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We are moving from SF to the East Bay and trying to determine whether Elmwood, Berkeley or Rockridge, Oakland will be better for for our family. We have two kids -- 2 and 1 -- and we are planning on having one or maybe two more. We are 30ish professionals, but I am currently a SAHM while I reconsider my career options. We are Middle Eastern, and we value diversity quite a bit. Other priorities include great neighborhood, strong community feel, walkability, good schools, and a hip but not too hip vibe. We are NYC transplants, and though we LOVE the Bay Area, we definitely miss that NYC/Brooklyn edge at times. The key thing for us is that we want a home and a neighborhood in which we can raise our children and grow old. Therefore, we are looking for a stable community that offers us a mix of cultures and age groups while maintaining a bit of an edge. Also, cost isn't a huge factor, as our income can support a home in either places. Any suggestions and insights are welcome! Thank!! Soon to be new in town
I live in Oakland in a fantastic house, in an up and coming area, but we weren't thinking about these things when we bought, didn't even have a kid then So currently we're homeschooling and looking at private schools for the future... Food for Thought and Grounds for Further Research
One obvious difference is they are in two different school districts. In Oakland, you will know ahead of time which school your kids will be assigned to - it depends on where your house is. In Berkeley, you will be assigned to one of four schools, very possibly to one that is too far to walk to. There are Rockridge schools that have better 'numbers' than Berkeley schools, again depending on where you live in Oakland, and which school you are assigned to in Berkeley. So I wouldn't necessarily let the school district be your determining factor. I think that houses are cheaper in Rockridge because of the perceived school district difference.
I actually enjoyed life in Rockridge better in terms of getting to work and shopping for food. There's a BART station in Rockridge, more restaurants, more markets. Elmwood has a selection of restaurants, but not as many. Elmwood does have a movie theater and a nice library (as does Rockridge) but if you live in Elmwood you can't really run out on foot for a piece of fish and fresh veggies for dinner. In the Elmwood, for a last minute dinner, you are looking at either a restaurant or high end takeout like Summer Kitchen. In Rockridge you have Safeway, Ver Brugge, and Yasai Market all clustered together, and of course Market Hall a little further down. This is so convenient, on the way home from work, or while you're out for a stroll with the baby.
I would say that Elmwood is more upscale than Rockridge, and with an older demographic than Rockridge. I do see plenty of people pushing strollers in both places, but more in Rockridge. If you really want a more hip neighborhood, though, you want Temescal! a mom
Rockridge is a fun shopping and dining district, with proximity to Temescal and Uptown which of course are hipster neighborhoods par excellence. Oakland is pretty much the Brooklyn of the Bay Area, very diverse, past its golden era of working-class pride but bubbling with artisan/locavore/indie energy. With BART and the highway right there, it's also faster getting to other parts of town than from the Elmwood, which gets clogged at rush hours.
The public schools are where you'll find the biggest difference. Berkeley has very high taxes to offset California's lousy school funding, and also buses its students, so all of its elementary schools are similarly (very) diverse racially and economically. There's really not a bad school in town. Oakland schools are zoned by neighborhood for the most part. In the Rockridge area, there are some excellent public schools with mostly affluent families whose PTAs raise $250K or more a year--but of all the white families in Oakland I know, not a single one has stayed in OUSD all the way through high school. glad 2 B in Elmwood
Editor Note: this discussion also appears on the page about Elmwood
Re: Moving to Oakland with small children
Rockridge is definitely one of the most walkable parts of Oakland, and also has a good elementary school (Chabot). You'll find a lot of shops, an excellent public library, easy access to BART/public transportation and lots to do with kids.
We are considering moving from South Berkeley (near Ashby Bart) to North Oakland (below Martin Luther King). It seems that safety has improved in the area in the last few years. I would love to hear from people living in the neighborhood about your thoughts. Does it feel safe for families with children? Thank you! Thx for the help!
There are still, certainly, rough spots and flares of violence (45th and Market was an issue, less so recently; 52nd and Genoa seems to be the new hot spot). But you can see the changes - the 40th Street median was just replanted again - with irrigation this time. There is a Longfellow association that meets monthly, has committees (blight, beautification, grants) and is working hard to make the neighborhood better each day. West and Market have bike lanes, and the Telegraph Avenue love is starting to seep over to the 'other side' of Hwy. 24.
In short, I don't think it's *that* much different from your current location. Different housing stock, different problems, but similar. And there are kids for sure. We have 2 (5 & 7) and there are 7 more on our block alone. Longfellow Resident
Re: Relocating to the Bay Area, looking for a walkable neighborhood
We live in and love the Rockridge area of Oakland It's highly walkable and close to BART, good restaurants, etc. though as not as comprehensively useful as Piedmont Avenue. Admittedly it's not the cheapest place to buy a house.
We also adore our pre-school, Room to Grow. It's a reggio inspired program with really caring adults, who go the extra mile for the kids. You'd be amazed what kids can accomplish given adults who are open to seeing what they can do. The outdoor space is small, but they make the most of every inch. You get yoga, lots of art, great science exploration, cooking, and a gentle place that really understands kids.
It currently has openings. Our older child who is now in elementary went there for 2 years, and our youngest has been for six month. Happy Parent
I am currently in the process of downsizing and moving to a smaller house since my children are grown and living on their own. I have lived in North Berkeley for twenty years and know the area well but haven't found a house I like in the area. I have found a lovely small house in North Oakland on the west side of Shattuck at 58th street but don't know anything about the neighborhood. The streets in the area seem quiet and safe and most seem attractive and well tended. Is the area safe, friendly and stable? moving on
You can search back in time to see what was happening in the area for the last few months.
You also might want to read about the city of Oakland and its financial problems; the financial situation is causing difficulties for citizens to get the services they need. You might want to compare the governments of Berkeley to Oakland. The city police force is definitely understaffed; street maintenance is suffering; parks and rec are being defunded; etc. abetteroakland.com is a good blog to give you some insight into the city.
When you look at crimespotting's website you can find out what Neighboorhood Crime Prevention Group (NCPC) you would be in ; you might want to contact them for some neighborhood advice. Sue
Re: new to Elmwood/Rockridge
Welcome to the area! I live in Rockridge and have a daughter who is just turning two. There are tons of things to do - we almost never use our car. Here's a list of places we go and things we do together...
1. Rockridge Library. They have story time on Wednesdays and Saturdays. But we also go at other times. They have a great kids area with toys, crayons/coloring sheets and (of course) books. The childrens' librarians are also wonderful.
2. PARKS. In the area, we frequent...
--Colby Park on 61st near Colby
--Bateman Park, right next to Alta Bates Hospital
--Willard Park (Hillegass and Stuart-ish)
--FROG Park, down where Claremont Ave crosses the 24 freeway
--On weekends, we use some of the local elementary school parks, including Chabot School (on Chabot Ave) and John Muir (on Claremont up by Ashby).
3. We take Music Together classes at Rockridge Danspace. (Andy Fullington is a GREAT teacher.)
4. There are great toddler/baby swim ''classes'' at the Berkeley Warm Pool on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings. This isn't in rockridge/elmwood but is near downtown Berkeley and easily accessible by BART.
5. In warm weather, the beach at Temescal Lake is great.
6. Kid-friendly coffee shops in the area are...
--Cafe Zoe on College and Harwood. The chairs and big and sturdy and won't fall over if your toddler likes to climb. The staff there is super friendly to kids.
--The Beanery, on College Ave in Elmwood. The coffee there is wretched, but they have an awesome enclosed patio in the back - great for letting your toddler roam and relatively private if you need to nurse.
7. Check out Habitot in downtown Berkeley - right near BART.
8. Also check out MOCHA (the museum of children's art) in downtown Oakland. It's also right near BART and offers hands-on art projects for kids. My daughter loves it.
There are tons of used toys/baby gear to be had if you don't want to bring your own. Check out BPN's Marketplace newsletter. And there's tons of stuff on craigslist. We have also found some great stuff at Child's Play on College and Chabot (sells used kids' clothing as well as baby gear, toys, even some books). Best of luck to you - hope you like it here as much as we do... A Rockridge Mom
Re: Where's the 'Park Slope' of Berkeley/Oakland?
From everything you said, Rockridge sounds like the best match to what you are looking for. I think it resembles Park Slope the closest, although you will never get a perfect match. Walkable shopping areas, close proximity to BART, good public elementary schools, tree lined streets, and nice weather. M
Coming from New York, you will find the pace slower, but it is also much easier to cope with daily life. You'll never have to haul a stroller up subway steps again. As in the slope, public schools are less certain after elementary, but our neighborhood middle school is getting better all the time and more neighborhood families are choosing it each year. Lastly, although the bay area is expensive compared to most of the country, we've got nothing on the most desirable parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan so you should be spared some sticker shock. Good luck in your choice!
Greetings! My husband and I are seriously considering moving to the Rockridge neighborhood from Danville with our 2 year-old son and new baby. We are looking to live in a more urban, culturally diverse neighborhood but want to make sure that this is a good neighborhood for raising small kids as well. In particular, we want to know what families in Rockridge do with their small children, is it easy to meet other families, how are the parks and other kid facilities, are you happy with your decision to raise your small kiddos there? Thanks so much! Mama hoping to move to Rockridge area
-Plenty of parks with playgrounds. Near us are Temescal, Dracena, Montclair, and Frog Park but there are lots more throughout Oakland and Berkeley. - Lawrence Hall of Science - Oakland Zoo - Tilden Park, especially Little Farm and the Steam Trains - Farmer's markets - Storytime at the Rockridge and Montclair libraries - Lots of classes: music, kindergym, yoga, swimming, toddler playtimeI am sure there is more I am forgetting, but suffice it to say that Rockridge is very kid-friendly, we meet other families in the area all the time, and we are very happy to be raising our son here. Good luck with your decision! Carrie
Re: New job in SF - where's a sunny place to live?
If I were you, I would look near Rockridge in Oakland instead. It's a fun area, very kid-friendly, sounds like a good match to your self-description, and it is on the Pittsburgh/Bay Point BART line rather than the RIchmond line. There are more trains, and you never have to transfer, whereas on the Richmond line, you sometimes have to transfer (direct service from SF is intermittent), which would add time to your husband's trip. I found that my commute from downtown to Rockridge took half the time, or less, than it took me when I was in the avenues in the City itself. anon
--It's a wonderful walking neighborhood full of shops, restaurants, cafes, etc. (OK, Rockridge is oversupplied with places to get your brows waxed, but where else can you walk to the bay area's best butcher shop?) I walk EVERYWHERE - to get groceries, to the post office, to the playground with my kid, etc. I routinely park my car and then don't look at it for a week.
--There is access to GREAT food here - both restaurants and groceries and a great farmer's market on Sundays.
--It is so easy to commute from here. The BART gets you from Rockridge to SF in 20 minutes. And it's right on the freeway too.
--Rockridge is FULL of families w/ small children, and it feels like a village. I routinely see the same people when I am out with my daughter, and I have made friends at the park, the coffee shop, etc. Although it has all the fun and interesting stuff of an urban neighborhood, it *feels* small, and you see the same faces regularly.
--There are about six trillion preschools in Rockridge (maybe even more preschools than waxing salons). Take your pick.
--Rockridge is home to two of Oakland's best public elementary schools, Chabot and Peralta.
--Downside: Rockridge is an expensive place to buy a house (see above if you wonder why). But renting here is not that different than other nice neighborhoods in Berkeley/Oakland. I have been both a renter and a homeowner here, and, in my opinion, the location is so special and wonderful that it's worth maybe squeezing into a smaller space.
Best of luck on your move! Rockridge Mom
My husband and I are moving to Rockridge (from Cambridge, MA) this August with our 2 and 4 year old girls. We're very excited! I'm a SAHM and would love some initial pointers on the area - yummy child-friendly restaurants & hang out spots, best places for groceries, and, most of all, best places/ways to meet other families in the neighborhood with preschoolers. It seems playgroups and such tend to be mostly for infants/younger children -- any advice on good ways to connect with other parents of similarly-aged kids? Any parents interested in meeting up - please feel free to email me! Jen
We will soon be moving to North Oakland (Rockridge adjacent -- 61st and Shattuck) -- I'm wondering if there are any active local parent groups, or even a local playground where kids (and parents) congregate and can get to know each other (I'm new to the Bay Area)? I have a 10-month-old daughter. Kim
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