Living in Pinole

Questions & Responses:
Pinole migration(1 response)
Next great *affordable* city/town/neighborhood? (9 responses)
Archived Responses: 

I'm moving to either Benicia or Pinole

April 2014

My 'husband' and I want to move to either Benicia or Pinole. We currently live in LA and are pre-retirement. I not ready to drop off the vine yet, but I want a lifestyle change. My goal is to be part of a pretty active community in a walkable charming old seaport town. My husband is a professional musician (piano player) who makes his living playing for famous(and not so famous) singers. He arranges charts, rehearses and plays shows(mostly Cabaret and standards).

Benicia seems to have a condensed downtown with a nice mix of businesses, Pinole is closer to the city and looks to have its downtown more spread out, but also a very cultural, thriving community.

I would love feedback. thank you

Hmm. I have worked for both cities but not lived in either. Benicia is by far more attractive with a larger historic district downtown and more view corridors of the bay. However, it is very much an island mentality, insular/small community, and you have to cross a bridge at $5/pop to get to the Bay Area. Pinole has easy access to the rest of the Bay Area but much more limited bay access. Benicia has a refinery and on occasion you can smell it. Pinole is not too far from the Rodeo refinery although I don't recall ever smelling it. Pinole has a Peet's, In n Out, and a Trader Joe's. Benicia's schools are arguably better. Property values in both places took a major dive during the recession. Both cities are relatively well-run, as these things go; I'd give Pinole the administrative edge. Personally, I would not want to live in so isolated a place as Benicia, but I know plenty of people who love it. It's much more of a state of mind than Pinole!

Pinole is OK. I spent some time there when we lived in the East Bay because there's a Chuck E. Cheese there that my kids liked, plus there was a Catholic shop downtown that I frequented on occasion. The core downtown area is kinda cute, but Benicia's got it beat by a landslide. Also, I am not aware of any arts scene in Pinole, though of course I could be wrong. I think you would be much happier in Benicia; from what I know of Pinole, it is not what you seem to be looking for. Hope this helps! Monica

Living in Pinole? Realtor recommendation?

July 2011

I'm thinking of moving to Pinole or areas close by such as El Sobrante. Pinole seems like a really nice low key town, with good access to hiking, etc, which is what I'm looking for right now. Commuting is not going to be a huge issue, my husband flies out of SFO twice a month and I have to go into San Francisco one or two days a week, I assume Bart will work for the latter. I'd appreciate hearing from anyone living in the area about what it's like to live there. I'd also really like to find a realtor who is clued in to the area, if you know someone please share. Julia

I've lived in Pinole for over 20 years and just love it. The residential areas are quaint and beautiful, and it's easy to get to know your neighbors. There are lots of retail shops in and around Pinole (Trader Joes, Burlington Coat Factory, Big 5 Sporting Goods, KMart), and many restaurants, including Outback Steakhouse, Applebee's and Mel's Original Diner just opened in town. The police and fire departments are prompt and respond quickly when needed, and the post office employees are very friendly. Pinole has a Safeway, Lucky, Foods Co. and Grocery Outlet. Also, on Saturdays, there is a great farmer's market by St. Joseph's Church.

I can highly recommend Victoria Curtis as a realtor who would help you find a place in Pinole. I have known Victoria since high school-she is very friendly and a real go-getter. She will not stop until she finds the perfect home for you. She works for Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate in El Cerrito. Contact her at (510) 305-7775 (work cell) or (510) 527-9800 (office), or e-mail her at Victoria [at] DC

Ken Rogai of Security Pacific helped me buy a house in that area over 10 years ago. He is a great agent - knows the area, helpful, realistic, and nice to work with. Appreciated a good agent

i can recommend my realtor....the greatest: sil addiago at coldwell banker, his office is in pinole.

I don't have a realtor to recommend, but did want to respond to your request for information on what it's like to live in Pinole. We have been here for the past eight years in the 'Old Town' area (the San Pablo Avenue/Pinole Valley Road corridor). For the most part, we really enjoy it here. There's a nice small town vibe with the amenities of a larger city and you're still only about 15 minutes from Berkeley (if traffic cooperates). One of the best things about living here, especially in the Old Town area, is that we are within easy walking distance of several parks, the Bay Trail, and a cute shopping district off San Pablo Avenue where there are several restaurants, a bakery, post office, year-round Farmer's Market, etc. During the summer there is a weekly outdoor concert and movie series at the local park, as well as other seasonal/holiday activities. In some parts of town there's definitely a semi-rural feel, which we like. We LOVE the newly renovated shopping center off Pinole Valley Road that is home to a new Trader Joes, Walgreens, and Chipotle. All of the other major big box stores are nearby too if you need them.

If you're moving to the area for easy access to hiking, you may want to consider looking for a place on the far side of town near where Pinole Valley Road turns into Alhambra Valley Road. That would put you close to several open space areas. As for commuting, you may want to look in to the LA Transbay bus line that has stops in the Richmond Hilltop area. It's a great alternative to BART if you work a regular 9-5 type job.

As for downsides to the area...It's definitely not as 'happening' as other parts of the East Bay, but that doesn't sound like it would be an issue for you. There is a little more crime here than I would hope for in a city of this size (some spillover from surrounding areas like Richmond?) but the police department seems to stay on top of it. The city budget isn't in great shape, but that's not unusual these days. Good luck with your search! We Like it in Pinole

We bought a house in Pinole earlier this year and we love it here. We used Wayne Chin at Vision Realty, he was a great resource for us. He also helped us understand all the loan options out there. My husband and I would recommend him in a heartbeat to anyone we know. Wayne stirred us away from several houses we liked as soon as he saw some deficiencies in them. He knows all areas along the 80 corridor. Wayne can reached at wayne [at] or his cell is 510-813- 1379. Happy Homeowner

I bought a house in Pinole, near Old Town, and have been pretty happy here. The schools are not very good -- we're paying for private school -- but it's cheaper than moving. We can walk to Trader Joe's and Walgreen's, in one direction, and Fernandez Park, in the other. I would like to recommend my realtor, Cindy Wilson, who helped me with everything I needed to buy my house as a first-time homeowner. Additionally, she has taken the time to answer a few quick questions even after I moved in and everything was settled. Her web site is and her phone number is 510-685-5412. Lori

2005 - 2009 Recommendations

Richmond Hilltop/San Pablo Hills home

June 2009

Hello All we are first time home buyers, looking to purchase possibly in the Richmond Hilltop, or San Pablo Hills areas. Have priced some homes in these areas, and found some to be reasonable. Looking for 3 to 4bedroom 2bath home. Can anyone share your personal experiences regarding the neighborhoods, schools for elementary, middle and highschool ages. Would you recommend a family move to these areas? Know any places available or realtors who deal in these areas? Thanks for any and all responses. my own room...

Friends of ours live in Pinole (right around that area) and are happy with the ambiance and public schools. The town has a nice feel. Richmond is diverse--nice and not-so-nice areas--but personally I would avoid Richmond, since that is where you'd be getting all city services and I think the city is pretty strapped. LK

Sept 2008

Re: Cheaper but safe enough neighborhoods
I live in Pinole. It is a lovely community, and there are many price points within our City. Our schools are good, check the STAR stats online. IMHO San Pablo and parts of Richmond would be too rough. There are some great neighborhoods in Richmond, you just have to hunt for them. Good Luck in your house hunt. volvomomma

Thinking of moving to Pinole

June 2007

Hi, I'm thinking of moving to Pinole and was wondering if anyone can tell me which is the best neighborhood to live. I saw a posting from 2003 saying that ''The Valley'' is the best but I'm not sure where that is. Can someone provide some street names? I would also appreciate any info you can provide on this city. Thanks!!!!! Arlene

the ''Valley'' area in Pinole is not necessarily the best arrea of Pinole. It depends on what you are looking for. The Valley area( streets off Simas, Wright ave. etc.) have some nice ranch style homes and nice lawns. A nice park at the the foot of Wright ave. for soccer and baseball. The only problem with the area is you have to drive to everything. Grocey stores, post office, coffee shops, gas station, church and most schools. Another nice area of Pinole is old town Pinole. Lots of nice homes and an old time town appeal. Cafe's, coffee shops, post office, gas stations, flower shops, antique shops and a really nice park (Fernandez Park and baseball field) all within walking distance. joannie

We live off of Pinole Shores Drive in Harbour Cove and love it! There are some great neighbors, it is a quiet community with lots of kids and we are next to the bay trail. Liz

2004 & Earlier

Considering a move to Pinole

August 2003

We are considering a move to Pinole -- does anyone living there have insights to offer about schools, quality of life, good neighborhoods to look in, etc.? Also, what is the air quality like? Thanks. Sara

We've lived in Pinole almost 5 years and love it! I never even knew about this town before I moved here, but we have found it to be very family-friendly and really convenient whether we travel north, south, east or west. There are lots of things for families to do -- even a farmers market on Saturdays with an organic vegetable vendor. Pinole doesn't have quite the diversity that Berkeley does, for instance, but my children can play in the street with the other neighborhood kids and I don't have to worry about it.

As for the schools, I've heard Ellerhorst is good for elementary, but honestly, my children go to the East Bay Waldorf School, a private school in El Sobrante.

The best neighborhood is ''the valley'' out Pinole Valley Road heading east, although there are some other pockets of nice homes, including some new ones very close to the Bay.

As for the air quality, where we are the prevailing winds come off the Bay and blow any Tosco discharge up towards Crockett or Vallejo (although I haven't seen any specific report on the air in this area and probably should).


I aspire to live in Pinole. I almost made it, Im as far as San Pablo and working my way up, LOL. Pinole is a wonderful community of truly dedicated residents. If you get into Old Towne Pinole, (below the freeway), you will find wonderful old neighborhoods with good schools, nice restaurants and solid community.

I think you will be happy to be there. If you still have questions, the chamber of commerce as well as the local City Council have open door policies. Go meet some of the people who play and integral part in the workings of this little bay area gem. Please note, it has a very ''suburban'' feel. Not a Berkeley or Oakland feeling. ljk