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Living in Dimond/Laurel District, Oakland

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Housing, Neighborhoods, & Moving > Living in Dimond/Laurel District, Oakland

May 2012

We are moving to the East Bay from Boston. We have a three year old son and are looking to buy a modest home in an area with other vibrant young families and great sense of community. Safety and schools are important. Can you tell me more about the Laurel and Diamond district? What I am finding seems to be a few years old. I am interested if there are places I can walk to? How is the SF commute? Other young kids? Playgrounds? Any advice or perceptions are appreciated. Kat

I've lived in the Dimond for nearly a decade and I love so many things about it. The weather is amazing and it is perfect for gardening. The people I know are down-to-earth, friendly, and helpful and I've never felt so a part of a community. The retail area (Fruitvale/MacArthur) is just getting better and better. When I first moved here I never bought anything there. Now I spend plenty of money at Peet's, LaFarine, Farmer Joe's, Paws and Claws, and the many restaurants that are popping up. There is also a lot of new art (murals, mosaics) as well as other improvements to the area. Dimond Park is a great place to play and have a picnic. The librarians at Dimond Library are incredible. I live 5 minutes from hiking in the redwoods, when there's no traffic SF is only 15 minutes away...I could go on and on. There is a neighborhood Yahoo group just for families in the area (dimondfamilies) which is a great resource for swapping kid gear, setting up childcare, finding a house-sitter, learning about preschools, etc. The streets between Lincoln and Laguna are mostly only 1 block long and are pretty appealing because of their walkability and know-all-your-neighbors feel. The streets running up the hill are not as walkable but seem to have larger yards and good views of the bay. The neighborhood elementary school, Sequoia, is vibrant and full of great teachers and sweet kids. My children walk there every day on a 'walking school bus' as do many other kids from the neighborhood. The middle school has a new principal, who is very welcoming and smart, and more and more families are sending their kids K-12 through the OUSD schools. All in all, the Dimond is a great place to live!

The main thing I don't love about the area is the crime, which seems to come and go in waves and is a part of living in Oakland, especially during lousy economic times. Almost everyone I know has a story of a car break-in or other non-violent crime. It gets old. Dimondite

I live in upper Dimond/Lincoln highlands with my husband and young child and we are very happy here.

Pros: really lovely people, lots of young families, lots of all kinds of diversity (ethnic, racial, economic, cultural, etc.) but a very warm Feeling overall.
- I swear it is warmer and sunnier than other parts of Oakland/berkeley.
- Dimond neighborhood gems: La Farine, Farmer Joes Market, Peet's, the friendliest post office in the bay area, Dimond library, Lions pool,
- Jordan park/avenue Terrace park in Redwood Heights is also great and so close.
- I think Sequoia elementary seems like a great community and great school. We attended the science fair a few weeks ago and were really impressed by the school, the families, even by the subjects of the art projects on the walls of the kindergarten wing. I am really hoping it will be a good fit for us in a couple of years. -very close to the Redwood regional park with gorgeous hiking trails

Cons: honestly, the only con is that crime does happen, thefts and car breakins, etc. I don't think it is worse in our area than anywhere else in the urban East Bay, but it is an urban reality. In practical terms, it means we make sure our cars and house are locked up and take reasonable safety precautions. But we walk every day, at least twice a day and also ride bikes and play outside, and feel very comfortable here.

I can't speak to the commute to SF, but your access to highways is excellent from Dimond or Laurel, and are a pretty quick drive to a couple of BART stations. Good luck with your move!

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this page was last updated: Jul 16, 2012

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