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We are looking to move next year to a house that is close to desirable schools, and have heard good things about Castro Valley. Having only ever lived in Oakland and Berkeley, and having never travelled into Castro Valley, I'd like to hear from current/past residents (or people who considered living there but decided not to) about the pros and cons of the city. While the schools are important to us, i also want to make sure that my husband and i will find our groove there, too. We are city slickers, but also really like the smallish-town feel of places like alameda for raising kids (unfortunately, we are priced out of that area right now). To castro valley or not?
That said, there are some very pretty areas. It's worth going to Lake Chabot and spending some time driving around CV to get a feel for it. Mostly Happy in Castro Valley
Pros: excellent public schools with smaller class sizes than our previous WestCoCo school, decent social and economic diversity (not as good as Berkeley, but much better than lamorinda), larger houses, larger yards, good access to recreation at parks and through HARD, no refineries or industrial pollution, warm weather (but not too hot), some ethnic restaurants, one small health food store, easy BART and freeway access
Cons: downtown has less character/ awesomeness than you find in Berkeley/Oakland neighborhoods. And while there is a OK diversity here, the different groups seem more cliquey than in Berkeley. But the absence of random street performers/ hipsters/ street vendors makes me feel like I am the most liberal person around instead of just the relatively moderate person I felt like before. like my new hood
Hi everyone, We are considering buying a house in Castro Valley, and would love some opinions from anyone who lives there. I work there, so I know the area pretty well, but I have the feeling it is not as progressive as I'd like. Does is feel too suburban to you? The schools are reportedly good, but obviously test scores don't mean everything... Does anyone have experience with the GATE program in the CVUSD? Any thoughts are appreciated... Possible suburbanite
Castro Valley is a nice town, as in cookies and lemonade on the day we moved in kind of nice. My husband and I have lived on all sides of the Bay Area, from SF to SJ, and we've never experienced genuine neighborliness as we have here. This extends to the schools as well, and, besides quality teachers, is one of the reasons the schools are so excellent. Parents are supportive, active, and generally very welcoming.
Yes, you will find more diversity of thought here than you have in Oakland. (Local lore says that there are kids at the high school who wear cowboy boots not because it is cool, but because their parents own ranches and they are, for lack of a better term, actual cowboys. We are talking about real differences here, not ideological ones.) Having loved Berkeley and Oakland and left, I appreciate now just how uniform a place Berkeley is....We like to think that a liberal mindset is a tolerant mindset, but it's awfully easy to be tolerant when everyone thinks the same way you do. Tolerance means nothing until it meets difference. That said, I have found more like-minded people than not here, and I have never felt threatened or isolated because of my (very liberal) beliefs.
Castro Valley does have a population of more conservative people, however. They are primarily older, primarily out of the school system. My experience has been that libertarianism is more prominent than republicanism, if you need a term for it. If I had to guess, I'd say that it is a declining group rather than a growing one. I have met more Oakland/Berkeley transplants in my time here than any other group of people.
If I have any complaints, they are these two. One: We are unincorporated, so we have no mayor, no police (CHP and the Alameda County Sheriff police us), no city in the formal sense. No one to complain to except county officials who are busy with the entire Alameda County as well as us. So we have parts of town without sidewalks and some crazy building configurations thanks to (as far as I can tell) lack of oversight. More importantly, though, this means that there is no one out there advocating for us, encouraging businesses to move in and thinking about the future of the community. (Yes, there is a municipal council who works on this but the difference between that and an actual elected council is clear.) Compounding this problems is #2: Oakland and Berkeley are so close that all of us transplants can commute to the great restaurants, bookstores, and shops we used to live near. My husband and I can get to a great indie flick on Shattuck in less than half an hour, and I have friends who drive all the way to Oakland for Chinese food on a regular week night. We don't advocate for our town because it is still so convenient to get great things close by--just not here. I think it is a bigger barrier to positive growth than many people imagine. We are going through a major overhaul of our downtown district, and it remains to be seen whether this brings improvement on the business front.
In the end, I'm happy I'm here. I don't regret this move. I do sometimes miss being in a more urban center, but many are very close when a trip to the theater or a nice dinner is in order. Overall, Castro Valley is a very nice place to live, nicer than a lot of people give it credit for. Don't come for the food.
Editor: a review was also received for San Ramon
Re: Affordable area (low $300k's) with good school district
I'm sorry I didn't see your original question, so I don't know what your other criteria were - such as commute distance, or diversity of various types. Also, what's affordable to one family may be out of reach for another. That said, I will mention that when browsing around, Castro Valley seems to have highly rated schools and is much cheaper for what you get than Berkeley.
I've been in Oakland (in the middle of the lake, piedmont and temescal area) for 3 years and we are looking to move and purchase a home in a nearby city. Prior to Oakland, I lived in SF for twelve years. I'm feeling sad to leave Oakland and move to the burbs, but we have a child now and its important to be in a safer area than we are now. It would also be dreamy for our child to attend her school of residence rather than have to win the lotto to get into a decent school. Does anyone live or know someone who lives in nearby cities? I'm hoping to hang out in these places more and get a feel for them-thinking lunch, coffee, visit parks... I was wondering if anyone has any hints of areas to hang in. Also our budget is tight so we are looking for houses around 300,000. Fancy, dreamy, hillside neighborhoods are out. 8( Sad to leave!
My husband and I are seriously considering moving to Castro Valley. We currently live in Oakland and he works in CV, and it seems that you get 'more for your money' out there, as well as better schools. I'd like to hear your opinion of CV and what areas are good/nice/better than others. If you are an Oakland/Berkeley transplant, what do you miss? Mom of three
What I love about Castro Valley
1. Good schools & Very kids friendly (lots of activities). With all the budget cuts it appears the community is really pulling together to keep the quality of schools strong.
2. Friendly people. Within the 3 weeks we've lived here, people seem so willing to help you, Say Hi and get to know you.
3. Safety. We walk a lot, and never once have I felt my safety compromised, even at 9-10 PM. A lot of people leave their front doors open, kids play in the front yard, etc.
4. House prices are much more afordable than Berkeley.
5. Depending on where you live you can keep part of the Berkeley walking lifestyle.
6. Really nice parks/rec activities, even beyond Lake Chabot
7. Location: You are close to BART, and have easy access to most of the bay area. When we lived in Berkeley we spent almost all our time in Berkeley/SF. We aren't a long drive from Oakland/Berkeley, but find ourselves beginning to explore other areas of the bay.
8. Farmers Market (though not the same as Berkeley), they have one at the CV Bart station.
What I miss about Berkeley
1. Quality of the sidewalks. Castro Valley is walkable, but it will take you a little bit to figure out which streets have the best sidewalks (if you still have kids in strollers). Sometimes the sidewalk pavement will slope, other times there will be a house with just dirt/gravel instead of a sidewalk. Not a big deal if you have kids that walk, but with a little one it takes a little longer to figure out the system. Definitely walkable, you just need to figure out the system.
2. All the great eats at great prices. I've heard this from most people who move out of the Oakland/Berkeley area, regardless of city. There's a bunch of restaurants with decent food, but I miss the great food at a great price that you can find in Berkeley.
3. Plethora of organic produce & stores. (i.e. Produce Center/Berkeley Bowl/Monterrey Market). You can find organic produce in the Safeway's/PW's etc., but it's not the same quality or the same consistency/variety. I haven't fully explored the area, but the only place that sells organic within walking distance of us is Safeway
4. Uniqueness of Berkeley. There's nothing like walking through the streets of Berkeley, with all the different houses, beautiful landscapes, people watching, etc....you can take a walk into the hills to see views of SF/Bay, or a walk onto campus. It's what makes Berkeley Bekeley. CV is nice, but not the same. Regardless, we are very happy we chose CV. Loving Castro Valley
We live on the Berkeley/Emeryville border & love it. We are looking to buy a home and can't afford this area. We could afford Oakland, Richmond or Castro Valley. Our question is, has anyone moved from the Berkeley area (who loved it) and liked Castro Valley? We have one child and one on the way, so schools matter. We're just afraid that we won't like or fit in in Castro Valley. Is it progressive, are there good restaurants, organic food, etc??? We know the schools are better there than Oakland & Richmond. Thanks! looking for our home
The harsh realities of life in Castro Valley: There are very few restaurants (some would say none). There is little cultural life. The whole town is only 14 square miles, and it is a ''town''--it is unincorporated, which means services are county-wide (we are policed by Alameda County Sheriffs and the CA Highway Patrol, for example), not city-run, and therefore are sometimes stretched past local needs. The downtown strip is just a few blocks long, and while there is promise of renovation, very little progress has been made. The empty, dilapidated grocery center down the street from our house has stayed that way since we arrived, despite the apparent appeal of the location for an organic or other small grocery. Yes, you will miss the vibrant diversity of life in a large urban city.
The surprises: There are lots of us here! I have met more Oakland/Berkeley transplants than locals or transplants from any other place. There are progressive politics. The mother's club is wonderful, especially for new arrivals--they set up playgroups, babysitting co-ops, mom's nights out, welcoming events, kids' events, and have guest speakers at monthly meetings, including a recent one on green living. (If you do decide to move here, I highly recommend contacting them, www.castrovalleymothersclub.com.) They are a mini-BPN.
We have a Trader Joe's. We have a locally owned grocery that is not exclusively organic but carries many organic products. We have a local farmer's market in the summer. We walk to Lake Chabot almost every day for a walk or a hike or a bike ride. People fish and barbecue and socialize together. There is a certain gravity to the place.
Before and after we married, my husband and I, between us, lived in the South Bay, the East Bay, the North Bay, and the Peninsula. One thing that we agree on is that Castro Valley has been one of the friendliest places we have ever moved to. Within a month of moving in, we had met our closest neighbors and had a barbecue thrown for us so we could meet some of the other families with young kids who live nearby. No one asked us if we were Democrats or Republicans or Jews or Christians before they accepted us as neighbors. That in itself has gone a long way to making this more of a home than we imagined it would be.
Also love Berkeley, and learning to like Castro Valley
Hi. I am looking ito relocating from Berkeley to Castro Valley and hopingto connect with some people who ar familiar with the neighborhoods and schools. My son will be entering middle school this fall. Anyone out there familiar with the middle and high school? I have read the other information on line, this is a re- post. Thanks, Carol
Re: East Bay neighborhood that's commutable, progressive & kid-friendly
We live in and really like Castro Valley. It's family friendly, there are community groups, I hear (my child is only 2 1/2) that the schools are good, it's small-ish but with all the essentials, well situated for either a BART or car commute to SF, also well situated for access to other cities such as Hayward/Union City, Oakland and Dublin/Pleasanton (I work in Oakland and my husband works in Dublin). Lake Chabot, which has hiking, biking, horseback riding, picnicing and fishing, is just minutes from downtown. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions I might be able to answer. We're also relocating this coming June, but it has nothing to do with Castro Valley! Jennifer
My family is considering moving from Oakland to Castro Valley. We would like as much information as we can about quality of life there, the public school system, recreational activities, and the Bart commute to San Francisco. Thank you for whatever information you can provide.
My daughter is only 2 1/2 so I can't comment on the public schools personally, although I have heard good things about them (including talking to another mom who was wanting a way for her son to attend CV High even though they live in Hayward).
For outdoor recreation there are many parks in the area (Hayward Area Recreation District - HARD) and Lake Chabot is just minutes from the Boulevard (Castro Valley Blvd is the main drag through town). Lake Chabot has fishing, hicking, biking horseback riding and picnic areas.
Castro Valley has a little of almost everything IN TOWN, and then more stuff like shopping, dining and entertainment are just minutes away either up and down 880 or out in Dublin and Pleasanton. My husband works in Dublin so we personally prefer to go that direction.
Local Stuff includes: FAST FOOD - McDonalds, Wendy's, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, Burger King, Togos, Subway, Chipotle, Carree Outee Chinese Food (actually really good), Rigatoni's, KFC and others. GROCERIES - Albertsons, Safeway, PW, Trader Joe's. SHOPPING - Castro Village has a Ross Dress for Less, Hallmark store a Walreens and many other shops. Next to Safeway is a Clothestime and Payless Shoe Source. Across Redwood Rd from there is a Radio Shack. Castro Valley also has a Longs and Rite Aide. DINING - there's family style such as Carrows, Bakers Square, El Rancho Steak House, Dino's Italian and Fong's Dang How. There are pizza places, delis and taquerias. There are also a few nice restaurants that I can't remember the names of except for The Crow's Tavern at the east end of the Boulevard. Have eaten there and it was good. MOVIES - There's Blockbuster and Hollywood and a 1 screen theater.The BART station is very nice with lots of parking. I don't personally commute to/from SF, but have gone to SF on BART and I'd say it's fine. Getting on the train in CV will probably let you have a seat!
Other things to note: Castro Valley is really ideally located with other cities and their stuff just a short distance away. I think CV is safer than other Bay Area cities, definitely safer than Oakland. And I think it's actually pretty and even a little quant. There is also Eden Medical Center here which is Alameda County's trauma center, and we've found good doctors for all of us here. I don't drive and live at the west end of the Boulevard, yet everything I really need is within a mile to a mile and a half. That may not be the case for everyone, but most other people drive.
Honestly, I wish I could transplant Castro Valley to a location outside the Bay Area! Jennifer
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