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Living in the Village

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Housing, Neighborhoods, & Moving > Living in the Village


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What's it like living in the Village?

March 2007

Can anyone tell me what it's like to live in University Village these days? The archives don't have anything recent. We'd be moving in to one of the newer units while I go to journalism school for two years. We'll have a 1 and 3 yr old. Pros and cons? Also, we plan to stay in the area after I graduate, so we're debating whether we should just find a more permanent place to live now so that we don't have to move again in two years. Thanks for any advice!


DO IT! I'm in a three year program, and I never for a minute regret moving here. The community is amazing, multicultural, supportive, etc. the places are bigger than we could get for the same amount anywhere else... I love love love my neighbors. My kids have friends in our courtyard who go to the same UC child care.

We live in the East Village (built in 1999) I've heard the West Village is not the same ''community'', so that's something to think about. The East Village planning is more conducive to meeting your neighbors. I know they're more expensive, but we're a family of four in a two bedroom, so we pay the least of everyone in this section.

The Cons: Raccoons. I saw an Opposum once. Ants (which they take care of for you). The occasional domestic disturbance and loud tow truck in the middle of the night. Kids running wild.

But I've lived in apts. most of my life... some in big cities. This is nothing. Seriously, this is heaven. Take the ideal experience while you can... even if it means you have to move again later. You'll appreciate the social scene and release.

That being said, our kids are the same exact age! Shoot me an email if you want to talk more, or need help with getting to know the area. Sarah


We've lived in the UC Village for the last 6 years while my husband has worked on his PhD. I have to say that before we had our son, now 20 mo., we were pretty disconnected. However, since his birth, we've found ourselves surrounded by new friends and a phenomenal support system. The classes at the rec. center are discounted for residents, afternoons at the playground often turn into impromptu parents' groups, and neighbors are respectful of your lifestyle as a parent/student. The 52 bus lines pick up and drop off in the village for easy access to /from campus and rent is reasonable for the amount of space you have. I'd suggest dropping by the main playground between 3-6pm and you'll get a great feel for daily life in the Village with little ones. ej
Ah, yes, the Village. Our family lived there from August of 2005 to June of 2006, during my first two PhD semesters. We had relocated from the East Coast with a four year old and a toddler, and massively downsized from an about 2000 square foot house we owned.

For us, it was a great place to land. It was easy - no hustling to look at and get a rental, we knew exactly what we were getting, and the location was really convenient. We lived in the newer construction of the East Village and had a 3 bedroom/1 bath. For student housing it is actually pretty nice and fairly well designed. And it is a great deal, considering that parking, utilities and internet are included in the rental price. You also get access to the village computer center, the great gymnastics classes and other activities at the rec center, two playgrounds, the little cafe, and there is also the drop-in babysitting. We didn't use that because our kids were already in day care so much, but other friends of ours used it quite a lot and liked it. (It is only certain hours of the day, so it really isn't a day care substitute).

But, our primary reason for living there was to make new friends with kids, since we were leaving all our old friends behind, and we were actually surprised to find that was somewhat difficult. We did make one set of best friends for life, but that ended up being about it. One reason is that we had a second floor unit that was off the courtyard. Our friends, who had a townhouse with a first floor opening onto the courtyard, met a lot more people and could let their kids run around outside more easily. But another reason is that it's a transient group of very busy students that don't have the kind of structured lives that lend themselves to regular social activities.

Also, we missed having a real house, a dishwasher and our own laundry. We eventually rented a house, which is costing more and was really hard to find, but suits our needs better.

So, pluses and minuses, depends on your priorities and resources. But it can be a wonderful option - just get a place on the courtyard! former Village dweller


From: Chris (March 1999)

Since this seems to be the peak season for seeking housing, I would like to give my input on the U.C. Village in Albany, where I lived last semester. (I am talking about the "newer" section of the housing, not the really old section or the section just built. This definitely does not apply to the section just built). It is a wonderful atmosphere as far as meeting really friendly people. It is also the very best atmosphere for children that I have ever lived in. However, for prospective residents with allergies and asthma, it may be an excellent idea to discuss the move with an allergist. I thought the housing would be ideal for me because the units have no carpets and it looked really easy to keep dust-free. However, I did not know that there is a pronounced problem with molds in the apartments. The problem cannot be eliminated, as the molds are ubiquitous and not just a surface problem. The housing office was great about helping me once I started having very serious asthma problems, and they were wonderful about trying to help reassign me. However, I would like to emphasize the fact that I was sick to the point of being virtually handicapped; I was on steroids and nine other prescription medications the whole semester, and I eventually developed pneumonia because the steroid had suppressed my immune system. The asthma problem was never under control, even with all the medications. The worst part was that I was usually too sick to leave the apartment, and being in the apartment made me sicker and sicker. Let me emphasize that my asthma had never been severe by any means and that I felt much better when I was not in the apartment. My allergist told me that many asthma and allergy patients have problems in that apartment complex.

So if you or your children have asthma and are considering university housing, please make sure you talk to your allergist and then to the housing office to make sure that you get a suitable placement. I found the housing office to be extremely good about making accommodations, but by the time I knew what was causing my health problem, the semester was almost over and my health had deteriorated tremendously. I just want to try to prevent others from going through what I did last semester, and I am pretty sure that it is an easy problem to prevent if one only knows beforehand. I hope this helps.


Date: Mon, 18 Nov 1996
From: Sherry

We lived in UC Villege for two years (1993-95.) We made many friends there, and took adventage of cheap rent while our income was unstable at that time. I was very concerned about the lead poisoning issue. I washed my toddler's hands often and we all drank bottled water. The horrible experiences we had were ants and floods! We lived in section B ( a better newer section!) The ants marched in when it rained or in drought! On raining mornings like this morning, you could expect a black colored kichen counter and ants everywhere! The first Holloween there, our pumpkin turned into an ant farm!

We also had sewage problem on many occasions. Dirty sewer water oozed out in one of the bedrooms (there was a sewage openning on the floor!) and the bathroom. But the maintenance staff were always very prompt and helpful.

There were times I almost checked into a motel until ants and sewer water were gone! We also had bad experiences in the second years with the upstair teenager's loud rock music, loud footsteps, and door slams (poor soundproof.)

I have to say that the two years at UC Village made us (including my 4 years old daughter now) really appreciate our new life in our new home!


Date: Tue, 19 Nov 1996
From: Dianne

The Village is an interesting place to live. The space is small and it's old, but people move in with their eyes open. The village is multi-cultural and offers many services for children, including child care (Children's Center), Sports (gymnastics, martial arts, soccer, baseball and other sports). Fairs are held and if there is a problem in the village it is communicated quickly.

Re: the issue of lead. I moved in and there were signs in abundance that identified the problems. I asked that my door be stripped because it was peeling and that was done quickly. I haven't had an ant problem but there are ants in the village.

I like it here. The space is sometimes unbearably small but my children are in a wonderful school district with marvelous teachers. The acadmemics and the support is great.

It's a mixed bag and I must say I resent a story that's half told for the sensational value. The village is a village. Its old but it certainly has its advantages.


Date: Tue, 19 Nov 1996 From: Tamra

At one stage in my grad student career I lived at Smyth-Fernwald and more recently I lived in the Village for a few years. When I decided to reenroll to finish my PhD, I purposely chose the Village because 1) we were already living in Albany, so the kids wouldn't have to change schools; and, 2) although living on a hill (Smyth-Fernwald) makes for some nice views, it's not very conducive to outdoor play, bike riding, etc. I found the international community aspects of the Village to be wonderful for me and the children. The way that the buildings in the "new" (use the word advisedly!) section are situated around a courtyard provides a safe place for the children to play and encourages the supervising parents to get to know each other. My boys made friends with children from Chile, Peru, Brazil, Nicaragua, Israel, the Midwest (I know it's not another country, but I'm a native Bay Arean), Australia, Croatia, etc., etc. The apartments are fairly well-designed, considering the space constraints, but structurally I think they're falling apart. The Village maintenance staff was very responsive to requests for small repairs and they try to keep the apts. looking superficially ok, but the last apt. I lived in at the Village needed major structural repair (as in ripping up floorboards to fix a leak) and they just weren't going to tackle it. I second the motion about the ants, and although I never experienced the sewer problems in my particular apt., it seemed that they were always working on the drains. In general, my neighbors were great, although I did have an ongoing problem with a couple that liked to stay outside (right under my bedroom window) talking, laughing, and smoking with their friends until 2 or 3 in the morning. Now that I've left the Village, I miss the people and the sense of community very much, but I don't miss squeezing myself, my 2 boys, and our belongings into such a small space.


Date: Thu, 21 Nov 96
From: Tracy

This is in response to Dorothy's concerns about UC Village. We have lived here for almost eight years and are going to miss it terribly when we go.

We live in the new section (built in 1965) where there is not a lead problem. I have had my kids tested free of charge through the village's lead clinic (held annually) and there was no trace of lead. I have found the village management to be open about the lead problem and how to deal with it. There is information available in the office and you can also get a special vacuum for lead dust if you live in an affected apartment.

The low rent and no utilities are a big reason to live in the village (we pay $513 a month for a 2 bedroom which includes our dryer hook-up), but the social reasons are a huge reason to me. We are in a courtyard filled with children from all over the world. My four year old can play in our courtyard on toys that were purchased jointly by all the families living here, watched over by neighbors who know us. My daughter currently goes to preschool in the village. I take both of my kids to the gymnastics classes held in the village (discounted for residents). There is also a weekly playgroup held in a classroom that isn't used in the morning. There are several parks within the village with playground equipment and picnic facilities. I participate in the courtyard coordinator program, designed to get neighbors to know one another for social events and safety and emergency preparedness. There is even a café here.

We keep in touch with many of our former neighbors that have moved on, and without fail, they all have told us how much they miss this community and how isolated they feel in their current neighborhoods. It is easy to complain about how small the apartment is or the noise the neighbors make, but in the village everyone is in the same boat: family is far away and you have to rely on neighbors for friendship and support, someone is in school and feels the time pressure and stress of balancing school and family, you have no money and everyone has the same dinky apartment with gross linoleum squares so you don't have to apologize for yours.

I hope you take the opportunity to move in if you can.

Tracy Burgett


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