Living in University Village

Parent Q&A

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  • Experience living at University Village?

    (9 replies)

    Apologies in advance for the grammar in this post, English is not my first language. We have been offered a spot in the East Village, we feel very lucky to have this opportunity, but we want to make sure that UC village is the right choice for us. We would love to hear your experience, and your opinion about the facilities, community, and living conditions in general. About us: 30yo, with a 6mo daughter, my husband is a PhD student at UCB and I work full-time in the Peninsula (remotely for an unlimited duration). We are mostly interested in hearing about the followings: - noise: between the highway, the Amtrak, San Pablo av. and the basketball court, how noisy does it get? - day-care: how hard is it to find daycare in the area? Does anyone have experience with UCB ECEP? - we have been offered a 2bdr/1bath townhouse in east village, by the basketball court: what is your opinion on this type of unit? In terms of light, volume, appliances.. (we cannot visit due to covid restrictions) - we currently live in San Francisco: we really like going out (cafes restaurants museum) although we miss parks and squares for our little one. I understand it is a trade-off, but I'd love to hear your experience on this type of transition. - community garden: how likely is it that we would get a plot? Hard to find this info online.

    I'll speak to ECEP. Our daughter was there almost 4 years of preschool. She thrived with the wonderful teachers and enriching curriculum. The other families were great too. Happy to tell you more if that's of interest. 

    Hi there,
    I am a village resident, have been for a couple years. I'm 28 with a 2 month old daughter and my partner is in the graduate program at UCB. We love it here in west village. Living conditions are fine, the space is adequate given the affordable price. Noise was an issue at our 1 bedroom apartment because our neighbor above us was frequently up late. Nothing can be heard from our neighbors on either side of us. I realize noise levels would depend on the exact layout of your apartment, and which floor you're on, etc. but would likely be minimal. Most residents are conscious of their noise levels especially since there is quiet hours I believe 10pm-8am. I like walking over by the basketball court area, it is nice actually. I often see people playing basketball, but not so much late at night...again, it depends on how tolerant you are of the sound.
    San Pablo is not a problem noise wise for us--we are near 6th Street. The train is louder over by West End Way (our previous place), but not so loud where we are currently.Trains do not sound their horns in middle of the night. We got used to that sound pretty quickly and was never really an issue, though we do sleep with a white noise sound machine.
    I'm still deciding on how to approach the daycare situation myself given the obstacles of the virus...if you find out more about the university sponsored one, please share.
    There are nice places to walk nearby and we are next to the bay trail along the water--easy to access from the village. Parks are off limits currently so I cannot advise on the best nearby. Restaurants are good on Solano from my experience. Lots of great options! I look forward to going to a sit down restraunt when they are allowed to open indoor dining.
    I do not have experience regarding the garden situation though I've heard emails to buy/receive a plot are at a slow halt...maybe that's changed since I heard a couple weeks ago. The garden sure is beautiful from the outside though 😊.

    Hi Grad Parents

    My son, daughter-in-law and twins lived in Albany  Village for about two years two years ago. I was their caretaker for two days a week for two years, so have a lot of day-time experience with the village. Their two-BR, 1 BA apartment was right across from the bigger playground, just steps away.  They also had a garden plot which was well used. Although not the cheapest digs in the world, it seems ideal for parents of young children. Their is a playground in every section, the laundry is just across the quad, and there are tons of kids for playmates. I visited the childcare center which looked great. There were also gymboree classes and other activities available.  I never noticed noise from the trains or from traffic. Maybe you cannot visit inside, but the entire village is open for walking around, or driving around, so please go have a look. The units are small but well designed, with an eat-in kitchen.

    I actually grew up in University Village in the 80s & 90s - it was a wonderful place to be a kid, very multicultural and always someone to play with! The current units are all newer (built last 20ish years) and much nicer than the ones I lived in, though on the small side. It's a pretty easy walk to Solano Ave shops & restaurants. We lived in the northwest corner near what used to be the park; the trains were audible occasionally but not intrusive.

    I've only visited UVA, but regarding childcare: infant care is normally challenging to find, and especially challenging given the Covid-19 situation. Nanny share is a better bet. We're in ECEP which is a good program, but they slashed the number of slots due to COVID-19 guidelines from the state. We were lucky to be offered a preschool slot. Same with all the other centers. They just assigned spots for their 8/13 opening, and the next openings won't be until January 2021.

    Solano Avenue nearby has restaurants and is family friendly. There's open space in UVA, Berkeley parks, and Tilden Regional Park up in the hills. 

    We lived at the university village for 5.5 years, most of them at the townhome. We moved out in October 2013. It was a best time of our family lives. The village is made for families with young children. The playgrounds are numerous and are walking distance. Now there is even a Whole Foods nearby and Sprouts. There is a community center. There are kids classes you can sign up for, again walking distance. Noise: our townhome was facing the courtyard. I do not remember having problems with either San Pablo Ave or Amtrak. BART you can hear from any part of Berkeley or Albany. Daycare is a bit more get a slot you have to apply pre-conception, or you are late. Maybe it changed since then. You should apply anyway because the application is free. Albany USD runs their own preschool program. Application is also free and it is worth exploring. I used a family-based daycare on the route AC transit #52 which runs (or at least ran in the past) between the village and the university campus and walking distance from the North Berkeley BART station. When I lived in the village, all utilities, internet and TV cable was included in the price of the rent. Washer and dryer is shared in the courtyard and are coin-operated. There are no dishwashers in the apartments and none are allowed. With regards to the community garden, it is facing the highway, I did not feel like using it. Going out (COVID aside) there is Solano avenue with shops and cafes and the 4th st (short drive). When we lived in the village, we would get to a meetup place in SF faster than our friends from SF, because the UC village is right next to the highway

    Hi there,

         Right now I can tell you that the master keys for the entire village were stolen and we are living in unsafe apartments where the thief can come in at any time. It will take two weeks for them to give us all new locks and keys. I would only consider moving here if finances are tight and you need to relocate for this matter.

    The noise really depends on where you live in the village and how close you are to the train, it also depends on how kind your neighbors are. If you have an apartment by the basketball court, I could also see that being more noisy.  

    Daycare, I am not too familiar with, but early education is non-existent at the moment and they are not enrolling any new students.  

    The apartments are in good shape from the outside, but they are not maintained that well inside and chances are that you will need to call maintenance a few times to fix some items in the kitchen and bathroom.  The refrigerators ( at least ours) is from 2007, but be careful breaking it because they charge 50-100 for just a crack when you move out.  

    There is no AC or central air, dishwasher, and the community garden has been closed for sometime.

    With covid there are not that many places to go too aside from a few outside locations on Solano, and of course, we have some outside areas, but parks are closed and neighbors are very vigilant that no one is on them at all times.

    The laundry machines were going to be replaced, but that seems to be on hold.

    There is a high rate of auto theft (someones truck and another car were stolen in the last few months), and there is also mailbox break-ins. Many folks have been missing mail and USPS and the village do not want to hold one another responsible. One of the issues is that while the Village is in Albany, we must wait for UCPD to come from campus area all the way here, so nothing gets solved quickly.

    I encourage you to add yourself to the Village fb group (UC Berkeley Student Parents and Village Residents Community Group) so that you can hear from residents and pose your question there. 

    So I've been living in an UVA east village townhouse for the past 3 years, same kind of unit as yours. I do like the unit and I used to love having an upstairs...but fair warning, our son has actually fallen down the stairs--even with baby gates installed. He was fine, but it was terrifying and I likely won't pick a two-level place with young children again. 

    noise level: it's relatively quiet, probably the quietest place I've lived in. The walls are well insulated, though a lot does depend on your neighbors. You're likely to have cooperative neighbors if the children are older...but obviously, many babies and toddlers scream. So there's not much you can do if you're living next to a colicky baby. I don't hear much of the highway from here. 

    light/etc: It depends on what direction you are facing, but we get plenty of light in every room. The appliances are operable and basic. Staff respond to issues quickly. 

    community garden: it depends on the time of year. It just reached capacity a few months, but had opening only a few months ago and will likely have openings again in the fall. There are many abandoned garden plots--but they won't reassign those unless the "owners" actually give them up. 

    daycare: Your chances of willing the lottery may be better than your chances of getting in at ECEP. They have something like 3 subsidized spots for many grade levels--and this was before the pandemic. Put in an application anyway, then look for more likely options. Daycares can be tricky at the moment--I see more parents figuring out in-home and nanny-sharing options. 

    Hi! I have been leaving in the UC village for 2.5 years. I am studying a Ph.D., I have a 3yo and I am expecting my second child. The noise from the Amtrak is something I dont think about anymore. When we arrived we lived in the west part and we heard the trains more, although it was never a problem. I never woke us or our then baby. Now we live in the east part en we nearly don't hear it. Our 3yo attended a home-based daycare since he was one until right before the Covid-19 hit. He is starting preschool in two weeks. We did not have any problems finding daycare or preschool, there are many options in the areas. The search tool on this website is very useful. We also enjoy going out and there are many options for activities and restaurants in the area. Solano street it's just 10 to 15 minutes walking and has a great variety of restaurants and coffee shops. We also like the many green areas and playgrounds available at a very short distance. I dont have experience applying for the community garden. 
    Overall we really enjoy living in the UC village, especially because its very kids friendly and the location is very convenient. 

  • Hi there,

    I wonder if someone out there has lived in the Berkeley University Village? My son suffers from a lot of allergies and I read online that these apartments have mold? Is that right? I really need housing in the area, but I do not want that we get sick either.

    Thank you for your advice.

    I think you heard about the old University Village housing, which had buildings from the WW2 era, and had numerous problems.  All of those buildings were torn down and replaced with new buildings in the early 2000's.  

    I live in the village! I've lived there for 2 years now. I have never had mold. The village is really great about responding to any issue that you have - so if you do find mold (and mention that your son has allergies), they will respond to you immediately and move you, if necessary. They are really great about making sure issues like that are taken care of. I was very weary about living in the village, and I wouldn't have it any other way. You get so much room for your money!

    East Village and West Village were built at different times, so my answer might only apply to my section (East Village). We do have some mold issues in the bathrooms (it will grow if we completely ignore it), but I find it pretty easy to deal with as long as I keep a dehumidifier in there and make sure to turn on the fan during showers. Frankly, I've had minor mold problems in *every* apartment I've lived in in the Bay Area--I find this impossible to avoid during the long rainy season. I think Californian winters are the problem, not UC Village. If you clean diligently and keep a dehumidifier on, you should be fine. 

    If you are able to get into UC Village (the wait list is long, but much shorter if you have a child), I'd highly recommend it.

    I lived in UC Village for three years, and we had a lot of mold in the bedroom and in the hall closet. I think the way the apartments are laid out makes for poor air circulation. I got a dehumidifier, and that did the job. I didn't feel comfortable leaving windows open on the first floor, but if you live on a higher floor I'm sure that would help. If you can get a place in UC Village, I would definitely go for it.  

    The apartments are a good deal, and it is a nice community, but mold is a significant problem. The plus is that it is very well-designed for children. It may be in a drier year, there would be less of a problem. The maintenance workers are good about coming over.

  • Hello!

    I am a parent of a teenager and a student at UC Berkeley. I unfortunately have been assigned a mandatory class that begins at 8:25am W-F and I am looking to share a carpool with someone, either to take kids to the high school or fellow Berkeley parents who drive to campus. The high school bell is at 8:10am. I can help pay to offset the cost of parking. 


    Hi. I see unfortunately no responses! The Albany culture is to walk, everywhere, that anywhere inside the city limits is walkable. Perhaps when school starts your teen will find classmates from that side of the city to walk with.

    University Village is less than a mile from AHS. Most high school students walk to and from school. Driving isn't necessary as Albany is safe and walkable. Getting to the UC Campus may be harder, but you could bike or bus. 

Parent Reviews

RE: Trick or Treating in 2021? ()

We live in University Village and residents here have started a list for which buildings will be participating. I will be taking my daughter trick-or-treating for her first time. I think risk is minimal. If nothing else, some folks will leave candy outside. Have fun!

If your spouse is a post doc at Cal, then if there is a vacant unit, University Village in Albany is available for family housing for post docs. I have known several moms who either had a post doc or a spouse with a post doc and lived there.  There is a list that is specifically circulated for people connected with Cal who are offering rentals.

I would definitely start with these options first. But it is good you start now, as the students moving should open things up a bit. 

Good luck!

Have you checked into married student housing/University Village through the university?  You'll be in small quarters with lots of other student and post-doc families, but that means you'll quickly get to know a bunch of people and their kids.  I'm guessing lots of families will be moving at the end of spring semester

Cal has university apartments at University Village: Is your husband eligible to move there? It's a pretty affordable option. We toured but they don't allow pets (besides emotional support animals).

I am a postdoc at Berkeley and have two young children myself. Have you checked out the family housing at Berkeley? Postdocs are eligible. The prices for apartments are way under market value and include utilities. I looked into it but didn't move forward with an application because we had a dog and cat at the time. However, I heard from someone at my daycare that there are a lot of animals there. I'm not sure what to make of that but maybe the residents got emotional support designation.

HI, I am a postdoc at CAL and we were in a similar position before we moved from Miami with our baby and a slew of pets. I did not bother with craigslist posts for typical rentals and ended up finding a short term rental on that worked for us, and then we found another place once we lived here. There were also a few airbnb placed I thought about. If those are too expensive though, look into the University Village. It is off campus housing for students and postdocs who are married and/or have kids. It is priced below market as far as I can tell, and located in Albany. There is a bus to campus from there. Priority is given to students, but I know several postdocs who live or lived there. Good luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

What's it like living in the Village?

March 2007

Can anyone tell me what it's like to live in University Village these days? The archives don't have anything recent. We'd be moving in to one of the newer units while I go to journalism school for two years. We'll have a 1 and 3 yr old. Pros and cons? Also, we plan to stay in the area after I graduate, so we're debating whether we should just find a more permanent place to live now so that we don't have to move again in two years. Thanks for any advice!

DO IT! I'm in a three year program, and I never for a minute regret moving here. The community is amazing, multicultural, supportive, etc. the places are bigger than we could get for the same amount anywhere else... I love love love my neighbors. My kids have friends in our courtyard who go to the same UC child care.

We live in the East Village (built in 1999) I've heard the West Village is not the same ''community'', so that's something to think about. The East Village planning is more conducive to meeting your neighbors. I know they're more expensive, but we're a family of four in a two bedroom, so we pay the least of everyone in this section.

The Cons: Raccoons. I saw an Opposum once. Ants (which they take care of for you). The occasional domestic disturbance and loud tow truck in the middle of the night. Kids running wild.

But I've lived in apts. most of my life... some in big cities. This is nothing. Seriously, this is heaven. Take the ideal experience while you can... even if it means you have to move again later. You'll appreciate the social scene and release.

That being said, our kids are the same exact age! Shoot me an email if you want to talk more, or need help with getting to know the area. Sarah

We've lived in the UC Village for the last 6 years while my husband has worked on his PhD. I have to say that before we had our son, now 20 mo., we were pretty disconnected. However, since his birth, we've found ourselves surrounded by new friends and a phenomenal support system. The classes at the rec. center are discounted for residents, afternoons at the playground often turn into impromptu parents' groups, and neighbors are respectful of your lifestyle as a parent/student. The 52 bus lines pick up and drop off in the village for easy access to /from campus and rent is reasonable for the amount of space you have. I'd suggest dropping by the main playground between 3-6pm and you'll get a great feel for daily life in the Village with little ones. ej

Ah, yes, the Village. Our family lived there from August of 2005 to June of 2006, during my first two PhD semesters. We had relocated from the East Coast with a four year old and a toddler, and massively downsized from an about 2000 square foot house we owned.

For us, it was a great place to land. It was easy - no hustling to look at and get a rental, we knew exactly what we were getting, and the location was really convenient. We lived in the newer construction of the East Village and had a 3 bedroom/1 bath. For student housing it is actually pretty nice and fairly well designed. And it is a great deal, considering that parking, utilities and internet are included in the rental price. You also get access to the village computer center, the great gymnastics classes and other activities at the rec center, two playgrounds, the little cafe, and there is also the drop-in babysitting. We didn't use that because our kids were already in day care so much, but other friends of ours used it quite a lot and liked it. (It is only certain hours of the day, so it really isn't a day care substitute).

But, our primary reason for living there was to make new friends with kids, since we were leaving all our old friends behind, and we were actually surprised to find that was somewhat difficult. We did make one set of best friends for life, but that ended up being about it. One reason is that we had a second floor unit that was off the courtyard. Our friends, who had a townhouse with a first floor opening onto the courtyard, met a lot more people and could let their kids run around outside more easily. But another reason is that it's a transient group of very busy students that don't have the kind of structured lives that lend themselves to regular social activities.

Also, we missed having a real house, a dishwasher and our own laundry. We eventually rented a house, which is costing more and was really hard to find, but suits our needs better.

So, pluses and minuses, depends on your priorities and resources. But it can be a wonderful option - just get a place on the courtyard! former Village dweller

From: Chris (March 1999)

Since this seems to be the peak season for seeking housing, I would like to give my input on the U.C. Village in Albany, where I lived last semester. (I am talking about the newer section of the housing, not the really old section or the section just built. This definitely does not apply to the section just built). It is a wonderful atmosphere as far as meeting really friendly people. It is also the very best atmosphere for children that I have ever lived in. However, for prospective residents with allergies and asthma, it may be an excellent idea to discuss the move with an allergist. I thought the housing would be ideal for me because the units have no carpets and it looked really easy to keep dust-free. However, I did not know that there is a pronounced problem with molds in the apartments. The problem cannot be eliminated, as the molds are ubiquitous and not just a surface problem. The housing office was great about helping me once I started having very serious asthma problems, and they were wonderful about trying to help reassign me. However, I would like to emphasize the fact that I was sick to the point of being virtually handicapped; I was on steroids and nine other prescription medications the whole semester, and I eventually developed pneumonia because the steroid had suppressed my immune system. The asthma problem was never under control, even with all the medications. The worst part was that I was usually too sick to leave the apartment, and being in the apartment made me sicker and sicker. Let me emphasize that my asthma had never been severe by any means and that I felt much better when I was not in the apartment. My allergist told me that many asthma and allergy patients have problems in that apartment complex.

So if you or your children have asthma and are considering university housing, please make sure you talk to your allergist and then to the housing office to make sure that you get a suitable placement. I found the housing office to be extremely good about making accommodations, but by the time I knew what was causing my health problem, the semester was almost over and my health had deteriorated tremendously. I just want to try to prevent others from going through what I did last semester, and I am pretty sure that it is an easy problem to prevent if one only knows beforehand. I hope this helps.

Date: Mon, 18 Nov 1996
From: Sherry

We lived in UC Villege for two years (1993-95.) We made many friends there, and took adventage of cheap rent while our income was unstable at that time. I was very concerned about the lead poisoning issue. I washed my toddler's hands often and we all drank bottled water. The horrible experiences we had were ants and floods! We lived in section B ( a better newer section!) The ants marched in when it rained or in drought! On raining mornings like this morning, you could expect a black colored kichen counter and ants everywhere! The first Holloween there, our pumpkin turned into an ant farm!

We also had sewage problem on many occasions. Dirty sewer water oozed out in one of the bedrooms (there was a sewage openning on the floor!) and the bathroom. But the maintenance staff were always very prompt and helpful.

There were times I almost checked into a motel until ants and sewer water were gone! We also had bad experiences in the second years with the upstair teenager's loud rock music, loud footsteps, and door slams (poor soundproof.)

I have to say that the two years at UC Village made us (including my 4 years old daughter now) really appreciate our new life in our new home!

Date: Tue, 19 Nov 1996
From: Dianne

The Village is an interesting place to live. The space is small and it's old, but people move in with their eyes open. The village is multi-cultural and offers many services for children, including child care (Children's Center), Sports (gymnastics, martial arts, soccer, baseball and other sports). Fairs are held and if there is a problem in the village it is communicated quickly.

Re: the issue of lead. I moved in and there were signs in abundance that identified the problems. I asked that my door be stripped because it was peeling and that was done quickly. I haven't had an ant problem but there are ants in the village.

I like it here. The space is sometimes unbearably small but my children are in a wonderful school district with marvelous teachers. The acadmemics and the support is great.

It's a mixed bag and I must say I resent a story that's half told for the sensational value. The village is a village. Its old but it certainly has its advantages.

Date: Tue, 19 Nov 1996 From: Tamra

At one stage in my grad student career I lived at Smyth-Fernwald and more recently I lived in the Village for a few years. When I decided to reenroll to finish my PhD, I purposely chose the Village because 1) we were already living in Albany, so the kids wouldn't have to change schools; and, 2) although living on a hill (Smyth-Fernwald) makes for some nice views, it's not very conducive to outdoor play, bike riding, etc. I found the international community aspects of the Village to be wonderful for me and the children. The way that the buildings in the new (use the word advisedly!) section are situated around a courtyard provides a safe place for the children to play and encourages the supervising parents to get to know each other. My boys made friends with children from Chile, Peru, Brazil, Nicaragua, Israel, the Midwest (I know it's not another country, but I'm a native Bay Arean), Australia, Croatia, etc., etc. The apartments are fairly well-designed, considering the space constraints, but structurally I think they're falling apart. The Village maintenance staff was very responsive to requests for small repairs and they try to keep the apts. looking superficially ok, but the last apt. I lived in at the Village needed major structural repair (as in ripping up floorboards to fix a leak) and they just weren't going to tackle it. I second the motion about the ants, and although I never experienced the sewer problems in my particular apt., it seemed that they were always working on the drains. In general, my neighbors were great, although I did have an ongoing problem with a couple that liked to stay outside (right under my bedroom window) talking, laughing, and smoking with their friends until 2 or 3 in the morning. Now that I've left the Village, I miss the people and the sense of community very much, but I don't miss squeezing myself, my 2 boys, and our belongings into such a small space.


Date: Thu, 21 Nov 96
From: Tracy

This is in response to Dorothy's concerns about UC Village. We have lived here for almost eight years and are going to miss it terribly when we go.

We live in the new section (built in 1965) where there is not a lead problem. I have had my kids tested free of charge through the village's lead clinic (held annually) and there was no trace of lead. I have found the village management to be open about the lead problem and how to deal with it. There is information available in the office and you can also get a special vacuum for lead dust if you live in an affected apartment.

The low rent and no utilities are a big reason to live in the village (we pay $513 a month for a 2 bedroom which includes our dryer hook-up), but the social reasons are a huge reason to me. We are in a courtyard filled with children from all over the world. My four year old can play in our courtyard on toys that were purchased jointly by all the families living here, watched over by neighbors who know us. My daughter currently goes to preschool in the village. I take both of my kids to the gymnastics classes held in the village (discounted for residents). There is also a weekly playgroup held in a classroom that isn't used in the morning. There are several parks within the village with playground equipment and picnic facilities. I participate in the courtyard coordinator program, designed to get neighbors to know one another for social events and safety and emergency preparedness. There is even a caf\xe9 here.

We keep in touch with many of our former neighbors that have moved on, and without fail, they all have told us how much they miss this community and how isolated they feel in their current neighborhoods. It is easy to complain about how small the apartment is or the noise the neighbors make, but in the village everyone is in the same boat: family is far away and you have to rely on neighbors for friendship and support, someone is in school and feels the time pressure and stress of balancing school and family, you have no money and everyone has the same dinky apartment with gross linoleum squares so you don't have to apologize for yours.

I hope you take the opportunity to move in if you can.

Tracy Burgett