wanted to respond to the two recent postings interested in information about Alameda. We too made the move from Oakland due to housing prices and wanting to use public schools. It's taken a little while to get used to the small town feel, but we're mostly feeling like it was a wise choice. I love the old houses and tree-lined streets, the bicycling is wonderful (especially with kids), the place is very "family friendly", and from what I can tell from my limited experience (I have a first grader) the schools are pretty good. I'm gradually meeting more and more like-minded people, shopping at some of the small businesses on the island, enjoying the beach, etc. I also have found that Alameda is quite centrally located in that I can easily get to Oakland, S.F., and Berkeley, especially with the new freeway (I don't love using 880 so much, but in general haven't found the traffic too bad). The housing prices are increasing, there's lots of talk of new development here, and in general it feels like an "up and coming" place. Regarding specific questions about childcare and Franklin School--the main coop I've heard of is called "Kiddie Campus" and I think it has a good reputation (there are several other excellent non-coop preschool/family daycare type places) and Franklin School, from what I understand, is considered one of the better schools. I think it's pretty small with lots of parental involvement (there are several other good schools too). Good luck with your decisions/moves and please e-mail me directly if you want to talk or meet some new people (I have two boys--ages 6 and 2).
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