Commuting to Mission Bay from the East Bay
Another option no one has mentioned is living on the peninsula and taking a Caltrain commuter train north to San Francisco. The last two stations are much closer to Mission Bay than the BART stations, ferry building and bus station.
I also want to add that there is a ferry from Berkeley to Mission Bay. It’s limited but here is more info:
I have to chime in because I used to work in Mission Bay and live in Oakland. I live in North Oakland, my closest BART station is MacAruthur station. I didn't use public transit because it would take me 1.5 hours each way for the commute. As another poster mentioned, the last part of the commute, getting from Embarcadero BART to Mission Bay is the most frustrating and slow part of the commute. I drove to work and picked up casual carpoolers in the morning, which gets me to work in 30-45 minutes. Getting home in the evening is another story, that's usually 40-50 minutes. The traffic is only getting worse with the new Warriors stadium. I finally had it with the commute and quit my job in Mission Bay. I highly recommend living in SF if possible. I grew up in the Richmond neighborhood in SF, it's quiet and family friendly, with good public schools. It's also close to the beach and next-door to Golden Gate park.
My husband did the commute to near Mission Bay from Berkeley for two years. It did not work for our family. We ended up move to SF until his job would let him relocate.
Also, we moved mid year and we did not get into a school we liked. We pulled out kids out and did homeschool until we found a school we really liked, which ended up being a private school. The Bay has a lot of traffic so I will say, be prepared for that. As much as I didn’t want to ever do homeschool, we rearranged my work schedule, hired a tutor for a fraction of the cost of private school and it gave our family more time together cutting out school (my husband got one hour per night with us before bed...which was late because of his commute).
Hi! I live in the Piedmont Avenue neighborhood (so just South of Rockridge and just East of Temescal) and it's infinitely walkable and lovely in SO many ways. BUT, I also just saw a few responses about your commute to Mission Bay and had to weigh in. I work at UCSF in Mission Bay and the commute is HARD. All the people advocating for BART or the Transbay bus must not actually do the commute. My commute consists of a 1-mile walk, ride, or Uber to BART, then into the city - either to Embarcadero where I get on the Muni "T" streetcar, or to 16th/Mission where I can wait for a UCSF shuttle, then another 20-minute leg to the hospital. Neither is ideal. Those neighborhood "Mission Bay" free shuttles are crowded and not very dependable. This "last mile" problem is significant. I'd be happy with my commute if I didn't have so much trouble getting from BART (or the Transbay bus terminal) to Mission Bay. My commute (even when perfect and streamlined) is at least 1 hr 15 min each way. I also occasionally get carpools straight to work via a matching app called "Scoop" but it's inconsistent. If living in SF is at all appealing to you, that is 100% the way to go. Before we moved to Oakland, we lived in SF for 12 years, and I'd move back in a heartbeat! But now we have kids, and schools, and my husband works in Berkeley so... you know how it goes. Best of luck! feel free to contact me if you want to hash it out! :)
Several have recommended Alameda on account of the ferry. I will second those in favor. I used to commute from Alameda to China Basin (essentially next to the CalTrain station/across from the ballpark but near Mission Bay). I took the ferry, brought my bike on, and then rode down Embarcadero (where you are allowed to ride on the sidewalks but need to navigate pedestrians, dog walkers, etc.). Oddly, my commute was the highlight of my day. There were frustrations - navigating crowds on game days, I missed the boat sometimes, riding in the rain, cheap bike spokes rusted and broke from saltwater exposure - but you really cannot beat that commute if you need to get across the Bay. I do also agree with those who suggest living in SF. It is hard on parents to waste time commuting - it is time away from family.
The Temescal neighborhood is fabulous-- served by BART and multiple bus lines (both local and transbay), and is very walkable. You can easily walk to Rockridge and Piedmont Avenue, and Telegraph Avenue has a number of amenities (and more coming with a few new developments in the neighborhood). It is south of Rockridge/Elmwood (I'm noting this only because you mentioned you were looking north of RR/Elmwood). To get to Mission Bay, you can BART to Embarcadero and then catch the Mission Bay shuttle, or take a Transbay AC Transit bus to the new Salesforce Transbay Terminal and get a Mission Bay shuttle. Mission Bay shuttle is a free last-mile shuttle. If you are working at UCSF, there are additional shuttle options that they provide from various transit hubs in SF.
Oakland's lottery system is focused on August admissions. You should contact the school district to find out about mid-year admissions for your 6-year old.
Consider Park Day School in the Temescal neighborhood. It's a wonderful school. It's a private school, so separate from the public school system and lottery-- there is a school-specific application and process. They may also have mid-year openings. The school is Kindergarten through 8th grade. Park Day has small classes, terrific teachers and specialists, and a beautiful campus. The school follows a progressive education program with tons of hands-on learning, and a maker and social justice curriculum. There is also a very warm and inclusive community of families. It's also in walking distance of BART (I drop my kid and then walk to BART), which would make it convenient for your commute to San Francisco.
Here's a link to the school's website: https://www.parkdayschool.org/
Feel free to contact me directly with any questions. Best of luck with your move!
I commute to Mission Bay every day from the broader Rockridge area. The commute is a nightmare. Our company's attrition has spiked since our move to the area from SoMa, and the company shuttles from the Transbay/BART do not alleviate the struggle. Between CalTrain running at grade blocking access in/out of the area regularly at commute hours, and minimal ways in/out (only 3 points out of the neighborhood at 16th street, 3rd street and 4th street), it's a congested mess. It takes me 25+ minutes just to get back to our old office area in SoMa and then another 35 minutes to drive home. Yes...I drive, because it was the only sane way to get to/from, but now I waste a half hour every day lining up my carpool to get in on Waze and picking up strangers and trying to find people closer to my home/work to get through in the carpool lane. I haven't quit only because my manager allows me to work from home 2-3 days/week.
Long and short is that you should SERIOUSLY consider living in SF if there's any way you can afford it. Your quality of life will be much better vs. spending 3+ hours per day commuting by public transit, or 1.5-2 hrs by car. Many colleagues have happily bought condos in Mission Bay, or rent in Mission Bay and the nearby Portrero Hill which is an uber family-friendly and great neighborhood. Bernal Heights and Glen Park further south are also both quite nice. A few colleagues live in the Sunset which is great for families, but also a trek, just through the city, and definitely driving.
I will flag that your timing is not ideal. Most of the lotteries register this winter or in January, and you can't lock-in until you move in, so you may find yourself in a tough spot re: getting a spot in a neighborhood school in Oakland if you're in a popular area (some schools like Peralta don't have enough room for their neighborhood kids, let alone extra kids from the lottery). In SF, it's a crapshoot what you'll get, as the other poster mentioned. Many folks seriously consider private schools or charters. In North Oakland many I know are happy with Yu Ming (Chinese Immersion) or North Oakland Community Charter which are both free, public charter schools.
If I were you, I'd call district offices at your preferred schools and have frank conversations if they have open seats in the elementary schools where you'd want your 6-year-old to attend. That may determine where you choose to live! In Oakland top choices that are commutable to SF would be Peralta, Chabot, Kaiser (near Rockridge), Glenview, Crocker Highlands (near Grand Lake up uphill). You may also want to consider Alameda. The public schools are excellent on the island, and you can ride the ferry to SF (tideline runs a new ferry direct to mission bay! https://www.7x7.com/classy-ferry-oakland-to-san-francisco-2640585255.html ) Good luck!!
If you are working in Mission Bay, you may seriously want to consider living in the city, particularly in neighborhoods like Dog Patch, Potrero Hill or the Mission. The issue with commuting to Mission Bay from Berkeley or Oakland is that BART or Transbay Bus will drop you off either at Market Street or the bus terminal, both of which are some distance from Mission Bay. You'd have to then get on a Muni bus or train or scooter or have a longish walk. Your door to door commute will probably be about an hour and a half. Those neighborhoods are also similarly gritty like Temescal if that's your cup of tea. If the East Bay is where you have to live, another option is to buy or lease an electric vehicle which will allow you use of the carpool lane on the Bay Bridge and will be the fastest way to work. Yet another option is Casual Carpool, which you'll be dropped off just off the highway exit in SOMA. This would slice a third to half the distance to get to Mission Bay compared to Market Street. Plus it's free. You'd have to return to Market Street or the bus terminal to return to the East Bay. If you happen to live near Jack London or Alameda, you could also take a ferry to The Ferry Building in the city, then take a Muni train to Mission Bay. Depending on how close you are to the ferry terminal it might be the "best" way to commute.