Moving to Berkeley from LA - Interracial Family Friendly?


There's a good chance my family and I will be moving to Berkeley (or surrounding places) for a dream job in Berkeley. My husband is African American and I am light-skinned Latina. We have a beautiful daughter, preschool age. I have three questions:

1. What are some of the safest and friendliest places for us to consider moving to as an interracial family?

2. What are some of the best, most diverse and affordable preschools around?

3. We want to our girl to be bilingual in Spanish and English. Are there any dual immersion preschools (and elementary schools) that we should know about?

Thank you in advance for your help. I went to UC Berkeley for my undergrad 20 years ago and LOVED it. I'm very fond of Berkeley and would happily move back. Since it's been so long, I wanted to hear what current parents have to say in respect to the above questions (and anything else!). 

Sincerely Grateful,


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You should check out Escuela Bilingue Internacional.  It has preschool, elementary and middle school.

Hi, we live in Albany and love it. It is a hidden gem between El Cerrito, Kensington and Berkeley with a great school system with easy access to the highway and proximity to Bart. We are an interracial couple with a 20 month old daughter and relocated from Los Angeles approximately four years ago. If you have an interest in getting coffee when you are up here, please don't hesitate to contact us. I can be reached at angel.cruzado [at]

I don't have specific answers for #2 and #3, but I think pretty much anywhere in Berkeley will be fine for an interracial family. I say this as a member of an interracial family who has friends who are also interracial families.

I think some people might inadvertently try to steer you towards more "diverse" (i.e. less-white) areas, but I would ignore them (such steering is highly problematic and I think people may be oblivious to that at times). Instead I would just prioritize things you want out of a neighborhood (e.g. public transit, noise levels, nearby commercial streets, whatever) and focus on finding areas that match that instead. If you have general concerns about crime, my general sense is that south of campus you'll get more petty crime, and south/southwest areas closer to Oakland are a bit more touchy (unfortunately). Living in Berkeley I think the main problem to worry about, crime-wise, is property crime (e.g. car getting broken into) than personal/violent crime. Berkeley is also much, much, much safer than it was 20 years ago, so if you had no problems then than you'll have no problems now.

I haven't looked into it specifically, but as a partial answer to #3 I believe Berkeley Unified's LeConte provides a district-wide dual-language (Spanish/English) immersion and is in the central school zone. I'm not sure if living in the central zone would help your kids get in since it's a district-wide program. Hopefully others will chime in with helpful info.

Albany is an excellent school district and many Wonderful preschools ( my personal fav is Albany Preschool but I have heard Dust Nest is also awesome). Albany is pretty safe, well    Diversified, and very family oriented. 

For the most part,  with the only real crime lately is car break-ins and occasionally house breakins. Many of us keep  aware of crime or social events through a site known as "Nextdoor" ( I can send you a invite by your email if you like as it will connect you to your current location and when you move you just adjust your address). 

In September Albany/ Berkely have "The Solono Stroll" which is a event that closes off Main Street (Solono Av)  is awesome and slot of fun. 

Albany is very centrally located in the Bay Area so everything is within reach, shopping & BART. 

You email me back if you have other questions.  Best of luck . Tammy

I am the parent in an inter-racial family and have lived in Berkeley since before my first child was born. There is no place in Berkeley (or Albany or Oakland for that matter) that has ever made me or my family feel foreign, unwelcome, odd, etc.) It is only when we travel outside of Berkeley that I am confronted with the sort of unpleasant encounters that are the norm in much of the rest of the country. Even a drive up to Napa or through the tunnel to Walnut Creek reminds me what an oasis Berkeley is. If you haven't been here in 20 years you will see that it is much less diverse than it used to be but you still see every possible mix of family so frequently that it's just not a thing.

Having said that—there are some places that are less safe than others. Living up in the hills is beautiful and very safe, but also very very white. For more diversity and marginally less safety, look in the flats in North Berkeley. 

Congrats on your dream job!

Sorry, I mistakenly did not include my username in case you need to respond " Heavenly" 


I also did my undergrad at Berkeley, just before you did, although I never left the area. My daughter is also African American and just started kindergarten. I have lived in North Oakland since 1994. It is no longer very affordable, but it is a wonderful place for interracial families.

Our daughter went to Monteverde Preschool, which is both affordable and diverse. We couldn't be happier. Although they have no formal language program, a number of the teachers are fluent in multiple languages and they do use them, both in group settings and directly with individual kids that know Spanish, Portuguese or Japanese.

I also know folks that have been very happy with Mi Mundo preschool. And I've heard great things about Melrose Leadership Acadamy for Elementary.

Good luck and welcome back.

We have been a black-white interracial family in El Cerrito since 2000 and it has never been an issue. About half (seriously!) of our daughter's public elementary class was interracial of some form or another. Our daughter, now 16, has always felt that being black-white is a double bonus, rather than a double detriment, and identifies as an El Cerrito person, rather than a specific ethnicity. The only time she has mentioned feeling out of place in the Bay Area was at a boutique in Walnut Creek, and not for being black-white, but for clearly not being a Walnut Creek person. I do not know of a bilingual preschool in El Cerrito but the West Contra Costa dual immersion elementary school is Washington in Pt. Richmond, about which I have heard good things. My daughter has several really nice friends who went to Washington for elementary.


As for housing for an interracial family, I suggest Berkeley. The North Berkeley neighborhood is nice. So is Kensington, just north of Berkeley. The problem is the houses are very expensive. There are burgalaries but its rare to hear about violent crime. The city of Albany is okay, the public schools are highly rated and there are rentals (unlike Kensington which doesn't have a lot of apartments). Albany has diversity but not so much African American diversity. I have found that for my kids to get the best support, that diverse schools with underrepresented minorities work best for me. You may have a different experience.

Parts of Oakland are safe and many are multicultural-friendly, like the Oakland hills (off of highway 13). Oakland is a hot real estate market and is gentrifying. The cost of good apartments are going up. On the other hand, I have friends buy a home when they previously could't afford one.

I am African American and my husband is biracial. I grew up in the north Berkeley Kensington area.

I don't know whether you are buying a home or looking to rent. The rental market is terrible. Many people are moving within the East Bay to Antioch, Pittsburg, Vallejo and Richmond. People from SF are moving to the East Bay because there is a housing shortage in SF. It is driving up the rent prices. So people from the East Bay (Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville,etc) are moving away because they can't find affordable apartments or rental properties. 

In north Berkeley there is a dual emersion school called Thousand Oaks. I've heard its good but you probably want to look it up in the Berkeley school system.I know there are others. Sometimes I see ads for them in the "Parents Press", a free monthly newspaper with info for parents on schools, pediatricians, summer camps, etc.  I am sure it is online as well.

Good luck. Hope that helps.

Also you might want to look at El Cerrito or "Richmond Annex". 

When my kids were at Malcolm X in Berkeley I was always impressed by how many interracial families there were among their classmates.  I think the Berkeley public schools would be a great place to feel at home.  Berkeley is expensive and difficult to find housing in, but it might be a good fit for what you are seeking.  While safety varies block to block in the SW corner where homes are more affordable, I felt very comfortable there with small kids.  Berkeley schools also have a two way immersion program, but it can be hard to get into.

Welcome back! If it's not too far for you, you should consider Hayward. It was recently ranked the third most diverse city in the US, and my son went to school with lots of biracial kids (he is half Latino, half white-Jewish). We have many public schools with bilingual programs that run TK-6th grade and I believe there is one dual immersion middle school. It's been a long time since I thought about preschool, but you should at least be able to find one with bilingual teachers. Hayward lacks many of the amenities and much of the charm that Berkeley and other parts of the Bay Area offer, but it's super real, very welcoming, and much more affordable. 


Jealously happy for you.  :)  I'm a single mom of one Black/biracial teen daughter living the other side of the bay in an very homogenized, wealthy area. She has really hated the culture here since middle school. Berkeley High is such an inspiring contrast to our high schools, I would still like to move. When she was little we used to drive across the bay just to attend interracial family networks/play groups i-Pride and Our Colors... not sure where they went but neither seem to have an online presence anymore. 

Our favorite neighborhood: Rockridge is really wonderful <3 with interracial families everywhere.

Very best to you and hope you get some informative feedback from BPN local parents!

(ps. just to clarify as far as school district areas, Rockridge is Oakland at border of South Berkeley (which for preschool is not an issue but maybe down the way...)

There are a lot of interracial families here in the East Bay.  We live in the incredibly diverse North and East neighborhood of Richmond.  There are bilingual preschools in some of the public schools, El Nuevo Mundo, a beautiful little state run preschool, a few home based ones and La Casita, a Montessori preschool up in Pinole.  There is a dual immersion program at Washington elementary (1-6) that continues into middle school. Richmond/San Pablo has a big AA and Latino community.  It's very friendly and the vibe has never been better. My kid rides his bike all over and plays at the local basketball court with a bunch of neighborhood boys.