Living in Upper Rockridge
Have you considered Upper Rockridge in Oakland? It's a neighborhood just west of 13 (basically mirror location to Glen Highlands east of 13). We just moved here after looking in almost those same neighborhoods. When I mapped it, my son is in walking distance to the elementary, middle and high schools he is zoned to (https://oaklandfinder.schoolmint.net/school-finder/home, not a guarantee you'll get spots there, but that's another story), which I think is pretty unique for Oakland. Everyone we have met in the neighborhood talks up the local elementary, Hillcrest, which is walking distance from most homes in the area. We were hoping for Berkeley (school assignment is more equitable and school quality is more even), but lost out to all-cash bids for every home we offered on.
Our house is quite a bit smaller than the same budget would have afforded us in Montclair or Kensington, but we have a view of trees and the bay AND are still walkable to College Avenue (and the Rockridge bart station) in about 20 minutes. There is also a small market and coffee shop off Broadway Terrace, so that I can trick myself I still live an urban lifestyle when I want to ;-)
If you are just considering schools, Orinda schools are more highly "rated" than Berkeley, Oakland, or Kensington. We visited a house in Orinda but it was too rural feeling for us. Best of luck in your search!
We live in Upper Rockridge (Oakland, zoned for Hillcrest which is a K-8) and love it. Much of the neighborhood burned during the '91 fire so won't feel as "woodsy," but there are exceptions, and many of the homes have views of the Montclair hills or the bay. Both my husband and I commute into SF for work (or at least we did, pre-pandemic) -- if you can swing a car with an HOV sticker, it's so worth it. With the sticker, my door-to-door driving commute to my office in Soma was about 30 minutes in the morning and 40 minutes in the evening.
Archived Q&A and Reviews
- Plenty of parks with playgrounds. Near us are Temescal, Dracena, Montclair, and Frog Park but there are lots more throughout Oakland and Berkeley.
- Lawrence Hall of Science
- Oakland Zoo
- Tilden Park, especially Little Farm and the Steam Trains
- Farmer's markets
- Storytime at the Rockridge and Montclair libraries
- Lots of classes: music, kindergym, yoga, swimming, toddler playtime
Re: East Bay neighborhood that's commutable, progressive & kid-friendly
If you are looking for a great East Bay neighborhood, I would pick our neighborhood -- Upper Rockridge between Broadway Terrace and Moraga Avenue. This is a very diverse neighborhood and is close to everything (nature and modern conveniences). It also has a terrific K-8 public elementary school, Hillcrest. (You may need to send your kids to private high school though.) We really love it here -- there are tons of kids on our street that are the same age as yours (my twins and baby are separated by the same time as yours are but are about a year older). As far as commuting to the city, my husband takes the bus from about a block away. It is an express bus and he is at his desk 35 minutes after walking out the door. Of course, BART is always an option but the bus is generally faster for him given the location of his office. The commute is a huge benefit to being here. Also, the weather is not nearly as hot as the cities further east. Shannon