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#1 of 16 Old 08-17-2010, 02:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi

We are relocating to the bay area from the east coast.
We either want to be in the city or near the city.

We have two girls 10 months and almost 3 and are looking for a liberal area with young families, good access to the outdoors, close to the city if not in it, good public schools, a little bit of crunch : 0 ))

we are kind of all over the place at the moment and just starting the search. the move will probably happen next spring

would love to hear more about mill valley? piedmont?
as far as in the city what areas do people think are the best for families and have good weather?

Is public school an option in the city? I keep hearing its not so that is a little scary

any advice would be greatly appreciated and any other suggestions. we definitely dont want to be in suburbia

thanks
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#2 of 16 Old 08-17-2010, 10:09 PM
 
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I've found the SF Bay Area, as a whole, to be nearly hostile to children. Restaurants don't want 'em, kid places and events are expensive and packed with parents shoving thier kid in front of yours (or, in the case of one my playgroups, adults threatening to kick your kid's behind.) In the city is nearly worse than in "suburbia" (which is a vast, vast part of the Bay Area, by the way and Mill Valley is definitely part of the suburban sprawl.)

For sucess living in the Bay Area, I would suggest you choose a home that is:
In your price range - this may be more difficult than you think. Do you have pets? Are you planning on renting or buying?
Near stores you will shop at - are you a Whole Foods shopper? Co-op shopper? TJ's shopper? Make sure you aren't trying to drive down 101 every week to get to your grocery store.
In a neighborhood that you have seen and liked - if you have the option of staying here for a few weeks to check out the neighborhoods (and stay in your "top choice" neighborhoods), I'd suggest it. I've lived a lot of places and this area is harder to live in than it is to visit - unlike a lot of places I've lived.

Public schools in California in general are a mess. Underfunded, understaffed, underrepresented. The people who have the money to make a difference don't care because thier kids all go to private school.

Are you moving for work? Family? Lifestyle? What's drawing you to the Bay Area?

Meaghan (29)  Torq's wife (34); Niall's SAHM (9/09); Rivka's birthmom (6/03)
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#3 of 16 Old 08-20-2010, 04:15 AM
 
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I've only ever lived in Ca (LA area and Bay area) so I don't know how it compares to other parts of the country, but I think the bay area has a lot to offer for families.

We currently live in Marin (Novato), but I have also lived in the East Bay. I loved living in Oakland though that was before I had kids. We lived off Grand ave near Lake Merritt, and later off lakeshore. If you're used to apartment living I think it would be great for kids. Walking distance to the library, the farmer's market, and the playground. Living near the lake was cool. It'd be a great place to take walks around with the kids. I also think Berkeley would be great. There's an awesome park for little kids called totland in North Berkeley. If you are walking distance from Shattuck than you can easily take BART into the City. Berkeley has an awesome main public Library that is right across the street from a very nice little children's museum called Habitot.

Frankly, I haven't really noticed people being any more intolerant of children here than anywhere else. I think Americans in general are pretty intolerant of children, but I remember being surprised, while having dinner one night at how many people just took there babies out with them to dinner and such. I think there are a lot of young hip parents in the bay area in general.

Like I said we live in Marin. Mill Valley is very nice they have an adorable little town center. It has a very rural sort of feel, as does most of Marin (My husband drives by a field of grazing cows every morning on his way to work and it can't be farther than a mile or two from the civic center in San Rafael which just happens to be the largest "city" in Marin. It's odd for me to hear Mill Valley referred to as "urban sprawl." When I think of that term I think more of what it's like in LA with one community rolling into the next out in all directions never any green, just constant monotony of mini malls and freeways. To me Marin is very different.

Don't get me wrong it's not all beautiful and it took a while to grow on me, but it's pretty cool in a lot of ways. We have access to great local foods all year long. San Rafael has the most awesome farmer's market I've ever been to, though I hear there's an even bigger and better one in the city. It's a fairly easy drive into the city (though once you get there you're usually stuck in some traffic), but you also have easy access to wonderful hiking and other outdoorsy stuff. We live in Novato which I have found to be very family friendly as well. I haven't ever lived in the City, but I know families who do and they seem to like it. One family lives on the North West-ish side by the Zoo and the can walk to both the beach and one of the playgrounds at Golden Gate Park. There is also a ton of cool things to do at Golden Gate Park like Museums and such. Also if you're living on that side of the city its a quick jaunt over the bridge to the Bay Area discovery Museum which is a pretty awesome children's museum.

The downsides of the bay area are certainly the high cost of living, it threw me for a loop because I had assumed it would be similar to LA, but Marin is worse. Also the traffic. Though honestly in Marin, I think the traffic is much better than what I was used to in LA. And if you live in the city I think the public transportation is pretty good. My Brother goes to SF State and he takes public transportation every where. It does suck though that there is no Bart in the North Bay. You could take the Ferry to SF, but it takes longer than it would to take Bart from the East Bay. Also one thing I don't love about Marin is that most of the parents here seem much older than me (which is generally the case for the Bay Area and LA area as well, but even more so here)

I don't know much about the schools because my kids are still little. Here's what I've heard though. San Francisco has some really stellar public schools, but the few that are great are next to impossible to get into. In Marin, it's hit or miss. Some areas are not as good because all the wealthiest and most educated families send their kids to private school, but my understanding is that there are other communities with really great public schools. I don't know much at all about the East Bay except that I do seem to remember that Piedmont has it's own school district and so the school(s) there are considered better than some of the surrounding Oakland schools. It's hard to draw any hard and fast conclusions because in the are immediately surrounding the bay within 20 minutes or less of the city, there's four counties (SF, Marin, Alameda, and Contra Costa) and a dozen or more school districts. And that doesn't include south bay area at all.

All in all I think this is a pretty cool area to live. I'm obviously no expert, but feel free to pm me if you have any more questions. Good luck.

Jennifer, mama to darling dancing Juliette, and sweet baby Jameson
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#4 of 16 Old 08-24-2010, 05:52 PM
 
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I live on the "peninsula" -- the strip that is south of the city but not yet into "South Bay". Basically northern Silicon Valley.

When I read your post Berkeley popped into my head immediately. It's more urban than some of the other areas but not as dense as SF. Has more sun, more crunch, and relatively close to SF. You can even take the train in if you want, otherwise it's a sucky bridge commute if you will be working in the city.

Where I live (Burlingame-San Mateo area) I feel like it is pretty kid-friendly. We eat out with our 3 y.o.'s at least 3x a week and have never felt other diners or restaurant staff didn't like our presence. We have lots of parks and kids activities in the area. Our neighborhood is full of children. I haven't encountered too many crazy type A parents. But I grew up here and have only lived in other places for brief spurts of time, so maybe this is all I know.

In the city I think Noe Valley is a really nice family neighborhood and sunny, but very pricey (I think $1.5-2 million range). My impression of public schools in the city is that the ones with great scores are full of Asians (I'm Asian myself but would want my kids to go to a more diverse school). But I don't really have first hand knowledge--sorry to not be helpful here.

Oh and re: not wanting to be in suburbia... I think there are different degrees of being in the suburbs. There are pockets where you have the yard and easy parking, but can still walk to downtown, parks, library, restaurants, cafes, shops, etc. I live in such a pocket and love it. The bay area is a collection of little cities one after another--just look up the downtown areas of each and draw a walking radius around it to find the pockets.

Poppan ~ twins born April 2007
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#5 of 16 Old 08-29-2010, 03:02 PM
 
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i live in north oakland, near the lake. great weather, iffy schools (my kids're in a lovely elementary, but it's not my local school, and middle school is looming), excellent "walkability."

i'm a few blocks from the piedmont border. piedmont will cost you at least $700k for an entry level house. http://www.zillow.com/homes/piedmont...mmm/1_rs/1_fr/

people say if you have one kid, live in oakland and go to private school, but 2 kids tips the balance to piedmont and public school. but the piedmont culture is money status and stress; at playgrounds there are nannies and the occasional slender, well dressed, tanned mom, with streaked blond hair, "at work" on her cell phone, while the kids play.

here's a few threads (ok, more than a few), some of which link to older threads, about living in the bay area. my 2 cents is in there a few times.

interested in moving to sf bay area
http://www.mothering.com/discussions....php?t=1169098

OMG OMG OMG I am moving to bay area and don't even know where to start
http://www.mothering.com/discussions....php?t=1074781

Single MAMA movin to the Bay...HELP!
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...php?p=12910725

Moving to San Francisco - where to begin??
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=988514

Best place to live in the Bay Area?
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=880451

Are these towns near Richmond(bay area)?
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=822092


Moving to SF. Which neighborhood? (actually branches off to cover walnut creek/berk etc of the east bay).
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=787754

Anyone lives in Walnut Creek?
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=744048

Would you live in Berkeley with kids?
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=558725

Where in the Bay Area for our unschooling multi-racial family?
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=594039

my signature is usually illegible
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#6 of 16 Old 08-30-2010, 01:00 PM
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I'd have to say that so much (unfortunately) depends on your budget. I'm an SF native who has lived in the city for most of my life with the exception of a few years in Berkeley and Boston. Public school is definitely possible in the city if you are an informed and involved parent. (I definitely plan to send my kids to PS.)
I have sooo much to say about living in the bay but I think it all boils down to my love of its diversity - and with that comes some prices to pay (financial and otherwise).
I agree that Berkeley is a great starting point. Maybe check it out, see what you like and don't like and then refine your search...? Feel free to message me for more info.
Best of luck!!!
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#7 of 16 Old 09-07-2010, 05:17 PM
 
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I live in Berkeley. I think it would meet your criteria. We loved the city and wanted to live someplace easier after our daughter was born. Berkeley is close but an easier lifestyle than the city. It is more suburban than SF but sort of like suburbs w/training wheels. Still very urban with lots of cool boutiques, great restaurants and awesome markets while still having pretty, tree lined neighborhoods. It's flat (hills in SF are killer), you can park easily where you want to go and it is very walkable. There are TONS of parks here and lots of activities for the tot set. Berkeley is *very* liberal and crunchy. My mom's group mostly all cloth diapers and most are still nursing at 19/20 months old. We aren't specifically an attachment parenting group or anything - that is just the norm around here.

Mill Valley is absolutely beautiful! I think you would have to drive more there and there likely aren't as many parks. But you would have access to tons of awesome hiking. I can't say for sure since I haven't lived there, but I think the attitude in Marin is mostly more conservative and less crunchy. The friends and co-workers I know who lived there leaned more toward scheduled c-sections and didn't breastfeed for very long. That said, it is still the bay area so there is probably still plenty of crunchiness. The public schools in Marin are probably better than the East Bay as a whole.

You mentioned Piedmont...it is beautiful there too. Very close to Berkeley. The schools there are rated very highly. Very very expensive to live there though (not that it's cheap anywhere in the bay area, but this is especially ritzy). Not much for sale under a million and even that won't get you a whole lot there.

Cindy

Mama to my veggie girl hearts.gif(1/09) and my sweet rainbow baby rainbow1284.gif (9/12). 

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#8 of 16 Old 09-08-2010, 10:19 PM
 
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I'm from the East Bay. I would say that Berkeley fits your criteria, as well as the Rockridge/Montclair/Grand Lake areas of Oakland. For schools, I would also throw in Albany.

But....it will definitely depend on your budget, and whether you plan to rent or buy.

NishaG momsling.GIF - Wife to Big K for 20 years - Mama to KJ and KC, and our 1st baby girl, KS, born 1/20/12 familybed1.gif diaper.gif!

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#9 of 16 Old 02-03-2011, 06:32 PM
 
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i'm in half moon bay and it's a wonderful community for children and families.  it has a nice small-towny feel, but is close enough to bigger cities that we could just drive up to SF for dinner if we wanted. i love love love it here!

 

our little small-town public elementary school even has a spanish immersion program which we love (our children are in grades 2 & 5 and our 5th grader is completely fluent, our 2nd grader nearly so). we have a great local natural food market (better than whole foods, IMO, but about the same size, it's called New Leaf, and it's local to the santa cruz area but they just came north to put one in here in HMB). there's a trader joes and a whole foods just over the hill in san mateo, and we're about a 35-40 minute drive from SF.

 

we also have an incredible, locally owned gym with childcare, a knitting store, a cool yoga studio with ocean view, a pilates studio, a few independent bookstores, a public library, a few local independent coffee shops, a quaint downtown, a couple of good surf shops, a nice artistic community...hmm, what else?...we've got the world-famous mavericks surf competition ( ;

 

and...we can see the ocean from our driveway ( ; also, house prices are better here than on the peninsula, you get more house for your $$ here, and there are plenty of nice house rentals.

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#10 of 16 Old 02-03-2011, 07:55 PM
 
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If you end up looking at the Peninsula, I'll throw my vote in for San Carlos. Great downtown and parks, good elementary schools. Great farmer's market. We've lived in 4 different towns here and this is our favorite.

 


Massage therapist and artist, wife to English DH since 2002, Mummy to Oliver Finn 10/20/07 and Eamon Anthony 12/2/2010
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#11 of 16 Old 02-03-2011, 08:02 PM
 
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There are many thoughtful responses given and I won't try to replicate what they have already very wisely said. I will simply repeat that it is *extremely* expensive to live here. We just bought our first home, a starter for sure, in San Rafael and paid $400k. That was CHEAP!! Along with that you have to consider the higher prices of insurances (all kinds), health care costs and education.

The public schools in California are ridiculous and underfunded. We barely send our school age daughter to a private school but when that gets to be too expensive we'll homeschool instead of putting her in public. They are just that bad.

The traffic is not delightful and folks are awful drivers and mostly want to run you off the road. Things are not much "walkable" and you'll find you have to do a lot of freeway driving to get from here to there~not many backroads options.

Each little town is cute and can be crunchy~Berkeley, Piedmont, Mill Valley, Fairfax and even Petaluma What I feel is troublesome is that a great percentage of folks seem to give "crunchy" good lip service but then have a very superior attitude towards those of us who are living on the fringe, or say a more crunchy lifestyle. Our family is happy, don't get me wrong, but we are also an anomaly in the fact that raising chickens, staying at home with the kids (mama) and not having my hair colored professionally and/or visiting the gym regularly do not put me with the "in" crowd. And that crowd is big. Very big.

If you can handle being a very small fish in an ocean of look alikes, and have the money (so maybe you wouldn't be on the fringe so much) then you might enjoy it here. The weather is nice, though layers every day of the years are mandatory. No snow, though most folks drive to Tahoe for that. They drive everywhere, really. Maybe less in the East Bay, but I'm not for certain.

I should state here that I've been here for 10 years and although my husband loves his job, I am itching every day for the very moment that we can move...away.

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#12 of 16 Old 02-03-2011, 08:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by aniemama View Post

There are many thoughtful responses given and I won't try to replicate what they have already very wisely said. I will simply repeat that it is *extremely* expensive to live here. We just bought our first home, a starter for sure, in San Rafael and paid $400k. That was CHEAP!! Along with that you have to consider the higher prices of insurances (all kinds), health care costs and education.

The public schools in California are ridiculous and underfunded. We barely send our school age daughter to a private school but when that gets to be too expensive we'll homeschool instead of putting her in public. They are just that bad.

The traffic is not delightful and folks are awful drivers and mostly want to run you off the road. Things are not much "walkable" and you'll find you have to do a lot of freeway driving to get from here to there~not many backroads options.

Each little town is cute and can be crunchy~Berkeley, Piedmont, Mill Valley, Fairfax and even Petaluma What I feel is troublesome is that a great percentage of folks seem to give "crunchy" good lip service but then have a very superior attitude towards those of us who are living on the fringe, or say a more crunchy lifestyle. Our family is happy, don't get me wrong, but we are also an anomaly in the fact that raising chickens, staying at home with the kids (mama) and not having my hair colored professionally and/or visiting the gym regularly do not put me with the "in" crowd. And that crowd is big. Very big.

If you can handle being a very small fish in an ocean of look alikes, and have the money (so maybe you wouldn't be on the fringe so much) then you might enjoy it here. The weather is nice, though layers every day of the years are mandatory. No snow, though most folks drive to Tahoe for that. They drive everywhere, really. Maybe less in the East Bay, but I'm not for certain.

I should state here that I've been here for 10 years and although my husband loves his job, I am itching every day for the very moment that we can move...away.


Girl, you need to move to Sonoma County. I recommend Sebastopol. Marin is not the entire Bay Area, and does not reflect the values of the entire Bay Area (frankly Marin drives me crazy for many of the reasons you stated above).

$400 for a house in San Rafael though... That is cheap.
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#13 of 16 Old 02-04-2011, 11:00 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aniemama View Post

There are many thoughtful responses given and I won't try to replicate what they have already very wisely said. I will simply repeat that it is *extremely* expensive to live here. We just bought our first home, a starter for sure, in San Rafael and paid $400k. That was CHEAP!! Along with that you have to consider the higher prices of insurances (all kinds), health care costs and education.

The public schools in California are ridiculous and underfunded. We barely send our school age daughter to a private school but when that gets to be too expensive we'll homeschool instead of putting her in public. They are just that bad.

The traffic is not delightful and folks are awful drivers and mostly want to run you off the road. Things are not much "walkable" and you'll find you have to do a lot of freeway driving to get from here to there~not many backroads options.

Each little town is cute and can be crunchy~Berkeley, Piedmont, Mill Valley, Fairfax and even Petaluma What I feel is troublesome is that a great percentage of folks seem to give "crunchy" good lip service but then have a very superior attitude towards those of us who are living on the fringe, or say a more crunchy lifestyle. Our family is happy, don't get me wrong, but we are also an anomaly in the fact that raising chickens, staying at home with the kids (mama) and not having my hair colored professionally and/or visiting the gym regularly do not put me with the "in" crowd. And that crowd is big. Very big.

If you can handle being a very small fish in an ocean of look alikes, and have the money (so maybe you wouldn't be on the fringe so much) then you might enjoy it here. The weather is nice, though layers every day of the years are mandatory. No snow, though most folks drive to Tahoe for that. They drive everywhere, really. Maybe less in the East Bay, but I'm not for certain.

I should state here that I've been here for 10 years and although my husband loves his job, I am itching every day for the very moment that we can move...away.




Girl, you need to move to Sonoma County. I recommend Sebastopol. Marin is not the entire Bay Area, and does not reflect the values of the entire Bay Area (frankly Marin drives me crazy for many of the reasons you stated above).

$400 for a house in San Rafael though... That is cheap.

 

i would also caution folks to say *exactly* what part of the bay area they are representing, instead of making blanket statements about the whole HUGE "bay area". the east bay, south bay, marin, peninsula and SF ar vastly different places, and within those places, there is a lot of diversity in each city.

 

i'm sorry that you have this experience where you live! half moon bay is totally different. most of the moms are at home with their kids, there are lots of homes with small flocks of chickens, turkeys, goats, i'd say about 90% of the moms who walk their kids to my kids school in the morning look like they just rolled out of bed (no makeup, yoga pants, sweatshirt...that's my morning uniform), the acryllic nail/highlighted hair crowd is not the norm here, folks are so nice, friendly, and helpful. our public school is underfunded like most of CA, but it is not a bad school. the teachers are good and the PTO is committed to funding art, music, PE, we even have a school garden that the kids work in. and we walk a lot here. there's a paved trail that runs along the ocean for miles and trails and bridges that lead from many neighborhoods to the shopping areas.

 

 

yes, the house prices are high, but there are rentals at reasonable prices in nice neighborhoods (although "reasonable" is relative, the rentals here are still much more expensive that you'd pay in another place). but the pay is generally higher here as well. our family lives on a single income and we do ok, we just know how to live simply. it can be done.

 

and i'll second the poster who mentioned san carlos...it's probably my favorite little non-coastside town on the peninsula & the schools there are great.

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#14 of 16 Old 03-05-2011, 06:44 PM
 
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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.

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#15 of 16 Old 03-05-2011, 09:08 PM
 
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I live in Oakland and have a 13 month old. I love Oakland and as long as we are in the Bay Area, we'll live here. If you want a city, Oakland is it. Berkeley feels really "town-y" to me, and if you don't want the burbs, don't go to Contra Costa county!

 

That said, I don't think you'll get all your needs met in any one place in the Bay, mainly because the schools in CA are messed up. As a former public school teacher, I plan on homeschooling.

 

SF is not very family friendly. I would not look to live there. I have friends there, most do not have kids. Most that have kids ultimately move to the East Bay. The East Bay, Peninsula or North Bay is where I'd focus if I were you.

 

Piedmont is a snooty place- basically, it's folks who live in Oakland, but didn't want any of the riff raff that comes with being in a city. (IMHO) And it is very expensive. Oakland has lots going for it- diversity, a thriving arts scene, less expensive - so more bang for you housing buck, the lake, lots of parks and the zoo is the best in the entire Bay Area. Lake Temescal is awesome. There are LOTS of families here.
 

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Originally Posted by Ella Enchanted View PostOne 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. 


Yes, THIS. Be aware that your money will not go far. The Bay is gorgeous, and there is a fee to access such a place.


Mama to a 3 year old awesome kid, Rowan (aka Mister Boopy) and TTC another at 43!


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#16 of 16 Old 03-08-2011, 11:34 PM
 
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Lillitu, I used to have trouble remembering which way on all the bridges was the direction to pay.  An ex of mine quipped that they charge people going into the city because everyone wants to go, and if they charged to get out, no one would leave!  And a friend of mine said that the way to pay was going to the money in the city.

 

Wasn't there talk once about charging a toll to walk over the Golden Gate?  Or is my exhausted brain remembering wrong?

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