7.9 out of 10

Orinda

Ranked 26th best city in California
37.8840214390225 -122.18047261362
Great for
  • Schools
  • Safe & Sound
  • Clean & Green
  • Resale or Rental Value
  • Neighborly Spirit
Not great for
  • Nightlife
  • Pest Free
  • Cost of Living
  • Shopping Options
  • Public Transport
Who lives here?
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers
  • Professionals
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish

Reviews

5/5
2yrs+

"Easy to Get to Oakland and San Francisco"

With its hilly terrain, excellent schools, and proximity to the Caldecott Tunnel, Orinda remains a sought-after city to call home.

The city of nearly 18,000 also boasts its own BART station, making commuting by public transit a snap.

Orinda homes for sale tend to go for a higher price point than those in neighboring cities, with single-family homes ranging from $900,000 to as high as $5 million, Anderson said.

In January the average sale price of single-family homes was $1.2 million, up 13 percent from a year earlier, according to MLS data. Meanwhile, the months’ supply of inventory tumbled 70 percent to 2.2 months, compared with 7.2 months in January 2012.

While inventory has remained constrained throughout the city, homes at the 250-acre Orinda Country Club are especially desirable. The club features a golf course, an award-winning swim program, clubhouse, and tennis and fitness facilities.

New developments are also under way, including the Wilder subdivision, set on 1,600 acres of land off Highway 24. The Orinda Senior Apartments at 2 Irwin Way will feature 67 below-market-rate rental units for seniors.

Orinda’s highly ranked schools have long attracted young families to the area. In 2012 the city’s elementary schools earned an overall state Academic Performance Index score of 964 out of 1,000 – the top number in Contra Costa County.

Fans of the arts also have many options in Orinda. The art deco Orinda Theatre, built in 1941, shows contemporary films and hosts the California Independent Film Festival each year.

The California Shakespeare Theater’s Bruns Amphitheater is also located in town.

When it comes to dining and shopping, the city offers numerous businesses in the Orinda Theatre Square area, downtown, and in the Orinda Village neighborhood. Favorite eateries include Barbacoa, Table 24, and the Casa Orinda Restaurant & Bar, in business for about 80 years.

Last year, Forbes and Nextdoor ranked Orinda the second-friendliest town in America, citing its high home ownership rate, low crime, and Fourth of July parade.
Pros
  • Almost no crime
  • Quiet
  • BART
Cons
  • Expensive
  • No Nightlife
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
2yrs+

"A Pleasant Little Village"

Orinda Village is the main drag or half of the “Downtown” in Orinda. It is actually just about four blocks worth of stores. There are two gas stations, three mechanics, a supermarket, the post office, a Rite Aid, a bookstore, three coffee shops, about five restaurants (including the yummy though overpriced Orinda Pizza for which I delivered pizza back in college; and three Thai places), a couple of haircut places, a dry cleaners, a stationary store, a Tai Kwon Do place, and a tutoring place. Basically its got all of the things you might want in a pleasant little “village.”

Orinda is a fairly small community—circa 17,500--. It’s made up of the very affluent, including CEO’s and white collar professionals with luxury cars and the usual trappings of wealth. This is not to say that it is all mansions here or anything like that, but there is a country club and general feeling that price is not the central concern. For example, when the local schools try to raise money, their goal is usually over $1 million (as opposed to say schools in Walnut Creek where the goal is less than half that amount).

Orinda Village is home to the main park in Orinda, Orinda Community Park. It is a pleasant little park to take your kids. It includes a spot for younger kids, and spot for slightly older kids. You also have tennis and racquet ball courts on the other side of the park. At the back of the park this is a shady amphitheatre where kids can pretend to put on plays for their parents (a favorite with my little ones). There is also a retirement community back there, so you often see older folks coming out for walks.

The Orinda Public library is also in this area. Overall, this is a nice pleasant area where you can get a bite to eat or groceries. Kind of dull, but functional. (Also the farmers market is here as well.)
Pros
  • Pleasant Downtown
  • Good Restuarants
  • Good Park
Cons
  • No Night Life
  • Kind of Boring
  • Not Very Diverse
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"A Great Little Bedroom Community about 20 minutes from SF"

Orinda is a tiny community (population approximately 17,000) just on the other side of the Berkeley hills in Contra Costa County. It is an affluent community, made up mostly of upper middle class folks who come here mostly to raise families. The public schools are great, as far as public schools go and there are some private alternatives in the surrounding areas.

A retirement community and apartments in the downtown area of Orinda add some much needed economic diversity to the community. The downtown area is quaint in a faux-small town sort of way. There is a historic movie theatre that forms the center of the southern half of the Orinda downtown, while Orinda Village forms the northern half.
Streets are clean and safe, but sidewalks are scarce; this is definitely a car culture. The hilly roads are not conducive to walking though bicyclists dare fate on them every weekend. The excellent high school, Miramonte, has all the attractions of a school in an affluent community. It is well funded and the instructors are very good. There is a variety of clubs and sports teams to choose from for the average teenager. School standards are consistently above national standards.

The downtown area is alive with activity, including a farmers market in the spring and parades on occasions such as the Fourth of July. People are generally friendly and the community is small enough and the population stable enough where people generally know each other by name and a trip to grocery store inevitably lead to chit chat. There are some marks of it elite status—a country club and golf course—but mostly it is a fairly inclusive community.

So, Orinda combines the positives of a small community with the nearby amenities of both the suburbs and a bustling city. It is one of the Bay Area's little secrets. (Even people in nearby cities often don't even know about it.)
Pros
  • Leafy
  • Private
  • Quiet
Cons
  • Expensive
  • No Nightlife
  • Hillside Living
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish

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