6.9 out of 10

Brentwood

37.9295352474062 -121.719959349181
Great for
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Internet Access
  • Safe & Sound
  • Schools
  • Childcare
Not great for
  • Public Transport
  • Nightlife
  • Eating Out
  •  
  •  
Who lives here?
  • Families with kids
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers

Reviews

4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
2yrs+

"Growing Fast But Still Isolated"

Brentwood, CA--not to be confused with the posh SoCal neighborhood famous for being home to the stars (and notorious for being OJ Simpson’s home)--is one of the farthest eastern regions of Contra Costa County, one of the final stops for those who truly want to get away from the rest of the county or who work in Stockton but want to live close to the Bay Area..

A generation ago Brentwood was still pretty much a podunk farming community that no one had ever heard of beyond the surrounding communities. As Pittsburg and Antioch have grown, however, Brentwood has become the alternative to those communities. In fact, Brentwood has grown even faster than its neighbors in the last decade--more than doubling in size since 2000. In the process, Brentwood has become less white (used to be ¾ white, now it is about ⅔) and has become far more suburban.

One of the great benefits of Brentwood is its lower cost of living and positioning in between Livermore and East Contra Costa. Most residents, however, move here to get away from what they see as the increasing urbanization of the rest of Contra Costa County. There is definitely an element of White Flight involved here (even though, as the census reports Brentwood is slowly becoming less white--as all of California is).

Part of what is driving this explosive growth is the commercialization of Brentwood and Antioch. They both now have all the same stores that you would expect to find in any suburban area. In the last 20 years they have seen the arrival of everything from JCPenny’s to Victoria’s Secret. Now you can basically find all the same amenities that you can anywhere else in Contra Costa County.

The other big draw here are the schools, which are mostly above average, with a few exceptions on the northern end of Brentwood. Both Heritage High and Liberty High are well above average in terms of academics.

There is still a bit of a farming town feel in Brentwood--they have a corn festival and you see a ton of pick-up trucks and that sort of thing. (Brentwood is known for its cherries and corn.) But many of the newer residents know as much about farming as they do about Mongolia. The closest they come to it is the farmer’s market.

The biggest problem with Brentwood from a growth perspective is that it is simply a terror for commuters heading west. Highway 4 that leads out to the rest of Contra Costa County is already a nightmare commute from Antioch. From Brentwood it is even worse. It is slightly better if you are headed into Pleasanton--but overall, the remoteness makes this a horror show for commuters. There are plans to extend rail service and widen Highway 4 in the next two years. This is sure to cause its own nightmares in the meantime. It also means that the explosive growth is likely to continue into the next decade. (Brentwood also seems to a favorite spot for those commuting to Stockton or for those who work in the Stockton area but want to be close enough to drop into SF or San Jose relatively easily on weekends. This is a much more doable commute, from what I hear.)

The median home price here is $325K--much lower than you can find virtually anywhere else in the Bay Area. I suspect that this price will only rise in coming years as transportation issues improve and as Brentwood continues to grow. (You see this same trend in the median income: in 2000 it was around $50K now it is around $85K.) We have not yet seen any million dollar homes here--the ceiling seems to be $600K at this point--but it is probably only a matter of time.

The prices here are partly depressed by the Foreclosure Crisis. Fully 85% of homes currently for sale here are on the market due to foreclosure. When you take out the homes that are in foreclosure, the median asking price for the ones left over is about $375K, which suggests it is actually much higher when not flooded by foreclosures.

Another consideration for Brentwood, is the question of its being on a floodplain. I wonder if the issues that we will have with Global Warming may not make living here a bit of a problem.

Overall though, I think once they get the transportation issues fixed and if Pleasanton continues to become an extension of Silicon Valley, Brentwood will only become more and more desirable. For those interested, now may be the perfect time to get in.
Pros
  • Good Schools
  • Very Affordable
  • Nice Newer Homes
Cons
  • Terrible Bay Area Commute
  • Growing Too Fast?
  • Floodplain Issues?
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers

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