Living in Poets' Corner

Parent Q&A

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  • Dear community,

    I am looking for a place to stay for my family next year since I will be one year in Berkeley for a sabbatical (yeah!). I have a son that will be 6, a daughter that will be 16 and a niece that will be 17 and a husband too! That means that I need a 3 bedrooms furnished home or apartment which is hard to find since I don't want to live in the hills (I want the girls to be able to go around by bike) and I don't have 5-6000 dollars to put in the rent... I have found an affordable 3 bedroom house in 1114 Chaucer Street, in poet's corner but since I don't know Berkeley at all I wonder: is the neighborhood sure? Even at night? By sure I mean: could my two teenagers girls go out for a movie and come back without being in danger? 

    Every other informations on the neighborhood is also welcome, especially about the primary school there that would be Rosa Park (I have looked on BPN but the opinions about Rosa Park Elementary are quite old) but also about how it is to leave there (parks, supermarkets etc.) 

    Thanks so much in advance. 


    I live in Poet's Corner and feel pretty safe at night. There are plenty of families with children that live in the neighborhood.

    I live nearby (Bancroft between Sacramento and San Pablo) and think the neighborhood is medium safe as far as Berkeley goes. I have lived here for 10+ years since I was 22 and not personally had any incidents walking between downtown Berkeley and my home, sometimes at night  There's practically nowhere you can be in Berkeley where you don't run a risk a non-negligible risk of getting mugged at night if you're out on foot, but bike is probably marginally safer. I have had friends who have been held up between Shattuck and Sacramento (without injuries), one as a pair of two women, one woman walking a dog. You'll probably just have to assess what you think the area is like for yourself, but I don't think you will get much safer for Berkeley unless you go up in the hills or perhaps the Elmwood or North Berkeley areas. FYI - at that address you will be within a block of a cannabis dispensary called Berkeley Patients Group, fwiw.

    Hi, isn’t 1114 Chaucer for sale?  It was, very recently, but we never saw a “ Sold” sign (we live very close by). Poet’s Corner is a great place to live. When our daughter was a teen, she walked (most of the time!) to Berkeley High. I don’t know that I’d recommend walking to downtown at night, but the bus is nearby, and of course everyone uses Uber. Many nearby restaurants, etc. - not super close to a grocery store, but with shopping for a family you’d likely be driving to grocery shop anyway. All of the elementary schools within are Zone are fine; you won’t necessarily be placed at Rosa Parks (it depends on a lottery). Best of luck with your move and transition. 

    I have lived nearby, in the 1400 block of Allston Way, for six years, and love this area. There is a lot of great stuff on San Pablo Ave (restaurants, groceries), and you are still walking distance (a long walk, or a short bike ride) from downtown Berkeley. Whether or not the neighborhood feels dangerous, for example, walking around at night: it doesn't to me, but it may depend on where you are coming from and what your perception of danger is. My own children are still in middle school, so I try to avoid letting them walk around alone after dark, but I think that is not because of the neighborhood, just their age. We had a 16-year-old exchange student living with us for a year, and she felt very comfortable. Again, I didn't like her to walk home from downtown after dark, but with a friend, no problem. Welcome to Berkeley!

    Hi, Martina. My family, with 17 year old daughter, lives back-to-back with that block of Chaucer - meaning, our back yard meets the backyards of the houses on that block; we've lived here for 26 years. We love our neighborhood. There are lots of great teens living on that block and on our block, too, and wonderful neighbors. Our daughter bikes to school every day, and home after dark - no problem. She's just biked to yoga class a few blocks away tonight, and I'm not super concerned. We have great neighbors, and we're close to Rosa Parks (a truly great school) and Berkeley High (a very good school.) Close to excellent grocery stores, (Berkeley Bowl, Mi Tierra) great restaurants, a good library. Close to BART trains and public transportation. Finding a parking space for a car is easy. I recommend the neighborhood to you. That said: we are right next to a busy traffic corridor, (San Pablo Avenue) and there are people with mental illness, and people who are looking to commit crimes who come through here. When you are in the house: door locked always - front and back. Lock the house and close and lock all the windows when you leave for the day. Don't leave your bicycles unattended or unlocked - ever. Lock them really well in a garage or in the house - people will break into garages and sheds to steal them. Never leave anything in the car which looks like it could be valuable - purse, suitcase, backpack. Leave the porch light on all night. Children never to go walking at night unattended. Stick to well-lit, well-traveled streets at night. Travel in groups. Pay attention to your surroundings at all times, especially after dark. Be aware, but don't live in fear. Come stay here for the year, and I think you will be happy!

    I would not feel comfortable walking alone at night there. San Pablo can be sketchy. To be honest, there are not many places in Berkeley that are 100% safe at night (possible around N. Berkeley/Solano ave, or in outside Berkeley in Albany, but even there I'd avoid walking alone). 

    Regarding the school, you should know that Berkeley has a lottery system, so just because you live near a school doesn't mean you go there. The upside is that all the schools are pretty good, and you don't have to worry about schools when you're choosing where to live!

    I hope you have a great sabbatical year  - I love living here, even if I don't walk alone at night!

Parent Reviews

My wife and I moved from NYC (UWS) a year ago last June due to a similar work situation/opportunity. We are in Poet's Corner in Berkeley and it is filled with families and young ones. Strawberry Creek Park and Hidden Cafe are neighborhood favs. North Westbrae is also a great area as well as neighboring Albany.

There have been a lot of SF transplants into the East Bay and Alameda County due to the pandemic (three moved onto our street alone in the last nine months). Although we rent, we did attempt to dip our toe into buying but homes are being overbid $400k-$500k with all cash buyers from Silicon Valley. SF is the only place where sales and rentals have dramatically dropped (similar to Manhattan) and you can find good deals. But depending on where the work is located, do keep in mind traffic as it tends to be frustratingly bad. Public transportation is doable, but again due to the pandemic has gotten even worse than usual. If you do move to Berkeley or anywhere in the East Bay, a car is needed.

Rents in Berkeley did drop since last March, but now that UC Berkeley is going back into session come fall, rents are going back up. Also due to the school cycle, much doesn't come to market until May/June/July. We tried looking for rentals in March/April and found next to nothing. Luckily we were able to stay a bit longer in company housing until we landed on something.