Moving from Brooklyn - seeking housing under $1700


My husband is being transferred to the Bay Area in July. Moving from Brooklyn. I've been reading about the unaffordable housing market in San Francisco and am slightly worried... Our rental budget is max $1700 (ideally less). Anyone moving to Brooklyn? Maybe we can swap apartments? Or can anyone recommend an area or neighborhood that's affordable with low crime? How far out should we be looking? 

If we can't find a public school we may homeschool. My son is in a French language program and really likes it, are there any French programs in the Bay Area (free, public or charter)?

Thank you very much!


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Hi and welcome!

The Berkeley-based ecole bilingue goes k-8 but is pricey. There is a charter French school (free!) that opened last year in Oakland.

I can't speak to your apartment search but there is a French charter school in Oakland called Francophone Charter School of Oakland. If your son speaks French he should have a good chance to get in. There's also a private school called Ecole Bilingue but it's pretty pricey.

I think that you're going to have a difficult time finding a decent rental with that budget. Where is your husband's job going to be? There's definitely more affordable housing the farther away you go but you should be choosing areas to look at based upon where his job will be. Certain commutes are much harder than others. For example, the commute from Berkeley to Silicon Valley is hideous and not something that you'd want to voluntarily sign up for. But the commute from Berkeley to a job that's close to BART isn't bad at all (most days!).

There is a French immersion charter school (Francophone Charter School of Oakland) that may be able to accommodate you depending on your son's age; the lottery for next year has already run but things always shift over the summer and spots may open up, especially if he is in grades 1-4 and already proficient in French. That housing budget is going to be extremely tough, however. There's not much in Oakland/Berkeley/surrounds in that price range (and what is there will generally be a 1BR). If you don't need to be close to San Francisco you could look further out in Contra Costa County or even Vallejo if you're hoping for a 2+BR at that price point. You might also consider looking to share a house with another family if you want to be closer in. Good luck!

There's a new-ish French charter school in Oakland:

If you have rock solid references and can act very, very quickly, $1700 *MIGHT* cover the rent for one single bedroom within a home or apartment in San Francisco city limits. If you can look further out, you might be able to find some 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartments out in Concord, Antioch or Pittsburg for that price range. This would work best for people whose jobs in the city are close to a BART station, and would mean commutes of 90 minutes each way.

If I'm being honest, I do not recommend the move if that is absolutely the maximum amount of rent you can afford. As a young couple, it might be more doable, but with kids I just don't see a home conducive to a family with kids in that budget. Yes, rents are cooling, but not that quickly.

As to the French schools, how old is your son? There are a couple of French language preschool programs and private schools, but my Haitian friends weren't able to find a French language elementary or middle school that met their needs. Doesn't mean they don't exist, just means with a bit more information about age, requirements (immersion, one school period a day, after school, etc) we might be able to help identify any that would keep him happy.

There's a French-language charter school in the Oakland hills (by the zoo, I believe.) Our neighbors send their kids there:

Hello!  and soon welcome to the bay!  We just relocated from Indianapolis about a month ago.  In truth, I fear your "rent-spectations' might be unrealistic... We were hard pressed to find a place that would suit our families needs (family of 4) for under 3000.00/mo (we were searching in San Rafael, SF, Albany and Berkeley).  We now have a 2 bed 1 bath 1000 sq ft duplex with as small yard, and minimal amenities in the 3000.00/mo price range (read: outdated appliances, non renovated for at least 40yrs interior, good neighborhood in Berkeley).  Perhaps if you looked further out, you may find something less expensive... or if you can live in a 1bed apartment, you may find something nice... 
I'm unfortunately not familiar with much outside of the areas we were searching, though depending where your husband will work, Sonoma is reasonable, as are, likely, further out parts of the east bay and some areas south of SF.  

We are just entering school world (First is in Kindergarten), though know that in Berkeley anyway, public schools are on a lottery system, so you order the ones in your district by preference and get what they give you in the end.  One of the schools in our district has a Spanish program, though my son did not get into that one. Perhaps some more seasoned parents can speak to the French Language schooling opportunities...

Best of luck and I do hope you get all you are looking for!!!! You will love the Bay Area!  It truly is an incredible place to live!!!

The housing is indeed crazy expensive here. I suggest that you look into Zillow and Craigslist to get a gauge. Price is also determined on the school rating. 

Outside SF, Peninsula area is generally more expensive than the east bay.  And also depend on how long/ far you are willing to commute to work.

When people say there's a housing crisis in the bay area, it's not a lie. For that price, you may be able to find a studio, maybe 1 bedroom, apartment in an area about 1.5 hours commute to the city. If you just want a room in someone else's apartment, you could get closer to the city and/or be in a safer neighborhood. You could look in the Vallejo (north) to Hayward (south) area in the East Bay, and point in between, and have a reasonable commute, but beware there are some really sketchy areas, especially in parts of Vallejo, Richmond, and Oakland- but some nice (though correspondingly expensive) areas too. If you're up for a longer commute, you could look into Tracy, Stockton, and Mountain House, but if you're traveling during rush "hour", you'd count your commute time in hours.

I'd advise that you carefully consider how much money you'd be making here to judge if it's really worth it to move, or how much lower your standard of living will need to be, even with an objective salary increase.

Hi, I'm pretty sure you'll hear this from others, and I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it's not possible to find housing here in your price range.  Studio apts may occasionally appear at $1700, but not 1 bedroom (and I'm not sure if even a 1 bdr would work for 3 of you?). There are private schools in both SF and the East Bay that are bilingual French; private school costs $20,000 -$30,000/year or higher, though partial scholarships are sometimes available. If you do find an apt listed at $1700, check the neighborhood carefully. I wish you the best and wish I had better news (or some advice!) for you, it's just really tough here now. A room in someone's house can go for $1300-$1400 month. Best of luck. 

With a budget of $1700 look in Martinez, parts of Concord or Hayward.

Charter French school in Oakland:

I think $1700 for a family may be tough unless you're willing to squeeze in a 1 bedroom. SF has a lottery school system, but here's a link for school districts:

Good luck

Thank you for the helpful advice. My husband will be working in Brisbane, we are flexible and willing to make sacrifices. I'm sure we can squeeze into a tiny apartment for a year or so. 

I grew up in San Diego and have been waiting for the chance to move back to California. We've been very lucky, we live in a great neighborhood in Brooklyn, rent controlled apartment, way under market rate. (Been here nearly 20 years). Nice school with a French program, progressive community. But we are ready for change! 

I will check out the recommended neighborhoods. As for schools, I'm happy to homeschool, we just need to be close to an excellent public library. 

Thank you everyone!

Think about someplace closer to Brisbane -- Daly City (a very multi-cultural place, mostly different Asian cultures), Brisbane, Millbrae. You also would be near the Outer Mission/Sunset in SF. I don't know what rents are like there now. 

Hi there, closer to Brisbane for more (on a relative scale) affordable housing you can look at Brisbane proper, South San Francisco, Daly City, and San Bruno.  We just moved from Millbrae (referenced by previous poster) because we were priced out of the housing purchase market there, and bought in Berkeley instead.  I don't know what the going rate is for apartment rentals now but the schools are very highly rated so I'd expect to pay rent accordingly (and I would expect far above $1700).