Moving to San Ramon

Hi all! My family and I are currently in the position of deciding whether to stay in our current home in Oakland or moving to San Ramon for the schools. Our oldest will be entering kindergarten next year, and while we luckily live in an area with a strong neighborhood elementary school, we're not as thrilled about the junior high and high schools in our area (and private school would be a feasible but difficult financial option). So, in trying to plan ahead, we're debating just making the jump to move to San Ramon sooner rather than later to build a community there while the kids are young.  I like a lot of what I see and hear about San Ramon, but I would very much love and appreciate hearing what families currently living there think about the neighborhood, community, schools, amenities, etc. Pros and cons are both welcome! Areas of concern that I have: (1) as a biracial family, I'd miss the diversity of Oakland...I know the census numbers, but what does the community feel like in San Ramon? (2) right now our commutes to our respective places of work in Walnut Creek and Oakland/SF are very quick/easy with public transportation and minimal driving....how is commuting from San Ramon toward the city? (3) I also love the overall culture of Oakland in terms of museums, restaurants, waterfront, access to the ferry/BART into SF, tons to do for kids and parents alike...I'm sure the family/kid offerings in San Ramon are strong, but when it's date night, where do you go?

Thanks in advance!

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RE: Moving to San Ramon ()

I grew up in San Ramon, and although I'm sure it's changed a lot since I was there, when I go back to visit it still feels roughly the same. It is a very isolated place, especially for teenagers. There is literally nothing other than the Golden Skate and the movie theater to go to, so in my experience a lot of the kids were into partying and drinking/drugs. It has grown more diverse, with a strong south Asia community, but still appears mostly white in going around. There are quite a few good restaurants, with even more in Danville.

When it comes to the schools, I have a lot to say. I went to those schools and am a teacher now in a socioeconomically disadvantaged district. I would argue that the teachers where I teach now are actually more up to date on pedagogy than the teachers at the schools in San Ramon. The schools were well ranked when I was a kid too, but most of the learning was rote learning with a lot of worksheets. Middle school was miserable. Our English classes featured a lot of popcorn reads and book reports, not a lot of discussion and analytical writing. Maybe that's changed, but I firmly believe that the reason the scores are so good has very, very little to do with the teachers and everything to do with the parents socioeconomic status.

Your commute is going to be rough and will feature a lot of driving, as will almost all daily errands. I can understand the uncertainty of the school situation encouraging you to look elsewhere, but I can say as someone who lived in Oakland for a decade that if you are happy there and thrive on that kind of vibrancy (as I did) I highly doubt you will really love San Ramon (I couldn't get out of there fast enough). Again, I could be wrong and maybe you're looking for an uber-peaceful, quiet suburban feel, but if the schools are the only reason you're coming, then I would look elsewhere.

RE: Moving to San Ramon ()

As a person who grew up in San Francisco, I'm incredibly fond of living in San Ramon -- 12 years so far....Gone from 4th through HS with one kid, K through HS with other.  Different parts of San Ramon are different and are definitely diverse but not like Oakland or The City.  Commuting can be fine to Walnut Creek, sometimes not so much...getting to BART easy, parking there challenging at Pleasanton/Dublin.  I suggest visiting schools -- make an appointment with the principal, visit the campuses.   Why not?  It's a big decision.  As for date night/going out, we have the new City Center in SR + Danville + Walnut Creek + Pleasanton.  It's not The City or Oakland, mind you, but you will find places to go & things to do.

RE: Moving to San Ramon ()

Hi - we live in Oakland, and I would advocate for staying here, especially if you commute is easy, you like your neighborhood and neighbors, and you like Oakland's cultural and social feel. If you are dragged down by you commute than it will be difficult to forge meaningful community relationships. Your child will be starting K this coming year in OUSD? You wrote about the issue of forging community for the long-haul, and I totally understand that education is also a long-haul issue. A good elementary experience lays a foundation for success through MS, HS, and beyond.  If your only reason for moving is b/c you are concerned about the public schools, please feel reassured that OUSD is not just good enough, it can be very good. Our daughter is in OUSD for middle school. We are currently waiting for results of the OUSD HS lottery. OUSD in general gets a really bad rap; but our experience has been very positive for MS, and we are happy with what we saw for HS. We've ranked three large public (not charter) high schools on our lottery form with confidence that our kid will land upright where she lands. Our hope (and expectation) is that OUSD will prepare our daughter for the competative UC college admissions. I don't think that is a given in OUSD high schools, but I think the resources and guidance do exit within if your student is motivated and engaged. Stay by the Bay ! 

RE: Moving to San Ramon ()

I am so excited someone asked about San Ramon! I’ll try to help. By way of background, my family has been in Danville (Danville and SR share same school district) two years, the first in a rental house on the east side and the second in a house further west close to 680. We moved here from a super diverse neighborhood —ethnically, economically—about 8 miles outside of Washington DC. My husband and I are white with an adopted Korean daughter. 

Eastern SR is nearly all south Asian and Chinese; some schools it is 75% or more. Western SR is whiter with some Asians. African Americans and Hispanic/Latino populations are not really represented from what I’ve seen. This has been a little difficult for us and you have to search out the diversity you want.  

Second, I would visit the local parks when you can and ask the parents about schools. This district has a great reputation but but but I hear stories of expanding class sizes (30+)  especially around 3-4 grade; half day K is the norm; music/art is limited as are immersion programs (although I believe Mandarin will be offered somewhere in SR). Different neighborhoods and schools have different feels and only you know what you value most so look around.

The commute to WC will be slow in the morning unless you get the FastTrak. Going home should be better. When my husband goes to the city from our house it takes about 15 min to drive and park at the BART (walnut creek) and from there it’s about 40-45 min to the city. Coming home is usually longer. Also keep in mind that many areas of SR are a good 20-25 min from 680, especially the newer constructed homes. 

There’s not a lot of culture here. People come to raise kids. Parks are terrific. Family activities are good (like July 4 parades, farmers markets). We go to Oakland or the city for zoos and museums. 

It’s definitely a tradeoff. Our neighborhood is so much safer, cleaner, quieter and friendlier than what we had back East and for now, that works. You are close to hundreds of trails and the livermore wineries. Also summers are hotter (SR easily hits triple digits in the summer) and winters are cooler (there’s frost). Hope this helps. Good luck to you!

RE: Moving to San Ramon ()

I live in San ramon and we are considering moving to Berkeley or possibly Oakland to be closer to sf :).  Maybe we can swap info offline??  Generally, the schools are all strong and very academic elementary through high school; I haven’t heard of any schools that are not.  There are a lot of Indian and Chinese in the community so there is some racial diversity.   Bart from San ramon is about 40 mins to downtown.  People go to Walnut Creek usually for date nights; some restaurants between Dublin/Pleasanton and then Danville/Walnut Creek.  Not as many as oakland or sf but it’s decent.  Lots of family friendly parks, not as much for culture and museums I imagine?  Hope this helps. 

RE: Moving to San Ramon ()

Hi! I wanted to flag that not too long ago there was a thread from another parent asking about the "good schools" in the East Bay https://www.berkeleyparentsnetwork.org/questions/diverse-affordable-areas-good-schools-help and the responses from others really gave my husband and I - who had been concerned about sending our kids in a few years to Oakland public schools - real pause for thought.

We are now leaning towards Oakland public schools because for us, at the end of the day, it best aligns with our values to support public schools and build a more just, equitable society (as opposed to private school options or relocating to a wealthier-on-average community). A few things stand out for us:

1. One parent noted: "I like to tell parents the best determining factor for a child's success has little to do with the school they attend and more to do with the family environment they come from. Parents (caregivers) who care and are involved in their child's education both at school and at home make the difference no matter where their child attends school. They also make the difference at the schools their children attend. Schools with not-great test scores but great parent involvement should not be ruled out."

2. We asked a friend who's a middle school guidance counselor her views on public v. private schooling options and she suggested if, say, 5 parents considering private school options invested those funds instead in programs at their local public school instead what a huge difference that would make to the quality of education. Her point has helped us reflect differently on what kind of (financial) investment we're considering making in our children's future.

3. We think the diversity of Oakland and exposure our kids will have in navigating relationships with kids from every background will serve them better in the long run than a more homogeneous set up.

Hope this helps!

RE: Moving to San Ramon ()

Have you visited the schools in Oakland, or otherwise gotten to know them better?  It seems like you'd be giving up a lot- easy commute, nice community, connectivity with Oakland/SF, museums, restaurants, waterfront, more racial/ethnic diversity, for test scores. If you haven't seen it, the Integrated Schools Community- they have a podcast and a FB group- that addresses the underlying issue you're raising and might give you some perspective and options:  https://integratedschools.org/  HTH.