Potential relocation to Bay Area for a job in SF

Hello… My husband has been offered a job in San Francisco- We are going to be faced with a very big decision here in regards to moving back to California from New Orleans, where we have raised our daughters up and to this point. They are soon to be three and six. Prior to our move, we lived in Roseville and before that, Southern California. Our girls are in private school here which is the norm, because the school system is extremely dysfunctional in New Orleans specifically. But a big plus is the potential of our girls going to public school if we move. We are in the middle of evaluations now but there’s a strong likelihood that my oldest is going to test as both gifted and having learning differences, so twice exceptional.  I expect she will be OK in a semi traditional learning environment, if that makes sense. I doubt special education alone will be necessary, but extra support and accommodations will be. So based on this, I would love any recommendations for schools/neighborhoods. I’m open to hearing about private as well.

I should add we are open to about a 45 minute or less commute. Preferences for a neighborhood would be family oriented, safe, strong community with plenty to do, walkability and outdoor space whether it is public or a good yard!


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Welcome back to the bay area! Are you planning to buy or rent? What is your budget? Do you plan to take public transportation or drive into SF? What does walkability mean to you? (being able to walk to amenities or being able to take a lovely walk in the neighborhood)? What is a decent sized yard to you? What are things that you like to do? (hiking, going to restaurants / shows, sailing, etc.)?

Parts of SF are family friendly, and SF as a whole is quite walkable. The public school system is very hit or miss, but nearly every family I know in SF (working professionals, wealthy and not so wealthy) attend private schools. The ones that don't attend private schools are at the highly coveted bilingual public school. Most of the families I know in SF live in the Sunset, Richmond, Glenpark, Forest Hill area. Except for Glen park, these areas all seem foggy and cold. 

Public schools in CA are not great. Class sizes are large -- even in really nice school districts. If you have the resources, I recommend private schools. CA does not have a gifted program. Most school districts do a good job with special needs accommodation, if you get IEP or 504 plan. However, you can be denied special accommodation if the giftedness can compensate for learning differences and the child is not behind the grade level proficiency or having significant behavioral issues. This is based on our experience of going through the process with OUSD. I don't know if our child is gifted but she was evaluated to be advanced. The school psychologist and the teacher told us there was nothing they could do. We are very happy at our Oakland private school. 

I can think of a few neighborhoods that meet the requirement of 45 min. or less commute to SF. Marin county has nice schools, beautiful homes, nature, beaches, hiking, nice weather, etc. Burlingame is also wonderful but I think the peninsula is extraordinarily overpriced due to its proximity to South Bay and SF. I live in Oakland and I'm partial to east bay -- better weather, more space for the money, community, nature, etc. Alameda is wonderful - walkable, beach, good schools, nice flat yards, safe. Piedmont is also very nice -- probably the best school district in this area and a better functioning police and fire department than Oakland. I think Berkeley and Albany would fit your requirements as well. Homes in Albany are generally smaller with small yards. Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda area are more suburban but popular among young families. 

I live in Grand Lake / Lakeshore area of Oakland on the border of Piedmont. I find this area to be diverse yet family friendly, a strong community feel with definitely a lot of things to do -- we have the lake, the largest farmer's market, the iconic Grand Lake theater, rose garden, many parks nearby, a short drive to the beach, 3 - 4 hour drive to the snow, and many wonderful public and private schools nearby. Is it safe? There are a lot of crimes all over the bay area but I do not fear for our lives when taking a walk in the neighborhood and I feel comfortable going to our neighborhood Starbucks with my 10 year old. But, I am also aware of my surroundings and don't leave anything in the car. 

Wow, thank you so much for this response. You are the second person I’ve talked to you who recommends the east bay, specifically piedmont and surrounding areas. I am just taking this information in but I’m quite sure I will have a few more questions soon, if you don’t mind. In the meantime, I truly appreciate what you have shared.

As the other poster notes, the biggest question is budget and living situation (re: renting or buying). I also recommend the East Bay; we live in Lower Piedmont, which is walkable to both the Grand Lake and Piedmont Ave business districts, and also walkable to several of our nice parks, including Dracena Park, Piedmont park, and the play fields at Beach School. Our child is too young to attend school yet, but without hesitation will attend public schools here in Piedmont, given their strong reputation, parental involvement, and sense of community. To buy is unfortunately exceedingly expensive at this time, and rentals are often few and far between, but worthy of a close look if you can find something. Easy access to 580 if driving to the city, or many use the AC Bus #33 to BART, or even better, Transbay P line to SF. 

Just because as I’m sure you know, the Bay Area is it’s own animal with regards to housing costs and competition for housing: Without knowing your budget this is a very hard question to answer. Your last paragraph unfortunately narrows it down to probably the most expensive areas of the Bay Area with features everyone is looking for. Which may or may not be an issue for you?

I think you'll probably want to include some more information to get better responses. Budget is a HUGE factor- are you planning to spend $2000/month on housing or $20,000 (remember to factor in the higher cost of living, bridge tolls if you're looking at east bay or Marin, etc )? Buying or renting? Is this 45 minute commute via car or public transportation?

The Bay Area is huge and full of many micro-neighborhoods, and a "job in SF" could be anywhere in the city even down to San Jose (it depends how loosely you define "SF"), so it might help if your question was more specific. Where your husband's office is also determines whether he has to drive or if he has to take public transportation, and that will also determine how far out your 45 minute radius extends. Since you're going to need housing, I would contact a real estate agent who is willing to drive you around. Visit a few neighborhoods, see what you can afford (!!), and then ask around about the schools within each neighborhood. Good luck!