Commuting from Sacramento to the East Bay

Parent Q&A

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  • Davis or East Sac for job in Oakland?

    (11 replies)


    My husband accepted a job in Oakland and we will be moving from Southern California to well, not sure yet. A few of the people he’ll be  working with live in east Sacramento and commute to Oakland by train. Davis appears to have much better schools than any schools in Sacramento. We’re a diverse family (white and African American). We have a ten year old daughter and a four year old son. Question: 1. do any good, high-performing public schools in exist on Sacramento? 2. Davis schools are excellent across the board, but is Davis ethnically diverse? I’ve read that it isn’t. Sacramento I know wouldn’t have diversity issues - plus  I love the historic homes in east Sac. -  but not sure on the public schools. What I’ve read so far they don’t seem up to par. Thanks in advance for your input!!

    Davis public schools are really nice, and they are ethnically diverse because of the university. However, they are not very socioeconomically diverse so it can feel more homogeneous in Davis. It's still a long commute on the train from Oakland to Davis, but it's even longer if you have to go to Sacramento. Long commutes are no fun and really eat into family time. Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss:)

    I am not sure why you wouldn't look closer to Oakland? It seems odd to move to Sacramento area for a job in Oakland! Amtrak is nice but a long daily commute from there. I would suggest looking in Oakland, San Leandro, or Alameda for a rental so you can see something of your husband during the week!

    Diversity and test score info is available at Also, I would add that in my experience with having a current high school senior, that "high-performing" schools are not "all that." A school that has at least 20% of the students high-performing may not be overall high-performing, but will have diversity, including special education and demographics, and is more reflective of the real world while still giving a quality education.

    Davis is a wonderful town with lots of diversity. There is great housing stock, lots of bike lanes, and trees. I would move to Davis over Sac any day. But it is a long commute into Oakland from either Davis or Sacramento. Best of luck in your move!

    Hi...not sure if my comment will be helpful to you or not but I would SERIOUSLY rethink that commute.

    Interstate 80 is disastrous.  I mean think of sitting in hours of traffic times 100. Sac to Oakland in zero traffic is almost 2 hours.

    Just my recommendation, if he can work from home then it's not going to be a problem, if he has to commute this will be a nightmare!


    I would recommend coming out and setting yourselves up in some sort of temporary housing situation for a few weeks, at least, so that you can explore and get a feel for the area(s). I know that is difficult to do with children who need to go to school and when you perhaps have a truck load full of furniture and other household goods waiting to fill a house. The Bay Area is an incredibly diverse place with lots of different ethnicities. It is also incredibly expensive in terms of housing. I found a school rating site for Sacto, but I don't know how accurate it is.

    The thing to know is that I am willing to bet that you could be content in both places. Sacramento also has a lot to offer. So it might boil down to whether your husband wants to commute or not. Time spent on the train is a lot of time away from the family...and it can get weary. Another thing to consider is whether you intend to purchase a home or not vs. renting one. Once your family is embedded in the community, it might be difficult to uproot again. I currently live in Switzerland where the population, unfortunately, seems to be a lot more homogenous, but I have lived in San Francisco, Hayward, El Sobrante, and Oakland.

    Wishing you the best of luck in deciding where to live. 

    Barbara Ramel

    Is there a reason you're looking to move to the Sacramento area if the job is in Oakland? That's an incredibly long and expensive commute unless you have family ties there or some other reason to be that far away. Housing is cheaper, yes, but the monthly pass for the train is nearly $500, so it's going to eat into some of those savings. If your husband has to go in daily, he'll spend four hours a day commuting (though maybe they'll count hours working on the train?) It's not for the faint of heart, and not a commute most people choose voluntarily unless there's a second job in Sacramento or family in the mix. Hopefully someone can weigh in on your specific East Sac and Davis questions, but I'd also seriously consider starting your housing search in the Bay Area to see what's available closer in first. Depending on your budget, Alameda, parts of Oakland, or San Leandro could get you ethnic diversity plus strong schools with a far shorter commute.

    I don't know anything about schools in Sacramento or Davis but if your husband is working in Oakland I'd suggest looking at Albany or Alameda. Both have excellent public schools, lots of diversity plus a much easier commute for your husband. The Bay Area has a lot to offer and Alameda & Albany are very family oriented.

    Unfortunately I don’t know a lot about Sacramento and Davis schools, so I can’t speak to the specific question you’re asking, but I feel it would be remiss to not at least warn you that, to a local, either commute (from Sacramento it Davis) sounds untenable unless it’s just a temporary situation. Perhaps it will be ok for your husband since he may already be accustomed to a long commute given that you’re from SoCal. I’m surprised to hear that he has coworkers in Oakland that do it. I wonder if they don’t have to come in to the office five days per week, or if they are just heartier stock than me, but I’d find a way to live closer to Oakland.

    Davis schools are ethnically diverse but there are a lot more Asians and Hispanic students than African-American students. I think one of my elementary school students has 2 black kids in his class and the other has none. White kids are a minority in both classes.

    There are some good schools in Sacramento, you just need to look for them. I've heard really good things about David Lubin (K-6, I think) and then there are high performing middle schools and high schools. I know there are other good elementary schools but can't think of their names.

    But the commute is something I doubt your husband will want to do long term. It will be far worse from Sacramento than from Davis. I know someone who was commuting from Sacramento to Davis and quit his job in Davis because the commute was so bad.

    My husband commutes from Davis to Berkeley on the train. It isn't so bad but he doesn't go in every day and he has a place to stay down in Berkeley so he doesn't come back every night. Otherwise I don't think it would be doable. I commuted from Davis to Berkeley by train two days a week for a couple of years and that was fine, but once I got bumped up to three days a week in the office I quit because that was too much for me. Amtrak is great (except when there is a problem on the tracks which happened about every 3-6 months for me). There is wifi so you can work. There's a snack bar. It is comfortable. People are nice. It is far better than driving since 80 is a mess in the mornings. I met some people who were planning on doing the commute for a few years but I don't see how anyone could do that daily commute long term.

    Like others have suggested, unless your husband isn't going in every day or is only planning on doing this for a couple of years, you probably want to move closer to his job.

    Amtrak is really easy to catch in Davis, not as easy in Sac, especially in East Sac. Commute time to Oakland from Davis is similar or less than what people to from the East Bay to South Bay each day. To know whether you could consider Davis diverse, you need to define what diverse means to you. David is a very international town. At gymnastics class, I hear 5 different languages spoken. At school pick up, I hear dozens (literally!) more. Socioeconomic diversity differs by school because we have a neighborhood system. I have found it to be a much friendlier place than the East Bay was. It’s much more welcoming and accepting of new people. Parents are very involved in the schools, and there are great extracurricular activities for the kids. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Commuting to the East Bay from Davis

June 2007

I am frustrated with the schools in Oakland, and really want to consider a move to Davis to have better schools for my children. I can transfer my employment to Sacramento. My partner has a great job at UC Berkeley, and understandably does not want to give it up. Can anyone give us feedback about having lived in Davis and commuted to the East bay? How long did it take each day? Was it worth it? Any recommendations about whether to consider such an arrangement? Considering a move

I'm sure others will have more real experience. I just took the Amtrack (Capitol Corridor) to Sacramento, train stops in Davis. It was great. Very leisurely, not too slow, and I got a lot of work done. Think if you buy tickets in advance you can get a discount. Anon

One word - Amtrak. Take the train to the Berkeley station, then take the 51 up University to campus. Not fast, but oh so nice. anon

Hi. My husband commuted from Davis to Berkeley (very close to campus) for several years. It is doable, either by Amtrak plus BART or by car (and there is a shuttle that runs between UCD and UCB). It is nice if it works out to not commute at least some days each week. The days are long, it takes over an hour to commute each way and traffic can be bad. Amtrak can be great but it can also be unreliable. We loved life in Davis but the commute took a steady toll in the end. It became exhausting for my husband to commute such a long distance and try to make it home for our family time. We would have been happy to stay in Davis but not with the long commute. fan of Davis

My husband does this commute and it's terrible for us. He works in W. Berkeley (exit University) and spends at least 4 hours a day in his car. Sometimes more. It's so bad that we have our house for sale and are planning to move closer to the bay area (where we will rent a much smaller house). From Berkeley to the bridge is stop-and-go, and traffic through Fairfield is also very bad - usually many accidents because people drive crazy through the 680-12-80 merges.

About Davis: Davis is a very nice town with excellent schools. It has a lot of great activities for kids and a wonderful farmer's market Saturday in Central Park. I would recommend attending this to get a feel for the town. It is very hot here in the summer. We have been running our AC since April, no joke. Last summer we had two weeks where it never went below 110 degrees. My PGE bill was over $500. Davis has a similar (much smaller) group like this called mom's circle Davis - a yahoo group. It is very liberal here, they call it Berkeley East. You would probably be in the minority if you are not a super-AP type.

There is also an Amtrak station here and a stop in Berkeley. Even with all the perks of Davis, we will move ASAP. The commute is taking a toll on our family life. You might want to check out the Green Valley area in Fairfield - very good schools, not as liberal as Davis, though. Davis lover, traffic hater

My husband was in Davis and I lived in Berkeley when we were engaged. We dreaded the commute so we finally settled in a nicer part of Solano County. It is a little rural but close enough to the freeway. We have nice walks and friendly neighbors, but we still have to drive out of town for entertainment. Our commutes are now cut about 30 minutes to Davis and 35 to Berkeley and that is not bad! Fellow Commuter