Living in Redwood Heights
Re: Oakland neighborhoods and safety concerns
Have you considered Redwood Heights? This is a slightly under the radar neighborhood that is a great place to live in Oakland. It has a great elementary school with very progressive and involved parents. Many families walk to school. Home prices here are not sky high and some homes have huge back yards that get lots of sun. There is a fun park that my kids, now older, still go to to throw the frisbee with friends. There is a great block sale in the blocks near the park during the first weekend in June, where people sell their stuff but there are also people selling tamales, home made sausage, kids selling lemonade and cookies, etc. Everyone's out walking around, saying hello, etc. It's very neighborhood-y. For Halloween, Redwood Heights is awesome. The flat streets make it easy to walk around and many houses really go all out with front yard decorations, treats and drinks for the grownups, etc. People actually drive in to take their kids trick or treating. There is a strong neighborhood feeling and community here. There are loads of families with young children under 5. We have a nice Rec Center where you go to vote during elections and that offers yoga, ballroom dancing, ballet classes for kids, and so on.
Montclair farmer's market is 5 minutes away and it's a great one to go to. Transportation is convenient - we have hwy 13 and 580 and I can take a 10 minute bus that goes directly to Fruitvale Bart for commuting to SF. Also, the Oak airport is only 20 minutes away. I have done downtown SF in 15 minutes (no traffic). Not to mention, that Redwood Regional Park is really close by for great hiking and fun for kids. We also get wild turkeys, hawks, owls, and woodpeckers in the neighborhood. It's pretty neat!
As for crime, I would be lying if I didn't say there was crime here. I have not experienced it personally during the 10 years I've been here, but it is a concern for people living here, not to mention the hills in general. I have been lucky - left my keys in my front door overnight (oops) and driven off without closing the garage door, and thankfully nothing has happened. Although, we do take precautions - have an alarm, don't leave windows open when we go out, etc. I don't know what you can do about it living here other than that. I look at it like earthquakes - prepare the best you can, cross your fingers, and then stop thinking about it. I feel safe in the neighborhood, and i've had friends in the very nice parts of town have their homes broken into, so unfortunately I think it's a fact of life.
But I love the weather, the diversity of food and people, the proximity to culture and nature. Best of luck. Happy to be here
Re: Mills College neighborhoods - yay or nay?
I wanted to comment on the idea that Mills college is so far from Berkeley.
We had rented in South Berkeley/North Oakland for years, and when we finally found a house, it was in Redwood Heights, which seemed so far away from the places we liked to be.
That feeling didn't last long. We had very easy access to Hwy 13 and to 580, we discovered neighborhood places in Montclair, Laurel and Glenview that we didn't know about before, and we really liked our house and our neighbors. And we still get to Rockridge, Temescal, and Elmwood quickly. Bryan in Oakland
We love our neighborhood, Redwood Heights in the Oakland foothills. It's crawling with kids; has a real community feel; lovely '20s- through '50s-era homes; a great neighborhood elementary school (Redwood Heights Elementary); a well-used Rec Center with lots of interesting kid and adult programs; a wonderful park and playground; friendly, involved residents; well-tended gardens; mostly flat streets with sidewalks for bike riding and scootering; etc.
(In fact, when we outgrew our small starter house last year, we purchased a larger house just a few blocks away so that we could stay in the neighborhood, where our kids have lots of friends and where we really feel like a part of the community.)
Demographically, it's somewhat ethnically diverse, with mostly middle- and upper-middle class residents (it's definitely been skewing more upper-middle class as home prices have tripled in the last 8 years or so; most houses now sell in the high $600K to low $800K range). Among the newer residents with kids (who are quickly replacing older residents who moved in decades ago and stayed), I'd say that most are white-collar professionals, with scientists, medical professionals, and educators making up pretty significant subgroups, plus a smattering of writers and artists. A lot of people here are Cal alumni.
There's an active neighborhood organization with a softball team, a baby-todder mom's group, block emergency captains, etc., and a really involved community at the elementary school as well.
This being Oakland, it's fairly progressive politically and socially. There are lots of two-mom families, a fair number of MoveOn members and Green-party voters, etc. There is the occasional property crime (car break-ins and home burglaries every once in awhile) -- as there is everywhere -- but all in all the neighborhood is extremely safe. It's just a comfortable, open, and welcoming place to live -- maybe a bit suburban in feel but also close to all the urban stuff that Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco (you can be in downtown SF in 20 minutes, barring rush hours) have to offer.
Anyway, come on over and check it out! Leah
Re: Looking for family-friendly multi-racial neighborhood
We live in the Redwood Heights area of Oakland (technically, we're actually Leona Heights). We have a really diverse neighborhood -- not only multiracial but queer-friendly too. Lots of families and kids and a good elementary school. For me, our neighborhood represents the best Oakland has to offer: diversity, good weather, and a family-friendly feeling. You didn't say whether you were looking to rent or buy, but I think there are a few rentals in our neighborhood, although most houses are owner-occupied. Ilana