8.0 out of 10

Lafayette

Ranked 24th best city in California
37.899933151264 -122.118897731402
Great for
  • Schools
  • Childcare
  • Safe & Sound
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Neighborly Spirit
Not great for
  • Nightlife
  • Parking
  • Cost of Living
  • Pest Free
  • Lack of Traffic
Who lives here?
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Students

Reviews

4/5
2yrs+

"Always Sunny..."

With a population of 24,285, Lafayette boasts four main neighborhoods: Burton Valley near the Moraga border with its California ranch homes and easy access to open space; downtown, which enjoys accessibility to shops, restaurants, and the city’s BART station; Happy Valley with its prized elementary school, athletic club, and proximity to the Lafayette Reservoir; and Reliez Valley, featuring a rural feel, proximity to Briones Regional Park, and popular cycling routes.

Several years ago, the city made national headlines for an Iraq war memorial of thousands of white crosses protesters erected on a hillside opposite the BART station.

Lafayette’s schools enjoy some of the highest rankings in Contra Costa County. Most students living in Lafayette attend Acalanes High School, which earned an Academic Performance Index, or API, score of 910 in 2011.

Lafayette residents also attend Campolindo High School in neighboring Moraga, which received an API score of 923. The Lafayette School District’s elementary and middle schools recorded a combined API of 922 in 2011.

In addition to its schools, the city offers its own library and learning center, many bicycle and hiking trails, and the stunning Lafayette Reservoir. It takes around 25 minutes to travel to downtown San Francisco from the Lafayette BART station.

The city’s revitalized downtown features outdoor dining, a Chow Restaurant, a Yankee Pier restaurant, and numerous shops and eateries. Each September the Lafayette Art & Wine Festival attracts huge crowds with its craft booths, microbrews, wine and food tasting, and live music.
Pros
  • Good Weather
  • BART
  • Nice Downtown Area
Cons
  • Little Nightlife
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
2yrs+

"One of the Best Kept Secrets of the East Bay"

Lafayette is the most affordable of the three cities that make up what is called Lamorinda (Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda). Lafayette is just east of Orinda and west of Walnut Creek, and centrally located so that a couple with one member working in the city and the other working in Pleasanton or Vallejo would have roughly equal commutes.

Lafayette has a great shopping district right where Moraga Road meets Mt. Diablo Boulevard with lots of little restaurants and stores. There are two supermarkets and several auto repair shops, a karate studio, a private pool, a great new library, beauty salons and just about everything you could want in a moderately sized city. (All the usual suspects line up off of Mt. Diablo Boulevarad: 2 Starbucks, a MacDonalds, a TacoBell, a KFC, a Philly Cheesecake, a Manga Pizzeria, a Baja Burrito Place, a Panda Chinese Food, a Pet Express, etc.)

Most of the residents are upper middle class and above, but there are far more apartments than Orinda and especially Moraga. (These are somewhat affordable. Lafayette being largely the province of single family ownership). Lafayette also boasts one of the great recreational areas in the East Bay, the Lafayette Reservoir, which is great for jogs or just for a weekend stroll. It is hilly country, with lots of houses in the hills, but it is not quite so woody or exclusive as most parts of Orinda or Moraga. It has a very good high school and is an excellent place to bring up kids. Like many of the cities of in Lamorinda, most people outside of the area are fairly oblivious to its existence, a fact that most of the residents are happy with.

Lafayette also has a strong sense of community, having its own Newspaper with local news in it. The city also has a movement to keep it clean and green, as demonstrated by bumper stickers reading, “Keep Lafayette Beautiful!”

There is a yearly wine and cheese festival that is quite a popular event, even though it ties up traffic and makes it difficult for people to go to many of the restaurants and other businesses.

Most people commute to their jobs in the City and the East Bay from Lafayette. A simple look at the Lafayette BART station during week days will give you a sense of this commuting culture.

Put simply, it is a great place to raise kids, or to live if you want to get away from the noise and other problems of urban living, but want to be close enough to commute to the city or anywhere in the East Bay.
Pros
  • Very Leafy
  • More Affordable than Neighbors
  • Nice Downtown Area
Cons
  • Expensive Homes
  • Hillside Problems
  • Little Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers

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