I'm a Bay Area native, and have lived everywhere from Pacifica to Concord to San Jose.
One blanket statement that holds true is that is it EXPENSIVE to live there. For a lot of life-longers who haven't lived anywhere else, the daily grind and expense is so normal that it's just not a big deal. Having lived in a few other areas in my life, other states, I've experienced living with just 40% of my income going to making a housing payment. I've lived with having a financial cushion. And I've experienced Bay Area living, with 75% going to pay for an apartment. Housing is expensive, food is expensive, everything is. The city of San Francisco even passed a law that minimum wage is higher than the state minimum because of the cost of living. Even so, salaries aren't so much higher than other areas that there's much comfort for many families.
There's a lot that the Bay Area offers, most of it for a fee, of course. A lot of the children's events come with admission, but at least there are events! Where I am now, I haven't found much for kids, free or pay. Some areas, even within the city (which refers to SF), aren't so kid-friendly, and some are. As a whole, the city of Berkeley is pretty family-friendly.
And the transit! Oh. My. God. It's AMAZING. There aren't enough works in the English language to describe how wonderful it is.
As for schools, like all public schools in this state, they're a mess. About the only exception is the school system in Palo Alto. Residents pay out the rear in taxes for the best teachers. There's a major problem of groups of parents renting a small apartment together in the city limits just for the address to send their kids to Palo schools. When the school finds out though, it's not pretty. The parents in that town are exclusive people who don't want their kids mixing with the non-rich. The student parking lot is full of BMWs and other luxury cars, no kidding. The school is so hard and competitive that starting in kindergarten in that city, kids are expected to know what a rhombus is and how it differs from a parallelogram. High-schoolers sometimes stay overnight to study! But the Stanford Theater there is a wonderful treat.
But outside Palo, the schools are typical, and in the city itself, which school your kid goes to is a lottery. That's the attempt at preventing kids in richer areas from having better teachers. You can have a school across the street, but your kid gets sent to one across the city. And they're all underfunded.
Still, I wish with all my heart that we could afford to move back. We make about $60k post-tax right now, but that's just not enough to really live comfortably.