Seeking Diverse Neighborhoods in the Bay Area

Parent Q&A

  • Seeking diverse neighborhood with Bay views for a job in Sausalito

    (7 replies)

    Good evening,

    We are moving from NC to the Bay Area and are hoping to find a great neighborhood to raise our multiracial daughter.  We particularly are interested in an area that has Black, Latinx and Asian diversity.  We fell in love with Trsetle Glen/Crocker Highlands, Upper Rockridge and the Piedmont side of Montclair but my husband’s commute will be to Sausalito, so we need to be north of Oakland.  

    Any recommendations on neighborhoods with bay views that are diverse and inclusive?  Also, what schools are recommended (public or private) that would also be options for us?  We want to be connected to the community and the culture of Oakland without putting a heavy burden on my husband each day.  

    I look forward to hearing from everyone,  

    A few houses on Albany Hill have great bay views and access to the reputable Albany public schools (and on the market right now).

    Further north, many, many houses in El Cerrito have amazing views. The public schools are more mixed in reputation, but there are very good private school options with Montessori Family School and Prospect Sierra in El Cerrito. Similarly, Point Richmond has great views.

    I think all communities offer the diversity of the Bay Area in general and easy access to the Richmond Bridge/North Bay.

    Ah, if only there were such a place.  Since the houses with Bay views, in the hills, are very expensive -- usually $1.5M or more in Oak/Berk, and very white neighborhoods.  Berkeley is very diverse as a city but the hills are mostly white.  For what it's worth, we find the people of Berkeley, including the white wealthy ones, to be very progressive and politically left, nice people. Further north, you get El Cerrito, which is mostly white with Asians (25%) and much fewer Latinx and Black people, and more of a mix politically (still leaning liberal).  Further north, there are other towns, such as Vallejo, which is more diverse racially, and also more diverse politically.  As you go into those northern suburbs, you're just more suburban, so visiting there you'll see what you like.  

    To stay on the East Bay, the closer you can get to the 580 stretch that heads straight across the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge, the better. That means to make the commute at all do able, you’ll need to be looking at probably El Cerrito hills to get the view. It’s a totally different vibe than the areas of Oakland you were referring to, but the views are gorgeous, and the commute would be at least theoretically possible. There are reasonably good public schools up in the hills north of Berkeley (elementary schools Madera and Kensington Hilltop) and private schools that are good.  

    But the area is different in terms of the culture and pace from the areas of Oakland you mentioned. The further up the hill, the less diverse. El Cerrito is not at all urban. Alot of the architecture is post WW II in the flats and partway up the hill, with more variety of arcjitecture evident in the hills. 

    Marina Bay is actually on 580 and has houses right on the water, Point Richmond has homes with views,and is one of the last exits before the bridge.  Point Richmond is a cute small town with a Spanish immersion elementary. Marina Bay has the water front aspect, but is a bedroom community and the public schools are not rated well at all. That area has some limited offerings,no high end restaurants,no  full size grocery stores- it’s a bit off the beaten parh.

    I would suggest you rent a house for a year to get a better grasp of the neighborhoods, of the commute and what your priorities are. Marin is not as diverse as the East Bay but you may end up considering it given challenges with commuting.

    Best of luck and welcome to the Bay Area!

    Congrats on the job & move.  Truthfully, Oakland to Sausalito is 38 miles and likely to be a brutal commute if he's driving conventional commute hours.  If you are set on that area of Oakland, start looking at carpools. 

    The unhappy reality of real estate in the Bay Area means that little tiny homes in quaint neighborhoods have become phenomenally expensive, and those neighborhoods are dominated by hip, well-educated people who all consider themselves open-minded and un-prejudiced.  Income dictates location, which means generally the "nicer" areas are whiter, better educated, and quite pricey.  Don't know if you are looking to rent or buy but either way, be prepared for sticker shock. 

    Of course there are exceptions.  The northwestern section of SF (not far from Sausalito) is mostly Asian, but there are Russians, Irish, etc.  I don't know about price, but it's a lot closer to Sausalito than Oakland is. 

    People who could not afford to be close to SF or Berkeley in times past moved to satellite regions that were less expensive, and small neighborhood enclaves developed over time that might be more ethnically diverse.  But the pressure for housing is starting to change that.  Anyway, consider that "ethnically diverse" might mean Phillipino, southern Indian, Portuguese, Venezuelan--something less easily defined than the simple black/Latino/Asian categories we tend to talk about.

    There are neighborhoods in El Cerrito, Pinole, El Sobrante, Hercules, a few parts of Richmond, etc., that are closer and more racially diverse but they are nowhere near as hip and chic as the areas you mention and may lack other amenities.  But you might get a bay view.  You could also look at some of the less costly parts of Marin like San Rafael and Novato; the blue-collar roots of these areas can mean more diversity than in the affluent areas.  Our cousins are fine raising their bi-racial children in the Terra Linda neighborhood of San Rafael.  You might have a better idea of the actual racial make-up of areas if you look at the populations for neighborhood schools.

    You might want to come out before the whole family moves here to scout out options, finding a place that suits can be challenging. 

    If you are looking to buy, you need an agent who REALLY knows the area; we worked with 2 to cover both the East Bay and North Bay.  You can contact me off-line if you want a referral.

    I think you're probably looking for the El Cerrito hills or perhaps Point Richmond--but the Black and Latino communities in those areas aren't going to be anywhere near what you'll find in parts of Oakland. (Notably, though, you won't find a huge amount of racial diversity in the Oakland neighborhoods you especially liked either; they are still predominantly white, although that's slowly changing.) For schools, the public elementary schools serving the El Cerrito hills and Point Richmond are generally well regarded, although overcrowded, so may not have space if you're moving this summer. Prospect-Sierra is a great private option in that area. Good luck, and welcome to the Bay Area!

    I did the commute from Sausalito to Berkeley for two years. It is brutal. Going to work is tolerable but returning home can be as bad as an hour and a half. My suggestion is to look in San Rafael or elsewhere in Marin County before your husband hates his life. 

    Thank you all for your very thoughtful responses.  If it helps, I am Black (Louisiana Creole) and my husband is half Eastern European/half Argentinian.  We want to bring our "flavor" to the party and be welcomed.  We very much enjoy meeting and socializing with everyone, as long as they are genuinely kind/friendly people.  Easy access to culture (art/food/music) is VERY important to us, given the strong cultures that we come from.  We have spent our entire adult lives in the suburbs raising our older kids and want a different experience raising the little one, for certain.  We have 4 college students and a toddler, so that makes life super interesting, too.  Our budget is $1.5Mish but we will need space (4/3?) for the two older kids when they are on break from school/holidays.  The oldest two have their own apartments here on the East coast and will only visit twice a year or so.  We do have a short term corporate rental so we can take our time to find the right place where we fit well.

    This is all very helpful, so thank you again!

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  • Diverse, "affordable" areas with good schools? HELP!

    (22 replies)

    Hello all,

    My wife and I have recently moved from Boston to the Bay Area for my job. We are currently renting in Danville and aside from it being totally untouchable to us price-wise, we are not connecting with the community and would really prefer an area with more diversity and more of an LGBTQ presence. It seems like Oakland is the best option for that sort of area but the schools as a whole are not rated well. We have a 3 and 1/2 year old son and an 11 month old daughter and we are hoping to buy within the next year (trying to stay under $850K if we can). Are there areas we are overlooking? Affordable private schools that we should look into to make Oakland work? Any advice would be much appreciated! Thank you!!!

    Kira 

    I have two pieces of advice for you.  One is to not make your determination about what schools are good based on the test scores.  Generally, really high test scores correlate with really high incomes among the parents and/or and intense testing focus by the school.  I would think about the kind of climate you'd like for your children to go to school in, and try to find that, with the understanding that in elementary school at least any "gaps" in instruction tend to be easily and almost effortlessly closed by engaged  parents who read to their kids and take them to museums, etc.  I myself went to high school in Danville and was absolutely miserable there and at my elementary school in San Ramon.  The quality of teaching was mediocre at best, but everyone was affluent so the scores looked good.  My daughter, in contrast, goes to Ellerhorst elementary in Pinole, and although I was very nervous at the start of the year because the test scores aren't very good (and in fact almost panicked and moved to private school), we are very happy there and her own test scores are showing remarkable progress.  The school is extremely diverse, and we have been blown away by the kind, supportive, family-like atmosphere of the school.  Some schools achieve good test scores by sacrificing many of the things we value in our children's education: PE, music and movement, science, art, imaginative play, and it was a game changer for us to realize that while we valued quality education, that did not always mean picking the school with the best test scores.

    My second piece of advice would be to check out West Contra Costa County.  I lived in Oakland for a decade and will always love Oakland, but it is pretty much out of reach for under $850k in the kind of family friendly neighborhood I'm imagining you would want (especially when you consider that the listing prices tend to be $100k or more under the eventual sale price).  El Sobrante, Pinole, and Hercules are the hidden gems of the East Bay, and although the WCCUSD schools often are not super highly ranked, we know many, many families who are extremely happy with their neighborhood schools.  I can only speak to Pinole, but it offers a lot of the good parts of growing up in the TriValley area (amenities, greenery, safety) without the competition and snobbery and intense social pressure that made it so awful as a child that didn't fit in in Danville and San Ramon.  The area has been filled with a lot of older folks for a long time, but in the last two years or so, we've seen a huge wave of older folks moving out and young families and couples moving in from Berkeley/Oakland etc.  Check it out! 

    I agree with the previous poster! Schools in West Contra Costa and San Leandro/Hayward may not have great test scores, but many of the students do very well and the schools are very diverse. In fact, Korematsu Middle School in El Cerrito is the 4th most ethnically diverse middle school in the entire US. The basic curriculum is the same at every public school in California.

    I'd highly recommend Alameda. It's an island town outside of Oakland that feels like a close-knit community, yet is close to everything. The housing market is competitive, so you'd probably be looking at a 2 bedroom home in your price range, but it's definitely more affordable than Oakland.  The schools are all excellent and the community is extremely welcoming. In particular, I've found it to be super family friendly with lots of events, resources and parent groups. 

    Just here to echo what previous posters have said - you should definitely have a look at West Contra Costa. I grew up in Oakland and went through the city's public school system but when I moved back to the Bay Area two years ago and started looking to buy a home, I was deterred by how poorly the public schools were rated. Granted, one shouldn't entirely judge the system on these ratings, but with friends who actually teach in some of these Oakland public schools who shared some not so great stories with me, we figured it was worth widening our house-hunting options (and who knows, perhaps in a few years' time, Oakland public schools will be doing better with the shift in demographics/continued gentrification of the city...as another poster pointed out, parental involvement is critical). In any event, we were pleasantly surprised when we ended up buying in El Cerrito. This city also seems to be going through a demographic shift, with a mix of an older generation who've probably lived here all their lives and younger families/couples moving in. Our kids are still young so haven't entered the public schools yet, thus, I can't speak to that, but we're also liking its proximity to Berkeley/SF/Oakland in case we need to head to any of those spots. Overall, we've been really happy with our decision to move out this way.

    Check out the Grass Valley neighborhood in Oakland. It’s diverse, quiet and can fit in your 850k budget. We bought here a year ago and couldn’t be happier. We anticipated going with private school when our child reached school age and now we are hearing such great things about our local elementary school that were considering it when our son starts K in another year. I’m happy to answer questions you have about the neighborhood. 

    Hi, welcome to the Bay Area!  I’m sure you’ll hear a lot of this, and you probably know this already if you’ve looked around much, but even a 2-ber will be impossible to find in Oakland, and even more so in Berkeley/Albany / other parts of Alameda County. You could try the Richmond Annex, but from what I understand your kids will pretty much have to go to private schools if you go that route. I wish your family the best of luck; housing is a real problem here, though other aspects of living here are nice. 

    I know a couple families in Oakland who weren't happy with their public school assignments this year (mostly because the assigned school was very far from their homes) that have been looking at St. Theresa school in Oakland. It is a Catholic school but according to the families I know, it is very welcoming to non-Catholic families. It is significantly cheaper than ordinary private school, although obviously more than public. Might be worth a look. 

    We recently decided to relocate to Davis for better home prices (yes, you can buy for under 850 there) and strong schools.

    I'd second previous poster's glowing recommendations of Pinole. I can't speak personally to the experience of LGBT families, but can say that there does appear to be a lot of diversity here (ethnic, economic, generational, etc). My 20-month daughter and I go to our local playground almost every day and see kids there from all different backgrounds. Our neighborhood has a lot of empty-nesters but also a LOT of new families moving in. We're probably going to send our daughter to the East Bay Waldorf School for at least her preschool education, which would not be everyone's choice, but have also heard wonderful things about Ellerhorst and are still thinking seriously about going the public route for grade school. I'm happy to talk in more detail if it would help -- feel free to PM me :)

    Hello, and welcome to the area! We bought in Oakland in December 2017 for 750K (I still feel my heart rate jump when I say that) and we are really happy with our neighborhood. My daughter is finishing up the school year in Berkeley and will be starting at a public school in Oakland in the fall. It's not our neighborhood school but it is a diverse public school not too far and we're hopeful about it. I would echo the words of other parents that test scores reflect little more than the socioeconomic status of the families, not the dedication and strength of the teachers. BPN is actually a great forum for parent feedback about specific schools, so you can search old posts when it comes time to make your school selections. So I wouldn't write off Oakland just yet. We live in Fairfax, close to Maxwell Park, and I think you can still buy for under $800K there. Happy to talk more - and recommend a great realtor! - if you want to message me :)

    Another vote here for considering more than test scores (which might as well be a proxy for housing costs, it's so closely related to local average income) when considering local public school districts!  School quality is about a lot more than numeric "ratings".

    For whatever it's worth, even in school districts with an overall poorer reputation, such as Oakland and West Contra Costa, involved parents tend to like the elementary schools very much.  Your children are so young that a lot can change between now and when they are ready to graduate from high school, and you don't know yet whether they may have any special needs in school (even well-rated schools often don't do a great job of supporting kids who are exceptionally gifted or who have learning disabilities or other particular challenges).  So if you find an area that's a good fit for your family, you may want to start your kids in the neighborhood school and revisit the private school decision when they reach middle or high school age.

    All that said: Besides Oakland, and El Sobrante/Pinole/Hercules as suggested by the previous person, consider Albany (there are condos selling in your price range; the town is very white but is adjacent to more racially diverse neighborhoods, and there's a substantial LGBTQ+ presence) and El Cerrito, and also San Leandro and Castro Valley (I have a few friends who've bought homes in that area after being priced out of Berkeley/Albany, and they are very happy with their neighborhoods and grade schools; none of them happen to be LGBTQ but in general, those cities are a lot more diverse than anything east of the hills). 

    Take a look at Alameda. There are lots of LGBTQ families. Housing is not affordable overall, but there are still nice smaller homes available in the price range you mentioned. Public schools are good K - 12, with regular and charter options at every level. Very family friendly community, lots of parks, access to the beach. Easy access to BART, SF, etc. We've never regretted moving there!

    I agree with the first poster. School ratings correspond to test scores, which correspond to the socioeconomic status of the children’s parents, which of course often correlates with race. People say they want diversity, but then they don’t tolerate it in their schools, except in very small amounts. Sorry to be blunt, but places like Oakland don’t need more gentrifiers who don’t want to be part of the community.

    Oakland is really wonderful but it's also blown up, price-wise. And there's no such thing as an affordable private school. You have to come look at Richmond. I'm in Each Richmond Heights, but there are many really fantastic neighborhoods here. You can contact me off-line. We have an amazing LGBTQ community and a diverse elementary school. Same-same about test scores, that's often a reflection of how many English-language-learners there are, which = diversity. Talk to parents at the schools you are thinking of and come look at them. 

    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. We attend a fantastic school in Pinole (Ellerhorst) after moving here two years ago. It is very diverse in every way you can imagine- we have socioeconomic diversity, cultural diversity, ability diversity (we have 3 classrooms for severely and non-severely handicapped children) and political diversity. We have a strong and committed PTA and a very active Dads Club. I'm so happy to be part of this community. Some other pluses of this particular area (Pinole Valley-the community that begins at the east side of the freeway off the Pinole Valley Road exit) are the lush rolling hills with hiking trails, the wildlife, the better summer weather and safety. My big kid can ride his bike freely throughout the valley with the other neighborhood kids. But hurry before home prices get crazy- prices here are starting to take off! 

    Loving Pinole

    We just moved to the El sobrante section of Richmond and love it so far! Our 12m old will likely attend Valley View elementary which parents seem to like. The neighborhood is diverse but a little light on the LGBT families as far as we have seen so far but we are queer and recruiting;)

    Don't discount Oakland schools. Oakland gets a bad rap in so many ways, yet there is so much to love. It is extremely diverse, family friendly, amazing food, LGBTQ friendly, and yes, have great schools. Like previous poster said, don't rely on test scores or great schools.org to be the only data in your school research. When we applied to K, we had more than the 6 allowed schools you can apply for that I would send my kids to. She is now in 1st grade and extremely happy in an Oakland public school.

    As for buying a home within your budget, that may be more challenging, but there are still some diverse, affordable areas. Some areas to look are Maxwell Park, Dimond District, Santa Fe, Longfellow, Laurel, Golden Gate...

    Good luck!

    We live in El Cerrito and really love the neighborhood and our school.  El Cerrito is close enough to Berkeley and Oakland to still be able to easily access all the fun those cities have to offer.  We have awesome parks, a rec center with pool, libraries, natural food store, brewing company, movie theater, local cafes and shops and largers chains like Trader Joes and Bed, Bath and Beyond.  El Cerrito is also BART accessible with two stations stopping here.  The homes are somewhat affordable (prices are going up currently but a few yrs ago you could definitely buy a 3 bedroom house with a yard for that amount).  We send our kids to Crestmont School in the El Cerrito/Richmond Hills (https://www.crestmontschool.org/).  It provides a wonderful, diverse, nurturing environment.  It is a co-op so the tuition is much less than other private schools and the community is tight-knit and conscientious about diversity and family differences. It is small and has a community school house feel.  Check it out!

    Hi,

    We were looking for the same thing (we are a diverse couple), and ended up buying in Albany.  We considered Berkeley as well, but did not end up with a house we liked there, and the housing market there is much more competitive.  Another option we considered very heavily is the (Island Republic of) Alameda.  Alameda is great, probably our favorite in many ways, but did not have good commute options for us.  For all of those, you probably can find a house in your price range, but that is the lower end of the price range in any of the cities.  Based on a quick search, out of the 10 houses recently sold in Albany, only 3 sold for $850k or less.  Not that I put tremendous stock in it, but Albany's schools are always rated 9/10 or 10/10.  Much more important to me, Albany has immersion after-school programs in Spanish or Chinese (based on which elementary school you go to).   In terms of diversity, looking at the school numbers on Great Schools, Albany is less diverse than Berkeley, more middling in terms of diversity.  Walking around the streets, Albany appears more diverse that the school numbers would led me to believe - likely because it is a tiny town smack between Berkeley and El Cerrito, both of which might be considered more diverse.

    Speaking of which, I have not checked in a while, but El Cerrito was considerably cheaper when we were looking.  It also has two BART stops.  

    Good luck!

    Check out Alameda. Although you can certainly spend more than your budget, you should be able to find something for less than $850K, particularly on the west end. The schools are generally good, and there are also some excellent charter school options. We have many LGBTQ families in our schools, along with a high degree of diversity in general. Good luck with your move! 

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  • Moving to Oakland/Berkeley Area, looking for Arts HS and diverse neighborhood

    (5 replies)

    We are moving to the Oakland Berkeley area in the Summer 2019 with our now 13 year old daughter. We are an interracial (white, Asian and African American) family and so diversity is important both racially and economically. Our daughter is interested in the arts (singing, dancing) as well as sports (Lacrosse). Can anyone recommend areas, neighborhoods and schools we should consider in these cities? Thank you.

    If you're considering private schools, the sky is the limit. You can live in either Berkeley or Oakland. For girls, Julia Morgan School for Girls is an exceptional private school. If you're considering public schools, there is no "bad" school in Berkeley. Many people agree that the Berkeley schools are all in the spectrum of good to great. Also, Berkeley schools are more integrated which means kids get mixed up, leading to diversity but you may not be going to the school that is a block away from you! Oakland public school system has a wider gap because you get neighborhood preference. A handful of Oakland schools are excellent and many schools struggle. Also, OUSD budget cut is something to consider. OSA is an amazing arts magnet public school, but I'm not sure if you can get in mid-year. If you can swing the budget, Piedmont has excellent school system but there isn't much racial or economic diversity. For high school, Oakland Tech is highly regarded and diverse.  I'm not sure where you're moving from, but walkable neighborhoods are incredibly expensive. Hills are not as hotly in demand as flats. If you're ok with Condo/Townhome living or rental but do have means to send your kid to private school and like the suburdan amenities like big box store (Target, Home Depot) and chain restaurants (Chevy's), living in Emeryville is pretty convenient. In Oakland, there are many wonderful neighborhoods. Our favorites in Oakland are Rockdridge, Piedmont Ave. Grand Lake, Lakeshore, Glenview, Dimond, Montclair Village, Lincoln Heights which are all very family friendly and relatively safe. Alameda is another neighborhood that is safe and has good schools. It's not culturally and artistically as exciting as Berkeley or Oakland though. 

    Berkeley High has diversity, a super strong girls Lacrosse team and incredible dance and music programs.

    Berkeley High is still a fantastic school.  It's hard to recommend Oakland public schools, although some of their charter schools are doing well.  School districts in Piedmont, Alameda, Albany, Danville, and Orinda are very strong (and not very diverse).

    Thank you Anon, MkimC adn WatersCarol,

    I appreciate all the thoughtful feedback Peter c

    You must have a look at Oakland School of the Arts! My stepson goes there. I’m not usually a fan of charter schools, but he is having a great experience both academically and artistically (he is in the visual arts program). You have to apply to get in. 

    I saw that others have recommended berkeley high. My other stepson only lasted 2 years there before getting his nose broken by a bully and then being suspended and treated like garbage, but your mileage may vary. 

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  • East Bay Areas w/ great public schools for Muslim/Hispanic mixed children

    (16 replies)

    Hi BPN members,  I've been researching on my own for months and I feel like I need some advice on questions that a realtor just can't answer...

    our family of 4 is looking to move to the East Bay in roughly a year.  We work in the alameda area, bay farm island, next to the OAK Airport and currently live on the peninsula.  Looking to decrease travel time and increase family time.

    looking for a 4 bedroom house up to $1.5M, prefer a two story house, good schools - (great schools rating 8 and higher please) - safe area with entertainment activities that would appeal to our kids as they grow.  Our children are heading into middle school years and I want them to be able to have some independence as they get older and I'll of course feel more comfortable if entertainment like movie cinema, etc is relatively close by and safe.

    my husband and I both grew up in very urban settings with urban problems and we'd like a safer environment for our kids.  We're originally from the east coast but we've moved around a lot.

    our kids are great students, really kind people, on their way to being great citizens I hope!  Here's one of my biggest concerns though and something I can't really speak freely to a realtor about.  We are Muslim and my kids are currently the only muslims in their respective classrooms at school.  We are very liberal and progressive but as our children get older they make comments telling us that all of their classmates are Christian and they don't want to tell people they're Muslim, it concerns me, I want them to feel comfortable in their own skin.  

    I am a white hispanic and my husband is of a mixed Indian and Arab origin.  I speak Spanish and our current school is heavily Latino so most people assume our children are Latino but they don't speak Spanish.  They understand some Urdu, Arabic, and Spanish because of grandparents visiting for extended stays but they only speak English.  I feel like the middle and high school years are really tough and I want my children to feel like they fit, right now they feel like outsiders.  One of our children looks more like mom - white/Hispanic and the other looks just like dad - people often Assume Afghan or Persian.

    i've looked in Piedmont and Montclair but I just don't know if these are a good fit even though the commute would be easy and the schools seem good...  any advice would be very much appreciated.  Anyone in the same boat????

     The only other family I know that shares our mix homeschools, ha!

    I've read your post a few times now and still can't quite tell what you're prioritizing. Do you want 1) an ethnically mixed school, where your kids' mixed race won't stand out? 2) to be part of a progressive/liberal high-income Muslim community? 3) to be in Alameda? 4) to be in a very high ranked school? 5) to connect with (or live near) other families who are Hispanic/white/Arab/Indian? I feel like you and your spouse should try to nail down which of these in the big picture are your top 2 or 3, and then hone in on areas that meet those needs first. Off the top of my head, I'd think the Peninsula might be a good bet, or Fremont/SJ, but I am not super familiar with those areas, nor with the progressive Muslim community.

    My kids go to an extremely ethnically diverse public school (WCCUSD) and it's great, but it is truly very mixed, about third Asian, third Latino, sixth Af-Am, and sixth white. It's also low-income, which may correlate with ethnic diversity. Is that okay with you? As I'm sure you know, these Census-based ethnic categories do not ask what one's faith is, so there's no way of measuring "Muslim" population as they may self-report as any race/ethnicity. You may want to attend Muslim cultural events in the East Bay/Alameda, and ask around where the kids go to school.

    In the meantime, as far as the East Bay goes, if I wanted cultural/ethnic diversity in my public school, and was looking in the $1.5M range for a 4-bedroom, I'd certainly look into Berkeley (can you still get a 4-bd there for under $2M?), or the hidden gem of Point Richmond, with bayfront views, a neighborhood which feeds to Korematsu JH in EC and ECHS, both quite ethnically diverse and academically solid if not the 8 you have targeted. Or you could try to get your kids into application-based magnet high school Middle College HS in Richmond, which is a 10 and can get your kids college credit as high schoolers. (Obviously a high score on GreatSchools does not mean a welcoming school to everyone, just check recent news articles about Albany High and Piedmont High.)

    Or move to Alameda next to your work, and spend more time volunteering at the schools and bringing the diversity personally.

    Lots of options once you figure out what's most important to you.

    For commuting to Bay Farm Island and diverse with Muslims as well, maybe look at San Leandro or Fremont. Seriously don't worry about the schools being 8 or higher, the higher ranking typically the less diverse the school; all the schools, even schools that are a 5, will have at least 20% of the students being high-performing and have challenging classes.

    I'd recommend Berkeley - the schools are probably a 7/8 (not that great IMO) but the inclusiveness and diversity is unparalleled.

    Have you fully explored the middle and high school options on the main island of Alameda?  The west end schools may have some of what you are looking for in terms of diversity of both religion and ethnicity.  It also has some really good schools.  And it is a nice combination of suburban and urban.  As another poster said, it may be helpful to figure out priorities.

    What about Alameda? It would be a great commute for you, Alameda has highly rated and diverse schools. The main island probably has more of the diversity you're looking for - you could check in with our Islamic Center for thoughts. Encinal High seems somewhat more diverse than Alameda High, but you will certainly find other Muslim students at either, and at our several charter schools (Nea, ACLC, ASTI).  As far as housing goes, you could find a nice 4 bedroom house in that price range. Kids in my kids' classes speak several languages, are from many countries, and practice many religions. None of it phases any of the kids. Good luck with your search!

    Hi! You don't say how old your kids are, but my kids go to Mira Vista in East Richmond Heights, where you would def find a beautiful 4-bedroom for that price range, and literally, literally I have a mom-friend at school who is a Spanish-speaking Muslim. Our school is diverse and has a healthy-sized Muslim population, plus a healthy-sized Latino population. I saw that someone else pointed out that some schools score lower precisely because they are more diverse, and that is true for MV. We wear that badge proudly. And the Muslim population is diverse even within itself, people are from all over, many different countries and traditions. 

    We are Jewish and my kids also have that thing of feeling like the only ones in in the school, especially since we are so near Tehiyah, which eats up all the Jewish kids around here. It's painful for them! But that diversity is also valuable. When they complain about being the only ones not celebrating Christmas, I can at least say "Our Muslim friends are in the same boat." I really recommend you look around here. We are very near the Del Norte station of Bart which makes for easy commutes. And tho Richmond proper has some urban problems, honestly, I don't feel unsafe here (I lived in Brooklyn for 20 years - real Brooklyn, not hipster Brooklyn).

    Also, the "hidden jewel" of Point Richmond is right near the refinery, you're much better off up in these hills. And we're zoned for El Cerrito High, though honestly I would prefer it if the local parents would just force the issue and send their kids to Richmond and JFK to make them better schools but that's another story for another day. :D You can contact me thru this site if you want to talk further. I wish I had your budget, there are some houses for sale here that I'm drooling over. 

    Oh yeah, San Leandro is also a good place to look at! 

    We're in Rockridge and our kids are at Peralta Elementary and Claremont Middle School.  There have been a fair number of Muslim kids at both schools throughout our time there (9 years at Peralta, 3 at Claremont).  The school communities are pretty diverse, both ethnically and economically (more so at Claremont than Peralta, but I'm aware of more Muslim families at Peralta than Claremont), and I would be shocked at kids in either school commenting on your kids' religion - most of the people we know at both schools either aren't religious at all, or if they are they tend to be liberal Jews or Christians.  I think you can still get a house in the $1.5 mil range in the Peralta/Claremont districts.  Good luck!

    There is a vibrant Muslim community in Berkeley. In my son's kindergarten class at Malcolm X, 3 of the 18 students are Muslim. There was a 4th Muslim student but her family moved back to Yemen. Many of these families are second-generation Berkeley residents, so they are a longstanding part of our city's community. 

    We are an interracial family,  live in El Cerrito and LOVE it.  My oldest is in first grade at Fairmont Elementary, where there is a HUGE diversity of students - Latino, Chinese, Nepali, Black, White, etc.  I haven't asked but would guess that many of the families are Muslim.  Several speak Urdu.  We have an annual multicultural community potluck/performance/celebration - the diversity is what many of our families love about Fairmont.

    Obviously my kids are much younger than yours, but I have read recently that Korematsu Middle School is the 6th most diverse school in California.  In terms of ratings, Fairmont, Korematsu, and El Cerrito High are all rated a 6.  Harding Elementary, also in El Cerrito, is a 7.  I think these lower ratings may have to do with having a high population of English Language Learners, as all the parents I've spoken with are very satisfied with the academics.  

    Close by, Kensington and Berkeley schools have 8+ greatschools ratings, and Albany, right next door, has 10 for all their schools.  I don't know anything about their diversity.

    Good luck in your search!  Feel free to contact me if you have more questions.  And I'll be curious to hear what you decide!

    ~Alison

    I know this may offend some people, but if you want great schools with high great school scores (which, really only tells you about the demographics and income of the family for the most part) you would find those schools in places like Orinda, Lafayette, Moraga, Danville *but* those communities are definitely not mixed race communities. I agree to try Berkeley, but that may be too urban for you. Great schools plus Muslim communities = Pleasanton, San Ramon or Fremont. Im sure those are too far out for your commute, but its what youre asking for.

    PS Piedmont and Montclair will have good schools but mixed race is questionable as well, but will be better than Orinda, Lafayette etc

    All of their classmates are Christians? I sincerely doubt that. Maybe they all put up "Christmas" trees in December, but that really has nothing to do with Christianity. It is a pagan custom adopted by the Christians. I bet that many of the kids have parents who are atheists or agnostics. Jews and Buddhists, too. How about you ask the teacher if you could come in and teach comparative religion for an hour. I bet that would open up conversations between the kids. 

    I suggest that you move to Bay Farm Island. Easy commute. 

    I don't think you will find much diversity in Piedmont. We live in Montclair and it feels pretty ethnically diverse, if not socioeconomically, but the great schools don't continue on into the middle and high school years and many families leave or go private. Maybe you could spend less on a house and budget more for private schools for 6-12 grade if you want to go the Oakland Hills route. Although Oakland Tech could be a great option for high school -- lots of strong programs.

    Typically the higher the Great Schools score, the the more white and affluent the school is, because those scores reflect the standardized tests aggregates (which for a million reasons, aren't geared for the success of minorities or less affluent kids). So if high scores are you thing, maybe you should prioritize that.

    if you're looking for a truly diverse student body, there are plenty of schools in the East Bay that will fit your needs. Look at the ethnic composition of Glenview Elementary in Oakland, for instance. It won't tell you how many Muslims there are, but my daughter goes there and there are quite a few students in hijab in her grade alone.

    I've lived in the East Bay for 30 years, and I'm not sure I can think of a single neighborhood that meets all your requirements, but here are some ideas to explore: If you want walkability, restaurants and entertainment, Elmwood in Berkeley is nice. It's an urban neighborhood, though, and comes with the accompanying challenges, although I let my middle school kids roam there because they know the area well.

    If you want an ethnically diverse school where your kids will be able to find their crowd and won't be the only ones of any category they might fall into, we've had good experiences at Montera Middle School in Montclair, and Montclair isn't too bad a commute to Bay Farm Island. Montera isn't an 8 on the school score card, but the scores don't tell the whole story of any school - I'd urge you to check out any school you're considering in person rather than just going by what's online. As another commenter noted, any school that's big enough to be diverse is going to have both high-performing kids and struggling kids. Next year Montera is moving to an International Baccalaureate model, which should add even more interesting classes and rigorous academics, as well as an emphasis on diversity and cooperation.

    On the downside, Montclair doesn't have a lot of stuff for teens to do. For safety and a small-town feel where the kids can go to movies, etc., you can't beat Alameda - but I don't know how diverse it is; it's been a long time since I lived there. If you have time, it would be great to spend some family time in the places you're considering and see what feels most like home to you. Good luck with your search!

    Hi, just wanted to thank all of you who replied.  We haven't been in the area very long so you've all given me so much info and lots of new areas to explore.  Thanks again

    There are many hispanic families and also families from the middle-east in BUSD. Some from working-class families and some from professional families. In high school the professional Muslim families tend to enroll their students in BIHS (the IB program.)

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  • AA Peninsula family looking to move to the East Bay for cultural diversity

    (4 replies)

    Hello!

    My husband and I are an affluent African-american couple (Pharmacist and Googler) who currently own a home in the peninsula. We have a 1 and 2 year old toddler and do not wish to raise them here in the peninsula due to the lack of other affluent African- Americans in our community (and along the peninsula overall). We plan on staying here for the next 2 years before Kindergarten. Can anyone recommend any great neighborhoods for purchasing a home near or in Berkeley where my kids can walk to attend great public schools, and have a more diverse experience growing up and us not worry about crime, race, or meeting others like themselves? We are also looking for areas accessible to stores, shopping, and a great social scene if desired.

    Before you make the move, you should research how Berkeley assigns public schools, because this may mean that walking to school is not possible. I know people that are not able to attend the schools closest to them, but love how diverse in a socioeconomic way this makes them. If Oakland is also on your radar, Crocker Highlands is a great neighborhood with a great elementary school, not as diverse as we would like, but still lovely in other ways. There certainly are families of all colors in the same ish tax bracket. Piedmont might also be more inclusive than certain Peninsula cities, but still very white. It is also a very small city, so there is a real sense of neighborly connection there for better or worse. I agree it's not for everyone. People who live there do walk to school and it is very child/family focused.

    Parts of South Berkeley are considered "historically" African-American and now have are quite a mixture. However, as the Save Black Berkeley (http://www.saveblackberkeley.org/) movement can surely attest to, many in these communities are selling their homes and leaving. That said, there are definitely upper middle class African Americans in Berkeley neighborhoods from all points west of Sacramento and Alcatraz to University. 

    Hi there.  I would recommend El Cerrito and a few neighborhoods in Richmond.  Fairmont and Harding are both good schools and their cachement areas are very walkable and diverse. If you're worried about the test scores you can move to the hills and send your kids to Madera, but it's mostly white and Asian up there, also you'll need to drive.  Richmond Hills families go to Mira Vista, which is a sweet little K-8 school in the hills, incredibly diverse in every way, with a strong parent community.  Depending on where you live your kids can walk there.  They have a good library, computer lab, band and glee club, and teachers from Richmond Art Center. The numbers aren't as good as Madera but families in the district still transfer their kids to MV because it's a good school. My kid has friends from the neighborhood and I feel safe letting them tear around on their bikes together.  I have friends who live up in Hilltop in some of the developments.  There are a lot of professional class AA families there, although I don't think they send their kids to the local school.  If you want more info you could contact Mocha Moms of West Contra Costa.  They're online and a great group.

    I'm a white mom in Berkeley.  As noted by a previous poster, BUSD assign schools very differently than other districts.  The city is divided into 3 diagonal zones. You are assigned to a zone based on your address.  Within the zone, you declare a preference of elementary schools.  And 2/3's of families get their 1st or 2nd pick, which means 1/3 gets their 3rd pick or not even!  This does result in a bit of schlepping around town, but the upside is... all of the schools are good, and all of the schools are diverse!  And pretty darned similar.  If you visit some of the schools, they will start to all look alike to you. Middle schools are assigned based on address.  Apart from one "magnet" middle school, although so far I haven't figured out what it's a magnet for?  Technology maybe? There's only one HS, so everybody goes there.  

    The affluent African American families that I know mostly live in the hills (a typically somewhat affluent area), although I can think of one family that lives near San Pablo Park (a typically middle class area.)  Of course, you own a house on the peninsula, so you can probably afford to buy or rent a house in Berk, and you know that a middle class house in Berk would buy you a mansion in most of the rest of the country.  

    If I had to guess, the most diverse area of Berkeley including affluent and not-so affluent folks of all colors would be around Berkeley Bowl.  But no matter what elementary school you attend, I think you will find a community including some affluent black and brown folks.  I would guess a better sense of community here than on the Peninsula.  School tours are starting soon if you want to come take a look.  Some schools require you to sign up for the tour, but many allow you to just show up.  

    ps I would guess Albany is a little whiter in general than Berkeley, and El Cerrito less affluent in general.  Also, you can search for the city of Berkeley crime map.  Crime is predictably centered around commercial streets like University, Shattuck, San Pablo & College, and also near UCB.  A little more in South Berk, a little less in the north.  Probably more than on the peninsula in general.  Hope this helps!

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  • HELP! Looking for gay-friendly, diverse, low crime, affordable area near Berkeley

    (15 replies)

    Me and my family are relocating to California, July of 2017. We are both business graduates, so we're looking to find work within three months of moving. We plan on buying a house (500k to 750k) and finding a wonderful charter school near Berkeley. We were told is Berkeley is gay friendly. We have been searching but several places that many be affordable, are showing high crime. We are also SERIOUSLY looking for diversity. Any suggestions??

    Diversity?  Absolutely NOT a problem. Housing for $500,00 - $750,000, not so much, especially in Berkeley. Housing near (above) the upper end of your price bracket will likely get you a house in a rather "meh" neighborhood, both crime and school-wise. The Richmond Annex just possibly, but you'd then have to be able to afford private school ($20,00 - $35,000 / year). Best of luck. 

    Hi there, when you are moving to such a highly populated area there is always going to be crime issues. While Oakland is known to be one of the worse cities for crime in the US, there are VERY nice areas of Oakland. We lived in El Cerrito and we loved it. "The hills" are really nice and the area is really safe. It gets looked over because it's close to Richmond but we never had any issues there. I suggest renting before buying so you can get an idea of the areas if you are completely new to SFBA.

    Please consider checking out Alameda! The west end in particular is more affordable, and you will get a great neighborhood, low crime, and wonderful, diverse charter schools. We commute from the opposite end of Alameda to one of them - Nea. The school is great, the administration is great, and you will not find a more accepting community of kids and adults from as many backgrounds as you can think of. Good luck with your move!

    I recommend Alameda or San Leandro!  Alameda isn't exactly affordable, but it's very safe.  San Leandro is more affordable, diverse and lower crime in general than Berkeley and Oakland.  Feel free to contact me with any questions as I've lived in both places and I'm happy to share my experiences.

    If you want affordable, forget Berkeley. Take a look at East Richmond Heights, which is gay-friendly, has homes in your price range, and doesn't have high crime rates.

    I'm a little taken aback, however, that you are specifically and exclusively looking for charter schools, however. Our public schools are very, very good, and our district (West Contra County) as well as the districts in Oakland and Berkeley are suffering greatly from an influx of charter schools with poor oversight and no transparency. I would enthusiastically encourage you to look at the public schools in the area, taking tours and talking to parents, before writing them off. There is zero reason for you to reject the great schools we have for you.

    Redwood Heights Neighborhood in Oakland is very LGBTQ friendly, although home prices are always going up.  Great elementary school and acceptable middle school.  

    You are going to be very hard pressed to find a house in your price range in the Berkeley/Oakland area with lower crime rates (condo options may exist however). Single family homes at those prices don't exist here. It's hard to tell from your post how big your family is, but if you have children and 2 working parents, want diversity (not sure if you mean cultural or economic), lowish crime rates (the perception of what "lowish" is varies by person), and can only afford a $500-$750K house (and you really want a house) you're going to have a hard time checking all those boxes in Berkeley or Oakland. Either start thinking condos (maybe you can get a 2BR condo for $750K) or consider other parts of the country. 

    HERCULES, CA, no question about it! I've lived in Hercules for over 25 years. My kids were born here and grew up here. Hercules is 10 minutes from Berkeley and very centrally located. About 24 miles from San Francisco and on the corner of Hwy 80 and Hwy 4 that leads to Hwy 680, so very close to Concord, Walnut Creek etc.

    Hercules is very diverse and family friendly. It's affordable with lots of young families moving in. There is no crime and a great community feel. I lived in Marin before and had never heard of Hercules. Once I checked it out, I've never left.

    You won't be able to find a house in Berkeley for under 750K. But Berkeley is definitely not the only gay-friendly city here.  The entire Bay Area is the most gay-friendly area in the country, maybe even the world. I think most cities within an hour's drive of Berkeley are going to be equally welcoming of same-sex parents. So you should expand your search beyond Berkeley.  

    Regarding diversity, it depends on what you mean. The Bay Area is very diverse with many different cultures and skin colors and languages, much more diverse than the rest of the US. Yes, there are suburbs here that are mostly white, and there are neighborhoods in the bigger cities that have a majority of this culture or that one. But in general it's pretty diverse. 

    Not sure why you are only interested in a charter school. Some cities like Berkeley and Albany have zero charter schools. Other cities like Oakland have a lot.  Some charter schools have a great reputation, some don't. There are quite a few good public schools in most all of the East Bay cities so you should keep your options open on that.

    San Leandro! 

    Affordable, up and coming (new technology growth), centrally located, BART stations handy, great library, great city which really pays off if/when you need to get a permit or help (we took the awesome seismic retrofit class at the city and then retrofitted our home), gay friendly, diverse (http://www.sanleandro.org/about/demographics.asp), safe with a fabulous police force that is fast, responsive, and positive (https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/ca/san-leandro/crime/) if/when you need them, quiet, friendly, and more. We were looking for a town where people smiled and said hello when you walk by, and found it in San Leandro. Loving it here. 

    Yep, I suggest Hayward. Diverse, welcoming, and cheap. 30 minutes from Berkeley if you live near 580. The crime rates might look bad on paper (I live here, but I don't look), but there are many safe neighborhoods, so you can get a better feel for that by asking neighbors when you househunt. Check us out!

    Hi there!

    It's great you're posting here as hopefully you will learn more about the area to help you make your decision. From your question, you can tell you aren't very familiar yet with the Bay Area.

    First off, you can't buy a house in Berkeley for that price range. The cheapest house you could probably find in Berkeley right now is maybe $850k if you are lucky. And it would be a fixer. You can potentially find that price range as you move further out into certain suburbs (El Sobrante, San Pablo) but you won't really find what you are looking for in terms of the diversity of Berkeley or lower crime.

    Yes Berkeley is gay friendly and diverse. Crime is not high here although looking at crime maps could potentially freak you out if you don't know it I suppose. There is some crime but if you want little to no crime, you need to move to the whiter, wealthier suburbs of Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Danville, much of Marin, etc. Most of the Bay Area is gay friendly, you just might not get racial/ethnic diversity in those places. Personally, diversity is important to me as I would not raise my kids somewhere not diverse. For that reason, Berkeley and Oakland are the only places I would consider.

    Also, there are no charter schools in Berkeley. Berkeley public schools are great and the majority of people I know send their kids to them.

    I'm reading the responses and seeing the one that says that you'll have to pay for private school if you buy in the Richmond Annex. That's not true. The Annex is zoned for WCCUSD schools, exactly the same schools as the kids in Kensington and the El Cerrito Hills go. Fairmont has a very strong parent community and the kids really like going there. Then all kids in the district go to Korematsu middle school and El Cerrito high school. I love the Annex. It's really walkable and friendly. I would definitely choose the part of the Annex that's on the east side of highway 80 though. The other side is much more sketchy with parking issues. Plus it's a lot harder to walk anywhere. My friend who lives in the Annex walks her kids to Fairmont in the morning and then walks to BART to go to work. She really likes it.

    We live in West Contra Costa County (Pinole) and love it! While I don't know specifically about LGBT resources here, our area definitely meets your other criteria (diverse, low crime and affordable). We moved here 3 years ago and when we moved in, our neighbor across the street told my husband about how he and his wife had had their house broken into! ...in 1975. A big change from where we were living in Oakland.

    We are a white family; our neighbors are white, black, Hispanic, East and South Asian. El Sobrante (the next municipality over) has a huge Punjabi-speaking community because it is the home of the only Sikh house of worship in the East Bay. The elementary school around the corner from our house is 40% white, 40% Hispanic, 10% Asian and 10% black. If I walk in one direction from the bottom of our street, I can get to the library, Trader Joe's and Peet's Coffee within a mile; in the other direction, I pass horses and cows.

    There isn't a whole lot of "culture" here yet, but that is changing rapidly (gentrification, for better and worse, as people get priced out of Berkeley/Oakland) -- and we are only 20 minutes from downtown Berkeley outside of rush hour. I'd definitely encourage you to look at West County -- am happy to give more info if you want to contact me directly.

     The neighborhood public school, Fairmont, is just fine. We go there; it is zoned for Richmond Annex and part of El Cerrito, very diverse demographics (and some gay families, since you note you are looking for gay-friendly). Fairmont is in fact the most racially diverse school in the West Contra Costa school district. And as other posters noted, Richmond Annex is a nice little neighborhood with some very cute houses.

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  • Moving to Berkeley from LA - Interracial Family Friendly?

    (14 replies)

    Greetings!

    There's a good chance my family and I will be moving to Berkeley (or surrounding places) for a dream job in Berkeley. My husband is African American and I am light-skinned Latina. We have a beautiful daughter, preschool age. I have three questions:

    1. What are some of the safest and friendliest places for us to consider moving to as an interracial family?

    2. What are some of the best, most diverse and affordable preschools around?

    3. We want to our girl to be bilingual in Spanish and English. Are there any dual immersion preschools (and elementary schools) that we should know about?

    Thank you in advance for your help. I went to UC Berkeley for my undergrad 20 years ago and LOVED it. I'm very fond of Berkeley and would happily move back. Since it's been so long, I wanted to hear what current parents have to say in respect to the above questions (and anything else!). 

    Sincerely Grateful,

    LS

    You should check out Escuela Bilingue Internacional.  It has preschool, elementary and middle school.

    Hi, we live in Albany and love it. It is a hidden gem between El Cerrito, Kensington and Berkeley with a great school system with easy access to the highway and proximity to Bart. We are an interracial couple with a 20 month old daughter and relocated from Los Angeles approximately four years ago. If you have an interest in getting coffee when you are up here, please don't hesitate to contact us. I can be reached at angel.cruzado [at] gmail.com

    I don't have specific answers for #2 and #3, but I think pretty much anywhere in Berkeley will be fine for an interracial family. I say this as a member of an interracial family who has friends who are also interracial families.

    I think some people might inadvertently try to steer you towards more "diverse" (i.e. less-white) areas, but I would ignore them (such steering is highly problematic and I think people may be oblivious to that at times). Instead I would just prioritize things you want out of a neighborhood (e.g. public transit, noise levels, nearby commercial streets, whatever) and focus on finding areas that match that instead. If you have general concerns about crime, my general sense is that south of campus you'll get more petty crime, and south/southwest areas closer to Oakland are a bit more touchy (unfortunately). Living in Berkeley I think the main problem to worry about, crime-wise, is property crime (e.g. car getting broken into) than personal/violent crime. Berkeley is also much, much, much safer than it was 20 years ago, so if you had no problems then than you'll have no problems now.

    I haven't looked into it specifically, but as a partial answer to #3 I believe Berkeley Unified's LeConte provides a district-wide dual-language (Spanish/English) immersion and is in the central school zone. I'm not sure if living in the central zone would help your kids get in since it's a district-wide program. Hopefully others will chime in with helpful info.

    Albany is an excellent school district and many Wonderful preschools ( my personal fav is Albany Preschool but I have heard Dust Nest is also awesome). Albany is pretty safe, well    Diversified, and very family oriented. 

    For the most part,  with the only real crime lately is car break-ins and occasionally house breakins. Many of us keep  aware of crime or social events through a site known as "Nextdoor" ( I can send you a invite by your email if you like as it will connect you to your current location and when you move you just adjust your address). 

    In September Albany/ Berkely have "The Solono Stroll" which is a event that closes off Main Street (Solono Av)  is awesome and slot of fun. 

    Albany is very centrally located in the Bay Area so everything is within reach, shopping & BART. 

    You email me back if you have other questions.  Best of luck . Tammy

    I am the parent in an inter-racial family and have lived in Berkeley since before my first child was born. There is no place in Berkeley (or Albany or Oakland for that matter) that has ever made me or my family feel foreign, unwelcome, odd, etc.) It is only when we travel outside of Berkeley that I am confronted with the sort of unpleasant encounters that are the norm in much of the rest of the country. Even a drive up to Napa or through the tunnel to Walnut Creek reminds me what an oasis Berkeley is. If you haven't been here in 20 years you will see that it is much less diverse than it used to be but you still see every possible mix of family so frequently that it's just not a thing.

    Having said that—there are some places that are less safe than others. Living up in the hills is beautiful and very safe, but also very very white. For more diversity and marginally less safety, look in the flats in North Berkeley. 

    Congrats on your dream job!

    Sorry, I mistakenly did not include my username in case you need to respond " Heavenly" 

    Hello,

    I also did my undergrad at Berkeley, just before you did, although I never left the area. My daughter is also African American and just started kindergarten. I have lived in North Oakland since 1994. It is no longer very affordable, but it is a wonderful place for interracial families.

    Our daughter went to Monteverde Preschool, which is both affordable and diverse. We couldn't be happier. Although they have no formal language program, a number of the teachers are fluent in multiple languages and they do use them, both in group settings and directly with individual kids that know Spanish, Portuguese or Japanese.

    I also know folks that have been very happy with Mi Mundo preschool. And I've heard great things about Melrose Leadership Acadamy for Elementary.

    Good luck and welcome back.

    We have been a black-white interracial family in El Cerrito since 2000 and it has never been an issue. About half (seriously!) of our daughter's public elementary class was interracial of some form or another. Our daughter, now 16, has always felt that being black-white is a double bonus, rather than a double detriment, and identifies as an El Cerrito person, rather than a specific ethnicity. The only time she has mentioned feeling out of place in the Bay Area was at a boutique in Walnut Creek, and not for being black-white, but for clearly not being a Walnut Creek person. I do not know of a bilingual preschool in El Cerrito but the West Contra Costa dual immersion elementary school is Washington in Pt. Richmond, about which I have heard good things. My daughter has several really nice friends who went to Washington for elementary.

    Hi.

    As for housing for an interracial family, I suggest Berkeley. The North Berkeley neighborhood is nice. So is Kensington, just north of Berkeley. The problem is the houses are very expensive. There are burgalaries but its rare to hear about violent crime. The city of Albany is okay, the public schools are highly rated and there are rentals (unlike Kensington which doesn't have a lot of apartments). Albany has diversity but not so much African American diversity. I have found that for my kids to get the best support, that diverse schools with underrepresented minorities work best for me. You may have a different experience.

    Parts of Oakland are safe and many are multicultural-friendly, like the Oakland hills (off of highway 13). Oakland is a hot real estate market and is gentrifying. The cost of good apartments are going up. On the other hand, I have friends buy a home when they previously could't afford one.

    I am African American and my husband is biracial. I grew up in the north Berkeley Kensington area.

    I don't know whether you are buying a home or looking to rent. The rental market is terrible. Many people are moving within the East Bay to Antioch, Pittsburg, Vallejo and Richmond. People from SF are moving to the East Bay because there is a housing shortage in SF. It is driving up the rent prices. So people from the East Bay (Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville,etc) are moving away because they can't find affordable apartments or rental properties. 

    In north Berkeley there is a dual emersion school called Thousand Oaks. I've heard its good but you probably want to look it up in the Berkeley school system.I know there are others. Sometimes I see ads for them in the "Parents Press", a free monthly newspaper with info for parents on schools, pediatricians, summer camps, etc.  I am sure it is online as well.

    Good luck. Hope that helps.

    Also you might want to look at El Cerrito or "Richmond Annex". 

    When my kids were at Malcolm X in Berkeley I was always impressed by how many interracial families there were among their classmates.  I think the Berkeley public schools would be a great place to feel at home.  Berkeley is expensive and difficult to find housing in, but it might be a good fit for what you are seeking.  While safety varies block to block in the SW corner where homes are more affordable, I felt very comfortable there with small kids.  Berkeley schools also have a two way immersion program, but it can be hard to get into.

    Welcome back! If it's not too far for you, you should consider Hayward. It was recently ranked the third most diverse city in the US, and my son went to school with lots of biracial kids (he is half Latino, half white-Jewish). We have many public schools with bilingual programs that run TK-6th grade and I believe there is one dual immersion middle school. It's been a long time since I thought about preschool, but you should at least be able to find one with bilingual teachers. Hayward lacks many of the amenities and much of the charm that Berkeley and other parts of the Bay Area offer, but it's super real, very welcoming, and much more affordable. 

    Hi, 

    Jealously happy for you.  :)  I'm a single mom of one Black/biracial teen daughter living the other side of the bay in an very homogenized, wealthy area. She has really hated the culture here since middle school. Berkeley High is such an inspiring contrast to our high schools, I would still like to move. When she was little we used to drive across the bay just to attend interracial family networks/play groups i-Pride and Our Colors... not sure where they went but neither seem to have an online presence anymore. 

    Our favorite neighborhood: Rockridge is really wonderful <3 with interracial families everywhere.

    Very best to you and hope you get some informative feedback from BPN local parents!

    (ps. just to clarify as far as school district areas, Rockridge is Oakland at border of South Berkeley (which for preschool is not an issue but maybe down the way...)

    There are a lot of interracial families here in the East Bay.  We live in the incredibly diverse North and East neighborhood of Richmond.  There are bilingual preschools in some of the public schools, El Nuevo Mundo, a beautiful little state run preschool, a few home based ones and La Casita, a Montessori preschool up in Pinole.  There is a dual immersion program at Washington elementary (1-6) that continues into middle school. Richmond/San Pablo has a big AA and Latino community.  It's very friendly and the vibe has never been better. My kid rides his bike all over and plays at the local basketball court with a bunch of neighborhood boys. 

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Archived Q&A and Reviews


Questions

Asian Indian family moving from Boston - Silicon Valley?

Aug 2011

My husband and I are thinking of moving to SF (silicon valley) next year or so. We have two kids (5 and 3) and need to find good schools and a family friendly area. We are an Asian Indian family and are professionals. We would love to find an area with moderate number of Asian Indians. We have no idea about SF and would love to get some feedback as to where to start looking for a place to live. We are thinking of renting now and later buy a place. So, we would really appreciate experiences from other first time movers. What do you think of the place ? We really love the weather in SF and the diversity it has to offer. Looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you. Ann_2_SF


I have a couple of wonderful friends from India who live in Redwood City and work on the Peninsula. He's in software, recently left a big co to start his own company, and she's a researcher. They have a baby girl and seem happy where they are, where housing is a little more affordable than some other parts of the Bay. I'd be happy to try to put you in touch with them if you'd like, feel free to email me. Emily


There is a large Indian American population in many areas of Silicon Valley - Sunnyvale and Mt. View in particular. Also, in the outer East Bay in Fremont and environs. Most other areas of the bay area have diversity, however.

Two things about SF, in particular: first, there is a lottery to get into public schools, so you could wind up at a school across the city (45+ mins.) from where you live or work. It is a notoriously challenging system. Second, make sure you actually really like the weather in SF. You may already know this, but it is chilly and foggy during most of the summer. good luck


SF is a different place than SV than East Bay. So where are you moving to? Asian Indians are well represented most anywhere you go - really most areas are somewhat racially blind as there is such diversity or unevenness in ratios versus 'norms.' Some communities you will find only one or two 'white' kids in public classrooms full of asians and indians. Other areas may have more latinos, whites, or blacks, but most people are accepting of whatever diversity they find themselves within. Do you want a walking neighborhood for dinner and transport? or a suburban area with a community pool and library branch? Museums and cultural fairs? It varies greatly! We love it here. in San Jose


African-American in Lamorinda?

Feb 2004

My husband and I are considering moving to Lafayette/moraga/orinda for the schools. I am African American, he is white. Can anyone give me any insight as to what it would be like for me and my kids to live in the area? We've spend a lot of time in the area (dinner, movies etc) in an effort to get to know the community more, and I have noticed that there are rarely other people of color, with the exception of some asian- american. He grew up in that area and is still friends with most of his high-school friends, and I am friendly with most of their wives (all white), so I know that there are lots of people from there or who live there who think nothing of a mixed-race family, but I worry about my kids rarely seeing anyone who looks like them (at school, at a restaurant, at a movie) unless we traveled through the tunnel...


My family moved to Orinda from Berkeley last May. We are all white, so I can't comment directly on the experience of people of color here. But I'm sorry to say I can confirm the lack of diversity. When my daughter started at the middle school here, she complained that all the girls were tall and thin and blond. She has since made good friends, and they seem to be really nice girls, but I confess that I sometimes have a hard time telling them apart.

The area has some great qualities, though. From what we have seen with kids in elementary and middle school, the schools are quite good. There is a great small town feel, and you often see middle school kids out on their own at the movies and at restaurants like Nations hamburgers, and at the pool in the summer. I think it is a good place for teens because they can have some early freedom here (like I had when I was growing up) and then, when they are older, can get into Oakland and Berkeley and SF via BART to participate in a more urban scene. One thing that has struck me is how many people I have met here that recently moved from Berkely or Albany or elsewhere on the Bay side of the hills. I assume they don't suddenly become more conservative when the moving van enters the tunnel; instead I like to think that they/we will make this area more like Berkeley and its neighbors. More diverse families would be a welcome part of this transformation. Good luck with your decision! anne


I have mostly grown up in Lafayette, with a few years living in Alameda, and I can tell you, those few years taught me A LOT! I never had any children of any color other than white in my schools until I lived in Alameda, where my high school was very diverse, and I was, in fact, a minority myself. As a result, I feel that I learned a lot about cultural and ethnic diversity and came to appreciate ''differentness'' vs. ''sameness''. That said, Lafayette has changed considerably since I was a child. As you said, there are a good number of people of Asian descent in Lafayette, but in the general Lamorinda area, there continue to be very few African Americans. Our family is good friends with a family in which the husband is African American and the mother white in Lamorinda and I don't think that they are treated any differently than all of the other families at the school. In fact, my friend says that she feels very comfortable in this area and that initially, they were worried that they would be ostracized because of their bi-racial family. This is hard for me to assess as they are good friends of ours, but I do know that the daughter is beginning to question why there are not other children with brown skin at her school. Is this bad in and of itself? I don't think so, as she (like me years before!) in a way has the opportunity to appreciate diversity in some form. Currently, I work at our church with teenagers from all different area schools, and I find that despite their cultural diversity, they are very ''white'' -- they for the most part have not experienced economic diversity, ethnic diversity (in that many are very ''Americanized''). Despite their differences in skin color, they are much ! the same in most ways. We are constantly trying to teach them to be mindful of difference and to appreciate it -- we try to get them together with kids from SF, Oakland, etc ... because these kids are very different from kids in those areas, despite sameness in skin color. I don't know if this makes sense, but I guess what I am trying to say is that I do not think you would be considered that ''different'' in Lamorinda, but yes, your daughter would have trouble finding other kids with her same skin color. That's a big thing when you consider that you want her to learn about her ethnicity, but not such a big thing if you want her to look like or ''fit in'' socially with the other kids around her. Hope this helps! lifetime Lamorindan


I attended a birthday party for an old high school friend in Lafayette, and the three of us from Berkeley were the only people of color at the party. My friend who was the only African American joked that ''Lafayette is French for 'no black people.''' Everyone was very friendly but it definitely was strange. You have to be willing to think of yourself as sort of a suburban pioneer (the Chron had a great article semi-recently with a similar title regarding this very topic). How do you feel about the total absence of African American culture and role models in the schools and community (I mean REAL culture, not just hip-hop clothes and music)? How will you feel if your children are removed from African American culture as adults? And yes, your children will experience some amount of distress at some point as the ''only'' or ''one of the few'' in school. As a teacher in Berkeley, I have never heard a kid of color say it was no big deal or not noticeable that most everyone else in their other/former school was white. Most of them were very relieved to be in Berkeley schools for that reason, but none of them seemed traumatized by their previous experience either. All this is to say that I think the trade-offs are real and are not just a matter of other people being nice, or welcoming or open-minded. It's about you and your kids and what you want or need from the place where they will spend their formative years. -- Also raising biracial kids


I grew up in Moraga, and presently live in Lafayette. Being white, I am not sure I can really answer your question as to how you might feel here, as you are correct in that there are not many African-American families here (I believe there are two families at our elementary school). However, I just wanted to write to say that I sincerely hope you will consider moving here, and that I am sure you would be warmly welcomed in this community. Most of the people I talk to who live around here name the lack of diversity as one of the few drawbacks, so slowly, I hope that will change! 
Welcome Wagon


My wife and I are the same racial make-up as you and your husband. We have lived and raised our two children in Lafayette for the past 11 years. Our children are thriving, have many friends, participate in sports, and other community based activities.

We have debates about whether our biracial children are best served in the Lamorinda community. I do not know what the right answer is, but will give you my thoughts. There are many families that we know that have other racial backgrounds other than European. Most of these families are interracial or asian. Here are some of the families that we know in our community: Chinese-Chinese, African American- European American, European American-Phillipines, Hispanic- Jewish and more. We are here and I hope you join us. The main reason I stay here as many other parents in this community, is for the education. My biracial children deserve the same high level of education and expectations of them as the blond child sitting in the next seat. So far, my children have been doing well academically. I do not look to the Lamorinda community to provide diversity or cultural education. We try to do that in other ways.

As a balance, we also do participate in other activities in Berkeley. We attend the City of Berkeley family camp at Tuolumne. We have other biracial family friends that live in Berkeley. David


Looking for family-friendly multi-racial neighborhood

Jan 2003

We are looking to move to a family friendly, safe and especially multiracial neighborhood somewhere between Alameda and San Leandro. Can anyone recommend such an area? Thanks a lot.
a mom


We live in the Redwood Heights area of Oakland (technically, we're actually Leona Heights). We have a really diverse neighborhood -- not only multiracial but queer-friendly too. Lots of families and kids and a good elementary school. For me, our neighborhood represents the best Oakland has to offer: diversity, good weather, and a family-friendly feeling. You didn't say whether you were looking to rent or buy, but I think there are a few rentals in our neighborhood, although most houses are owner-occupied. Ilana