7.0 out of 10


37.9945745992617 -122.29138086087
Great for
  • Neighborly Spirit
  • Parking
  • Shopping Options
  • Cost of Living
  • Internet Access
Not great for
  • Lack of Traffic
  • Schools
  • Gym & Fitness
  • Nightlife
  • Parks & Recreation
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • LGBT+
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees


4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • 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 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 4/5

"Not Perfect, but Nicer Than You Think"

Pinole gets a pretty bad rap around the Bay Area. People in other parts of Contra Costa County in general think of Pinole as a sort of pit. But it has never seemed that bad to me.

Here’s the positives of Pinole:

1. First and foremost, this is an affordable place to live. The average home price here is somewhere around $250,000. That is a steal for the Bay Area. Even at the high end, prices top out at $400,000—and that is for homes that have bay views on quiet courts. It is an amazing value for your dollar.

These are not dumpy run down houses either. The majority of the homes here date from the 50’s and 60’s—which means lots of Ranch homes. But these are actually pretty nicely kept traditional Ranch homes. People around here really seem to care for the area.

It is also relatively affordable to rent in Pinole.

2. The neighborly spirit is also a plus. This is one of those places where people know each other and the whole place has sort of small town feel. This can be annoying to some people but definitely can be a positive under other situations.

3. There is a big mall here that extends over into the Hilltop Shopping Center area. There is an In-N-Out Burger and a number of fast food restaurants of this variety and lots of box stores. The restaurants generally aren’t great but that is not really what people are looking for in a town like Pinole anyway.

And here are the negatives of Pinole:

1. The public schools are unfortunately below average. Pinole High is especially bad, with and API of 3. This isn’t bottom basement, but it is pretty close. That means that if you are raising kids here you might want to try to figure out some kind of alternative to the schools. There are a couple of Christian private schools in the area, but I don’t know if they are any good.

2. There is a bit of crime. It actually used to be worse and has been going down. It is much better than places like Richmond, being about equal with the national average. To get a sense of what that means: there was only 1 murder in Pinole last year (the high of the last 10 years was 2008, I think, when there were 4). In the last 6 months there have been no murders and about 2 dozen assaults, so about 4 per month. Not horribly high but not complete safe like the burbs farther south in Contra Costa County.

3. The commute into the City is also pretty awful too. Highway 80 is the main way that people use to get into the city and it is really packed during rush hour.

4. There is also no nightlife here. If you are young and have the need to head out to bar every night, this is not the place for you. There is definitely little to no nightlife in Pinole. (You could however check out the cool dives in Crockett or head down into the City—the traffic isn’t too bad on a weekday, after rush hour is done.)

Now, even though I have listed more negatives than positives, I would still recommend Pinole—especially if you can afford private school or if you are a bit older. I think the area is attractive enough and the prices low enough to make it one of the hidden gems of the East Bay (really all four cities up here sort of fit into that category: Martinez, Pinole, Hercules and tiny Crockett).
  • Nice Affordable Homes
  • Nice Community Feel
  • Okay Shopping and Conveniences
  • Poor Schools
  • A Bit of Crime
  • Terrible Commute
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • LGBT+

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