Advice about Living in San Leandro

Parent Q&A

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  • Old San Leandro neighborhood

    (4 replies)

    I am looking to move to Old San Leandro with my husband and (soon to be born) baby, specifically to the Williams Street 300 block. We'd be moving from Alameda.

    Would you recommend this as a safe area to live? For example, would I feel comfortable walking from my house to shops in town alone with my stroller? Or to the BART alone (during commuter hours)? Also, the backyard isn't totally fenced in and we'd have a garage in the back with tools and valuables inside. Not sure if we should be worried about break ins (more than other areas in SL). I have perused a few neighborhood review sites, but don't have a totally clear picture on crime/safety.

    Thank you so much for any tips or advice!

    Hi, I've lived in San Leandro most of my life (for 30 years) and walk around everywhere. Before the pandemic I would regularly walk from BART to John Muir Middle School's field to watch my daughter play soccer in the evening. I've never felt unsafe at night except for perhaps immediately around the BART station. My normal commute is to walk from BART home (I live near the police station) and I carry a large MAG flashlight for "protection" but other than that you should be pretty safe. I would get your yard fenced in and put a stout lock on your garage. Crime is increasing but in my opinion mostly crimes of opportunity and catalytic converter theft.

    We've lived a block south of the 300 block of Williams in SL for the past 5+ years and have found it to be a very safe and comfortable neighborhood. I walk daily in the neighborhood, either alone or with my partner, and have never had a negative experience. My 2 kids (14 & 18) have also walked, scootered & gone for runs in the neighborhood & around SL with a lot of comfort. It's easy to walk to the local Safeway/CVS/post office shopping area, to BART & to the public library. The city has been installing curb cuts at many residential intersections so pushing a stroller across streets is easier than it was 5 years ago. We've never had a house or car break-in in the time we've lived here.  You'll notice that the neighborhood is a bigger mix of housing types than Alameda: houses of varying vintages, condos, apartment buildings, all mixed in within any given block. Lots of nice neighbors here. Wishing you the best with your move, your new baby and your new home! Welcome to the neighborhood !!

    Thank you, both, for responding to my post. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. It's so helpful to hear personal accounts and tips. A lot of my stress and fear (of the unknown) has been alleviated. I am going to meet the landlord today and fingers crossed we'll signing the lease and moving in next month! Looking forward to being part of your community.

    We've lived in the Dutton/E-14 area for almost 6 years now, this last year with a baby. I can't comment on your specific neighborhood, but in general I've found San Leandro to be relatively safe.  Pre-COVID I commuted using BART.  Since its a little over a mile to my house I usually didn't walk home from BART late at night, but I always felt safe on the BART platform/in the station.  Otherwise we walk a ton all over San Leandro for coffee, meals, quick errands etc.  It has been a great community for my family.  We know nearly all our neighbors which wasn't true of our old neighborhood in North Oakland/Berkeley.  We have a Ring so between what I've seen on that app and Nextdoor I'd agree with others that most of the crime is property theft--stolen packages, occasional car break-ins etc.  If you end up in San Leandro feel free to shoot me a message--happy to pass on intel re my favorite parks for baby walks/toddler play, restaurants, etc.

  • Bay-O-Vista neighborhood in San Leandro

    (2 replies)

    My wife and I have a baby daughter and are highly interested in buying a home in San Leandro.  The ideal neighborhood would be Estudillo Estates or Broadmoor in the Roosevelt elementary zone.  

    While not in our ideal neighborhood choices, there are a few nice homes for sale in Bay-O-Vista; some which are easily walkable to McArthur / Estudillo.  The few things I’ve read about the area make it seem like a good neighborhood.  But can anyone comment on how it compares to Estudillo Estates or Broadmoor?  Is it a good area to raise a young kid?  Is it diverse?

    If you are interested in that area consider also looking into Oakland's Sheffield Village.  It is a very family-friendly neighborhood, diverse, and in the San Leandro school district for at least elementary school (confirm separately for middle school and high school).  Much of the neighborhood is flat, there is a community center and park with playground, as well as a community tennis court.  Really fun spot for Halloween. The NX4 and NX3 Transbay buses pick up nearby - good for any SF commute and it is about a 10 minute drive to San Leandro BART.   

    You can easily walk to the same intersection (Estudillo/MacArthur).  Estudillo Produce is a true gem - wonderful grocery store for organic produce, reasonably priced wines, deli sandwiches, and other gourmet foods.  Sabino's is the local coffee shop and is very popular, as is Zocalo Cafe down at Dutton and Bancroft (better for actual food I'd say).  

    The best part of Sheffield and likely of Bay-O-Vista is that you can easily walk to the trails at Lake Chabot.  We used to go every weekend - I can't think of a better way to spend the day with a little kid.  


    We live in Bay-O-Vista. It's a lovely neighborhood. Super close to Lake Chabot for hiking with our dog and stroller. Depending on where you are and your health, it's walking distance the the shops on MacArthur. We used to belong to the swim club, but just didn't use it enough after we got a dog, but might join again now that we have a baby. Our neighbors are diverse, and after a few years, I know all of them and consider many to be friends. If you ever want to come visit the area or talk more specifically, let me know!


  • New Family Moving to San Leandro

    (4 replies)

    Hi Everyone!

    My two kids (1.5 & 5) and I (and my Husband joining at the end of August) are moving to San Leandro on Monday, July 16th from Southern California. 

    I would love any recommendations on things to do in the area with kids, if there are any groups that get together, or best places to eat with kids, etc. 

    We will be living in the Estudillo area and would love some advice and tips about things in that area as well. 

    Thanks in advance! 

    Just posted this week. I’m a big fan of this website for ideas:

    Hi there! Theres a great kids play area at the local coffee house Zocalo and lots of local activities are posted there. 

    Also, check out the Community Impact Lab. They have an active Facebook site. Lots of moms (and some dads) with kid friendly, community service oriented activities. 

    Lots of families use the Roosevelt school playground after hours too. Another good place to meet folks. If its within your budget, a local gym, Bay o Vista, has a great kids pool and is very popular in the summer but its expensive.

    Good luck!

    Check out the mom tot group Community Impact Lab on facebook. It's a big, friendly group and most the members are in San Leandro. They do volunteer stuff (with the kids) but also just socializing.

    Thank you everyone!!! 

  • Hello,

    I am looking for resources/support for a new mom in San Leandro.

    Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

    Hello.  If you can't find anything that is a good fit in San Leandro, you might appreciate Then Comes Baby in Oakland.  It's full of new moms kind of things -- moms groups, classes with babies, breastfeeding help -- that kind of thing!  Best wishes!

    Check out Community Impact Lab, which is a mom group based in San Leandro. My sister founded it. They are a friendly group of women  who get together to socialize and to do projects to improve their community, with new people joining all the time. You can find them on Facebook.

  • We are looking to buy our first house and are hoping to find a 3 bedroom/2 bath with some yard space. With our budget, that means we're looking mainly at San Leandro or El Cerrito. In San Leandro we would like to be in Estudillo Estates or Broadmoor, and in El Cerrito we've found some nice options near the Richmond border (zoned for Mira Vista Elementary). We are leaning towards San Leandro - we love how flat it is, and the strong sense of community there - but the market is limited - there are so few places for sale, especially in the neighborhoods we are considering. I would love to hear thoughts on how El Cerrito measures up in terms of sense of community - especially in the hillier areas. We are concerned that the hills make it harder for people to be out and about with their kids. We have a 2.5 year old who loves to ride his bike and run around. We really want to let him play outside and get to know our neighbors. Thoughts on how likely this is in the hills?

    Commute is less important to us than neighborhood, sense of community, and outdoor space, but it's not irrelevant. We commute to the Cal campus, and Jack London Sq - so any thoughts on the commute to/from each of these options would also be appreciated.

    I'd also love to hear thoughts about whether there are other neighborhoods/areas we should be exploring, considering our priorities. 

    Thanks for your advice and tips!

    We are in the Mira Vista area and have two young children. It's a nice sense of community---- El Cerrito is not a big town and we feel like we have gotten to know a lot of families. Everybody goes to the city recreational activities (pool, gymnastics, summer camps) or the local sports program so my kids are always running into friends. We are walking distance or a very short drive to many nice parks and outdoor areas. The public schools all have really active PTAs and parent communities, and many young families have been moving into the area and the demographics are tilting younger.

    I will say that it is not a great area for bike riding due to both the hills and the rather rugged sidewalks, I think that to really bike you would have to go down to the flats. Most of the houses don't have huge flat yards either, so you may have to compromise there. However we like the community, it is very friendly and quite diverse, and the commute options to many parts of the Bay Area are great! For the Berkeley campus it is maybe a ten minutes to Bart ride from Del Norte Bart to Downtown Berkeley, or the AC Transit 7 bus runs up Barrett and goes through the hills straight to campus. I'm not sure about the commute to Jack London as the 80 can be a real mess. 

    We've been in the hilly part of El Cerrito del Norte for about 2 months now. My wife and I have a 6 month old. Yes, it’s probably a bit harder to ride a bike around, but that’s the only drawback I can see about it. In the short time we’ve been here, we’ve met a ton of parents in the neighborhood; sometimes in person, but also through Next Door. We’ve already had our nearby neighbors and their baby over to our house, we’ve met up with many parents and their babies in the park multiple times, and we’ve met some of the long time families that have been here for decades. I did not expect such openness and community, but it is very much here. The parks are fantastic and seem to be a big part of the community, perhaps in part because the streets are hilly. We go to the park near us multiple times a week. Another reason we moved here is to know which schools our child will go to, instead of having a lottery system (although there is still a lottery for the charters), and we like the clean 1960s architecture in the area. It's also very diverse (middle school is 6th most diverse in the country), lower crime, and family oriented. I personally think that not being in Alameda County is a plus as well. Inventory in El Cerrito is limited too, but I don’t know how it compares to San Leandro, maybe it's not as limited.

    If I were to do it all again, I would definitely consider Richmond Heights (zoned for Mira Vista) or Richmond Annex (zoned for Fairmont) - El Cerrito lifestyle at Richmond prices, ha ha. EC has higher property taxes, and it's aggravating to me that people paying less in property taxes get essentially all the benefits of well-maintained roads and good schools that I, as an EC homeowner, am paying for. Oh well, that's California and its wacky tax revenue structure for ya. I also like San Leandro and the house styles of Estudillo Estates, we looked there too when we were home shopping (2009). I am not familiar with the current state of the schools or local politics there although it may tilt a bit more conservative. I have a friend near me in the Plaza area commuting to Jack London Square and I hear it can be tough, but he drives alone; maybe it's better if you take transit. The commute to Cal is a snap from EC via BART, bus, or I even know some folks who ride their bikes.

    I'm just going to throw out a 3rd option: Pinole! It's farther from Berkeley than El Cerrito, but closer than San Leandro.  We walk around and ride bikes around our neighborhood all the time with our 5 and 3 year old, and we are always running into other families out doing the same thing.  It's a really family friendly town, our local school has an extremely active PTA and we've made more friends living here than we ever did after living a decade in Oakland.  This summer they're doing live music and movie nights in the park, and families bring picnics and chill.  My husband commutes to Berkeley during normal commute times and it takes him about half an hour.  If you look at the back part of Pinole Valley, the part that gets Ellerhorst Elementary, you should be able to get a house in your size with a great backyard for between $600-650.  We live there and are able to walk to the local park, which has playgrounds, soccer fields, and a baseball diamond.  Pinole has excellent nature, a handful of decent restaurants, a great Farmer's Market etc.  Take a look!      

Parent Reviews

I agree with everything the previous poster said. We live in San Leandro and I think it's really worth considering. We were looking more in Oakland and ended up here mostly for the slightly more affordable homes. Estudillo Estates and Broadmoor are really family-friendly with lots of kids riding bikes, playing outside, etc. I wish there was more to walk to for it to be considered "walkable" to like shops and restaurants but there are a few great spots here including Zocalo and As Kneaded Bakery. 

San Leandro all the way.  Several neighborhoods that have more affordable homes in your price range and are safe, family-friendly, diverse.  Roosevelt Elementary is a great school and there's a LGBTQ family group I believe.

Dear JC5,

My husband and I were in the same boat as you about a year ago. We had been living in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Oakland's Lake Merritt and loved it, but was not affordable for us to grow our family there. We ended up moving to San Leandro's Old Downtown neighborhood which is definitely more affordable than our old Oakland neighborhood and still has a lot of charm.  I really feel like this is the next hidden spot that is still affordable. We live walking distance to the downtown shops, restaurants and a weekly farmers market.  We have met several of our neighbors that have moved into this area from Oakland in the past 5 years on average. So, I get the feeling that it is slowly becoming discovered.  By writing this post I risk making it more discoverable, but at the same time we are always excited to meet new neighbors here that are like minded. One word of caution would be to avoid the Bayfair District of San Leandro which tends to be the sketchier part of town. Good luck!

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.

Welcome to the Bay Area! I know you asked about Oakland, but wanted to offer up north San Leandro (just off of I-580) as another option. There's a BART station downtown and express buses to SF. Two neighborhoods in particular -- Estudillo Estates and Broadmoor -- have charming houses that are more affordable than Oakland, nice community, and tremendous ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity (more so, in my opinion, than many parts of Oakland with the "good" schools). There are a couple of neighborhood schools that serve those neighborhoods: Roosevelt and Washington. Roosevelt is the better performing school (in terms of test scores, which of course aren't the whole story) and is very culturally and ethnically diverse, with fantastic parent involvement (PTA, Dad's Club, LGBTQ association, etc). I've also heard good things about Washington Elementary, though historically their test scores have been low, but this is due to the linguistic/ethnic diversity of the school (which is also one of its best assets, IMO). In terms of community, the neighborhood is generally walkable, with some restaurants nearby (though you'd definitely have to drive 10 mins to Oakland for more exciting fare) and a fantastic coffeehouse/neighborhood meeting spot, Zocalo. The SL library is awesome, and there are a lot of new/young families moving in who were priced out of SF/Berkeley. Alameda is also a nice option with good schools, but much pricier. Good luck on your move!

San Leandro! 

Affordable, up and coming (new technology growth), centrally located, BART stations handy, great library, great city which really pays off if/when you need to get a permit or help (we took the awesome seismic retrofit class at the city and then retrofitted our home), gay friendly, diverse (, safe with a fabulous police force that is fast, responsive, and positive ( if/when you need them, quiet, friendly, and more. We were looking for a town where people smiled and said hello when you walk by, and found it in San Leandro. Loving it here. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Considering a move to San Leandro

May 2015

My family (mom/dad/baby) is considering a move to San Leandro, but we'd like to check it out first. Want to see if the town is bike-able, walkable? Where are the good coffee shops? Are there any vegan places? Good parks? Great restaurants/bars? Any thing that you think really sells the area? MB


I lived in San Leandro (in the Manor) from 1993-2003 and still go there often. Here are the pros:

Great weather
Centrally located (580, 880, 238, 2 BART stations, Oakland airport)
Sabino's coffee house (with a garden patio in the back)
Good main and branch libraries
Marina Park
Mostly flat (good for biking)
Good farmers market at Bayfair on Saturdays
Good offerings from the park & rec department
Brand new Kaiser
Marina outlets
Paradiso Restaurant
Estudillo Produce & Deli

My favorite neighborhood is Estudillo Estates. Cute, old homes and close to the downtown area. 

Former SL resident

My family lived in San Leandro for a year while selling our Oakland house.  We lived in an amazing, tucked away area called Cherrywood which is downtown at the end of Alvarado about a mile from downtown BART. It's a well-laid out planned community full of families with old growth trees, walking paths, and 3 well-maintained parks. I was on maternity leave for much of that year and spent most of my time walking around the area, and shopping in San Leandro. The downtown shopping center is close by, as is their wonderful library, the post office, cafes, etc. Plus Costco is right there as well. 

Aside from how lovely the area is, the main thing that we loved about it was how absolutely safe it was. Because the area has only one entrance/exit there is virtually no crime, we think because no one really knows it exists!  You could leave your doors unlocked, your garage open, etc. and not a
thing would happen (whereas all the various places we lived in Oakland, we had car break-ins, thefts from our garage, muggings etc.). If San Leandro was closer to our jobs, school, and daycare we would have stayed.  Loved SL

I would highly recommend Sheffield Village for your search. 1/2 in San Leandro, 1/2 in Oakland, the neighborhood is very charming and walkable to great spots such as Zocalo Coffeehouse (great food and drink), Estudillo Produce Market, Paradiso Restaurant, and Boulevard Burgers among others.  NX3/NX4 transbay bus lines pick up on MacArthur (if you are looking for a commute alternative).  The trails at Lake Chabot are also reachable on foot from the Oakland-side of the neighborhood.  Gorgeous community park for youngsters near Sheffield Community Center on the Oakland side.  Great sense of community.  San Leandro schools for Oakland-side residents (please confirm independently). 

Oakland Sheffield Resident


I really like San Leandro, and if the schools (middle and high school) were better, we would have certainly considered moving there.

Anyway, we live in Castro Valley, so San Leandro is not far. I LOVE the Broadmoor district! such a nice, walkable neighborhood. With the - hands down - best place for coffee south of Farley's in Oakland: Zocalo.

The best park is 30 minutes across the town (by car) Marina. but this is the highly industrial part of the town, i wouldn't want to live there.


I think there are a few neighborhoods in San Leandro that you might consider, but I'd like to make a pitch for the Broadmoor/Estudillo Estates region.  It's just south of the zoo near the 580, making it very accessible to Oakland. There's a fabulous neighborhood coffeeshop (Zocalo) at Dutton and Bancroft, with a large kids area (my saving grace when I had a newborn; I spent many hours there each week...I also had my wedding reception there).There's also a strip on MacArthur between Dutton and Estudillo that contains a burger shop, Starbucks, bagel shop, coffee shop, and fabulous restaurant (Creasian, which has vegetarian meals, maybe vegan?).

We know most of our  neighbors in both directions on our street; the kids play together across multiple yards; kids walk to school.  Oh, and speaking of schools, San Leandro is committed to kids attending the local school (unlike Oakland, where there's a probability you'll get in, but not a certainty).

All that said, while it's great to bike around the neighborhood and over to the library, there isn't a whole lot more around.  But still, I recommend visiting Zocalo and poking around. Ask the baristas (if the owner is around, she lives a few blocks away and is quite familiar with the area) or chat up someone in the kids area.

Elementary schools & neighborhoods in San Leandro

Feb 2015

My partner and I are seriously considering buying a house in San Leandro. We love renting in Oakland but don't think we can afford to buy a house here. We don't have kids yet but hope to soon. We would love some advice about SL schools, especially the Elementary Schools, as this may impact our housing decision. I hear Roosevelt is good, but haven't heard anything about the other elementary schools. Any recommendations or warnings? Also, although much farther away, would love to hear any opinions on Bancroft Middle School and SL High School. Lastly, which SL neighborhoods do you feel are best? We heard great things about Broadmoor and Estudillo. Thank you! rchlgldn

We have a preschooler so don't have direct experience with SL schools yet, but we were in a similar situation to you a couple of years ago. We were priced out of Oakland and ended up buying in SL, and are so glad we did. We live in the Broadmoor East neighborhood, just off the 580 Dutton/Estudillo exit. Our neighborhood school is Roosevelt, and while our preschooler hasn't had direct experience with the school yet, our neighbors seem to love it, and it has a very community-oriented feel. The school playground is open to the public during non-school hours and there is a preschool on-site (Broadmoor Preschool, a co-op), so it's like a little community spot, even for younger children.

The neighborhood is also friendly and incredibly diverse, and in a way feels more so than it did when we lived in North Oakland. And while the walkability can't be compared to parts of Oakland, we're within walking distance to an amazing coffeehouse and a variety of restaurants. The main library nearby is amazing and the weekly farmers market is great.

If you're looking for houses in the area, I'd suggest sticking in the Roosevelt area, though I've heard that Washington Elementary is improving. Estudillo Estates has larger lots and lovely tree-lined streets, and is more expensive. We love the Broadmoor, but suggest sticking to the SL side of MacArthur Blvd, as the part of it that borders Oakland seems to see more crime. happy SL transplant

My husband and I were in the same predicament when I was pregnant with my first child 5 years ago.

Our criteria for a neighborhood was:
1) Family friendly
2) A place that is safe to walk around at night
3) A decent public elementary school

4) Convenient to SF

After getting outbid for the 7th time for homes in Oakland (some of the homes were in parts of Oakland that weren't safe) our agent suggested San Leandro. Long story short, we ended up in Estudillo Estates and it has met all of our neighborhood criteria. We love our neighborhood and the community. It's mostly 1930s-1940s style homes that you will find in Oakland or Berkeley.

The Pros:
-You get so much more for your money here. The closing costs are also less expensive.
-We have found that many of our neighbors are just like us who are professionals, that now have families, that have come from SF, Berkeley and Oakland.
-The neighborhood is very convenient to SF. You have a choice of the Transbay bus or BART about a mile away to get into the city.
-The neighborhood is very safe and take my kids on walks at night all the time. There is the occasional break in to a home or car here and there, but to be expected due to the proximity of Oakland.

-Roosevelt Elementary School is a great public school with a very active parent community. From what I hear it's the best public school in San Leandro. I'm not sure if Broadmoor is within the Roosevelt school district.

The Cons:
-We still find ourselves going to Oakland a lot for food. There's a handful of good places to eat in San Leandro and Castro Valley, but not the same diversity as you would find in Oakland or Alameda. The restaurant options have gotten better over the last few years and I anticipate it will continue to get better.
-We still shop at Whole Foods and Berkeley Bowl since there are not a lot of organic food shopping options here. There is a small neighborhood organic market next to Rite Aid which is good for a few staples, but not for a full grocery shop. There is a Trader Joe's in Castro Valley which is about a 10 minute drive. There are plenty of big market grocery stores to choose from (Safeway, Luckys).

-Most of the families I know in San Leandro send their kids to private school beyond the elementary years, but you will find that is also true in Oakland.

Broadmoor is nice too, but I don't know much about it. When we first moved to San Leandro we moved to Assumption Parish which seems safer than Estudillo Estates in many respects, however McKinley Elementary isn't that great. It seemed as though most of the neighborhood kids were in private school. Assumption School is a K-8 Catholic school in the neighborhood which is very convenient.

Happy SL Family

April 2014

Re: Moving from Marin to Where?

I'm sorry you aren't finding Marin a good place to live. My husband and I visited a lot of towns searching for a friendlier place to live, as well as a place that felt like home to us. Some towns were too small, some looked like difficult commute options, and some felt like the wrong fit. Our two favorite towns are Alameda and San Leandro, we ended up choosing San Leandro for the great cost of living and great neighborhoods. We really love it here, and find the people here to be friendly, down to earth, and fun. That was exactly what we were looking for. If you're curious, I'd recommend visiting the public library, the Marina Park, drive through the neighborhoods, etc. Check out city events: the Cherry Festival is May 31st, Farmer's Market is on Wednesday nights downtown, and meet a few locals. Good luck in your search for a place to call home that feels right. Kirstin

March 2014

Re: Looking for family-friendly areas, max $2500/month

At that price range, you might want to consider San Leandro, which is just south of Oakland by the bay. I recently saw several nice homes for under $2500 a month rent in some of the best neighborhoods in town (Estudillo Estates, Broadmoor). My husband and I moved here in 2012 and love San Leandro. Great neighborhoods, great location, great library, and wonderful neighbors. It's a great town for families. happy in San Leandro

March 2014

Re: Neighborhoods suitable for Chinese grandparents?

I saw several replies to your post and had to seek out your original post because San Leandro has a very large Chinese population that you might find to be a good fit for your family and grandparents. We think it's a lovely city and I think it would be very possible for your grandparents to find friends who also speak Mandarin fluently. love our neighbors

Nov 2013

Re: Good schools and lots of trees and nature
One of the first things I noticed about San Leandro was when we were driving on 580 towards Berkeley, the view of the city was beautiful because it had so many trees. When my husband and I were looking for a new town to live in, we really loved the neighborhoods and trees and the feel of San Leandro. We bought a house here in 2012 and still LOVE it here. The city is great - we took a great city class on how to do a seismic retrofit project on our house, and just dealing with the city to get the permit and pre-inspection and borrowing the tools (a great perk!) has been remarkably easy. Who ever heard of a permit office being friendly and helpful?? But that's how city employees are here. Talking to neighbors about the schools has been very encouraging. We have a lot of diversity in our city, which may be a factor in schools' test scores, but the new city passed bill to fund schools should show some improvement. (I've never thought a test score really told about the quality of education anyway - tests never indicated my intelligence or ability as a kid). It's also got a Great small town feel while being very centrally located in the Bay Area. People are friendly here. We did have neighbors stop by as we moved in, and we've developed great friendships with them and love our neighborhood (Farrelly Pond). And check out the fabulous library - it's got an excellent collection, has great open hours that beat most libraries in the bay area, and has a lot of fun programs for kids and adults. And cost of living is great. The funny thing is that people think San Leandro is so far away - it's just 15 miles from our house to my husband's job in South Berkeley. Happy San Leandro couple

June 2013

Re: Where in the Bay Area we can afford?
Check out San Leandro! It's about 15 miles south of Berkeley, just south of Oakland. Cost of housing is 50% that of Berkeley with better safety ratings and adorable neighborhoods. Excellent public library, friendly people, and a great city overall. We've lived here a year and love it. For really good medical care that accepts medi-cal, check out Lifelong Medical Care. They have several locations, Berkeley's location is very good. K M

June 2013

Re: Bay area spot w/ great biking/schools/lots of kids
Since you mentioned rather outlying areas, why not think of something closer but has all you need? We moved to San Leandro last year and absolutely love it here. Neighbor kids stop by to say hi, we know all of our friendly, down to earth neighbors, and all of the parents I have talked to who have kids at the neighborhood school really like it. Schools arent earning stellar 10s, but some score pretty well and there's a lot of cultural diversity in the schools and town. I would feel very comfortable sending my children to school here (we are not yet parents but considered good schools an important thing to research before choosing a town). One family on our street has kids at the local Catholic school and they love it. Since cost of housing here is really good (homes are in high demand now, however), to us private school might be worth it especially in middle school and high school, if needed.

It's what we were looking for: people smiling and saying hi when you walk by and sometimes striking up a friendly conversation. It is easy to get our errands done in town (we spend far less time running errands than we did when we lived in Berkeley), good commute to work, affordable homes, beautiful neighborhoods, and more. Median home prices are now $335,500. It might be a bit harder to find larger homes in San Leandro, though.

It's a town that is thinking ahead to the future and working hard to attract tech jobs thanks to Lit San Leandro ( a fiber optic loop throughout the city for service providers to get ultra high speed internet connections. And the city really works to make this a great place to live. We just attended the Seismic Retrofit class the city offers and it was excellent.

I feel comfortable walking and biking in town - streets have sidewalks, there are good bike paths, and generally flat roads and easy and pretty neighborhoods to ride through to get downtown. Lots of trees here (I noticed San Leandro because we were driving through on 580 and I saw so many trees). Oakland airport is close by and easy to get to without freeways. The library is excellent (I'm graduating with my Master in Library and Information Science), and is open great hours, has a big parking lot, and is well loved in town. You don't have to go so far as Davis or Marin County, there are some great towns much closer by. We also considered Pinole, Crockett, and El Sobrante. We read a lot of reviews on bpn and did a ton of research to find the town that suited us. Good luck on your search. K M

March 2013

Re: Oakland neighborhoods and safety concerns
My husband and I tried to find an Oakland neighborhood that we liked, but it just wasn't a good fit for us. Fortunately, we discovered San Leandro which is just south of Oakland and we love it here.

We have a great neighborhood for walks and meet plenty of friendly neighbors walking their dogs. There are also some great dog parks in the area, Oyster Bay and at the Marina are popular, locals will certainly tell you about more dog parks. Parking is easy, and we have a lot of major shops so that running errands in town is a breeze.

We also live close to downtown and the BART station, so it's very easy to walk anywhere we want to: cafes, library, etc. It's a great town for affordability and safety. Our police force is amazing - they come out right away and are tough on crime. They encourage residents to call if something looks fishy and educate the public about what to do to keep yourself safe and aware. And they are friendly and nice, as well. On top of that, the town is quite beautiful with many tree lined streets. K M

March 2013

Re: Affordable, safe neighborhood with kids?
We moved to San Leandro last May and *love* it here. We live in the Farrelly Pond neighborhood and have friendly neighbors and lots of kids from two sets of twin babies on our street to school aged kids who play in the street. I go walking in our neighborhood and people actually smile and say hello and often strike up friendly conversations. There are two great parks within walking distance with great play structures. The public library is great - they have an excellent selection of books and it is open a lot, more than most libraries in the bay area. Plus they have great programs - movies for families, puppet shows, science days where kids can try out experiments, and more. (I helped last summer in Children's Services and I was very impressed with all the library had to offer). Running errands in town is very easy, I'm only hoping for a Trader Joe's store one day, but for now, there are 2 within 7 miles of my home so it's not too far away. I checked Padmapper for rentals in the area and they definitely fit your price range. Cost of living here is excellent (half of Berkeley's). We would come to town and pick up the San Leandro Times to get a feel for the community, as well as walking around different neighborhoods. found our Mayberry

Yes, San Leandro is a nice area - particularly Estudillo Estates and Broadmoor. Drive over and check it out. I live in Estudillo Estates - fabulous for families with children. It's pretty and friendly. There are some rental houses scattered around. There is a nice libary downtown. SL could be an affordable alternative to Berkeley and Alameda. We do have some crime - home break-ins etc. but that happens all around... SL resident

Feb 2013

Re: Mills College neighborhoods - yay or nay?
My husband and I lived in Berkeley right near campus, literally a block away, so we can definitely relate to your experience with noise, no garden space, and the safety concerns. We searched for the right home and town that gave us what we were looking for. We searched high and low: Crockett, Pinole, Walnut Creek, then tried Oakland but cringed a lot and read a lot of reviews on BPN about how various neighborhoods really weren't all that safe, and they just didnt feel right. We couldnt afford the 'better' neighborhoods of Oakland. What we eventually found: San Leandro. Great location, great prices on homes, great neighborhoods, excellent public library with great events and open more than Berkeley Public Library, we still have the rolling hills and the bayside town, and we got a city that is dedicated to making this town a wonderful place to live and work. My husband commutes 15 miles to work in South Berkeley. About once every 3-5 months, there's a bad commute day that takes 45 minutes. Most of the time, it's around 20-30 minutes. I also commute to Berkeley for work a few days a week and most of the time, it's an easy 20 minute drive. It's all worth it because running errands in town is so much easier than it ever was in Berkeley - we literally save hours each week. We also have friendly neighbors and absolutely love our neighborhood. We have an affordable house that is amazing (we got very, very lucky and found a gem). We can actually afford a home! Our neighborhood has adorable houses built in the 1920-40's. Great, tree-lined streets, and blissfully quiet! Other areas in town have houses built in different eras. We can, and do, walk downtown regularly. Our quality of life has improved considerably in all the things we were missing in Berkeley, and in all the things we most wanted. K M

Dec 2012

Re: Moving out of Berkeley
My husband and I wanted to move out of Berkeley because of that attitude you mentioned. We searched for a long time for a town that felt like home. We also didnt want a high cost of living. Our goal was to buy a house we could afford with one good job or two bad jobs, in case anything ever happened.

We visited a lot of towns and finally found the right home: San Leandro. We bought our first house in May and Love it here.

Neighbors on our street came to meet us the first day we moved in. They are friendly and helpful. We've had some of them over and really enjoy getting to know them. People on the street smile and say hi. People we have spent time with here are friendly and down to earth - exactly what we were looking for.

We don't have kids, but neighbors in our area love the elementary school and gave great reviews of the principal and teachers. We haven't yet met anyone with middle schoolers, so hopefully someone else can help on that topic.

The city of San Leandro is great and we think it has a ton of potential. They have planned the city well, and are looking to the future to make this a great place to live and work.

We can't believe how long it took to run errands when we lived in Berkeley, now it's a breeze to get groceries or get to the hardware store. There are a lot of trees, and adorable houses on tree-lined streets from just about any decade. I think the library is excellent - the collection continues to amaze me (and I'm studying to get a Library Science degree!).

We are just south of Oakland which means we have the same rolling hills, the same bayside setting, and a great marina park with restaurants, an exercise trail with exercise machines, and a great view of the bay. We also have 2 BART stations, which is very handy. For us, we can walk to BART and get right to the city or Berkeley anytime. And we live just 15 miles away from our jobs in Berkeley.

We also have 2 major freeways which we learned was key - moving north (as we considered the towns you mentioned) would mean being dependent upon I-80 which can get blocked up a lot.

Crime rates are much better than in Berkeley, and our police department is well respected in the Bay Area for excellence. What's even nicer - police officers smile and say hi!

Also, cultural diversity is higher than in Berkeley, which we are very proud of.

There arent as many restaurants in town, but that hasnt really impacted our lives at all. We have a favorite cafe that we love, and a couple other places we like. I wish we had a Trader Joe's, but there's one within 6 miles of my house so it's not too bad.

The weather is fabulous, it's around 4 degrees warmer than in Berkeley and we grew a ton of tomatoes this summer, our first time gardening here.

I love our new town, and I've had a lot of fun showing friends around. I'd be happy to answer your questions.

Moving to Castro valley or San leandro

July 2012

I've been in Oakland (in the middle of the lake, piedmont and temescal area) for 3 years and we are looking to move and purchase a home in a nearby city. Prior to Oakland, I lived in SF for twelve years. I'm feeling sad to leave Oakland and move to the burbs, but we have a child now and its important to be in a safer area than we are now. It would also be dreamy for our child to attend her school of residence rather than have to win the lotto to get into a decent school. Does anyone live or know someone who lives in nearby cities? I'm hoping to hang out in these places more and get a feel for them-thinking lunch, coffee, visit parks... I was wondering if anyone has any hints of areas to hang in. Also our budget is tight so we are looking for houses around 300,000. Fancy, dreamy, hillside neighborhoods are out. 8( Sad to leave!

After visiting a lot of towns in the East Bay, we happily discovered San Leandro and recently bought a house here. We've been living here for 2 months now and love it. You won't be crying about what you left behind when your neighbors all come out to introduce themselves and get to know you and you find that people will actually look at you, smile, and say hello when you walk by.

To explore San Leandro and other towns: visit the public library. Check out the open hours, look at the collection, browse around the space. We were amazed that San Leandro Public Library had more open hours than bigger cities, and learned later that the city and its residents fund the library. This is also a great place to get a feel for the people who are in the town - people watch, talk to staff, and check out the Children's Library, too. The magazine selection is remarkably good, much better than I've seen elsewhere. You will be delighted to see the large parking lot with free parking for 2 or 3 hours. The library also has a cafe and great events for kids, adults, and families.

We discovered Cafe Sorriso and love it. They've got great sandwiches - try the chicken salad on raisin bread. The bread is made there and it's so good - the cinnamon will wow you. They also have breakfasts, soups, excellent salads, and my husband and I always have to get their thai ice tea. Staff are friendly and remember us.

This cafe and the library are downtown, so walk around in this area. I've also liked Los Pericos Mexican food nearby.

Farmer's Market is downtown on Wednesday evenings in the summer - stop by and check out the produce, people watch, and even get dinner. Check out the city's website for information about the Farmer's Market and what event is happening each week - I think another Margarita night is coming up soon. There's another Farmer's Market on Saturdays but we haven't tried it yet.

If you practice a religion, attend a service in town. It's another way to get to talk to locals and see people.

Lake Chabot is 10 minutes or so from town and it's a great park for a nature hike. Also check out the San Leandro's parks. They've got great playgrounds and parks through town. We're still exploring them.

We went to the San Leandro marina and loved the walking-running trail along the water with exercise stations along the way. There are also picnic tables, kids' playgrounds, and open spaces. Restaurants are there, as well, so stop for a drink or a meal.

Fortunately a BPN post in the archives pointed out how long it would take to run basic errands from Berkeley, and how much of an impact it makes on your life and time if you have to drive 30-40 minutes to the basic stores you visit regularly each week. We've got Home Depot, OSH, Costco, Safeway, Target, Macys, Old Navy, as well as some clothing outlets. These are all within a few miles of our house. The only thing we miss is Trader Joe's, though there's one in Castro Valley about 7 miles away. We've also got a convenient BART station if we ever need a commuting back up.

What especially made us love San Leandro after all these bonuses: beautiful homes. We've still got those great hills framing our town like Oakland and Berkeley do, and the gorgeous houses from the 1920's and 1930's, and tree lined streets where you can actually park your car. Of course, there are homes from every decade here, but my husband and I were looking for a pre-1940's house and found it.

Another thing we noticed in our research: the town has 2 freeways that rarely have a back up. You're not stuck with just one freeway if something happens, which is really helpful if you're commuting to work (we drive to Oakland and Berkeley).

Check it out and see if it's what you're looking for. K M

[editor note] review also received for Castro Valley

April 2012

Re: Moving to the East Bay from SF - where to live?
Check out San Leandro! My husband and I searched high and low for an affordable place to live that had a good commute to Berkeley and for a town that felt like home. We tried many different cities (Walnut Creek, Crockett, Pinole, Oakland, Albany, Alameda, etc) and what we were looking for was this: beautiful neighborhoods, a safe town, historical homes (pre 1950's), and an affordable cost of living. San Leandro fit all of our criteria so well. Great homes at really affordable prices, a quick and easy commute (our home is just 15 miles from my husband's work in Berkeley, 9 miles from my job in Oakland, and we both have 2 freeways we can use that rarely ever have a back up). We are so happy we just bought a house in San Leandro. It's sunny and warm enough to grow tomatoes in our garden, and people are laid back and friendly. We are especially looking forward to friendly neighbors. The town has a beautiful marina with a great jogging track along the bay with exercise stations and a huge park with great playgrounds. We've found a favorite cafe with excellent food, and downtown is a nice walk from our new home. We are excited to be learning more about our town and participating and contributing to our wonderful new community. Check out this often overlooked but wonderful little town. K M

San Leandro Farrelly Pond Dst?

March 2009

We are thinking about buying a house in the Farrelly Pond District of San Leandro and would like insight from people who live there or have first hand familiarity with San Leandro in general. Most of the previous BPN discussions have centered around the nearby Estudillo Estates neighborhood, lovely but a little too expensive for our first house. Can anyone offer insight about the safety of the neighborhood, the walk to BART, the local kindergarten, etc? We have a 6 month old--are there other families with little ones in that area? We would appreciate the input! New Mom

If you're considering Farrelly Pond, have you thought about Sheffield Village in Oakland, under 580 on Dutton? It has San Leandro schools (Roosevelt Elem, which usually gets the highest marks in SL), a nice park and a family vibe, and a per-square-foot cost less than Estudillo Estates. And it's walking distance to Zocalo Coffeeshop. My husband bikes to the SL BART or takes the 55 bus (every 15 minutes) to Bayfair. To get into SF there's the NX3 and NX4 commuter buses stopping right there. happy local

Safe, walkable neighborhood for my parents

Jan 2009

My Parents are retiring this year and moving to the Bay Area. They'll be moving here from Maine, and are looking for ideally a safe walkable neighborhood with access to public transportation. They would like to keep their house purchase around 500K I'm little help because I tend not to leave my little orbit in Rockridge and even though I'm well into my second decade of living here I don't know much beyond Piedmont Ave, Rockridge, and a little bit of Solano. Can anyone recommend other neighborhood is the East Bay that might fit the bill? If they have to look further out beyond Oakland/Berkeley/Albany are their other communties that would be suitable? Does anyone live in San Leandro near downtown? Lousy Local Guide

Alameda & the area near downtown San Leandro (above downtown area, not below) are flat, are quite safe & have homes in the $500 k price range. Easy to get around by bike, particularly in Alameda which has lots of well-marked bike lanes & great dedicated bike trails. San Leandro has its own BART station; Alameda is closest to Fruitvale BART, which is problematic at night. Both communities are more bde than anything else. Happy Grandmother

We live in the Estudillo Estates neighborhood of San Leandro, and we really like it. Super friendly neighbors, pretty houses, close to shopping/freeways/etc. and flat streets make for easy strolls around the neighborhood. Happy to speak with you in more detail if you'd like. helen

Sept 2008

Re: Cheaper but safe enough neighborhoods
Come check out San Leandro! I live on the north end of town (Estudillo Estates) and although it's not North Berkeley, it's a beautiful neighborhood. The homes were built mostly in the 30's and 40's, there are lots of big trees and good community spirit. We have a good elementary school with great parent involvement. We have a coffee shop with a really nice kid's area, a meat market, a produce market and a few restaurants all within walking distance. I don't know current home prices but I'm sure it's less expensive than Berkeley. anon

Oakland vs. San Leandro

May 2008

Dear Members: My family is moving from Boston to either the Oakland Hills or San Leandro this July. I have read older postings about the differences between living in Oakland vs. San Leandro both in terms of quality of life and school quality. My impression is that beginning several years ago, people who were priced out of Berkeley and some parts of Oakland moved to San Leandro for better home prices and a sense of community. Given that so much has changed in the market, and the exodus may have been quite some time ago, could anyone comment on what it is like to live in San Leandro vs. Oakland now? Have others of you made a similar choice recently? We are much more oriented towards a city existence, and don't want to feel too isolated in San Leandro. On the other hand, I don't know if we want to struggle with a higher mortgage in the hills, and it doesn't take very long to drive into the city from San Leandro. The other issue, of course, are the public schools in both! places. I've done a lot of reading about the Oakland schools, including postings on this site, and it's unclear to me if there are still struggles to get kids into their own neighborhood schools or if that has calmed down. I don't want to buy an expensive home only to have to switch to private school because of a lack of space in my neighborhood school. I should say that we are not obsessed about schooling- we know the pitfalls of public education (my husband used to work in OUSD) and know it's an issue in the area. We do, however, want our daughter to go to public school and are not fixated on having ''the best''. If people have any thoughts on comparing the two locations, different school issues, etc., we would be most grateful to have them.

Hi there. Five years ago we moved to San Leandro after renting for a year in Oakland (we had recently moved from Brooklyn). When we were house hunting, we looked everywhere - from the east bay to Benicia. For many reasons, we ended up in San Leandro (mostly because we were able to get more for our money in San Leandro, and were able to buy near a good elementary school). At the time, we felt like we ''settled'', but it's been anything but the case. We live in a wonderful neighborhood (Estudillo Estates) with a great sense of community. Our elementary school (Roosevelt) has really worked out well for us. We have an interesting mix of families, a great principal, and diverse student body. Many of the teachers live in the neighborhood and their children attend the school. It's the type of neighborhood where you know your neighbors and everyone watches out for each other. I really can't say enough positive things about it. We also have a nice business district with resta! urants and a nice neighborhood cafe that's walking distance from our house. Our neighborhood includes a mix of 1930s houses, very similar to much of Oakland/Berkeley. On top of that, it's an easy commute into SF from San Leandro - just 25 minutes on the Bart to downtown. (I think you still get more for your money in SL vs similar parts of Oakland/Berkeley too.) Robyn

Faced with a similar situation several years ago, we moved to San Leandro. We ended up regretting it. Even though it is not so far, friends from Oakland, Berkeley, and SF just did not come visit. We didn't find childcare that we were happy with there, so we did a lot of commuting with the kids. Despite really trying, and the fact that we like all kinds of people and many folks in our demographic have moved to SL in recent years, we did not make friends at all, to the extent that we started wondering if something was wrong with us. As our kids approached school age, we were unhappy with the school offerings. We missed little things more than we expected, like the absence of Indian restaurants in town, etc. We recently moved to the Berkeley flatlands, which might be in your price range. We are happy with the schools, love the community, have made lots of new friends, and no longer feel isolated and alienated! But even though SL didn't work at all for us, we did meet l! ots of people who did seem happy, and it has lots of great aspects in theory. Glad to be out of San Leandro

I am an Oakland native now living in San Leandro for almost 5 years. When people ask where I live, I still reply ''Oakland'' out of habit, but also because where I live in San Leandro has many similar traits as Oakland. San Leandro has diversity but with a small town vibe. It's quiet, relatively safe, and schools are good depending on neighborhood. The location is great - only 15 minutes farther from San Francisco. We live in a very modest house but also paid a fairly modest price. The biggest downfall of San Leandro for us is restaurants. We still drive to Oakland almost every time we want to eat out. But I feel it's worth it. We never could have afforded a home in Oakland in a similar neighborhood to the one we're in now. I'm not sure I would move back even if it were an option at this point. My husband does feel a little differently. He does miss the closeness of the restaurants and cool bars and cafes, but oh well, he can drive 15 minutes to get them!! One more good thing about San Leandro is that there are more progressive type families moving there. But, like any city, areas do differ greatly, so check out the neighborhoods first. (I am in the Dutton Ave/Bancroft area.) Good luck! anon

2004 - 2007 Discussions

Estudillo Estates in San Leandro

April 2007

Hope someone can help. We are in the process of relocating to Northern California from Texas. Have heard so many mixed reviews and viewpoints on San Leandro that it would be great to hear from people who actually live there. My husband is already living in area in temporary housing, but someone has suggested Estudillo Estates because of distance to work, etc. Have heard that schools aren't great, so private school would probably be the way to go for our soon to be 5th grader, but have questions in particular about safety, quietness of area and the like. Please help as we are really puzzled. daphne

I have lived in the Broadmoor Neighborhood of San Leandro, which is just next to Estudillo Estates (, for 12 1/2 years. I think it's a wonderful place to live. Estudillo Estates has larger houses and lots.

Both neighborhoods feed into Roosevelt Elementary school ( has a very active PTA and excellent teachers. My oldest is now at the middle school ( and thriving, though many parents leave for private schools at that time. The city recently passed a bond measure that will fund a 9th grade academy and arts center at the high school.

Since I've moved here the neighborhood gets better and better. New restaurants, a community oriented cafe ( ) , a children's resale store ( , lots of new neighbors pouring in from over-priced Berkeley who think and vote like me :-)

A great local reference is the forum at the San Leandro Parents Network website :

Of course, there are other nice places to live in the Bay area as well. Good luck with your move. ---Sophie

Hi. My husband and I have lived in Estudillo Estates since 1999, and I'm happy to talk about the neighborhood and the city, and why we like it and why we're doing a major house remodel vs. moving. I also spent age 9 through 18 growing up in San Leandro and went to private school (my brother went to public). Contact me via email so we can call each other. Leila

We've lived in the Estud. Estates neighborhood for the past three + years with our pre-school son.

The district elementary school, Roosevelt, is the best in town, so I'm pleased about that. The other option, which others go for, is Assumption, a K-8 Catholic school.

IMO, this neighborhood is the best in town overall. It's well- kept, nice for walking, many trees, and people who come in from outside SL often comment ''Wow, what a great neighborhood.'' It's always felt quite safe, although most of northern SL is relatively calm. In addition, you are buffered from the Oakland border by SL's Broadmoor neighborhood, which has a lot of things going for it as well--great homes with huge lots, and wonderful, progressive residents, but being near the borderline, they get some of the riff-raff, unfortunately.

Regarding commuting, SL is in the center of the East Bay, so, it's great whether you're going to SF or SJ, ''great'' being a relative term. I mean, there's still traffic. If you're going to SF, the BART system is a huge advantage. anon

We have lived in Estudillo Estates in San Leandro for 8 years. We were house-hunting in Alameda at the time, but found we could get more house in this neighborhood for the money. Other responses indicate that the elementary school is Roosevelt. However, it depends on which side of Bancroft Ave. you live on. Our neighborhood school is Washington. (Estudillo Estates goes as far west as Woodland Ave.)

We have found public schools to have talented and dedicated teachers. However, like other school districts where money is tight, there is some emphasis on teaching to achieve higher standardized test scores. This means that there might be more classroom time spent on math/language than on science/art. Our kids, ages 13 and 11, are in the public schools and we prefer to supplement their learning at home rather than deal with private schools. (Been there; done that.) San Leandro overall has a large retired population, so funding for schools does not always get enough support from the voters.

Our neighborhood is very quiet (those retired folks again who watch over things while the rest of us are at work), diverse (students at our son's elementary school speak over 20 different native languages) and relatively safe (depending on the street there can be a lot of non-residents passing through, so don't leave bikes in your front yard). Our kids are free to roam to the donut shop, hardware store and comic book store on their own without us worrying about them. The commute to Berkeley is 25 minutes if there's no traffic; about 45 minutes during rush hour. BART is close by, as are all major freeways. I would rate it the best neighborhood in San Leandro if looking at access to services, safety, schools, quality of housing and access to commute routes. A Happy San Leandro Resident

October 2006

Re: Kid friendly neighborhoods in the East Bay Consider the North area (Broadmoor and Estudillo Estates) of San Leandro. Beautiful houses, lots of people pushing strollers, an amazing community center/cafe (Zocalo Coffeehouse) and a real sense of community. San Leandro also has one of the most amazing children's libraries and children's programs in the Bay Area (all thanks to our children's librarian, Ms. Penney). Check us out. And if you want to find out how people living here, go to Zocalo any morning and talk to other moms & dads Marga

Moving to San leandro with 2 young children

May 2004

Like many people, we are priced out of Berkeley and Oakland, and are now bidding on houses in San Leandro. We have two young children (3 and 6 mos.). I have heard about the excellent library and have read the recommendations previously posted in 2002, but would like updated recommendtaions for: preschools, parks/playgrounds, markets ( I know about Trader Joe's in Castro valley), restaurants, cafes, etc. I guess I'm asking those of you who live there to share your favorite places/activities. Thanks! lrc

We lived in San Leandro for years and there's of great things there. Let's see: the Farmer's Market at BayFair Mall is your best bet for fresh veggies (and cheap flowers), Saturday mornings, 10-1 I think. Galvin's market on MacArthur (at Estudillo) is a very good butcher and fish market. In that same area, Sabino's is a good coffee shop, and CreAsian a very good restaurant. The two make a nice combo for evenings out. There's also an excellent Italian restaurant I think it's called Paradiso on the same street as the Middle School, cross street Dutton. It's by a comic book shop. Otherwise, your restaurant options aren't many in the area, but Oakland and Berkeley aren't that far away. For shopping the 880 outlets at Marina are great, with Old Navy, Ann Taylor, and Nordstorm rack. Costco is close by too.

There are good parks too: in Sheffield Village, Marina, and in Hayward at Hesperian. Also the Dunsmuir House will let the public on the grounds for free during the week from April - October (I think) which is fun for walks. Again, you're really not far from the Oakland, Berkeley, or even LaMorinda parks as well. We used to play at all of them when we lived in SL. As far as Preschools, our son went to St. James and liked it very much, as did we. Good luck. We found San Leandro to be a nice place to live, and met lots of nice families, who, like yourselves, were drawn to the more affordable housing there. Bobbie

After being outpriced in many east bay cities, my husband and I explored Alameda and fell in love with it. While not cheap, we found some reasonably priced housing here. Why not take a look in addition to San Leandro. Good Luck!

2003 & Earlier

Fun things to do in San Leandro with kids

October 2002

We (a stay-at-home mommy, a go-to-work daddy, and our one-year- old daughter) are moving from Berkeley to San Leandro next month. We will miss our mommy's/play group, the Berkeley Y (goodbye Kindergym & mommy's step class, boo hoo), Music Together, and all of Berkeley's wonderful parks. Can anyone recommend activities for a mommy and a baby in San Leandro or Castro Valley? And where can we find others of you like us? Thanks! Karen

There are a lot of fun things to do in San Leandro!

Favorite Parks (see for more details) Marina - tot playground with a whale and dolphin water fountain for hot weather, 1-mile par course, lots of grass for kite flying, borders the shoreline Washington Manor - tot playground, big kid play ground, about a 1/2 mile path to walk around, public swimming pool in the summer

Favorite Walking trails: Bay Trail - you can catch it at the Marina Park and walk/bike all the way to the San Mateo bridge Lake Chabot - catch the trail by the marina, which is in Castro Valley,

Mothers Group: The Castro Valley Mother Club has a lot of San Leandro Members. It is a very active, strong club.

Classes - The city sponsors many classes at the various community centers, nursery schools, and library. Pick up a catalog at the library. The Laurel Center in Castro Valley (run by the Hayward Adult School) also has a ton of classes Helena

The SL Public Library is great for story hour on Tuesday mornings and has a generally good children's room (I liked the library enough to pay to join, which I had to do as an Oakland resident). The SL city rec. offerings were good, and I'm pretty sure they extend down into your needed age range. We used them for swimming classes and a sports camp this summer-they also have crafts and theater groups. There is a cafe on Estudillo/MacArthur that has story time, and good coffee with a deck (near CreAsian, a good asian fusion restaurant). Greywolf books is a great used bookstore. I never found a playground that I liked as much as the Berkeley/Oakland favorites, but there are several around, we used schoolgrounds a lot. The Oakland neighborhood across 580 has a playground that has weekly play groups (across MacArthur, on either Dutton or Estudillo, I can't remember). We used Montclair as well, the library and the playground there were useful.

As an aside, Pee Wee's pizza on E. 14th is great and pretty child friendly. And the Loard's (sp?) on Bancroft has good ice cream and a lawn nearby for running/eating ice cream. Have fun and good luck. Kean

Hi, I live in Oakland but take my 21 m.o. child to a great parent and tot class offered through the San Leandro Adult School. It is a 2 hour program one morning a week that prepares the toddlers for preschool - with art time, snack time, circle time with singing and dancing. Very cute and really affordable. I suggest giving them a call and having a class schedule sent out for the next session. Also, try calling the libraries and the S.L. Parks and Recreation to see what's available. Good luck with your move

I live in San Leandro and it's really not that bad! I mean, wouldn't everyone love to be in Berkeley, but when financial constraints put us here, we ended up loving it. The new library on Callan and Estudillo is fantastic--a great storyteller Weds at 11 for our age group (my son is 20 mos), a nice children's room, and lots of other free kiddie events yearround. There's also a good mommy & me-type pre-preschool class through the Adult School, and a few good parks (particularly at the Marina-- with water fountains, sand, and the planes flying overhead). I hear good things about the preschools, too. Check out for a info on youth programs.

This is a fast food haven, but there are some decent restaurants (good sushi at Tsuru and Musashi, Berkeley-type fancy restaurants are Paradiso and Creasian, and the best taqueria is Los Dos Pericos). It's also big on superstores, so not many boutiques and such, but good shopping can be found nearby in Oakland, Alameda, and Castro Valley. Trader Joes is in Castro Valley now, and Cull Canyon is a great swimming hole in the summer.

Plus, you really don't have to give up on your favorite Berkeley haunts--just get used to driving a bit more, like the rest of us. It's only 10-20 mins to whatever you could possibly want. And so much cheaper here, so what you save on housing can be used for extra gas. Whitney

Hi -- I am a full-time mom with a 2 year old who moved to San Leandro from Oakland about a year and a half ago. Since we are so close to Berkeley/Oakland, I still do some activities there (such as Music Together and meeting friends at parks). However, I've also found more and more toddler friendly activities right here. Our favorite San Leandro site is the new main library on Estudillo. It has an excellent children's library and great story times. Story times are on Wednesdays, at two different times for different age groups, and in the evening as well. In addition, we've been going to ''Tottime'' which is through the San Leandro Adult School. It's a great program where parents join their kids for a morning of pre-pre-school. My daughter loves it! It starts at age 18 months. I've also heard good things about the ''Kiddie Kollege'' which is through the Dept. of Parks and Rec. As for playgrounds, we mostly go to the one in Sheffield Village on Marlow Drive. We also go to Lake Chabot for walks. There are two good kid friendly restaurants that we've found -- The Hidden Wok in Pelton Center, and Sergio's Pizza. San Leandro is a very kid-friendly town, and it really is a quick drive to Oakland/Berkeley, so you don't have to give up the things that you like there! For instance, I end up driving to Berkeley Bowl about once a week. I have other information as well, on yoga, Jazzercise (with childcare), etc., if you are interested. You can call me at 483-0499 or email. Good luck with your move! Debbie

I live in Castro Valley (just about at the SL border). There is a club for moms here called the Castro Valley Mother's Club. It includes moms from Castro Valley, San Leandro, San Lorenzo and Hayward) and is for moms with children 6 and under. The yearly dues to the club are $30. Monthly general meetings are held at Eden Hospital in CV the second Tuesday of the month from 7-9 pm. They also send out a monthly newsletter. I've been a member for about a year and a half. I don't do much that is club organized (haven't even been to a meeting), but was in a playgroup for awhile which my daughter and I enjoyed, and have gotten lots of great information via the newsletter and e- mailing group among the club members. There are lots of moms who are much more involved than I am and it seems to be very enjoyable for them. I might have begun putting more effort into it if my husband and I hadn't decided to move away next Spring...

Anyway, it's the Castro Valley Mother's Club. Website is Also, my daughter is a bit older than yours (27 mos), but if you'd like to e-mail me about stuff in this area, I'd be happy to help. Jen

Dec 1999

We moved to San Leandro in the summer of 1996. We chose it because we liked the neighborhood, the schools are reputed to be good, it was a compromise commute between me (Berkeley) and my husband (Silicon Valley), and it was far more affordable than Berkeley.

Neighborhood: It's fairly suburban for being in the midst of such an urban area. We like that we are still within reach of all the advantages of the cities (ballet, symphony, etc), but are a little out of the main hustle and bustle. We live in the Broadmoor neighborhood in the very northern part of San Leandro. (We also liked the Estudillo Estates neighborhood, which is a bit pricier.) There's a neighborhood association, and a small shopping area within a few blocks. For holidays, there's usually some sort of special event on that corner, for instance for Halloween there is a safe trick or treat afternoon where all the shops give out candy to kids who come in costume. We feel safe, and have had very little trouble with crime so far.

Schools: The elementary schools are supposed to be excellent. We are around the corner from Roosevelt, and I am confident that I will be able to send my younger daughter there when the time comes in a couple more years.

I was very pleased with Bancroft Middle when my stepdaughter was there (for 7th and 8th grades). It is a California Distinguished School. I much preferred it over Longfellow in Berkeley, which she attended for 6th grade. I found the teachers far more responsive to our concerns. The school grounds were clean, and there was a wide variety of extracurricular activities.

I was not particularly impressed with San Leandro High for the few weeks my daughter attended. The teachers were not as responsive to my concerns (several never returned my phone calls), and the extracurricular activites seem lacking in some areas--there is NO extracurricular Drama, for instance. When we asked about Drama, we were told that, if the child wanted to have Drama, they would sign up for the class--totally ignoring the fact that a child on an academic track bound for the UC system would not have enough elective time to take Drama every semester as well as the other required classes. We ended up pulling her out and placing her in a private school. We are currently reconsidering whether that is serving her, but I must say I am not excited about sending her back to SL High for the remainder of her high school career.

Commute: It's about 25 to 35 minutes from our house to my office on campus, door-to-door including parking time. I usually commute in a little late, though (arrive at 9:30 pm), and I travel on 13. 580 is a reasonable option. 880 is a BAD IDEA. Similarly, my husband shifts his hours a little late for his drive to the south bay, arriving at about 11 am and leaving after 7 pm. His commute is 45 min to 1 hr each way at those hours.

Affordability: We have a small 4-bedroom house (the square footage is comparable to most 3-bedrooms). A similar house in a similar neighborhood in Berkeley would have cost us 1/3 to 1/2 again as much. For contrast, a similar house in a similar neighborhood in Santa Clara was fully twice as much. Our house has increased in value by 28% in the past 3 years.

Hope this is helpful! Dawn

Affordable family housing?

August 1999

We are at the point in our lives where we are 1) wanting to by a house and 2) looking at public schools for our daughter who will enter kindergarten next fall. Berkeley and Albany seem to be out of the question for affordable housing. We currently rent in El Cerrito but aren't crazy about the school district. So, we are turning to other nearby communities: Alameda and Benicia are currently at the top of our list. Does anyone on this list live in either place? Can you tell me a bit about the quality of life in these towns? We are looking for affordable housing, good schools, and a tolerant, diverse, family-friendly community all within commuting distance (30-40 minutes max) from Emeryville where my husband currently works. Not too much to ask for is it? I welcome any and all input on either Benicia or Alameda or any other town that might fulfill our needs. Thanks! -Allison

We were doing the same comparisons about 3 years ago. We also decided that Berkeley and Albany were unaffordable. We narrowed our search to Alameda and San Leandro. We finally bought a house in northern San Leandro. We are very pleased with it. The commute is reasonable (about 25-35 minutes to Berkeley door-to-door along 580). The neighborhood we live in is quite safe, and there's a small-town atmosphere (though this is less true as you go farther south, as a rule). The schools are excellent in the lower grades, through Middle School, though I wasn't real happy with our short experience with San Leandro High (for various reasons, we ended up pulling our daughter out and putting her into a private school after a few weeks--though most of this was *not* the fault of the school--just what *she* needed to perform well).

Anyhow, you might want to check out San Leandro and see if it might meet your needs as well.

Good luck!

More reviews of San Leandro

May 2007

Re: Safe, family--oriented neighborhood?
We were in your boat four years ago and we found near-nirvana in San Leandro! The neighborhoods around Dutton (right off 580) are just what you're describing: kids play on our street day and night, neighbors know each other, and the local cafe (Zocalo) makes for a friendly, progressive community center. While San Leandro was known in the 70s as one of the whitest towns in the East Bay, it is now very diverse, which we see reflected on our street and in our school. Our son is in the local public elementary school (Roosevelt) and we love it; he's learning a lot, gets great attention, and it's a wonderful community of involved parents. Plus we all love that we can just walk there. (We understand the middle school is only so-so and high school is worse -- we hope to be part of making them better by the time he gets there, or we'll look at other options.) I'd recommend that you look at real estate in the Broadmoor (north of Dutton), Estudillo Estates (between Dutton and Estudillo, on both sides of the creek), and Sheffield Village (east of 580, officially in Oakland but part of the S.L school district) neighborhoods. Most houses are cute and well- maintained, and we found prices to be about 10-15% cheaper than for similar homes in Berkeley/Oakland when we were looking (not sure if that's still true). San Leandro isn't perfect -- we especially wish for more good restaurants! -- but Berkeley and Oakland are just up 580 and/or 13, and the joy of feeling part of a safe, caring community outweigh the drawbacks by far. Good luck to you! Happy in suburbia