Advice about Living in Alameda

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • Renovating historic homes in Alameda

    (4 replies)

    We have been entranced by a few Alameda homes lately that are historic and also in need of huge amounts of updating. I am not naive about the costs and amount of time needed to renovate 19th century houses, but I am curious how it works with regard to permitting and historic preservation requirements in Alameda. Is it very, very difficult to turn a shabby old painted lady into a lovely modern family home? Are there design/build companies that specialize in navigating the reviews/approvals processes? Curious to learn more about how it all works and if it's staggeringly difficult and time-consuming. 

    The biggest hurdle is money. Architects and contractors who can take on a large project like this in Alameda will be able to navigate design and permit review. A whole house remodel could easily cost >>$1M, so really do your homework about cost before starting. The city isn't terrible to work with.

    After renovating two 19th century homes, this is the advice I can offer. You will need to determine if the home is on a historic register or has some other protected status. This information should be disclosed to you by the seller before you buy. If the home is protected, it will be subject to much more stringent requirements (example - historically appropriate wood windows, siding, etc). There are also some cities that offer financial assistance programs for owners renovating historic homes. A great online resource for historic house parts is called Olde Good Things. 

    While old bathrooms and kitchens obviously must be updated to modern standards, I hope you are not considering doing one of the gut remodels that seem to be so popular now. It is sad when a lovely old home with beautiful moldings and trim is taken down to the studs and turned into a bland generic "open plan." This happened to so many San Francisco Victorian interiors in the 60's and 70's when people thought the historic features were ugly. It is still happening today when flippers get their hands on these properties. Please consider that most homes change hands many times and that we are stewards of their historic features. When I sold my first home, the buyer later bragged to me that she had removed the 19th century built-ins and replaced them with Ikea cabinets. She thought it was an improvement. The built-ins had lovely carvings and were made of redwood. It was so sad. 

    We are fortunate to own one of the homes you are thinking of, circa 1890's. I guess I'd start by saying that there are several of these types of homes on the market right now that are move-in ready. I don't know that it would be any less expensive to buy a historic 'fixer' in the current renovation climate than to just pay outright.

    However, to answer your question, it depends on how historic the home is - on the city register? state register? national? Depending on how historic it is (and not all old homes are) and what you want to do to it, it may need to go before the historical advisory board for approval. Yes, there is a whole other layer of permits and approvals for historic homes, but it is not impossible.

    We were lucky to GC our own project and renovate to modernize yet keep a lot of the original charm (and frankly you cannot beat the original redwood timbers). But IMHO there is no way I'd buy an old fixer and modernize it over just buying one that is ready to go with today's construction costs. If you'd like more specific info, feel free to ask the moderator for my contact info.

    It really depends on what you consider a "lovely modern family home." In Alameda, pre-1942 houses are subject to protection and even those not specifically designated as historic properties will need, for example, approved wooden windows. But the process is manageable. As the first answer states, any competent architect or contractor will know what you need to do.

    And there's a lot of good advice in the rest of the answers. If you really want a modern house, it's undoubtedly better value -- much less expense and distress -- to look elsewhere and get an actual modern house. That has the added benefit of leaving the "shabby old" properties for people who appreciate their historic and irreplaceable features.

    (We renovated a couple of deteriorating bathrooms in our old house here and although they aren't period replicas, we took great care to make sure that they fit well with the existing look and feel of the house.)

    Reply now »
  • Living on Bay Farm Island?

    (2 replies)

    Like many, we've been reevaluating a lot this year and we're strongly considering moving from our house in the Oakland Hills to Bay Farm Island if we find the right property.  We visit often to bike along the bay and the canals, but we don't know anyone who's actually lived there.  We'd really appreciate any thoughts or feedback on any of the following:

    - Sense of community?  Maybe because there are few sidewalks in our hilly neighborhood, we know only a few neighbors after being here for years.  We're looking for a place where we'll interact more with others and feel more a part of a community.

    - Air pollution/noise from Oakland Airport?  It doesn't seem too bad while we're over there now, but obviously air traffic is unusually low during Covid.

    - Schools?  Any feedback on what it might be like to join Bay Farm K-8 as a 6th grader?  Does everyone on Bay Farm get a spot in the K-8 for middle school, or is there a chance we'd need to commute over to the other side of Alameda?

    - Living in the hills we've gotten used to navigating the risks of wildfires, landslides, etc.  We've never considered buying real estate in a coastal landfill area like Bay Farm.  Any thoughts on particular things we should be considering as we look at properties?

    - Any other thoughts on quality of life there? 

    Thank you so much!

    Hi Anona

    - Bay Farm has a Chinese church, a Jewish temple, a Baptist Church. Catholic church, and a few other churches. I think people here have some community through their religions. But otherwise a lot of the social interaction seems through school friends. Many kids have known each other since kindergarten or preschool. I'm just guessing but I think about 1/2 the families on Bay Farm are Asian or 1/2 Asian. I also get the sense that it's not uncommon for families to have been in Alameda for several generations.

    - Definitely don't be fooled by the lack of airplane noise during Covid. It will return to a far greater volume. People who live in Bay Farm often say that they don't notice the airport related noise. That might be the case for you too after a few years. There are three sources of noise to consider. The first are the commercial airplanes taking off from OAK. That noise is the least obtrusive because once the planes lift off, they are actually over the bay. The closer you are to the SW part of Bay Farm, the more likely you will be impacted. The second are the private jets. Unfortunately they are very loud with a higher pitch and their lift off is directly over Bay Farm. The third is that air freight operates all night. Friends who live in Bay Farm don't leave their windows open at night because of this noise.

    - By the time the Bay Farm kids hit 6th grade, a lot of them want to go to Lincoln Middle School. Lincoln is also very close to Bay Farm. In fact you may have ridden the blue pedestrian/bike bridge that leads to a bike lane directly to Lincoln. In any case, your house might be in the Earhart zone. All Earhart kids are zoned for Lincoln for middle school.

    - Before buying in Bay Farm, you should cost out flood insurance. I recall one aquaintance mentioning that he was surprised at how costly it is and that his RE agent never brought it up.

    - Random thoughts. There are about a 1/2 dozen RE agents who do the lions share of transactions in Alameda and I'm assuming in Bay Farm. Some people drive to Colusium or Fruitvale BART to commute. There is a Safeway and a small handful of restaurants in Bay Farm. Bay Farm has a cute little public library.

    Hi, yes airport noise is an issue on Bay Farm island. Whether or not you get used to it, I cannot say. The other issue which you almost touch on is sea level rise. You would want to look at some mapping from ABAG for your time horizon (of how long you would plan to hold the property).

  • Where did Alameda Parents Network go?

    (1 reply)

    I was part of a yahoo group (which yahoo is taking offline) specifically for Alameda Parents. Does anyone know if this group still exists somewhere else? I'm hoping it just relocated to another address (google groups?)

    Alameda Parents Network is still on Yahoo Groups... but postings have dwindled to a trickle.  Back in the day, APN was huge and it was THE place for all things Alameda. There is not one group that has taken its place. Instead, people have migrated elsewhere, either to NextDoor or Facebook. On Facebook, I would suggest general Alameda groups such as "Alameda Peeps" and "Alameda 94501" and many of the schools' PTAs have their own groups. I also think there are other parents groups too.

  • Long term risks of buying in Alameda?

    (7 replies)

    We have been saving every penny we can for over 10 years to buy a home and are finally in the position to do so.  Although the market remains horrible, we are paying so much in rent that at some point it just makes sense to leap in, so long as we find a place we can stay in for the very long term.  We are increasingly feeling drawn to Alameda.  However, given that buying a house at today's prices is such a massive financial undertaking, and given that this home would be the primary thing we'd leave behind for our kids, we have been thinking and worrying about the long term consequences of buying a house in Alameda.  As in: what about the impact of climate change and rising sea levels on that little island city?  Doesn't seem that's something that you can insure for in some way, and I'm afraid I lack the confidence that local government is addressing this issue adequately.  I know that all over the Bay Area it's a bit of a "pick your poison" situation: wildfires and landslides in the hills, higher incidence of crime in some areas, earthquake risks (not a pro for Alameda there either).  Are we being illogically risk averse?  Are there specific locations in Alameda (or the greater East Bay for that matter) that we should be considering as a "safer" place to park so much of our life savings?  Thanks for any feedback.

    You are being risk averse which is logical but you can not avoid all risk.

    If you purchase a home, make sure you can afford insurance(s) which concern you (earthquake, flood, etc).......and.....JUMP into the unknown! But, you don't have to purchase one. You can rent and avoid making errors.

    The safest place to park your life savings is under a mattress (but that could also go terribly wrong).

    Is it illogical? Who knows. But the liquefaction risk due to the fact that much of the island is on fill is the primary reason we don't live in Alameda. Not every home there is in a liquefaction zone, of course, but much of the island is, and none of the bridges over the estuary is a lifeline structure (rated to withstand a more significant earthquake). Sea level rise is certainly a concern too but I'd be less worried about that in the short term since we think about housing less as an investment and more as an amenity. Sea level rise is a slow but certain threat and is going to affect the entire region; an earthquake is uncertain but could come tomorrow (or never!) We opted to be on bedrock in an area with more escape routes. But as you note, this is not much different for fires in the hills or the myriad other risks in the East Bay. I think you just have to find your own comfort level.

    It's great that you are considering Alameda. We've been here 18 years and we are very happy we moved here. Even though it seems like a low-lying island, the risks to Alameda of sea level rise are very low. Most of the main island is original land, not landfill. (It is a "man-made" island because it was a peninsula before they cut the channel to make it an island.) Some parts are landfill, particularly around the lagoons. There is a great tool at called "Sea Level Rise Viewer" that lets you see the impact of different amounts of sea level rise on different areas. There doesn't seem to be any risks to Alameda neighborhoods until 3 feet of sea level rise. (Unfortunately for me, that one neighborhood is exactly where I live!) Even at 6 feet of sea level rise, most of the island is unaffected. If you stay west of High St. and north of the lagoons, you should be fine even if the sea level rises 6 feet! Check it out yourself at:

    You can also find earthquake hazard maps at that will show you the dangers of liquefaction in different parts of the Bay Area. The earthquake hazard map for Alameda looks very similar to the sea level rise hazard map. The main island is mostly pretty safe, except around the edges. 

    We are in the midst of buying a home in Alameda too, and we had the same concern. I don't think it's illogical to worry about it. There are flood maps you can look at online that will show you where there will be inundation in the event of a tsunami, which I assume is similar to what would happen with rising sea levels (though I am not a scientist). There are also earthquake maps that show you areas of Alameda you probably want to avoid if you're concerned about the soil liquefying - Bay Farm and the whole west end come to mind, as those areas are all landfill. I like to think that California, and the Bay Area in particular, will adopt methods and strategies similar to what they're doing in places like the Netherlands, so that even when sea levels rise, the land will be protected. Good luck, and congrats on the big purchase!    

    FEMA is in the process of mapping flood risks for Alameda:

    But they've already mapped large parts of Marin.  And flood insurance prices in certain low-lying areas have skyrocketed.  So why not try to get flood insurance quotes for Alameda?  That might be a good starting point.  Or see if the Army Corps of Engineers or ABAG have any predictions on flooding.

    As to "safer" areas, I think it's easier to protect your home from earthquakes than floods, provided you ensure your house is really well secured to the foundation.  In Hilo, Hawaii (where there is sometimes severe flooding) a lot of people have resorted to building their house on stilts.  I think you'd have a hard time doing that here.  Of course, you could always get a houseboat!

    Long term: historically the Bay Area has always had severe earthquakes and fires ... yet it keeps coming back, and the value of real estate historically increases.  There are no guarantees, but it's a pretty good track record.

    Besides thinking about the long run, check to see what your flood insurance might be right now.  I recall having a conversation with a neighbor who was very close to the water in Alameda.  He said his flood insurance premiums were high because he was in a flood zone.  He also mentioned that he expected his rates to only go up, perhaps significantly, in the future.  He said his real estate agent never mentioned that his flood insurance would be so expensive.

  • Living on Alameda (commute, other?)

    (3 replies)

    Hi there! My family is considering a move to the Island. I'm wondering if anyone has advice or general suggestions! A few specific questions we had were:

    - What is the commute like from Alameda to San Francisco (near civic center) and from Alameda to UC Berkeley?

    - How do you like the schools?

    - How much is preschool / daycare on Alameda? 

    And we'd welcome any other tips! Thank you so much!

    Hey! So I am in the exact same situation as the one you are considering. I commute to right by Civic Center (I go to UC Hastings) three days a week, and to Berkeley (my work, right by UC Berkeley campus) two days a week. My daughter attends preschool at The Child Unique. So here are my answers to your questions:

    -I take the bus every day after dropping off my daughter at 7am to SF Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and to Berkeley on Thursday and Friday. I get to school at about 9:15 (I pay 4:50 each way for the bus on those days, and still have a 40-minute walk to and from school). But I prefer the commute to the one I had before on BART because I actually get a seat and can study. 

    -I went to school in Alameda for a long while. When I was going, they were a bit conservative for my tastes, but I heard they have gotten more socially progressive, and I know for a fact that they are more diverse than that. They are well-funded and get good scores. If the public schools don't work for you, there are a lot of private and charter schools too.

    -I pay ~1,600 for my daughter's preschool. It's the most beautiful, politically conscious and intellectually stimulating preschool environment I have seen (I shopped around a lot). I never thought I would pay that much but so far it has been worth it.

    If you want to talk more, you can PM me or we could even talk on the phone or at a park with the kids.  

    Alameda is fantastic. 

    Commute to the city: take the ferry and then walk or bike or BART to civic center. The ferry is amazing, plenty of parking at the main street terminal. Happy friendly commuters. 

    We've been at two different elementary schools and both are great. A school had to close last year for earthquake risks - so when you move you may want to call the school district about what school your kids may attend. Don't trust relators on this since it is likely to change a lot. 

    Full time preschool is $1300-$1500/month here but many are full or have very long waitlists, so start investigating this right away. 

    People here are really friendly with a better sense of community than other places in the East Bay. Like everywhere else it is expensive ... but we love it here.

    Did the Alameda to Civic Center commute for 3 years.  Time and reliability was paramount and after trying several options settled on driving to Fruitvale BART and taking BART to the Civic Center station.  Taking the ferry, bus or casual carpool left me in the financial district/soma, which then required another leg to get me to Civic center.  I tried to take the bus to Fruitvale BART but about once a week something would happen and the bus wouldn't show up for 20-30 minutes.  If you are comfortable riding your bike in heavy car traffic, that is an even better option than driving b/c traffic between Alameda and Fruitvale BART is often backed up during rush hour and frankly often when it's not rush hour.  

    I have less insight to driving to Berkeley b/c I've only done it after rush hour.  It took about 20 minutes to drive.  Unless you want to triple the time, I wouldn't recommend public transportation.

    The public schools are good/solid/basic/"old school".  I knew people who sent their kids to most of the regular public schools and they were pretty happy.  There are several well regarded charter schools and catholic/christian schools that many people embrace.  I also met many who sent their kids off island b/c they felt the public schools were too rough for their precious.  Bottomline, you'll have many options.  

    I think buying a house in Alameda was a bargain, 8+ years ago relative to other parts of the East Bay.  But it's become well known and in my opinion is now relatively more expensive for what you get.  1100 square foot, 2/1s are now selling for $1mm.  It's next to Oakland airport for goodness sake.  Based on your commute, I might look at El Ceritto and Richmond Heights or North Berkeley if you can afford it.

Parent Reviews

Hello! Curious-are you open to Alameda? We were facing a similar challenge last year and growing very frustrated. The West End has a number of new townhomes being developed that are less than $1M. We toured several and they are very nice! And, the West End is great-ferry, Encinal beach, and breweries are walkable, and there’s lots of options with Alameda schools. There’s also lots of great playgrounds. We ended up buying in a co-op in a community called Woodstock and have been really happy with the area. Good luck with your search!

Sadly, you will not get a decent 2 bedroom for $2,000 a month with a reasonable commute. Even Hayward is higher than that. You're probably looking at Tracy ... My coworker has a one bedroom with very poor insulation in Alameda for $2400. So I think Alameda is out as well. Unfortunately, in this market, you won't get everything you want - size, location, price - so you'll have to decide what is most important to you. 

I'd try Alameda. $2000 might be hard, but if you can go up by 10-15% you can probably find something (e.g., closer to $2200-$2300 - maybe you can get a basic 2 bd/1 ba if you search). The entire town is very safe, the public schools are great, and there are a number of very good day cares. Great parks! Easy access for your commute. We love it here. Houses here are expensive as everywhere else though ... weather here is moderate being close to the Bay so A/C is not as crucial as it might be even another mile or two inland. 

RE: Trick or treat in Alameda? ()

In my experience, you can't go wrong with trick-or-treating in Alameda, especially the East End. Just about every street will have decorations and lots of Halloween spirit. We have always covered the area between Grand / Park / Central / Clement while trick-or-treating and had a great time (and gotten a ton of candy). Welcome to Alameda! 

Alameda is GREAT. Walkable, good schools, easy commute to the city on the ferry. Less expensive than Stanford area but not cheap. We love it. 

Note that the commute (not during pandemic times) from the East Bay to Stanford is soul crushing. There is no good way to get there on public transit, and the traffic is horrible. I am reluctant to make predictions about the future, but if things return to normal like before, you would not want to make this drive more than once a week. You'd have to plan a 2 hour commute (one way) to arrive on time - so leaving by 7 am to make a 9 am meeting. But everywhere near Stanford is incredibly expensive, so the traffic is a tradeoff. 

Hello fellow NYer. I lived in NY most of my life (from preschool-grad school) so I can appreciate the challenges and adjustment of moving to the Bay Area. I can’t say much about most of the neighborhood in the Bay Area, but I have lived in Palo Alto (when childless) and Alameda (with toddlers). 

If he is working in Palo Alto only 1x weekly, I would be less inclined to move there. Yes the surrounding area around university ave is walkable with nice restaurants and a Whole Foods nearby, but it is expensive (more than the UWS, which is where I last lived for 10years prior to moving here) and in my opinion didn’t have enough diversity after walking around the downtown area for a couple of weeks. The commute traffic may be miserable for that one day, depending on his commute hours, but think about it sitting in traffic in midtown without cars honking. 

I have frequented around some parts of Oakland (Montclair and Piedmont), cute shops and nice to push a stroller around or walk around with toddlers for a bite, also pricey, but maybe less so than Palo Alto. We have considered moving there.

Alameda, we moved here a few years ago, rented an apt and a house. For a young family, I think this is a very stable, nurturing community with lots of parks, restaurants, and other young families. Also the majority of the public schools are highly ranked—there are a lot of elementary schools on this tiny island, which you can apply by lottery or transfer. (A whole different story and confused the heck out of my East coast friends.) From my own experience, I went into shock when I saw that the rental prices were similar to pricing in NY, but we adjusted and learned to accept the high cost of living in the area. Similarly to you, my husband accepted an offer here that he felt he couldn’t refuse and so we left family and friends in NY to establish a life in CA. The people are extremely kind and helpfu. I still hear jokes that I am living in the Staten Island of the West, but for my family it was a good decision and close relationships were easily developed with other families. When I miss the city-life (pre-pandemic), we drive or ferry (for fun) into SF. It’s just a bridge (long with toll—cheaper than midtown, GW, or Verrazano) and tunnel (short and free) away.

Good luck with the move!

Consider Alameda! Great schools, and you can take the ferry to the city. We love it here! Alameda itself is walkable, with good cafes, an independent movie theater, and great neighborhood schools. (no lottery!) 

Alameda is that hidden gem that you are looking for. It's a nice city on an island near Berkeley, and the schools are not lottery based, although some can be over-enrolled. As for asking for help--when I relocated here a few years ago, the best advice I got about anything from schools to commuting to neighborhoods was from a great real estate agent. Since you probably need a place to live, find the best, friendliest real estate agent, preferably one who has kids in the public school system, and go from there.

RE: Moving to Berkeley from UK ()

I can’t help you with Berkeley but we moved to Alameda from the UK five years ago and we love it! It’s cheaper than Berkeley, is safe everywhere, has good public schools and is full of families. We have lots of British and Aussie friends and we are like family to each other as none of us has family nearby. 

It’s also nice living on an island as the kids can go to the beach, swim and do things like sailing summer camps etc, taking advantage of the much better weather here! 

Good luck! 

Forgot to add:  All schools are good, including several school district run charters (which means no extra tuition).  Some of the awarded elementary schools include Edison (but can be hard to get into), Paden, Haight and Bay Farm.  Alameda High has consistently high test scores and college admission rates.  Encinal High a little less so, but has improved *drastically* in the past 7 to 10 years from being the red-haired stepchild of the system.

For the posters that have not already moved to Berkeley, or are considering other cities, have you considered Alameda?  Easy commute to SF via two ferries on opposite ends of town and AC Transit with three transbay lines.  Unfortunately, BART involves a car ride and the gymnastics of parking in one of their lots.  The island is walkable and has differing levels of affordability, depending on whether you choose the west end (cheapest),mid island (higher), or east end or Bay Farm (highest).

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! 

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'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. 

I'd caution you on Alameda.  Only one public school is k-8, Bay Farm.  So you'd probably have two stops for drop off and pick up.  One of the elementary schools, Lum, closed, resulting in the relocation of those students to the remaining elementary schools.  From my understanding only one or two elementary schools have openings this year.  Coming in after school selection will probably limit your choice of school and might place your kids in schools that are far apart.  But at least you should be able to get into a regular public school.  Unlike a charter, which will be full and doesn't have to accomodate you.  As several folks mentioned, Albany and Piedmont would be good options.  Both towns are far smaller than Alameda so your kids could walk to schools.  You could also think about towns farther out such as Orinda or Lafayette.  They are far more suburban but have good schools and BART stations in near their town centers.

Welcome to Alameda!

I'm sorry that I don't have too many specific recommendations and hope you get some from a few East Enders.  We had our daughter in Jumpstart Discoveries (Central Alameda) a few years ago and it was fine but perhaps not my first choice due to the larger sizes and limited outdoor space. There is a glut of Montessori options but I've heard the quality can vary and not all will accept infants.  If you are interested in and available to join a co-op, there is on on the West End that looks super cute called Kiddie Kampus. I always eyed that on my bike commute to the ferry but I don't know much about it since co-ops were not an option for us.  

I feel your pain re: trying to find Alameda info on BPN. People always respond to Alameda questions by saying "join the Alameda Yahoo Group" (which is Alameda Parents Network, or APN). I have and it is generally unhelpful.  It is just an email list serve and people aren't as honest since they cannot post anonymously, as they can here. That said, I have seen a few of the local care providers post there in their individual capacities (sometimes their email address and/or signature gives it away), and I have definitely made judgements about whether or not I would trust them with the care of my child as a result.

One other option is to join NextDoor. It is marginally more helpful than the Yahoo group. Or try to find a nanny share. There are tons of nannies in Alameda and lots of people looking for shares (particularly on NextDoor).

Good luck!

You may want to consider the west end of Alameda. It's a great place to live, a quick ferry ride to SF, and there are 3 charter schools (Academy of Alameda (K-8), NeaCLC (K-12), and ACLC (6-12)) only a block apart. Even if your kids ended up in 2 schools, it would be no big deal. Good luck!

I think you can buy a two bedroom townhouse in Bayfarm within your budget. If you are willing to stretch a bit more three bedroom town homes are possible.

Move to Alameda! Take the ferry to work! Great schools, great community here. We love it. Join the local pool association! I know 2 stay at home dads and a single dad here, plus lots of other families that don't look like the stereotypical nuclear family. I don't think you'd stick out too much. That budget should get you a very nice house here. Public schools here are very good, and in my opinion people are a bit more down to earth than the folks on the peninsula. ...

I live in Alameda.  There are many kinds of families here.  Same gender parents, stay at home dads, single parents, etc. There also are multiple nationalities and accents.  I know of three families with British parents without even thinking hard about it.   My kids would say that it's  exciting when a kid from another countryside  comes to school but it is never weird. I don't think your husband would feel like he stands out here.  Public schools are good.  If you may move again, however, you might consider private school so that you kids can stay in the same school. There also are IB schools and schools that tend to have more international families.  For folks who work in the financial district and live in alameda, many take the commuter bus or ferry. You certainly can drive but bus and ferry are so easy and quick that driving is usually last resort.  Good luck!

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!

Orinda is a great community with wonderful schools and lots of families but I wouldn't describe it as somewhere kids bike and play in the streets.   Frankly the lots are too large and spaced out and the roads are not pedestrian or child friendly.  It is a very car-centric community.  In the LaMorinda area your best bets for that are in Lafayette (the ranch homes near downtown and perhaps Upper Happy Valley).  

I have friends in Hillsborough and it is another great community with great schools and lots of families.  That's said the families are typically very wealthy and the community politics can get a little too Desperate Housewives for some.  Whether kids play in the streets or not likely depends on the specifics of your neighborhood but the few families I know there tend to stick to themselves and their yards.   

Two neighborhoods you haven't mentioned:

Piedmont - some parts, particularly near the parks, can give you this old time, family friendly vibe.  Also good public schools. 

Alameda - people overlook this one.  I know we did when considering where to buy.  But the East End and Gold Coast fit this description to a tee.  Kids run in packs, roam free at the local parks, parents practice "free range" parenting without the worry someone will call CPS If your kid walks to the corner market alone, families bike together on the streets, to the beach, to the local wineries, etc.   Alameda is home to many ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds which is good for kids and was an important factor in our decision. The homes are more affordable, you can commute by ferry to SF and you are minutes from Oakland and Berkeley's great restaurant scene (also true of Piedmont).  

Best of luck in your decision!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Nov 2014

RE: Moving to the Bay Area from Chicago for a job in Oakland

Check out Alameda. It's a tube or a bridge away from Oakland and has ferry service to San Francisco. If the ferry wouldn't work for location of the SF job, there are busses, casual carpool, and a couple shuttles to BART if you didn't drive yourself. Park St and Webster St are the two main economic areas with lots of restaurants and shops as well as a movie theatre off Park St. It's a great place to walk or bike around. love it here

Moving to the Bay Area for a job in Alameda

March 2014

Hello, We are moving to the Bay Area this July. My husband is taking a position in Alameda. Thus we are currently researching info to aid us in deciding about where to live. We desire a relatively short commute (30 minutes give or take) and currently have 3 kids in elementary school. Specifically one of the kids and possibly 2 are currently in excellent gifted program (public school) so that will be an important factor. Does anyone have recommendations about specific neighborhoods, schools, rentals, commuting from Alameda, etc? Also I'd love to find a church that is more contemporary or charismatic (Roman Catholic). Feel free to email me any specific info. Thanks!

I don't quite understand - your husband gets to work in Alameda and you want to live in a different town and have him commute in???

This makes no sense. You should absolutely live in Alameda! It's a lovely wonderful community and how lucky for you that your husband will work there too! He could ride his bike to work! He could be one of the few people in the bay area with a less than 2 hour commute, he could easily come to school for meetings and sports, stop by home for lunch sometimes, meet at a nearby cafe for dinner on the way home. Imagine the quality of your life! Think of what he'll save in time, money, stress by living so close in a charming town. This seems really great for your family, how lucky. You'd be crazy to look at any other town. I'll let the experts on Alameda to recommend specific schools and neighborhoods. anon

Move to Alameda. Good schools, great neighborhood feeling, low crime and somewhat reasonable housing (for the area!) are all positives. It would be hard to find a comparison within a 30 min drive during commute hours, in part because the freeway traffic around Alameda is terrible. Many, many people on BPN recommend moving to Alameda when this type of question is asked, but most of the time the people moving aren't actually moving for a job IN Alameda - they are moving to the Bay Area for a job in Oakland or San Francisco. Many people would envy your position.

(My son is too young to attend the public schools yet so I cannot speak to the specific of the programs here). You can have the best of both worlds

Alameda - Gold Coast vs. East End/Fernside

Jan 2014

Greetings -- long story short, we are looking hard at making the move from Piedmont to Alameda because of an exciting Democratic-based Charter School there called NEA [not to mention the affordability issue]. We love the homes in the Gold Coast neighborhood, but everyone seems to be steering us to the East End/Fernside. Can anyone with experience living there compare and contrast the two areas? Many thanks! Meg

The Gold Coast neighborhood is the most expensive in Alameda, but it is much closer to NEA than Fernside. Fernside is across the island from the school (15-20 min. drive.) Most people interested in Fernside are looking to put their children in Edison School, considered one of the better public schools here. NEA is a 5 year old public charter school, located in the west end of Alameda. There are also many lovely homes located nearby. We live in one of them, and our child attended NEA from third grade ( when it opened ) through sixth grade, when she moved on to the Oakland School of the Arts. We were all very happy with her education at NEA. Diana

Living in Alameda

Jan 2014

Wondering if anyone can provide some up-to-date advice about living in Alameda? From everything I've read on this forum, it sounds like an ideal place to live. My husband, 1 year old daughter and I will be moving from the East Coast. We will both be working, likely in Berkeley, Oakland, or SF. We are looking for the usual things-walkable downtown, neighborhood with older homes and character, lots of young professional families, cultural and economic diversity, and easy access to the outdoors. Our housing budget is up to one million. Decent schools would be a plus, but we are less concerned with test scores as long as the school is safe. We love living somewhere where we can quickly get to a decent restaurant or cafe, but also go on a nice jog right out our front door. What are the downside to living in Alameda? What is the rush hour commute like to Berkeley? Google maps with traffic prediction doesn't make it look too bad, but not sure how accurate it is for the island. Is commuting by ferry to SF realistic? Coming back to Cali

Alameda is great. you will get a good house for a million there although you will probably have some competition. Driving to Berkeley at rush hour isn't too bad but the ferry commute can't be beat. There are lots of great restaurants on Park Street (Thai, Japanese, Burmese, Indian, decent pizza). If you want to walk your child to school and walk to restaurants (and hit a jogging/bike path) your best bet is either Edison Elementry or Otis elementry. Both are safe, solid schools. both have 25 kids K - 3, then around 31 for 4/5. Both elementry schools feed Lincoln Middle school and ALameda High (though there are some more middle school options). However, when the parcel tax comes up again (the reason there are 'only' 25 and 31 kids in classes) this could change dramatically if it does not pass (it has failed and passed - there is a very active anti group on the island). I think it has about 4 years left? Everything east of Park street feeds those two schools, with Central the dividing line (can attend either historically). We just moved to the east coast after 15 years in Alameda - good luck

Yes, Alameda fulfills your requirements. It is safe, walkable, good schools, cute downtown, and well located to commute to Berkeley/Oakland and SF. If you plan to drive to Berkeley, it would take 15-45 minutes depending on where in Berkeley you are going and what time of day. The traffic on 880 can be brutal. You could take the bus or BART to Berkeley, but the bus can be slow and you'd need to drive to the BART station (or take a bus there.) But, anywhere in the Bay Area has traffic issues, and I'd rather deal with the traffic to enjoy the benefits of Alameda than live in many parts of Berkeley. Plus, your housing money will probably go a bit farther in Alameda (although the housing market is nuts right now so hard to tell if this is still really true).

It is realistic to take the ferry if you work in downtown SF. Transfers from the ferry to other SF locations are not super easy but can be done. There are two ferry terminals in Alameda, so which one you take depends on where you live. Lots of free parking at the ferry terminals if you live too far to walk or bike.

Finally, Alameda has the most sense of community of any city in the East Bay. It is well defined geographically, and this seems to help foster the community spirt. Note that one area of Alameda that might not meet your criteria is Harbor Bay - it is nice, but much more suburban feeling, with fewer stores and restaurants but good nature trails around the lagoons (and potentially walking distance to the ferry). A Happy Alamedan

I love living in Alameda. It is perfect distance for commute to SF via bus, bart and the Ferry. I choose the Ferry. I think the schools are great. I have one in highschool, that attended elementary school and middle school here. I have one who is a toddler too and there are many great mother's groups. There are nice places to eat. Awesome terrain and weather for running outdoors. You can get a really nice house for the price range that you are looking for. If you have any questions, please ask the moderator for my email. I have lived in Alameda for 9 years and can't see leaving. Loves Alameda

I *love* Alameda! I moved here reluctantly a few years ago after not being able to find a suitable rental unit in Oakland, Emeryville, or Berkeley, but these days, I can't imagine living elsewhere in the East Bay (especially now that I have a child of my own).

Upsides: Friendly, safe, walk-able, and bike-friendly (I regularly see kids play outside in the afternoons and people walk their dogs after dusk); lots of character (streets are lined with trees and Victorians, downtown has lots of great restaurants of varying cuisines, and the city sponsors family-friendly events throughout the year); access to suburban comforts (parking and Target); lots of parks and a beach with a great view of SF (I'm sure the beach is man- made, but it's a nice place to jog nonetheless); a decent set of options for commuting (AC Transit, Casual Carpool, ferry -- I know people who have used the ferry, but I always found AC Transit to BART more convenient for going into downtown SF).

Downsides: There's only a few roads that connect Alameda to the outside world (making rush hour not-so-fun -- the commute into Berkeley is probably not so bad, as most people are travelling the opposite direction); the selection of big box stores are not to my liking; it's definitely much easier to get around with a car.

At any rate, good luck! cynthia

We are also East Coast transplants and love Alameda. We live on the East End, and can easily walk to shops, great restaurants, the movie theater, etc. The kids' elementary school is also a short walk from our house, and is a wonderful school. Our neighborhood has lots of kids and young families. It is normal for kids from the neighborhood to walk or bike around to find friends by knocking on doors to see who is home. We have commuted by BART, bus and ferry to SF, all of which are fine - it just depends on where you're going and what your preference is. The commute to Oakland or Berkeley is almost always good. Even if there is freeway traffic, you can use surface streets. We have also lived in other East Bay cities, but plan to stay in Alameda! Good luck with your move. Loyal Alamedans

Hi -

I do not live in Alameda, but am a Realtor who has sold property in that fair city and am familiar with the area.

All the plusses that you have identified are for real. Alameda is a low-crime, walkable city with good schools, abundant retail, fine parks, clean air, and much natural beauty.

The downside is that transport by car or bus to Berkeley or Oakland can be a challenge. There are three bridges into Oakland: High Street, Fruitvale, and 23rd Stree; all lead to routes through non-upscale neighborhoods for three miles or so. To get to Berkley, one would take the Webster Street tube from Alameda into Oakland Chinatown, which is a very congested - though charming and vibrant - district. One could take the 880 or 980 freeways to Berkeley, but some locals would avoid this route due to congestion.

It is indeed feasible (and enjoyable) to commute to San Francisco on the Bay ferry from Alameda, but hours of operation are limited. There is no BART station in Alameda. Closest BART stations are Fruitvale and 12th Street downtown. Hope this helps. Amelia the Realtor

Considering Alameda - any real estate agent recs?

Nov 2013

Hi - my husband and I (and two small kids) are considering a move to Alameda from the East Coast, as we have heard such great things about it on this and other forums. I will be in town on 12/10 and was wondering if anyone can recommend a real estate agent who wouldn't mind showing me around properties and the area? Also, does anyone have experience with the Bay Language Academy in Alameda and thoughts on it - good or bad? Particularly looking at it for Italian lessons for adults and kids, and any after-school programming. Thanks so much!

Alameda is a wonderful place to grow up! It is safe, diverse, friendly, and has a special small town feel. I was born and raised there, and just moved back from NYC to my hometown. My father, Tim Marr, is a well known Alameda realtor (for Harbor Bay Realty) who has been working in real estate for 34 years. He has lived in Alameda since he was seven and knows the 'island' better than most. He is fondly known around town as a non-pressure, laid back, yet experienced realtor who is very involved in charity work and the local community. He also has three kids who attended both public and private schools and would be happy to advise as well. He'd be happy to show you around town. His email is tmarr [at] and his cell is 510-418-9456. Good luck! Desiree

We live in Alameda and we love it! So you made a great choice!

For real estate agents, I recommend our friend Anthony Lim ( I've recommended him on this forum before. He really takes the time to get to know his clients and drives them around to get to know the area. He's a full time agent and is available anytime you are. You can also check out his yelp reviews. I know all agents say they are honest and work for the client, but since we know Anthony, we can vouch for him that what he says is actually true.

I don't know much about the Bay Language Academy, but Alameda has a parents network that you can join and ask questions. It's a yahoo group called 'Alameda Parents Network'. Welcome to Alameda!

Our favorite realtor is Amy Robeson, of Pacific Union at She does cover Alameda and the East Bay, and she is fabulous. She knows a lot about houses and was really a great person to ask questions about the houses that we visited. She was also incredibly easy to work with which not only made us happy, but made all of the professionals involved in the process very happy, as well, which made our buying process very smooth and easy. I highly recommend her. K M

We loved Marilyn Schumacher. She was amazing, totally understood what we were looking for & found it, and wasn't pushy at all. If we were ever to buy again, we'd use her in a heart beat.

Considering buying a house in Alameda

Oct 2013

We have been considering buying a house in Alameda for some time now, but we still feel pretty ignorant about the different neighborhoods and schools. Fernside is the most consistently 'nice' area we have looked at, but it's at the outer edge of our budget.

We have seen some great houses in the Bronze Coast area, but it's harder for us to get a feel for the neighborhoods and schools there. I'd love to hear from families who live in this area - what do you like about where you live? What would you change? How are the schools (specifically, Lum Elementary and Wood Middle School)?

Also, on a somewhat unrelated topic, how are the charter schools on the island? We have really loved Berkeley Public Schools so far and I am not sure how to compare the two districts, so I am curious about whether the charters offer anything different/better than the 'regular' public schools.

Thank you! Alameda Dreamin'

We live in Alameda on Bay Farm, so I do want to put in a plug for Bay Farm. The houses here may be cookie cutter, without the charm of the older Fernside district, but they are also newer, so you won't be dealing with 100 year old heating systems etc. It's also so so so beautiful here with the lagoons running through. I think where I live is the most beautiful place on the East Bay. Both elementary schools on Bay Farm are excellent: Amelia Earhart and Bay Farm.

As for getting to know the island, I would recommend asking a realtor to help you out. We went with our realtor when we were house hunting and she showed us houses in several different districts, and we very quickly discovered what we liked and didn't like about each. Our friend is a realtor and I don't mind doing a shameless plug for him as he's my husband's best friend and a really easy-going, no pressure realtor. He has taken potential clients around the city to get a feel for it and can give you a walking/biking/driving tour. (

Alameda has our own yahoo group. ( You need permission to join. Be aware though if you post to this group everyone of course will say their neighborhood is the best. So it might be a good idea to get that realtor tour, narrow down your choices, and then post to the yahoo group to get feedback on specific schools and neighborhoods.

Last of all, and I don't want to discourage you, but the real estate market in Alameda is overheated right now. So before you get too attached to a neighborhood, check out the prices of the houses to make sure you can afford to put in a competitive offer. It's a GREAT place to live so I hope you can move here, but it is not easy buying a house here right now.

Sept 2013

RE: Towns with great Halloween and Xmas events?

Alameda is a great place to experience an old-style holiday experience for both Halloween and Christmas. For Halloween, there is an abundance of decorated homes and a city-wide decoration contest. A local bike group sponsors a group ride to see the houses. The area is also a big magnet for trick-or-treaters from aournd the East Bay. We live on a major street and give away about 30 pounds of candy - it is a blast. The downtown districts and the local mall sponsors trick-or-treating events for the little ones too.

For Christmas, the city is best known for 'Christmas Tree Lane' (Thompson St) which is a completely decorated street. Throughout the city though you will see lots of houses decorated for Xmas. Alameda is home as well to the famous Tap Dancing Christmas Trees.

Good luck in your move-- wherever you end up, you sound like fun people to add to your community! Alamedan

June 2013

Re: Where in the Bay Area we can afford?
I would recommend Alameda as very family friendly. Craig's List has a few 2- bedroom apts for less than $2000/month, but you should definitely drive through as well to look for vacancy signs. loved it when I was there!

June 2013

Re: Bay area spot w/ great biking/schools/lots of kids
Read the responses to the above question on Alameda and the BPN archives. Your list of things you want in a community so perfectly describes this town it's almost comical. Our only weak spot on your list is that a large yard may be hard to find -- they're out there, but you might not be able to find one right away. In every other way you're describing Alameda to a T. Schools are solid all the way through, great sense of community, walkable and bikeable, swimming pools at Lincoln and Franklin park (membership costs $380/year), and lots and lots and lots of kids. We even have an annual back yard chicken coop bicycling tour! And we're closer to the Oakland airport than most of Oakland. Depending how much house/yard you want, it should be in your price range. lovin' it

You just described alameda and the reasons we just bought a house there. Great school district along with a good choice of charters and parochial schools. VERY family friendly. The streets are flat and you can bike from one end of the island to the other. Beach! Safe. Neighborhood pools (free swim classes during the school year to any kindergartener). Close to east bay and SF. We are very excited to be moving in a few weeks. Not cheap but less competition than Albany. East end and and Gold Coast areas are nice. New alamedans

Anything (bad) we should know about Alameda?

April 2013

My husband and I are looking for a 3 BR home to raise our young family in (we have a 15 month old daughter, and another on the way). We planned to purchase a home in Berkeley or Albany, but seem to be priced out of the market here. We are now considering moving to Alameda which seems slightly more affordable, but we haven't spent a whole lot of time there. We have read so many rave reviews of Alameda on BPN. So, is Alameda really as fabulous as these reviews claim? Is there anything we're missing? Also, it seems like everyone likes the Gold Coast and East End neighborhoods. Any other neighborhoods to check out and/or avoid? Thanks so much! Alamedan Hopeful

Someone who'd just moved here once asked me 'what's the catch?', under the assumption that there must be some hidden dark side to life in Alameda. I haven't found it yet. We moved here 3 years ago and love it, for all the reasons that you've read in the archives. As far as neighborhoods go, I'm less of a fan of Bay Farm because of the landfill (earthquake risk) and more sprawly feel. We live in the East End about half a mile from Park St. and I can't really comment on other neighborhoods on the main island. As far as I can tell, Alameda really is that great. lovin' it

While there are many, many fabulous things about alameda but I would caution you about the school board and school funding. The reason the schools are doing reasonably well is the parcel tax passed 2 years ago. It passed by a tiny margin (was defeated previous year) - and the campaign was *perfect*. Thousands - and I mean thousands of hours were put in by local parents. It lasts for another 4ish years. Since it passed the school board has made a number of bad decisions that will provide the rather vocal no group loads of ammunition. The thing that got me was the leasing of fancy office space at $500,000/year. And building a fence ($250,000) around the old high school the board said needed to be retrofitted but this claim was disputed. The board and teachers union have a terrible relationship. The 'best' middle school is very crowded - kids eat lunch on the floor. Alameda high school is also very crowded. Does the good out weigh the bad? I think it depends. I know many folks with kids in early Elementry that have an 'out' of they need it - ability to pay for private school. Because we do not have that option, and we have 2 kids, we are not going to stay. It was a very difficult decision. The only other issue I would consider is an uptick in minor crimes - cars being stolen, houses being broken into, phones being stolen. So yes, it's lovely here but nothing is perfect. Moving east

Alameda truly is fab! Absolutely consider the west end as well! I really don't understand the preference for the East End but it's all terrific. On the West End we can walk to the beach/ Crown Point/Crab Cove and its mile+ long path on the East Bay Regional Park Trail, the farmers market, 1400 Bar/ Grill, Santoro's sandwich shop, WesCafe (nice independent coffee shop), the Ballena Bay Marina where Abigail Cafe serves up some amazing Morroccan cuisine--- it's just lovely. Nice quiet streets, Victorians and bungalows. Who could wrinkle your nose at that?!

The West End is more easily accessible from the North (avoid the worst of 880) and a quick run to the Bay Bridge. Awesome schools, relatively safe and quiet.

We are renters who literally live on the bay with our own private beaches and a first rate view of SF- right outside our doorstep. There are a series of condos for sale at Ballena Bay Marina. Not sure what you're looking for but cannot beat that location IMHO. The beach is just a few blocks from any of the West End homes.

We love it! A quiet buffer from the city with a proximal view like no other and just 10 -15 minutes to anywhere else. Love the West End

Well, gee, you know, there is ALWAYS something bad about any town, but here I find there are many pluses for raising kids. IF you can get a reasonably priced house! The prices are up there, with many going very quickly in our 'hood (Park St.). The West End (closer to the base) appears to be more affordable, though I am not positive about that. We rent, and the rents are high for anything decent, but I wouldn't rule out renting until you find a good house.

Attitude: Yes, the 'Gold Coast' Old Alamedans sure can have an attitude. If you moved here in the last 25 years you are 'new.' Quiet: Boy, everyone sure goes to bed at 11pm. Pretty nice! Safety: I now habitually leave my car unlocked all over the place. Many spots even with the windows downs. Nice People: I couldn't find where my spouse and son parked around Xmas time, and two young people helped me find them! Good luck! New Alamedan

Alameda is great. The not great things (but hardly bad) include:

- not a ton of excellent restaurants. There are some good places but few that are knock your socks off excellent. We go out probably once a week but when we want a special meal (birthday, etc.), we leave the island.

- Weather can be a bit cool and windy given proximity to the water.

- Traffic on/off the island can be congested especially if your main route is through the tubes. I-880 sucks, even more now with the construction. Consider driving to/from where you'd like to live in Alameda during rush hour. (Note, this isn't really any worse than getting across Berkeley during rush hour, it can just be frustrating waiting for a draw bridge to close at 8 am).

- The housing market is fierce right now. Rentals are expensive and competitive, and buying is full contact sport. Several houses have gone for 20%+ over asking in addition to huge concessions back to sellers (months of free rent, buyer's payment of all transfer taxes, real estate agent fees, etc.). There are few places on the market which makes things even worse. So be prepared.

- would be somewhat dull to a person in their early 20s but there are a lot of cute bars on Park St.

Otherwise, it is lovely. There are tons of families with kids, lots of great parks. Good schools. The restaurants can all deal with a screaming toddler in the corner, it is really walkable and has some great bike trails over flat ground. The little crime that we have is handled by our very friendly and helpful police department. Every time we walk past the fire station when the trucks are outside, the firemen come outside and give my son a sticker. Alameda has a lot of small town features like this which makes it easy to know your neighbors; being an island you have sense of place. You may miss the hippie/alternative/hipster coolness that happens in Oakland and Berkeley, but you won't miss the crime and the dirt. Alameda has good features of the suburbs without too much of the staleness. It is a good as it sounds

I live in Alameda and I love it. Here's why I love it:

1) Small community--tight-knit, small town feel. People who live in Alameda feel really loyal to Alameda.

2) Has everything I need--schools, shops, restaurants--within a short drive or bike ride.

3) Relatively safe. Kids ride their bikes to school, etc.

4) Great weather--it never gets too foggy (like SF) or too hot (like over the hills)

5) Beautiful environment. Everywhere you look there is water, there are parks and trees.

Of course there are things that I don't love about Alameda:

1) Proximity to some really bad neighborhoods in Oakland--Alameda feels so safe, but once you cross a bridge, you run smack into some of the highest crime areas of Oakland. This feels unnerving and unsafe to me.

2) Presence of crime--Yes, even in Alameda, where people still keep their doors and cars unlocked. When the economy went down, reports of thefts went up. It's not dangerous here, but know you won't live in a bubble.

3) Lack of really good restaurants--the restaurants in Alameda are good, but not GREAT. If we want really REALLY good food, we need to drive elsewhere.

4) Far from BART. Fruitvale is our closest BART and requires a long bus ride or a car ride, and I don't feel safe going there at night.

We live on Bay Farm, which you might want to check out in addition to the Gold Coast and the East End. And look quickly. Our friend is a real estate agent and the price of houses keep ticking up every month (week?) as the competition gets fierce. The best time to look was about a year ago...sorry!

Alameda is great, but there is one bad thing: much of Alameda island is landfill and/or soft mud, which means it is at risk of liquefaction in an earthquake. Of course the entire Bay Area also has earthquake risks, but the low-lying areas along the Bay are especially worrisome. You can get more info and view maps at and

Moving to East End Alameda

Feb 2013

We are seriously thinking of moving to Alameda for the schools, the communty, the commute and the lifestyle. It seems more relaxed there and the families seem as involved with their schools as familes in Albany. While Albany is our first choice, Alameda seems more attainable in terms of housing. We really like the East End, by the water and prefer not to be in Bay Farm. Anyone out there who likes OR doesn't like the East end, the schools, or Alameda life? We are moving from a single family detached spacious home in the east bay to perhaps a smaller home, maybe even a townhome attached to another in Alameda, but with the hopes that we'll be doing more walking and biking and that the kids will be able to visit parks more often. We have three kids 9 and under, so they can be loud at times. Should we be concerned living in a 'duet' home (2 separates homes attached by one wall, side by side)? What about concerns living right next to the water? What advice can you give about living in Alameda and going to the public schools? What areas should we check out, similar to Solano Avenue? Will there be kids our kids' age that do live near us, who go to Otis or plan to go to Lincoln? What are the similarities and differences between alameda and Albany schools? Is alameda the right place for us?

We love it here. We have a 4th grader at Otis and one starting next year. We walk to Park St (the Solano equivalent) and school. It's as walkable and bikeable as you think. More than half the houses on our block have kids under ten years old. The neighborhood is very friendly, and the elementary school community is too. You may wish to consider that if you live on the water you're living on bay mud, which is equivalent to landfill in an earthquake. We chose to live a little further in on more solid soil. I don't have much experience with Albany so can't compare them directly though we did look there too. We ended up here because the housing stock is a little bigger (though still on the small side) and a little less expensive. Other things I like about Alameda over Albany are not having to deal with I-80 traffic (though 880 is awful in its own way) and slightly better weather. Happy Alamedan

I have been working in Alameda for the past month and have to say I love it and the schools are very good. Some better than others, but it is a diverse community with so, so much to offer. Truthfully, I'd rather have my kids in the Alameda schools than in our coveted local public school.

Alameda is beautiful, flat, close to the water, and has a lot of nice pockets with restaurants and mom & pop stores. The housing inventory is low and there is a lot of demand recently. In the past month I have met five families that own homes in Albany and in Piedmont and they chose to rent out those homes and live in Alameda in order to send their kids to the Alameda schools. It's also very bike friendly-I see a ton of middle and high schoolers biking to school daily.

I hope someone else that has more knowledge of specific areas gives you more detailed info than I can. Good luck and check out the island! anon

Gay Dads Living in Alameda

Jan 2013

Hello! My partner and I are going to be moving to the area in the next few months -- we are really very serious about living in Alameda. I know the Bay Area is generally pretty liberal but I am wondering about Alameda specifically. We are two gay dads with two young children and I want to make certain our kids live in a community where they feel open and, not only that, see families like there own. I've been reading a lot on this forum about how wonderful Alameda is for children and we're really excited about the possibility of raising our family there -- but I did want to make certain a family like our would A) feel welcome there and B) that there is a diversity of families. Thanks for any advice!

There are plenty of same-sex parents in Alameda and generally, I think it would be fine place to live for your family. A couple of years ago, there was an effort to add a LGBT-themed curriculum into the K-5 schools as part of an anti-bullying, safe schools effort. It was an open process and highly controversial. Some opposed on religious grounds. Some opposed because it didn't address other protected groups but wanted it included in a broader curriculum. However, the teachers explained they already knew how to deal with racism and other issues, but needed support to appropriately address this issue with their young students. During the public discussions, a mom from a two-mom family said that her child had been teased in Kindergarten and 1st grade for having two moms. The curriculum was passed by the school board, despite the opposition. There was also a lot of support for the curriculum. Several schools (but not all) have also done some training via Gender Spectrum, gender variance being an adjunct issue.

I am not part of a same-gender family but am an advocate for diversity. I look forward to hearing what the same-gender families have to say. An Ally

I recommend you sign up with the Alameda Parents Network yahoo group. Definitely give Alameda a chance!

I'm a middle-aged heterosexual mom of a teen. As you know, parents tend to socialize more with the parents of their kids' friends, and demographically, none of my daughter's friends have gay dads. We've lived in Alameda about 13 years. Came for the safe, quiet streets and neighborhoods. Alameda is sometimes called 'Mayberry by the Bay' but really, it's always been an industrial town, and a navy town. It was hard-hit economically by the military base closure and has been slow to recover. Compared to Berkeley and San Francisco, Alameda has been a bit slower, I think, to accept the gay community and that's caused some conflict, BUT there are quite a few gay families; I am pretty sure the lesbian moms are more visible than the gay dads are. Alameda has also been referred to as 'The place where hipsters go to breed.' Take that as you will. I wear a lot of black and work in the arts.

Unfortunately, there is a conservative streak to Alameda. Not everyone will welcome you. But that demographic is changing over time. There was a serious debate over the inclusion of gay families in anti-bullying curriculum in our public schools. That caused a real flap but I'm proud to say that there is now some wording in our curriculum to help educate conservatives' children and, we hope, protect yours.

Your commute is an important factor. Getting off-and-on Island in peak hours can be maddening, and the section of the Nimitz Freeway off Alameda is a chewed-up horror of cracked asphalt and claustrophobically narrow lanes. There are quite a few bus lines, including express lines to the City, and our nearest BART station is Fruitvale. The walk or bike to Fruitvale BART is neither safe nor pretty, once you're over the bridge into Oakland.

Come on over, check out our neighborhoods and amenities, see what you think, and remember to be patient. The low density housing is one of Alameda's charms but it can make the process of finding a home - whether to rent or purchase - arduous. Lots of people want to live here. I hope your family finds Alameda a nice fit. ...Your MIleage May Vary

You will love Alameda. My wife and I moved here 4 years ago from the East Coast with our (then) 10 year old twins and we have felt very comfortable as a 2-mom family. There's enough diversity, enough small-town-feel, enough good restaurants. It's great! Anon

I say, GO FOR IT! Yes, Alameda is a bit more white and conservative than it's neighboring cities. The military base and other things (?) seem to have attracted a different set of folks, as compared to Berkeley, Oakland, Albany, etc. However, that's changing -a lot. It's still in process, but Alameda needs more gay families (as well as non-white) to keep it moving in the right direction. We are a queer family and my wife and I love it there! We frequently take our kids on walks through the lovely old neighborhoods. The parks are fabulous. And during Christmas time and Halloween, etc. we love walking through the sweet, old 'small town' neighborhoods to look at the lights, decorations, and do fun, safe trick-or-treating. If we could afford it (and if the yards were a bit bigger) I might be able to talk my wife into living there... But for now we live in East Oakland and just visit Alameda -a lot. We always feel welcome and happy there. Good luck to you and your family! M.

Real estate agent to SELL in Alameda

Dec 2012

Does anyone have a recommendation of real estate agent to SELL my house in Alameda? (Fernside District) -- (and possibly help find a rental in Oakland depending on into what school my daughter gets accepted.) Thank you in transition

I cannot say enough good things about our real estate agent Elisa Uribe. We used her for buying not selling but she also sells homes. She went so far above and beyond for us. She covers most of the east bay from Alameda County to Contra Costa County. She makes the entire process stress free for her clients. She also helps with rentals as well. Give her a call 510-485-7272 Justine

I can recommend John-Michael Kyono of Alameda Victorians, he is a parent at our coop preschool here in Alameda and is generous with his advice and time and seems to know the Alameda market well. Good luck selling... we are looking too Laura

I highly reccomend Rosemary McNally. She is a broker in Alameda. To give you some perspective, my husband and I have fired more agents then hired. With Rosemary we got an agent a who was working for us, not listing so many homes that she could not be at open houses, has incredible attention to detail and has been in the bussiness long enough that ups-downs-ins-outs don't really make a difference. She is sharp, honest, funny and wise. She guided us through selling our beloved bungalow - she was a gentle task master - and we needed that. Encouraging. Great with our two kids. And has been selling around the bay area for decades, in alameda for at least 10 years. She is not affiliated with an agency - and we got offers from all the main names in Alameda when we sold. She does all of the paperwork - doesn't hand it off to another department like is often the case at a larger agency. Highly, highly reccomend her. Her number: 510-769-1845.

April 2012

Re: Moving to Oakland with small children

You may want to consider Alameda, which borders Oakland. We know MANY Kiwis here on the island and it's a great life - right on the water, fantastic for walking, wonderful parks, decent schools and more. alamedamama

April 2012

Re: Moving to the East Bay from SF - where to live?

You may want to try Alameda. From my home I can walk/bike to Trader Joe's, Safeway, multiple parks, and our great school (we live near Otis Elementary but there are many other fantastic schools.) If you don't have a car I would suggest living walking distance to Park Street which is the main commercial area, complete with fantastic movie theater, great bookstores, etc. Alameda is cheaper compared to nearby walkable cities. People have this idea that ALameda is so much father from SF compared to neighboring cities but that really just depends on where you live in Oakland/Berkeley. It takes us less time to get to SF now that we live in Alameda. I usually only end up driving once, if that, a day. Rockridge in Oakland is also doable w/out a car if you can find a place walking distance to Rockridge Bart. Good luck. Alameda Neighbor

Try Alameda! We moved to Alameda for the great schools and active parent communities. There are a bunch of small elementary schools within each neighborhood so you can walk to school. It was a big factor in moving out here. We have been renting our house since late 2008. Most of the elementary schools are pretty good, even if some have lower test scores, parents who have their children there love their schools and are happy with the level of instruction. My kids went to the parks and rec preschool before attending Kindergarten and are now having a great school experience. Neighborhood schools means all the kids they know are within (mostly) walking distance. It's a lovely island city, flat for easy biking, the beach is great and I can't recommend it enough. Many families here have moved from San Francisco. The rents are a bit cheaper than Berkeley, a bit more than some areas of Oakland, but way lower than SF. Check out the AUSD website for a map of school zones, look into those before and than hone your search to school zones you would like to attend. There's also an alameda parents network on yahoo if you want more insight. It's not without it's issues (local politics, the newbies vs. the 3, 4 generationers), but I really really love it here. Alameda Lover

2008 - 2011 Reviews

Sept 2011

Re: Moving/staying - Lamorinda vs Alameda
Have you really looked at costs in the two towns? Things have probably changed in the last 1.5-2 years since we looked for and bought our house in Alameda, but Lafayette was quite a bit more expensive then. I know the housing stock in Alameda is generally a good bit smaller. But if you're not in a huge rush to move could you resolve some of your dilemma by waiting for a bigger house to turn up in Alameda? also a happy Alamedan

Sept 2011

Re: Relocating to the Bay Area, looking for a walkable neighborhood
If you're relocating to the Bay Area, I hope you'll consider Alameda. It's less expensive than San Francisco, has a few destination restaurants, some nice shopping areas, a mall with a future despite past struggles. Alameda has a great climate, has an up-and-coming art scene, and the schools - despite admitted funding issues - are decent to excellent (as far as I'm concerned, the distance from ''decent'' to ''excellent'' is as wide as these three letters: ''P-T-A''.

Alameda was formerly a base town and has been something of a hidden treasure (some might say a backwater) but more and more young, progressive families are moving in. Most neighborhoods are walkable. There's a rather sparse but decent network of buses connected to AC Transit and BART, and on the West End there is now a bike commute shuttle through the ''Posey Tube'' connecting Alameda to Oakland, BART, etc.

In terms of preschools, talk to Fuzzy Caterpillar, Little Lions, Rising Star, KinderHuis, KinderCare and Child Unique Montessori - among many others.

Drawbacks (or benefits, depending on your POV)
- no big-box stores
- occasionally if a drawbridge is up over the estuary, it can be hard to leave town
- 25 MPH speed limit even when I'm in a hurry
- public beach isn't great for swimming, and public pool arrangement is lame
- very limited range of seasons: we get spring, we get something sort of like fall, no real winter, and summer has cool nights

Alameda (vs Piedmont)?

May 2011

Hi, my husband and I are considering our options of where to move with our 3 young kids before we hit kindergarten years. We are a mixed-race family and are very proud of our family's working class roots. Fortunately, financially we have the option to move to a city with a good school district and I have narrowed it down to Piedmont or Alameda. We can barely afford Piedmont, and the house we would have to get there would be a considerable downsize from our current house in Oakland (and forget getting a yard!). But Piedmont has the schools, hands down. I don't want to feel like we are the Beverly Hillbillies in Piedmont, and although we would appreciate the education my kids would be getting,, my husband and I also want to be around like-minded, low key, double career parents. I'm not sure if I'm feeling it with Piedmont. Now I'm leaning towards Alameda. I love the family feel, the water and playgrounds are either walking or biking distance and I'm hoping to be able to walk/bike to Park street from our neighborhood. Although the 'nicer' neighborhoods I am just beginning to look at don't seem diverse, per se, I know Alameda in general, econonically and ethnically, is more heterogenous. I also am hoping that we can buy more house there with a nice big yard and in a family friendly neighborhood. The big unknown for me is: 1) are the schools K-12 good/great? Which ones?? 2) how will my husband's commute be to the Mission District in SF? He likes BART, but he's concerned that getting to/from Alameda to a BART station (via public transportation) would be a hassle? 3) any recommended neighborhoods for us to look at in Alameda? We are interested in a nice older house, close to playground (Franklin park?) and hopefully Park St. Any recommendations would be really appreciated. We are hoping to make this big move, then staying put until the kids are out of high school-- a long haul and consequently a big decision! Thx, in advance. M.

I'm a little confused by your post, since you are clearly wanting someone to TELL you to move to Alameda!! I can't see anything, in your post, that would make you want to choose Piedmont (other than the schools!). So, yes, move to Alameda (although it's not cheap, either). Piedmont has great schools, but Alameda may have good schools, as well (depending on the school). I live in Piedmont, and LOVE it, but it's not for everyone and you seem to be leaning toward Alameda, another great (but very different) city, so go with your gut.... Loves Piedmont

We moved to Alameda a year ago and feel like we won the lottery. If by 'good/great' schools you mean highest possible test scores, you'd want to look more at Bayfarm or the East End of the island. The elementary schools are all 9-10/10 on the API scores, Lincoln middle school (which serves both of those areas) just got 10/10, and Alameda High is quite strong. You can look all that up on The scores aren't quite as high as Albany or Piedmont but they're solid all the way through. I don't have first hand experience with the commute but the Fruitvale BART station would be easy to bike to from much of the island (and has free valet bike parking). There are a number of busses that go to Fruitvale BART also. Parts of the East End have blah 60s-70s houses but parts have quite charming older houses. Krusi and Lincoln are also good parks. I think the East End might most have what you're looking for. Your comment about being 'Beverly Hillbillies' resonates with me. I think a danger in stretching to live in an area where you're the poorest around is that your kids' reality is framed by what they see around them, not what's really 'normal'. If 'normal' at your kids' school is to go on big vacations several times a year, have closets full of nice clothes, etc. then it's very hard for them to internalize and understand that's not actually typical of the wider world. By our biology, humans are hierarchical animals and being at the bottom of the ladder is stressful. As adults we have more capacity to define our own values, but hard as we may try to transmit those values to our kids there are other influences in their lives too. For a kid in middle or high school to feel like s/he doesn't have any of what his or her friends have can be tough. Happy Alamedan

March 2011

Re: Moving into Bay Area from Brooklyn with 4-year-old

I hope you'll check out Alameda. Buying is less expensive than San Francisco or Berkeley, although rents are probably higher than Berkeley's because Alameda doesn't have rent control.

We have at least 29 languages spoken in the public school district, which like all districts in California, struggles for funding and does a decent job considering everything.

There's a reasonable diversity of restaurants and small businesses. There are a couple of shopping districts with cute boutiques; there are several independent bookstores that kept a toehold while Borders came and went. We have a mall called 'Towne Centre' which unfortunately is nowhere near the center, often referred to by its old name, 'South Shore'. Towne Centre was recently purchased by a major developer and there are improvements in shopping choices in the works. Currently the mall is kind of low-rent. But there is a Trader Joe's with the best parking lot of any Trader Joe's I've ever shopped (usually they're a nightmare for some reason).

Alameda's flat (great for riding bikes and trikes), has many well-kept parks. Alameda has a low crime rate, 25-per-hour city-wide speed limit, and most neighborhoods have high walking index scores. There are many lovely views of San Francisco Bay. Housing options are diverse, all the way from hideous 70s era apartments to adorable bungalows to Victorian mansions and storybook cottages and beachfront condos, the occasional art deco or midcentury modern and... ok, no mud huts.

Note, I'm not a real estate agent or professional booster or anything, I just love this town - have lived here 10+ years and while it can be a little on the sedate side, it's getting more interesting every day. I hope you'll check it out. +++ happy in Alameda Welcome to the west coast! I feel your pain about moving, but know that you are moving to a WONDERFUL and vibrant place - I HIGHLY recommend you look at living in Alameda, it has everything on your list and more! Alameda is a small island directly across the Bay from San Francsico, great commute, great weather, tons of families and great schools. You can rent through one of the many agencies in town. For sales I highly recommend Valerie Ruma with Alain Pinel Real Estate, (510. 579-3614 or vruma [at] she's lived in ALameda for 20+ years and knows the town and the East Bay like the back of her hand - good luck! island mama

I highly recommend Alameda as a place to live with young children. Alameda is a small island off Oakland, and it has a small community feel. The public schools are generally considered good (although with widespread budget cuts all schools are suffering right now), the area is safe, and it is VERY child friendly. Kids still walk or bike home from school in Alameda, and there are lots of trails around the lagoons and the water for biking or walking. Alameda won't be as 'city' as Brooklyn, as it is a suburb, but it's more of a 'small town' suburb rather than a sprawling mega-suburb. What might affect your decision will be where your office is. The Bay Area is a lot bigger than East Coasters imagine (I used to live on the East Coast), and you might want to figure out where your work is before you choose a neighborhood, to save yourself a 2 hour commute each way. Alameda is pretty close to San Francisco downtown btw. You can take the ferry there, or else get dropped off at the BART (commuter rail). Lots of people drive into the city but the traffic often gets bad. For realtors, I recommend the one who helped us buy our house: Catherine Bierwith, longtime Alameda resident who is very knowledgeable. ( --Alameda Resident

It really depends on your budget, since housing it very expensive in the Bay Area and in certain communities in particular, but you're probably used to that from New York. I live in Alameda, and think it would meet your criteria very well. It's got good schools, is diverse, safe, and has a small-town, neighborhood feel that you're probably looking for. It's actually an island, right next to Oakland, so it's off of a lot of people's radars. The one drawback is that since it's an island, the best way to access it is by ferry, car, or bus. BART doesn't reach it, although you can take a bus to a BART station pretty easily.

Another good neighborhood is Piedmont, although it's pretty upper-crust and expensive. The schools are amazing, though. And Berkeley and Albany are both really great cities with great restaurants, good schools, and lots of little neighborhoods within them. I lived in Berkeley and Albany for a decade, and finally moved to Alameda because I was sick of fighting with all of the people who crowd those two towns for a parking space, restaurant reservation, daycare spot, etc. I find Alameda to be much more relaxed when it comes to those kinds of little things that make life so much easier, and I've been happy that I moved ever since. If you need specific Alameda location recommendations, feel free to email me. Cassie

Congratulations on your new job and move! I too moved from the east coast, and have really grown to love the bay area. I highly recommend checking out Alameda. It's close to the city (takes me 15 minutes to get to the financial district from my home in the west end; would be a little longer from the east end), it has great schools, restaurants, beaches, toy stores, book stores, yoga studios, and farmer's markets. Is crazy diverse (in the five houses that surround mine I have one black family, two gay couples, one Chinese woman, and one white couple) and it's a real biking/walking town. Everyone is always walking or biking to restaurants/beach/parks etc. And it is the strongest community I've ever lived (neighbors really get to know each other) in the east bay so far (having lived in Montclair, Elmwood, and Rockridge prior--which are all very nice, too). Last but definitely not least, it is kid heaven here. I honestly had no idea until I moved here how much freedom the kids can have and how much they really thrive in an environment like Alameda. If you're into some of the concepts of free-range kids, Alameda is the place. The schools are great and very neighborhood oriented so the kids develop a really strong network of friends from an early time. They all walk/bike to school together. Once they get old enough (usually 8 but depending on the maturity of each kid) they walk/bike to school on their own and go to friends house for playdates. Then later they start to bike everywhere around town (it's an island so they can't go too far) to the beach/parks, to the shops/restaurants on Park Street (main shopping district), to the movie theater/plays/etc. It's amazing--the kids just blossom here. They can have that sort of freedom because Alameda is really safe (both with crime and with having a speed limit that is 25mph on most of the island), and people really look out for each other. If needing advice and guidance, I would highly recommend checking out Gallagher & Lindsey. I used them to buy our house in Alameda and was really impressed with their knowledge and professionalism. They've been around a long time and they really know the neighborhoods and current market. Best of luck with your move! Alameda Mama

Jan 2011

Re: Seeking safe area with diversity, culture, quality food
I highly recommend Alameda. Alameda is a small island off Oakland, and many parts of it still have a small town, Leave it to Beaver vibe. I can ride my bike everywhere--to the supermarket, to the shopping district on Park Street, and since the speed limit on the whole island is 25mph, it's pretty safe. We see kids riding their bikes or walking by themselves to go home from school all the time. The food on the island is good but not great but San Francisco and Oakland are short drives away. The weather is also great--not as cold and foggy as San Francisco, but not as hot as the areas on the other side of the hills, like Walnut Creek or Dublin. There is a small community feel in Alameda that we like a lot.

When we moved to the Bay Area we drove through many of the neighborhoods to get a feel for all of them. I recommend that as it was educational to actually be on the streets, instead of just looking at real estate postings. --Loving Alameda

Sept 2010

Re: New job in SF - where's a sunny place to live?

I live in Alameda. The commute to downtown SF can be less than 30 minutes (depending on exact downtown destination). My son attends a RE preschool on the island (Home Sweet Home). Alameda is sunny and walkable and I have great neighbors and... I love it. Best of luck with your relocation. your new neighbor?

I would strongly recommend that you check out Alameda, CA -an island off the coast of Oakland-as a wonderful Bay area option for living. Our family moved here last summer and have been thrilled with the open and welcoming community we have found. The commute to SF is only 15-20 minutes (non-rush hour), and in rush hour about 30-35. However, there is a ferry (20 min), an hourly transbay bus (20 min), BART (from Oakland), and many carpool options, too. The community is full of beautiful victorian-era and craftsman-style homes and the city takes great pride in its historical character. The crime rate is low, and my kids (10 & 15) ride bikes and skateboard wherever they want to go, my husband & I walk and ride bikes, too. The schools are highly-rated (check, and very pro-active in the face of recent budget crunches, but there are also great charter schools available (ACLC & NEA). It is a rich, culturally-diverse community with great restaurants & stores, festivals, and beaches, plus it is the sunniest place in the Bay area. (Temps are typically 10 degrees warmer than SF. Since our arrival in July, we've had only 2 completely overcast days and no fog!) It was just selected as one of the 'Top Ten Suburbs' in Travel & Leisure magazine and one of the 'Top 100 Communities for Kids' by America's Promise Alliance. There is also a similar online parent network called 'Alameda Parents Network' which offers great friendliness and support. Plus, it is only a 10+ minute drive from Berkeley, so you can enjoy the benefits of Berkeley very easily as well! We love it! Bara Waters bara

We live in Alameda and we highly recommend it. Alameda is a small island off of Oakland, and we are a small community with a small neighborhood feel. People like to describe us as a place stuck in the 50's--in a good way! Kids still ride their bikes to school and play on the streets, and there are tons of parks, lagoons and beaches where people exercise and walk their dogs. The schools here are also very good, from K-12 (some better than others, so be sure to check first). I hear the problem with Oakland schools is that even though your neighborhood elementary school might be good, some are admitted by the lottery system, and later on the middle schools/high schools are not that great, and we were told some parents then move or send their kids to private school. At least in Alameda I take comfort that we can settle here and send our kids to public school all the way to high school.

You can drive to downtown in 30 minutes (more with traffic), take BART (unfortunately you'll have to be driven to BART in Oakland), or take the ferry (very convenient). I hear some people carpool into the city from Alameda. A 45 minute commute seems like a lot when you are not from the Bay Area, but you will find that you have to drive at least 20-30 minutes just to get anywhere, so you might have to readjust your expectations. At least within Alameda, everything is just 5-10 minutes away. Oh, and did I mention the weather is good? It's never too hot, and we don't get the fog. Good luck with your move! --Vote for Alameda!

Commuting between the East Bay and the South Bay

May 2010

Re: My family is in the South Bay, we work in the East Bay
You have described Alameda perfectly. We are walking distance to great schools, the beach, movie theaters and lots of coffee shops. It is very, very much a community feeling yet has many of the desirable aspects of suburban life. Lots and lots of fantastic parks (I use to drive her for the parks/playgrounds when I was 20 minutes away.) We love it and can't say enough about it. Alameda has the reputation of being faraway but it actually takes me LESS time to get into the city. Good luck with your move. lovin' la vida Alameda

Dec 2009

Re: Wife works in Oakland, husband works in Hillsborough
I highly recommend Alameda. It is close to BART and also to the freeway (#880) going either to SF or Hillsborough. I have lived here for 22 years, raised my kids here and have found it to be a wonderful community. good luck!

Stay in Oakland or move to Alameda?

Sept 2009

I've read the archival posts about Living in Alameda (all 18 pages once printed up), but the most current is from March 2008, and wanted a bit of an update.

My husband and I are looking for houses, and he really wants to move to Alameda for all the compelling reasons--low crime rate, good public school system, good economy. It seems like a smarter idea to buy there than in Oakland, where we now live.

But I'm so hesitant. I love living in Oakland. Two years after moving here from SF, I have a community of new moms and have all my bearings. (Our daughter is 16 m.o.) I really don't want to have to uproot all that. (I know that Oakland's not far, but it won't be the same as calling someone up for a playdate and driving five minutes away to a park we know.) I'm also worried that I'll feel isolated, that no one will come visit, that I'll never leave the island coz it's just too much trouble, and that my DH and I will be the oldest parents in residence (we are older). But all that may just fall under the suck-it-up category.

Here's my real worry. While the idea of ''small town'' and wholesomeness sounds like a nice way to raise a child, I don't even know what a child ends up like with that upbringing. I grew up in Manhattan, and to me, growing up in a city is the greatest kind of upbringing you could have. I almost feel like I'd be depriving my daughter by not giving her that opportunity. (I know many people would feel the opposite.)

I guess I'd like to hear about the kids in Alameda, what they're like, etc. I'd also like to hear about converts who were really really hesitant to move, but have ended up loving it. And, has anyone ended up not loving it?

Thanks for your thoughts. M

I've been living in Alameda for 33 years. We are raising two boys here, and while it may not be as fantastic as Manhattan, it does have a Downtown (Park Street), and is so close to Oakland that realistically you can get to many places there in a very short time. It is smaller than Oakland, but that also means that from many neighborhoods ''downtown'' is a short walk. Besides Park Street there is Webster Street at the West End, and the Southshore center (which is a mall, but pretty nice). Best idea is to cruise in, and visit for a while. It's small enough that you can scope out pretty much everything in a short time. Alameda Dad


Alameda has become much more sophisticated in the last decade. Many older veterans and more conservative homeowners are aging out; younger families are moving in, many from places like SF and Berkeley. But there are many folks whose families have been here for generations, and who'd never consider living anywhere else. This has kept Alameda fairly stable in the face of the housing boom and bust.

Folks are usually pretty friendly. There is a lot of diversity here - I think there are over 50 languages spoken in the district. Proportionally, I'd say there are more whites and Asians than other ethnic groups; I'm sure there's census data on that somewhere. We've made some wonderful friends - and there is enormous community-oriented spirit. The pace in Alameda is a little slower - in fact the speed limit tops out at 25 mph, Island-wide. Most of the city seems very safe and police/fire response is REALLY prompt. There is a bit of crime and druggy stuff, but it could be a lot worse.

We live on the East end of the Island; offspring attend public school. Parents in their teens & 20's are unusual in this area; most are older homeowners - 30's to 50's, even a few in their 60's. In other areas of Alameda, the demographics may be different.

The Alameda Theater, several decent restaurants and a few great restaurants, a burgeoning artist community, and the gorgeous outdoors - including flat walkies with many parks - make for a varied and stimulating environment. Saturdays are Garage Sale Heaven around here. There are several places to do workouts: harbor bay club; marina village club; bladium; a small gym on Park Street, a 24-hour fitness satellite at the mall, and a regular 24-hour fitness across the high street bridge near Home Depot. Several venues offer live music; Not a lot of hiphop or rock around here that I know of - acoustic to reggae to swing to Americana to jazz. It's not every night and it's not the amazing variety you'll find in Berkeley, but it's improved over the last 4 or 5 years.

There are a lot of small independent specialty stores with plenty of charm (and stuff!).

In terms of housing, you can find anything from cheesy 70's apartments to Victorian mansions, bungalows, ranch houses, etc. There are many walking-friendly neighborhoods. Depending on how quiet your street is (there are a lot of culdesacs) you may find a gaggle of children playing outside or running from home to home. You are never more than a mile walking distance from the bay or estuary.

Alameda is even more temperate than Berkeley & Oakland because it's surrounded by water. You can grow bananas, avocados, citrus, poinsettia year round. A tomato plant on a south-facing wall can last well into November if protected from frost. But the wind coming fresh off the bay in the afternoon can be quite cold. The lack of frost can mean a dearth of fall color. Sometimes I really miss snow.


Yards and lots tend to be very small unless you're willing to fork out serious dough. However, most of the parks are nice.

Alameda's FLAT. The tallest inclines are the parking garage at the theater, and the Bay Farm pedestrian bridge. I gained 2 inches on my thighs when we moved here from the hills. This flatness also tends it toward dampness, drainage problems under homes and in streets, and mold. Caveat emptor. There are even a few artesian wells around, so be careful how deep you dig!

The community spirit can turn ugly when people disagree on big issues such as school curriculum, development at Alameda Point, bringing in big-box stores, even street tree maintenance. Alameda's diversity means a diversity of opinions from right to center to left. And since the population is very small, it's easy to butt heads with a neighbor. We are definitely in a fishbowl here.

While Alameda schools are for the most part very good, the school funding is a nightmare. Like some other towns hit by military base closures, Alameda lost some federal per-child funding that has never been compensated by the state of CA. If you plan to put your children in public schools.... expect to do a lot of volunteer work. Most of the private schools are run by churches. Several of the AUSD schools are converting to magnet or charter models.

There are a lot of activities for young children, but not for kids between around age 9 to 18 unless they have after-school practice for team sports (which are threatened by budget cuts).

Shopping is something of a pain. There are plenty of chain groceries - 2 Safeways, a Nob Hill, a Trader Joe's, and (maybe?) an Albertson's. But there are few places to buy clothes; we have a TJ Maxx (ugh) and a Kohl's (bleh). We could dearly use a higher-end clothing store and a large variety store (Target tried but got shot down because of a traffic uproar). Although I'm not crazy about big-box stores, we probably go ''off island'' at least twice a month because for things like large hardware items, clothing suitable for mature adults with taste, a rain jacket, or an economy-size container of laundry detergent. Alameda keeps itself poor by limiting its sales tax revenue.

Jobs in Alameda are quite limited and seem to pay a bit lower than Oakland or SF.

If a bridge is closed, or there's an accident in the tube, it will take you at LEAST 20 extra minutes to get off-island. Bay Farm is a peninsula near Oakland Airport and has only one main access road aside from the Bay Farm bridge to the main Island of Alameda. (note: Bay Farm Island is formerly an island but has been filled into a peninsula; while Alameda is formerly a peninsula but was dredged to form an island. Go figure). nothing could be sweeter than to be in Alameeter in the moooornin

Finding a Rental in Alameda

August 2009

We are thinking of moving to Alameda and are finding Craigslist sorely lacking in viable rentals for us. We are a family of 3 with 2 dogs and a cat, so a yard is a must. Do Real Estate agents have a monopoly on rentals on the island? What is the best way to go about finding a nice safe house in Alameda for our nice little family?

Alameda is a unique place, and that includes renting here. As you've discovered, a couple of rental agencies with brokerage fees have a lock on this place for many house rentals. However, there are other things out there. One suggestion is to do some legwork and drive around/look for rental signs. There is an Alameda parents Yahoo Group you could post to-- word of mouth is the best around here. Also, sounds like this is not what you are looking for, but I would add that the many apartment buildings along Shoreline and by the Marina rent out directly-- no broker, no fee. They often compete for vacancies with specials. Alameda is a great place for families. Good luck! LongtimeAlamedan (Gallagher & Lindsay website) Gallagher & Lindsay manage a large majority of properties in Alameda. I suggest visiting their office near Webster & Central, pay the fee for the up-front credit check and use their listings. There are at least two 5-bedroom homes for rent on the old naval base ($2600, Alameda Point) which is a lovely, quiet location 5 minutes from the Webster tube. Plenty of open space, pets allowed and a dog park 5 minutes away along the shipping channel with views of a bridge or two on a clear day. Wild rabbits, hawks, squirrels, geese and other birds. We love it. Diana

Check out the Alameda Parents Network at Stephanie

Hi! We've been renting on Alameda (Bay Farm island) for nearly a year and have been very happy. Like you, we found C'List to be sorely lacking in rental opportunities. What we learned, once we moved here, is that most of the properties are rented by real estate agencies (Gallagher & Lyndsay have many signs up as does a company called OMM, Inc.) Not sure why this is the case, but it is. My advice would be to come on over and drive around the island, get a feel for what sections feel good to you and also look for 'For Rent' signs. Happy Hunting. Caryn

I live in Alameda - Jan Mason who owns OMM Homes is our property manager and she's great. OMM manages lots of rentals... research which school you want and then look in that district. Jennifer

I see a number of places around with ''for rent'' signs out - but they are through real estate agents, albeit often without fees. You could try driving around parts of town you'd like to live and see if there's anything available. anon

My husband is a real estate agent and sometimes works with clients on rentals. There are some rentals that are listed on the MLS that only realtors have access to, but he always tells his clients to check Craig's List as well because most of the rentals on the market do show up there. Realtors also may hear of a rental being available before it is listed because they often deal with clients who are considering selling but end up deciding to rent. I would recommend contacting a few realtors in Alameda and asking if they offer help with rentals. They shouldn't be charging you for this service, as any fee they make should be coming from the landlord/owner if the listing is on the MLS. If his client finds a rental on their own from Craigs List, my husband will offer to review the rental contract for his clients at no charge, even though he won't make any money on this, just because it is good customer service and he likes to help out however he can. Good luck with your search! Wife of a Realtor

We had a similar experience - try posting what you want on Craiglist (under housing wanted) we found a GREAT house that way one time - also, the agencies do have a big lock on the good homes - I'd sign up with OMM, Gallagher and Lindsay and Harbor Bay Realty, and just stay on top of the listings - you'll find something - the inventory is increasing - good luck! alameda mom

Moving from Berkeley to Alameda

April 2008

We are considering moving to Alameda (from Berkeley). I've gone through the BPN archives and have driven around the island - I can really see my family being happy there. I have a few questions though that I did not see addressed in the archives: 1) what is the airport noise like there? Is it horrible? Do you just get used to it? Where is it worst? We are woken up by planes where we are now and I would expect it would be louder in Alameda...?

2) What is the commute like to SF, particularly from the east end or fernside areas? We would like to take the ferry but I would imagine that the trip across the island to get to the ferry might take a long time in the morning. How long does it take to drive in to SF during commute hours?

3) We would be looking for a play-based preschool. Any recommendations? Are the waiting lists for the preschools in Alameda as long as they are in the rest of the east bay (6 mo to a year on the waiting list)?

thanks for your input! Ready to be an Island Mama

You'll get a load of responses to your Alameda's a great place for families!!

We live on the East End and are not bothered at all by commercial airline noise. We spend a lot of time in our backyard and sometimes the little private planes buzz overhead (I only ever notice while I'm on the phone outside), but it's not a big deal at all. Bay Farm residents might hear more plane noise from jets, during peak take-off/landing times, but I've not heard anyone I know complain about it. During fog, the jets change their route and fly over the West End, but that's just occasional. I personally like the proximity to OAK -- a lot. I used to travel for work. But even if you don't, it's very convenient for personal travel and for picking up visiting family!

The preschools do seem to busy and last year I heard there was a ''shortage.'' I know some Kindergarten classes were too full and had to put a lottery system in place. There are lots of schools to choose from though, and new ones are popping up (Fuzzy Catepillar, Small Size-Big Minds are examples of 2 newer ones). Check out for more specific preschool info. My daughter LOVES her play-based and developmental preschool (google Peek-a-Boo preschool on Windsor Drive). The have a great little art studio as well. It's in a private home and year-round. It's been a wonderful place for her, even though they don't have the big park-like play yard/structure that other schools have (Peter Pan, Bayside Montessori, Rising Star Montessori, Garner Learning Ctr - for ex.).

I can't tell you about driving to SF during commute times. I used to go in just after 9am and I could often get to my SOMA office at 6th and Howard in 18 min! My hubby takes BART, which can take 45 min door-to-door depending on where in the city you work and how long it takes you to park at (busy) Fruitvale station. It's less than 20 min on the train to downtown SF, as I recall. In addition to the ferry service on Main St., there's also a ferry on Bay Farm island which is very easy access from the East End. If you take the Ferry at the West End (Main St), my guess is that itb

ll take you 10-12 min to drive there from your East End home during peak times. Ferry travel times are published, not sure how long it takes. Seems a relaxing and civilized way to go though! My commute to downtown San Rafael was 45 min with no traffic (if I left my home at 8:30am) and up to 1.5 hrs one-way during the winter/rainy season (I had to leave by 5-sharp) - that was NOT so manageable!!

Good luck. :-) NSM

Alameda is a wonderful place to live and raise a family. The airport noise is more pronounced on Bay Farm Island (e.g., Harbor Bay) than it is on the ''main island'' (e.g., Fernside district). And on Bay Farm Island it varies, obviously, depending on where your house is in relation to the airport and the airplane flight patterns. As a Bay Farm resident of 15+ years, I can tell you that the noise is not ''horrible,'' and frankly -- it is something I have gotten used to and don't often notice. There is an active citizens group called CLASS that works hard to keep it that way -- and I hope you'll support them if you move here. As for the commute -- you don't have to drive across the island to catch a ferry -- a great alternative is the Alameda Harbor Bay Ferry. The terminal is on Bay Farm Island. It doesn't run quite as often as the ferries on the other side of Alameda, but it's convenient, parking is easy, and it's incredibly pleasant. Alamedan

Hi, my husband and I moved from Oakland to Alameda last Fall, and love it more and more. It has such a nice feeling about it. You will get to know your neighbors and neighborhood quickly, and everyone we've met seems to have the same objective for keeping this a quiet, friendly, and inclusive place to live--with little emphasis on economic status.

I couldn't tell you the last time I heard an airplane. I notice it when I go to the beach, but it's not bothersome. Maybe I did just get used to it? But I don't remember the noise ever being bad or annoying. When the fog is low, or it is very rainy/cloudy, they do fly lower coming in and going out of Oakland airport, I've noticed. This has never been a problem or distraction for either me or my husband.

The commute is pretty great--better than one might expect. My husband used to BART from MacArthur Station to downtown SF, in about 25 min (mornings). Now he takes the ''O'' Transbay bus, and gets to the SF terminal in around the same time, if not shorter, and then walks to work from there. On many days, his commute is on the shorter side, and he says the ''O'' is really comfortable-- not to mention the great view over the bridge every morning. I would not really recommend driving, when the ''O'' line is so easily accessible, comfortable, and quick.

We're just expecting our first child, so I'm not sure about preschools... I've only done basic searches on so far.

Good Luck Island Mama! Crystal

We've lived in Alameda for nearly six years (used to live in Berkeley hills, then SF before that) and we just love it here. The town is very laid back and it's a great place for kids.

We live on the east end of the island on High Street and we don't really hear the airport noise much. The big planes do not fly directly over the island, only smaller planes, so you do hear some noise, but not constantly and not too loud.

The commute from Alameda depends on where you are on the island, but from the East end where we are it's fantastic. There is an express AC transit bus that we catch on the corner and it's a 25 minute ride to the transbay terminal. Alternatively, from where we live, it's a 15 minute bike ride along the estuary to the Harbor Bay ferry, and then a 25 minute ride to the ferry terminal. On beautiful days it's a wonderful way to commute to work.

I'm not sure about play-based preschools. My daughter goes to Peter Pan near the Webster tube and it's great. There is a long waiting list, though. I'm pregnant with #2 and we won't be able to get the baby in there until it's 7 months old (next April).

Alameda is really a wonderful town. I'm sure your family would love it here. Good luck! Mary

Airport noise we don't really notice, but that may be because we're used to it or because we have double glazing. During the day it isn't an issue, but when I think about it I have heard a plane or two at night if I've been wandering around in a SE facing room. I do notice planes if I'm out and about.

The commute from the East End is easy. We use the Harbor Bay Ferry, and get to it on the #50 bus or by car, a drive of less than 10 mins. This ferry only runs commute hours and not at weekends. If we're driving to the Alameda Point ferry we allow 20 minutes in the mornings. The #63 bus goes there but is notoriously unreliable at meeting the ferry - especially on the way home, and it's not that nice a place to wait 20+ mins for the next bus. There are also several transbay buses which are comfortable, and there is also good bus service to the Fruitvale Bart station. Another plus is the bus to Oakland airport - only 15 minutes! My husband gets that if he has an early morning flight.

If you're determined to drive, fastrack or carpooling are good options. If we're a carpool, I allow 45 mins to get to the city from the East End in the morning, extra for parking etc. The beauty of coming from ALameda is that the 880 drops you right up near the toll plaza. I STRONGLY suggest fastrak, if you don't have it already.

Not sure about pre-schools, we're going to use the Alameda Parks and Rec program. Happy in Alameda

First of all, I think you will be very happy in Alameda. We've lived here since shortly before our first child was born (almost 9 years) and we really like it here. So, to your questions:

1) airport noise varies between Bay Farm and the main island. The big jets fly closer to Bay Farm but we don't hear them at all on the main island. We live on the East End and what we hear are the smaller commuter planes. They are also more likely to fly at different times than the big commercial planes. I remember noticing them when we first moved here, but I can't really remember the last time I actually heard one. I certainly haven't been woken up by one.

2) There are 2 ferry terminals, the Alameda/Oakland ferry leaves from ''Alameda Point'' by the old airbase and the Harbor Bay ferry terminal is on Bay Farm. The Bay Farm one is purely commuter hours, with the last one out in the morning at 8:30am. The Alameda/Oakland ferry is operated by Blue & Gold and has service (though infrequent) throughout the day and on weekends. Commuting by ferry is the best, if you can make the schedule work for you. It takes about 15-20 min for me to get from the far east end of the island to the Point on the far west end. It only takes 5-10 for me to get to the Harbor Bay ferry. The only real traffic that I know about in Alameda is getting to 880 from Bay Farm in the mornings and sometimes getting through the tunnel during rush hour. It shouldn't take any longer to get across the island in the morning as at any other time.

Depending where you are going in SF, it can be less than 30 min door to door and I did drive when my work was right off the freeway with subsidized parking. But now I work downtown and take BART. It usually takes me 45 min door to door.

3) It can seem like most of the schools are Montessori, but play-based developmental preschools do exist. We love Fuzzy Caterpillar Preschool (our younger child has been there for 2 years, since shortly after it opened.) I think there is a waiting list currently, but I'm not sure how long the wait is. (

As I said, we really like it here. It is a very family-friendly, neighborly kind of place. --happy resident of ''Mayberry''

To Future Alameda Mama,

I used to live in the High Street/Broadway area of Alameda and wanted to comment on your questions.

From visiting friends, the airport noise on Bay Farm/Harbor Bay is pretty bad, but I had no problems whatsoever on the east end. The weather is so pleasant that we were frequently outdoors and with open windows with no complaints about airport noise. Practically forgot it was there, except when we were enjoying the fact that it was only ten minutes away.

The major morning traffic that I see is on Island Drive for those people leaving Bay Farm/Harbor Bay. Many people Bart in to the city via the Fruitvale station. Parking there is plentiful. There are also AC Transit Transbay Express buses that run through the east end. You will occasionally have to deal with a bridge delay if you are leaving town via High Street, Fruitvale or Park Street bridges.

I relocated out of Alameda a year ago and am fortunately still connected to the community through friends and our daughter's pre-school. It is a great place to raise kids. Unfortunately, I can't recommend the play-based pre-school where we started out but there are lots of quality pre-schools in Alameda. Don't want to trash the play-based school we hated on BPN, but I will say that we have happily gone the Montessori route.

Good luck with your move! Anonymous

I recently moved to Alameda and love it so far. I live in the Fernside neighborhood and I really don't hear the airplanes. However, what no one mentioned to me was the slight train noise which I noticed the first night after moving in. You can't hear it during the daytime, but can hear it in the stillness of the night. That only lasted the first week. Since then, I don't notice it at all any more. Kathy

I have lived in Alameda 7 years and can speak to 2 of your questions.

1)Airport noise: Personally, I haven't experienced this to be noticeable in the two locations I have lived in: along Shoreline and in the East End. I think it may be more pronounced in Bay Farm.

2) Commute: The best kept commuting secret in Alameda is our AC Transit Transbay buses (O, OX and W). I have taken the W bus for years to SF-- the stop is right near where I live, I always get a seat, and the buses come frequently during commute hours.

I do know people who take the ferry and have never heard an issue about the drive to the terminal as Alameda crosstown traffic is really pretty light. The ferry itself is very quick to SF. By the way, BART is also a viable option since Fruitvale BART is close by and there is plenty of parking. Plus, there is a casual carpool on Encinal and Park Ave.

In short, there is no real reason that you would need to drive in to SF-- we have a wealth of transit options. I have carpooled in the past and can tell you that if you need to take your car, the drive is only about 20 mins. if you are able to avoid the toll plaza.

Good luck with your potential move. Alameda is a great place to live! Alamedan

I grew up in Alameda and moved back to raise my family. To answer your questions:

1)The airport noise is loud depending on where you live on the island. I grew up on the East end between Fernside and High Street near the Bay Farm Bridge (Harbor Bay Bridge). The noise level is noticeable and you do get used to it. Although I do remember having to turn up the volume of the TV with a remote when a plane went over. Harbor Bay has noise also. When I moved back I temporary lived on Harbor Bay while we looked for a house to buy. The noise out there was noticeable if you were inside and you had to raise your voice if you were outside. That said, there are tons of great walking trails out there and GREAT schools. Also there is a commuter ferry out there.

We bought a house in Central Alameda near Park Street *estuary side of the island). We love it there because we can walk everywhere to do our shopping and errands. I never hear airplane noise at our house.

2)My husband commutes to SF and he works near UCSF Mission Bay Campus. If he leaves Alameda at 7:40 near the Harbor Bay Bridge (where day care is located) he gets to work around 8:45. If he leaves our house in Central Alameda at 7am he gets to work around 7:45. The time involved is door to door. The traffic is not so bad in Alameda. It may take 15 minutes to get from one end to the other.

There is a casual car pool line up near Park Street and Encinal. Plus we are very close to Fruitvale Bart. There is also a commuter transbay bus (#O) that is clean and comfortable.

3)My daughter's pre school is Small Size Big Mind 521-8025. They are located on the main island of Alameda off of Otis at the foot of Harbor Bay Bridge. We are happy with it. I know they have waiting lists, but not sure of the details. You can also check for more preschools in the area.

There is also a Peter Pan preschool near the tube on the West end that seems nice.

Hope this helps! Island Mom

I did not see your original post but echo everything I've read in the responses about Alameda being a great place to raise kids.

As for preschools, our eldest went to Sugar and Spice by the Webster tube - it is a play based preschool and then transitioned very well to a montessorri school - Children's Cottage/Rising Star (run by the same people - CC is for younger kids). Our youngest is now at Sugar and Spice. zeta

Moving from SF to Alameda for the schools?

March 2008

Another version of the moving from SF to the East Bay question...! The posts on living in and schools in each of Alameda and Piedmont are helpful but some are a bit old and we are also wondering if anyone else has considered moving to either one and what the reasons for choosing one over the other were. Or even if you just chose one for particular reasons... We are looking for a school district with strong parent involvement; are there other neighborhoods out there we should be looking at? (SF is not an option -- we are first-time buyers and the East Bay provides so much more square foot for the dollar...) Thanks! anon

We just moved to the Bay area last summer, and chose Alameda. If you can afford Piedmont and can find suitable housing, it's a wonderful option. But we were able to find housing that we'd be much more comfortable in here in Alameda (in our price range). We also love being close to the Bay and the beach- we're water people. The schools are generally excellent, with a couple of exceptions. There are many very involved parents- I work full time and can't give as much time as I would like, but the PTA is wonderful and my kids are as happy as they've ever been. Another thing I love about Alameda- incredible Parks & Rec dept- there are always tons of fun, very reasonable classes to sign up for- they also have wonderful after-school and summer camp programs for the kids. There are lots of other perks and considerations of both places, depending on your needs, so good luck making your decision. Alameda mom

Any professors living in Alameda?

Feb 2008

We're moving and trying to figure out where to settle. I've visited Alameda and it seems to have a great feel and good schools and I want to move there. My husband doesn't want to because he talked to someone who lived there ~12 years ago and convinced him that it is a redneck town.

For him: Is it a redneck town? Are there other professors who live there? Are there ''cultural'' things to do -- lectures, music, etc.?

For me: Will I be able to find SAHMs to hang out with? If I go back to work, will I be the only working mother in my child's class? Searching....

Hello from Alameda.

Alameda seemed conservative to me (compared to the City) when I first moved here, but friendly nonetheless. It feels like there's far less of the element you described in your post, although I have not lived here 12 + yrs! My husband and I moved here to buy a home after living in SF for 7+ years. I missed it so much at first, I used to continue to take my dry-cleaning to my old neighborhood!! Now, I'm very happy here and have made some great friends who are progressive, educated and nice people in general. :-)

Alameda does feel a bit like the town in which I grew up in the Midwest, in terms of the friendliness and overall ''pace'' of life \x96 but it's definitely more diverse than the Midwest in general, and ANY Chicago (for example) suburb!

People who live here truly care about their community and their kids' education. It is more progressive than it seems, and I believe that has to do with a significant influx of young couples/families coming from SF and nearby communities, as well. The demographics are shifting a lot. So much has changed in the brief time I've been here, especially in terms of shopping, dining & entertainment options. You can see the changes and things are being built and improving as we speak. Alameda has good schools (very good, relative to much of the Bay Area).

There are many parents working part-time and LOTS of SAHMs to connect with (and I've met some SAHDs as well) and great programs for kids including the infant/toddler set: music, tumbling, singing, art, etc. Many of us who are home, plan a return to work once our little ones are a bit older. And I would say it seems the young families here are educated and even highly educated. I'm not sure about ''academic-types'' & ''professors'' living here, but you'll find people who are successful in all the major Bay Area industries. I still miss SF (although I would NOT want to live there with small children) and my life feels too busy to do the cultural/city things I used to enjoy, but I get my ''fix'' when I need it! Tell your hubby it is a great place for families; and remind him that Berkeley and SF are just 10-20 min away. Alameda Resident of 7+ yrs

My husband, child (now 5) and I moved to Alameda four years ago from Oakland. Neither of us is a professor, but we've met some who live there, as well as lawyers, doctors, scientists, therapists, and other professionals. If ''hick'' is a code word for poor white people, yes, they exist in Alameda, and depending on how you define poor (I remember someone on this list months back thinking they had it really tough though their income was $150,000), then maybe my husband and I are hicks, as our combined income is less than $75K. There is a definite ''upward'' trend in income on the island, or so it seems as there are definitely more SUVs and minivans than Sanford-and-Son type trucks.

We are renters (close to 45% of Alamedans are renters) but nearly all of our neighbors are homeowners, and the ones with children do not send their kids to the neighborhood elementary school (Haight) as it is perceived as a ''bad'' school for various reasons, some of which (after touring the school, visiting the kindergarten classes, etc.)seem unwarranted. It does feel strange that my kid will be going to kindergarten at the neighborhood school with no actual close neighbors in attendance, but c'est la vie. Culturally, I think things are coming up: there's a great new cultural/arts center called Rhythmix down near the Park St Bridge, they have all kinds of activities for adults and kids, google for the website. There are a couple of theater companies, and really terrific parks and a fabulous Parks & Recreation Dept.There are a few good restaurants, and I think more are coming from what I've heard through the grapevine. I've known SAHMs (I was one for two years) and women who work part-time, fulltime, and all seem to get along as far as I can tell.

I've been running into more moms recently who balance work, childcare, and create art as well & I take this as a very positive sign that more artists and creative types who are not just after the big bucks are moving to Alameda.

The times I've felt lonely/angry about life ''on the isle'' are the occasional comments-- not by hicks, but by college educated, professional people-- made about Oakland. Maybe I'm sensitive because I lived in Oakland for a long time, and my mother is from there, I don't know. There is a definite contingent of people with a real ''island'' mentality who would blow up the bridges and tunnels so ''those people'' would not come over. Well, a big movie theater is opening in few months downtown and inevitably more of ''those people'' will come, so it'll be interesting to see how the reactionaries deal w/it! Adjusting to Alameda

I've lived in Alameda for about 10 years now, and am so sick of the impressions people have of this town--most of whom have never been here. Or been here once. For an hour. At a soccer game. Or maybe they just heard something.

Pluses: it's flat and easy to bike and walk everywhere, we have highly-functional neighborhood schools, a good variety of grocery stores independent (Encinal, The Market Place) and chain (Nob Hill, Trader Joe's, Safeway). Alameda is diverse in that wonderful melting pot way--fewer than 60 percent of the residents are white (2000 census says, 57 percent white, 26 percent Asian, about 10 percent Latino and 6 percent African-American). Alameda is an easy commute to the city by bus or by BART or casual carpool. Our parks are frequented by moms and, too, nannies, and we're a close hop to many of the Bay Area's best kid-friendly places. Many families chose Alameda over going through the tunnel. Park Street, one of the main shopping districts, has totally been revitalized in recent years, and is now a vibrant district for shopping and socializing with dozens of kid-friendly (and, too, adult-friendly restaurants). Soon the restored theatre will open there, and we'll be able to skip 880 and walk to the movies. Park has a Starbucks, a Peet's and several independent cafes, two book stores, a toy store, kids' clothing get the idea. You can walk, run or bike for miles along the Bay, the city's recreation department sponsors a huge range of children's activities, including a preschool program based in the parks. People are friendly and warm and glad to be here. But, no, it's not Berkeley, not North Oakland, either, not as completely upscale, not as totally upper class lefty. But there are kid activities galore--dance studios, art studios, every kind of martial art, music studios, everything you need and want with young kids--and young families are moving in like crazy. So come hang out for a bit and see what feels good to you. Alameda Anon

Alameda is much different then it was 12 years ago--but I think every part of the Bay area is different then it was 12 years ago! With the close of the navy base, it is a much different place. I like Alameda--I think it is a great place to be either a working parent or a SAH parent.

Having lived in Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley and Alameda, I think that my children have the best quality of life here. Culturally, Alameda is a very diverse (I think more so then Berkeley) little city with a very active community.

It is an easy commute either by bus (51 is a direct line to Berkeley--bring your bike, too) or car via the 24... Alameda Mom

12 years ago Alameda definitely *was* a redneck town! I lived in Jingletown (the art ghetto on the other side of the Park St bridge from Alameda) in 1990-92 and we, the artists in the ghetto, called Alameda ''Alamediocre''. It was at the tail end of being a Naval base and still had that military vibe. Very white trash - and completely bassackward.

I moved here last year to start a cultural arts center and have been pleasantly surprised by the changes in Alameda. Good food and coffee can now be had without going to Oakland! There are lots of professional working moms here, my son goes to a great preschool with lots of cultural diversity (Child Unique). In fact, it was hard to choose a pre-school because there were some great ones (we almost went to Home Sweet Home). There are tons of kids activities here (Ruby's Tumbling Room, the Bladium, etc), good schools and family friendly restaurants. There are even a few nice restaurants.

Our art center has given adults and kids a new venue for cultural experiences - we've had lots of great arts and lectures here (4 Cellos, World Music Series, classes, gallery shows, camps, one act plays etc). There's also Frank Bette Gallery and the Altarena Theater. The Auctions by the Bay theater does stuff occasionally too. There are a nice group of people that frequent the art events called the First Friday Salon - they are all professor types. And several of the kids who attend classes here at Rhythmix have two PhD parents... there are definitely profs on the Island!

Alameda can be a little backwards in certain respects (politics mostly), but its come a long way from 12 years ago. I remember during the Rodney King fiasco the mayor of Alameda said he would raise the bridges and close the tunnel if there were riots on Oakland. There were no riots in Oakland - there was a candlelight vigil at Lake Merritt - and the Alameda Mayor was slammed for being such a racist.

But bay area real estate being what it is, there are lots of diverse and educated people here now, and plenty of amenities to suit their interests. Its not North Berkeley, but its not Tracy either. Jennifer

Alameda was a little red neck 12 years ago, but it isn't anymore. It's still has a small town feel but due the base closing and the revitalization of the shopping areas in town it is beginning to feel much more like a hip, suburban bedroom community. Lots of professional people and SAHMs. Good luck. Leslie

I live in Alameda and can think of 6 professors right off hand that I know who live here. They are variously associated with Cal Berkeley, the Graduate Theological Union, Cal State Hayward, and Holy Names University. I'm sure there are many more ...

I grew up in a Midwestern university town and Alameda reminds me of there. I love living here after living in Berkeley and Oakland for 5 years combined. It is quiet and residential - doesn't feel like a big city or a suburb. It has never crossed my mind to think of it as ''redneck.'' There is a theatre here, some light opera, chamber singers, etc. No, it's not an outstanding place to go to hear lectures, but we're so close to Cal and Oakland that it's easy to cross the bridge to get to those.

I'm a SAHM and in my original mom's group of 12 there are 3 of us remaining who are still home full-time (our kids are 18 months old). It's not hard to find SAHMs or working moms. We don't have the huge ethnic diversity of Oakland or Berkeley, but on our block we have Polish, Japanese, Mexican, and Filipino neighbors. At the playground we regularly hear several different languages spoken. Our library has bilingual English-Spanish and English-Chinese story times. I think Alameda's a great place to live and raise a family! ann

Alameda is totally not a redneck town. They are a small town and yet are a little island unto themselves. Though the island is 2 by 4 miles, there are neighborhoods of micro-communities. There are wealthier and poorer sections of the town. There is a diverse population.

There are housing developments from the 1960's, Victorians, Mediterraneans, Apartment complexes, houseboats. Professors live everywhere. Alameda. San Leandro. Oakland. You do have to drive off and on the island to go places and then come back home. That means either driving through tubes under the estuary or over bridges, or taking ferries over the bay to S.F. Alameda is SAHM-land. There are many SAHM activities and places to go and meet.

I love the place. I lived there before kids, moved to San Leandro to afford a home and miss Alameda a lot. Mary

I am literally laughing out loud...a redneck town!?! That's hilarious! My husband and I have lived in Alameda for over two years after living in San Francisco for 6 years. We had our first baby 9 months ago and couldn't be happier. For him: there are tons of community events: music, local theater, restaurants, street/art/car fairs, golf, you name it. For you: there are Mom's groups, storytimes, boardgame nights, great places to take your kids to play/learn/dance, etc. There is a broad spectrum of families here, from SAHM/SAHD to full time working parents. There is a great mix of people, religion, and culture. The schools are great (from what I hear all the time), the weather is nice, it's very safe and people actually hold the door for you and say hello. I grew up in the bay area and can honestly say Alameda is the best town to raise a family and be a part of an actual community. Bring your husband for a visit, I think he'll be pleasantly surprised. Best of luck ! and I hope you end up here, it's wonderful. Here's the city website for lots of details: Alameda lovin' Mom

I live in Alameda and I really like it. It's got a bit of that small town feel, where you can walk to almost anything, but not a redneck town at all. I think it used to be more like that back in the day when the base was the source of most jobs and it was also a residencial enclave for cops and firemen. But alot has changed since then. Alameda is swarming with young people including young families and is VERY diverse. Someone told me (I don't remember who) that it is a hotspot for interracial couples, which my husband and I are. And I haven't met a republican yet, though I've only been here for about 6 months. I must say though that sometimes it's nice to get a bit of political diversity and not just be preaching to the converted all the time the way we used to living in Berkeley and Oakland. There are all sorts of living situations, from condos on the beach to California bungalows to funky old victorians in various states of decline and grandeur.

THere are plenty of professors (my sis lives here and is one, and my father lives here and just retired from being one) and other intelectual types. As far as stuff to do, there are beautiful beaches, parks and a bird estuary, there are great cafes, restaurants, bookstores and soon there will be a movie theater (then we will never have to leave the island). There are plenty of SAHMs but probably most work once the kids get school aged if not before hand. I am due in a few weeks and will be a SAHM for as long as finances allow.

For us we chose Alameda over hipstery Oakland to be near my family (though none of us is from here per se)and to get away from the violence in Oakland. Last week 2 people were shot, one fatally, on the corner we were going to live in near Mac Arthur BART. So many reasons. I wish you the best of luck and feel free to email me if you have more questions or move here and want to get together. carmen

I'm an ex-professor (academic track, teaching doctoral level students), but now in private practice. I've lived in Alameda for about 15 years (I lose count). I should start by saying that I was not originally interested in moving to Alameda. I preferred Oakland or Albany. But my then-husband was working in the South Bay and did not want to live any further North than Oakland, but would not live in Oakland. I would not move any further South that Oakland, so Alameda was the compromise, and we didn't even have children. i cosnoled myself that I could get to any of the ''interesting'' places relatively easilily, as Alameda was centrally located with easy access to the highway. Also, Alameda has great home appreciation rates, which has paid off rather nicely. I should point out that I am a woman of color, of very progressive politics, with many years of living in large cosmopolitan cities in the US and abroad. Yes, Alameda USED TO BE a red-neck town, but not so much any more. I moved here just after it was announced that the base would be closed, so it was a gamble, as most towns suffer when a base is closed. Not Alameda, because their economy was not dependant on the base. Re your question of red-neck town: Base closed means fewer military types. But most importantly has been the ''life cycle'' of the town residents. It had been a predominantly white, working-class town, where couples bought a house, raised their families in that house, never moving, and eventually dieing in the house. What that has meant is that the ''red-neck'' home owners have been dieing off, and professional middle-class families of more diverse backgrounds and thought have been moving in. There are still the now-adult children of those who are dying off who still live here, but they are not necessarily the majority anymore. Things have changed and are continuing to change, eg. more interesting stores and restaurants. But there is no night life, or rallies, lectures, etc, and probably won't be in the foreseeable future. Ther e is small-town performing arts. About being a SAHM or a working mom. After about 15 years here, I now have my first child, making Alameda pay off -- This is a great FAMILY town--whether you are a SAHM or a working mom. You will definitely find plenty of both to connect with. Great town to walk in, about the safest you will find in modern day society around here, lots of parks for the kids, and ''great'' public schools, some awarded state recognition (''relatively'' eg California 47th state in the country in public education, and USA worst among all industrial nations and behind many ''developing'' countries''). I would highly recommend looking at Alameda and see how it feels to each of you now. Progressive Alameda Mom and professional

I wasn't going to respond to this, but then decided I just had to. Before I respond to your question, though, first let me just say, I did not like your use of the term ''redneck'' at all. I think I get what you were asking, and I am sure you said that a bit tongue in cheek, still, it just sounds really condescending and it's actually hard to respond to. What exactly do you mean by it? Who is a redneck to you? What is it that your husband is worried about? More helpful would have been a post that describes the type of people you like to hang out with, or simply asks for a description of Alameda and its people.

So let me just try to describe Alameda. We moved to Alameda two years ago with our young children. My husband and I both have multiple graduate degrees. We are not professors, but we both value friends who can have intellectually challenging conversations with us and who value education. My fantasy would be to live in a university community where the families are ''rich'' intellectually rather than rich economically. Not sure if that is what you guys are looking for, but that is what we look for and I'll respond with that bias. Alameda is not exactly that, but we still are content. In terms of the people, I feel like Alameda is split into two groups. Older Alameda is literally older, perhaps lower socioeconomic status and more conservative. Newer Alameda consists of professional families, slightly wealthier, who have moved to the Island relatively recently. There are a LOT of young families and plenty of things to do for SAHPs with young kids. I haven't found as many over-educated parents as I might have wished for, but I have really liked the families we have met. What I was surprised at here: While Alameda's navy base is closed, there still is some military influence on the island - for example, a lot of Coast Guard families. As a liberal, I would have assumed they would be really different than me, but I have been proven wrong, happily. The Island is diverse racially, but I get a sense there are relatively more low income, under-educated white families here than in say, Oakland or Berkeley. Probably not a huge proportion but striking when compared to cities like Oakland where socio-economic status and race seem so closely tied (i.e. poor people in Oakland are more likely to be dark skinned). I don't think there is more poverty in Alameda compared to other cities. It's just the color of poverty here that makes it stand out. I guess I would sum up by saying that Alameda is NOT Cambridge or Berkeley, or Princeton, but I think most of my professor friends would be content here. overeducated Alamedan

I would like to respond to your question regarding if Alameda is a red neck town.....absolutely not. I am third generation Alamedan and moved back to this town to raise my family (from Seattle). It is a great place to raise a family because of the parks, beach, and community. Alameda has a small town feel but is in the center of the Bay Area.

As for finding other Moms in the area there are plenty of both SAHM and working Moms here. My friends with kids are equally divided in both categories. Come visit Alameda and walk around in the neighborhoods you are interested in. You will find it is a very friendly community. Alameda Momma

I have worked in Alameda for over a decade, and when I had a child I seriously considered moving here. However, I really dreaded it. No, people are not redneck, but they are very conservative. There is definitely a good side and ''bad'' of the town. This is particularily true of the schools. Half of the schools I would not consider sending my children to. Where you live determines which school your child goes to. I have known people to move to Alameda ''for the schools,'' and ending up in a bad district. Be careful. That said. Park Street is absolutely charming, and the older houses are beautiful. Alameda is not to my taste. Try eating at some the restaurants, walking through the neighborhoods. It might suit you. anon

2004 - 2007 Reviews

Considering moving to Alameda

April 2007

Our Family is considering moving to Alameda. Could someone tell me the pros and cons of living in Alameda? Candice

We have lived in Alameda for almost a year now and are really enjoying it. I cannot express how wonderful it is to find a great place to raise our family, that feels so right. The ambiance is friendly and relaxed; we love being able to walk to shops and amenities and there is no shortage of beautiful architecture. There are lots of new families moving in and kids everywhere. I think Alameda has the best of both worlds - it is relatively close to SF and Oakland and really in the middle of the bay area, however it has a small-town atmosphere that is great for kids.

The only ''con''... and it took me a while to think of one, would be Bart - we do not use it as much as we did before when we lived elsewhere in East Bay. It is too far to walk to (Fruitvale station in Oakland) and train service is occasionally unreliable in the morning rush.

The only other ''cons'' are soon to change - right now, we do have to leave the island to go to certain stores, like a decent sporting goods store, Target, electronics, several other things. However there are currently several projects in the works that will bring more retail and business to Alameda, one of which is the renovation of the south shore mall (Old Navy, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Borders are coming soon), a movie cineplex/parking structure near Park Street, and a few other big developments. There is lots of debate now as to how much traffic these projects will bring to Alameda and there are some who would like to preserve the ''sleepiness'' of the town, but Alameda has so much potential and really could be the next Rockridge... for better or for worse. In any case, I think it's a great time to buy here. Good luck and hope you will find what you're looking for in Alameda, as we did. new Alamedan

We recently moved out of Alameda...and I really miss it. A quick nutshell of the pros and cons for us were: 1. it's really close to Oakland, and we got sick of having to drive past panhandlers every day to get home 2. the homes are close together, and the yards are small (generally speaking). That's about it on the ''cons'' list. Pros: Very cute town, very family oriented. Very sidewalk/pedestrian friendly. Lots and lots of parks...all walking distance from somewhere. Great community resources, esp. for families. Great schools (although we heard that the highschools are not so great...but that was just heresay). Great downtown with all the shopping you need. Great Trader Joes in town too.

So overall, we left for a larger house with a larger yard on a cul-du-sac, in a very quiet and safe neighborhood. But overall, I really miss the pedestrian friendly, park friendly aspect of Alameda, and the downtown area. It's a great town! Oh yeah, the commute to SF is decent too. Esp. depending on where you work...there are 2 ferries that go from Alameda to SF, and the 880 onto the bay bridge is not as bad as any other approach to the bay bridge. Good luck wtih your decision. I hope this helped! anon

Hello Candice,

Having lived in Alameda for the last 27 years, I can heartily recommend moving here. Although I hear a lot of people swear by Berkeley and what it has to offer, Alameda has a lot to offer as well and if you love Berkeley, you're only 20 mins away.

Alameda is a great place to raise a family with great parks and schools and relatively little crime. We are centrally located so that you can get to any place in the East Bay or San Francisco usually within a half hour. Alameda has great schools with outstanding API (Academic Preformance Index) scores that have made our local paper (check out the Alameda Sun or the Alameda Journal) or the district website ( We have great parks that offer classes and enrichment activities as well as summer programs (check out Rents are a bit steep but that's the price for living in the Bay Area. Plan on $1200 to $1500 for a 2 bedroom and houses sell for $500,000+ easily. The upside is that you feel safe here walking around, we have a great downtown and our shopping center is going to be fantastic once they are done remodeling it.

If you like older homes, Alameda has more Victorians per capita than San Francisco and due to a density limiting ordinance passed in the 1970's, not as many box style appartment buildings as other cities of similar size but we also have new developments as well.

Truthfully, knowing the pros and cons, I wouldn't want to raise my son anyplace else. For me, Alameda has it all. Laura

Hi, I think that Alameda is one of the Bay Area's best kept secrets, depending on why you want to move there of course. If you have a family it is really great! Alameda is an island, & the entire island has a strictly inforced speed limit of 25 mph. There are tons of parks, bike lanes everywhere, the beach (good for some activities, but I wouldn't recommend swimming among them), really adorable victorian homes in some neighborhoods, & during the holidays the whole island seems to really get involved.

The schools on the East end of the island are a little better than those on the West end. That said though, I would seriously consider Paden Elementary school on the West end. The teachers are outstanding! They have a state of the art library, & the parents are extremely involved. Their play yard has a spectacular view of the harbour. Definitely the best on the island!

The down side for me has been the lack of diversity, but even that has been ever changing for the better. I would highly recommend Alameda, but then again, I'm biased, I've lived here for the past 10 years. A happy islander

I moved from SF to Alameda in 2000. I swore I'd never live anywhere other than the City, particularly not in the East Bay but, I must say, it was a good decision. It has some affordable housing, good schools, lots of parks, friendly people and low crime. I have a four year old daughter and it's easy to park everywhere I need to go. I recommend this beautiful island city to singles, couples, people with children and without, gay and straight, liberal and moderate - as I have friends here in all these categories. It's also been great that new restaurants and stores have opened up, (Nob Hill Foods and Old Navy are the newest)as well as a library and they are now remodeling the old movie theater. If you have any specific questions I'd be happy to try and answer them for you. Good Luck, Jessica

Great beach and close to the water Small town feel Lots of kids, always run into people you know Mostly high test scores at schools, depends on neighborhood neighborhood schools trader joe's and more shopping coming to town great dim sum place lucky juju pinball gallery 4th of july parade old vic's and flat streets ''safe'' great bike city ferry commuting to SF lots of new people moving in so demo is changing
no private schools except catholic schools, upper grades, lots of Montessori schools preschool lack of play based preschools lack of part time preschools hangover conservative from Navy base drive to Berkeley for shopping not great parks not great restaurants, gotta really search for the good ones and there aren't that many, not a foodie town. Lots of bad mexican and sushi everywhere not great farmer's market, only one organic stand usually have to leave island for a lot of shopping and kid activity stuff, but that might just be me
Overall, it's nice here, but not perfect and it really depends what you are looking for. there is kind of an ahhhhhh feeling when you cross your bridge into town. It's not Berkeley politically or otherwise, so if that's what you are wanting, then you should move there. Alameda mom

Here are the PROs and CONs of Alameda:

1.Safe neighborhoods \x96 because it is an island, it is a destination. You can't just drive through it.
2.Pretty good schools \x96 it's not Piedmont but they are pretty good.
3.Convenient stores \x96 there's Peets, Trader Joe's and an organic market. Need I say more.

1.Heavy handed city government \x96 you need a permit for everything. You need a permit to replace the wax seal of your toilet (no joke).
2.Morning traffic- it can be tough getting off the island in the morning.
Alameda Resident

Meeting other families in Alameda

August 2006

We recently moved to Alameda and I have a 6 month old son. I am looking for a Mommy & Me type group to join to help get to know more people in the area. I know there is a Music Together class on Park Street. Does anyone have any additional recommendations for meeting other families?

There is a great kindergym called Wee Play here is a link: (scroll to the bottom of the page--past the preschool info). It is for kids six months to three. You can drop in and I think it is 5 bucks--if you help clean up it is free! That is a good way to get out of the house and meet other kids and parents. I think there are several mom's groups, but I don't do mothers' groups... they kind of freak me out:) Alameda mom

My son and I live in Oakland but have been attending a toddler program in Alameda for about a year now. It's called My Play Place and well worth the drive. WE LOVE IT! The two teachers/owners were public school teachers and are now moms of toddlers. The space is great and they are always coming up with new, fun activities. Your son is a little young for this program but it's something to look forward to! Their website is and phone number is 541-6758.

Hi Cindy, Check out and click on ''workshops''. Good local resource of some of the stuff going on in Alameda. Plus Smart and Healthy Babies have ''New Moms'' groups - I think the next one starts at the end of August. Even though your babe isn't an infant, there are should be some mommies there with older babes. Give them a call! Cheryl

There are so many great things to do in Alameda. Check out Smart Healthy Babies (864-1077), a non-profit that offers free Mom's groups. They are a great resource, Beth Hoch is the program coordinator and fabulous.

They also have music and dance classes at the multicultural center (842 Central) for babies/toddlers with parents. I think they even have a spanish sing along class. Classes are $2. There is Wee Play Wed and Friday mornings on Central across from the library in the Veteran's building. Ruby's tumbling has fun classes. Music Together on Park Street (Lisa is super, both my kids LOVED her). Former Alameda Mom

Walking and commuting in Alameda

April 2006

Hi, My husband and I just relocated to the Bay Area with our 2-year- old daughter. We're staying someplace temporarily in San Francisco, and are looking for a permanent apartment. Alameda is one area we are considering.

Can anyone please recommend an apartment complex that is family- friendly there? Also, it would be great if it were within walking distances of shops, etc. Are there a decent amount of preschools in Alameda? One of the hardest things about moving was pulling our daughter out of her beloved preschool. She was doing so well there. I'm not looking forward to starting the process all over again. Sigh.

And is there a commuter bus from Alameda to the city or at least to Bart? My husband works in downtown San Francisco. We don't have a car at the moment, but are planning to buy one. But he still wouldn't drive, I don't think.

Thanks very much, Kristin

My family recently moved to Alameda. We cannot believe what a wonderful secret this town is! We are hardly use our car. We ride our bikes to the beach, market and even out on date nights. The whole island has 25 mph speed limits, ao riding is just as fast. There is a great transbay bus line that leaves often to the city and the ferry that drops you off at the end of Market street. Alamedians are extrememly friendly and proud islanders. If you enjoy sailing, windsurfing or simply strolling the beach, I don't beleive thier is a better place to live if you have to work in the bay area. THe schools are good (some are fantastic, and some are just good) and the island is a very safe place for kids. There are always some type of kids activities runned by the city. Pretty much anywhere on the island is close to shopping and restuarants. I would however, suggest living closer to park street on the east end. Good luck! akc

I don't know about apartments because we live in a house in Alameda. I haven't spent too much time looking for preschools yet but there are a ton of them and it seems everyone can find one that works for them. What I can speak to is the bus to SF. It's great! It's the AC Transit O line (or OX for the express version) and it takes you quickly from Alameda to SF. It terminates at the transit center on 1st street. If you live close to this bus line and can walk to it that would be great. Luckily there are a lot of apartments close by. Along a similar route, you can take the 51 bus to the Oakland 12th St BART station and get to the city that way. Tabinda

Hi there, We've lived in Alameda for years and I would highly recommend re- locating here. It's small enough that you will find a nice community for you and your family. The parks are very nice and I've found people to be pretty welcoming. There are lots of different preschool options for your daughter. Alameda is well served by the Transbay busses with AC Transit ($3.50 each way) that drop off in downtown SF at the Transbay terminal at Fremont and Mission streets. Casual carpool is also growing in Alameda and if you cue at the bus stops, people will usually drop by to see if you'd like a ride to SF and drop off is in the Howard/Fremont/Mission area. Of course, there is a great ferry from the West End of town that takes you over to the ferry building too. Welcome!

Alameda- ah my favorite subject! It is a wonderful place for kids and adults. There are lots of pre-schools depending on what your needs are and interests. My son goes to Rising Star Montessori and several friends kids who go to Child Unique. For play based pre-school check out Home Sweet Home out on the Base. There are many playgrounds and child-centric activites as well as a beach- ok sometimes it's kind of stinky - it is the Bay after all- but it is still a beach yeah!

We have a Trader Joe's, Noah's, Peets and a HUGE Safeway and there's talk of Traget coming to town- I may never leave the island! Alameda is centrally located and that makes it easy to go pretty much anywhere. If driving it takes 25 minutes to get to downtown SF, on AC Transit depending on where you live and catch the bus it can take anywhere between 15 minutes to 45 minutes. We do practice Casual Carpooling in Alameda so if you are waiting at a bustop during commutter hours you might very well get picked up by someone driving in. Fruitvale BART can be driven to in a matter of minutes or you can take the local 63 to it. There's lots of kid friendly places to eat and our little Movie Theatre- Central Cinema has family times. The school system is good so you won't have that expense later on. It also has a real town feeling instead of a burb feel which I like but generally neighbors know each other- at least well enough to wave.

In terms of meeting people, I know in my Mommy's Group at Smart Healthy Babies in Alameda ( a program that has new mommy groups, free visiting nurse and lactation consultants for new moms in Alameda) there were women who were going it alone. As a side note, my twenty something dog sitters who normally live in SF have decided to move to Alameda they love it so much- hey we have a Tiki Lounge now- what's not to love. I think I should join the Alameda Vistor's Bureau! Juliette

Being a single parent in Alameda

April 2006

I recently relocated to the Bay Area with my husband and 2-year- old daughter, as my husband was recruited here for a job. We've been having marital troubles for a while, and he now tells me he wants to separate (won't try counseling again). He says he'll co-sign a lease for me (I work part-time from home as an editor (self-employed), making about $3,400/month and I'm five months pregnant), and help me pay for my rent as needed.

He'll also pay for our daughter's preschool or daycare, if/once we find something, and give me some money for expenses. Needless to say, I feel overwhelmed.

I'm trying to find someplace affordable and safe to move -- max. $1,200 for a one bedroom. I'm not familiar with Alameda, but saw some nice-looking apartments there for not too much. And it sounds like a nice place for a child. But I guess I'm worried that it's so ''family-ish'' that there won't be many other single parents around. It would be nice to meet others in the same boat as me. I'd be interested in recommendations on any other areas in the East Bay as well. Thank you. Anonymous

Yes, Alameda is very friendly to single mom households. Look in the Alameda Journal friday edition for places to live and general info on Alameda. Park and Rec and East Bay Regional Parks have some free activities this summer. Check it out! Longtime Alamedan

Alameda is a very diverse place to live in terms of types of families. My family has lived here for several years, and I've learned about all sorts of formal and informal sources of support. I'm also familiar with schools and housing, so please feel free to contact me. I'm a marriage & family therapist and former teacher here. Gale

I can relate to your situation but want to encourage you a little... Alameda has it's benefits and I know there is an active single parent group there - you'll find it if you dig a little. As for preshools, I just put my 2 1/2 year old son in Fuzzy Caterpiller on Encinal at Morton,(near Franklin School and park). He LOVES it! It's new so you may not find it at Bananas. But, good luck and be grateful for all that financial help - I can only hope mine will step up to the plate soon and support his kids! I'm just getting my business back up and running so I can support myself and two kids. It's do-able, just remember... ask for help, receive it, reach out and be strong- we are all sisters in this regard. Take care. Laura

To the mom who's separating and looking at Alameda...first, I'm really sorry to hear about your troubles. My marriage ended nearly two years ago, when my daughter was four. I'm now a single mom living in Alameda and renting.

First, you should easily be able to find a nice one-bedroom for $1,200. If you email me I'm happy to give you a list of the apartment rental listings you need to check. There are three main realty/rental agency lists to keep track of.

In picking a neighborhood, think ahead to what school you'd want your kids in. I didn't really think about this at the time, but given the turmoil you'll be going through you probably don't want to move more than once in the next few years.

I also work at home, as a freelance writer, and I'd recommend finding a place where you can walk to Park Street or some other neighborhood center that has a coffee place you can take your kids, a park you like, and other attractive options. One advantage of Alameda is its walkability. There's a great network of parents here, and I don't think your single status will matter much. That said, I know that I don't fit in neatly with the families here. It was definitely easier when we were nuclear. But I think that can be worked out. Feel free to write me, I'd be happy to be a resource. Jan

Fun for almost 3-year old in Alameda

March 2006

Hello Alameda-savvy moms! I need to entertain my almost 3-year- old boy in Alameda on Thursdays from about 4:30 to 6:30 while his big sister attends a gymnastics class. I'd appreciate any suggestions for good playgrounds, fun stores, libraries, classes or activities or any other ideas. I'll be coming over the High St or Fruitvale Ave bridges so that end of town is preferable, but we can try anything! Many thanks! Dana

I recently discovered Lincoln Park on High St in Alameda. It has a wonderful play structure, in the shade of beautiful oak trees. There are swings and a little skate park. And during the rain, awesome splash puddles.

Park Street has lots of great stores to check out. Lauren's Closet is a nice second hand kids shop. Books Inc has a nice kids section. There are lots of places to get a bite to eat including La Pinata which is a nice LOUD place to eat. There's also a couple of coffee houses. If you keep going down Park Street till it deadends you'll wind up at the Beach. If it's a nice summer day you can enjoy building sandcastles or get out the stroller and take a walk along the pathway. The main liabrary is on central just a couple of blocks up from Park Street. They have a great kids area. Edison School has a nice playground with a big blacktop perfect for bike riding- their playground equipment is fun too and they have a handball court that's fun to kick balls back and forth. That's on Lincoln. Going back over to High Street and Santa Clara is Lincoln Park a nice shaded park with both a toddler and big kid area, basketball courts, tennis courts and a field of grass (if the big kids aren't having a game) to roll in.There's tumbling classes for small kids at Ruby's Tumbling on Santa Clara. You can do walk in classes.

On High St is a very nice park called Lincoln, the library is at Central and Walnut until the new digs are completed and if it's sunny and warm, the beach is always a good choice. The main fire house at Encinal and Park will give tours to wee ones as will the main post office but it's best to call ahead and go with a few friends. As far as ideas costing a little money, there is Ruby's Tumbling on Santa Clara between Park and Broadway and a craft/play place in a bright yellow storefront between Park and Oak also on Santa Clara (sorry I don't know the name). The ''golden arches'' at Central and Webster has an outdoor play structure for when the hungry monster hits!

There is the Children's Art Studio for art classes and Ruby's Tumbling for early gymnastics type stuff for young kids. Lincoln Park is a fun place to go and meet other families. The Park and Rec Dept. has some classes for that age. Good Luck, there is a lot of stuff to do here.

From the High Street Bridge, Lincoln park is the closest, and a nice place to take your toddler if it is not raining. You can enter the park on High Street at Santa Clara Ave, and there is usually parking on High Street. The playground is a short walk in from the entrance. Or go a bit further down High Street, and Krusi park is on the right side (near Otis St.). It has a nice toddler playground and separate ''big kids'' playground.
Alameda mom of a 3-yr-old

Commute from Alameda to Lafayette for preschool after we move?

Nov 2005

We are planning to move next summer to Alameda, and my son currently goes to a preschool (which he loves) in Lafayette. We are considering the possibility of keeping him there after we move. Can anyone give me an idea how long it would take to drive from Alameda to Lafayette - his program is 8:30am to 5pm? We may alternatively take Bart or change preschools altogether, but your input would definitely be helpful. Thanks in advance. Susan

I live in Alameda and both my children went to public preschool here given by the city Parks & Rec dept. You also have plenty of time to look around, ask neighbors, etc. for recommendations. If you're going to move all the way to Alameda, why commute your child? Any online map website will tell you how long it takes to drive there (at least 30 mins. door-to-door), but my question is why come to live in a new community if you're not going to be part of it, use what it offers? The question is not just going to a good preschool here or in Lafayette, but that you will meet families with children your child's age and begin to form friendships and networks among them, which will affect your whole famiy's life here in Alameda for the duration. What will you do when he/she is sick? The fact that your child will be gone from home for 9-11 hours each day is not conducive to taking advantage of your new community, making this a real home where you know people, know the schools, etc. There are so many good home daycare people here, and good preschools, public and private. The only reason I would continue in Lafayette is if you work in Lafayette so you need to be near the child care facility, and you're commuting there anyway. Even still, that's a terribly long day away from home for a child. In Alameda for 13 years

It's a long drive, not only to and from pre-school, but for playdates, birthday parties and other weekend and after-school events. If it were me, I'd really want to meet people in the new community through preschool before my child started kindergarten. Good luck! anonymous

Considering moving from Berkeley to Alameda

June 2005

My partner and I are considering moving from Berkeley to Alameda (buying a house). I don't know the island very well and could use some advice from Alamedans. We have: a toddler, left-leaning politics, and an appreciation of ''amenities'' (being able to walk to a playground/ grocery store/ cafe/ library/ restaurant). We also have a 10-year attachment to Berkeley, with lots of friends and playgroups based there. BUT we also have a growing distaste for the way Berkeley houses sell for 20% over the asking price! Think we can find happiness in Alameda?
I love Berkeley, but...

I'm a 35 year old mother of a 20 month old. I moved to Alameda eight years ago from Washington DC on the advice of my Dad, who also lives in Alameda. I've lived in two different places, a flat which I rented for about a year and the home I bought in 1999. I still live in that house and it has appreciated beyond my wildest dreams. I can honestly say that I love Alameda. It has everything I could ever want - it's close to my work (downtown Oakland) we can walk to coffee, shopping, parks, or just walk our dogs any where. I've had the same nice quiet neighbors the entire time I've lived there and I feel like I can trust them. I'm not married to my daughter's father but we live together and love each other. Our unmarried status is not an issue at all, for anyone we know in Alameda or associate with. Housing prices are not reasonable anywhere in the Bay Area, I don't think, but Alameda might be slightly better than Berkeley. We swim at a local Alameda pool with our daughter almost every weekend, I run around Bay Farm almost every weekend, we're always up at Peet's having coffee, and we just really like it. What more can I say? If there was a Target in Alameda, I would never have to leave ;)

I lived in Alameda briefly (6 months) earlier this year (moving from Berkeley and then back to Berkeley.) Alameda is nice - in a very different way than Berkeley is. VERY quiet, not as much of a ''young'' population as Berkeley, and honestly, just not as much to do. Of course, these are the reasons that some people love it. There's hardly any traffic, the stores/restaurants are never crowded, etc. For me, it felt too ''suburban'' (I realize that Berkeley is also sort of a suburb.) And I missed all the wonderful hustle that is part of Berkeley life. Also - if you're looking at buying in Alameda make sure to do EXTENSIVE earthquake research, as large parts of the island are built on landfill/sand and will ''liquify'' in a big earthquake - wrecking foundations and houses.
-Went back to Berkeley

Alameda has changed quite a bit in the past 10 years. It's no longer a sleepy military town that rolled up the sidewalks at 5. It is gentrifying, and there have been some bumps along the way, but I think as its demographics change, the town has become more accepting and pleasant. A good way to get a feel for Alameda is to attend the 4th of July Parade and to look at the free weeklies: Alameda Sun and Alameda Journal.

There have been some ugly incidents. Many years back, the police department was caught with racist messages. Someone with a rainbow flag received threats, too. But overall the town is improving. In a recent parade, an exhibitor's hate message at the end of the parade stunned everyone. A church group, acting quickly, counteracted that by rejoining the parade with its pro-diversity message.

Alameda is a good little town. However, the Alameda real estate market is at least as hot as the Berkeley market right now. Homes are going for 20% over asking here, too, and asking is *high*. Alameda is pretty deeply into the process of transforming from a navy town into Rockridge. The city planners are busy. I suspect the market may even be a little on the speculative side because of that. Don't go to Alameda looking for cheap housing--that was 4 years ago.

Alameda is a wonderful place to live. It has many of the attributes of Berkeley with 1/10th the grime. The City provides great services: from a 3.5 minute response time for the Fire/ambulence and nice police officers to an outstanding rec & park dept. The island has two ferry services and good bus service via AC Transit. It takes just a few minutes to get to Fruitvale or Lake Merritt BART. It is a walkable community and the flatness of it makes biking with a toddler on the back of the bike super fun. Although the City is technically an ''inner city'' we have a surburban crime rate. The population is 74,000 and the claim that the island is racially intollerant just isn't true. There is great diversity, in fact hundreds of languages are spoken in our public schools. And if you need a Berkeley fix, it takes 15 minutes or less to drive there. We love going into Berkeley to visit Habitot or sometimes their toddler parks and you can't beat the student area salad spots and cafes...but I'm always thankful to return to Alameda's treelined streets and feeling of community. It is truly the Isle of Style and Beautiful Living.
Devoted to Alameda

We bought our house in Alameda about 5 years ago and we love it. I am not sure the housing prices are all that much better over here but perhaps a little less. Alameda has some great school districts- both on the main island and on Bay Farm. We are in the Edison School District. Park Street is undergoing a major revitilization and happily new stuff has been moving in over the last couple of years making it much more of the kind of place you want to stroll down. For instance, we've got a great natural food marketplace (no more WholeFoods parking lot!), Books Inc and numerous little clothing and speciality shops as well as a Peets, Starbucks and local coffee joint. We have Tucker's - an Alameda institution- where they make homemade ice cream that's worth even the trip from berekely for. Trader Joe's moved into our main shopping drag and we've got a Nob Hill slated to open within the next year. A movie theatre has been approved and should be done in the next couple of years. There's a slice of beach to roam on, a great dog park and childern's parks dotting the island. There's lots of kid's programs: art programs, Music Together, Wee Play, Montessori schools etc. Some great Peditricians. Sometimes it feels like the whole island is going kid-crazy. The thing we really like about it is that we have a neighborhood. We know all our neighbors around us and most of the neighbors on our street. It's a clean and safe environment and still within 25 minutes from San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland or Emeryville. Public Transportation is decent. The thing we fell in love with first was the fact that it has kept it's charm. Most houses on the main island are historical if you like the newer stuff- look more in Bay Farm or on the Base side of the island. We are so glad we found this little nook and only get annoyed sometimes when we are stuck in traffic at one of the bridges cause a sailboat is going by...

We moved to Alameda to buy a home and now have a toddler, and we love it. We fit your description of your self (left leaning politics, like to walk to parks and shops). I can very easily walk to the park, library, coffee shop, and the beach, plus we have wonderful neighbors with kids that we enjoy hanging out with. Alameda has great architcture and trees, friendly people, and a stellar location - we love the bay. A good portion of the people we know here are San Francisco transplants who fell in love with the same things we did. Although there isn't the variety of shops that berkeley has, home prices are skyrocketing here on what one of our ''still in berkeley'' friends calls '' the isle of style''. Our home is probably worth at least 200% of what we paid in 1998. In that time, a lot of new shops and eateries have opened and we expect the positive trend to continue.

Things to do with kids in Alameda

June 2005

We just moved to Alameda and we're looking for kids classes and activities. We've found great parks and the libaries, but I'd love to find classes my 4 year-old can take--maybe martial arts, swimming, music? I'd also love recommendations for kid friendly restuarants in Alameda. Thanks! Clare

There are great Music Together classes at the Alameda Yoga Station. The Yoga Station is on Park Street. You can pick up a schedule next to Tuckers Ice Cream - another great family outing on Park Street. Also check out Alameda Recreation and Parks Department for classes including public pool swim lessons or you can join Lincoln/Franklin pool association.
Loving Alameda

Check out the Alameda Parks & Recreation website at They have activities for school aged kids and preschool programs as well. One of our favorite places is the Crab Cove Visitor Center, on McKay Ave. It's open Wed-Sun March through November. Then there's Crown Beach and a bunch of really good public parks; our favorite is Lincoln Park, at Santa Clara & High streets. There's also an art studio that has programs for young kids at that intersection-- we've never been but I hear it's fun. Also check out Ruby's Tumbling, on Santa Clara near Park St., and the Alameda Free Library which has storytimes and occasional special events (puppet shows, etc.) at the main library & branches. We don't eat out much, but there's a new casual Italian place on Park near Encinal (Tomatino's) where we dare to take our 2 year old son occasionally! (But if you can get a babysitter & splurge on a nice dinner, try Asena on Santa Clara Ave.)

There's a great kids art studio on High St at Santa Clara with an open studio and classes for different ages:

You've got to join the Alameda Swimming Pool Association (It's $250 and some volunteer hours per year). There are pools at Lincoln Park and Franklin Park. It's open only to Alameda residents.

Chevy's is very kid friendly. It's near the tube. The Aculpoco (how do you spell it?) on Lincoln is an Alameda staple that has been there forever and has classic Mexican food. There's the Alameda marketplace (Park St and Buena Vista) with lots of Berkeley-esque food and food-related vendors. There are two bakeries within and the Feel Good Bakery (it's the one further back) will give your kid a free tiny sugar cookie when you purchase something and their pizzas. (though they are very grown-up pizzas) are OUTSTANDING.

I don't live there, I just visit family that does...

2003 & Earlier

Just moved here - Alameda mom's group?

August 2003

We've just moved to Alameda from SF and my baby is due in late September. I am trying to get connected with other new moms in Alameda before s/he arrives. Does anyone know of an Alameda mom's group/playgroup? If not, anyone interested in getting together??? Thanks!

Alameda has a great organization called Smart Healthy Babies. Its free (paid by tabocco taxes), and they will send a home health nurse to you after the baby arrives, then set you up with mom's group, and provide other resources if you need them. Every town should have a smart healthy babies program! here's the website: http://

hi! i'm in alameda. we moved here when i was 6 months pregnant with my now one year old. There are lots of ways to find momma company. first, if you have not yet it might be worth your while to visit Smart Healthy Babies on park st by southshore. They are funded bt the tobacco tax and will send out a home visit nurse (georgeann) to check up on you in the week after your new baby is born. free of charge. they also set up new mom's groups. I know a lot of moms who attended various groups and i guess it isn't for everyone but it is worth giving a try! My group had 12 other mothers with babes the same age. I don't attend anymore- my family is doling things *a little differently* and i find more comraderie at Alameda's very active La Leche League. you are welcome to attend the 3rd wednesday of each month. I started going while i was pregnant, and have made numerous friends there, in addition to receiving valuable breastfeeding help and support. Come and see! It is a fun meeting. Feel free to email me if you would like addresses or phone numbers. Have a wonderful pregancy & birth! tabitha

I know of the healthy babies group who offer classes, etc across from the south shore shopping center (on park), and the classes usually form into moms groups. on wed and fridays there is the city rec dept 'weeplay' on central x park in the old vetrans building across from the library. you'll meet a lot of people here! Congrats, we moved from sf to alameda a year ago and have met a lot of folks so far. see you there! FL

You're in luck! Alameda is one of the cities fortunate enough to have the free Smart Healthy Babies program (funded by the Prop 10 Tobacco Tax). If you have your baby at Alta Bates or Summit, Smart Healthy Babies will contact you soon after you get out of the hospital (or you can enroll early by calling them). A wonderful nurse (Georganne) will come to your home during the first or second week just to check on you and the baby, and to see if you have any questions or need any help. She will also give you info on how to join the next new moms' group that will be starting (the group is hosted by another wonderful woman -- Beth -- for six weeks; after that, you are free to keep meeting on your own). The group I was in is still meeting 16 months later. For more info on Smart Healthy Babies, go to:

Try looking for an organization called ''Smart, Healthy Babies''. I know they form mothers groups in Alameda for 6 or 8 weeks and then the group usually continues to meet if a bond has been formed.

Try contacting Smart Healthy Babies (510) 864-1077 in Alameda. They start a new moms group every so often and they also have nurses who make home visits after your child is born, just to check on how you're both doing, answer questions, etc. Good luck! Kitrena

Smart Healthy Babies has a program for new moms. Call Beth at 864-1077 (office across from South Shore Center). I think they meet once a week for six weeks and then once a month as long as the group likes for a walk. I was not in Alameda when my son was that little (only when he was 7 months)but I have talked to a few moms who really liked the program. Sharon

Check out -- Smart Healthy Babies organizes free mom's groups in Alameda and is a great resource for new moms. Beth Hoch, LCSW, is the coordinator. You can reach her to sign up at 864-1077. Good luck! --Deirdre

Life in Alameda for former New Yorkers?

April 2003

I read what's on the website but hope some more people can chime in about life in Alameda. My husband and I are looking for a house in the East Bay and are thinking about including Alameda in our search. We've been living near Lake Merritt for two years (which we love) and previously lived in New York City. We love being able to walk to bookstores, movies, cafes, etc. and living in a diverse community. From what we know, Alamedia offers good schools and nice houses, but we're worried about feeling isolated, and like we're living in Middle America as opposed to in the Bay Area. What does Alameda have to offer in terms of arts/culture/intellectual life and community? (my husband is a writer who works at home) Are there good bookstores and cafes on the island? What neighborhood would offer us the most pedestrian access to amenities? Is it true that Alameda is more conservative than Oakland and Berkeley or is that changing with the closure of the military bases? Re: the schools -- what do people like about them? (We have a baby and plan to have one or two more, believe in public shools and can't afford private school.) And finally, what is traffic like getting on and off the island?
In Search of the Ideal Place to Live

We love Alameda! We live on the east end and can walk to hardware/drugstore, grocery/meat market, beach & one ok but not great cafe. The bookstore/cafe offerings are not great but kids ride their bikes to school & neighbors are very friendly. I think the conservative thing is more historic and have not experienced it myself. If we wanted to walk a few more blocks we could get to Park street. I personally like the feel of Alameda - it does feel slower & quieter than the rest of the bay area but that works for us. Traffic over bridges is not a problem - the tube can get backed up at peak times. Maybe you could try renting here for a while - thats what we did for about 6 months before buying our house (I was hesitant, my husband wanted to live here). I am so glad we live here now. good luck!

Alameda is a magical place especially for kids! There are some lovely little parks and the schools are all good- though Edison on the East End is particularily high on the list. Is it more conservative than Berkeley sure- but then again what isn't?? They are really starting to work on the downtown area and I suspect you will see some more major changes over the course of the next few years. We now have a Trader Joe's and really nice health food store called The Marketplace. There are a couple of coff shops along Park Street inclduing a new Starbuck's. There are local playhouses and local museums (mostly historical house kind of thigns). There are lots of antique shops but not really any art galleries. There is a great path that goes along the water for ages and looks across the Bay to SF which is really lovely and accessible. So you may not be able to get to La Pena as easily but you can have a picnic on the beach. The thing I like the most bout Alameda are the people. They really seem to care about the homes and have a sense of community which I find refreshing. We live on a little street on the East end and find commuting to SF so easy (20 minutes on the bus). Getting to Emeryville is harder than you'd think but still doable. I think it is a wonderful place and I don't think you'd be dissappointed. Is it Rockridge- NO? But you might find it hits the spot anyway. Good luck. If you'd like the names of some local realtors who really know the area email me. Juliette

We lived in Alameda for two years (2000 and 2001) and found it to be a mixed bag. On the one hand, it is pretty, clean and very small town in feel. The older grocery store that we went to had clerks that called you sweetie and chatted with people about their kids and pets. The neighbors are friendly and supportive-they would feed our dogs when we were away and bring over pies and so forth on the Fourth of July (big deal in Alameda). It is very quiet all the time-helpful if you work at home. On the other hand, Alameda is very conservative. My husband used to say ''Alameda..or Alabama?''. One of our next door neighbors had a truck that was painted like an American flag and jacked up 5 feet off of the ground-just to give you an idea. We also found that a lot of the neighbors seemed to have disputes with each other which could get ugly (especially given the amount of Coors Light consumed). There were no people of color in sight.

People say that the island is changing, and I think is is even though people have been saying that for 10 years now. Indeed, as we were moving out, there was a new organic grocery store going in, a new Picante (both on Park), Trader Joes, a German food beer place that is supposed to be good, etc. The island has definately been short on services in the past, especially good restaurants, and this definately helped to fill a void. There is a good coffee shop on Park and there was a good bookstore but it recently closed due to high rent (which indicates to me that demand is going up for those spaces). There is a bookstore on Encinel that people rave about, but I got fleas the one time I went there. There are good nurseries, several in fact, a good sandwich place, a good burrito place (in addition to Picante), an excellent ice cream place, a good sushi place and a bakery all in the Park area. We lived close to Park and could walk there, which was nice. Also as we were leaving we had started to notice a new brand of people moving in-there was a couple with a baby around the corner and a same sex couple moved in across the street (and they were, suprisingly to us, embraced by the neighborhood).

One of the other great benefits of living on the Island is that, depending on your neighborhood, you can walk to the waterfront. We were a 5 minute walk from the beach, and the view of the bay and cityscape is not to be beat. Really nice walks there.

Just keep in mind that in all liklihood (unless you get luckier than we did) the people around you will not raise their kids like yours. Our neighbors had large-size children that watched TV, played Nintendo and ate McDonalds almost constantly. We didn't have kids when we lived there, but if we had, I might have had second thoughts about the constant exposure to lethargy and junk food. Some of the kids did play out in the street-which depending on your street works OK-so like everything about Alameda, this too is a mixed bag.

I don't know about the schools except that the same cultural influnces that I mentioned would also be present there. We never had a big problem with traffic.

Given that its very safe, clean and mostly kid-friendly, we would probably live there again if the opportunity presented itself. We were happy to move back to Oakland and have a more diverse neighborhood, but Oakland definately has its problems too, and I think in the end Alameda is probably at least a safer environment for kids. But its not Oakland, its not Berkeley, its a whole land of its own!! anon

I live in Alameda and have for the past four years. These comments refer only to the main island of Alameda, as I don't spend much time on the ''Bay Farm Island'' half. I heard a lot about how conservative Alameda is, compared to Berkeley, but I don't see it. What I do see is that Alameda is slightly less self-conscious about its political/social standings than Berkeley. You can walk almost anywhere from anywhere -- the island is only five by two or three miles.

That said, there seem to be some distinct neighborhoods with different feels. The east end of the island is expensive, comparatively, and I see fewer people outdoors in the evenings there. Nice landscaping. . . but more suburby feeling.

The ''Gold Coast'' and the ''Bronze Coast'' areas are lovely, and seem to have a lot of activity. People are out and about.

The west end is a mixed bag. There are some subsidized housing areas that routinely show up in the police records for violent crimes like assaults and other crimes like drug busts, property crimes, etc. But ''routinely'' has to be taken with a grain of salt. It's not somewhere I would want to live, but I lived near them with zero fear or problems.

The west end has some really vibrant areas. People are out, about, and playing a lot. Plus, from there you can walk to the lovely nature area at Crab Cove, along a section of the bayfront trail, and to the dog park at Washington Park.

All areas have some retail, but the main shopping area, including Trader Joes, is south and central. There's a new natural grocery store and attendant shops on Park Street, in the middle of town, and Park St. has a lot of coffee shops, retail, etc.

Another grocery complex is up in the north end of town, near the Webster Tube, but I don't like that area -- much less walkable, less diversity of houses.

I don't know much about the schools firsthand, as we homeschool. I know people mention the name Paden and then all the schools on the east end as ''good,'' and the high schools have some rivalry, and I think Alameda High is considered ''better.'' But it's all hearsay. I do know that over 70 languages are spoken in the schools -- so much for an all-white enclave.

I've found wonderful, openminded people here. As more ''new'' people move here, it just gets better. I've heard some grumbling from old-timers, but it really can be hard to watch property values spiral out of your reach. (We had a grumpy neighbor once.)

There's at least one community theater, it's bike-friendly, the library is staffed with wonderful, helpful folk, and the parks are great for kids.

Downsides? Well, there isn't much in the way of topnotch restaurants, although the new German place is wonderful and there is a great bakery on Park St.; you have to go elsewhere for movies right now, although there's hope for the future; and if you want to live somewhere that's consciously cutting-edge, this ain't it.

Feel free to email me if you have other questions or want a guided tour. stefani

My husband and I have lived in Alameda for a little over 2 years now. I grew up in San Francisco and my husband is from NY state. There are definitely some good things about living in this town - it's very pretty, flat, easy to walk around, safe, nice weather, easy parking, lots of people with young children and, since it's an island, you are surrounded by water. We decided on Alameda after exploring many different cities in the Bay Area and found it to be the most affordable - even the ''not as nice'' parts of Alameda are not dangerous and I have never heard of anyone saying ''don't go to that part of town.'' I have an 11 week old daughter so I do not have first hand knowledge about the schools but I have heard them to be good - another reason why we moved here as we cannot afford private schools either. The politics are more conservative than Oakland and obviously Berkeley, but I feel, instead of calling Alameda a conservative town, it's moderate and a very tolerant place, as a whole. The things that Alameda is lacking are: good restaurants, bookstores and a theater but we're in the process of getting a movie theatre, a new state-of-the-art libary and our outdoor mall/shopping center is currently being upgraded. Trader Joe's just opened. People who have been here for sometime, tend to think the traffic is bad coming on and off the island but, as a former San Franciscan w/ former New Yorker parents, I think it's relatively easy. Hope this helps and Good Luck. jessica

I have lived in Alameda for the past 5 years and I really like it. I grew up in Berkeley and have lived in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland and Emeryville. As you have gathered, Alameda is much more conservative than the rest of the East Bay. There are some coffee shops on Park Street but I think you'll find the culture very different from Oakland or New York. I still go to Berklely for book stores and most of my friends live in Berkeley and San Francisco. What I like about Alameda is it's safe and beautiful and the schools are good.

Alameda is a wonderful place to be a stay at home mom. There are a lot of good parks, libraries, the beach and it is easy to get around on foot. I rent here and may be forced to buy in Berkeley because I can't afford to buy in Alameda. If you can afford it, I'd recommend buying in Alameda.

Schools and weather in Alameda?

September 2002

We are looking at moving to Alameda. I saw one posting but wanted to know if anyone had comments about the weather, crime rate/safety, best areas to live - in terms of public schools and generally niceness/safety of the area. What are public schools like? We would be moving from Lamorinda - how do they schools compare? Is it very foggy? Thank you for any comments at all.

I have lived in Alameda since 1976. It is a low-key place with not as much to do as Berkeley, but a nice place to live. Crime is low in most areas except Buena Vista Ave. in the 400-800 blocks, so far as I can tell. Generally a bit warmer and less fog than Berkeley. Most public schools have good reputations among parents; all seem to have their supporters and detractors, so I can't sort that out for you.

I particularly like the Alameda Civic Light Opera (really good productions), the Adelphian (a local music venue), the Altarena playhouse, the Park Street business district. Small town feel, you can walk and bike a lot of places without feeling like you're taking your life in your hands or going on an epic trek. Nils

Moving from Lamorinda to Alameda
1. houses are cheaper2. don't need air conditioning3. closer to the city SF for commuting4. much more diverse than east of the tunnel5. no tunnel6. same small town atmosphere with friendly residents7. foggy most nights and can get chilly (even use heat in summer occasionally)8. I always feel safe in alameda. There are a few bad neighborhoods9 excellent girl scout program, great sports for kids, plenty of extras for the kids such as music school (Starland), gymnastics, chinese classes, every kind of dance except Irish step, drama for kids
1. best area to live (newer construction) is Harbor Bay but this can be noisy at times due to airport2. part of area is on landfill3. schools are ok in elementary but get iffy in middle school and high school. look at last weeks Chronicle for test scores. Many people (1000 in elementary alone) send their kids to private schools for this reason, (and more in the high schools).4. restaurants are only ok but about same as lamorinda

Unless you don't like the heat, commute, lack of diversity, or cost I don't know why you would want to go to Alameda Have looked both places and choose Alameda with private schools

Alameda is truly a wonderful island we've lived here for two years and it just gets better and better. We live on the east end of the island off of high st in the Edison school district- which consistently gets high marks. The schools on Bay Farm are also really good and I think were just rated some of the top in Alameda County. The weather is very temperate- about 10 degrees cooler or warmer than SF or Pleasanton. Fog is not an issue. There are wonderful little gems like a local diner famous for its waffles and a local ice cream parlor still making homemade ice cream. Trader Joes is opening soon which will make shopping better and the local healthfood store is set to expand. Houses are holding their value, folks are working on their houses and neighbors seem to make an effort to get to know one another. It's a very family friendly place with beach and parks and local fairs. And it's only 25 minutes on the bus to SF. If you are looking for an agent call cherie hunt at Prudential on the island. Good luck! Juliette

More Reviews

May 2007

Re: Safe, family--oriented neighborhood?
You're in luck - such a place does exist! We were looking for a similar place as you describe, and we found it in Alameda. It's a very neighborly, friendly place, where most people will say hi to you as you pass on the street, kids play together outside and the ice cream truck stops on the corner in the summer. The schools are good - some have better reputations than others, and I cannot attest to that as my kids are not yet in elementary school, but you can check out the basic stats on

We love that we can walk to the park or to dinner, and there is a good mix of people (ages and ethnicities) and young families. Holidays are fun here - the whole town is out for the 4th of July parade, Halloween is so fun and tons of kids abound, and over the holidays we love going to ''Christmas tree lane'' to see the lights.

Lots of changes/improvements are in store over the next year or two - the historic theater downtown is getting renovated, the mall is undergoing a revitalization and will have more restaurants and shops, including Borders books, and plans to develop the old military base on the west end are in the works. I think it's a good time to get in the market here.

Prices vary, with the gold coast neighborhood and the east end being the most expensive - gold coast due to the concentration of large mansions there, and the east end due to the good reputation elementary schools and proximity to shopping on Park Street.

Come on down and take a drive through the town - you won't be disappointed. I would recommend it over Lamorinda - you can actually walk to school/grocery store/restaurants here and there is more diversity. Good luck! at home in Alameda

January 2007

Re: Neighborhoods for car-free life with a toddler?
Though not as urban as Berkeley, you may want to consider Alameda - it's a really great place to live with a toddler. I have an almost 3 year old, and rarely drive anywhere. We walk to several grocery stores, downtown cafes / restaurants, a great bookstore, the library, parks, preschool, tumbling, music, etc. The neighborhoods are quite safe, and public schools are good. The parks & recreation department runs ''Wee Play'' two mornings a week for the 0-3 set, and good preschools (2, 3 or 5 days / week) in almost every park for ages 3-5. Both are very affordable. Housing costs seem comparable to Berkeley. We can't easily walk to BART, but my kid loves buses (including Trans-Bay), and the ferry. BART is only a few miles away.
Good luck! - a former Berkeley resident

October 2006

Re: Kid friendly neighborhoods in the East Bay Alameda! I don't think there is a more family friendly community in the East Bay. Great victorians and craftsman homes as well as new cookie-cutter homes available in Bayport as well. Great parks and a beach. Need I say more? EA

We recently purchased our first home after living in a few different parts of east bay over the last 3 years. I don't claim to be an expert on east bay neighborhoods, but we live in Alameda and I am very pleased with our decision. It has a small town atmosphere, yet is so close to San Francisco and Oakland/Berkeley geographically. We live within walking distance of Park street and there are many lovely shops and restaurants there. I have greatly enjoyed strolling around our neighborhood and looking at the great variety of architecture (many victorians, craftsmans...) and overall the island has a nice ambiance. There seem to be a lot of children around, the parks are nice, schools are very good, and I just can't say enough about how nice it is to call Alameda home. Good luck with your search.
happy homeowner

HI, I would like to recommend Alameda for kid friendly neighborhoods. I live in the East end of the island and in my 2 block radius, we have 11 three years! This is great since I myself have 3 year old twins. The sidewalks are flat so walking and riding bikes with the kids is easy. Downtown Alameda is about 3/4 mile away so morning walks to breakfaast or Starbucks or Petes has become our Sat. ritual. It is also a very friendly family neighborhood, we have block parties twice a year where we block the streets and get jumpy houses for the kids and barbque all day. If you live in Kensington, you'll think alameda is very affordable! I'd be happy to give you more info on specific neighborhoods that are kid friendly karie

Alameda! We just moved to the Gold Coast neighborhood and absolutely love it. The neighborhood elementary (Franklin School) is excellent, and we are walking distance from several parks, including Crown State Beach and Crab Cove and two wonderful playgrounds.

Since Alameda is very flat, it couldn't be more stroller friendly. The city parks and rec department has lots of activities for kids and families, including a program offering free swim lessons for all kindergarteners.

Park Street has lots of fun shops, good food and coffee, much like Solano or College Avenues.

The housing stock in the Gold Coast neighborhood is older, with lots of turn of the century Victorians. In our house-shopping, we found that homes in this neighborhood were pretty well- maintained, and the prices weren't completely insane (at least by bay-area standards).

For shopping, there's a Trader Joes and new Safeway in the Alameda Towne Center. Target is also interested in building a new store there, but they're getting a lot of opposition. Near the Park Street bridge, The Marketplace is like a mini Rockridge Market Hall.

Happy Alameda Mom

April 2003

Re: East Bay neighborhood that's commutable, progressive & kid-friendly
alameda is a wonderful place to live! flat, so biking/stroller stuff is easy. easy bus ride to the city, 35-40 min. schools pretty good i think (we homeschool). lots of scouts, soccer, little league, churches, etc. trader joe's and a new marketplace (organic stuff, fish, bakery, niman ranch meat) in town. quick to get just about anywhere in the bay area from here. good luck! peggy

Feb 2003

Re: Seeking a friendly neighborhood w/kids
We recently moved to Alameda, because we wanted to be in a neighborhood that's good for raising children. In our neighborhood at the East End of Alameda, there are lots and lots of children, friendly families who all know one another, quiet pretty streets with kids playing on the sidewalks, lots of kid activities and parks, relatively less crime than most other parts of the bay area, good public schools, several nearby at- home daycare places that are less expensive than those in Berkeley or Oakland, good preschools nearby. It's a nice place to be raising our children, and is very convenient to many other parts of the Bay Area (10-20 minutes to many parts of Oakland or Berkeley; not too bad a commute to San Francisco or other places east or south of here). There are lots of rentals as well as owner-occupied houses, and when I was looking for a house I found prices for both to be somewhat less than in Berkeley, Albany, or Oakland. I think most of Alameda is very family oriented. It feels like a small town hidden in the Bay Area. Alexandra


I wanted to respond to the two recent postings interested in information about Alameda. We too made the move from Oakland due to housing prices and wanting to use public schools. It's taken a little while to get used to the small town feel, but we're mostly feeling like it was a wise choice. I love the old houses and tree-lined streets, the bicycling is wonderful (especially with kids), the place is very family friendly, and from what I can tell from my limited experience (I have a first grader) the schools are pretty good. I'm gradually meeting more and more like-minded people, shopping at some of the small businesses on the island, enjoying the beach, etc. I also have found that Alameda is quite centrally located in that I can easily get to Oakland, S.F., and Berkeley, especially with the new freeway (I don't love using 880 so much, but in general haven't found the traffic too bad). The housing prices are increasing, there's lots of talk of new development here, and in general it feels like an up and coming place. Regarding specific questions about childcare and Franklin School--the main coop I've heard of is called Kiddie Campus and I think it has a good reputation (there are several other excellent non-coop preschool/family daycare type places) and Franklin School, from what I understand, is considered one of the better schools. I think it's pretty small with lots of parental involvement (there are several other good schools too). Good luck with your decisions/moves and please e-mail me directly if you want to talk or meet some new people (I have two boys--ages 6 and 2).