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Living in Walnut Creek, CA
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Housing, Neighborhoods, & Moving >
Living in Walnut Creek, CA
Re: Good schools and lots of trees and nature
We (myself and 2 kids) lived in Walnut Creek for several
years and loved it. There are many nice neighborhoods, tons
of trees and lots of activities geared toward kids and
families. It felt more laid back than the Berkeley/Oakland
area and it was easier to get around like finding parking,
signing up for activities, etc. I expected WC to be mostly
white, older, and conservative but I was wrong. There are
many liberals, maybe just not as outspoken as the liberals
you find in Berkeley and Oakland. WC is mostly made up of
professionals and the diversity you will find mostly comes
in the form of immigrants; lots from India and Southeast
Asia. You will find even more diversity in the Concord area
but the schools are not as highly rated there. You didn't
mention where you work so you will have to factor in the
commute and what your tolerance level can handle. Overall,
we enjoyed and miss the area. Best of luck in your search
for TREES~ anon
Moving from Texas, where to live in the East Bay?
Hi, we're moving to the East Bay from Texas this summer and
have been looking at different areas to live, but I'm
worried about making a final decision without knowing more.
We have three boys - 18, 7 & 5 - and are looking for a
family friendly, kid friendly neighborhood that's safe and
has a 'neighborhood' feel. We've been looking at houses in
Lamorinda, Walnut Creek and Alamo and have been told that
the school districts there are great, so our next priority
is to find a street or neighborhood where our kids can bike
or walk to their friends' houses, play outside, and where we
can actually see our neighbors' homes. In other words, we
don't want to feel too isolated or remote. Also, we're not
crazy about very hilly areas because of driving up and down
narrow, hilly streets. I've read all the posts and advice
about this topic but they're pretty outdated - I think the
most recent is 2010. So, if anyone can tell us about a more
recent experience we'd really appreciate it! Thanks.
I live in the Parkmead neighborhood of Walnut Creek, and
it's exactly that type of neighborhood. My kids ride their
bikes everywhere, walk downtown to go to the movies, go to
the neighborhood swim club for swimming and hanging out with
their friends. There is a (voluntary, not HOA) neighboord
association that puts on a block party every year. The
downtown Walnut Creek BART station is within walking
distance (about 20 minutes) so we save money on commuting
and wear and tear on our second vehicle. I ruled out a
number of Walnut Creek neighborhoods because of their
hilliness or unsuitability for walking. The local
elementary school is excellent as well, and the high school
is within walking distance.
Hope this helps!
Clayton vs Walnut Creek - where to live?
We are moving soon back to the east bay. Walnut Creek was
our choice town to live with our two boys, ages 4 and 7.
Clayton is coming on our radar now. Anyone have any pros and
cons regarding these towns. Any thoughts? Thank you!!! Jane
Clayton is a cute town, but it's much sleepier than Walnut
Creek. I, personally, would never live in Clayton because
the traffic is HORRENDOUS if you have the normal commute
hours or if your kids go to school (or after school
activities) outside of Clayton. It is especially bad if you
or your partner need to get to one of the highways to get to
work. Ugh. You and all your neighbors will be heading down
the same 3 roads at the same time every day! Walnut Creek
Walnut Creek is a fast-growing (note the new super walking
mall in the permit process) city with a number of different
neighborhoods. A few years ago I was considering moving to
the Northridge (I think that's the proper nomenclature) area
of Walnut Creek because of the lovely neighborhoods with
cool Brady Bunch houses and the great schools. I have two
relatives with families that have been very happy in Walnut
Creek. One chose a tighter-lot-more-modern area and the
other chose an outlying neighborhood where they can keep
bees, etc. It's nice and close to shopping and Kaiser. On
the other hand we have friends in Clayton that LOVE it
there. The homes are more modest than Walnut Creek and I
don't know what the API of the schools there are. (You can
look up the API of each school in every district on the
State of California's website) I do know there's a great
pizza parlor there. Clayton's in an agricultural area that
can get plenty hot, but it seems very safe and family
oriented. Because I'm a teacher I always look to the
schools for solid information about a community. Susan
I'm a realtor who has other buyers looking in Walnut Creek
and Clayton. If you're looking in Walnut Creek, I'd
recommend buying in the Walnut Creek school district and
either the Northgate High School or Las Lomas High School
areas. Otherwise, the other schools in Walnut Creek are part
of the Mount Diablo school district, which also covers
Concord and Pleasant Hill. That school district is in
financial trouble, poorly managed, and lower scores.
Clayton schools are good and families love the community
there. Real estate prices are lower than Walnut Creek.
I'd be happy to help you in your home search and provide you
more information! Holly
Looking to move from Berkeley to the suburbs
We're currently in Berkeley but are looking to move to an
area that is more suburban in feel. We have 4 small children
and life in a semi-urban environment has grown too hectic
for us. We're looking for the following:
1) Excellent public schools (elementary, middle, and high
school... a tall order, I know!)
2) A great sense of community
3) Good amount of cheap/free kids' activities (robust rec
center and public library programs, well-cared-for public
parks and pools, kid-friendly biking trails, etc.)
4) Proximity to BART (husband works in SF)
Based on this criteria, the towns we're currently
considering are Pleasanton and Walnut Creek. Pleasanton
seems to have the edge on schools and community feel, as
well as proximity to a lot of newer playgrounds and parks.
Walnut Creek is a little closer to San Francisco and
Berkeley and the fun urban parts of the Bay (which we would
still love to visit).
Do you live in Pleasanton or Walnut Creek? I'd love to hear
any info you might have. Also, if you live in another city
that meets the criteria above, that's great, too.
Thanks so much, in advance!
Mom to 4
Walnut Creek has good schools if you are in the right
district, and parts of it are next to Mount Diablo Park.
School funding has been up and down -- some tax measures
have passed, but not all of them. Class size is higher than
in Berkeley. You've probably seen WC's downtown -- there are
two parts, the 'old' downtown and the shopping center, both
of which are walkable once you park. The Lindsey Natural
History museum is a great place for younger children. I
don't know much about Pleasanton. In either case, you'd be
doing a lot of driving, particularly if your children become
interested in different activities. This is something to
think about -- When I was 10, my family moved from an urban
area to the suburbs, and I was no longer able to walk to the
library or to classes like the ones I had been going to on
my own. Although there are advantages in the suburbs,
especially for younger children (bigger back yards, biking
on the sidewalk), there are some real disadvantages for
older children and teens in terms of what they can do on
their own. One nice thing about Berkeley is that in
elementary school the school bus takes the children from the
school to aftercare activities (and the schools have
afterschool classes as well), and by middle school they can
walk from school or take a short bus ride to classes and
Move to Walnut Creek? Single mom of four
After much heated discussion about affordability, quality of
life in the Bay Area, and a possible relocation, my marriage
eventually fell apart and me and my husband are going
through a divorce. I have four small children (5.5, 3.5,
and two 2 year old twins) and am working part-time. I will
need to find a location in the Bay Area that is more
affordable than where we currently live (Alameda) but also
has great public schools.
After much research, Walnut Creek is top on my list of
Are there any other areas that I should consider (e.g.,
buying a house under $650K, zoned to excellent public
schools, yard, and ability to commute to SF for work)?
If you live in Walnut Creek, what parts of the city should I
focus my search? Northgate, etc......
Any advice is greatly appreciated!
So I don't live in Walnut Creek itself, but I live just
north in a very nice part of Concord. Walnut Creek does have
wonderful schools and it seems that a lot of areas are nice
(hopefully someone else can give you some more feedback on
that as well). The area I live in is served by Ayers
Elementry and this particular schools are very good (I live
near Ygnacio Valley Road and Clayton Road). I know house
prices are cheaper up this way compared to walnut creek. I
also know that Clayton has some great schools as well. Other
schools in Concord and not so great, so you do have to be
careful to make sure you know what schools serve your
neighborhood (you can look on the Mt Diablo Unified School
district site to find out). I also hear that pleasant hill
has a some great schools, although I don't know exactly
which ones. I also know that pleasanton is a nice area with
fantastic schools, but I'm not sure how housing prices
compare to those in walnut creek. Still might be worth
looking into. My friend commutes to the city from there
every day (I think she takes BART). Good luck in your
search! I've found that the far east bay is a wonderful
place to be raising kids! loving the far east bay
The best area to be in Walnut Creek is a neighborhood that
feeds into the Acalanes School District and not in the Mt.
Diablo school district. Northgate HS neighborhoods are good,
and although it's also a Mt. Diablo district school, it's
got a good reputation. That area, unfortunately, is accessed
by Ygnacio Valley Rd which gets traffic in rush hour, but
also not too far from Walnut Creek BART. Pleasant Hill has
some areas with good schools, and so does Clayton, although
that's farther out. I'm a local realtor who can work for
you to find the best home in the right neighborhood in your
price range! H.
I would add Pleasant Hill and Martinez to your list of
affordable places to live with great public schools. In
particular Virginia Hills which is bordering Martinez, P.H.
and Lafayette, and is where I currently live. We love
living in this area, it's beautiful and peaceful, convenient
to most places and has great schools. Keep in mind that in
Walnut Creek you'll get less house for your $, and unless
its close to BART or Hwy 680, traffic in that city could be
horrendous at times. L.
Two tips about Walnut Creek schools:
I strongly prefer the WCSD school system to the Mt. Diablo
(Northgate area). I have kids in WCSD and have been very
pleased with how the district runs itself.
The other downside of Northgate is the terrible commute down
Ygnacio Valley Rd. It is truly horrible if you have to come
and go from 24/680. If you work in downtown Concord this
obviously isn't an issue.
Also, not all Walnut Creek addresses go to Walnut Creek
schools (or the 'better' rated Northgate Mt. Diablo
schools). The northwest side (closest to Pleasant Hill)
feeds into College Park high school (also Mt. Diablo
district). Not coincidentally, this area has the least
expensive houses, so don't get excited thinking you're
getting a good deal on a Walnut Creek house because you may
not get the great WCSD schools.
I like living in Walnut Creek, and I lived in Alameda when I
first moved to the Bay Area, so I followed a similar path as
you're considering. WC Mom
Moving to Walnut Creek area with little ones
My husbands job is taking us to the Bay area. Walnut Creek
is a fairly centralized location as he will be visiting
multiple stores in San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, and
Stockton... meaning our exact destination is up for
negotiation as he will not be in 1 set location. I know
nothing about the Bay area - I have never even been there!
We will be moving sometime in June or July. To add to my
list of concerns, I will be going from a working mom to a
stay at home mom (which I think will be challenging for me)
and am looking for some guidance from those who are
familiar with the area.
My main concern is schools - my son will be starting
kindergarten in the fall. I am also looking for an area
that will have activities for my 2yr old daughter to do -
gym, dance, parks, water, attractions, things to keep me
busy too since I have never stayed at home. I don't want
to spend a ton of money on rent since we are going from 2
incomes to 1, but a nice and safe area is very important.
Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions?
Hi. We live in Concord (which is a few miles east of Walnut
Creek. I stay at home with my 2 yo daughter. We love Walnut
Creek. It is great for kids, clean, safe, lots of fun (free)
things to do, very good schools, everything you are looking
for - except not cheap. Well, you can find some reasonable
housing, but I'm not sure what your range is. There are no
bad areas of Walnut Creek. Look on Craigslist. Also check
out Pleasant Hill, which borders Walnut Creek and housing
tends to be more reasonable. Schools are good there too. Let
me know if you have any more questions. Good luck with the
I grew up in Walnut Creek in the 1960s-70s, specifically in
the Walnut Heights/ Lakewood/ Walnut Creek Intermediate/ Las
Lomas areas. Although financially challenged, the schools
are generally very good and MUCH better funded than some
others in California. Walnut Creek itself has changed
drastically, but some aspects have not; it's at the edge of
the Mt. Diablo open space and there are some areas where you
feel like you're almost out in the country.
Housing prices are going to put you into sticker shock.
Since the area has a lot of suburban sprawl, there's a lot
of driving from one place to another. If I were moving back
there with little kids, I'd go for the area near Larkey Park
and the Lindsey Wildlife Museum.I'd strongly recommend
renting until you get to know the area, maybe in the
apartment complexes behind the main library (roughly between
Broadway and the place where Mt. Diablo runs into Walker
Ave.) I'm not sure what the rents are like, but I'd do that
rather than hunkering down in a house out in an isolated
Walnut Creek's got a lot of high-end shopping and
restaurants, and the Civic Arts program offers amazing
opportunities for creative learning, ballet, opera,
theater... to me that's the most attractive aspect of the
area. It's only about 1/2 hour from San Francisco when
traffic is good (that's about 1 day out of the year, ymmv).
Its climate is the 'mediterranean' type: cool, wet winters
(occasional 19F with puddles frozen solid) It snows lightly
about every 5 years or so, everyone runs outside and dances
around. Summers: very dry and hot up to 120F - HOT nights.
Lovely for sitting out chatting with friends, not so lovely
for sleeping. Sometimes if there's a hurricane off the coast
of Mexico, WC gets a thunderstorm or two in summer, but
those are quite rare.
Major drawbacks: in some areas, it's almost impossible not
to get in the car for EVERYTHING - some of the older housing
developments have winding roads with few or no sidewalks
which makes walking to school really dangerous. Forget
pushing a stroller around! If you value walkability, do
choose your neighborhood with care. If you'd rather be in
the car anyway, it's no big deal.
WC is not, in my opinion, the friendliest town. There
seemed, at the time I lived there, to be too much money and
not enough heart. I think there's a bit more diversity now,
but when I was growing up there, if you weren't WASP, you
were not ... shall I say, acknowledged as worthy of respect?
I left as soon as I could. I hope you'll find a much more
I moved to WC when my kids were little and now they are
almost grown up! It's been a good place to raise a family.
First, you should know that WC is served by 2+ school
districts. All the Walnut Creek schools are good, but I
think the ones in Walnut Creek School District (as opposed
to Mt Diablo School District) are better. And a small part
of Walnut Creek goes to school in Alamo. So when you are
looking at houses, be sure to plug in the address on the
school district websites--here is one
2nd main pt is that bc of your husband's work, I recommend
you look near hwy 680. Lots of WC is accessed by Ygnacio
Valley Blvd which gets TONS of traffic during rush
hour--better to avoid/minimize this route.
3rd--lots of great activities for kids and parents--parks,
classes, pools, etc. A great parent co-op preschool--I never
belonged but I heard good things. Unfortunately most of WC
is not very walkable, so plan on (short) drives to get to
and fro. Welcome!
We have raised our daughter in Walnut Creek (she's now in
7th grade) after previously having lived in San Francisco
before we became parents. It has turned out to be a great
place to raise a child. There are lots of families here.
When we first moved here, we felt out of place because we
didn't have a kid yet! A couple of things to point out:
* Walnut Creek is big. It encompasses various school
districts, and you want to pay attention when looking for a
home. Some parts are in the Mt. Diablo Unified School
District. We are now in that district. There are good and
not so good schools in that district. We are in the 'good'
schools: Bancroft Elementary, Foothill Middle School, and
Northgate High School. The Walnut Creek Unified School
District has all good schools. Other parts of Walnut Creek
are in the Alamo school district. There is an unincorporated
area of Walnut Creek that I love called Saranap that is in
the Lafayette school district (all good schools).
* There is wonderful open space out here. Lots of bike
trails, hiking, Mt. Diablo, Lafayette Reservoir. It's
really pretty! We sometimes get snow on the top of Mt.
Diablo in the winter and it's lovely.
* Walnut Creek has great restaurants! Seriously. I thought I
was going to starve when we moved here. Check out Diablo
Magazine for more info about that, and more!
* There is great shopping here. You pretty much don't have
to leave Walnut Creek to buy whatever it is you may need.
That may or may not appeal to you, but the older I get, the
more domestic I seem to have become and I like that.
* Housing is very expensive here, but I can tell you after
having lived here since 1996 that it is MUCH less expensive
right now than it was then.
* Weather: it can get brutally hot in the summer here (in
the 100s sometimes). It's a dry heat, as they say, but
really once it's 100 or more, it's just darn hot! Think of
that in terms of housing. We have central air conditioning
and couldn't live without it. We also have ceiling fans in
the bedrooms in addition to that. It gets cold in the winter
(relatively speaking) - below freezing sometimes. Compared
to the midwest or back East it's nothing, but if you're used
to California weather, we do have that other extreme. I will
tell you that Walnut Creek is the only place in California I
have lived that has the relative equivalent of 4 seasons.
There are lovely trees planted around town where the leaves
change color in the fall. You know it's summer because it
gets hot (you may want to join a local pool if you don't
move into a condo/townhouse complex that already has one).
Then there is winter, where yes, you do need a real winter
coat, and spring, which is lovely.
* I can also tell you that Walnut Creek has changed since we
first moved here in terms of diversity (political, ethnic,
etc.). It's much more diverse now, and that is something we
are glad about. It'll never be Berkeley, but relative to
what it was when we first moved here, it's much more to our
* There is a beautiful new library downtown (and you're not
that far from the other great new libraries in Lafayette and
For more info, check out Walnut Creek's website:
Final note: while the public schools are great, if you are
looking for a wonderful and special preschool (not public),
check out White Pony in Lafayette (just on the border of
Walnut Creek and near that great Saranap area).
At the risk of repeating what others have said before, I
want to say that Walnut Creek is a fabulous place to raise
kids. I've worked in Walnut Creek for almost 10 years, and I
used to commute from Oakland/Berkeley. I also used to swear
up and down that I would NEVER move to Walnut Creek. Then I
had kids, and everything changed for us. We got some grief
from some people who thought we were selling out to the
suburbs, but frankly, I've never looked back.
First we rented near Larkey Park, and after two years, we
bought a house. We live in Saranap, an unincorporated area
between Walnut Creek and Lafayette. I know that Walnut Creek
has the reputation of being a high-end shopping mecca filled
with vapid wealthy people, but it's not like that at all
(unless, maybe, you hang out at the Tiffany store all day).
Our neighbors are bee-keepers and artists, people who
commute by bike, a few stay-at-home mothers and
work-from-home mothers, families who walk through the
neighborhood in the evening just to see their friends and
enjoy the weather. We come home to deer in our backyard (not
always welcome when they strip our cherry tree but still
beautiful somehow). We keep chickens. The schools are good
and well-supported by the community. It's true that there
are no sidewalks in our neighborhood, but people tend to
drive as if they expect pedestrians to be there. Yes, we
probably drive more than we'd like, but really, I probably
wasn't going to walk to/from the store with three young kids
anyway. (Who'd carry the gallon of milk on the way home?) If
this is the dreadful life of a suburbanite, I'll take it.
Walnut Creek convert
Walnut Creek - will we fit in and where?
We're headed to WC area from SF (long-time residents) for schools,
proximity to BART, weather, etc. Kids are 5 and 2. Any
recommendations out there as to which neighborhoods/areas we might
feel most comfortable in terms of politics, culture, etc. In other
words, where are the liberals in WC? By the way, we realize
'lamorinda' might be a better fit for us, but we are not able to
afford a suitable home there, except possibly in downtown
Lafayette. School districting issues in WC are well understood.
We live in Walnut Heights in the Walnut Heights neighborhood and
love it. We think it's pretty liberal. The school is great,
probably the best in the WC elementary district. The neighbors
are friendly and the area is safe. My kids play outside without
supervision and I never worry. Good luck. Email if you want more
Don't overestimate Orinda for home prices. Given the current
economic climate, I would certainly keep my options open. We live
in Orinda with a Kindergartner and love it. It's a small,
wonderful community and very kid-centered. Schools are the best .
check it out
I'm always fascinated that people west of the Caldecott tunnel
think that Walnut Creek is conservative. I believe that liberals
outnumber conservatives in WC, by far. I only know one
conservative family and they happen to live in a much wealthier
town just south of here... To be honest, those of us in Walnut
Creek are the same kind of people you'll find anywhere else in
the bay area, except we happen to like trees, bike trails, open
spaces, and great weather! If it's relevant to you, I know
same-sex couples who are happily raising children in this area
and prefer the area to Berkeley/Oakland. You may want to consider
the Heather Farm area of Walnut Creek, and also the neighboring
town of Pleasant Hill.
Walnut Creek long-timer
I recently lived in Walnut Creek for 4 years. Two years in an
apartment house behind the library and park (very reasonable and
pleasant). My kids came to stay part time so didn't use the
schools, but taught at Clayton Valley High which I enjoyed very
much. I also lived on Walnut Blvd. near Shell Ridge and it was
very quiet, mix of ages, easy access to run, walk dogs, hike.
When I first moved to WC from Berkeley I thought the women looked
like ''Country Club Moms,'' hair done, make up, stylish clothes,
but after awhile I got used to it and you make friends with
people you are comfortable with. Best of luck finding a place you
We are in the research stage of buying our first home in (we think)
We did consider Albany/El Cerrito, but decided our budget cancelled
the major plusses there. Our business takes us into the City a few
times per week. BART is a HUGE reason we're choosing WC, as are
schools (we want to stay close to BART line and in WCSD). Our
oldest starts Kindergarten in fall of 09. I'm not looking for a
city vs. suburbs debate as much as I'd like to hear straight talk
and advice from other parents who live there or have made a similar
move. What were the hardest adjustments? Did anything come up that
you didn't anticipate (good or bad)? And more specifically, what is
the commute really like? How long does it take to get to BART from
where you live in WC? I don't have close friends out there who can
provide some of the the nitty gritty details we are lacking.
the lowdown please
Although I wasn't a parent when I lived in WC, I do think that
WC is a good city to raise a family. It is very safe, and
access to kid-friendly activities are everywhere. The warm
weather itself allows for walks around the city and visits to
the clean parks. Getting to BART to commute into SF depends on
what part of WC you live and the time of day of your commute. I
think the WC BART station parking garage/lot fills up fast, so
you may want to take a look at the BART website to see when
that particular station's garage fills up. If have to drive
down Ygancio Valley Road or Treat Blvd., that in itself can get
backed up with other commuters and families getting to local
schools, businesses, etc.
I grew up in Berkeley, moved to El Sobrante in the early 90s for the
cheap mortgage. When my son became of kindergarten age, we agreed the
local schools were not an option but neither was private school. After
much research, we decided on Walnut Creek. At first I was a bit dubious
but after four years of living here....we feel we made the right
choice. We live close to Pleasant Hill Bart Station where they have a
brand new parking lot, rarely fills up. They're building a whole new
transit village around the PH Bart Station. We get to SF quicker than
when we lived in El Sob due to driving/parking issues. Walnut Creek has
endless bike trails, an amazing public arts program, the obvious
retail/restaurant aspect. But the thing I like best is the diversity is
way more evident once you live here. Walnut Creek has a reputation of
being white/Republican but that is SO not true. Maybe in the 70s but
not now. WC is relatively safe as well. We walk to our neighborhood
park at night, ride our bikes to Heather Farms to see movies on the lawn, etc. Also, a
new library is being built in Civic Park which is going to be another
new culture center for the City. One note: there is big debate about
schools. Not all WC neighborhoods are in the WC School District, the
small 5 elementary/one middle school district. Some are in Mt. Diablo
school district which like any large district has it's good and bad
The hot weather in the summer is an issue if you're a fog dweller, but
we liked the change after decades of fog. Yes, it gets pretty hot in
the summer but there's lots of swimming pools around so my kid actually
gets a summer now! Us too.
It's worth sweltering for a few hours in the day a few weeks out of the
year for the gorgeous warm summer nights, walking downtown WC in shorts
and a t-shirt instead of a parka! Hope this helps, feel free to email
me with questions.
We live in Lafayette and enjoy it a lot. The public schools are terrific.
The organized youth sports are also well organized with participation from a
large number of the local school kids. We considered Lafayette because it is
on the BART line as well, despite the fact that neither my husband or myself
work in the city. It is a great convenience to be on the BART line. As a
family we use BART for Berkeley or SF trips to museums and baseball games.
We have friends who commute to the city via BART regularly and it seems to
work out very well for them. Having grown up in Berkeley, I would say there
is definitely less diversity in Lamorinda and WC than in Berkeley and there
are fewer cultural events in the community. But that is what makes Berkeley
quite fabulous, isn't it? But at the same time, we feel very linked to
Berkeley/Oakland/SF because of BART and being close to hwy 24.
Happy with the pros Lamorinda offers me
It's been 15 years since I have been at Cal, and now I'm returning to the East Bay.
We will be relocating from Venice, CA to somewhere East of the Tunnel in November. I
will be moving with my husband and 14-month-old twins. Since I will be working
full-time in Walnut Creek, we will likely live near there. My husband will be working
in downtown San Francisco, so we would need to live near a BART station. We are trying
to figure out which neighborhoods would be best for 2 little children. Any
recommendations for family-friendly neighborhoods with good schools? I have heard that
part of Walnut Creek uses the Lafayette school district. Does anyone know what
neighborhoods/boundaries those would be? I have also heard it
gets quite warm in Walnut Creek in the summertime... Is it a lot cooler closer to the
tunnel (Orinda, Moraga)?
I will also need to find a nanny for my twins. Does anyone know the best way to
advertise/find a nanny in the area? Is there an agency someone can recommend? What is
the going rate for nannies in the area?
I can only answer the climate part of your question- I lived in WC 2 years
and worked in Orinda. I would say while it is not hugely cooler in
Lamorinda (as it would be west of the tunnel) I could notice a subtle
difference in both temp. and air quality. WC air felt like a smoggier heat
whereas there was a subtle freshness in Orinda perhaps from berkeley's fog
misting over the hills? My experience was each town east would feel a bit
hotter, Orinda the least (but still hot!)then Moraga, Lafayette, WC and
worse in Concord. That aside WC has many great family friendly things to
do, plus Whole Foods and plenty of shopping. My mom and her friends in
Moraga would rather live in either WC or west of the caldecott beause they
always drive there for Everything, (except they don't want the longer Bart
ride from WC vs. Orinda Bart.)
Wow -- lots of questions in this original post, but yes, parts of Walnut
Creek do use Lafayette schools. You would want to look in the Boulevard
Way/Olympic Blvd./Pleasant Hill Rd. area in a region often referred to as
''Saranap''. There is also the highly rated Walnut Creek School District,
which is quite small and a little less clear to me -- I do know that the
area in off of Cherry Lane (runs between Treat and Ygnacio) is included in
this area and uses Las Lomas High, Walnut Creek Intermediate, and one or
two elementary schools (Indian Vallley and ...?). Yes, Walnut Creek gets
hot in the summer and Orinda/Moraga tend to be cooler as they get some
morning fog. I am not a heat fan, but it really isn't horrible, I don't
think. You will pay significantly more for a house in Orinda -- not enough
to us for the temp. difference, but they have good schools as well. Walnut
Creek tends to have more traditional neighborhoods than Orinda as much of
Orinda is quite hilly. Moraga has traditional neighborhoods but it is much more difficult to get in and out
of and less convenient to BART than the other 2 cities. Hope this helps --
just kind of scratching the surface, but ... I have lived in the area for
35+ years and we are now in Pleasant Hill, but our children are in private
school, which is a trade off. Good luck!
We've lived in Orinda since 2000, and I think it meets most of your
requirements: near BART, great for kids, very good schools. You mentioned
the heat in Walnut Creek, and yes, it's hot there -- my husband lived
there before we were married, and we had to run the air conditioner every
day during the summer. Orinda gets cooled off in the evenings from the
fog, but not so much that you can't play outside in the evenings. Moraga
is much hotter than Orinda, being further from the fog gaps (also more
conservative, if you're concerned about that).
I live in Walnut Creek and would love to work closer to home (currently work in
Berkeley). I honestly don't know what I would want to do at this point, so I am more
interested in starting to research employers who are located in or near Walnut Creek.
Given that, do any of you work in/near WC? What do you do and whom do you work
for? Do you enjoy your place of business? Thanks!
I work in Walnut Creek at John Muir Medical Center. There are
quite a few places to work here. Check out the Contra Costa
Centre website for a list of places that are in the area. I
know Wells Fargo corporate is over here as well, as is ARF,
PMI, Bank of the West corporate, and much more.
As for as whether I enjoy it here? If you are working at Cal,
then John Muir's benefits will bring nothing but
disappointment. I worked at Cal and left to be a bit closer to
home and now regret leaving that UC benefit pkg behind.
Wish I worked where I live too.
We may be moving to Walnut Creek this summer. My company moved
to San Ramon and we would like to be closer. We have heard that
schools are good in WC. One child will be in Middle School and
the other one in 1st grade. Can anyone recommend a realtor who
could help us find a rental house? If we can't find a house, are
there apartment complexes that are kid-friendly, possibly with
patios or small yards? Which neighborhoods should we focus on?
If your husband is going to work in San Ramon you may as well move to Alamo,
Danville, or San Ramon. The schools in Walnut Creek are good-Ok, but the San
Ramon Valley school district is excellent! If you do choose Walnut Creek, double
check what school district you would be in--there are 2 and both have different
Hi - my sister is a realtor in Walnut Creek, has been for many
years and really loves living and working in that area. We grew
up in the area, I moved to this side of the tunnel. Married a
native Oaklander :) Yes, Walnut Creek has some very good
schools, and some just ok ones. You do need to know where the
boundaries for them reach. My sister can help you out with all
your questions. Her name is Kim Morucci - 925-437-1650. Good
I am looking for a restaurant in Walnut Creek with a private
room, patio or similar for a cocktail party of about 20 – 30
adults. I’m thinking no host bar with nice appetizers. Ideally
people could come and go, have a few drinks, a bit to eat...
Fresh air and music a big plus!
I live in the area and absolutely detest eating in dinner in
Walnut Creek. It's not the restaurants it's the parking. Try
Pleasant Hill, Lafayette or Alamo. In Lafayette I like
Postinos. In PH try Left Bank.
I would highly recommend Postinos, Mondellos Cucina Italiana
or Café Terzetto.
I live in the East bay area (San Ramon, Danville area) but
would love to move to Berkeley. However, I find it terribly
expensive right now. (I am a single mom) So, I have been
thinking of Walnut Creek. I used to live in Boston and I loved
it!!! I am basically looking for a liberal place,
very 'culture' oriented, like Berkeley and with diversity... I
know many people are happy in the area where I live now...but
it certainly is NOT my place. Can you tell me anything about
Walnut Creek? Do you know of any other areas that might be
similar to Berkeley (urban, cultured, liberal....) that's
Thanks a lot in advance.
Looking for my place in the world
I understand your situation and I was dead set on moving to
Berkeley myself... because of the culture, diversity, less
commercial. It reminded me of a little town with a San Francisco
feel but even more of a community backing. Yes, it does come at
a price too (whew! we found that out right away). Coming from
someone who lives in Berkeley, consider this, Albany is right
next door, so is emeryville, Oakland, and El Cerrito. I shop in
all 4 towns on a regular basis. So, consider checking out Albany
rent, or Oakland rent (assuming you are renting). Maybe you
could technically reside in one, but spend the majority of your
time (eating out, shopping, going to cultural events, attending
farmer's markets in Berkeley). That is sort of how my husband
and I made it work in Las Vegas. We previously lived in ''Vegas''
but technically our address was Henderson, a cute suburb with
cheaper, more available, and more convenient housing. We still
did everything we wanted to do in Las Vegas, as it was only a 5
to 10 minute drive. You never even knew when you were leaving
one and arriving in the other. Good Luck on finding a place that
fits, I know it is tough.
Um, no. Have you taken a drive or bart ride out to Walnut Creek? It is nice in it's own
ways but is certainly not like Berkeley (much hotter, more suburban, more oriented
towards the upper class, less walkable) and not even that much more affordable.
If you don't mind moving out of the bay area, I think that other, smaller college
towns probably have a more Berkeley-ish feel on a smaller scale and
budget...Arcata, Chico, Davis.
Rather than moving thru the tunnel if Berkeley is too expensive,
I strongly suggest you look in Albany and El Cerrito. Mostly
same feel as Berkeley, and Alb and El C are so close to
Berkeley you just live in all 3 cities as you carry out your
daily living. Takes me 10-12 min to get from north side campus
to far side of El Cerrito.
Excellent real estate agent who can find you what you want,
I recommend Grace Bishop, at Red Oak Realty at the top of
Solano. Lotsa experience and handles homes all over the area.
If Danville/San Ramon isn't your scene I don't think you'll
find what you're looking for in Walnut Creek. It is
significantly more suburban, for better and worse, than
Berkeley and other cities through the tunnel. I think you'd do
a lot better looking in and around Oakland. You didn't mention
if public school are an issue, but you can research that
depending on where you ultiamtely focus on. Oakland and
ElCerrito housing costs are ususally somewhat less than
Berkeley, but I don't think WC will save you much
in my humble opinion.
Walnut Creek may be a nice place, but it is NOT like Berkeley!
People move to Walnut Creek to GET AWAY from Berkeley/Oakland.
Spend a day at Broadway Plaza shopping center (or that general
area) and you will get the gist. For a more Berkeley-like
experience, you have to come to the East Bay. You can still
find (relatively) affordable places in Oakland, El Cerrito, and
Staying on this side of the hill
Hmm, as a native Berkeleyan, I wouldn't say that Walnut Creek has
much in common with Berkeley at all, but maybe it does in
comparison to other towns on the that side of the tunnel. At
least it does have an arts center. If you are looking for a
diverse, liberal, urban community that is affordable, I'd
encourage you to explore the neighborhoods of Oakland. Aside from
a few premium areas (such as Rockridge), home prices are
generally lower than Berkeley, and the city is incredibly diverse
and has a lot to offer (including easy access to Berkeley and
SF). After trying hard to break into the Berkeley market, we
finally found our first home just across the border in North
Oakland, and we're perfectly happy. Popular areas you might want
to check out include Grand Avenue and Lakeshore near Lake
Merritt, Park Blvd, Piedmont Ave (not the city of Piedmont--too
pricey), Montclair (on the spendy side), and the Temescal area
off Telegraph Ave. There's also a ton of new construction around
downtown and Jack London Square. Even if you don't find a place
to live you'll discover all sorts of wonderful restaurants,
shops, and arts spaces. One caveat: you don't mention schools in
your post, or what age your child is. If you are considering
public schools, the line on Oakland schools is that if you work
at it you can find a good elementary school, and maybe a decent
middle school, but the pickings are sparse at the high school
level. One of the reasons Berkeley is more expensive is that
schools are considered better. Albany is even higher for the same
happy in Oakland
I don't want to come across as bashing those who live in Walnut
Creek, but it is just so dissimilar to Berkeley that I can't
even begin to list the points of dissimilarity. In my experience,
it seems that affluence and wearing the right thing, driving the
right car, etc. seem a lot more important in WC than they seem to
be in Berkeley.
If you want to get more of a Berkeley feel but a bit cheaper
than Berkeley, check out Oakland. Maybe Albany or El Cerrito.
I'm afraid you're going to have to come through the tunnel,
I lived in WC for ten years. Yes, it can be cheaper but the
culture is entirely different! Berkeley = progressive attitudes.
Walnut Creek = pretty conservative, as well as pretty boring by
comparison culturally! WC has a lot of new money, with a strong
emphasis on having/being the best at everything. There's a lot
of ''keeping up with the Joneses''. I found myself out of place
there, although I did save money. There are some parts of WC
that are a little better, in terms of fewer plastic people, but
in general, if you love and want Berkeley, Walnut Creek is not
for you. It's also MUCH hotter in the summer, 10-15 deg.
I'm looking for recommendations on activities, places to go,
etc. for my 8-month old son and nanny in Walnut Creek. Our
nanny takes our son to different parks on a regular basis - but
I know that can get a bit boring sometimes. It would be nice
for them to meet up with other nannies and children around the
same age. Is there a certain ''nanny hangout'' in Walnut Creek?
Are there other activities besides going to the park? I know
there is a story time at the WC Library. It would be nice to
find out if there are other things to do in the area. Thanks!
Lindsay Wild Life Museum and Larky Park
You could sign your kid up for a Gymboree session in Lafayette or Walnut Creek area. It
is fantastic for your child. I took a child that I was taking care of to Gymboree and we
both loved it. Please keep in mind that your 8 month old would do well listening to
music, playing with toys and going for walks. Be careful to not over-
schedule your kid. They are always learning and need to take the time to learn.
My husband, 14 month old son and I are planning to move to
Walnut Creek this summer. We currently rent an apartment in
Rockridge and enjoy it, however my husband works in Walnut
Creek and it would be more convenient and probably more
affordable for us. (We now pay $1675 for a 2 bdrm apt in
We are not very familiar with the area, just downtown WC, and
would appreciate any advice about what neighborhood to live in
or what school districts are preferable. We anticipate renting
for 2-3 more years and eventually buying in WC or perhaps
elsewhere. As a stay at home mom, I would greatly prefer being
in an area where I can walk to shopping and other amenities as
opposed to having to drive everywhere.... What about downtown
and the surrounding neighborhood? We noticed quite a few
apartments in the area. Or is it better to live in other parts
of the city?
Thanks in advance for your advice, it is greatly appreciated!
Just a word of caution when it comes closer to your kids
entering school: be sure the place you buy/rent is in the
Walnut Creek School District. Not all of Walnut Creek is and
the realtors may not be completely honest with you. Call the
school district office and give them the address and ask if
it's within the WCSD boundaries. Mt. Diablo Unified has some
great schools, but they're having more budget problems right
now then WCSD. Also it's a very large district and WCSD is very
small--if you get involved you will know superintendent and
school board members.
Also, while I don't have a specific location to recommend, I do
encourage you to find something within walking distance of
downtown--I miss that a lot.
Unfortunately, I don't think you will find much cheaper rents
in Walnut Creek. My recommendation about finding the right
neihborhood is that you probably want to rent in the area that
you think you will want to buy in later. You child will be
connected at school and it is nice to avoid changing schools if
possible. With this in mind, you might check into housing
prices in different neigborhoods. For example, I love our
neigborhood in Walnut Creek, the Saranap, which is zoned in
Lafayette schools. Yet, the housing prices around here have
gone wild. We never could have moved into this area if we had
not moved here a long time ago. Other areas of Walnut Creek are
not so pricey. Just a thought.
Opening disclaimer: I've never lived in Walnut Creek. However
I've had friends living in various neighborhoods there for the
past 15 years, and I've spent a ton of time out there.
There really is no bad part of Walnut Creek (except maybe a few
blocks adjacent to the freeway on the other side from the Walnut
Creek BART station). In the downtown area in the vicinity
around (behind) the Safeway are a whole bunch of apartment
In terms of walking to shopping, outside of downtown, there are
a few centers (i.e. Safeway, etc) out Ygnacio Valley past
Heather Farms Park. Walnut Creek schools are good. But beware:
apparently not everyone in Walnut Creek is in the Walnut Creek
school district, and vice-versa. A friend's sister actually
lives in Concord and the kids go to Walnut Creek schools.
Maybe also consider Lafayette. Rentals are harder to find, but
good schools and possibly walkable to the downtown shopping.
And still great access to Walnut Creek.
Echoing the Lafayette recommendation, it has much of the nice
feel of Walnut Creek, is in close proximitiy to WC, and has a
large area of rentals near the downtown. I imagine, though am
basing this on no real fact, that given the large number of for
rent signs I have seen, that it may be reasonable to find a
place in Lafayette in the Brook St. Area.
Re: Family-friendly and more liberal Lamorinda 'hoods
If you're willing to look just a little farther out the Parkmead
area of Walnut Creek (where I live) is great, and commuting to SF
is actually easier here than Burton Valley or some of the other
outlying Lamorinda neighborhoods where you have to drive down to
BART. It's just a quick jump on the freeway here via the Pleasant
Hill Rd. exit and BART is very close by. When we were both
working in San Francisco we would go to the Lafayette BART station
-- maybe 5 minutes away -- and now my husband walks to the Walnut
Creek BART station everyday from our house, and we can walk to
school, the local swim club, and downtown Walnut Creek with ease
(and there's a Trader Joe's opening up at the corner of Newell and
California -- super easy walking distance) with the kids. My kids
and I started walking downtown when they were probably 4.
Parkmead Elementary is is great and there is a decent amount of
diversity here (still suburb-level, but decent) and it's a little
more laid-back and low-key that some of the more 'driven' aspects
of the Lamorida culture.
A year ago we moved from Kensington (where we had lived for
years) to the Saranap area of Walnut Creek (between Pleasant Hill
Road, Olympic, 24 and 680), and have had no regrets. We basically
'traded' our small Kensington home on a postage-size lot, for a
2600 square foot house on a 1/3 acre. Saranap is very
family-friendly. Kids ride around on bikes, tons of walkers, lots
of families, older homes on big lots (not a sterile housing
development), safe (not a short-cut to anyplace), and
helpful/friendly neighbors. Just about every
other house on our street has kids.
Also, this particular area of Saranap uses Lafayette schools
(Burton Valley for elementary). Basically, it is a better deal
than buying a Lafayette home, if that is the school district that
you want. On the other hand, we moved here to go to a private
school (The Meher School/White Pony). Which is a wonderful
private school/preschool run by Sufis. The school attracts a
diverse population (although nothing like S.F. or Berkeley), and
many of the staff/teachers live in the neighborhood, which helps
give a more 'Berkeley' feel to things. One more advantage to this
area is that it is 'secluded' but five minutes from downtown WC,
five minutes to both freeways, close to two BART stations, and
close to downtown Lafayette. A disadvantage is that the public
school is a good 15 to 20 minutes away. Although they do provide
bus service your kids won't be walking to school (at least for
elementary). Also, driving through the tunnel (which I do a
couple of days a week)can be a slow - friends that take BART to
S.F. say that the commute is fine.
Re: Should I move to the suburbs for the schools?
While I can't speak yet as to the quality of the public schools, I just wanted to put in a good word for Walnut Creek as a family-oriented community. We moved here from SF 7 years ago and I was not sure we were making the right decision, but we really grew to like Walnut Creek so much. It's so nice having Mt. Diablo right here. There are kids everywhere, lots of great parks here and near to here. From what I understand the public schools are better in Lafayette, but it's much more expensive to live in Lafayette (not that it's inexpensive in Walnut Creek, as I can attest now that we are looking to buy a bigger house!). We like downtown Walnut Creek - can't beat the shopping! And there are plenty of good, non-chain restaurants here as well. Our daughter will be attending a private elementary school in Lafayette, but will switch to public school when she hits middle school. We expect to remain in Walnut Creek (or Lamorinda) through her high school years.
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