Life in the Berkeley Hills with a singleton 10 year old


We are moving the Berkeley in the fall, and in looking for a home, are finding most suitable opportunities in the hills - around Grizzly Peak Blvd in particular. We currently live in a walkable urban area in the east coast, and while we would prefer to live in the flats, we are just not finding as many nice houses. In your experience, is living the hills very isolating for single children? Are people willing to drive up for playdates? Do many families with kids live up there? We appreciate that it will be great for hikes and walks, but do kids socialize much up there with their neighbors, or is it rather isolating for kids?

Would love to hear of your experiences living in the hills.

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Welcome to Berkeley!  To answer your question: Yes, absolutely, parents are willing to drive for play dates: it's how we roll in the Bay Area.  You have to drive to be with people you want to hang out with, you have to drive for kid-friendly activities, you have to drive to shop, dine and go to the theater and concert halls.  And in the Berkeley Hills, there are an abundance of playground parks -- big parks, small parks -- in every neighborhood.  Better yet: walk.  Quit your gym membership and embrace the natural fitness of walking in Berkeley, Albany, Kensington,, and El Cerrito.

Of course there are kids in the hills...We have lived here for 10 years with our daughter, an only child, and she has always been very busy with tons of nearby playdates. There are many, many families in the hills and lots of wonderful parks (Codornices, La Loma, the Crescent, just to name a few) including Tilden with the carousel, Little Farm and the Steam Trains, all packed with kids every weekend. We met a lot of our friends at the parks when my daughter was younger. It may take a little more outreach at school as kids get older but the location would not be a problem. Not sure where you got the info that kids don’t live up’s definitely not the case.

We are having a great experience raising kids in the hills.  There are plenty of families with kids up here and several beautiful playgrounds.  Due to their more remote location, the parks and playgrounds don't tend to get very crowded.  Initially we had a hard time locating other kids. It wasn't until our kids started elementary school, in fact, that we realized that there were tons of potential playmates within a few blocks of our house.  Now that they have friends, they walk to and from each other's houses all of the time. At least in our immediate neighborhood, folks don't tend to hang out in their front yard so I'd suggest planning a meet up at a playground using NextDoor in order to find your local playmates.  We also have plenty of playdates with friends who live outside of a walking zone.  People are willing to drive and so am I.  All in all, I am happy that we made a tradeoff for a slightly more remote location for the views and close proximity to nature.

We live in the hills and our daughter is the only child around. We have to drive her everywhere and there are no local kids for her to easily play with. Having said that, most people around here are in the same situation and we have plenty of play dates. While it would be nice to have kids closer to us, living in the hills is awesome and totally worth it.

For us, living in the Berkeley Hills hasn't been an isolating experience.  It's true that we don't have many families with young kids that live near us.  So yes, it does take some driving to get my 9-year-old to playdates and it's harder to have spontaneous get-togethers, but it hasn't felt like a hassle.  Also, your child will get to socialize in activities outside of school.  Lots of kids here play baseball, soccer, etc.  There're also classes for just about any interest that a child might have.

Alternatively, you could consider looking for a house in Kensington, an unincorporated town that borders the Berkeley Hills.  There're many more families with young children that live in Kensington, and families generally love Kensington Elementary School (the public school that serves the K-6 students in the area).  Kensington is a small area and is not nearly as diverse as Berkeley.

Best wishes in your house search!