Buying in Oakland or Berkeley near BART

Hi. We lived in Oakland (temescal/emeryville)for 8 years then moved to the South Bay for work. Now that WFH will continue to be more flexible we’d like to settle permanently in Berkeley or Oakland. We now have kids 2 and 4 so we’re looking for a good elementary school district. Also, my husband can’t drive due to disability so we need something BART/ bus accessible. What neighborhoods would you recommend?

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If your budget allows, I'd try Rockridge. It's very easy to be car-free and if you stay in the Peralta or Chabot school zones, you can walk to both elementary and middle schools fairly easily (assuming your husband may sometimes need to do dropoff or pickup). Berkeley uses a weighted lottery to assign schools, so there's no guarantee that you'll be assigned to a school walkable from home. You may also want to explore North Oakland, which is zoned to the new Sankofa United for elementary. Friends at the new school have been really happy with how things are going there so far and housing is (slightly!) more affordable in that area while still being close to BART and bus lines.

Hi there. Family with two kids, and a disabled (non-driving) parent here. We love living in the lower Rockridge neighborhood and utilize Ashby BART, the Telegraph and College Ave bus lines for everything - including taking our kids all around the area for parks and play dates. Peralta Elementary is fantastic, but over-enrolled (because of many socioeconomic and school/neighborhood/society injustice issues - for more information research "A Tale of Two Schools"), so if you end up at Sankofa it is also a great school. I would say that if cost isn't an issue for you, and you can live comfortably in this neighborhood, definitely donate to the OUSD Equity fund. College Ave shops within walking distance, and friendly neighbors all huge plusses. Bushrod community center has amazing kids programming and affordable day camp. The downsides were the starkly widening inequality - gentrification in visible action, housing insecurity of our neighbors, watching Peralta whiten while less affluent neighbors are forced out of the community. There is also a sort of constant criminal activity - burglaries, package theft, etc. Our motto is: if someone is robbing you, give them whatever they want so you can walk away. Like anywhere, there's wonderful things and not-so-wonderful things. It's a beautiful neighborhood, and we love being part of the community. 

We have similarly aged children and love where we are in North Berkeley. We are near the bart station and bus stops and love the flatlands for riding and walking around. 

Hi. Really depends on your budget. Obviously in the most "desirable" BART locations (Rockridge, North Berkeley, Berkeley), prices and rents are sky-high (and really don't seem to have been affected by the pandemic). One interesting area to consider that's still a little more affordable (relatively speaking!)  is Bushrod: It's sort of between Rockridge and the Berkeley border. Depending on where in Bushrod, it's walkable to either Ashby or Rockridge BART. Part of it is in the Peralta Elementary zone (universally raved about by parents like few other schools I've seen) or Sankofa United. I just moved to an area where Peralta is the neighborhood school (and that was a big reason for choosing that location). I don't know too much about Sankofa except that it recently merged with Kaiser Elementary, so it will be interesting to see what the combined school experience will turn out to be. You probably already know this, but in Oakland, while there is a lottery system for school assignments, your location is one of the top criteria, so you are highly likely to get your "neighborhood school" if that's what you want. That's why I refer to school zones above, but it's not guaranteed.