bay area places to live

Hey guys,

I am moving out to the bay area in the next month or so and I was wondering what sort of suggestions you have regarding cool places to live?

I’m in a relationship and we both have jobs there waiting for us (we’re moving from upstate new york).

I’m aware of how expensive the city is, and am curious about finding out if there are areas around San Fran (within 20-30 minute) that are cool too? We were going to check out San Mateo and some others but are a little lost.

It’s not for everyone, but I really enjoyed living in Oakland.

There are some really bad parts that should be avoided, but there are also plenty of cute and friendly neighborhoods. It can have a really retro, friendly, funky, neighborly feel. I loved the diversity- you can find ethnic food from literally anywhere, from Nigeria to Cambodia. I enjoyed that it was equally simple to get to SF or Berkeley. And I loved looking out on a sunshine-y day and laughing at the people in SF stuck in the clouds.

Finding a place to live- any place to live- can be tough. You better get moving!

If I had to move back to the Bay Area today (I grew up in the city and the North Bay), I’d look at Oakland first. Cheaper than SF, lots of stuff to do, good access to public transit.

Think about being near the Bart or light rail. It will save you lots of aggravation if you want to come into the city frequently.

As for 20 - 30 minutes - that will constrain you to living at the tool booth of the Bay Bridge. Traffic into the city is nasty.

I think Sausalito, right across the Bay from the city, is cool, but I’m betting it is pretty expensive. Los Altos, down 280 on the Peninsula, has a nice downtown, but it more than 20 minutes away. I live in Fremont which is reasonably priced, quiet, and anything but cool (and also more than 30 minutes away.) I’m not sure how cool San Matteo is, but it is also more than 30 minutes away. Distance that would be close where you live now can be far away in time around here. I live twenty minutes from work at 2 am and an hour away at 8 am, if you get the picture - and there are more crowded freeways than the ones I use.

Exactly where in the City will you be working?

ETA: I don’t know much about Oakland neighborhoods, except up in the hills, but I agree it is worth looking at.

I second (third?) the recommendation for Oakland. It’s a great place, with some lovely neighborhoods, and i would take it over San Mateo’s suburban drabness in a heartbeat.

Voyager is right about being near a BART stop. Get around the bay area is a much simpler proposition if you have easy access to BART.

Someone told me that Daly City is pretty nice.

I went to SFSU, so I lived in all the little places around SF. My favorite was Pacifica. Right outside SF, it’s very small, but I was able to walk to the ocean and managed to go an entire summer without ever having to wear shorts (i’m not a summer girl. It gets insanely foggy in the summer too, especially around July.

I HATED living in Daly City. I just didn’t like the vibe there. Can’t really give more info than that.

I also lived in Redwood City, which is about 30 minutes south of SF. Has a bigger city feel, but is a little cheaper than SF (not that much though.) I didn’t much enjoy it.

If you’re looking for a lower cost of living and don’t mind a little commute, I suggest looking north of SF, rather than south. South doesn’t really get that much cheaper, if you ask me.

Petaluma is about 30 to 40 minutes north of SF. Cost of living is probably HALF of SF and it’s a lovely place.

Santa Rosa is great. Might be too much of a commute for you, though. It’s about 45 minutes north without traffic. Cost of living is pretty cheap compared to the lower bay area, though.

Marin is lovely (just North of the GG bridge.) Pretty pricey, however.

Where exactly are you guys going to be working?

How lovely. My family is in the Bay Area and I currently go to school in Upstate New York. I am reasonably happy with the trade-off.

+1 for Oakland as well! My family lived up in the hills, which is pricier so I missed out on Oakland’s “tangier” side. TOakland and Berkeley bleed into each other along certain streets, but the housing tax is lower in Oakland. Also, the weather is lovely. I don’t know how much of a priority that is to you, but my parents recently moved to Palo Alto and after two years in Oakland my mom is less than pleased. (Think cat dumped in the the middle of a mile-wide, heated litterbox.)

We’ve also lived East of the Caldecott tunnel, in the La Morinda area. Hot and dreadfully boring, with smarmy neighbors to boot. Wouldn’t recommend it.

I grew up in Petaluma. That time estimate is VERY kind. I’ve done it in 30 minutes at like, 2 am. Add in any amount of traffic and it’s closer to an hour, especially if you have to look for parking in the city.

Pubtrans in the North Bay is a joke, too.

Is your job in San Francisco proper? Living somewhere near a BART line makes a ton of sense, especially if your place of employment is walkable from BART. This, as others have said, makes Oakland an interesting choice. Keep in mind that there are very sketchy neighborhoods in Oakland, so choose carefully. Personally, I have family on the peninsula, so I don’t think it’s so bad. You can take CalTrain into the city. But, it is Silicon Valley, so it’s still really expensive, just cheaper than SF proper. BART does run down to Millbrae, so keep that in mind.

I’ve never lived there, but the commute from Marin is a motherfucker, and I would not consider it, unless, I lived near a ferry station, and my job was walkable from the Ferry Building. This is because the ferry is awesome, and you can have a beer on the way home.

If you are young, San Francisco is one of the most fantastic cities on the planet, so if you can afford it, suck it down and live in the city. Parking is a real bitch though.

Baby Driver’s post reminded me of something you need to know about the Bay Area - microclimates. In the East Coast the average temperature of places 10 miles away from each other is pretty much the same. Not so here. Pleasanton, about 15 miles from me is a lot hotter because you go over the Sunol Grade to get there. One summer day it was 100 in Fremont and 70 in San Francisco.

I like Petaluma also, but it would be a hell of a commute.

Look for a place near multiple mass transit options. Luckily this is not hard to find. In the East Bay this means BART (the subway system), AC Transit (buses) and the freeways - check for locations of the casual carpool (if you aren’t familiar with that you can read about it online, it’s a very common method of getting to/from SF during commute times). I live in a spot that is right by all of these so I’ve got lots of flexibility (when the Bridge was closed BART was convenient, if there’s a BART strike I’m covered, etc).

The East Bay includes places like Alameda, Emeryville, Oakland, Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito and Richmond. There are also places farther north, south and east in the East Bay but commutes may get longer and more difficult, or you just have fewer options (not that tons of people don’t do it). All of those cities have great places to live and tons to do. As with any cities they also have areas that you might not want to live in so you’ll definitely need to check around.

Some of the places suggested upthread are very nice but they can also be extremely expensive.

If you think you’ve narrowed your list down a bit or you have some specific locations in mind I’m sure you can post them here or PM some of us and you’ll get more precise feedback.

Someone lied to you.

Oakland, Berkeley, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill. Woodside and Belmont are nice. But I280 is a bitch during rush hour so carpool so you can use the express lane or live near a Cal Train station.

Hey guys, I really appreciate all of these responses-I would have never thought Oakland-I’ve always been afraid of it due to people telling me to be so.

One of us will be in Foster City and I’ll be in SOMA San Fran. Keep the replies coming if you don’t mind-I am learning so much :slight_smile:

Pacifica is a good call. Marin is nice too. I liked Mill Valley.

Oakland is a big place and it has plenty of wonderful areas.

SOMA puts you in downtown SF which is a pretty densely packed area convenient to just about every form of public transit. Multiple BART stations, freeway (carpool pickup and dropoff points), Caltrain (from the South Bay), ferry (from Larkspur, Alameda and Oakland), etc. No problem getting there.

I also recommend Pacifica. There is a great vibe there and I love the ocean air. I live in San Mateo, but my siblings live in Pacificia, and they love it. Foster City is right next to San Mateo, while it isn’t very exiciting, it is alright. Pacificia would be an easier commute to the City, but would be a longer commute for the job in Foster City.

Former Oakland resident checking in to add my +1. Oh and like I mentioned to someone else, if you’re into condo living and shopping you might try Emeryville as well, it’s nearly at the foot of the Bay Bridge. I think the last time this came up I mentioned that there in an Extended Stay over near the Ikea off 80, that I’ve always thought would make a good “base” for this type of search.

Foster City is right on the 92. You could live in the east bay and your mate could commute across the San Mateo Bridge to Foster City. You could take BART into the city.

Or, Foster City means that you might want to live either close to Foster City or in the City or somewhere in between or further south on the peninsula. Because you can take CalTrain into the city. In any case, seriously consider taking public transportation because commuting is a bitch and there are already too many cars on the road. Sorry about the lecture. Any public transportation option is best if you do not need to TRANSFER!

Oakland is a full-on city in it’s own right, and has every conceivable kind of neighborhood. Personally, I lived in Grand Lakes and loved it. It’s probably my favorite place that I’ve lived.