living in el sobrante?

Last post about El Sobrante is from 3 years ago - would love to hear current thought on moving there full time. We are a family of three, with a two year old, moving from NYC but I was born and raised in North Berkeley and we spend summers there with my parents. I'm interested in the East Bay Waldorf School. I'm curious if there is a RIE community there (I saw that classes are held at EBWS and if there is any kind of Body-Mind Centering community. The last two are obscure references I'm not sure anyone will relate to :) In general, would love to hear thoughts on El Sobrante for a young family interested in local foods & outdoors & like minded progressive community. 


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RE: living in el sobrante? ()

We live in El Sobrante (technically the Richmond incorporated section of May Valley) and are a “toasted” RIE family with a toddler. It’s definitely an interesting little pocket of the Bay Area! We love it with some reservations. Pros: we could afford to buy out here (barely), it’s close to tons of nature and trails (like we hear coyotes howling and get foxes playing in our yard. Very safe, and friendly, diverse neighbors (we aren’t the only LGBT family in the neighborhood and it’s ethnically and economically quite diverse), parents like the elementary schools and the waldorf school is beautiful if a little run down. Cons: There are very very limited restaurants and shopping options (the main commercial strip of San Pablo Damn Rd looks like it was transplanted from a ghost town in the rural Midwest but Pinole has limited but acceptable restaurants) with traffic it’s pretty far from everything (but close to Orinda if you go get back way) and El Sobrante proper is extremely run down and junky but it also has a weird charm in that you’ll see goats and horses and chickens in peoples yards. If possible I’d move to the incorporated Richmond section- you’ll get more services and have sidewalks. Overall we’ve learned to love this quirky place, May Valley is very suburban with a rural twist and absolutely gorgeous views and rolling hills. Will definitely be an adjustment coming from NYC, it’ll feel more like the jersey suburbs (I’m from Philly). 

RE: living in el sobrante? ()

Hi Lina,

We have lived in El Sobrante for over 7 years now, and my son attends EBWS. We are very happy. El Sobrante is nicely located, a rural type feel with lots of nearby regional parks and open spaces, while being not too far away from the more *happening* areas like Oakland and Berkeley. Under normal circumstances the traffic on the I-80 between Berkeley and El Sobrante can get very bogged down. (Westbound in the morning and Eastbound in the afternoon). Obviously traffic is cleared these days given the quarantine. I imagine that pattern will return once the state opens back up but who really knows for sure? Getting over to Oakland you can just take San Pablo Dam Road through Orinda to get to the 24, or to go to Walnut Creek. The Dam road as we call it does have commute traffic patterns as well. Pinole is nearby, where there is a Trader Joe's and Sprouts, and a cute little downtown area with bakeries, coffee places, restaurants, and a farmer's market. I was also born and raised in North Berkeley, where my folks still live. While there is a lovely community at the school itself, in my experience EBWS is kind of it's own little bubble in the immediate vicinity of El Sobrante. The types of businesses located in El Sobrante itself are pretty much along the lines of functional: gas stations, auto repair, self storage, restaurants, veterinary, hair/nail places, pharmacy, grocery, etc. We have a lovely and popular swim school called Canyon Swim School. If you're looking for places such as the nearest yoga studio would be around Orinda or El Cerrito. Wildcat Canyon and Kennedy Grove regional parks are lovely, and we like the drive to Tilden from here as well. I hope I'm getting to the gist of your questions. We really love living here in El Sobrante.



RE: living in el sobrante? ()

EBWS RIE family here (3.5-year-old and 8-month-old, live in Pinole) -- we relate! :)

I can tell you that at least in the Early Childhood part of the school (through kindergarten), there are plenty of people who "speak RIE." We started attending parent-child classes when our first child was 7 months old and have been involved with the school continuously ever since. Our plan right now (COVID-19 lockdowns permitting of course!) is for Big Kid to enter her second year of 3-day preschool in the fall, Little Kid to continue parent-child classes, and our family to continue being EBWS community members for many years to come.

We love, love, love the school. The parent community is fantastic; while we didn't do a lot of playdates w/other families during the parent-child years for whatever reason, as soon as we entered the preschool we found ourselves welcomed into a great community. We now (ordinarily) hang out with other EBWS families all the time, and have made many "parent friends" right alongside our kid's friends. The preschool teachers (and all the teachers, as far as I can tell!) are wonderful, lovely and warm. The campus is gorgeous; the kids get literally hours of outdoor time every week (even the older kids); and there's a fantastic new administrator who really works hard to communicate with parents, reach out to the greater community, and make sure the school has a strong foundation to be around for another 40 years.

The parent-child teacher is RIE-certified and widely regarded as nothing short of a miracle worker :) in her "older toddlers" class, which I think is where your child would start if they're currently 2, she regularly gets 6 toddlers sitting quietly at a child-sized table eating oatmeal. On a rug. Where they can get up and walk away at any time. After I'd seen it a few times I would always look forward to seeing new parents witness the fantastic work she does -- it's really a great place to "fill up" on RIE principles and methods so that you can strive to be more aligned with your kid for the rest of the week.

I can't speak to life in El Sobrante specifically, but I can tell you that we love living in Pinole (we're in Pinole Valley, a 10-minute drive from school). There are tons of nearby hiking trails, a weekly farmers' market, a local pick-your-own organic farm, several great local nurseries. Depending on the size of your lot, you can have chickens, bees, and potentially even small livestock (you'd need an unusually big lot to do that last one in Pinole, but I think El Sobrante rules might be a LITTLE looser). There's not a lot in terms of "organized" family activities yet (speaking as someone who spent the first few months of the year developing the West Contra Costa County Family Nature Club :)) but I think there are a lot of outdoorsy young families who are interested in the same things you are. And as far as community/EBWS connections go, I know that something like 2/3 of the student body lives in West Contra Costa (between El Cerrito and the Carquinez Bridge).

Happy to answer more questions -- about anything -- if you have them. We love our school and our community.

RE: living in el sobrante? ()

Hi I bought our family home in El Sobrante 11 years ago - and we still super happy here ! It’s green easy connect to Tilden, little Farm - and my son went to EBWS which we loved ! There’s a awesome community of parents and teachers there. I think your family will like it here ! 

RE: living in el sobrante? ()

Hi Lina, 

We live in East Richmond Heights and are also interested in the East Bay Waldorf School (we are a family of 3, and our our daughter is 10 months). We really enjoy living here, having moved here 1.5 years ago from North Berkeley. One of our favorite aspects of living here is the proximity to Wildcat Canyon, a regional park that is a 7 minute walk from us. :) In terms of local foods and like-minded families we're still seeking out ways to connect with those resources and families here. I'm less familiar with El Sobrante but as others have said here there isn't a distinct downtown in Richmond and just a few coffee shops / community gathering places. We imagine (and hope!) that once our daughter is in school that we'll give us a chance to connect with more like-minded families. Feel free to reach out to me directly with any additional questions you might have!