Necessary to visit sometimes if living nearby
Here is my take on the order of suburbs. I’ve lived in the Bay Area from 1997-2017 and had kids in 2013. Concord comes at the end.
SF is the most extreme (exciting culturally, artistically, and socially. Jobs abound. Temperate with outrageously different weather pockets, some parts unsafe and dirty, some parts okay for families, ALL very expensive. And parking is an issue for every outing). Seems to me most easily accessible for ppl without children. The proximity to SF will dictate home prices.
I’m assuming the reader will be working in SF and will talk about the eastern suburbs. There is also a northern option (Marin area) that offers a ferry for commuting. And a southern option (Daly City, Pacifica and Belmont). Foggier weather and more driving rather than public transportation.
For the Eastern suburbs, first comes Oakland. Great restaurants. Beginning to be more gentrified. Adorable pockets (that are almost as expensive as SF). Unsafe areas too. Overall, best for young couples.
Berkeley. Fantastic! All the best parts of Oakland plus a college. Art studios. Co-op groceries. Fantastic restaurants. Pricey. Lots of traffic. Best for young families. Many homes have permitted and unpermitted in law units for college kids or au pairs. Also very expensive.
Emeryville. A big box store (mostly) apartment community near Berkeley where a bunch of freeways coalesce. So much traffic from every direction.
Lafayette. Slower pace. Cute but small downtown. Great schools. Pretty freeway. Green rolling hills. Homes are small and expensive. If priced out of SF, families would prob try to buy a home in the nice parts of Oakland first, then Berkeley, then Lafayette, then Walnut Creek.
Sf and Berkeley have school lotteries. Lafayette and Walnut Creek do not.
Walnut Creek is hotter than Lafayette and will tack on 10-15 minutes to an SF commute (SF to WC takes 40 min on BART). Have to pay to park everywhere, even the library. The downtown is pretty and has many stores and restaurants.
Beyond this is Concord. It has the Home Depot, the older, indoor style mall. The driving lights aren’t timed well and it will take inordinate amounts of time to go small distances. Temps are even hotter. Schools aren’t as good. Many families are priced out of other areas and will buy here. If I were in that category, I would keep renting in a nicer area and do my best to save rather than move here.
Rachel | Walnut Creek, CA