I'd like to move to Lamorinda but partner likes Berkeley
I know many have made this move and hoping for some good perspectives! I am from Lamorinda and my husband is from Berkeley originally. We are currently renting in the Berkeley Hills- great house and great views, but we are looking to buy soon.
Ultimately where we are does not meet our needs in terms of size and layout with young kids (2yo and 3yo). We have the option to buy where we are but our toddlers are in preschool in Orinda, I work in Walnut Creek, and walkability and schools are a big consideration. These are just a few of the reasons I'd like to consider the Lamorinda area. That said, my husband works from home, is not phased by the drive up and down Grizzly Peak, and would be perfectly happy to not to move. Would love some perspective from folks who have been hesitant to make the change further east-- benefits? regrets?
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We had this same issue in our family, and only being able to work from home finally cinched the deal. The cross tunnel traffic and commute was a major obstacle for us, as we work on the Berkeley side. I would say the Orinda Community Center and Park has been the highlight of living on the other side of the tunnel. Starting about age 4-5, we started taking advantage of the classes, teams and activities on weekends or afterschool. So much, so family friendly - and no drive! Now the kids can be doing different tclasses or teams, and we can still just be at one place. For example, they take Kids n’ Carpentry one afternoon 4-5:30pm, and I just hang out outside, enjoying the park and finishing up some work on my laptop. Then they spend another hour running around and playing on the play structures. Low stress, which is hard to find with 2 young kids and commutes!
I don't think you'll find housing cheaper in terms of buying in Lamorinda vs Berkeley. Both have good schools but very different types of living. The further east you go, the more you're going to need/want air conditioning. I'd recommend you and your spouse making a list of pros and cons of why you want to move and then compare the notes.
I would also just note (though I'm sure you'll discover this!) that the walkable parts of Orinda are extremely pricey--you can likely find comparably priced options (though perhaps smaller lots/homes) in the walkable parts of Berkeley. Much of Lamorinda is not especially walkable, which is a tradeoff people make to move through the tunnel, so if that's a big consideration for your family, I'd also consider looking in an area like North Berkeley or Rockridge (for a quick reverse commute to Walnut Creek) as a compromise. (Remember that you are in the least walkable part of a pretty walkable city; Orinda and Walnut Creek are, generally speaking, not especially walkable except in specific neighborhoods.) I would factor in the job if you plan to stay there long term, but remember that you can always change preschools if needed to make things work with your family logistics once you decide on where to buy.