Our family is leaving our beloved San Francisco so my DD can attend a special school in the East Bay. We are pretty urban people but also love trees and easy parking and warm weather, etc. so while we'll miss the city vibe and culture (and easy access to beaches and hikes in Marin County, sigh...), I'm hoping we'll be able to embrace the positives that the EB has to offer.
I guess my questions are...
What is that transition like (for anyone who has fled the city for the burbs)?
Where do you find your community? Especially for parents of school-age kids (i.e., I can't join a baby play group)?
How often do you get back into the city?
What do you LOVE about the EB?
And... what towns and neighborhoods would you recommend we look in?
We need to be close to Oakland for a variety of reasons. In Oakland, we're currently focusing on the Temescal neighborhood (and some bordering neighborhoods I can't recall the names of). We like Rockridge but can't afford it. I love Berkeley but DH lived there previously and feels like he's been there, done that (although there's maybe some wiggle room there). We're curious about Alameda and Albany. I guess we want to find a place that's safe but not too spendy and that above all feels like home... multicultural and progressive, "real" (not manicured), with access to cool stuff like bookstores and farmers' markets.
Thank you in advance for any insights and words of wisdom!
We moved when DD was 3 months old from the city to Berkeley. I was fortunate to find a mom's group so I have built a good circle through that. But now that that group doesn't meet anymore and my daughter is older, I've joined some groups on meetup.com. Check out Berkeley Parents Network - maybe even post the question of how to meet others on there and see what people say.
I used to go back to the city a lot more often - probably at least once/week. Now it's more like 1-2x/mo (after 3 yrs here).
I'd say that overall I really love it here. Berkeley and Oakland are still fairly urban and have a lot to offer as far as things to do and places to walk around, farmers markets, great restaurants and great grocery stores, etc. We are in North Berkeley and have made sure to stay in an area that has a lot of things to walk to. I really love Temescal - but would only move there if you are doing private school (which it sounds like maybe you are). Before buying our house. we seriously considered Alameda, but for us, it was too far from the things we'd already fallen in love with in Berkeley. But it does have a lot of charm and friends that live there absolutely love it. We also put offers on houses in Albany. I sort of lump albany and north berkeley together in the things they offer since I spend time doing things in both places. Albany has better schools and potentially a smaller community feel - but I wonder if you'd get that if you weren't part of the school system there? I think other than the school issue, I prefer to be in Berkeley bc it is closer to walk to more of the things I like. But it's sort of splitting hairs there.
Mama to my veggie girl (1/09) and my sweet rainbow baby (9/12).
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts (and sorry to take so long to respond... busy times lately)! This is super duper helpful.
The neighborhood/school issue is a tough one for us... my DD is indeed going to a private school but if we expand our family (which we hope to) the next LO will probably need to go to public school. So while we'd like to just pick a town/neighborhood that we like, that we can afford, and that's close to DD's school, we're also mindful of what the future may hold down the road. And don't want to move a gezillion times. Well, we'll figure it out. Thanks again for your input!
If you're contemplating public school at all, stay out of Oakland, particularly if you're planning on buying. That's been one of my biggest concerns about living here with kids, although for DS it's a moot point since he's liable to be in special ed, for this newbie it's a big concern.
I agree with Cindy - check out the further N. areas - N. Berk, and Albany are supposed to be really family friendly, as is Alameda. One of the really nice things about Alameda is that you have everything in one small area - all of it accessible by bike if you want. Everything is there, from farmer's markets to the beach. And if you want to head into Oakland for the bigger farmer's markets, it's not really that far.
Cristeen ~ Always remembering our warrior ~ Our is 3, how'd that happen?!?!
We welcomed another warrior in May 2012!!
2012 Decluttering challenge - 575/2012
Check out the Adventure Playground while you're here - it's pretty amazing http://www.trekaroo.com/activities/adventure-playground-berkeley-california
I grew up in the East Bay, but lived in SF for 5 years till my daughter was almost done with kindergarten, then moved back to the East Bay and i don't miss SF at all!