Advice about Living in San Ramon

Parent Q&A

Advice on Danville, San Ramon, Pleasanton Jan 26, 2021 (3 responses below)
Moving to San Ramon Jan 29, 2019 (7 responses below)
  • Advice on Danville, San Ramon, Pleasanton

    (3 replies)


    We currently live in Oakland (Montclair) and contemplating a move to either Danville, San Ramon and Pleasanton. We have 2 grade school children who currently go to a great elementary school but our concern here is middle and high school. I realize its not about the test scores but Ive actually toured some of these schools and unfortunately there are some underlying issues with OUSD that I dont think will change. Nearly 95% of the kids in our neighborhood go to private school and no one plays in the front yard. We are hoping to move to a neighborhood where our kids can have a yard, ride their bikes around the neighborhood and hopefully make some friends that live on the same street that go to the same school etc. Not mention that Oakland is getting fairly expensive and its cheaper in certain areas of Danville, San Ramon and Pleasanton. We also dont have to commute to SF no more so no need to be as close. With that was hoping to get any advice on Danville, San Ramon and Pleasanton. Overall thoughts on culture, community. What are the differences in area ie the seperation of the 680. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

    Hi there!

    Our family is going through a similar transition we lived in Oakland, moved back to the San Francisco for work, and now we are finally landing in Dublin / Pleasanton due to our toddler's school. For us, the crime in certain parts of Oakland (that we lived in) has reached a point that we can't understand for the price point, and the city was no longer a necessity due to permanent remote work now. I realize not everyone has this option, but that's what drove our move to the Dublin/Pleasanton area the most. 

    We honestly never spent much time in the area before now, but we have been really surprised with how much we like it. We are actually paying less than San Francisco with a much larger house and are still close to the amenities (Whole Foods, Target), and beautiful parks nearby. While our child is attending private school in Pleasanton for now, we figured we would make the jump now and start to explore the top rated public schools in the area for him to eventually attend. We also don't need to be closer for a better commute to SF, but it helps to know if we ever need to in the future that we are close to BART and highways that are easily accessible. 

    We're a mixed family, racially and culturally (Black/Hispanic), so I don't know if that is what you mean by thoughts on culture and community. I will say that the teachers at our child's school go out of their way to make sure everyone feels included, safe and multiculturalism is celebrated. Our child has come home with amazing artwork celebrating Jewish, Sikh, and American traditions. But I do think this area is overall more conservative compared to Oakland and SF.

    Since the area is very family oriented you will find that most of the area is pretty safe and geared towards a calmer lifestyle which we appreciate.

    Best of luck! :)

    I wouldn't call this advice, but the grapevine in the Cupertino area (South Bay), at least a couple years ago, says that the general migration pattern is towards San Ramon.

    My sister lives in Alamo with her two girls and they love it.  They use to live in Oakland and made a move for similar reasons.  Even though it is cheaper out in some of those areas, a large portion of the people are still fairly affluent.  I like the convenience of being able to walk to places in Berkeley but I totally get wanting to have a yard that your kids can play in.  

  • Moving to San Ramon

    (7 replies)

    Hi all! My family and I are currently in the position of deciding whether to stay in our current home in Oakland or moving to San Ramon for the schools. Our oldest will be entering kindergarten next year, and while we luckily live in an area with a strong neighborhood elementary school, we're not as thrilled about the junior high and high schools in our area (and private school would be a feasible but difficult financial option). So, in trying to plan ahead, we're debating just making the jump to move to San Ramon sooner rather than later to build a community there while the kids are young.  I like a lot of what I see and hear about San Ramon, but I would very much love and appreciate hearing what families currently living there think about the neighborhood, community, schools, amenities, etc. Pros and cons are both welcome! Areas of concern that I have: (1) as a biracial family, I'd miss the diversity of Oakland...I know the census numbers, but what does the community feel like in San Ramon? (2) right now our commutes to our respective places of work in Walnut Creek and Oakland/SF are very quick/easy with public transportation and minimal is commuting from San Ramon toward the city? (3) I also love the overall culture of Oakland in terms of museums, restaurants, waterfront, access to the ferry/BART into SF, tons to do for kids and parents alike...I'm sure the family/kid offerings in San Ramon are strong, but when it's date night, where do you go?

    Thanks in advance!

    RE: Moving to San Ramon ()

    I grew up in San Ramon, and although I'm sure it's changed a lot since I was there, when I go back to visit it still feels roughly the same. It is a very isolated place, especially for teenagers. There is literally nothing other than the Golden Skate and the movie theater to go to, so in my experience a lot of the kids were into partying and drinking/drugs. It has grown more diverse, with a strong south Asia community, but still appears mostly white in going around. There are quite a few good restaurants, with even more in Danville.

    When it comes to the schools, I have a lot to say. I went to those schools and am a teacher now in a socioeconomically disadvantaged district. I would argue that the teachers where I teach now are actually more up to date on pedagogy than the teachers at the schools in San Ramon. The schools were well ranked when I was a kid too, but most of the learning was rote learning with a lot of worksheets. Middle school was miserable. Our English classes featured a lot of popcorn reads and book reports, not a lot of discussion and analytical writing. Maybe that's changed, but I firmly believe that the reason the scores are so good has very, very little to do with the teachers and everything to do with the parents socioeconomic status.

    Your commute is going to be rough and will feature a lot of driving, as will almost all daily errands. I can understand the uncertainty of the school situation encouraging you to look elsewhere, but I can say as someone who lived in Oakland for a decade that if you are happy there and thrive on that kind of vibrancy (as I did) I highly doubt you will really love San Ramon (I couldn't get out of there fast enough). Again, I could be wrong and maybe you're looking for an uber-peaceful, quiet suburban feel, but if the schools are the only reason you're coming, then I would look elsewhere.

    RE: Moving to San Ramon ()

    As a person who grew up in San Francisco, I'm incredibly fond of living in San Ramon -- 12 years so far....Gone from 4th through HS with one kid, K through HS with other.  Different parts of San Ramon are different and are definitely diverse but not like Oakland or The City.  Commuting can be fine to Walnut Creek, sometimes not so much...getting to BART easy, parking there challenging at Pleasanton/Dublin.  I suggest visiting schools -- make an appointment with the principal, visit the campuses.   Why not?  It's a big decision.  As for date night/going out, we have the new City Center in SR + Danville + Walnut Creek + Pleasanton.  It's not The City or Oakland, mind you, but you will find places to go & things to do.

    RE: Moving to San Ramon ()

    Hi - we live in Oakland, and I would advocate for staying here, especially if you commute is easy, you like your neighborhood and neighbors, and you like Oakland's cultural and social feel. If you are dragged down by you commute than it will be difficult to forge meaningful community relationships. Your child will be starting K this coming year in OUSD? You wrote about the issue of forging community for the long-haul, and I totally understand that education is also a long-haul issue. A good elementary experience lays a foundation for success through MS, HS, and beyond.  If your only reason for moving is b/c you are concerned about the public schools, please feel reassured that OUSD is not just good enough, it can be very good. Our daughter is in OUSD for middle school. We are currently waiting for results of the OUSD HS lottery. OUSD in general gets a really bad rap; but our experience has been very positive for MS, and we are happy with what we saw for HS. We've ranked three large public (not charter) high schools on our lottery form with confidence that our kid will land upright where she lands. Our hope (and expectation) is that OUSD will prepare our daughter for the competative UC college admissions. I don't think that is a given in OUSD high schools, but I think the resources and guidance do exit within if your student is motivated and engaged. Stay by the Bay ! 

Parent Reviews

Lamorinda has wonderful schools, is generally safe, is not very diverse and is very expensive.  Lamorinda is family oriented and about 15 minutes away from Oakland.

San Ramon has wonderful schools, is generally safe, is not expensive in comparison to Lamorinda.   The community is diverse, the public schools are fantastic, it is safe and a family oriented community.  San Ramon has apartments but they also have very affordable townhouses and free standing homes.  The town houses are much less expensive than the free standing homes.   San Ramon is only 25 minutes from Oakland.  San Ramon has lots of neighborhood parks and Las Trampas East Bay RegionalPark.  San Ramon is building a new outdoor shopping/walking around plaza which will feature a combination of living space upstairs (rental units) and shopping and a luxury eat-in movie theater 10-plex downstairs. Here is some information regarding the new plaza called City Center in San Ramon  There are also a lot of small businesses in San Ramon.

Pleasanton has good schools, is less expensive than Lamorinda but slightly more expensive than San Ramon.  It is as safe as San Ramon but not as diverse.  It is a family oriented community.  It is also about 25 minutes from Oakland. Pleasanton has lots of neighborhood parks. Pleasanton has some rentals and lots of houses.  Pleasanton has a really cute downtown with nice restaurants.  There are a number of companies in Pleasanton.

I would check out San Ramon.  The community is diverse, the public schools are fantastic, it is safe and a family oriented community.  San Ramon has apartments but they also have very affordable townhouses and free standing homes.  The town houses are much less expensive than the free standing homes.  El Cerrito and San Leandro do not have as good public schools and are not as safe as San Ramon.  San Ramon is only 25 minutes from Oakland.

Lamorinda, San Ramon and Berkeley are all very different and really depends on what you are looking for. Each have different things going for them:

Lamorinda - Mostly very affluent and white, but good schools. Almost no walkability except if you are close to downtown Lafayette.

San Ramon - diverse on paper but communities tend to keep to themselves. Whites are more conservative and republican and less enthusiastic about diversity. Schools, houses, parks are all new and shiny. Almost no walkability.

Berkeley - Lot of diversity, great walkability (most neighborhoods) but public schools are bit disappointing

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Moving To Dublin, Pleasanton or San Ramon?

Oct 2014

We're relocating from Oakland (Grand Lake) to the Dublin/Pleasanton/San Ramon area, having outgrown our rent-controlled apartment (sadly), looking for a 3BR house with a yard for less than $3,000 a month, which thankfully, doesn't seem to be a big challenge. We're looking for insight into a neighborhood that is a good fit for our family. We've driven over there a few times, and hung out in stores, restaurants, etc. but can't seem to get a pulse on the striations of neighborhoods. Someone said East Dublin was where a lot of families were moving because of new construction, but we liked west dublin more. We also like Pleasanton and San Ramon, but aren't too sure of neighborhoods. We're progressive and grounded and slightly nervous finding our peeps over there. H

Dublin and San Ramon are both non-towns, as far as I can tell. My in-laws live in SR so I know that place is a serious YUCK! I'd advise against it. (I've heard that Dublin is similar, but I've never checked it out.) My experience with SR is that the folks are super-conservative, there is no real 'town' to speak of, just strip malls/shopping centers and subdivisions, and the weather isn't great. Maybe it's just the spot where my in-laws live (near where Bollinger Canyon & Crow Canyon meet, so the west side) but it's always super cold in the winter, super hot in the summer, and the fog rolls in all year long in the evening, which totally ruins the positive aspect of living somewhere warm enough to have dinner in your garden throughout the summer!

However, Pleasanton seems like a great place to me. First off, it's an actual town -and seems pretty cute. It even has a fair grounds! The weather seems nice (if you like it HOT in the summer) and the schools are great. Apparently it's quite wealthy, so maybe you get the conservatives out there as well, but... I get the feeling that it's more progressive than the other places you're looking at. /San Ramon Sucks!

I had to post after the person posted that San Ramon 'sucks'. We almost moved there so I spoke with many different families with kids in Elementry and middle schools - west side - Twin peaks, Bollinger Hills (don't recall exact name). Schools are amazing. If you like to hike or mountain bike you can almost go out your back door. And the bike paths in town are fabulous. There are great after school classes, a fabulous public pool (San ramon high) that was like a water park to my kids. We went there in the fall and heard about 4 languages spoken while waiting for it to open. The parents I spoke to were happy with the schools, teachers, responsiveness etc. There is a farmers market at least 2 days a week. And an outpost of Zachary's pizza! We also considered Pleasanton which has the bonus of Bart. Schools great there as well. Dubin schools have an iffy-er reputation but I never looked very closely. One thing to keep in mind is that some of the Elementry schools seems to really focus on test scores. That seemed to be the case more in Danville but its the same district. When I posted looking for info about that area I did receive some seriously negative responses - I highly recommend a few hours in one of the parks at the pools or go for a hike in Bollinger Hills. We enjoyed all of our visits. Good luck

As a mother of two, Bay Area native and local pediatrician, I have to write in to say how much we love living in the tri valley area. We live in San Ramon, relocated here about a year and a half ago from the peninsula. We bought in San Ramon because we fell in love with our house but also strongly considered Pleasanton. In San Ramon, the school district is amazing, it's a very green town with lots of park space and city amenities, very safe and neighbors are friendly. We could not be happier with our decision to move here. San Ramon doesn't have a town center per se, but we use Danville and Pleasanton resources easily and the towns are closely situated to each other. It is warm in the summer and winters are comparable to other places in the bay, so we don't feel A big difference from other places we have lived in the Bay Area. In summary, we love it and it is wonderful suburb living for families. San Ramon happy resident

Living in San Ramon in the older neighborhoods

Nov 2012

Looking to hear from families with children who live in San Ramon in the older neighborhoods - west side of 680, near california high, Inverness park - or Greenbrook area of Danville...what do you like, love, not like about your community? The schools score very high but I worry they are test driven - because their scores are so good - what's your take on that? Creative and engaging teachers? Are parents involved in schools? Many sahm's? Easy or hard to connect and form friendships? Glad you moved there? This is a more advice-y query but has anyone figured out a way to evaluate schools beyond the API/great schools information and data? We have a 2nd grader and incoming kinder for next fall. We live in Alameda but want more space inside and out - and would love to be near open space.

We made the move 3 years ago - the summer before my son entered kindergarten. We are within walking distance to Bollinger Canyon Elementary (the west side off 680) I do not have any major regrets about moving from our Oakland neighborhood (which I enjoyed as well). I grew up in Pleasant Hill and so I was used to suburb life before marrying my Oakland native husband and living in Oakland for 7 years. Yes, we moved for the schools and I work in Pleasanton and my husband works in Dublin so it was a good fit. The school has been a great experience, we've had amazing teachers and the parents have been great as well.

The school doesn't feel test driven, but, this is the only elementary that I've experienced as a parent so I'm probably not the best resource for this question. I do feel my son is where he should be developmentally and academically. And the 4 teachers we've experienced have been great. My son tends to like the warm fuzzy, caring type and for second grade his teacher was a bit strict in his mind. My mind she was fine and he just took awhile to adapt. The school has an art teacher, music program, computer teacher and librarian that is parent funded. I do feel like a lot of parents are really involved with the school.

No, not everyone is a sahm, I'm thankful for those that are as they tend to step it up in the classroom when I can only make one or two parties a year. They tend to plan out everything and may just need a donation of baked cookies from me. My son has a wonderful time, and that's all that really matters. We have a lot of Dad's that jump in as well. To be honest, it seems to me that most folks here are two parent incomes or at least the same ratio I experienced in Oakland. The population is diverse, I was skeptical at first, but there is a wide variety of folks in the neighborhood and the school. It wasn't as easy for me to form the friendships that we had made with our Oakland preschool families, but, once school started and the play dates started then the kids had stuff in common the friendships came; for me and my son.

Likes - walk to school, park is down the street, and we can bike in the neighborhood. We have a back yard. In Oakland we lived on the side of a hill. Our car hasn't been stolen (like it was in our Oakland neighborhood) although we did leave our doors unlocked in San Ramon and someone took the change in the ashtray and went through the car. Crime is everywhere.

Dislikes - It's hot in the summer time, restaurants (but, they are getting better), Farmers Market isn't nearly as good as Montclair or JL Square, and no downtown area like Montclair exits in San Ramon. Hope you make the best decision for you and your family! Debbie

Oct 2012

Re: Moving to Castro Valley from Oakland
Hello - If you have a GATE child then I would move to San Ramon and not Castro Valley. San Ramon is about 15-20 minutes away from Castro Valley. The San Ramon school district is light years ahead of Castro Valley and has a strong GATE program. There are two types of programs available Cluster Gate and ATP. You would need to apply for ATP if your child is a third grade GATE student living in San Ramon. If you need more detailed information please feel free to email me. Castro Valley schools are good but San Ramon schools are great. Yes, San Ramon is the land of the beige houses but you have 3 Peets Coffee houses, Whole Foods, Zachery's pizza, etc. San Ramon also has a great deal of open space very close for hiking and biking. Joy

Living in Windemere/San Ramon

June 2006

I would've thought you were crazy if you told me two years ago that we'd be considering a move to San Ramon. We love our Oakland neighborhood, charming old house and friendly neighbors with same-age kids. BUT. We might be ready to trade in ''walk to shopping'' for ''walk to huge park,'' easy freeway access for kid- friendly bike paths and great/varied restaurants for the ability to dine in our own backyard and watch the kids run around on the lawn.

Does anyone have any information about the new Windemere community, specifically the people who live there? The few times we've been out there, we've seen NOBODY walking around, in the parks or hanging out in the neighborhood. It could be because we were in the areas where few people have actually moved in. Or, it could be that once you move out there, you find that people keep to themselves and stay inside! (Yikes). A friendly, inviting community is really important to us, with 2 small children.

Any information/suggestions would be helpful!
-Maybe we're the ones who are crazy?

Have you considered Dublin or Pleasanton? We moved to Dublin last summer and really love it. We have a nice home in the Summerglen area just .5 mile from the 580/680 interchange and near BART. I see kids of every age in our neighborhood playing in their yards or the street. Although my daughter is too young now to run outside and play with friends, I'm hopeful that she will enjoy such pleasures in just a few years. Our neighbors on both sides have kids only slightly older than her. Plus we have access to a pool (thru our homeowners assoc.), only 1.5 blocks away, and there are always families hanging out there. Dublin's Emerald Glen Park is just a few blocks away, and it is HUGE, with a great playground for kids, lots of baseball and soccer fields, and a new area that includes a cricket pitch (my husband is from India, so that is a bonus that may pay off down the road). We've discovered some great restaurants in downtown Pleasanton that keep us from missing the Berkeley restaurant scene too much. I joined the Pleasanton Mom's Club and have met some moms that way.

We also looked at Windemere and other new developments in San Ramon. We found too many negatives vis-a-vis Dublin/Pleasanton: no BART access, the drive from the Windemere development back to the freeway seemed REALLY long (lots of stoplights to wait for) and would probably only get longer as the houses keep going up out there, and no nearby shopping.

From our residential area in Dublin, I can drive to the mall (10 min), grocery stores (3 min), freeway (3 min), BART (3-5 min), or even to some shops in San Ramon (Whole Foods is about 10 min). We are just blocks from a grade school that our daughter can attend, and there is a new middle school in Dublin Ranch. I found a grocery store in Pleasanton that offers better meat/seafood and fruits/veggies than Safeway for those times when we want to splurge a bit. And the farmers' market is a good option. One last benefit to our place in Dublin - we get nice winds in the evening so that the temperatures (when they get really hot) are more bearable. We can often leave the windows open and turn off the A/C.

If you are thinking of making the move to the East Bay, Dublin/Pleasanton is worth considering.
Happy in Dublin

To the couple thinking about moving to San Ramon from Oakland. If you enjoy a close knit community where neighbors hang out outside and socialize, and kids romp through the streets, you won't like San Ramon.

I used to frequent San Ramon alot and had friends who lived there. I found that these developments did not foster that close knit community you seek. Most people come home, drive their cars straight into the garage and you never see them again. Everyone has automatic irrigation systems, so they don't need to come out front to water. The developers install developer front yard landscaping so that you don't get to landscape your own yard. The HOA's while a good idea initially, are very stringent and stipulate what you can and cannot do with your house, landscape, and everything else.

Think of it this way, you're not just buying a house, you're buying into a different way of life. It gets so hot out there, that most people come home, turn on the AC and stay inside. It gets so cold that people come home, turn on the heat and stay inside.

The major advantage of San Ramon though? Great schools, and very little crime. There won't be much in terms of diversity. There is alot of money there, and the old cliche of ''Keeping up with the Jones''' is true. Also, 680 during peak travel times is really busy.

However, living in San Ramon is pretty easy. You can just hop in your car, and you've got the big boxes along 680, Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton, or that new Hacienda Complex in Dublin.

So, as far as Windemere is concerned, it's an upscale developement, with large homes, wide streets, pools in the backyard, with most folks keeping to themselves. Unfortunately, that is the trend with these developments.

HOWEVER, I think that if you can find a subdevelopement there, with narrow streets(similiar to streets in Oakland), you might have a better chance of interacting with your neighbors. I found a developement in Danville (small, only about 20 homes or so), that actually fostered community. And, also, don't forget to pay the HOA fees. ;P

BTW, even though my post sounds a little negative, I'm not bashing San Ramon. It's just a different lifestyle, and if I had kids, I'd consider moving there.

One thing to note though...and this was mentioned by someone else who commented on the Lamorinda area...If you love your Oakland neighborhood, neighbors, and are happy, then one thought is to stay put, spend the money you would otherwise spent on mortgage on the new house in San Ramon, and send your kids to private school. New house in Windemere is upwards of $700-800k.

Good luck