Moving from NYC for a job in Oakland

Hi there,

I'll be moving to the Bay Area from NYC at the end of the year. I am hoping there is someone else out there who had to make the same move. I have an almost 4 year old who will need a preschool because he is currently in a 6.5 hour a day pre-k program and is learning a lot. I don't want too much disruption for him. The other decision is where to live. My husband's job will be in Oakland so we would like to be within a 30 min commute from there. I'm used to living in an area with a lot of people and walking/taking public transport everywhere. I don't want to live in a very suburban area and feel totally isolated because I don't know anyone in the Bay Area. Am hoping for some advice about starting at a preschool mid-year, if that's even possible, and finding the best place to live that is not too suburban but still feels very safe to walk around.

Thanks in advance!

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I am corresponding with another BPN person doing the same move as you right now, and this is the move my family and I did five years ago (from Brooklyn, but I had lived in Manhattan for many years before that). Oakland is quite big, and there are several walkable neighborhoods throughout Oakland and Berkeley. I can't really speak for other areas in the East Bay as far as walkability goes. I moved here with two children, and while part of our reason for moving was to achieve a simpler and easier life (and having a car was a big part of that), I do miss walking to everything. Much of Oakland and Berkeley feel like the small cities they are; other areas such as the hills in both towns are strictly residential and isolated from commerce and services (and offer lush nature in many areas). Unfortunately for most of us, so many choices about school and whether we walk or drive are based on the lack of affordable housing in the area. Our craigslist rental on the Oakland/Emeryville border dictated so much about how we live; we have a yard and nice neighbors, but we drive to most things that we do. Good luck finding a nice place to live and the other things will unfold when you know where you will live. Walkable neighborhoods that come to mind are Elmwood in Berkeley, and the Laurel District and Dimond District in Oakland, but of course, housing near those areas can be pricey. 

It would definitely help to know your budget as neighborhoods in Oakland/East Bay vary widely based on what you are willing to pay.

Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland!  Right by a BART station, great public schools, grocery stores, markets, shops etc. all within walking distance.  Rockridge is mostly single family homes, but a few apartments are in the mix.  I feel safe walking around; lots of families with young children in this neighborhood.  We even have our own newsletter that comes monthly.  It's a wonderful place to live and raise a family. 

Hi There! We moved from Brooklyn to Oakland 2 years ago, and love it here. We are living in Montclair hills, which I don’t recommend as being walkable, but we are a 15 minutes drive from uptown Oakland, 5 minutes from restaurants, and 5 minutes from amazing Redwood Regional Park and tons of hikes and playgrounds. If you want more walkable, you could look in Rockridge, Temescal, Lake Merritt area, or Alameda. None of it is affordable but you’re probably used to that coming from NYC. ;-) You can look through the bridge at Orinda, Moraga, Lafayette or Walnut Creek but you’ll want to be close to BART for commuting to Oakland.

Our 3 year old daughter is at Monte Tavor Spanish Immersion. There are a lot of daycares in the area and I’m sure some would take kids mid year. 

Feel free to reach out if I can help more, happy to welcome another New Yorker to Oakland!


Most of Oakland is safe in the daytime. Maybe the Laurel. If you have more money Temescal/Rockridge. Further afield and less expensive and less walkable El Cerrito/Richmond Annex. Also look at West Berkeley/Albany. A lot of this depends on how much you have for rent. There are many walkable neighborhoods, if you avoid the hills, but they tend to be pricey.

Thank you to everyone who responded.  We are still trying to figure it all out but appreciate all the information.