I also like the areas along Grand or Lakeshore, particularly north of the 580 Freeway.
Re: Affordable Tot-friendly Oakland Neighborhoods
Grand Lake area is awesome. There are 3 parks within walking distance (we live just off Lakeshore, between Lakeshore and Grand). Huge farmer's market on weekends with kid friendly live music and bounce houses. Trader Joes is walkable. Zip around the lake with a stroller. Walk to Fairyland. Walk to Whole Foods. Benefits of Rockridge without insane rents. jaime
My father-in-law lives on Perkins, near Jayne, north of the lake (and doesn't have a car). It is a great neighborhood and very walkable. You can walk to the 19th Street BART station from his house in about 15 minutes. There is a Whole Foods at Harrison & Bay streets and a Grocery Outlet on Broadway @ 29th.
The area between Grand and Lakeshore is also very nice, with lots of convenient shopping and services. On that end of the Lake, there is a Trader Joe's at Lakeshore near the 580 Freeway, and a Safeway up Grand @ Sunnyslope Ave.
You might have trouble finding a two-bedroom for $1200 a month in either of those neighborhoods (I'd expect 1400 or more), but you could probably find a 1 bedroom for that price.
The east side of the lake is a bit more affordable. The availability of shopping/cafes/restaurants isn't as good. There is a Lucky's at E. 18th and Lakeshore. The neighborhoods close to the lake a pretty good, but as you move east away from the lake the they get progressively dicier. Not horrible, but not as nice as the north side (I live on the east side). But I actually think that bus service is better on the east side. The 62 bus hits 4 BART stations over its winding path.
There is a park and a library at the corner of the lake by El Embarcadero (by the 580 Freeway), and Lakeside park in the triangle between Grand Avenue and the Lake (I think technically Lakeside park goes all the way around, but most of the land and play areas are in that triangle). Oh, and Children's Fairyland! The Oakland Main Library is on the other side of the lake (Oak & 14th), but easily walkable from much of the Lake's perimiter (I think the lake is about 3 miles around).
If you are going to stay long enough to worry about public elementary schools, Lakeview has a bad reputation, but Crocker Highlands and Cleveland good ones. Moving a bit further eash, Bella Vista and Franklin are lower income but still perform pretty well. You can find a map of school neighborhod boundaries on the OUSD website.
Good luck. I think the north side of Lake Merritt is a great choice. Carrie
we are moving to the grand lake area of oakland. i have a 5 month old son and was wondering if there are any moms and babies groups out there and/or recommendations in terms of family life (parks, activities, etc.) i am moving from bernal heights where i attend a weekly moms and babies group. i would love to become part of a new group and don't know much about this area. i would also love to start networking with people in the oakland community since it is very new to me. any feedback is greatly appreciated. thanks for your time. stephanie
i live in the grand/lake area and have a 10 month old son. we love the area. you are welcome to contact me for a walk or play date. welcome to oakland liz