Moving to El Cerrito with young children and need your opinion

Hi El Cerrito residents,

My husband and I are relatively new to the Bay Area and we are thinking of moving to El Cerrito with two kids (2 year old and 3 month old) and wanted to get your opinion on what parts of the city is family friendly. We will likely be doing lot of stroller walks and would be awesome to meet new friends along the way.

For those who live in El Cerrito, I would also love to hear how it is living in El Cerrito, and what do you like/don't like about it?

I read posts indicating Del Norte station area is not that great. Does anyone live near BART?

Many thanks!

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El Cerrito is great. We've lived in the city for 15 years. We arrived with a 1.5 yr old and now have two teenagers.

I'm not sure what you have read about the del Norte area, but I would really dispute the 'it is not that great' opinion. Our amazing home-based daycare was right by the BART station, and we live a 15 minute walk away. The Mira Vista area (around Barrett) just north of del Norte is wonderful. Like any transit hub, you have some homeless and people with substance abuse, but it is certainly no worse (and often better) than various areas in Berkeley, Oakland, etc. El Cerrito has lots of parks, the Ohlone bike trail for cycling and running, a great pool, good summer camps, and lots of public transit convenience. Getting around with young children (walking, biking) is harder in the hills, but the views are great. (If you can afford the house prices.) I'd highly recommend it, and I would discount what you have heard about the del Norte area. 

Hi there. We moved to El Cerrito a year and a half ago with our daughter, who is now nearly four, after realizing that we couldn't afford Berkeley, Albany or much of Oakland. We live on the "flats," across the street from El Cerrito Plaza BART.

Overall I can recommend it. It is extremely walkable; I often work from home and when I do I hardly use my car. We can walk to the grocery stores, post office, playgrounds, brewery, yoga, library, daycare and many other things. Solano Avenue is a mile away with all its shops and restaurants, very doable with strollers. My husband sometimes walks there with my daughter for lunch, then they take the bus home. It is also a short (15 min or less) drive to Tilden Park, downtown Berkeley, Point Richmond and many other places we like to spend the weekend. I personally love the weather, which is often cool and a bit overcast in the mornings, then sunny in the afternoon. We've met some good neighbors and other people in the neighborhood. 

There is a fair amount of crime, especially property crime, though I believe it is less of a problem around the Plaza then closer to EC del Norte. I don't know if it's more of a problem here than in the neighboring cities. It can be dirty around BART and the Plaza so we pick up more than our share of garbage. We have experienced people defecating next to our house and dumping trash on the sidewalk. Some people prefer to live in the hills for this reason if they can afford it, but the walkability there is far less. Though the town is centrally located, your commutes will factor heavily into your decision. My husband's office is in San Ramon, which is an hour commute, but he drives all over for work so to some degree it doesn't matter where we live.

We haven't decided yet what to do about school. The nearby elementary schools seem to be popular with parents, but they are overcrowded and I've heard very mixed reviews of the junior high and high schools. There are two language immersion programs in the elementary schools (Mandarin and Spanish), which is a plus. There are also several private schools within comfortable driving distance should that be of interest to you.

Despite rising home prices El Cerrito still has a middle class/working class feel, with modest homes and small apartment buildings and functional rather than upscale/indie retail, and long-time residents I've met say that this has never changed, so I suggest making a decision based on the town as it is now rather than what you might imagine it will become.

I wish you luck with your move and by all means message me if you'd like to discuss.

I recommend El Cerrito for kids. My child and most of their friends have lived here their whole lives (18 years!), and feel a great sense of community and belonging. I believe this sense of community came about due to taking full advantage of everything El Cerrito has to offer to families and making the effort to participate in: 1. public schools, 2. camps and classes offered by the city recreation department and public pool, 3. youth soccer and baseball, 4. library programs. Don't overthink whether these are the "best" or not, the point is the long-term feeling that El Cerrito is your place and the self-esteem and peace that comes with that.

Everywhere is family-friendly. Around Cerrito Vista or Castro Park are good places to walk. Hang out at Well Grounded, Fat Apples, or Tala Tea.

The only drawback may be that there is a lot of property crime, just don't leave anything in your car *ever*, even for 5 minutes, and lock your windows when you are not home, and be careful walking on the Bart path, but these are issues throughout the Bay Area.


we live in El Cerrito kind of near the del Norte Bart station on Richmond street. We like it here, it’s nice and quiet even though Richmond is a kinda busy street. We have a two year old and 1 month old as well. I can walk to Castro park, El Cerrito community center where we go swimming. There is another park right across the community center and we go there a lot as well. Also ohlone greenway is great for walking or biking. I sometimes walk all the way to El Cerrito Plaza and go to Trader Joe’s and come back. El Cerrito is nice little town close to SF and everything else. I like it here a lot, not as busy as Berkeley but close enough. There is no street sweeping or meters for parking. I am stay at home mom so I wouldn’t mind making new mom friends :-) email me if you want 

Welcome to the Bay Area! My partner and I have 4 month old boy/girl twins and we moved to El Cerrito last year. So far, we love it here. We live in between Del Norte and El Cerrito Plaza Bart, but we use El Cerrito Plaza Bart, as Del Norte is a little more sketchy.

The neighborhood feels safe and friendly. We love being able to walk to El Cerrito Natural Grocery Store and Trader Joe’s via Ohlone pathway with the babies. We are also a quick drive to Lake Anza and Tilden Park, which is great for stroller rides, hiking and mountain biking. 

Like anywhere, there are some homeless people here and there (closer to San Pablo Rd) but it hasn’t been bothersome. 

I have lived a few houses up from Del Norte Bart for over 10 years and have an almost 12 year old boy.  I can tell you that Madera has been a great school and I have heard that Harding is also great but Fairmount is considered a less privleged school.  Regardless, you can find great teachers at any school but I can say that Madera has a very active PTA and parents are encouraged to be at the school to help. I can also tell you that the PTA Board is a bit of a closed group although help is always sought out for the "other" positions.  The city of El Cerrito offers phenomenal child care after school, school breaks and summer camps.  The day care runs from 7am - 6pm which is great for working parents. 

As for living near Bart.  In the past 4 years or so, more houses have been burglarized, people attacked on the Ohlone Greenway, and people scoping out the homes.  Several items have been stolen from cars but most often, the cars were left unlocked in the driveway.  Sometimes people knock on the door claiming to sell things but I just don't answer.  Living so close to bart, my neighbors have told me that people have tried to get into my back yard but my home has never been broken into although I have bars on my windows that likely serve as a deterrent.  I love this community.

Welcome!  We’ve lived in El Cerrito for 12 years, before kids and now our kids are school age. I see more families around than ever, in lots of different neighborhoods. I suggest you walk different areas. Up in the hills closer to Barrett, there are lots of parks/playgrounds  walking distance from lots of homes, the sidewalks aren’t great, annoying for strollers but not much traffic in the neighborhoods. 

We’ve had no issues with Del Norte. 

Good luck!

We moved to El Cerrito 8 years ago with a toddler & baby #2 on the way. Once you get your child in a preschool (can be as non-fancy as the city rec Tots program) you will meet people and make friends for you and the kids. For us then and now, it was important to live in the flats to be able to bike and walk with kids easily. We also live an 8-minute flat walk from school (Fairmont). We live 2 blocks from EC Plaza BART and have not ever experienced the urban woes another poster commented. There's many things I don't appreciate about El Cerrito as a taxpayer (high-tax city) but working on local government issues to bring in City Councilmembers more attuned to the needs of kids and families, and people who are tapped out by their housing costs. We also love our modest library, which is now open 7 days per week. In short, EC is fine. If you don't need to be next to BART for work, I'd suggest also look into Pinole & Hercules (same school district, same library system, but you pay less taxes and the homes are generally newer, ie., require less work to maintain).