Where to Live for a Job in Oakland

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi there,

    I'll be moving to the Bay Area from NYC at the end of the year. I am hoping there is someone else out there who had to make the same move. I have an almost 4 year old who will need a preschool because he is currently in a 6.5 hour a day pre-k program and is learning a lot. I don't want too much disruption for him. The other decision is where to live. My husband's job will be in Oakland so we would like to be within a 30 min commute from there. I'm used to living in an area with a lot of people and walking/taking public transport everywhere. I don't want to live in a very suburban area and feel totally isolated because I don't know anyone in the Bay Area. Am hoping for some advice about starting at a preschool mid-year, if that's even possible, and finding the best place to live that is not too suburban but still feels very safe to walk around.

    Thanks in advance!

    I am corresponding with another BPN person doing the same move as you right now, and this is the move my family and I did five years ago (from Brooklyn, but I had lived in Manhattan for many years before that). Oakland is quite big, and there are several walkable neighborhoods throughout Oakland and Berkeley. I can't really speak for other areas in the East Bay as far as walkability goes. I moved here with two children, and while part of our reason for moving was to achieve a simpler and easier life (and having a car was a big part of that), I do miss walking to everything. Much of Oakland and Berkeley feel like the small cities they are; other areas such as the hills in both towns are strictly residential and isolated from commerce and services (and offer lush nature in many areas). Unfortunately for most of us, so many choices about school and whether we walk or drive are based on the lack of affordable housing in the area. Our craigslist rental on the Oakland/Emeryville border dictated so much about how we live; we have a yard and nice neighbors, but we drive to most things that we do. Good luck finding a nice place to live and the other things will unfold when you know where you will live. Walkable neighborhoods that come to mind are Elmwood in Berkeley, and the Laurel District and Dimond District in Oakland, but of course, housing near those areas can be pricey. 

    It would definitely help to know your budget as neighborhoods in Oakland/East Bay vary widely based on what you are willing to pay.

    Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland!  Right by a BART station, great public schools, grocery stores, markets, shops etc. all within walking distance.  Rockridge is mostly single family homes, but a few apartments are in the mix.  I feel safe walking around; lots of families with young children in this neighborhood.  We even have our own newsletter that comes monthly.  It's a wonderful place to live and raise a family. 

    Hi There! We moved from Brooklyn to Oakland 2 years ago, and love it here. We are living in Montclair hills, which I don’t recommend as being walkable, but we are a 15 minutes drive from uptown Oakland, 5 minutes from restaurants, and 5 minutes from amazing Redwood Regional Park and tons of hikes and playgrounds. If you want more walkable, you could look in Rockridge, Temescal, Lake Merritt area, or Alameda. None of it is affordable but you’re probably used to that coming from NYC. ;-) You can look through the bridge at Orinda, Moraga, Lafayette or Walnut Creek but you’ll want to be close to BART for commuting to Oakland.

    Our 3 year old daughter is at Monte Tavor Spanish Immersion. There are a lot of daycares in the area and I’m sure some would take kids mid year. 

    Feel free to reach out if I can help more, happy to welcome another New Yorker to Oakland!


    Most of Oakland is safe in the daytime. Maybe the Laurel. If you have more money Temescal/Rockridge. Further afield and less expensive and less walkable El Cerrito/Richmond Annex. Also look at West Berkeley/Albany. A lot of this depends on how much you have for rent. There are many walkable neighborhoods, if you avoid the hills, but they tend to be pricey.

    Thank you to everyone who responded.  We are still trying to figure it all out but appreciate all the information. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


    Moving to the Bay Area from Chicago for a job in Oakland

    Nov 2014

    Hello, My husband and I are moving to the Bay area with our three girls, 5, 3 and 1. He will be working in downtown Oakland and I will be in SF most likely.

    We are moving from the city -Chicago. Where is a good place to live, with good schools and easy commutes for both of us. We are spoiled now and both of our commutes are less than 20 minutes. We love living int he city and being able to walk and go to parks etc. Our max rental is 6k a month. People have recommended Layfayette and Orinda but I am afraid that will be a long commute and very suburban.

    However the SF school system is so complicated I am not sure about navigating that.

    Thanks for your help! Elizabeth

    From your posting, I think Piedmont sounds like an excellent fit for your needs. Much easier commute to downtown Oakland and SF than the towns you mentioned and outstanding schools all the way from K to 12. Feels much less suburban than the communities in Contra Costa (I grew up in one of the towns you mentioned, so I know both areas really well). Piedmont is really close to all the shops, restaurants and cultural events that Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco have to offer. There are not a lot of rental houses in town, but there are some. You might try calling the Grubb Company, Pacific Union and Highland Partners - those are the 3 dominant real estate companies in Piedmont and they do handle some rental properties. Good luck with your move and welcome to the Bay Area! longtime Piedmont mom

    Welcome to the Bay Area! I think you would like Piedmont from what you are saying. Its a safe small city in the Oakland hills with an excellent school district and a few preschools, your commute time would be shorter than from Lafayette or Orinda, and its not as suburban as you fear Lafayette or Orinda to be.

    Adam Betta would be great at helping you. He is a realtor in Piedmont, and raised their kids there. He and his wife Debbi (they work as a team), are relocation experts. Adam helped us buy our house in Rockridge, and the experience was fantastic. Adam's cell phone is 510-414-1250.

    Best of luck! Julia

    Hi there, I would recommend Rockridge, especially if you can afford up to 6K/month rental which would hopefully be able to get you a decent 2-3 bedroom bungalow (I think, though the rental market is insanely competitive right now). Rockridge is a very walkable neighborhood with several great preschools/daycares/nanny shares around and the public elementary schools are very good for K-5 (Peralta or Chabot). The area would be close to downtown Oakland for your spouse by bus or a short drive and the Rockridge Bart or casual carpool are right there for your commute into SF. Lots of restaurants, cafes, nail shops, dry cleaning, parks, etc within a walk or very short drive. Many folks either moving from San Francisco or quite a few from Chicago, NYC, etc. I think you will love your first winter out here! cs

    Check out Alameda. It's a tube or a bridge away from Oakland and has ferry service to San Francisco. If the ferry wouldn't work for location of the SF job, there are busses, casual carpool, and a couple shuttles to BART if you didn't drive yourself. Park St and Webster St are the two main economic areas with lots of restaurants and shops as well as a movie theatre off Park St. It's a great place to walk or bike around. love it here

    Moving to rural horse-friendly area for job in Oakland?

    Aug 2013

    Hello. My husband just interviewed for a position in Oakland last week and the position begins in Sept. We currently live in a rural town in Ohio but are from Oregon originally. We have a small 15 acre farm here. I ride horses and reining is my discipline. I also teach riding lessons. Are there any towns that have a rural/in the country feel where you can rent a small farm or some acreage but are close to great schools? We have 15 year old and 8 year old daughters who are both involved in horses, drama, dance and music. Thank you.

    Martinez is not that far from Oakland and has a rural area that there are horse stables and such. You can try there. Good Luck Bobbie Jo

    I think your location is going to be heavily influenced by your budget and commute length tolerance and how much land you really want.

    If one hour is acceptable and money is no object, and you don't need a ton of land, Marin and surrounding areas definitely have barns and good schools.

    Next tier down, and only 20-30 minutes commuting to Oakland (and can be done by BART) is Orinda, but it will be expensive still in comparison with Ohio and still isn't all thaat rural.

    Then Lafayette, Martinez, and Pinole, but I don't know about the schools there, you'll want to check city by city.

    Same with San Ramon, Danville, and Dublin. There's both Lawrence Livermore and Sandia national labs near Dublin, so there might be a more intellectual base there to influence schools, and plenty of surrounding rural area there too.

    The Bay Area has a lot of Western and English horse people, and the East Bay has horse-appropriate trails, but the cost of living is going to be an adjustment.

    Good luck. horse person

    You might be surprised to find that there are stables in the Oakland hills. On the other side of the hill, in Moraga, there are riding arenas and stables. Schools are excellent in Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga area. Also look at the Briones Park stables. These might work for you, if you want to be closer to Oakland and can't find the acreage you want. Out further in Walnut Creek, closer to Clayton, there are houses on more acreage. Same with El Sobrante, but I'm not sure how good the schools are there.

    Glad to hear that more horse people are moving to our area!

    The good news is that Oakland has a rich history of equestrian life, and there are many fine horse properties here.

    The bad news is that the public schools suck beyond K-5 grades. Sorry to say! Up to grade 5 you will do very well with Thornhill, Montclair, Redwood Heights, Joaquin Miller Schools. Check the online Academic Performance Index.

    Those of us who love Oakland and continue to live here often end up sending our kids to private school for middle and high school. If you do the math, it is cheaper to live in upscale Piedmont, pay a lot for your house, send your kids to the public school,and board your horse at Skyline Ranch, Anthony Chabot Equestrian Center, Redwood Ranch, or Piedmont Stables.

    In Oakland, there are horse properties along SKyline Boulevard, Joaquin Miller Road, andin the Chabot Park Highlands neighborhoods where you can keep your horses at home on an acre or so. A few folks will share backyard boarding. There are lots of excellent horse vets and a feed and tack store.

    And some of the other towns around here - Martinez, El Sobrante - have affordable horse properties and boarding stables, but the schools are in the West Contra Costa school district, which also leaves much to be desired.

    Some of the farther suburbs (Walnut Creek - Heather Creek Farm, North Gate area of Mt. Diablo State Park) have good schools and horse neighborhoods, but you might get sticker shock at the housing prices. Same goes for Briones and Alhambra Valley.

    If you can afford Marin County, there are many horse properties, the public schools are excellent, and the commute from Oakland to Novato (say) is about one hour, reverse of most of the traffic.

    One affordable option might be the Hayward Hills (few horse properties, no major public boarding barns) or Castro Valley (many equestrian centers, some good schools, half an hour from Oakland). Amelia

    We have friends with a terrific large stable in Brentwood. They board about 60 horses. Places are still pretty inexpensive out there. I also have co-workers who commute to Richmond every day from Antioch and Brentwood so it is do-able if you can get up early enough to beat the traffic. There are also smaller places where you can keep horses in Orinda (check with their riding shop there), Lafayette, Walnut Creek out near Castle Rock Arabians against Mt. Diablo, and next to Briones park in Martinez or Pleasant Hill. You could ask the owners at Bottomley Farm, a local riding school in that area. Best wishes for your search.