HELP! Looking for gay-friendly, diverse, low crime, affordable area near Berkeley

Me and my family are relocating to California, July of 2017. We are both business graduates, so we're looking to find work within three months of moving. We plan on buying a house (500k to 750k) and finding a wonderful charter school near Berkeley. We were told is Berkeley is gay friendly. We have been searching but several places that many be affordable, are showing high crime. We are also SERIOUSLY looking for diversity. Any suggestions??

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Diversity?  Absolutely NOT a problem. Housing for $500,00 - $750,000, not so much, especially in Berkeley. Housing near (above) the upper end of your price bracket will likely get you a house in a rather "meh" neighborhood, both crime and school-wise. The Richmond Annex just possibly, but you'd then have to be able to afford private school ($20,00 - $35,000 / year). Best of luck. 

Hi there, when you are moving to such a highly populated area there is always going to be crime issues. While Oakland is known to be one of the worse cities for crime in the US, there are VERY nice areas of Oakland. We lived in El Cerrito and we loved it. "The hills" are really nice and the area is really safe. It gets looked over because it's close to Richmond but we never had any issues there. I suggest renting before buying so you can get an idea of the areas if you are completely new to SFBA.

Please consider checking out Alameda! The west end in particular is more affordable, and you will get a great neighborhood, low crime, and wonderful, diverse charter schools. We commute from the opposite end of Alameda to one of them - Nea. The school is great, the administration is great, and you will not find a more accepting community of kids and adults from as many backgrounds as you can think of. Good luck with your move!

I recommend Alameda or San Leandro!  Alameda isn't exactly affordable, but it's very safe.  San Leandro is more affordable, diverse and lower crime in general than Berkeley and Oakland.  Feel free to contact me with any questions as I've lived in both places and I'm happy to share my experiences.

If you want affordable, forget Berkeley. Take a look at East Richmond Heights, which is gay-friendly, has homes in your price range, and doesn't have high crime rates.

I'm a little taken aback, however, that you are specifically and exclusively looking for charter schools, however. Our public schools are very, very good, and our district (West Contra County) as well as the districts in Oakland and Berkeley are suffering greatly from an influx of charter schools with poor oversight and no transparency. I would enthusiastically encourage you to look at the public schools in the area, taking tours and talking to parents, before writing them off. There is zero reason for you to reject the great schools we have for you.

Redwood Heights Neighborhood in Oakland is very LGBTQ friendly, although home prices are always going up.  Great elementary school and acceptable middle school.  

You are going to be very hard pressed to find a house in your price range in the Berkeley/Oakland area with lower crime rates (condo options may exist however). Single family homes at those prices don't exist here. It's hard to tell from your post how big your family is, but if you have children and 2 working parents, want diversity (not sure if you mean cultural or economic), lowish crime rates (the perception of what "lowish" is varies by person), and can only afford a $500-$750K house (and you really want a house) you're going to have a hard time checking all those boxes in Berkeley or Oakland. Either start thinking condos (maybe you can get a 2BR condo for $750K) or consider other parts of the country. 

HERCULES, CA, no question about it! I've lived in Hercules for over 25 years. My kids were born here and grew up here. Hercules is 10 minutes from Berkeley and very centrally located. About 24 miles from San Francisco and on the corner of Hwy 80 and Hwy 4 that leads to Hwy 680, so very close to Concord, Walnut Creek etc.

Hercules is very diverse and family friendly. It's affordable with lots of young families moving in. There is no crime and a great community feel. I lived in Marin before and had never heard of Hercules. Once I checked it out, I've never left.

You won't be able to find a house in Berkeley for under 750K. But Berkeley is definitely not the only gay-friendly city here.  The entire Bay Area is the most gay-friendly area in the country, maybe even the world. I think most cities within an hour's drive of Berkeley are going to be equally welcoming of same-sex parents. So you should expand your search beyond Berkeley.  

Regarding diversity, it depends on what you mean. The Bay Area is very diverse with many different cultures and skin colors and languages, much more diverse than the rest of the US. Yes, there are suburbs here that are mostly white, and there are neighborhoods in the bigger cities that have a majority of this culture or that one. But in general it's pretty diverse. 

Not sure why you are only interested in a charter school. Some cities like Berkeley and Albany have zero charter schools. Other cities like Oakland have a lot.  Some charter schools have a great reputation, some don't. There are quite a few good public schools in most all of the East Bay cities so you should keep your options open on that.

San Leandro! 

Affordable, up and coming (new technology growth), centrally located, BART stations handy, great library, great city which really pays off if/when you need to get a permit or help (we took the awesome seismic retrofit class at the city and then retrofitted our home), gay friendly, diverse (http://www.sanleandro.org/about/demographics.asp), safe with a fabulous police force that is fast, responsive, and positive (https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/ca/san-leandro/crime/) if/when you need them, quiet, friendly, and more. We were looking for a town where people smiled and said hello when you walk by, and found it in San Leandro. Loving it here. 

Yep, I suggest Hayward. Diverse, welcoming, and cheap. 30 minutes from Berkeley if you live near 580. The crime rates might look bad on paper (I live here, but I don't look), but there are many safe neighborhoods, so you can get a better feel for that by asking neighbors when you househunt. Check us out!

Hi there!

It's great you're posting here as hopefully you will learn more about the area to help you make your decision. From your question, you can tell you aren't very familiar yet with the Bay Area.

First off, you can't buy a house in Berkeley for that price range. The cheapest house you could probably find in Berkeley right now is maybe $850k if you are lucky. And it would be a fixer. You can potentially find that price range as you move further out into certain suburbs (El Sobrante, San Pablo) but you won't really find what you are looking for in terms of the diversity of Berkeley or lower crime.

Yes Berkeley is gay friendly and diverse. Crime is not high here although looking at crime maps could potentially freak you out if you don't know it I suppose. There is some crime but if you want little to no crime, you need to move to the whiter, wealthier suburbs of Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Danville, much of Marin, etc. Most of the Bay Area is gay friendly, you just might not get racial/ethnic diversity in those places. Personally, diversity is important to me as I would not raise my kids somewhere not diverse. For that reason, Berkeley and Oakland are the only places I would consider.

Also, there are no charter schools in Berkeley. Berkeley public schools are great and the majority of people I know send their kids to them.

I'm reading the responses and seeing the one that says that you'll have to pay for private school if you buy in the Richmond Annex. That's not true. The Annex is zoned for WCCUSD schools, exactly the same schools as the kids in Kensington and the El Cerrito Hills go. Fairmont has a very strong parent community and the kids really like going there. Then all kids in the district go to Korematsu middle school and El Cerrito high school. I love the Annex. It's really walkable and friendly. I would definitely choose the part of the Annex that's on the east side of highway 80 though. The other side is much more sketchy with parking issues. Plus it's a lot harder to walk anywhere. My friend who lives in the Annex walks her kids to Fairmont in the morning and then walks to BART to go to work. She really likes it.

We live in West Contra Costa County (Pinole) and love it! While I don't know specifically about LGBT resources here, our area definitely meets your other criteria (diverse, low crime and affordable). We moved here 3 years ago and when we moved in, our neighbor across the street told my husband about how he and his wife had had their house broken into! ...in 1975. A big change from where we were living in Oakland.

We are a white family; our neighbors are white, black, Hispanic, East and South Asian. El Sobrante (the next municipality over) has a huge Punjabi-speaking community because it is the home of the only Sikh house of worship in the East Bay. The elementary school around the corner from our house is 40% white, 40% Hispanic, 10% Asian and 10% black. If I walk in one direction from the bottom of our street, I can get to the library, Trader Joe's and Peet's Coffee within a mile; in the other direction, I pass horses and cows.

There isn't a whole lot of "culture" here yet, but that is changing rapidly (gentrification, for better and worse, as people get priced out of Berkeley/Oakland) -- and we are only 20 minutes from downtown Berkeley outside of rush hour. I'd definitely encourage you to look at West County -- am happy to give more info if you want to contact me directly.

 The neighborhood public school, Fairmont, is just fine. We go there; it is zoned for Richmond Annex and part of El Cerrito, very diverse demographics (and some gay families, since you note you are looking for gay-friendly). Fairmont is in fact the most racially diverse school in the West Contra Costa school district. And as other posters noted, Richmond Annex is a nice little neighborhood with some very cute houses.