Living on Alameda (commute, other?)

Hi there! My family is considering a move to the Island. I'm wondering if anyone has advice or general suggestions! A few specific questions we had were:

- What is the commute like from Alameda to San Francisco (near civic center) and from Alameda to UC Berkeley?

- How do you like the schools?

- How much is preschool / daycare on Alameda? 

And we'd welcome any other tips! Thank you so much!

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Hey! So I am in the exact same situation as the one you are considering. I commute to right by Civic Center (I go to UC Hastings) three days a week, and to Berkeley (my work, right by UC Berkeley campus) two days a week. My daughter attends preschool at The Child Unique. So here are my answers to your questions:

-I take the bus every day after dropping off my daughter at 7am to SF Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and to Berkeley on Thursday and Friday. I get to school at about 9:15 (I pay 4:50 each way for the bus on those days, and still have a 40-minute walk to and from school). But I prefer the commute to the one I had before on BART because I actually get a seat and can study. 

-I went to school in Alameda for a long while. When I was going, they were a bit conservative for my tastes, but I heard they have gotten more socially progressive, and I know for a fact that they are more diverse than that. They are well-funded and get good scores. If the public schools don't work for you, there are a lot of private and charter schools too.

-I pay ~1,600 for my daughter's preschool. It's the most beautiful, politically conscious and intellectually stimulating preschool environment I have seen (I shopped around a lot). I never thought I would pay that much but so far it has been worth it.

If you want to talk more, you can PM me or we could even talk on the phone or at a park with the kids.  

Alameda is fantastic. 

Commute to the city: take the ferry and then walk or bike or BART to civic center. The ferry is amazing, plenty of parking at the main street terminal. Happy friendly commuters. 

We've been at two different elementary schools and both are great. A school had to close last year for earthquake risks - so when you move you may want to call the school district about what school your kids may attend. Don't trust relators on this since it is likely to change a lot. 

Full time preschool is $1300-$1500/month here but many are full or have very long waitlists, so start investigating this right away. 

People here are really friendly with a better sense of community than other places in the East Bay. Like everywhere else it is expensive ... but we love it here.

Did the Alameda to Civic Center commute for 3 years.  Time and reliability was paramount and after trying several options settled on driving to Fruitvale BART and taking BART to the Civic Center station.  Taking the ferry, bus or casual carpool left me in the financial district/soma, which then required another leg to get me to Civic center.  I tried to take the bus to Fruitvale BART but about once a week something would happen and the bus wouldn't show up for 20-30 minutes.  If you are comfortable riding your bike in heavy car traffic, that is an even better option than driving b/c traffic between Alameda and Fruitvale BART is often backed up during rush hour and frankly often when it's not rush hour.  

I have less insight to driving to Berkeley b/c I've only done it after rush hour.  It took about 20 minutes to drive.  Unless you want to triple the time, I wouldn't recommend public transportation.

The public schools are good/solid/basic/"old school".  I knew people who sent their kids to most of the regular public schools and they were pretty happy.  There are several well regarded charter schools and catholic/christian schools that many people embrace.  I also met many who sent their kids off island b/c they felt the public schools were too rough for their precious.  Bottomline, you'll have many options.  

I think buying a house in Alameda was a bargain, 8+ years ago relative to other parts of the East Bay.  But it's become well known and in my opinion is now relatively more expensive for what you get.  1100 square foot, 2/1s are now selling for $1mm.  It's next to Oakland airport for goodness sake.  Based on your commute, I might look at El Ceritto and Richmond Heights or North Berkeley if you can afford it.