5.4 out of 10


37.7151640179139 -121.44969196496
Great for
  • Parking
  • Childcare
  • Clean & Green
  • Internet Access
  • Parks & Recreation
Not great for
  • Gym & Fitness
  • Nightlife
  • Public Transport
  • Eating Out
  • Resale or Rental Value
Who lives here?
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
  • Professionals


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

"If Not for the Soul Killing Commute..."

Tracy’s biggest selling point is the really low cost of living as compared with the rest of the Bay Area. (Pssst, it’s not really part of the Bay Area; it’s in San Joaquin County.) That largely explains the explosive growth of Tracy that has almost tripled its size in the last 20 years. The median home price here is $250,000--which is no doubt the bait that hooks so many families to live out here. Livermore just to the east over the infamous Altamont Pass has median home prices of $425,000. (Ceilings are also much higher with barely any homes breaking the $750 mark in Tracy, while $1 million is closer to the ceiling in Livermore as far as I can tell.)

Renting here is also much easier. Whereas in Livermore the median for a 3 bedroom or larger is around $2300/mon, in Tracy the median is probably closer to $1500/mon. (It’s hard to say because there are so many rentals available, sorting them down can be a problem.)

The median household income has grown as well, aligning it more with Bay Area salaries (about $80,000/year from $62,000 a decade ago.)

Usually these kinds of low prices in the Bay Area mean that crime and schools are a problem. This is not really the case here.

Schools here are pretty good, being average to above average for the most part. Tracy Joint High and Merrill J. West High, for example, both have APIs of 7, which is firmly above average.

Crime, though not non-existent, is below average. You get maybe 2 or 3 murders in a year here and maybe 5 dozen reported assaults in a year.

Actually, the biggest drawback of all to living in Tracy as a solution to the high cost of living in the Bay Area is the commute. It will take you an hour to get from Tracy to Hayward. You can’t even make it to Walnut Creek in an hour. So if you intend on live in Tracy and work anywhere farther away than Pleasanton, you are probably looking at 3 to 4 hours every day in commute. That is like having a second part time job called commuting, and for this job you get to pay for it in gas, automobile wear and tear and lost family time. Not sure the extra cost is worth it with gas prices at over $4/gallon currently.

On the other hand if you are commuting in the opposite direction, to Stockton or Modesto, Tracy might not be too bad. Unfortunately that is not usually the direction people are going.

As to what there actually is to do in Tracy itself. I don’t really know; I have never actually been out to eat anywhere in Tracy, though I have driven through the main section of town. This central part looks a lot like it did 50 years ago I suspect: very old buildings, kind of western cowboy feel to it.

There is a theater and some restaurants down here, which I hear are good (though most people who work out in Pleasanton stay out there for their date nights and such). This is a very working class place--which is fine, but nowhere that you would go for weekend entertainment if you didn’t already live in town.

In a nutshell, I would say that Tracy might be a reasonable option only if you can handle the commute. I don’t think I could, but then again, I’ve always been the sort of gal that likes to keep it simple--live close to where you work, and have more time for actual living. Then again, I don’t have any little puppies in tow, that might make a big difference in terms of the economics of the decision.
  • Affordable Homes
  • Nice Modern Homes
  • Pretty Good Schools
  • Terrible Bay Area Commute
  • More than a Little Boring
  • Blazes Boiling in the Summer
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers

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