Advice about Living in Walnut Creek

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi all! We currently live in Oakland, and are considering a move through the tunnel for hopefully better home and school options long term. Orinda/Lafayette would be great since so close to Oakland (where we have most of our family/friends), but I think likely prohibitively expensive. Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill both seem like viable options, but I know much more about Walnut Creek than Pleasant Hill since we actually know a few families there. I've heard generally positive things about the WC schools (both in the Mt Diablo and WC districts), but I haven't heard much about PH schools. By the number, WC schools on average seem a little stronger than the PH schools, but obviously those numbers don't tell you the full picture. I'd appreciate any insights into the PH community (particularly around Poet's Corner/Gregory Gardens and feeding into the Strandwood School as that area works best for our commute) and WC as well. I'm trying to find a way to really compare the two communities in terms of schools, diversity, and general "neighborhoody" feel. We're a biracial family, so diversity is a key component, and as my husband is in education, we really want to find the strongest educational options we can for our girls (particularly within the public school system). On that point, I'd love to hear about experiences with middle and high schools in both towns as I feel like that is often where it can get weaker for certain districts. Thank you!! 

    Hi there. We are a bi-racial family and we live in the part of Gregory Gardens that feeds into Standwood.  Our children went to Strandwood.  Strandwood is a great school - lots of parental involvement.  People come from all walks of life there, economically and culturally.  The neighborhood is also great.  Lots of people walk to school, to the park, to downtown Pleasant Hill and to eachothers homes.  Trick or treating and Halloween is a big deal around there.  Many people hang out outside, the front lawns are spacious and flat and you will see kids riding their bikes around, etc.  Pleasant Hill is only a few minutes from Walnut Creek, Concord and Walnut Creek, each of which is fun in its own way and so we feel that PH is the perfect balance.  People tend to be pretty down to earth and neighborly.  As for the schools, our kids ended up doing private school for middle and high school, but that would have likely been the case no matter where we lived.  Most kids go through the public school system K-12 in PH and they are what you make of them.  The high schools in Walnut Creek may have higher API indexes but that is mainly due to the socio-economics of the parents.  PH schools are less pressure-cooker like than those schools, and that could be looked at as a benefit.

  • Walnut Creek / Rossmoor Neighborhood?

    (2 replies)

    My husband and I are considering buying a house on the outer edge of Walnut Creek. Kind of by the end of Walnut Boulevard, RockSpring Pl., Whitecliff way….

    we noticed that the disclosures in the house explain that some of the housing community is dedicated to Rossmoor assisted-living/retirement community…? We don’t want to unknowingly buy a house in a neighborhood with only retirees and no children. We don’t currently live in Walnut Creek and we don’t know anyone who does so I don’t have anyone to ask. Can anyone give me some reliable first-hand information about this area? Thanks in advance!

    We live a street over from Whitecliff Way and do not have anything like this in our disclosures. Feel free to reach out if you have any additional questions!

    That seems very odd, since Rossmoor is on the other side of the freeway and quite a ways away.  I'd ask your realtor or the listing agent to explain. 

  • We are relocating from Denver, Colorado with our toddler and I will be working in Dublin. We would like to live somewhere with culture, diversity, good schools, safe. Is WC a better fit than Danville or Dublin? I don’t mind commuting a bit if WC is the best fit. We have lived in Berkeley and Oakland in the past and are looking for something more suburban but we love older, unique homes, some history and a downtown. We are foodies and live music lovers so aren’t looking for a place that is too sleepy! Any advice would be appreciated. 

    Welcome back! We have only been here 4 years, moved from the East Coast, and IMHO, between Walnut Creek and Dublin you can't get culture, diversity, good schools and safety in one package. Walnut Creek gives you restaurants and later nights, but not as much history and so-so schools (WC school districts can be confusing; consult a realtor to know exactly which one you'll be in. Most people don't like the Mt Diablo Unified School District, which covers most of WC, but if you can get Acalanes, near Lafayette, that's better). Danville gives you a downtown, a few decent restaurants, and a little history but not diversity and everything tends to close down by 8pm during the week. People like the schools though. San Ramon provides a little more diversity, most Asian, but not a downtown and there's a lot of sprawling developments (so not unique homes), especially in the eastern part of San Ramon. Both Danville and San Ramon are safe. WC will get protests if that bothers you in terms of safety. Also, IMHO, you get a little more house in Danville and San Ramon for your money. 

    Pleasanton might be an option. It has a nice downtown and there seem to be older, historic houses. I don't know as much about the schools other than the generic ratings one gets from websites and the diversity seems about average for the valley, nothing like Oakland. Whatever you choose, you may consider living closer to 680 so you can access good restaurants in Oakland and Berkeley. Best wishes on the relocation.

  • Considering Walnut Creek

    (7 replies)

    Hello BPN,

    We have two young elementary kids and have lived in El Cerrito since before they were born. However, we are outgrowing our small home, and looking at other East Bay communities that have both larger homes and better schools. I've heard many people say Walnut Creek is a great place for kids and families, but I don't know any one who lives there. I like the larger homes, and we'd want to be not too far from BART, as someday we will be going back to our offices. The main hesitation I have is that El Cerrito is very walkable, and (pre-pandemic) we would walk to school, BART, library, restaurants, parks, swim lessons and it was easy. We'd often chat with our neighbors on the street. I've been browsing Walnut Creek neighborhoods online, and there seem to be few sidewalks in the neighborhoods and the walk-scores of the neighborhoods are low. Do you just drive everywhere? Are there particular neighborhoods where people do walk more? Is there a culture of all the neighborhood kids walking to school together? Could you tell me if you love your school? Or are there other neighborhoods/communities we should be considering with excellent public schools that are served by BART (or another easy way to get to the city)? We'd like a 4 bedroom home for $1.2M, so unfortunately Orinda, Moraga, and Albany are out.

    Thank you!

    Hi! As as a current Walnut Creek resident with 2 young kids, here are my thoughts. 
    1- It’s the suburbs so you will definitely use your car more. But at least parking is plentiful and free for the most part, so it’s not like other more urban areas where finding a spot can be stressful. 

    2- Walnut Creek is really large and divided into 2 school districts, Acalanes and Mt Diablo. The latter is not as well funded and the homes are priced accordingly. Definitely do your research as which district the home falls in if you have a preference.  

    3- Some neighborhoods are more adept for walking to school in groups; perhaps others can opine on the specifics but my neighborhood is not very walkable. I also think knowing your neighbors is a big plus out here as we know almost all of ours. 

    We used to live in Oakland and while I miss the weather, I really enjoy Walnut Creek now. 

    Hi - while I don't live in Walnut Creek, I am familiar enough to answer your questions.  We ended up in Lafayette and all of the items you mention (walkability to/from school, BART, downtown, trails, the library) we enjoy living near downtown. Depending on where you live in Walnut Creek, you may be within walking distance to one or two schools or possibly downtown or BART- maybe not all three, though.  Despite what you hear from grumpy folks on NextDoor or elsewhere, parking is not horrendous and the public garages are reasonably priced.  Granted, I am a San Francisco native so in comparison, it feels free to me.  Going to Broadway Plaza on a weekend (during non-pandemic times) will be chaotic but that's to be expected from a desirable shopping area.  Same for Target.

    As a previous responder pointed out,  Walnut Creek is divided into various school districts.  The unincorporated Saranap part of WC (most of the pocket west of 680/south of 24) belongs to the Lafayette School district for K-8 and the Acalanes High School district (4 schools: Las Lomas in WC, Acalanes (Lafayette), Campolindo (Moraga) and Miramonte (Orinda).  There is a Walnut Creek school district for K-8 and I think it covers a wide swath of the city (some parts north of 24/west of 680, south of downtown and some pockets north of there too.  You would be wise to look at a boundary map and confirm. All of these kids move onto Las Lomas if they remain in public school.  Lastly, the Mt. Diablo Unified School districts covers northwest/east parts of Walnut Creek that are close to Pleasant Hill and Concord.  I'm less certain of how the boundaries are drawn and though I've heard good things about Northgate HS, it is true that this district is not well funded and most of the time can't muster the 2/3 vote needed to pass a bond or parcel tax.  Aside from schools,  if you need to take BART to work,  the new parking structure is pricier than before so if one or both of you need to commute - you'll want to take that into consideration.  Then again, we're still in a shelter in place dynamic but it's wise to take this into consideration as who can really predict what employers will expect from workers in the future. 

    Good luck to you.

    Pleasant Hill might be a great option for you to consider.  Good schools, friendly people.  Some of the older homes in the flat areas are very walkable and I see plenty of kids walking to school.  We live in a newer area up the hill on the west side of town...the homes there are larger and newer, but we get in the car constantly...

    We used to live in the Parkmead area of Walnut Creek, which is a really nice area too.  The homes on that side of town are older, and the elementary schools are part of the Walnut Creek school district. It’s a very small district, well funded, with lots of parent involvement.  We were easily able to walk or bike to downtown Walnut Creek from our home...

    My perception is that Walnut Creek is super homogeneous and fairly conservative.

    We just moved from Oakland to Walnut Creek this year for more space and better public schools (2 elementary school aged kids). Our neighborhood schools are walnut acres elementary, foothill middle, and north gate high, very walkable if you live in the vicinity.  We are 5 minute walk to a small shopping mall, Heather Farm Park, and 5 minute drive to 2 Safeways, Trader Joes, and Whole foods. We drive when running errands but there are so many trails and green space for outdoor activities. Our new neighbors dropped off welcome gifts when we moved in. I have to say, after living in SF and Oakland for most of my life, the suburb has been a nice change. I have not been in love with our highly rated neighborhood school but it's partly due to starting distance learning during a pandemic. 

    I live in Walnut Creek. Depending on where you live, you can walk to downtown, or one of the shopping plazas if you live nearby, but driving is the norm. There does seem to be a lack of sidewalks in some of the older neighborhoods closer to downtown and on the southern end of WC, but there are plenty of sidewalks in areas like Northgate. There are four school districts that Walnut Creek feeds into, but the two main ones are the Walnut Creek school district and Mt. Diablo. I've found that there are some people who will clutch their pearls and advise you to avoid MDUSD, but Walnut Acres, Bancroft, Valley Verde, Foothill, and Northgate are all great schools with very involved parents. I like that Foothill MS and Northgate are tucked away in lovely residential neighborhoods - in contrast, Walnut Creek Intermediate and Las Lomas are located near very busy downtown intersections (which I suppose is more convenient if you need to take WC BART). For what it's worth, Foothill has consistently been rated a 9 on Great Schools for the last few years, while WCI is currently a 7. But I've heard numerous times that regardless of district, you can't go wrong with any of the public schools in Walnut Creek.

    As for the poster who wrote "My perception is that Walnut Creek is super homogeneous and fairly conservative." - well, as someone who lives here, I can say that your perception does not reflect reality. I moved to WC from San Francisco and have been very pleasantly surprised by how liberal and diverse it is (much more so than some of the more affluent surrounding towns). Downtown WC has had its own popular and very well-attended Woman's March for the last four years, and has been the site of numerous other protests. Check out our voting stats. Drive through our neighborhoods and you'll see many yard signs in support of Miles Hall (Google him). Your comment just shows that you probably don't spend much time here or know many people who live here.

    I’d pick Lamorinda for schools. I’d avoid Walnut Creek since it has a narco problem, lots of republicans, and snotty LA-types. I’ve lived near Northgate for 7 years and the traffic on YVR is horrendous. The schools aren’t nearly as good as Lafayette- but housing is now more expensive.

  • Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill or San Rafael?

    (3 replies)


    I am a mom of two kids, 4.5 years and 18 months. I am an expat from Prague, my husband is African American. Our kids are mixed. We have lived in San Francisco for almost a decade and two years ago we purchased a house in Concord as an investment opportunity with the idea to move a bit closer to SF once the house appreciates. We are now deciding where to move and it's tough.

    My step daughter lives in SR.

    I work FT but work from home twice a week. Otherwise I commute.

    We would love a flair of culture, down to earth people, diversity, good public schools and walk-able distance to a park, store a cafe etc. So far it seems that as for diversity, WC and SR are about the same- not super diverse for Bay Area standards. The amount of wealth, which I don't necessarily take as a plus, is about the same but wanting public schools that are good schools also means in the Bay that we will be living around very rich people. It's a challenge as I want our kids to be well rounded, not snobby and not thinking that poor people live in condos (which is what I heard from of of the Marin kids).

    WC has better central location and BART that gets me to he city faster and provides late night transportation. SR takes much longer by public transport.

    Without offense I am trying to avoid being surrounded by entitled people. I want a normal, very mixed population to be represented in our neighborhood....where do we go? experience? Ideas?

    We moved from SF to Rockridge and are now living in Walnut Creek.  We also seriously considered San Rafael for quite a while, but haven't lived there.  (we do have friends who love it, but the commute made me nervous).  

    We live near Buena Vista Elementary, walkable to BART, and I really like it.  It is definitely the suburbs, but I do find that there is diversity and a great community.  I have been very happy with the schools.  From the outside I think people look at the new shopping area and make assumptions about the people who live there.  There are some snobby people everywhere, but overwhelmingly we have met other families who are looking for safe, affordable neighborhoods, with a "reasonable" commute and good schools.  I will say that after living here, I would definitely want to be walkable to BART because parking seems impossible (I do walk).

    Best of Luck! 

    Walnut Creek is much more socioeconomically diverse than San Ramon I think. Just look at % of kids who get free and reduced price lunch in the various schools. And WC has better schools than PH.

    Be aware that not all Walnut Creek addresses go to Walnut Creek School District.

    Not sure if you are looking for the long term but not only is the commuting easier for you, once your kids are teens they will be much happier to live in Walnut Creek compared to San Ramon since they can hop on BART and go to Oakland/SF, etc.

    I live in Walnut Creek, and while it is not as racially diverse as other parts of the Bay Area, I'm actually pretty satisfied at how economically diverse it is (MUCH more so than nearby Lamorinda). I totally get what you mean about not wanting to be surrounded by entitled people, and I have felt comfortable in Walnut Creek. We live in a condo (that maps to 9/9/10 schools), can walk to a park, and the restaurants here are slowly getting better. We also looked at San Rafael, and I'm really glad we moved here and that Bart, even with all its faults, is an option for commuting to work in SF.

    Good luck with your search!

  • We are looking at moving to Walnut Creek and wanted to get feedback on the Tice Creek School.  How do families feel about their experience, are kids learning, how are the teachers, families, etc?  Is there differentiated learning?  Are the classes full so there is no space?  How big are the classes?  For those with 6th-7th graders, how has the middle school experience been?

    Also, I understand some neighborhoods in WC go to Lafayette schools--which neighborhoods are these? Which neighborhoods go to Las Lomas HS?

    Does it happen in WC that you don't go to your neighborhood school because it is too full?  If we move to one neighborhood, I want to make sure we can at least send our kids to the neighborhood school and not have to drive across town.

    I also wanted to get a better idea of what the kids sports culture is like.  Are there certain sports that dominate?  Do kids get to play on teams (soccer, tennis, baseball, etc. )even if they aren't great?  

    I heard from friends that Lamorinda cities have a huge swim/water polo culture and none of my kids swim (outside of recreationally).  Is WC like this too?

    Thanks in advance.

    I have the very same questions. I did hear that WC also has a huge swim culture which neither of my kids are into. I looked into MDUSD schools that are in WC and due to budget cuts they have cut a lot of programs which is disappointing. That eliminates a lot of homes in the home search. It is so confusing which neighborhoods feed into the WCSD and Acalanes Union High School District. It would be great if someone could explain that.

  • Getting the kids to school in Walnut Creek

    (2 replies)

    Hello.. I have a question about the school transportation. We have just moved to California (Walnut Creek) and we have three daughters 8,6,4. I live in Avalon, Walnut Creek, and my kids will go to Indian Valley Elementary School, but I think the school doesn't have transportation. I wonder if there is any private transportation company that takes care of kids delivery everyday?? or other suggestions? my wife doesn't drive and I have to go to work in the early morning and come back home around 5 PM.

    Appreciate your help! :)

    Really, your best option is to send her to driving school right now. The fact that you live out there means that public transportation options are limited and she will need to be able to drive for sooooo many different reasons, not just school. When (not if) your kids get sick at school, she will need to go pick them up right away, when they are sick at home and need to go into the Dr.s office during the day while you are at work, she will need to drive them in, also, just for her to be able to shop for enough food for a family of 5 she will need to drive. If you would have picked an urban area like SF, or downtown Berkeley or Oakland, maybe she could have gotten by with not driving, but in W.C., no way. Also, in the future there will be things like dance rehearsals, martial arts lessons, soccer practices, playdates, etc. that your girls won't want to miss and require lots of driving by parents. When I was single I did not own a car, and biked or walked and used buses only and it is a challenge. But with kids, it is incredibly difficult to not drive, even in urban areas. There are just so many things that they will miss out on, besides just getting to and from school. Also, my oldest son is going into 7th grade, and I have seen many, many nannies and "drivers" in that time, and befriended many who are awesome. But...they don't last, I can only think of 2 nannies who stuck with the families for more than 2 years, and no "drivers" who lasted more than 4 months. "Drivers" do not hang in there as long as nannies, and are not as dependable as they are usually college age kids. I can't tell you how many times we have hung out on the playground with my sons' friends while they waited for their "driver" to show up. A few times we ended up speaking with the working parent (whom we knew) and the school (of course!) to take the kid home with us when the "driver" failed to show after an hour and could not be reached by phone. It happens. I live in Berkeley, and maybe there is some such private kid shuttle that I don't know about, but I really doubt it. IMHO, driving school!

    Try Shuddle.  It's not too bad if you don't have to go far.  Like Uber for kids.

Parent Reviews

We moved to Walnut Creek (Saranap/Parkmead area) last year from Berkeley to get more space too. We have more space as my elementary kids now can have their own bedrooms, and walk to school, but most of the people drive their kids. It's a really unpleasant walk- only half of a mile, but a good chunk of the walk has no sidewalk. There is heavy traffic, so we walk single file in some spots. People are often parked halfway on the lawn and half on the road, so we have to walk further into the road to get to school. I sometimes drive the kids to school, but it takes longer to drive than walk. We do love having more space, and especially more than one bathroom. We would have preferred to stay in Berkeley/Albany, but the cost of a bigger house was way too much there. There aren't any parks/playgrounds in our new neighborhood, but the school playground is open on weekends, and we play there. Like most of the people with kids in this neighborhood, we have a pool membership too.

I'm sure it's because of the pandemic, but we haven't found the neighbors overly friendly and haven't made any friends here yet. Everyone seems polite, but we haven't gotten together with neighbors for dinner or beers has we have in our other neighborhood whenever someone would move in. Unlike our old neighborhood, we drive most places- the store, the library, kids lessons. I love our house, and we have a big yard for the kids to play in- but it feels a bit like living on an island, because there are no pedestrians walking by, no one coming over other than the amazon truck. If we want to go anywhere we get in the car and go.

Also depending on where you want to live, there is highway noise from Highway 24 or possibly 680. We looked at houses all over Lamorinda and Walnut Creek. Many of the Lafayette and Orinda houses had noise from 24, so I'd recommend visiting the neighborhoods during different times of the weekdays. When we saw some houses on weekends it fairly quiet, but then after work showings, it was constant hum of 24 rush hour evening traffic. With the difference in temperature from Berkeley (many 90 & 100 degree days last summer) it didn't matter that it was so loud on the road, because we had the windows closed and air conditioning on, but in the spring and fall, it's loud.

We love the schools here, I can't say enough about the excellent schools, but I still miss my old neighborhood and neighbors.

RE: Best Area to Raise Children ()

We just moved to Walnut Creek from Oakland last year, during the pandemic, didn't plan it that way but it worked out perfectly. More space, good schools, safe neighborhoods. There are a lot of new families in the area who left SF and Oakland to come across the tunnel. We are in the North Gate area of Walnut Creek and the schools are well rated. A friend in Emeryville is moving to the Parkmead neighborhood of WC, good schools, safe, and close to downtown. Another friend who used to live in Montclair hills moved to Campolindo neighborhood in Moraga last summer for a house with a pool, yard, good schools, and a neighborhood with sidewalks. I don't think you can go wrong with either Lamorinda or WC. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions about Walnut Creek Related Pages

2008 - 2014 Discussions

Nov 2013

Re: Good schools and lots of trees and nature
We (myself and 2 kids) lived in Walnut Creek for several years and loved it. There are many nice neighborhoods, tons of trees and lots of activities geared toward kids and families. It felt more laid back than the Berkeley/Oakland area and it was easier to get around like finding parking, signing up for activities, etc. I expected WC to be mostly white, older, and conservative but I was wrong. There are many liberals, maybe just not as outspoken as the liberals you find in Berkeley and Oakland. WC is mostly made up of professionals and the diversity you will find mostly comes in the form of immigrants; lots from India and Southeast Asia. You will find even more diversity in the Concord area but the schools are not as highly rated there. You didn't mention where you work so you will have to factor in the commute and what your tolerance level can handle. Overall, we enjoyed and miss the area. Best of luck in your search for TREES~ anon

Moving from Texas, where to live in the East Bay?

June 2012

Hi, we're moving to the East Bay from Texas this summer and have been looking at different areas to live, but I'm worried about making a final decision without knowing more. We have three boys - 18, 7 & 5 - and are looking for a family friendly, kid friendly neighborhood that's safe and has a 'neighborhood' feel. We've been looking at houses in Lamorinda, Walnut Creek and Alamo and have been told that the school districts there are great, so our next priority is to find a street or neighborhood where our kids can bike or walk to their friends' houses, play outside, and where we can actually see our neighbors' homes. In other words, we don't want to feel too isolated or remote. Also, we're not crazy about very hilly areas because of driving up and down narrow, hilly streets. I've read all the posts and advice about this topic but they're pretty outdated - I think the most recent is 2010. So, if anyone can tell us about a more recent experience we'd really appreciate it! Thanks.

Hi there, I live in the Parkmead neighborhood of Walnut Creek, and it's exactly that type of neighborhood. My kids ride their bikes everywhere, walk downtown to go to the movies, go to the neighborhood swim club for swimming and hanging out with their friends. There is a (voluntary, not HOA) neighboord association that puts on a block party every year. The downtown Walnut Creek BART station is within walking distance (about 20 minutes) so we save money on commuting and wear and tear on our second vehicle. I ruled out a number of Walnut Creek neighborhoods because of their hilliness or unsuitability for walking. The local elementary school is excellent as well, and the high school is within walking distance. Hope this helps! WC Mom

Clayton vs Walnut Creek - where to live?

March 2012

We are moving soon back to the east bay. Walnut Creek was our choice town to live with our two boys, ages 4 and 7. Clayton is coming on our radar now. Anyone have any pros and cons regarding these towns. Any thoughts? Thank you!!! Jane

Clayton is a cute town, but it's much sleepier than Walnut Creek. I, personally, would never live in Clayton because the traffic is HORRENDOUS if you have the normal commute hours or if your kids go to school (or after school activities) outside of Clayton. It is especially bad if you or your partner need to get to one of the highways to get to work. Ugh. You and all your neighbors will be heading down the same 3 roads at the same time every day! Walnut Creek over Clayton!

Walnut Creek is a fast-growing (note the new super walking mall in the permit process) city with a number of different neighborhoods. A few years ago I was considering moving to the Northridge (I think that's the proper nomenclature) area of Walnut Creek because of the lovely neighborhoods with cool Brady Bunch houses and the great schools. I have two relatives with families that have been very happy in Walnut Creek. One chose a tighter-lot-more-modern area and the other chose an outlying neighborhood where they can keep bees, etc. It's nice and close to shopping and Kaiser. On the other hand we have friends in Clayton that LOVE it there. The homes are more modest than Walnut Creek and I don't know what the API of the schools there are. (You can look up the API of each school in every district on the State of California's website) I do know there's a great pizza parlor there. Clayton's in an agricultural area that can get plenty hot, but it seems very safe and family oriented. Because I'm a teacher I always look to the schools for solid information about a community. Susan

I'm a realtor who has other buyers looking in Walnut Creek and Clayton. If you're looking in Walnut Creek, I'd recommend buying in the Walnut Creek school district and either the Northgate High School or Las Lomas High School areas. Otherwise, the other schools in Walnut Creek are part of the Mount Diablo school district, which also covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. That school district is in financial trouble, poorly managed, and lower scores. Clayton schools are good and families love the community there. Real estate prices are lower than Walnut Creek. I'd be happy to help you in your home search and provide you more information! Holly

Looking to move from Berkeley to the suburbs

Feb 2012

We're currently in Berkeley but are looking to move to an area that is more suburban in feel. We have 4 small children and life in a semi-urban environment has grown too hectic for us. We're looking for the following: 1) Excellent public schools (elementary, middle, and high school... a tall order, I know!) 2) A great sense of community 3) Good amount of cheap/free kids' activities (robust rec center and public library programs, well-cared-for public parks and pools, kid-friendly biking trails, etc.) 4) Proximity to BART (husband works in SF) Based on this criteria, the towns we're currently considering are Pleasanton and Walnut Creek. Pleasanton seems to have the edge on schools and community feel, as well as proximity to a lot of newer playgrounds and parks. Walnut Creek is a little closer to San Francisco and Berkeley and the fun urban parts of the Bay (which we would still love to visit). Do you live in Pleasanton or Walnut Creek? I'd love to hear any info you might have. Also, if you live in another city that meets the criteria above, that's great, too. Thanks so much, in advance! Mom to 4

Walnut Creek has good schools if you are in the right district, and parts of it are next to Mount Diablo Park. School funding has been up and down -- some tax measures have passed, but not all of them. Class size is higher than in Berkeley. You've probably seen WC's downtown -- there are two parts, the 'old' downtown and the shopping center, both of which are walkable once you park. The Lindsey Natural History museum is a great place for younger children. I don't know much about Pleasanton. In either case, you'd be doing a lot of driving, particularly if your children become interested in different activities. This is something to think about -- When I was 10, my family moved from an urban area to the suburbs, and I was no longer able to walk to the library or to classes like the ones I had been going to on my own. Although there are advantages in the suburbs, especially for younger children (bigger back yards, biking on the sidewalk), there are some real disadvantages for older children and teens in terms of what they can do on their own. One nice thing about Berkeley is that in elementary school the school bus takes the children from the school to aftercare activities (and the schools have afterschool classes as well), and by middle school they can walk from school or take a short bus ride to classes and activities. anon

Move to Walnut Creek? Single mom of four

Jan 2012

After much heated discussion about affordability, quality of life in the Bay Area, and a possible relocation, my marriage eventually fell apart and me and my husband are going through a divorce. I have four small children (5.5, 3.5, and two 2 year old twins) and am working part-time. I will need to find a location in the Bay Area that is more affordable than where we currently live (Alameda) but also has great public schools. After much research, Walnut Creek is top on my list of available cities. Are there any other areas that I should consider (e.g., buying a house under $650K, zoned to excellent public schools, yard, and ability to commute to SF for work)? If you live in Walnut Creek, what parts of the city should I focus my search? Northgate, etc...... Any advice is greatly appreciated! - Scared Anon

So I don't live in Walnut Creek itself, but I live just north in a very nice part of Concord. Walnut Creek does have wonderful schools and it seems that a lot of areas are nice (hopefully someone else can give you some more feedback on that as well). The area I live in is served by Ayers Elementry and this particular schools are very good (I live near Ygnacio Valley Road and Clayton Road). I know house prices are cheaper up this way compared to walnut creek. I also know that Clayton has some great schools as well. Other schools in Concord and not so great, so you do have to be careful to make sure you know what schools serve your neighborhood (you can look on the Mt Diablo Unified School district site to find out). I also hear that pleasant hill has a some great schools, although I don't know exactly which ones. I also know that pleasanton is a nice area with fantastic schools, but I'm not sure how housing prices compare to those in walnut creek. Still might be worth looking into. My friend commutes to the city from there every day (I think she takes BART). Good luck in your search! I've found that the far east bay is a wonderful place to be raising kids! loving the far east bay

The best area to be in Walnut Creek is a neighborhood that feeds into the Acalanes School District and not in the Mt. Diablo school district. Northgate HS neighborhoods are good, and although it's also a Mt. Diablo district school, it's got a good reputation. That area, unfortunately, is accessed by Ygnacio Valley Rd which gets traffic in rush hour, but also not too far from Walnut Creek BART. Pleasant Hill has some areas with good schools, and so does Clayton, although that's farther out. I'm a local realtor who can work for you to find the best home in the right neighborhood in your price range! H.

Hi there I would add Pleasant Hill and Martinez to your list of affordable places to live with great public schools. In particular Virginia Hills which is bordering Martinez, P.H. and Lafayette, and is where I currently live. We love living in this area, it's beautiful and peaceful, convenient to most places and has great schools. Keep in mind that in Walnut Creek you'll get less house for your $, and unless its close to BART or Hwy 680, traffic in that city could be horrendous at times. L.

Two tips about Walnut Creek schools:

I strongly prefer the WCSD school system to the Mt. Diablo (Northgate area). I have kids in WCSD and have been very pleased with how the district runs itself.

The other downside of Northgate is the terrible commute down Ygnacio Valley Rd. It is truly horrible if you have to come and go from 24/680. If you work in downtown Concord this obviously isn't an issue.

Also, not all Walnut Creek addresses go to Walnut Creek schools (or the 'better' rated Northgate Mt. Diablo schools). The northwest side (closest to Pleasant Hill) feeds into College Park high school (also Mt. Diablo district). Not coincidentally, this area has the least expensive houses, so don't get excited thinking you're getting a good deal on a Walnut Creek house because you may not get the great WCSD schools.

I like living in Walnut Creek, and I lived in Alameda when I first moved to the Bay Area, so I followed a similar path as you're considering. WC Mom

Moving to Walnut Creek area with little ones

May 2011

My husbands job is taking us to the Bay area. Walnut Creek is a fairly centralized location as he will be visiting multiple stores in San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, and Stockton... meaning our exact destination is up for negotiation as he will not be in 1 set location. I know nothing about the Bay area - I have never even been there! We will be moving sometime in June or July. To add to my list of concerns, I will be going from a working mom to a stay at home mom (which I think will be challenging for me) and am looking for some guidance from those who are familiar with the area.

My main concern is schools - my son will be starting kindergarten in the fall. I am also looking for an area that will have activities for my 2yr old daughter to do - gym, dance, parks, water, attractions, things to keep me busy too since I have never stayed at home. I don't want to spend a ton of money on rent since we are going from 2 incomes to 1, but a nice and safe area is very important. Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions? Feeling Lost!

Hi. We live in Concord (which is a few miles east of Walnut Creek. I stay at home with my 2 yo daughter. We love Walnut Creek. It is great for kids, clean, safe, lots of fun (free) things to do, very good schools, everything you are looking for - except not cheap. Well, you can find some reasonable housing, but I'm not sure what your range is. There are no bad areas of Walnut Creek. Look on Craigslist. Also check out Pleasant Hill, which borders Walnut Creek and housing tends to be more reasonable. Schools are good there too. Let me know if you have any more questions. Good luck with the move. Marie

I grew up in Walnut Creek in the 1960s-70s, specifically in the Walnut Heights/ Lakewood/ Walnut Creek Intermediate/ Las Lomas areas. Although financially challenged, the schools are generally very good and MUCH better funded than some others in California. Walnut Creek itself has changed drastically, but some aspects have not; it's at the edge of the Mt. Diablo open space and there are some areas where you feel like you're almost out in the country.

Housing prices are going to put you into sticker shock. Since the area has a lot of suburban sprawl, there's a lot of driving from one place to another. If I were moving back there with little kids, I'd go for the area near Larkey Park and the Lindsey Wildlife Museum.I'd strongly recommend renting until you get to know the area, maybe in the apartment complexes behind the main library (roughly between Broadway and the place where Mt. Diablo runs into Walker Ave.) I'm not sure what the rents are like, but I'd do that rather than hunkering down in a house out in an isolated development.

Walnut Creek's got a lot of high-end shopping and restaurants, and the Civic Arts program offers amazing opportunities for creative learning, ballet, opera, theater... to me that's the most attractive aspect of the area. It's only about 1/2 hour from San Francisco when traffic is good (that's about 1 day out of the year, ymmv). Its climate is the 'mediterranean' type: cool, wet winters (occasional 19F with puddles frozen solid) It snows lightly about every 5 years or so, everyone runs outside and dances around. Summers: very dry and hot up to 120F - HOT nights. Lovely for sitting out chatting with friends, not so lovely for sleeping. Sometimes if there's a hurricane off the coast of Mexico, WC gets a thunderstorm or two in summer, but those are quite rare.

Major drawbacks: in some areas, it's almost impossible not to get in the car for EVERYTHING - some of the older housing developments have winding roads with few or no sidewalks which makes walking to school really dangerous. Forget pushing a stroller around! If you value walkability, do choose your neighborhood with care. If you'd rather be in the car anyway, it's no big deal.

WC is not, in my opinion, the friendliest town. There seemed, at the time I lived there, to be too much money and not enough heart. I think there's a bit more diversity now, but when I was growing up there, if you weren't WASP, you were not ... shall I say, acknowledged as worthy of respect? I left as soon as I could. I hope you'll find a much more welcoming situation! * WC Expat

I moved to WC when my kids were little and now they are almost grown up! It's been a good place to raise a family.

First, you should know that WC is served by 2+ school districts. All the Walnut Creek schools are good, but I think the ones in Walnut Creek School District (as opposed to Mt Diablo School District) are better. And a small part of Walnut Creek goes to school in Alamo. So when you are looking at houses, be sure to plug in the address on the school district websites--here is one

2nd main pt is that bc of your husband's work, I recommend you look near hwy 680. Lots of WC is accessed by Ygnacio Valley Blvd which gets TONS of traffic during rush hour--better to avoid/minimize this route.

3rd--lots of great activities for kids and parents--parks, classes, pools, etc. A great parent co-op preschool--I never belonged but I heard good things. Unfortunately most of WC is not very walkable, so plan on (short) drives to get to and fro. Welcome!

We have raised our daughter in Walnut Creek (she's now in 7th grade) after previously having lived in San Francisco before we became parents. It has turned out to be a great place to raise a child. There are lots of families here. When we first moved here, we felt out of place because we didn't have a kid yet! A couple of things to point out:

* Walnut Creek is big. It encompasses various school districts, and you want to pay attention when looking for a home. Some parts are in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. We are now in that district. There are good and not so good schools in that district. We are in the 'good' schools: Bancroft Elementary, Foothill Middle School, and Northgate High School. The Walnut Creek Unified School District has all good schools. Other parts of Walnut Creek are in the Alamo school district. There is an unincorporated area of Walnut Creek that I love called Saranap that is in the Lafayette school district (all good schools).

* There is wonderful open space out here. Lots of bike trails, hiking, Mt. Diablo, Lafayette Reservoir. It's really pretty! We sometimes get snow on the top of Mt. Diablo in the winter and it's lovely.

* Walnut Creek has great restaurants! Seriously. I thought I was going to starve when we moved here. Check out Diablo Magazine for more info about that, and more!

* There is great shopping here. You pretty much don't have to leave Walnut Creek to buy whatever it is you may need. That may or may not appeal to you, but the older I get, the more domestic I seem to have become and I like that.

* Housing is very expensive here, but I can tell you after having lived here since 1996 that it is MUCH less expensive right now than it was then.

* Weather: it can get brutally hot in the summer here (in the 100s sometimes). It's a dry heat, as they say, but really once it's 100 or more, it's just darn hot! Think of that in terms of housing. We have central air conditioning and couldn't live without it. We also have ceiling fans in the bedrooms in addition to that. It gets cold in the winter (relatively speaking) - below freezing sometimes. Compared to the midwest or back East it's nothing, but if you're used to California weather, we do have that other extreme. I will tell you that Walnut Creek is the only place in California I have lived that has the relative equivalent of 4 seasons. There are lovely trees planted around town where the leaves change color in the fall. You know it's summer because it gets hot (you may want to join a local pool if you don't move into a condo/townhouse complex that already has one). Then there is winter, where yes, you do need a real winter coat, and spring, which is lovely.

* I can also tell you that Walnut Creek has changed since we first moved here in terms of diversity (political, ethnic, etc.). It's much more diverse now, and that is something we are glad about. It'll never be Berkeley, but relative to what it was when we first moved here, it's much more to our liking.

* There is a beautiful new library downtown (and you're not that far from the other great new libraries in Lafayette and Orinda).

For more info, check out Walnut Creek's website:

Final note: while the public schools are great, if you are looking for a wonderful and special preschool (not public), check out White Pony in Lafayette (just on the border of Walnut Creek and near that great Saranap area). Good luck!

At the risk of repeating what others have said before, I want to say that Walnut Creek is a fabulous place to raise kids. I've worked in Walnut Creek for almost 10 years, and I used to commute from Oakland/Berkeley. I also used to swear up and down that I would NEVER move to Walnut Creek. Then I had kids, and everything changed for us. We got some grief from some people who thought we were selling out to the suburbs, but frankly, I've never looked back.

First we rented near Larkey Park, and after two years, we bought a house. We live in Saranap, an unincorporated area between Walnut Creek and Lafayette. I know that Walnut Creek has the reputation of being a high-end shopping mecca filled with vapid wealthy people, but it's not like that at all (unless, maybe, you hang out at the Tiffany store all day). Our neighbors are bee-keepers and artists, people who commute by bike, a few stay-at-home mothers and work-from-home mothers, families who walk through the neighborhood in the evening just to see their friends and enjoy the weather. We come home to deer in our backyard (not always welcome when they strip our cherry tree but still beautiful somehow). We keep chickens. The schools are good and well-supported by the community. It's true that there are no sidewalks in our neighborhood, but people tend to drive as if they expect pedestrians to be there. Yes, we probably drive more than we'd like, but really, I probably wasn't going to walk to/from the store with three young kids anyway. (Who'd carry the gallon of milk on the way home?) If this is the dreadful life of a suburbanite, I'll take it. Walnut Creek convert

Walnut Creek - will we fit in and where?

Feb 2009

We're headed to WC area from SF (long-time residents) for schools, proximity to BART, weather, etc. Kids are 5 and 2. Any recommendations out there as to which neighborhoods/areas we might feel most comfortable in terms of politics, culture, etc. In other words, where are the liberals in WC? By the way, we realize 'lamorinda' might be a better fit for us, but we are not able to afford a suitable home there, except possibly in downtown Lafayette. School districting issues in WC are well understood. Suburb Bound

We live in Walnut Heights in the Walnut Heights neighborhood and love it. We think it's pretty liberal. The school is great, probably the best in the WC elementary district. The neighbors are friendly and the area is safe. My kids play outside without supervision and I never worry. Good luck. Email if you want more info. Madeleine

Don't overestimate Orinda for home prices. Given the current economic climate, I would certainly keep my options open. We live in Orinda with a Kindergartner and love it. It's a small, wonderful community and very kid-centered. Schools are the best . . . check it out

I'm always fascinated that people west of the Caldecott tunnel think that Walnut Creek is conservative. I believe that liberals outnumber conservatives in WC, by far. I only know one conservative family and they happen to live in a much wealthier town just south of here... To be honest, those of us in Walnut Creek are the same kind of people you'll find anywhere else in the bay area, except we happen to like trees, bike trails, open spaces, and great weather! If it's relevant to you, I know same-sex couples who are happily raising children in this area and prefer the area to Berkeley/Oakland. You may want to consider the Heather Farm area of Walnut Creek, and also the neighboring town of Pleasant Hill. Walnut Creek long-timer

I recently lived in Walnut Creek for 4 years. Two years in an apartment house behind the library and park (very reasonable and pleasant). My kids came to stay part time so didn't use the schools, but taught at Clayton Valley High which I enjoyed very much. I also lived on Walnut Blvd. near Shell Ridge and it was very quiet, mix of ages, easy access to run, walk dogs, hike. When I first moved to WC from Berkeley I thought the women looked like ''Country Club Moms,'' hair done, make up, stylish clothes, but after awhile I got used to it and you make friends with people you are comfortable with. Best of luck finding a place you will enjoy. kl

Moving to Walnut Creek from SF

Sept 2008

We are in the research stage of buying our first home in (we think) Walnut Creek. We did consider Albany/El Cerrito, but decided our budget cancelled the major plusses there. Our business takes us into the City a few times per week. BART is a HUGE reason we're choosing WC, as are schools (we want to stay close to BART line and in WCSD). Our oldest starts Kindergarten in fall of 09. I'm not looking for a city vs. suburbs debate as much as I'd like to hear straight talk and advice from other parents who live there or have made a similar move. What were the hardest adjustments? Did anything come up that you didn't anticipate (good or bad)? And more specifically, what is the commute really like? How long does it take to get to BART from where you live in WC? I don't have close friends out there who can provide some of the the nitty gritty details we are lacking. the lowdown please

Although I wasn't a parent when I lived in WC, I do think that WC is a good city to raise a family. It is very safe, and access to kid-friendly activities are everywhere. The warm weather itself allows for walks around the city and visits to the clean parks. Getting to BART to commute into SF depends on what part of WC you live and the time of day of your commute. I think the WC BART station parking garage/lot fills up fast, so you may want to take a look at the BART website to see when that particular station's garage fills up. If have to drive down Ygancio Valley Road or Treat Blvd., that in itself can get backed up with other commuters and families getting to local schools, businesses, etc. anon

I grew up in Berkeley, moved to El Sobrante in the early 90s for the cheap mortgage. When my son became of kindergarten age, we agreed the local schools were not an option but neither was private school. After much research, we decided on Walnut Creek. At first I was a bit dubious but after four years of living here....we feel we made the right choice. We live close to Pleasant Hill Bart Station where they have a brand new parking lot, rarely fills up. They're building a whole new transit village around the PH Bart Station. We get to SF quicker than when we lived in El Sob due to driving/parking issues. Walnut Creek has endless bike trails, an amazing public arts program, the obvious retail/restaurant aspect. But the thing I like best is the diversity is way more evident once you live here. Walnut Creek has a reputation of being white/Republican but that is SO not true. Maybe in the 70s but not now. WC is relatively safe as well. We walk to our neighborhood park at night, ride our bikes to Heather Farms to see movies on the lawn, etc. Also, a new library is being built in Civic Park which is going to be another new culture center for the City. One note: there is big debate about schools. Not all WC neighborhoods are in the WC School District, the small 5 elementary/one middle school district. Some are in Mt. Diablo school district which like any large district has it's good and bad schools.

The hot weather in the summer is an issue if you're a fog dweller, but we liked the change after decades of fog. Yes, it gets pretty hot in the summer but there's lots of swimming pools around so my kid actually gets a summer now! Us too.

It's worth sweltering for a few hours in the day a few weeks out of the year for the gorgeous warm summer nights, walking downtown WC in shorts and a t-shirt instead of a parka! Hope this helps, feel free to email me with questions. Jayne

Hello, We live in Lafayette and enjoy it a lot. The public schools are terrific. The organized youth sports are also well organized with participation from a large number of the local school kids. We considered Lafayette because it is on the BART line as well, despite the fact that neither my husband or myself work in the city. It is a great convenience to be on the BART line. As a family we use BART for Berkeley or SF trips to museums and baseball games. We have friends who commute to the city via BART regularly and it seems to work out very well for them. Having grown up in Berkeley, I would say there is definitely less diversity in Lamorinda and WC than in Berkeley and there are fewer cultural events in the community. But that is what makes Berkeley quite fabulous, isn't it? But at the same time, we feel very linked to Berkeley/Oakland/SF because of BART and being close to hwy 24. Happy with the pros Lamorinda offers me

2004 - 2007 Discussions

Moving to an area near Walnut Creek

Sept 2007

It's been 15 years since I have been at Cal, and now I'm returning to the East Bay. We will be relocating from Venice, CA to somewhere East of the Tunnel in November. I will be moving with my husband and 14-month-old twins. Since I will be working full-time in Walnut Creek, we will likely live near there. My husband will be working in downtown San Francisco, so we would need to live near a BART station. We are trying to figure out which neighborhoods would be best for 2 little children. Any recommendations for family-friendly neighborhoods with good schools? I have heard that part of Walnut Creek uses the Lafayette school district. Does anyone know what neighborhoods/boundaries those would be? I have also heard it gets quite warm in Walnut Creek in the summertime... Is it a lot cooler closer to the tunnel (Orinda, Moraga)? I will also need to find a nanny for my twins. Does anyone know the best way to advertise/find a nanny in the area? Is there an agency someone can recommend? What is the going rate for nannies in the area?

I can only answer the climate part of your question- I lived in WC 2 years and worked in Orinda. I would say while it is not hugely cooler in Lamorinda (as it would be west of the tunnel) I could notice a subtle difference in both temp. and air quality. WC air felt like a smoggier heat whereas there was a subtle freshness in Orinda perhaps from berkeley's fog misting over the hills? My experience was each town east would feel a bit hotter, Orinda the least (but still hot!)then Moraga, Lafayette, WC and worse in Concord. That aside WC has many great family friendly things to do, plus Whole Foods and plenty of shopping. My mom and her friends in Moraga would rather live in either WC or west of the caldecott beause they always drive there for Everything, (except they don't want the longer Bart ride from WC vs. Orinda Bart.) anon

Wow -- lots of questions in this original post, but yes, parts of Walnut Creek do use Lafayette schools. You would want to look in the Boulevard Way/Olympic Blvd./Pleasant Hill Rd. area in a region often referred to as ''Saranap''. There is also the highly rated Walnut Creek School District, which is quite small and a little less clear to me -- I do know that the area in off of Cherry Lane (runs between Treat and Ygnacio) is included in this area and uses Las Lomas High, Walnut Creek Intermediate, and one or two elementary schools (Indian Vallley and ...?). Yes, Walnut Creek gets hot in the summer and Orinda/Moraga tend to be cooler as they get some morning fog. I am not a heat fan, but it really isn't horrible, I don't think. You will pay significantly more for a house in Orinda -- not enough to us for the temp. difference, but they have good schools as well. Walnut Creek tends to have more traditional neighborhoods than Orinda as much of Orinda is quite hilly. Moraga has traditional neighborhoods but it is much more difficult to get in and out of and less convenient to BART than the other 2 cities. Hope this helps -- just kind of scratching the surface, but ... I have lived in the area for 35+ years and we are now in Pleasant Hill, but our children are in private school, which is a trade off. Good luck! trish

We've lived in Orinda since 2000, and I think it meets most of your requirements: near BART, great for kids, very good schools. You mentioned the heat in Walnut Creek, and yes, it's hot there -- my husband lived there before we were married, and we had to run the air conditioner every day during the summer. Orinda gets cooled off in the evenings from the fog, but not so much that you can't play outside in the evenings. Moraga is much hotter than Orinda, being further from the fog gaps (also more conservative, if you're concerned about that). Welcome back! Nicole R.

Live in WC but work in Berkeley - jobs in Walnut Creek?

April 2007

I live in Walnut Creek and would love to work closer to home (currently work in Berkeley). I honestly don't know what I would want to do at this point, so I am more interested in starting to research employers who are located in or near Walnut Creek. Given that, do any of you work in/near WC? What do you do and whom do you work for? Do you enjoy your place of business? Thanks!

I work in Walnut Creek at John Muir Medical Center. There are quite a few places to work here. Check out the Contra Costa Centre website for a list of places that are in the area. I know Wells Fargo corporate is over here as well, as is ARF, PMI, Bank of the West corporate, and much more.

As for as whether I enjoy it here? If you are working at Cal, then John Muir's benefits will bring nothing but disappointment. I worked at Cal and left to be a bit closer to home and now regret leaving that UC benefit pkg behind. Wish I worked where I live too.

Moving to Walnut Creek with school-aged kids

June 2006

We may be moving to Walnut Creek this summer. My company moved to San Ramon and we would like to be closer. We have heard that schools are good in WC. One child will be in Middle School and the other one in 1st grade. Can anyone recommend a realtor who could help us find a rental house? If we can't find a house, are there apartment complexes that are kid-friendly, possibly with patios or small yards? Which neighborhoods should we focus on? Jeanne

If your husband is going to work in San Ramon you may as well move to Alamo, Danville, or San Ramon. The schools in Walnut Creek are good-Ok, but the San Ramon Valley school district is excellent! If you do choose Walnut Creek, double check what school district you would be in--there are 2 and both have different issues valley raised

Hi - my sister is a realtor in Walnut Creek, has been for many years and really loves living and working in that area. We grew up in the area, I moved to this side of the tunnel. Married a native Oaklander :) Yes, Walnut Creek has some very good schools, and some just ok ones. You do need to know where the boundaries for them reach. My sister can help you out with all your questions. Her name is Kim Morucci - 925-437-1650. Good luck!

Restaurant for party in Walnut Creek

June 2006

I am looking for a restaurant in Walnut Creek with a private room, patio or similar for a cocktail party of about 20 \x96 30 adults. I\x92m thinking no host bar with nice appetizers. Ideally people could come and go, have a few drinks, a bit to eat... Fresh air and music a big plus!

I live in the area and absolutely detest eating in dinner in Walnut Creek. It's not the restaurants it's the parking. Try Pleasant Hill, Lafayette or Alamo. In Lafayette I like Postinos. In PH try Left Bank. I would highly recommend Postinos, Mondellos Cucina Italiana or Caf\xe9 Terzetto. Doug

Similar to Berkeley, but affordable? Walnut Creek?

June 2006

Hi everyone: I live in the East bay area (San Ramon, Danville area) but would love to move to Berkeley. However, I find it terribly expensive right now. (I am a single mom) So, I have been thinking of Walnut Creek. I used to live in Boston and I loved it!!! I am basically looking for a liberal place, very 'culture' oriented, like Berkeley and with diversity... I know many people are happy in the area where I live now...but it certainly is NOT my place. Can you tell me anything about Walnut Creek? Do you know of any other areas that might be similar to Berkeley (urban, cultured, liberal....) that's affordable? Thanks a lot in advance.
Looking for my place in the world

I understand your situation and I was dead set on moving to Berkeley myself... because of the culture, diversity, less commercial. It reminded me of a little town with a San Francisco feel but even more of a community backing. Yes, it does come at a price too (whew! we found that out right away). Coming from someone who lives in Berkeley, consider this, Albany is right next door, so is emeryville, Oakland, and El Cerrito. I shop in all 4 towns on a regular basis. So, consider checking out Albany rent, or Oakland rent (assuming you are renting). Maybe you could technically reside in one, but spend the majority of your time (eating out, shopping, going to cultural events, attending farmer's markets in Berkeley). That is sort of how my husband and I made it work in Las Vegas. We previously lived in ''Vegas'' but technically our address was Henderson, a cute suburb with cheaper, more available, and more convenient housing. We still did everything we wanted to do in Las Vegas, as it was only a 5 to 10 minute drive. You never even knew when you were leaving one and arriving in the other. Good Luck on finding a place that fits, I know it is tough.

Um, no. Have you taken a drive or bart ride out to Walnut Creek? It is nice in it's own ways but is certainly not like Berkeley (much hotter, more suburban, more oriented towards the upper class, less walkable) and not even that much more affordable. If you don't mind moving out of the bay area, I think that other, smaller college towns probably have a more Berkeley-ish feel on a smaller scale and budget...Arcata, Chico, Davis. good luck!

Rather than moving thru the tunnel if Berkeley is too expensive, I strongly suggest you look in Albany and El Cerrito. Mostly same feel as Berkeley, and Alb and El C are so close to Berkeley you just live in all 3 cities as you carry out your daily living. Takes me 10-12 min to get from north side campus to far side of El Cerrito. Excellent real estate agent who can find you what you want, I recommend Grace Bishop, at Red Oak Realty at the top of Solano. Lotsa experience and handles homes all over the area.

If Danville/San Ramon isn't your scene I don't think you'll find what you're looking for in Walnut Creek. It is significantly more suburban, for better and worse, than Berkeley and other cities through the tunnel. I think you'd do a lot better looking in and around Oakland. You didn't mention if public school are an issue, but you can research that depending on where you ultiamtely focus on. Oakland and ElCerrito housing costs are ususally somewhat less than Berkeley, but I don't think WC will save you much in my humble opinion.

Walnut Creek may be a nice place, but it is NOT like Berkeley! People move to Walnut Creek to GET AWAY from Berkeley/Oakland. Spend a day at Broadway Plaza shopping center (or that general area) and you will get the gist. For a more Berkeley-like experience, you have to come to the East Bay. You can still find (relatively) affordable places in Oakland, El Cerrito, and Richmond.
Staying on this side of the hill

Hmm, as a native Berkeleyan, I wouldn't say that Walnut Creek has much in common with Berkeley at all, but maybe it does in comparison to other towns on the that side of the tunnel. At least it does have an arts center. If you are looking for a diverse, liberal, urban community that is affordable, I'd encourage you to explore the neighborhoods of Oakland. Aside from a few premium areas (such as Rockridge), home prices are generally lower than Berkeley, and the city is incredibly diverse and has a lot to offer (including easy access to Berkeley and SF). After trying hard to break into the Berkeley market, we finally found our first home just across the border in North Oakland, and we're perfectly happy. Popular areas you might want to check out include Grand Avenue and Lakeshore near Lake Merritt, Park Blvd, Piedmont Ave (not the city of Piedmont--too pricey), Montclair (on the spendy side), and the Temescal area off Telegraph Ave. There's also a ton of new construction around downtown and Jack London Square. Even if you don't find a place to live you'll discover all sorts of wonderful restaurants, shops, and arts spaces. One caveat: you don't mention schools in your post, or what age your child is. If you are considering public schools, the line on Oakland schools is that if you work at it you can find a good elementary school, and maybe a decent middle school, but the pickings are sparse at the high school level. One of the reasons Berkeley is more expensive is that schools are considered better. Albany is even higher for the same reason.
happy in Oakland

I don't want to come across as bashing those who live in Walnut Creek, but it is just so dissimilar to Berkeley that I can't even begin to list the points of dissimilarity. In my experience, it seems that affluence and wearing the right thing, driving the right car, etc. seem a lot more important in WC than they seem to be in Berkeley.

If you want to get more of a Berkeley feel but a bit cheaper than Berkeley, check out Oakland. Maybe Albany or El Cerrito. I'm afraid you're going to have to come through the tunnel, though.

Uh, no.
I lived in WC for ten years. Yes, it can be cheaper but the culture is entirely different! Berkeley = progressive attitudes. Walnut Creek = pretty conservative, as well as pretty boring by comparison culturally! WC has a lot of new money, with a strong emphasis on having/being the best at everything. There's a lot of ''keeping up with the Joneses''. I found myself out of place there, although I did save money. There are some parts of WC that are a little better, in terms of fewer plastic people, but in general, if you love and want Berkeley, Walnut Creek is not for you. It's also MUCH hotter in the summer, 10-15 deg.

Activities for 8-month-old and nanny in Walnut Creek

April 2006

I'm looking for recommendations on activities, places to go, etc. for my 8-month old son and nanny in Walnut Creek. Our nanny takes our son to different parks on a regular basis - but I know that can get a bit boring sometimes. It would be nice for them to meet up with other nannies and children around the same age. Is there a certain ''nanny hangout'' in Walnut Creek? Are there other activities besides going to the park? I know there is a story time at the WC Library. It would be nice to find out if there are other things to do in the area. Thanks!

Lindsay Wild Life Museum and Larky Park

You could sign your kid up for a Gymboree session in Lafayette or Walnut Creek area. It is fantastic for your child. I took a child that I was taking care of to Gymboree and we both loved it. Please keep in mind that your 8 month old would do well listening to music, playing with toys and going for walks. Be careful to not over- schedule your kid. They are always learning and need to take the time to learn. Good luck!

Stay at home mom moving to Walnut Creek

April 2004

My husband, 14 month old son and I are planning to move to Walnut Creek this summer. We currently rent an apartment in Rockridge and enjoy it, however my husband works in Walnut Creek and it would be more convenient and probably more affordable for us. (We now pay $1675 for a 2 bdrm apt in Rockridge.)

We are not very familiar with the area, just downtown WC, and would appreciate any advice about what neighborhood to live in or what school districts are preferable. We anticipate renting for 2-3 more years and eventually buying in WC or perhaps elsewhere. As a stay at home mom, I would greatly prefer being in an area where I can walk to shopping and other amenities as opposed to having to drive everywhere.... What about downtown and the surrounding neighborhood? We noticed quite a few apartments in the area. Or is it better to live in other parts of the city?

Thanks in advance for your advice, it is greatly appreciated! Susan H.

Just a word of caution when it comes closer to your kids entering school: be sure the place you buy/rent is in the Walnut Creek School District. Not all of Walnut Creek is and the realtors may not be completely honest with you. Call the school district office and give them the address and ask if it's within the WCSD boundaries. Mt. Diablo Unified has some great schools, but they're having more budget problems right now then WCSD. Also it's a very large district and WCSD is very small--if you get involved you will know superintendent and school board members. Also, while I don't have a specific location to recommend, I do encourage you to find something within walking distance of downtown--I miss that a lot. deborah

Unfortunately, I don't think you will find much cheaper rents in Walnut Creek. My recommendation about finding the right neihborhood is that you probably want to rent in the area that you think you will want to buy in later. You child will be connected at school and it is nice to avoid changing schools if possible. With this in mind, you might check into housing prices in different neigborhoods. For example, I love our neigborhood in Walnut Creek, the Saranap, which is zoned in Lafayette schools. Yet, the housing prices around here have gone wild. We never could have moved into this area if we had not moved here a long time ago. Other areas of Walnut Creek are not so pricey. Just a thought.

Opening disclaimer: I've never lived in Walnut Creek. However I've had friends living in various neighborhoods there for the past 15 years, and I've spent a ton of time out there.

There really is no bad part of Walnut Creek (except maybe a few blocks adjacent to the freeway on the other side from the Walnut Creek BART station). In the downtown area in the vicinity around (behind) the Safeway are a whole bunch of apartment complexes.

In terms of walking to shopping, outside of downtown, there are a few centers (i.e. Safeway, etc) out Ygnacio Valley past Heather Farms Park. Walnut Creek schools are good. But beware: apparently not everyone in Walnut Creek is in the Walnut Creek school district, and vice-versa. A friend's sister actually lives in Concord and the kids go to Walnut Creek schools.

Maybe also consider Lafayette. Rentals are harder to find, but good schools and possibly walkable to the downtown shopping. And still great access to Walnut Creek. anon

Echoing the Lafayette recommendation, it has much of the nice feel of Walnut Creek, is in close proximitiy to WC, and has a large area of rentals near the downtown. I imagine, though am basing this on no real fact, that given the large number of for rent signs I have seen, that it may be reasonable to find a place in Lafayette in the Brook St. Area. walking mamma

More reviews of Walnut Creek life

November 2006

Re: Family-friendly and more liberal Lamorinda 'hoods
If you're willing to look just a little farther out the Parkmead area of Walnut Creek (where I live) is great, and commuting to SF is actually easier here than Burton Valley or some of the other outlying Lamorinda neighborhoods where you have to drive down to BART. It's just a quick jump on the freeway here via the Pleasant Hill Rd. exit and BART is very close by. When we were both working in San Francisco we would go to the Lafayette BART station -- maybe 5 minutes away -- and now my husband walks to the Walnut Creek BART station everyday from our house, and we can walk to school, the local swim club, and downtown Walnut Creek with ease (and there's a Trader Joe's opening up at the corner of Newell and California -- super easy walking distance) with the kids. My kids and I started walking downtown when they were probably 4. Parkmead Elementary is is great and there is a decent amount of diversity here (still suburb-level, but decent) and it's a little more laid-back and low-key that some of the more 'driven' aspects of the Lamorida culture.

A year ago we moved from Kensington (where we had lived for years) to the Saranap area of Walnut Creek (between Pleasant Hill Road, Olympic, 24 and 680), and have had no regrets. We basically 'traded' our small Kensington home on a postage-size lot, for a 2600 square foot house on a 1/3 acre. Saranap is very family-friendly. Kids ride around on bikes, tons of walkers, lots of families, older homes on big lots (not a sterile housing development), safe (not a short-cut to anyplace), and helpful/friendly neighbors. Just about every other house on our street has kids.

Also, this particular area of Saranap uses Lafayette schools (Burton Valley for elementary). Basically, it is a better deal than buying a Lafayette home, if that is the school district that you want. On the other hand, we moved here to go to a private school (The Meher School/White Pony). Which is a wonderful private school/preschool run by Sufis. The school attracts a diverse population (although nothing like S.F. or Berkeley), and many of the staff/teachers live in the neighborhood, which helps give a more 'Berkeley' feel to things. One more advantage to this area is that it is 'secluded' but five minutes from downtown WC, five minutes to both freeways, close to two BART stations, and close to downtown Lafayette. A disadvantage is that the public school is a good 15 to 20 minutes away. Although they do provide bus service your kids won't be walking to school (at least for elementary). Also, driving through the tunnel (which I do a couple of days a week)can be a slow - friends that take BART to S.F. say that the commute is fine.

2003 & Earlier

Feb 2003

Re: Should I move to the suburbs for the schools?
While I can't speak yet as to the quality of the public schools, I just wanted to put in a good word for Walnut Creek as a family-oriented community. We moved here from SF 7 years ago and I was not sure we were making the right decision, but we really grew to like Walnut Creek so much. It's so nice having Mt. Diablo right here. There are kids everywhere, lots of great parks here and near to here. From what I understand the public schools are better in Lafayette, but it's much more expensive to live in Lafayette (not that it's inexpensive in Walnut Creek, as I can attest now that we are looking to buy a bigger house!). We like downtown Walnut Creek - can't beat the shopping! And there are plenty of good, non-chain restaurants here as well. Our daughter will be attending a private elementary school in Lafayette, but will switch to public school when she hits middle school. We expect to remain in Walnut Creek (or Lamorinda) through her high school years. LB