9.0 out of 10

Montclair

37.8305817424283 -122.207183821285
Great for
  • Clean & Green
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Resale or Rental Value
  • Schools
  • Gym & Fitness
Not great for
  • Nightlife
  • Childcare
  • Cost of Living
  • Shopping Options
  •  
Who lives here?
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
  •  

Reviews

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

"A mecca for families and outdoorsy types"

Oakland’s Montclair neighborhood is the place to be for outdoor enthusiasts and families with young children. Nestled in the Oakland hills, the neighborhood boasts highly ranked schools, spectacular views, and easy access to nature.

People love the trees, views, miles of trails, and the Tahoe-like setting. The community centers around the popular Montclair Village shopping district, known by locals simply as “the Village,” which features a friendly neighborhood vibe and numerous shops and restaurants. Most activity clustered around three busy blocks of Mountain Boulevard and its side streets. Local favorites include McCaulou’s department store, Montclair Toyhouse, A Great Good Place for Books, and the Wheels of Justice Cyclery.

Montclair Egg Shop attracts hordes of hungry locals for breakfast, and El Agavero remains a favorite dinner spot for families. Stop by Crogan’s Montclair for drinks and conversation, or grab a cup of joe at Nelly’s Java at 1952 Mountain.

An Easter Egg Hunt and Halloween parade for children and various food and wine festivals attract crowds to the Village each year, and a weekly farmer’s market is a favorite Sunday-morning ritual for residents. The 7-acre Montclair Park sits right next to the Village and offers two playgrounds, a duck pond, tennis courts, a recreation center, a baseball diamond, and picnic areas.

Other family-friendly attractions within a short drive of Montclair include the Oakland Zoo, Lawrence Hall of Science, Chabot Space and Science Center, and Roberts Recreational area with its large public pool and open green lawns. Nearby Lake Temescal is just up the road too; the lake is a popular summer swimming spot and its open spaces make a great gathering place for picnics, Frisbee, and dog walking.

The neighborhood is popular among cyclists, runners, and other outdoorsy types who take advantage of the trailheads off Skyline Boulevard and steep-but-lovely Shepherd Canyon Road. Montclair residents can also enjoy three beautiful recreation areas nearby: Redwood Regional Park, Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve, and Robert Sibley Volcanic Preserve.

Montclair offers excellent elementary schools that earn consistently high rankings. Montclair Elementary School received a state Academic Performance Index score of 972 in 2011, and Thornhill Elementary School earned a 954. The school communities include very strong PTAs and fundraising committees, committed and involved parents, and diverse student populations.

Nearby highways 13, 24, and 580 offer easy access to San Francisco, downtown Oakland, Berkeley, and Contra Costa County. The area is also well-connected to public transit, including the Rockridge BART station a 10-minute drive away and the Transbay V-line bus, which stops right in Montclair Village before heading to San Francisco. There are also several "casual carpool" spots for commuters heading into San Francisco.

Montclair isn't perfect -- the traffic can be frustrating on busy weekends when pedestrians clog crosswalks; sidewalks in the hills community vary from small to nonexistent; and the winding hillside roads are narrow enough that often you'll need to yield right of way to another car. There's no real nightlife to speak of, and it's not immune to the occasional crime that plagues most near-urban areas.

Plus, it can be expensive to move into Montclair. There are few rentals, and homes right now are in high demand and short supply, which tends to drive the prices up.

However, the neighborhood offers a near-ideal balance between small-town charm and values and urban vibrancy and diversity, within a stone's throw of all the incredible natural and cultural resources the area has to offer, and the pros far outweigh any cons.
Pros
  • Beautiful Views
  • Great Homes
  • Woody
Cons
  • Narrow Roads
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
2yrs+

"Redwoods, Pines and Homes"

To say that Montclair is leafy is like saying that the beach is sandy, or that basketball players are tallish. Montclair, one of those neighborhoods tucked away in the Oakland hills just north of Piedmont, is like a forest with Craftsman style homes sprinkled in. Shaped like barbells on either side of Highway 13, just south of 24, Montclair’s roads snake around the hills, hiding little clutches of spacious homes in little valleys and hilltops overlooking tiny lakes and reservoirs. Residents feel as if they are miles from civilization in the woody retreats of Tahoe or Marin but f they want to be in the city, all they need to do is hop on Highway 13 and they can be in Downtown Berkeley for a play at the Berkeley Rep in 15 minutes, or in San Francisco in a half hour (give or take ten minutes for traffic).

Home prices here are steep, of course, with the with the bedecked hovels high in the hills rising with their seclusion. Lawyers, executive managers, and high-power sales people live up among the pines and redwoods--the average salary at the upper elevations being in the six figure range. College professors, middle managers and other professional types can find more affordable rents closer to Montclair’s “downtown” business district, where rents drop, along with the feeling of seclusion, closer to $2,000 range—about twice the average rent for most Oakland neighborhoods.

This is a definitely a family neighborhood. Montclair Elementary is a great school—receiving a 10 out of 10 on the Great Schools Website, as does nearby Thornhill to the north. There are also several private choices for pickier parents or those who want a more religious perspective in their children’s educations.

Now, if you don’t like trees and would rather be right in the middle of things at all times, this is not the place for you. There are no dive bars in downtown Montclair, and you are much more likely to run into stay-at-home moms with double strollers for their twins than skinny jeaned co-eds (unless it’s the holidays and college students are back to visit their parents). If, however, you love to watch the early fog get strung up in tops of mossy redwoods or to smell the woody smoke from neighbors’ fire places while taking a late evening stroll, then you will love the Montclair neighborhood
Pros
  • Woody
  • Great Homes
  • Beautiful Views
Cons
  • Wildfires and Erosion
  • Expensive
  • Narrow Roads
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish

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