Living in Millsmont

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Mills College neighborhoods - yay or nay?

Feb 2013

We want to live in a single family home with a back yard with our two young kiddos. Since moving to the e.b. from out-of-state 4years ago, we've lived only in apartments in central Berkeley and north Oakland, soaking up the glorious parks, culture, and atmosphere the area has to offer. But it looks like in order to afford a house w/ yard, we would have to branch out of the area we've loved. We don't think it's a good idea to continue raising our kids in this exact location: it's noisy, trafficky and we don't have even some shared outdoor community space in our complex, which is hard when you have energetic kids. But I am struggling with the thought of giving up the proximity to all our favorite things (especially all the family friendly businesses and community offerings) in the area and tend to resist change.

I know we could and would still drive here for fun, but it would take more gas, time,and time spent on the freeway. I can't find any single family homes that are affordable for us in the area and do not want to relocate to yet another apartment. Do you think we should keep waiting for something that could work in this area or do you suppose that is a lost cause?

Has anyone moved from this part of town to the Mills College area and felt happy with that decision? Is it easier to settle into non-Berkeley life than I think it is? Any information you have about the neighborhoods around there will be helpful. OR if you have given up the more urban life for more of a quiet neighborhood setting that resulted in nicer living space, I'd like to hear your thoughts too. What did you think of the change? Did it all work out for the better? Thank you for your help as I grapple with this decision. reluctant home hunter

I lived near Mills for about 5 years and on the whole I loved it. The houses are spacious and the yards are bigger than other parts of Oakland/Berkeley, parking isn't a problem, there's more sun, so if you're into gardening, it's great. I loved my street too, the neighbors were organized and parcipatory. But, it's east Oakland, and there were lots of loud cars and donuts, drug dealing, gunfire and such. I didn't feel safe walking around past my own block, and that's a big deal for me. I can't tell you how happy I've been to be able to take long walks and not worry. Also, schools are a problem there. Everyone I knew from that neighborhood either moved when the kids reached school age or put them in private schools. Toadlee

I would say nay. I live in East Oakland and am constantly driving to Berkeley, because that is where I truly want to be. Yes, I would be very sad to give up our yard- it is a beautiful space with fruit trees, many veggie beds, and (now) even chickens. In fact, if we ever sell and re-locate we want to be sure to at least TRIPLE our lot space so we can add more animals, fruit trees, and veggies. But, there is a HUGE drawback and it effects my life daily: we live in an ugly, dangerous neighborhood and I drive constantly to get out of it! It is so sad to me that we do not live in a vibrant, interesting neighborhood with fabulous people, places, and things to do. If you like guns, crack, heroin, and pit bulls we've got it going on. However, I'm not into any of those things and it's not safe to walk or bike with my kids because so many of my neighbors DO have that going on. I am tired of finding used condoms in my front yard (did I mention the prostitution?) and hearing gunshots at night. If it weren't for the beautiful yard... And the cool, 100-yr-old house... Well, maybe I would trade it for life in a terrific neighborhood. I didn't move here from rural Sonoma County to live this kind of urban life. Ugh. I say: STAY IN BERKELEY!!! Mailisha

[moderator note] reviews were also received for Maxwell Park , Redwood Heights , and San Leandro

March 2010

Re: Affordable Neighborhoods in Oakland
The trick is not so much affording a decent neighborhood, but that neighborhood having good schools. The good news, in my opinion, is that Oakland has a few really great charter schools (and in case you are unfamiliar with these, they are free). Millsmont is our neighborhood - a little known gem, on the wooded side of Mills College near the top of Seminary, by hwy 13 and 580. This area is affordable and very attractive.