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Living in San Francisco
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Re: Neighborhoods suitable for Chinese grandparents?
Have you considered the Sunset or the Richmond in San Francisco? These are the two neighborhoods lining Golden Gate Park and sloping down all the way to the ocean. These neighborhoods get a bad rap, especially from East Bay dwellers, because they are foggy. However, if I were in your situation, I would definitely consider those neighborhoods; there are many Chinese families in these neighborhoods (you hear both Cantonese and Mandarin). We lived in the Sunset for 5 years, including the time when my son was 0-3 and my daughter was an infant; I loved the neighborhood, despite the fog. I know less about the Richmond because we never lived there, but it has a similar feel -- lots of Chinese families, though maybe a bit more diverse. We lived in the Outer Sunset (on 25th, very near the park) -- great walkable neighborhood, for in-laws who don't drive. Right on the corner of 25th and Irving is an amazing Chinese supermarket. I loved shopping there...Great Chinese restaurants (and other Asian restaurants as well) -- I miss the Chinese bakery and take-out dim sum! The inner Sunset (away from the ocean) is somewhat dominated by UCSF and also is more expensive. The middle and outer Sunset is more 'Chinese/Asian' (for lack of a better description), more affordable (bigger houses, lots of single-family homes), and quieter. Golden Gate Park is an amazing resource to have with young children -- great playgrounds, great walking paths, a beautiful lake, the Academy of Sciences, etc. We moved to the East Bay (my husband wanted to get out of the fog) before our kids started school, although I did spend a lot of time learning about the schools while we lived there and have friends in the schools now. The SF public schools are a mixed bag. But the Sunset and the Richmond have some of the better neighborhood schools in the city. Our local school would have been Jefferson, and I have friends who are very happy with the school. There are also several Mandarin immersion schools in the city; if your children are bilingual (Mandarin/English), I believe this would increase their chances of getting into one of the Mandarin immersion programs. That said, the Mandarin immersion schools are highly ranked and highly sought after, so there's no guarantee you'd get in. And there's no guarantee on your neighborhood school, either. SF has a complicated algorithm that determines school assignment. I'd read up on it, certainly, before I bought a house there. There is also the Chinese American International School, if money is no object -- that school is supposed to be amazing. All in all, I have lovely memories of living 'in the Avenues' (as we call the two neighborhoods) and probably would have stayed if it had been up to me. I don't mean to downplay the fog, however; it can really drive some people crazy during a bad summer. And the uncertainty re: school assignments would be anxiety provoking. But I have to say, every single one of my friends in the City has landed at a school they are happy with. Some of them had to white-knuckle it through a couple of rounds of wait-listing, but those who stuck it out have been very happy so far (these are all elementary school aged families). Sunset Booster
Re: Relocating to the Bay Area, looking for a walkable neighborhood
Hi- You didn't say where your husband will be working but you did express some interest in the Sunset or Richmond area of SF. If you are looking for a family friendly and walkable area in SF I highly recommend the Laurel Heights nieghborhood. It is flat and very walkable to everything you'll need and I do mean everything! The only issue is the public school situation. If you're kids are going to be in elementary school soon that is something to consider. Definitely research the SFUSD process to see if you can stomach dealing with the lottery. We just moved to the East Bay from Laurel Heights in SF because we didn't want to deal with the public school situation there. Other than that, it is heaven! Good luck with your move. Former city girl
Re: Job in SF but I must have sun
have you looked at Noe Valley. It's a fabulous family friendly neighborhood. We used to live on 22nd st at Church. It was sunny most of the year. We watched the fog roll in to the right and left eventually meeting in Potrero and never quite make it to us. Ah, I miss those days. miss those sunny days
Re: Moving to SF - Gay-friendly family neighborhood with easy commute?
Check out the Bernal Heights neighborhood in San Francisco. Cheaper than Noe and lots of Lesbian families/couples. Very family oriented too -- lots of kids activities, beautiful playground/park, story and music time at local cafes, lovely library, etc. Love our gay-friendly city
Of COURSE your situation is different than mine. BUT - your opinions: raising a family in the East Bay vs. San Francisco. Other things to consider: husband works in Cupertino, wife works in San Francisco, goes to school in Berkeley. Baby goes to day care in Berkeley. Surprisingly, the baby LOVES the commute. Time on the train and two twenty minute stroller rides a day - does it get any better? We don't own, are a one car family and would like to stay that way. We LOVE SF, have been there for 12+years. Probably wouldn't be able to afford private school, unless it's Catholic... (not sure how I feel about that, but that's another post). We're planning on having number two in about a year... What's your story? janine
Hi, I was hoping to get some perspective on this. My husband and I are seriously considering moving back to San Francisco from Berkeley. We have 2 children - 3 and 1. We currently own a 3 bedroom in N. Berkeley, and we could probably afford to buy a smaller 3 bedroom in an area in S.F. like Sunnyside (definitely can't afford more expensive areas like Noe Valley or Bernal Heights).
My question is: Is this idea feasible? I know very few people move from the 'burbs back to the city, and I believe I understand the reasons why (better schools in the suburbs, safer, more parking, just 'easier', etc).
However, my husband and I are city people. We lived in San Francisco for years before we had kids and loved pretty much every minute of it. When I got pregnant, though, we thought it made sense for us to move out to the East Bay.
And we do like it here. We like how walkable our neighborhood is. We like the beauty of the area. And we like that we're close to so many great parks for the kids.
However, we don't love it. We both miss SF, and while we make an effort to get out there every couple of weeks for date night, traffic is almost always a nightmare. And, of course, it's not the same as actually living there.
Also, my husband works in S.F., and by the time he walks to BART, takes BART, and walks home, at least an hour's gone by (sometimes 1-1/2 hrs). It's a longish commute for him.
So. I'm specifically hoping to hear from people like us, people who really love city life in general and S.F. in particular. Are you living in the City with kids and making it work? Or did you try it for awhile but felt you needed to move out to the East Bay, and are really glad you did? Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance. Anon
First, the schools are misunderstood. The good SF schools actually score better than their Berkeley counterparts and are excellent. The problem is getting in, as the lottery is tough to crack. That said, we got our first choice K-5 school, and if you educate yourself about the process, it is surmountable. Many people are very happy with their K-5 elementary school assignments and those very lucky ones that get a K-8 school like Lilienthal, Rooftop or Lawton are ecstatic. If you don't get a K-8, you're back to the lottery for middle school and it's tougher. There are a couple of high-scoring middle schools, but they are very large (1400 kids). And if your kids are more than two years apart in school, you'll have to play the lottery separately for each one in middle school with no sibling priority. And then high school things really go down hill, with only Lowell and SOTA (both of which accept kids based on academic achievement) being very good, and the others are not great and huge.
The housing situation is tougher. Living somewhere like Sunnyside is a bit like living in the suburbs anyway, so you'd have to decide whether the negotiating/strategizing the school situation would be worth it. Many people do private school all along thinking they are going to have to do it anyway in middle school, and it is tough to get into a K-8 private school in 6th grade. Private high school is the norm, and you're looking at $20K a year right now for St. Ignatius, Urban or Drew, so likely $30K per kid a year in 12 years. That's the math and that's why we're thinking of leaving for Albany! We just don't want to live in Sunnyside or the Outer Sunset and have to plan on $30K a year for each kid in high school, as financially it would be tough for us. The last thing to consider is the sense of community and having your kids have school friends who live nearby. We've never had that small-town community feel, so I don't know if it exists in Berkeley, but here in SF it's not really like that. Most parents work full time and you have to plan play dates on the weekends. And many kids do not go to their neighborhood schools, due to the lottery system. (Though you will probably get Sunnyside school, which isn't bad, if you want it!) Anyway, I probably know way too much about the lottery and schools after going through it last year (and we ended up at private school despite ''winning the lottery''), so feel free to email me if you want more info. Good luck! SF Mom
East Bay people can be very snotty and misinformed about S.F.'s public schools. I'd say the good schools far outnumber the bad schools. Try the Sunset and the Richmond districts for good API scores, dedicated and kind teachers, busy PTAs AND -- contrary to popular belief -- kids that virtually all live within two miles from the school. Good luck! Anon
What we miss: the ease of doing things in the city (we felt like it was okay to leave because we were going out less anyway post-parenthood, but now we REALLY go out less!); the vibrancy of the city itself (I miss street/youth culture -- it's very different in Berkeley); and stupid as it sounds, I think we both miss thinking of ourselves as city people, as hip urbanites, as San Franciscans. We've never entirely felt like we fit in out here, and there's always that sigh of relief when we're in the city, the ''Aaah'' that washes over us when we go back across the bridge.
That said, none of those things really exist in the areas we could have afforded in the city anyway. We have friends who live way out in the Sunset and they complain about all the same things we do and more! It actually takes them *longer* sometimes to get to the same SF destination as for us coming across the bridge. Parts of SF are more isolating, less vibrant and just generally more snooze-worthy than anything we're dealing with over here.
And then there's the pluses -- our kid loves it here; we walk to school; all his friends are walking distance (our friends in the city have a devil of a time scheduling playdates 'cause the lottery system scatters children all over the city without regard to community/neighbor building); we have waaaay more space than we ever could in the city, including a glorious deck and garden that is the envy of all our city friends. Do we miss the city? Absolutely. Are we moving back? Not yet. Maybe when we have an empty nest, but for now this seems to be working. We're happiest when we remember how easy it can be to get into the city, take advantage of that, and also appreciate what we've got out here. Ultimately we're glad we moved.
That said, most of our friends who stayed are equally happy -- everyone is making it work, even some of the folks who didn't get the school they thought they wanted in the lottery (turns out the schools they got weren't so bad after all). The few who really got pissed about their school assignments and failed at appeals left -- and they seemed to get so mad they left the Bay Area entirely!
Thoughts: What if you made date night *not* a high traffic night? Could you go out on a weeknight? We've gone to art openings in SF on a Thursday night and it's taken us 23 minutes to zoom into town, door to door, to the Mission! Trying to get in when everyone else is doing the same thing is a recipe for disaster until they figure out how to ease congestion at the toll plaza. Not much to suggest re: the commute time. Basically commuting sucks -- but at least with BART you can do other things, like read, write, snooze, listen to podcasts.
Good luck with whatever you choose, we sympathize! Displaced Urbanites
Re: Neighborhoods for car-free life with a toddler?
You didn't mention whether you were renting or owning. For safety though, if you wish to stay in the city there's some good places to be found in the Russian Hill/Pacific Heights/Marina neighborhoods. The child density depends on the neighborhood/building. We're few blocks west of Van Ness, which is safe but not outrageously priced and importantly, we never use our car. We bus/BART to work in the East Bay, walk to get groceries, there's tons of parks around, libraries, Post Offices, anything you need. The East Bay is great too. Regardless of your choice, I would walk around the neighborhood of the place you're considering at various times of day, afternoon, and night before deciding, to see how it feels for you. Different streets can feel different, depending on high school traffic, proximity to shelters etc., as you know, moreover different people have a differing sense of what's safe. Good luck! anon
Hi. Any suggestions out there for family-friendly neighorhoods (ones that have parks as well as rental apartments or houses with easy parking) and daycare/pre-school/nanny arrangments for a family with a two-year old? Any suggestons for reliable and affordable realtors who deal with rentals? We are considering moving from Rockridge to San Francisco for a couple of years to experience more of an urban life before our child begins kindergarten (at which point we'll probably move back to the Bay Area). One of us will be commuting to UC-Berkeley, and the other to SFSU. Has anyone out there done this type of move with a young child? Any regrets or success stories? Any advice would be very welcome! Thank you! Anon
We live in the East Bay and are considering moving to San Francisco next summer. I am not very familiar with the city in terms of what neighborhoods to live in, and especially in terms of preschools for our two children, who will be 3 and nearly 2. We will most likely start off renting in hopes of buying soon (someday?!) if we can afford it.
There is little advice about this in the archives. Any advice on where to live? We would hope to have some sort of parking (at least off street), and not pay an arm and a leg for rent. We would love to be near some shops/restaurants or park (and who wouldn't).
Regarding schools, does anyone know of a resource in SF similar to Berkeley Parents Network? Is there any source which would help us choose a quality preschool? Our son is currently attending a Reggio Emilia based school and we would hope to find a similar program in SF.
Thanks for any advice - it is greatly needed and appreciated! hoping to make it in SF
We lived in the city for ten years and loved the first eight. Then we started planning for a family and realized how hard it was just to be physically comfortable in a densely populated city with lots of stairs and hills, limited parking, traffic,etc. So we gave up our rent controlled flat and moved to the east bay. Here we have a yard, on and off street parking at all times, polite neighbors that don't urinate on our sidewalk, and very little crime. And we pay less rent for a lot more space.
Ok, with that said I will share with you my opinions on some of the neighborhoods I am familiar with. If I were going to move back I would probably look at the following neighborhoods: Inner Sunset, Inner and Outer Richmond, Cole Valley, Noe Valley, and northslope Potrero Hill. I would also consider parts of the Mission and parts of the Excelsior. Keep in mind that some of the neighborhoods in the city can have several very nice blocks that are right next to some not so nice blocks. Speaking as a parent I would probably not choose to live in the Haight-Ashbury, Hayes Valley, Bernal Heights, or Bay View neighborhoods.
You definitely want parking because you do not want to be circling the block searching for a spot with kids crying and groceries melting. A detached single family home is probably best with kids but might be more expensive and harder to find. There are some wonderful big flats in two and three unit buildings. Check out the neighbors before renting as you may be sharing yard and garage. There are pros and cons to renting on the first floor. You have fewer stairs to contend with but you may have more street noise and neighbors walking above you.
I would go to various playgrounds and socialize with other parents to get advice on preschools and elementary schools. Check out Jackson playground on Potrero Hill and Julius Kahn playground near the presidio. There is an organization called the Childrens Council of San Francisco that does child care referral. They may have information on schools or can tell you where to look. Happy East Bay Mom
We're wondering if anybody could help us find an informal parent's group in San Francisco. We're not looking for workshops or classes or child development seminars. My husband would just like to try hanging out with some other dads during the day. Craigs list didn't really seem to have anything, and I couldn't find anything on the Parents Place website that seemed appropriate (there was something about father's support, but the description seemed to be aimed more at fathers who are financially supporting their new families, which is not our situation).
My husband just got a job in South SF and we're looking to move
closer. Right now we live in N. Berkeley and love walking to lots
of shops, restaurants, etc. Our ideal place would be Noe Valley
for the obvious reasons (shops, restaurants, families, safe
neighborhood, etc.). We've seen lots of 2 bedroom apts. in Noe
but just haven't found the right one yet and I'm wondering if we
should consider other neighborhoods near South SF or on the
Peninsula? We've also looked some in Glen Park but does anyone
have any other suggestions? We have a 4 mo and we want somewhere
safe, kid-friendly but walking distance to lots of stuff. We're
struggling with wanting to live in the city but also wanting
suburban comforts like washer/dryer in the apartment, lots of
space, storage, dishwaser, etc. The apartments we've been looking
at are around 1700-1800. Thanks for any help.
Does anyone know of new mom's groups - either structured or
informal - in San Francisco?
There's also a great, free exercise group at Stonestown Mall every Monday and Wednesday morning at 8:45. (www.fitnessformothers.com/classes/stonestown.html).
Finally, www.noestrolls.com has a listing of all sorts of groups and activities all around SF. It's worth checking out. - Kat
I was there three or four times a week during the first nine moonths of my son's life and I met some great moms. We formed our own ''mommy group'' after we weaned ourselves from the incredibly nurturing environment of DayOne. They are located just across from Laurel Village. Call for directions, it can be a little difficult to find. Connellan
It may seem counter-intuitive, but my husband & I are thinking of moving back to SF with our two small children (2+ years, & 4 months). I realize it's more expensive, but presuming we can jump that hurdle does anybody have advice on the benefits? We both love urban living and lived in SF before the babies, but aren't current on family-specific issues such as schools, neighborhoods, and other conveniences/inconveniences we may encounter. Any city dwellers out there?
I haven't raised kids in the east bay so can't directly compare but I can tell you a little about raising kids in SF. The neighborhoods vary, of course, in terms of access to parks, library branches, and schools - i imagine you already know to check this out before you move. There are very neighborhood-y neighborhoods that aren't so extremely urban (you don't say where in the east bay you live--urban or suburban. There aren't a lot of suburban open-space type neighborhoods in SF)
You want to think about schools - SF Unified is changing how it assigns students to schools, but you don't have to go to your neighborhood school. You can request schools, but of course everyone is trying to get into the same 6 top alternative schools so you can't count on getting in. There are OVER 70 elementary schools in SF, which is both good and bad--an overwhelming choice, a complicated and changing lottery system, and of course not all the schools are equal. On the other hand, there's a tremendous variety--immersion programs in spanish, chinese, japanese, korean; schools that focus on arts, sciences, community service, etc. (I think it may help to live in the neighborhood of the school you want--check www.sfusd.edu to see if they say--but at any rate you certainly want to consider transportation. some parents I know drive their kids a half hour one way to school)
There are lots of places for kids - the Academy of Sciences, zoo, golden gate park, libraries, Randall Museum, etc. etc. There's lots of public transit, though MUNI has many well-publicized problems.
As I write this it seems rather general and unsatisfactory, so perhaps I should just say that you should feel free to e-mail me if you have specific questions.
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