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Reviews of Oakland Neighborhoods
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.
Re: Schools, commutable,urban under $500k?
I just bought a house in the Bushrod neighborhood in North Oakland five months ago. It has almost all the things you are looking for: diversity, affordability, close to FWY and emeryville, and we can walk to rockridge, elmwood, temescal, and berkeley. Some of the schools are a little sketchy, but others like Peralta are great. Its a really great area!
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
We're planning to buy our first house and are currently looking all over Albany, Berkeley, Oakland, and Alameda. We've got two kids (one in elementary school), aren't sure about a third, and are able to spend low to mid 600s for a three bedroom house. There's nothing in the archives about Lincoln Heights, which is an area where we keep seeing houses that could work for us. So far Albany, Alameda and Glenview are easier to get excited about, but the houses we like there are just a bit out of our range. Do people who live in the Mormon Temple area love it or is it just OK? Is it a kid-dense area? Are people neighborly? What's the crime (petty or major) and nuisance situation like? There's a lot of enthusiasm on BPN and greatschools.org for Sequoia elementary -- is that fairly universal or is it just the happy ones speaking up? Thanks for any and all comments! househunter
This really isn't a kid friendly area due to the hills, traffic and crime. I use to know all of my neighbors and we were quite friendly, but many have moved and the new ones are more reserved. As much as I like the view, this is not an area I would move to know especially if I had kids.
If you are looking for houses make sure you have the foundation checked. Over the years several houses have slid and some have been condemned others have had over a $100k in foundation damage. ANON
As for Sequoia, we have found it to be a great school with a wonderful staff and a strong and welcoming parent community. The community events are fabulous, and the school offers a number of enrichment programs, such as garden, art, drumming, choir, instrumental music, and library. The school definitely has its challenges, mostly because they don't have the resources they need, but this is not unique to Sequoia. The funding for public education is horrific. However, despite this reality, we feel very lucky that we have such a wonderful public school in our neighborhood. Amy
Re: Kid friendly neighborhoods in the East Bay We love our neighborhood, Redwood Heights in the Oakland foothills. It's crawling with kids; has a real community feel; lovely '20s- through '50s-era homes; a great neighborhood elementary school (Redwood Heights Elementary); a well-used Rec Center with lots of interesting kid and adult programs; a wonderful park and playground; friendly, involved residents; well-tended gardens; mostly flat streets with sidewalks for bike riding and scootering; etc.
(In fact, when we outgrew our small starter house last year, we purchased a larger house just a few blocks away so that we could stay in the neighborhood, where our kids have lots of friends and where we really feel like a part of the community.)
Demographically, it's somewhat ethnically diverse, with mostly middle- and upper-middle class residents (it's definitely been skewing more upper-middle class as home prices have tripled in the last 8 years or so; most houses now sell in the high $600K to low $800K range). Among the newer residents with kids (who are quickly replacing older residents who moved in decades ago and stayed), I'd say that most are white-collar professionals, with scientists, medical professionals, and educators making up pretty significant subgroups, plus a smattering of writers and artists. A lot of people here are Cal alumni.
There's an active neighborhood organization with a softball team, a baby-todder mom's group, block emergency captains, etc., and a really involved community at the elementary school as well.
This being Oakland, it's fairly progressive politically and socially. There are lots of two-mom families, a fair number of MoveOn members and Green-party voters, etc. There is the occasional property crime (car break-ins and home burglaries every once in awhile) -- as there is everywhere -- but all in all the neighborhood is extremely safe. It's just a comfortable, open, and welcoming place to live -- maybe a bit suburban in feel but also close to all the urban stuff that Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco (you can be in downtown SF in 20 minutes, barring rush hours) have to offer.
Anyway, come on over and check it out! Leah
Re: Looking for family-friendly multi-racial neighborhood
We live in the Redwood Heights area of Oakland (technically, we're actually Leona Heights). We have a really diverse neighborhood -- not only multiracial but queer-friendly too. Lots of families and kids and a good elementary school. For me, our neighborhood represents the best Oakland has to offer: diversity, good weather, and a family-friendly feeling. You didn't say whether you were looking to rent or buy, but I think there are a few rentals in our neighborhood, although most houses are owner-occupied. Ilana
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