Seeking Gay-Friendly, Family-Friendly Neighborhoods

Parent Q&A

  • Hi! We are planning to move in the Bay Area next year (late Spring). We are looking for an LGBT family-friendly area with good schools. My wife will be working in SF Financial District. We want to stay in the city but our finances might not be able to afford it. We have two kids (11,8) ... so we are looking for a community with good schools, easy/fast/close commute to San Francisco and LGBT family-friendly. Any suggestions? Thank you!

    We moved to Albany, 8 years ago, from out of state, because, at the time, California was one of the few states with legal same sex marriage, and our son was about to start kindergarten. We wanted to live in a place where we would be accepted as a family. We chose Albany mostly for the schools and community. We are very close to a BART station, walking distance. Depending on where you're going in SF, it can take as little as 30 minutes to get there by public trans.  I believe Albany has about a 94 walkability score, which means you can pretty much walk to everything, which we love. It's only 1 square mile, and butts up against North Berkeley. We were looking at Berkeley originally, but had concerns about middle school, as we have a child of color, and I think Berkeley has a lottery system. We also didn't know how our son would do in Berkeley High School, which has over 5000 students, as opposed to Albany which has about 1500. [Editor note: Berkeley High has about 3,000 students]

    20-25% of my son's classmates in Albany come from 2-mom families. We've never had any issues regarding our acceptance as a family in our community. The schools score very high on the Great Schools site (all 9's I believe). That's the skinny on paper.

    The things we don't care for is that our Albany community is not as diverse as we thought it would be. It's predominantly white and Asian population, not many children of brown or black skin here. Not diverse socially either. And because of it's quaint small town appeal, it can many times, be too small-town for us (we moved here from a large city).

    Last warning, depending on where you're moving from, the cost of living is 30% higher than the city we moved from. And we bought a house in Albany, half the size. But we've adjusted just fine, and continue to maintain our Midwestern roots.

    I hear Alameda has good schools, Oakland, depending on the area, Berkeley does have great elementary schools. Hope that helps. Good luck!

    Alameda. Hands down. 

    San Leandro is a very LGBT family-friendly place. Quite a few LGBT families live in the neighborhood and attend the Roosevelt Elementary school for one. In fact, for many years the principal  there was openly gay with a family and a wife, but she has since moved on to another job in the school district.  SL is also very affordable and many of us are transplants from San Francisco who couldn't afford to live there. The commute is a breeze too...there is a San Leandro BART Station and also an AC Transit bus (that many commuters like better.) Its a great community for all families (the 580 side for sure.) One caveat is if you are looking for top notch schools, San Leandro schools are good, but not "top notch" like you would have out in more affluent suburbs. Not sure if they would be as LGBT friendly though, so its a trade off. Berkeley is another friendly place and easy access to SF,  but almost as expensive as SF.  No sure if you are looking to rent or buy, but an example of the difference in price is a couple thousands of dollars comparing Berkeley and SL. For a family of 4 in Berkeley in a decent neighborhood, except to spend $4,000-$5,000. In SL, about $2,500-$3,500.  (And $3,500 would be a pretty nice, big house.) Buying about the same difference in prices.

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

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

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

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

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Gay couples in Lamorinda area

May 2011

We've just moved to Moraga with our baby and are hoping to find some other progressive kid-toting folks. Are there other gay parents out here? We're wondering... Suggestions to meet people would be great. Moraga Mom

Welcome to Lamorinda! We are a two dad family with two toddler girls living in Orinda. We moved here a year and a half ago and love it. There is another two dad family that we met a few months back. We haven't met any two mom families but we know they are here! Most of our LGBT friends live on the other side of the tunnel - but several of them are interested in moving this way. It's a really great area to live. Please feel free to email and perhaps we can get a local group going. Roger

Sad to say, I don't know many (any?) gay parents in Lamorinda. (Way different from when we lived in Oakland.) I do know a few gay kids, and pretty much everyone I know is progressive, but that could just be due to the people I choose to associate with. I know not everyone out here is progressive. As far as meeting people goes, I'd go the usual route, depending on how old your kids are: the park, schools, sports, drama, getting involved in local organizations, etc. You didn't mention how old your kids are, or I might be able to make more specific recommendations. Mary

Hi. I live in Moraga and have known a 2 Mom family for six years. Their twins are in the same grade as my daughter and are busy with sports, scouts, etc. I can't speak for them but they seem to enjoy living in the area. Good luck! Cindy Hello, We are a lesbian family with 2 boys (16 + 12 yrs) who have lived in Lafayette for 11 years!! We love it - there are numerous gay families in Lafayette with children ranging in age from 3 yrs (that we know of!)to now heading off to college. The schools required a little educating when we first moved to Lafayette - remembering our son had 2 moms on mothers day, changing emergency forms to gender neutral, little details that you won't have to worry about if you move here now!! Our boys have been involved in various sports, us parents volunteering in the schools with no visible, negative comments/behaviors. Our youngest did experience a little homophobia when at one of the elementary schools when prop 8 was in full swing. Staff were a little shocked it was happening and unsure what to do regarding the situation at first - they eventually came through with the appropriate consequences!!

Our oldest in high school feels quite safe - no complaints of teasing/slurs but then he's grown up with most of the kids and it's no big deal. I hope middle school will show the same respect for our youngest! You won't regret moving here - but you may regret not moving here!!


Moving to SF - Gay-friendly family neighborhood with easy commute?

Sept 2009

My family is relocating to San Francisco from NYC in the fall. We wanted to live in Berkeley, but just found out that my partner will have to commute to Palo Alto at least once a week and will work daily in the SF financial district. I'll be staying at home with our 18 month old until I can find work, so I'd really like a neighborhood where I can easily connect with other families, get involved with the community and have access to nice playgrounds/parks. The only area that we've heard about consistently is Noe Valley, but it seems a bit pricey and not too much space for the $$. Need to be within reasonable commuting distance (45 mins tops w/ traffic) from SF financial dist. Any suggestions would be very helpful. NYtoSF

Check out the Bernal Heights neighborhood in San Francisco. Cheaper than Noe and lots of Lesbian families/couples. Very family oriented too -- lots of kids activities, beautiful playground/park, story and music time at local cafes, lovely library, etc. Love our gay-friendly city

Montclair (neighborhood in Oakland) is said to have a high concentration of gays/lesbians-- not like the Castro, but some study, probably of census data, said that. anon

My wife and I moved just about a year ago from the Valley to the Bay Area. We really wanted to live in the City (Sn Fran), but found it was just to pricey. It also did not afford the opportunity to have a nice yard as well as living in a small area for more than I was willing to pay.

We like in the Emeryville/Oakland area. (We bought a house), it's a nice late 1920s California Bungalow and it great condition. There was no way we could get something like that in the Bay Area for a reasonable price. My wife works in the City and I work in UCB. Her commute is short and the location of the BART is perfect.

Where ever you choose- do not drive to the City- use BART. look into the Translink Card. You can utilize if for all the forms of transporation.

Go onto Google Earth and look at the locations- include schools, grocery, public trasportation etc. Zack

Live in the East Bay and take BART to work in the financial district. Oakland, Berkeley and Albany are all wonderful places to live and waaaaaaay more affordable than SF. You'll get more room and much better weather in the East Bay. Albany has terrific public schools (one middle and one high school - it is it's own school district), Oakland is historic and very diverse (as is most of the East Bay)and may have more of the urban feel you desire (ask on this forum for recommendations for specific neighborhoods). Berkeley is well, Berkeley - great neighborhoods, great weather, parks, SUPER restaurants, a wonderful farmer's market...etc. SF is just over the bridge

Have you thought of the Rockridge area of Oakland? It's a family friendly and gay friendly, diverse neighborhood. There are a variety of schools to choose from. Commute to the city is very easy during non-rush times--about 25 minutes--while it's a little more like 45-50 minutes during rush hour. Rockridge BART station has trains to the city every 15-20 minutes. Oakland has a bad rep for crime, but the city is large and crime seems to be more localized to certain areas. Prices may be similar to Noe Valley but you get lots more room for your money, since most houses have yards... and beautiful yards at that. Besides, I'm a gay man, I live here, and I love it! Rockridge hound

I'd like to put in a good word for Oakland. Oakland, or so I have read, is home to more lesbian couples per capita than any other major city. My daughter went to preschool with kids from both lesbian and gay families, who were a welcomed and appreciated part of the school community.

I think that Oakland's popularity is due to the family/affordability issue. San Francisco is fabulous, but a lot of people find that as their family grows, they don't get enough bang for their buck there, particularly if you want to buy. The Oakland school district is spotty, but not as bad as it is often made out to be (my daughter just started kindergarten at an Oakland school). Some good schools in affordable neighborhoods are Glenview, Sequoia, Cleveland, and Crocker Highlands.

I can get to the financial district from my Oakland house in 12 min on a Sunday morning (no traffic) or 45 minutes in traffic. There's also BART (subway) and ferry service).

Here are a couple of articles about gay/lesbian Oakland: women-call-home/ Carrie

Well your partner could easily commute on BART to downtown SF from Berkeley under 45 minutes, but that Palo Alto day would be 'trying'. Yes, Noe Valley is fantastic, I rented there for several years, but the prices have gone crazy. Probably the same is true for the Castro and Eureka Valley (which are right next door), but then it depends on your money. You might try Bernal Heights. It's gay friendly, about 8 minutes from Noe Valley (if that) and its main drag, Cortland Ave, has turned into quite the place for food and hanging out. Also VERY dog friendly. There is also Potreto Hill at the other end of the Mission....and then there is the Mission. The Mission connects with Noe Valley and has some wonderful homes, as does most of the city. It does have its areas that 'might not be so safe', but again, it depends where you are at. The outer communities like the Sunset and Richmond are alright. Inner Sunset, which is next to Golden Gate Park is friendly, the outer Sunset a tad more conservative, as is the Richmond, of course they are close to the ocean, but also get that fog. Lastly, there is the Haight, a very mix and match area, some areas delightful, others 'less' delightful. San Franciscos a great town, but you might want to vist and take the BART ride and see if its doable. Ex-SF, now East Bay

It is probably faster to take bart from the east bay to sf than to go from noe valley by car or public transit. so stick with berkeley, or oakland. the noe valley of oakland is rockridge. anon

Commuting to the financial district from Berkeley is actually quite easy, and depending on where your start from takes about 35 min on BART, a bit longer on a commuter bus. Palo Alto is another matter -- it takes 45 min if there's no traffic, but can take up to 1-1/2 hours. In SF, you might want to look at Glen Park -- more friendly than Noe Valley. San Francisco has a very complex school assignment policy, so you should research that before choosing where to look. There are many lesbian families with children in Berkeley and Oakland, and a few gay male families with children. anon

Bernal Heights is a great neighborhood. There are LOTS of moms, gay and straight. Look at the website for Bernal Hill Realty. It tells a lot about the neighborhood. I live in the East Bay now. There are a lot of lesbians in Oakland and Berkeley. It would take about an hr. to get to Palo Alto, but if you hop on the BART it would take only about 15 minutes to get to the Financial District. Good luck.

Gay dads considering a move to Orinda/Layfayette

June 2003

We are two gay dads with a 1 1/2 year old living in Berkeley. We are considering moving to the Orinda/Layfayette area for the quality of the public schools, but are concerned about how our child might be treated as a child of gay parents when he gets into school. Does anybody have a sense of what we and our little boy might experience out there? 
Concerned parents

I live in Orinda and still struggle to find my place in this land of conservative wealth. However, my neighbors are a lesbian couple with 3 boys 9, 13 and 14. They moved from Oakland to here about 10 years ago and are very happy and at home. The kids seem like nice well adjusted kids who have told me nice things about the schools. My general feeling is that any discrimination would not be overt (if thats of comfort?) and plenty of perfectly accepting folks too. Nowhere else is going to have the level of diversity and acceptance that Berkely has. But one can't just hole up in Berkely forever. Christina

Hi Gay Dads! 
Yes, come on out. We are a lesbian couple who have lived in Lafayette for 3 years now. We have 2 boys, one almost 9 years (next week) the other almost 5 years. We moved from NYC, rented in Richmond for a year and toured the East Bay. Found Lafayette and fell in love. Our neighbors are great, we are always trading off children, pets and helping each other out as any other neighbor would. The schools have been great. Not the diversity of Berkeley/Oakland but for us that wasn't our #1 piority. You will find more ethnic/family/economic diversity in the downtown school then any other and also the one middle school in Lafayette. The teachers have been great (not perfect, but who is?). We speak to them at the beginning of the school year. We have spoken with our Principal about the forms from the district not being gender neutral and they are working on that. There have been no negative incidents at the school or anywhere else where people know us. I work at the local community center (coaching gymnastics) and certainly don't advertise my sexuality but when asked about my children and spouse I tell them and everyone is cool about it.

We live near the trail so the children get to bike, walk, scooter etc. to school. We love running so it's the perfect location for us and also walking to downtown. It's great. There are pools all over you can belong to. Our boys play on the soccer, baseball, hockey, and swim teams (yes we drive a minivan!) and no one bats an eyelid to our family make-up.

There are another couple of Lesbian families here and in Moraga and tons in Walnut Creek/Concord/Pleasant Hill. Actually there is a fairly new group (for us families thru the tunnel) called Rainbow Families that meet once or twice a month with the kids in different areas for pizza etc. Last month everyone came to Freddies in Lafayette. The group has many two Dad/single families from 'thru the tunnel' as well.

I can't speak for Orinda but we did also look there and found it quite a bit hillier and all we could think about was ''Gee, how do these people make it up their driveways when it snows''??

Phew, I went on a bit but we really do love Lafayette and would just love more gay and lesbian families to come out here. We actually found it cheaper then living in Berkeley/Oakland and got more for our money. feel free to e-mail us if you want any more info or would like to come out to visit and we can show you the neighborhood! We can also recommend a great real estate broker who's a Gay Dad from Alamo. Good Luck. 
lesbians loving Lafayette

I'm not sure how helpful this will be, but I grew up in Lafayette & went to public schools there & I now live in Berkeley. I found the atmosphere to be pretty unappealing. The majority of the families were upper-middle class & there was very little in the way of diversity (racial or otherwise). The social scene, even in elementary school was quite intense with heavy doses of teasing for wearing the wrong attire, parents who had manual labor jobs or failing to vacation in the right places. High School intensified those areas of focus and added the element of drugs and cars (many of the kids drive BMW, Mercedes, Audi, etc). I remember my parents being shocked when, a guy on my swim team OD'd on Coke ... they really believed that because the kids were all well dressed, had money & nice homes - that drugs weren't an issue. Even though I did sports, had a nice group of friends & endured relatively little of the social harassment, I still found the social pressure to be a real turn-off.

I'm sure there are some differences than there were 10 years ago, but not that many. I'm a therapist now and I occassionally see kids who go to Acalanes (high school) & the stories they bring to therapy sound pretty similar to what I witnessed when I went to school there. 
Lafayette School System Survivor

We recently made the move to Orinda and are really happy with our decision. Most our neighbors introduced themselves and didn't seem too phased that we are a household of two moms and a kid. There are many Cal alums in the area, so I think its not as conservative as one thinks..especially as there is turnover (the saying is people leave their houses feet first) and a younger crowd moves in. We find ourselves spending more time outside because the weather is nicer, which is good for our son. We also don't worry as much, if at all, about crime, so if we forget to close the garage door or lock the car, its not a big deal. Also, the level of customer service in the stores is great, maybe because they are use to dealing with the senior set, but still, its refreshing. There are great parks in both Orinda and Moraga for the kids and free concerts in the parks over the summer. Feel free to email me if you want more info!

Lesbian Family moving to Albany

May 2003

We are a multiracial lesbian family thinking of moving from Berkeley to Albany. We wanted to know what people thought of living in Albany in terms of raising kids in a progressive environment. We know it is close to Berkeley but sometimes, a few blocks can even make a difference, so we thought we would check it out with folks to be sure. Specifically, we want to know about the positive or negative experiences of families of color or lesbian/gay parents raising kids in Albany both in terms of the schools and the neighborhoods. Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks! 
thinking of moving

Living in Albany is great! We are a lesbian couple expecting our first child in June -- I am black and jewish and my partner is white and jewish. My adopted little sister (who, by the way, is from Liberia) lived with me and my former partner for two years when she was seven to nine years old, and attended Cornell School on Talbot. I don't believe any of us ever experienced any kind of problem related to our race(s), religion(s) or our ''family configuration,'' shall we say. My sister had friends from all kinds of family backgrounds -- straight, gay, all ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, religions and political affiliations -- there were no problems that I recall. We were just like any other family. Oh, and we moved to Albany from Berkeley, too. Is Albany as progressive as Berkeley? Is any city as progressive as Berkeley? Feel free to email if you want to discuss it further. 

Albany is less diverse than Berkeley, that's for sure. But it isn't any less tolerant of all kinds of families, as far as I (a straight white married mom) can tell having lived both places. Albany is a fantastic town for raising kids no matter what kind of parent(s) they have. My own block (on Santa Fe) seems to be mostly white married couples but there is one lesbian couple with a preschooler (both parents look white, daughter looks Asian), and I have friends who used to live on Evelyn and they told us that nearly every house on their block was occupied by either a lesbian couple or an interracial couple (the latter of which they were one)! 

For what it's worth, I know of *at least* three same-sex couples (two with small children) on Evelyn St. in Albany. (I don't know them personally, but since my daycare lady is on Evelyn we wave hello a lot) Albany in general is a tolerant, friendly, walkable, community-oriented place with great public schools. Come on over! 
mom of two in Albany

There are many multi-ethnic families. I don't know any families heades by gay/lesbian parents. This is not to say there aren't any; I just don't know of them. However, I think Berkeley is more ''diverse'' in this respect. A good thing about AUSD ( ) is very good community support, an important thing considering the CA budget crisis. Albany's SchoolCare ( ) asks that parents donate $480 per child per year to preserve school classes and programs (I bet Berkeley is similar?) AMS just got a distinguished school designation. 
good luck in your decision

We're lesbian moms who have lived in Albany with our two kids for the past three years and love it! We know two other lesbian families in the immediate neighborhood, and our experiences with neighbors, schools, etc. have been great. Feel free to email us if you want more info. Kristin