7.4 out of 10


38.0155361059262 -121.918364883154
Great for
  • Cost of Living
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Public Transport
  • Parking
  • Eating Out
Not great for
  • Schools
  • Lack of Traffic
  • Childcare
  • Nightlife
  • Medical Facilities
Who lives here?
  • Retirees
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Students


4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Jun 27, 2016

"East Bay Area with Rising Potential"

There are two sides to this town - in my opinion - there is the old Pittsburg and the new Pittsburg. I live in a new Pittsburg area which ironically is located in the Old Town Pittsburg area.

The (downtown) Old Town Pittsburg area has a newly built park which is bustling on the weekends with a farmers market, occasional outdoor movie nights and outdoor theatre events. There are great restaurants, a local coffee shop (which I love), and a newly renovated theatre (the California Theatre). The theatre is beautiful, it has summer theatre camps for youth and showcases several types of performance art throughout the year. During the summer there are bi-weekly car shows and culinary crawls (allowing tastes of each restaurant in the neighborhood). This part of Pittsburg is fantastic.

The old Pittsburg side of things is not so fantastic. There are pockets of neighborhoods that are run-down, and crime looks to be an issue there as well. Pittsburg used to be known as a major industrial area on the east bay - some of that industry has since closed down. There is still a Dow chemical plant, which I personally don't notice, but wonder what pollutants have saturated the land under it. It's located on the outskirts of the city and is next to a wetlands refuge.

We purchased a home here because it was affordable (compared to SF) and commuting to the city is very do-able with the BART. It is a longer commute distance-wise, but I prefer a spacious, newer home to a small, old condo that is priced well above what it's actually worth. I don't know about the school system since we don't have children, but I live near a cute little Catholic Elementary school, and I've heard a couple parents there say good things about it.

Our neighborhood (Clipper Cove) is a newly built, suburban enclave with cookie-cutter styled homes, but since I don't spend much time looking at my home's exterior - it's not a big deal to me. I created my dream interior style with the money we saved by living a little farther from the city. On the weekends, we can walk to the farmers market and around the marina without noisy traffic wizzing by, so for us, it's a great place.
  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Newly renovated downtown
  • Diverse
  • Very Affordable
  • Pockets of crime
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
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 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5

"Affordable But Far From Ideal"

Pittsburg, California—not to be confused with the similarly named city in Pennsylvania which has an “h” in it—is on the eastern half of Contra Costa County along the Highway 4 corridor. Pittsburg is known as the place you go to live if you can’t afford to live farther west in the “nicer” parts of the triple C.

Buying a home here is a lot cheaper than in virtually anywhere in Central Contra County (though Richmond and that area are less expensive). The median home price here is around $200 K and because so many residents got in here at the height of Bubble, there are currently a ton of homes for sale. (Sad as that is.)

As to renting, the median here seems to be around $1800/month for home, a fair amount less for apartments.

As to what these homes and apartments look like—you find a great deal of variation in terms of homes styles and just the general feel of neighborhoods throughout Pittsburg from older neighborhoods with the occasional quaint Tudor house and leafy streets with sidewalks perfect for kids to bike and evening walks to newer neighborhoods where every home looks pretty much alike: adobe walls and red tiled roofs.

The usual reason why home prices and rents are so low involve two factors. First, is crime. If you look at the crime rate in Pittsburg, it is currently lower than the national average, and even a few years ago when it Pittsburg was getting the reputation of being a bit of a crime haven, the crime rate was only slightly higher than the national average. Crime is down now, though you do get about a half dozen murders every year. Given that there are 60,000 residents this is not anything compared to Richmond or Oakland or even San Francisco proper, whose crime rate is pretty steep.

Unfortunately, the schools are not very strong here, with high school getting especially bad scores (an API of 2 out of 10). At the elementary school level there is a lot of variation but it seems as if the further students progress the worse the school scores become. This is not, however, so unusual when you have such a diverse city like this, due in large part to the different language levels for a lot of students and the limited resources of a lot of families in the area—just makes it a lot harder for students to focus on studies and to overcome language and cultural barriers. (The kind of thing that will especially show up on the standardized tests on which such assessments are made.)

The big drawback of living so far east is the terrible inbound traffic which will just suck your life up into it. Driving into Walnut Creek is terrible enough, but those heading into the East Bay, or even worse SF, have it worse of all.

The best solution to this commute problem is BART which works even better for the East Bay and SF than it does for Contra Costa which tends to be more spread out and not have as much public transportation options as the more urban East Bay and SF. The Bay Point/Pittsburg station is currently the last BART station out this way, but there is work being done towards having an eBART extension put in to go out as far as Byron/Discovery Bay, which should apparently open in 2015 (though given the economic state of things who knows).

Pittsburg is actually working hard towards making themselves more than just a bedroom community where people live but leave to get entertainment and recreation. Pittsburg already has a ton of stores of the kind you can find in virtually every suburb, but now they are working on building up Old Town and creating a Marina walkway apparently. Basically they want to give people something to do when they are not commuting into the East Bay for work.

So what is in Pittsburg in terms of entertainment?

In terms of restaurants you will find a ton of options, from Olive Garden to an Indian place like Mehran or a Latin food place like the oddly named New Mecca Café (not sure why it is called this). Now very few places here in Pittsburg will draw people to trek out here for them (though I must admit me and the family have made the trek just to go to The Olive Garden) but if you live here you will have no shortage of types of food.

There is also a movie theater and some bars up here as well, though nothing too fancy. And all the usual suspects in terms of stores as well: Target, Wallmart, Big O Tires, etc.

It is basically just suburban living at its most average in that sense.
  • Very Affordable
  • Okay Restaurants
  • Diverse
  • Terrible Commute
  • Below Average Schools
  • Kind of Bland in Appearance
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles

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