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Living in Oakland CA
General Questions about Living in Oakland
Reviews of Oakland Neighborhoods
We (myself, husband, and 3 kids ages 3, 5.5, and 8) moved to Livermore in January from Boston. I'm a CA native and grew up in the Berkeley area. We picked Livermore because we had 2 days to pick a town and a house to rent in it when we moved back here - so not much time to think about it. I've put a lot of effort into making Livermore my new home. But so far it's felt fairly unwelcoming. We're out here in serious suburbistan. Not much variety in culture or ethnicity. Or as I like to say, 'seriously lacking funk'. I LOVE the upper East Bay (Berkeley, Oakland, etc) and very much want to move back that way, and we're at a point where we'd like to by a house. But I cant decide if moving is the right thing to do for my family.
-better commute for the paterfamilias (25 min. instead of
-more variety in landscape and personalities of community members
-closer access to the arts and cultural activities that the inner bay area has to offer
-some really cool looking charter schools
-decent homes in our price range that are in safe and pretty locations in the hills -closer to my husband's family
-New school for my older 2 kids. Particularly difficult for my 8 year old who doesn't deal well with new things and has already been to 3 schools in the past 2.5 years do to our 2 moves.
-Lots of robberies in Oakland, even in the 'safer' parts of town -public schools are seriously hit or miss, and there seems to be a game that one must play in order to get into the better ones or into the charter schools, or at least a lot of effort to put in. Then Jr. High and High School are pretty sub-par
-having to readjust yet again to a different place. But at least in Oakland it would be a fairly familiar one for me and one in which I'm more likely to mesh with.
-Have people had problems getting into the charter schools? What obstacles lay it wait?
-Have people been happy with their non-charter public schools?
-How safe or unsafe have people found living in Oakland? We're looking mainly in the area East of Warren/MacArthur and probably South of Joaquin Miller
-Have people found that area to have a sense of community?
-How much weight should I put on my 8 year old's aversion to another move?
-What do people do for Jr. High and High School? We can't afford private school but I know the options when I was growing up in that area (class of '00) were not so great to put it mildly.
-If we decide to go ahead with the move... what steps can I take to start proactively developing a community for my kids and myself.
Any input would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
I'm considering moving to Oakland, but get such mixed responses when I tell people (mainly about safety and the quality of the public schools). I'm a single mom with a school age child, and a dog (so early morning and evening walks will be necessary). We'll be going the public school route. I'm moving from another city, so am not overly paranoid, in spite of how this question probably sounds! How do I figure out where to look in Oakland? I want a safe neighborhood and a good school for my son. A place where we can build a community is important, since we have no family nearby. Preferably a neighborhood where we won't be totally dependent on a car to get places. Can look other areas in the east bay and san francisco as well. My income level is on the low end of moderate, and we're looking to rent, not buy. Any suggestions/tips on how to find a place and where exactly to look are so appreciated! confused about oakland
We have a great neighborhood for walks and meet plenty of friendly neighbors walking their dogs. There are also some great dog parks in the area, Oyster Bay and at the Marina are popular, locals will certainly tell you about more dog parks. Parking is easy, and we have a lot of major shops so that running errands in town is a breeze.
We also live close to downtown and the BART station, so it's very easy to walk anywhere we want to: cafes, library, etc. It's a great town for affordability and safety. Our police force is amazing - they come out right away and are tough on crime. They encourage residents to call if something looks fishy and educate the public about what to do to keep yourself safe and aware. And they are friendly and nice, as well. On top of that, the town is quite beautiful with many tree lined streets. K M
Montclair farmer's market is 5 minutes away and it's a great one to go to. Transportation is convenient - we have hwy 13 and 580 and I can take a 10 minute bus that goes directly to Fruitvale Bart for commuting to SF. Also, the Oak airport is only 20 minutes away. I have done downtown SF in 15 minutes (no traffic). Not to mention, that Redwood Regional Park is really close by for great hiking and fun for kids. We also get wild turkeys, hawks, owls, and woodpeckers in the neighborhood. It's pretty neat!
As for crime, I would be lying if I didn't say there was crime here. I have not experienced it personally during the 10 years I've been here, but it is a concern for people living here, not to mention the hills in general. I have been lucky - left my keys in my front door overnight (oops) and driven off without closing the garage door, and thankfully nothing has happened. Although, we do take precautions - have an alarm, don't leave windows open when we go out, etc. I don't know what you can do about it living here other than that. I look at it like earthquakes - prepare the best you can, cross your fingers, and then stop thinking about it. I feel safe in the neighborhood, and i've had friends in the very nice parts of town have their homes broken into, so unfortunately I think it's a fact of life.
But I love the weather, the diversity of food and people, the proximity to culture and nature. Best of luck. Happy to be here
Anyone else thinking of moving to escape the outrageous crime in Oakland? I am not one to be faint of heart, having grown up in New York, taught in Harlem, lived in Washington, D.C. yet I have never felt so completely unsafe as I do right now living in this beautiful city. If your thinking of bailing where to? If your sticking it out how are you coping? I love our neighborhoods and the sense of community and the list serve has been such a wonderful way to connect, but as of late it has be a repository of depressing accounts of crime. Onestressedmama
My husband and I hope to buy our first home in the 650-700K range--a three bedroom 2 bath with yard. We have a one year old and hope to land in a good school district, at least through elementary. We have bid on five properties focusing on North/Central Berkeley and Albany and we're now realizing we prob can't afford these primo neighborhoods in what is quickly becoming a very competitive market.
My question is how to extend our home search to other neighborhoods, specifically comparing North Oakland vs. El Cerrito, focusing on home values and school quality. We want to live in a walkable neighborhood, ideally close to Bart or easy public transportation to SF, so the El Cerrito hills are not an option (this also rules out Kensington). Which school districts in North Oakland are worth considering? How are the El Cerrito elementary schools? (All the reviews on BPN are older). How do these districts compare? We're both public school grads and hope to use public schools, but we've heard terrible things about the middle and high schools in both El C and Oakland, so we'd want to preserve our exit strategy and be able to sell our house in 10 years and move to a better district by the time our son is middle school age if need be. Comparing El C and Oakland, which neighborhoods would be most likely to retain their value?
Our final concern is safety. We hate the idea of spending so much on our home and ending up in a dicey neighborhood. Any and all advice is appreciated. Discouraged by Bay Area home prices
Moderator note: reviews were also received for El Cerrito
We are a family of four (two children under two) currently living in Wellington, New Zealand. However, I am originally from the East Coast and lived in NYC and Brooklyn for 10 years. My husband is a Kiwi and we are beginning to think of moving back to the US. California is the natural choice as it's half way, reminds my husband of home with the climate and topography, but I still get my culture and a break from 24 hour journeys with children to see my folks!
My question is what are the good neighborhoods in Oakland for young families. We are very pro-public school, but also would like a pedestrian, urban-feel, where community is important and it will be easy to meet people. I've heard a bit about Rockridge. Any other suggestions? And any good sites for real estate browsing, even just for fun? Thanks!
I live in Montclair myself - it has a slightly more rural feel than Rockridge and the 2 public elementary schools here are excellent (middle school is improving steadily); because of the hills some parts are more walkable than others, but you have easy access to large and beautiful regional parks for hiking, etc.
Crocker Highlands has a good elementary school, very cute houses, seems to have an active family/community vibe (we go play on their school playground sometimes and it's always full of families hanging out together on weekends); not necessarily easy to walk to things from there.
The Trestle Glen and Piedmont Avenue areas are walkable to shops; I don't know much about their schools. Have fun exploring neighborhoods! Oaklander
The area around Piedmont Avenue (both in the cities of Oakland and Piedmont) are also very walkable and family friendly. In many ways I prefer Piedmont Ave over Rockridge as it feels more like a real neighborhood with a larger variety of businesses along the avenue rather than just restaurants, cafes and boutiques.
If you stay in the areas of Montclair that are close to the business district, it is also very walkable, but not so much in the hills. All three are well established, good neighborhoods.
I also like the areas along Grand or Lakeshore, particularly north of the 580 Freeway.
Temescal (near Telegraph and 51st) is a bit more 'up and coming' but it has some great shops and restaurants. Just a little grittier than Piedmont Ave or Rockridge.
There are probably a few other spots, but these are the ones I have lived in or spent time in over the years. Oakland has a lot to offer families and I hope you find the area that works best for you! Maria
I am searching for a 1-2 bedroom rental in the $1200/month or less price range for me and my toddler. I have been living in the South Berkeley area for the last several years and am familiar with Berkeley, Emeryville, and North Oakland/Temescal, but not much else. All of the archived info on the forums is for home owners rather than renters and seems to assume ownership of a car.
I walk and take public transportation and would like to hear from others about the neighborhoods around Lake Merritt, especially on the north side, and up near Piedmont Avenue. Of particular interest to me are:
(1) how safe and family friendly they are for walking and busing and if there are particular portions of each neighborhood to be wary of
(2) good parks, libraries with story time, and related (cafes, play spaces) for toddlers in the area
(3) easy of walking and busing for grocery shopping and getting to BART and other parts of the east bay.
If you have another neighborhood that you think is worth considering that is north of Lake Merritt and fits the above criteria, I'd love to hear about it as well. exploring outside my comfort zone
Can anyone recommend a good but not too expensive neighborhood to buy a house in Oakland? We are looking for an area with homes in the 300-400k range with good schools and parks. I realize this may be a fantasy but if anyone has a recommendation, we would appreciate it!
My son's charter school is quite close by - about 12 minutes away by car (on the streets - no freeway driving). This is K-12, Lighthouse Community Charter School. They've just had their charter renewed - and they have a beautiful new facility at 444 hegenberger, next to the Marriot. I can't praise the school enough - a truly wonderful education - my sons has been there for nearly 4 years. S
We are thinking about purchasing a single family house in Oakland. Can someone give us some recommendations on some neighborhoods where we might want to look and the advantages and disadvantages of living in some of the different neighborhoods?
Also, can someone recommend a realtor to help us in our housing search? To those of you who have purchased recently in Oakland, what's the market like? Thanks Bev
yOu have to sign up, but it is free http://www.ziprealty.com/
Once you've gotten to SF Bay Area Real Estate click on Search for Homes and then look for the tab that says Interactive Map. This is the best invention ever. You zero in on an area you are interested in and it will show up to 100 homes in that area. They are all in a list on the left, or you can mouse over the map and get some details and then click for the full listing. Once you are in a full listing you can click on SOLD HOMES at the top. That will give you info on nearby homes and how much they sold for. They are not super up-to-date the most recent ones listed are in July, but still the info is useful. It tells you sq footage, number of BD/BA, sale price, and price/sq foot. Good luck! Susan
Good Luck! Cindy
We bought our house about a year and a half ago in Oakland. Some of the more sought after neighborhoods are these:
Rockridge - very family oriented, 2nd best elementary school in the Bay Area (Chabot), mostly craftsmen style homes, centrally located, lots of shops and restaurants to walk to, (mainly College Ave)
Elmwood - actually in Berkeley, but right next to Rockridge, going down College Ave. With the exception of the school district, as I'm not familiar with theirs, all of the above listed under Rockridge.
Claremont - also in Berkeley, but Rockridge and Claremont areas are often lumped together. Homes tend to be in larger and higher price ranges. A little more walking necessary to get to restaurants and shops.
Montclair - originally a place for vacation homes, the houses are a very eclectic mix, varying in size, age and prices. Most homes are on hills. Has it's own nice shopping district.
Glenview - an up and coming, transitional area. Most conviently located to freeway, borders Piedmont, small shopping district, charming homes. Need knowledgeable realtor to show you more prosperous/promising streets.
Trestle Glen - one of the most attractive streets in Oakland, in my opinion - lovely homes, very pricy.
Lakeshore and Lake Merritt - have some nice homes, but I am less familiar with the market there.
Piedmont - actually not part of Oakland, (or at least anymore), but overall the most prosperous area, currently the only area with a very good academic highschool, homes cost substantially more.
In general, the market has softened. But in Rockridge and Piedmont, it's been pretty steady due to school districts, etc. The other areas, I'm simply not familiar enough with recent sales.
We were really happy with our realtor, Hope Broderick. http://www.hopebroderick.com/
Hope this helps!! cemekeller
There is also ample public transportation (train stations, &
buses). When you're ready to start looking you should call Shaun
Martin. She was recommended to me, & I've had the pleasure of
recently working with her. She's a Realtor who specializes in
Oakland neighborhoods. She's very knowledgeable & extremely
accessable. Her office # is 510 531-7000 ext. 240 Good luck!
Welcome to Oakland!
''Dogtown'' west of Adeline and north of West Grand is close to
Emeryville and pretty nice. There are also some really nice old
Victorians in ''Lower Bottoms'' west of Mandela Parkway. Just come
drive around--there are lots of houses for sale.
West Oakland Mama
I recommend Linda Andersen as a real estate agent. Her number is
292-8704, with Keller & Williams
Signed: Linda F.
As far as the market goes, from what we can see in our
neighborhood, things have slowed considerably. But, high-quality,
well-designed houses that are decently priced still move in a
couple of weeks (versus days a year ago). Houses that are odd
floor plans/designs and/or overpriced are just sitting there.
And, even well-priced houses on the high-end (over $2 million in
upper-Rockridge) seem to be sitting for some time (still selling -
though below asking). So, from the perspective of a year or two
ago, it is a buyers market now.
Oakmore has better access to freeways and AC transit than most parts of Montclair, but uses Montclair schools (Joaquin Miller, Montera, Skyline) and especially on the ''bay side'' of the hill is a quiet neighborhood with great walks, stunning views, easy access to the trails in Dimond Park, good neighborhood store, friendly feeling.
And though the state of Oakland public schools is uncertain under state control,
Skyline High is a great educational experience for many, many kids, has high-profile
programs in arts, sports, and AP, and sends many well-scholarshipped students to
prestigious colleges every year.
Has anyone here lived in Jingletown? We already live in East Oakland but closer to the 580 instead of the 880. We have two kids but are in a charter school so we're not so worried about OUSD zoning. More concerned about how the neighborhood is - is it walkable? How is the air quality? Would you walk your dog after dark? thanks! x
Re: Cheaper but "safe enough" neighborhoods
We live in Oakland, in Leona Heights, between Edwards and Semanary - Houses are much less expensive here then in Berkeley, Rockridge, etc. The upside is that it is quiet, sunny and not much happening on the streets -on the downside we don't have many services - no stores, only one bus line that's very infrequent so it's not an area where people hang out - anon
Re: Buying in the East Bay -- need advice!
We bought about a year ago in the Longfellow neighborhood of Oakland with similar desires. Longfellow is on the other side of MLK from Temescal. I love it! We can walk to Emeryville and to the Temescal district, to MacArthur BART and Mosswood Park. Admittedly the neighborhood has some crime, and a few of our neighbors have random loud parties, but the price was right and for better or worse the neighborhood is definitely gentrifying. I'm quite certain with your price range you can find what you're looking for. Longfellow fan
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