NikkiDKatt

  • Local Expert 14,271 points
  • Reviews 92
  • Questions 0
  • Answers 46
  • Discussions 0

Reviews

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

"For Bankers with Dough"

Octavia Street in Lower Haight stretches for 5-blocks south from Lafayette Park. Most of Octavia Street is made up of these old apartment buildings. Though there are some of those 3-story Victorians, the apartments on Octavia are more often of the 5-story variety, with bay windows and lots of attractive stone and brickwork.

What would it cost to live here?

A one-bedroom across the street from the park starts at nearly $3000 but can run as much as $4000. (There was a one bedroom house here listed for $5000/month.) A two-bedroom jumps up even further to the $6000 range and a 3-bedroom to a whopping $10K plus. The only thing “lower” about Lower Pacific Heights is the location.

You will also find businesses along Octavia. Academy of Art University, for example, has a building there (though I don’t know if it is just for administrative purposes).

There are also a couple of religious institutions here: the St. Francis Xavier Church and the Buddhist Church of San Francisco.

Schools are, of course, strong in the area and though crime is not non-existent it is mostly of the burglary and robbery variety rather than the assault and murder variety.

What brings me out here?

A restaurant, of course. Specifically, Baker and Banker which is a traditional American style restaurant owned by a pair of (married?) chefs whose names happen to be--you guessed it-- Baker and Banker. Go for the smoked trout--it really is delish!

Overall a pretty great Pacific Heights street--but only, of course, if you are filthy rich and can afford to live here. For the rest of us we can only hope we ever get the dough in the bank.
Pros
  • Beautiful Apartments
  • Good Schools
  • Great Restaurant
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • Crowded
  • Some Crime
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Geary Up for World Cuisine"

This section of Geary Blvd in the Richmond District stretches right through the slice of SF known as “Little Russia” because of the many Russian immigrants who live in the area.

But one of the main things that brings me out to this neck of the woods is not Russian at all, but Morrocan. Aziza is just a wonderful experience which I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to experience the western coast of Africa without hopping on a jetplane. But this is just one of many Geary restaurants that you don’t need a trip to SFO to experience. Geary is also home to the Hong Kong Lounge, Kappou Gomi (a Japanese place), Swamp (a Cajun seafood joint) and, of course, the Russian Renaissance Restaurant.

Geary, itself does get a fair amount of traffic, being one of the main traffic arteries flowing east-west through the Richmond District. On its far eastern end, Geary comes off Park Presidio (Highway 1). At this point it is a wide street with a tree lined center divider. The buildings are somewhat typical of the city, with bottom floor stores and two levels of apartments above them. This is where you will find business’ such as the tattoo place, Picture Machine; Healing Center Massage; Loveliness Wedding Gowns; and Cards and Comics Central.

It’s not all materialistic businesses, however. Our Lady of Fatima Byzantine Church, Holy Virgin Catholic Church and St. Monica’s are also on Geary and Washington High marks the far eastern end of Geary in Central Richmond. By the time you get to Washington High, the storefronts have given way to first floor garage doors and apartment buildings which are more clearly meant to attract tenants.

What does it cost to live around here? For renters, a 2-bedroom will run between $2200 and $2800--not a steal by any means but relatively moderate for the northern section of the city.

As to buying, one of these 3-story walk-ups in the area will run you nearly $1 million. Again, moderate for the city, though, of course, the same walk-up in the East Bay is likely to run around half that much.

The schools in the Richmond District are also pretty amazing--some of the best in the city. Unfortunately, when it comes to crime Geary, because of its high traffic, is one of the more dangerous areas in the Richmond District, with maybe a half dozen assaults taking place on Geary every month and even higher numbers of burglaries and robberies. It isn’t as bad as many other parts of the city but should definitely be something to think about if you are going to set down roots here.
Pros
  • Great Restaurants
  • Great Schools
  • Nice Apartments
Cons
  • High Rents
  • Crime Worries
  • Noisy and Busy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"High Art, High Rent, and High Crime"

I recently reviewed the section of Mission Street that is to the east of this section in the Financial District. It reminded me though, of this section of the Mission, which is just as packed with restaurants and cool places to eat, etc.

To begin with, on the far eastern end of this section of Mission is where you will find the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The gallery has a decidedly international flavor. Right now for example they are showing the films of Thai filmmaker Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, an esoteric exhibition called “Without Reality There is No Utopia” which is all about the falseness of the narratives we live by (like “Capitalism” or “Communism”) and the David Dorfman Dance troupe performing a show called “Prophets of Funk.”

The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is also a favorite spot for people to head to at lunch time--you will often see Financial District types sitting down at noon to grab a bite to eat and take a breather from stealing everybody’s hard earned money. (Just a joke.)

One of the residents of this location is City College of San Francisco, a huge, well-known community college that claims over 90,000 students. It actually has a pretty great reputation.

But what I like most about Mission Street is the restaurants, of course. Especially restaurants like Moya (an Ethiopian joint), Heaven’s Dog (a cool Chinese place), Zaoh (a sushi bar) and one of my all time favorites, AQ. AQ is seasonal Cal Med type restaurant that alters with the seasons and uses local fresh foods. It is a great experience and I would highly recommend it to everyone. And the chef is pretty dreamy too.

Now on the southern end of Mission St. it does look very run down and urban, but there are still some pretty good spots.

As far as living around here, the main problems are crime and high rents. A one bedroom on Mission will run you between $2300 and $4000, while a two can easily go for as much as $4500.

Crime is also a big problem around here. In the last six months there have been 3 murders just a couple of streets up on Market and literally hundreds of assaults. So it is about as bad as it gets--which is not all that surprising given this section of Mission is sandwiched between the Tenderloin and the Mission District, two of the three most crime ridden neighborhoods in SF.

Overall, I would say this is a nice place to visit, but I definitely wouldn’t want to live here.
Pros
  • Great Museums
  • Cool Lofts
  • Good Restaurants
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • High Crime Rates
  • Dirty and Noisy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Where Rich Financial Types Come to Work and Stay to Play"

You really feel like you are in the heart of the city when you come to the Mission in SoMA. With skyscrapers, street level restaurants and the nearby Financial District, Mission Street runs right through the heart of the commercial engine of SF.

There is a ton to do here, starting with my favorite, going to restaurants. Here are some of the places that you can go on Mission Street in the southern Financial District:

Ame: a Japanese/New American restaurant that is just amazing, though it will cost you an arm and leg. (It can run you a good $100/person.)

Roy’s: An Asian fusion restaurant that I have been meaning to go to but haven’t yet.

The Grove: Just for sandwiches if you happen to be doing something else in the area or want to get something to eat while you are at Yerba Buena Park or the Tea Garden.

The Salt House: American cuisine with a strong emphasis on seafood. Perfect for a night out with business associates or for a double date.

But that is only the start of it for Mission Street. You can also find the Museum of the African Diaspora down on Third Street (one of a half dozen museums within walking distance) and the Cartoon Museum here--that later of which is perfectly situated just a block down from the Academy of Art College. If you are looking for a nice place to stay, the St. Regis is here as well--very swanky, and very nice.

Golden Gate University also has a building on Mission.

This is also where you will find the Fluid Lounge--a super hip dance club frequented by Financial District high rollers.

So it is exactly what we love and hate about the city. It is just packed with businesses and entertainments where those who can afford it can spend those high wages they get for figuring out new financial packages. On the other hand, it is totally overpriced, overcrowded, noisy and somewhat dangerous in terms of crime.

I love visiting here, but I could neither afford nor would I really want to live here.
Pros
  • Great Restaurants
  • Nice Hotels
  • Good Museums and Colleges
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • Busy and Noisy
  • Crime
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Super Expensive, but Super Cool"

As you can tell by looking at the map, this is the section of Sacramento Street that runs from Van Ness right at the edge of Pacific Heights to Powell. I mention this because on its western end Sacramento has a very different feel than on its eastern end.

Near Van Ness the feel is as you would expect, sort of commercial with a Staples store on that corner and then some restaurants along that first block. One restaurant that I would definitely want to mention here is the Italian place, Acquerello. It is very good and well worth the trip if you happen to be in the area.

As you get east of Polk however, Sacramento starts looking a lot like a North Beach neighborhood, filled with very nice three story Victorian walk-ups with beautiful trims and nice wide bay windows.

Though there are corner markets and the occasional first floor store, this place is 90% residential.

By the time you get to Jones however, the three story Victorian walk-ups give way to tall older apartment buildings with cool stonework and attractive balconies. Nob Hill is perhaps the section of the city that looks most like an East Coast City like NY--the posh part of New York I guess, though given prices I am not sure there is a non-posh section anymore.

On the southern side of Sacramento Street near Powell is where you will find Huntington Park, the Union Club and the Fairmont Hotel. In other words you are right at the heart of one of the richest section of Nob Hill. At this point the street is narrow and starts descending down towards Chinatown and North Beach.

What would it cost to live here?

Buying a penthouse apartment along Sacramento can run you as much as $5 million making it one of the most expensive places in the city (without too much surprise). Though you can also buy some apartments for just a $1 million.

As to renting, a one bedroom here will run you between $2400 and $3400 per month, and a two-bedroom goes for between $4000 and as much as $10K/month. In other words, if you have to ask how much you probably can’t afford it.

Overall, this might be a really cool place to live if you are filthy rich and must live in the city. But overall, it is just way overpriced, there is really no other way of assessing it.
Pros
  • Close to the Action
  • Great Transportation
  • Amazing Views
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • Crime
  • Congested
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Go for Absinthe, Sleep Somewhere Else Because of the Rents"

But Absinthe isn’t the only restaurant along this stretch of Hayes Street. There is also Patxi’s Chicago Pizza, a very good pizza though not worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as Absinthe; Sebo, a sushi joint; Stack’s, for pancakes; and Flipper’s, for gourmet hammies.

You also have lots of shopping opportunity here with boutiques like Nida, Propellor and Zeni Wear.

You are also within walk of places like the Orpheum and the SF Opera.

And if all of that spending makes you want to have a stiff drink, try one of the Hayes Street dives: famous Marlene’s (a gay bar); Place Pigale, and Noir Lounge.

I’ve not lived here, but I imagine that it would be really exciting being right in the middle of all this activity. Of course, the downside would be the usual city problems such as higher crime (this is pretty close to the Tenderloin), overcrowding, traffic and noise. I have heard that Hayes Valley is a place where young couples with kids come, but it just seems a little too close to the action for me.

The other problem here is the general problems of the city, which is high rent. I looked up what places are renting for around here and this is what I found: there was a one-bedroom right by Patricia’s Green going for $5500. There were some 2-bedrooms a block down on Fell near Market Street going for $3000 and $4000.

That is just crazy. For that rent you can buy a pretty nice place in the suburbs. (You would have to commute of course.) Even in the city, there are far less expensive places if you go south of Market or on the western end.

Overall, however, I can see the attraction even if I don’t think it is worth it.
Pros
  • Great Restaurants
  • Great Boutiques
  • Close to Theater District
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • Crime
  • Crowded and Noisy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Marina and Hillside Homes"

Loch Lomond is a residential neighborhood that branches out from Loch Lomond Drive right by the little marina that you can find in that area. The marina is on the southern end of the neighborhood, and it is mostly made up of sailboats. There is a big parking lot there as well.

The homes here are very nice. They are a mix of styles though the ones that I saw were mostly flat and long--mostly one-story houses with pools in the back apparently. It is a very good neighborhood with strong nearby schools and nice views.

So what does one of these houses cost?

Home prices here probably run almost a million dollars on average, with prices running between maybe $700K and $1.25 million.

If it weren’t for the long city commutes and the high cost of living, a lot of people would probably love living here. The homes are really attractive, the schools are great, there are tons of nearby hiking/natural wonder and there is basically no crime--what else could you ask for in a suburban neighborhood?

I really like the look of this neighborhood, but it seems a little bit on the dull side to me--San Rafael and the nearby areas just don’t have enough going on for a newly single gal like me. If, however, I were starting a family and could afford it though, I would definitely consider it.
Pros
  • Nice Homes
  • Good Schools
  • Good Views
Cons
  • Long Commutes
  • Expensive
  • Out of the Way
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 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • 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 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Foodie Heaven"

You might be excused for not having heard of tiny Yountville given that it’s overshadowed by neighboring Napa which gives its name to the whole valley. Yountville, however, is not just some tiny little one horse town. In fact, Yountville may have more Michelin rated restaurants per capita than Paris does--and I don’t mean Paris, Texas.

I recently came here to dine at Redd, one of Yountville’s lesser acclaimed restaurants (though it was still good enough to be listed in the Top 100 restaurants in the Bay Area by SF Gate). Redd--and basically all of Yountville--is a foodie wet dream, apologies for being crude. But this is basically the sort of place you go and just savor everything. Get the 5-course tasting menu; don’t even bother looking at what they are offering. Taste each others food and enjoy. A great place to go with a date.

But, as I mentioned this is only one of the acclaimed restaurants in Yountville. Yountville’s most famous eatery is French Laundry, Thomas Keller’s 3-Star French country-style kitchen. Although it won’t cost you as much as going to France, it will come close, so only come when you are ready to break the budget or go into hock.

French Laundry is only one of several French restaurants in Yountville, however. You also have Etoile, Bouchon and Bistro Jeanty. And if you prefer American and couldn’t get into Redd, be sure to give Ad Hoc a try.

What is it like to live in Yountville?

Though I haven’t lived there I took a look around and found out a bit about it. The homes look like they date from the 80’s and 90’s--they are newer Contemporary style homes. These are nice suburban streets that make you feel as if you are at the edge of a valley even though you are actually pretty far from heavily populated areas.

The average home here costs more than $500K though rarely does a home reach a million dollars. My understanding is that a third of residents are veterans who live in the Veterans Home of California.

Overall, Yountville is a pretty nice place to live, although a bit out of the way if you don’t happen to be involved in the wine, restaurant or other local businesses. You would probably not want to brave the commute into SF on the daily if you can avoid it.
Pros
  • Great Restaurants
  • Nice Homes
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • Somewhat Expensive
  • Out of the Way
  • Lots of Tourists
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Dopo, Flicks and the Bee's Knees"

I can’t believe that I have lived all this time in the Bay Area and never been here to Piedmont until this past week. What an amazing little lane this is. Not only does it have two of the top rated restaurants in the Bay Area (according the SF Gate list of the Top 100 Bay Area restaurants) but it is just packed with coffee houses and other entertainments.

Piedmont itself is a bit new to me. I had always mistakenly believed it was a suburb like Danville or Pleasanton, but now I see why it is talked so highly of. It does have a suburban area up in the hills, but Piedmont is more like a semi-upscale, nicer cleaner Berkeley really.

And Piedmont Avenue is definitely the heart of the fun in Piedmont. Let’s start with the restaurants, which is what brought me here in the first place. The two restaurants that are listed on the Top 100 are--drum rollllllllll--are Dopo and Adesso, two Italian joints owned by the same guy. We came here to Dopo and loved it.

But Dopo and Adesso are only a couple of the draws of Piedmont Avenue. You also have a few American restaurants, like Commis and Bay Wolf; an Ethiopian place, Messob; some Japanese places, like Geta, Kana and B-Dama; a Asian fusion joint, Ninna; some Indian joints, Raj and House of Curries; a couple of tapas places, Bar Cesar and Barlata; and a BBQ place, Honey Badgers. Basically, you have a passport to world cuisine living here.

You also got a pretty good movie theater, the Piedmont Theater which is a classic old theater from the age of the movie palace one of a dozen or so left in the Bay Area. They show mostly indie type movies for grown-ups--not the usual blockbusters. So right now, for example, they are showing the critically acclaimed Silver Linings Notebook; No, a political movie about Chilean politics with Gael Barcia Bernal starring; and Stoker, a sort of thriller with Mia Wasikowski and Nicole Kidman a truly creepy roles. Nothing for the kiddies here.

There are also a ton of shops, like The Bee’s Knees, Instyle Threads, True Essence Boutique, The Rare Bird for furniture, Phillippa Roberts for jewelry and flowers, and Happy Heart jewelry.

And, of course, all the usual sort of places that you need to live anywhere, drug stores, groceries, laundries etc.

On weekends this place is packed with 20 and 30 somethings getting coffee and being busy. It is pretty great for people watching and meeting friends.

And in case you are curious, a 2-bedroom costs between $1500 and $2000 roughly. Though there are no apartments for rent on Piedmont Ave. proper--these are mostly in and around the side streets.

I love this place though and would love to live here.
Pros
  • Great Restaurants
  • Cool Movie Theater
  • Cool Kids All Around
Cons
  • Crowded
  • Some Crime
  • Parking
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Trendy & Stylish
joandark
joandark This writer is a bit confused about Piedmont vs Oakland. Piedmont Avenue is in Oakland, not in Piedmont. Piedmont is a separate city.
2yrs+
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5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Nice Hillside Neighborhood With Good Bayside Views"

Bayside Acres is a small, aptly named San Rafael hillside neighborhood with winding lanes and great bay views. As you might expect this is a fairly expensive location. Homes here sell from as little as $625 to as much as $1.7 million--though most are in the $900 to $1mil range, which is about where you would expect them to be. Most homes date from the 1950s and 60s.

You also get the other benefits of Marin County living: good schools and low crime. That combined with the beauty of the location makes for a pretty great combination.

Drawbacks of Bayside Acres mostly have to do with the specifics of the location. If you work in the city, for example, you will have a pretty good commute. You will also have to deal with the usual hillside maintenance problems such as erosion, critters, and wildfires.

If you love leafy, hillside living, however, you are sure to love it here in Bayside.
Pros
  • Nice Views
  • Nice Homes
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • Hillside Problems
  • Long Commutes
  • Somewhat Expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Bikinis, Pizza and Ice Cream"

18th Street runs right through the northern end of the Mission District, is one of the main streets in Potrero, and is pretty good spot along the Castro as well, but this 3-block stretch of it in Mission Dolores has to be my favorite 3-blocks along 18th Street.

Why?

Let’s start with the big highlight: Delfina, probably the best pizzeria south of Market. Delfina is more than a pizzeria, it is a hot, hot date spot, as I was reminded when I came here with my friends and sat jealously watching all the young lovers out having a good time.

But Delfina is only one of the draws to this stretch of 18th. The other is Dolores Park, the best sunbathing park in all of SF and they have great movie nights during the summer too. For whatever reason--maybe because of divine placement of Mission Dolores nearby--Dolores Park seems to be magically protected from the summer fogs that keep everyone in fall dress throughout much of July and August.

And as if the best pizza and the best sunbathing weren’t enough, this is also the site of Mission Dolores itself, the oldest construction in all of SF and also one of the locations that one sees in Hitchcock’s Vertigo--so history buffs and movie buffs must make their pilgrimage here as well.

But, that’s not all--sorry I can’t help but sound like an infomercial at this point--you also have the best ice cream parlor in all of the city, the Bi-Rite Market. If you don’t believe me, just come by in summer and check out the lines. I mean, it is like kids waiting for a ride at Disneyland.

Oh yeah, and there are also the Tartine Bakery on the corner of Guerrero, the Dolores Park Cafe and Namu Gaji (a Korean fusion joint), Farina Foccacio, and Luna (on the corner with shop packed Valencia).

With so much here, the only surprise is that anyone is fit enough to be seen in a bathing suit at the park during the summer.

And, you can live in the super cute 3-story Victorians over the stores as well. A dream if you love sitting in the Bay Windows and watch the young folks stomping by below. Of course, a one-bedroom around here will run you around $3000 per month--so it is not exactly affordable living to live so close to the fun.
Pros
  • Pizza!
  • Sunbathing!
  • Ice Cream!
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • Crime Worries
  • Terrible Parking
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Great Pizza, Nice Little Homes"

Glen Park is not a neighborhood that gets a lot of ink. People don’t flock to Glen Park the way they do to a place like North Beach or the Marina. I bet even in the East Bay there are people who don’t even know that Glen Park is a neighborhood in San Francisco.

But Glen Park does have one thing going for it that deserves to get noticed: pizza!

Gialina’s is just a great little pizza place with some of the best Pizza in the City imo. The Atomica, is what this place is known for and to a lesser extent the Nettles; they are both fantastic. Don’t even bother looking up what they are, just go there, order them, and go to pizza heaven!

The rest of Diamond Street is pretty nice too. I think that Glen Park is a generally underrated neighborhood in SF. The Glen Park BART station is right there at the southern end of Diamond and then you get this stretch of Diamond that feels a lot like a Cow Hollow street with laundries, a little pub and the rest of it. (Interestingly, the pub’s name is Glen Park Station and Google Maps has confused the pub with the BART station. So don’t don’t try ordering your pint of brew while waiting for the Pittsburg/Bay Point; no matter how much you could use a stiff one to face your commute.)

This is the kind of stretch that you love to have right by your house for a Sunday morning or for a little relaxing post work detox.

As Diamond Street curls up into the hill, it becomes a pretty typical Glen Park residential street. It narrows and is fronted by tons of older walk-ups, the bay windows staring down onto the sidewalk. It is pretty dense, but very cute. Most of the homes have first floor garages which is a big plus for SF where parking is a nightmare. You also gets some views of the city to the south, lots of little homes on hills.

I took a quick look to see what these rent for and it looks like studios go for around $2000, 1 bedrooms for $2500, to give you an idea.

Overall a pretty good place to visit or live (if you can afford it).
Pros
  • The Pizza!
  • Relatively Quiet Neighborhood
  • Great Transportation
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Dense
  • Old Home Problems
Recommended for
  • Professionals
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Nice Relatively Affordable San Rafael Neighborhood"

The Glenwood Neighborhood is just to the west of the Peacock Gap neighborhood at the far eastern end of San Rafael. It is a pretty small, hilly neighborhood nestled up in the hills. It is very leafy, but except for the crisp bay air, you probably wouldn’t know you were in San Rafael if you were just teleported down there from the Star Trek enterprise.

It looks like a pretty upper middle class neighborhood with lots of fairly nice, but not excessively nice, Ranch style homes. The neighborhood probably dates from the 50’s and 60’s--it definitely has that Brady Bunch feel to it. You have some nice views but they are mostly just of trees and the valley in which this neighborhood is situated.

Most homes around here seem to sell for around ¾ of a million bucks, which is probably low for Marin County. The schools I hear are mostly pretty good, with San Rafael High and Davidson Middle School being above average for the state.

Overall, if you are looking for a relatively nice suburban neighborhood nestled quietly in a valley and don’t mind what could possibly be a pretty bad commuting (depending on where your work is), then Glenwood could be the place for you.
Pros
  • Nice Ranch Style Homes
  • Very Leafy
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • Somewhat Expensive
  • Out of the Way
  • Critter and Hillside Problems
Recommended for
  • Professionals
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Great Bayside Living and Eating"

For me, the Hill neighborhood in Sausalito is all about one place: Poggio.

Poggio Trattoria is an outstanding Italian restaurant that has been ranked in the top 100 restaurants by the SF Chronicle. It is right by the marina and bayside Gabrielson Park. It has outdoor seating and a very open set-up that gives it a very European feel. I came here with my mom on one of the last days before she headed back East and we had a really nice time. I had the Caprese piadine and she had the linguine and clams I think.

Bridgeway, the major bayside avenue where Poggio is located also has a number of other stores and restaurants. Poggio itself is located right next to the Casa Madrona Hotel and Day Spa which
a wonderful place to get put up. I have never been there but have known others who have sung its praises.

Other restaurants that you find along Bridgeway include Scomas (a seafood place) and Ondines (a private dining space serving American style cuisine), both of which are right on the water. There are also a number of other places to eat and enjoy the bay breeze.

We drove around a bit afterwards to check out the neighborhood to see how the other half of the one percent live. As you might expect from a neighborhood called The Hills, the streets snail up the incline and homes are built to take full advantage of the bay views and breeze. You are just north of the Golden Gate here and I am sure many of these homes here have great views of SF, Angel Island and the Bay Bridge in the distance.

The roads here are very leafy and the homes have plenty of bay facing balconies and street side car ports. Many of the condos are right by the edge of the water as well.

As you might expect, these are mostly multi-million dollar homes around here and probably running closer to $2 million than $1 for the most part. In fact, even the condos will often run in the milllion dollar range. (Though I did see one or two places that had sold for around $800,000.)

Basically this is not just a great place to come and visit, but a great place to live--if, of course, you are loaded.
Pros
  • Great Restaurants
  • Beautiful Views
  • Great Homes and Schools
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • A Bit of a Commute
  • Hillside Problems
Recommended for
  • Professionals
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 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
Just now

"Point Reyes Italian"

When most folks think of Point Reyes, they think of the amazing beaches, hiking and the natural splendour of the Northern California coast. These are without a doubt great destinations and when I was here this weekend with my mom I indulged her love of lighthouses by taking her to see the one along the coast. I totally get the fascination with them--love to imagine what the life of a lighthouse keeper must have been like.

But for me, the real attraction to Point Reyes Station was Stellina, an Italian restaurant that has been listed in the Top 100 Bay Area restaurants by the SF Chronicle. Point Reyes Station is actually a quaint little town that takes advantage of its location along Highway 1. It is one of those places that you just have to stop by and check out--the kind of place where it is a joy to spend a morning just walking around a bit.

Osteria Stellina serves what its creator calls Point Reyes Italian, which I guess means that its Italian dishes are created from locally sourced foods. In that sense it is very much in the Alice Waters tradition of using local flavors and seasonal foods to design their culinary masterpieces. I had the steelhead salmon and the moms had the lemon chicken. We both loved it.

There were several other restaurants that we might have gone to as well, though I doubt any of them are much of a match for the Osteria Stellina. Here is a little sampling: Cafe Reyes (a Mexican place), Station House Cafe, and Pine Cone Diner. There was also a saloon, a bookstore, a flower shop and a saddle shop for the equestrian types who want to go horseback riding in the hills.

I don’t know if I would want to live in a little town like this but I can see the appeal of coming here for dinner.
Pros
  • Good Local Restauarnt
  • Quiant Looking
  • Good Shopping
Cons
  • Small Town Feel
  • Tourist Packed
  • Out of the Way
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Gregoire, Panisse, a Taste of the Himalayas and Much More"

I hope this isn’t going to become a habit for me--as a former Stanford Cardinal--but I yet again found myself in Bear territory. This time it was with my mom who is here visiting and wanted to go to the famed Chez Panisse--Alice Waters’ renowned East Bay eatery. Unfortunately, as you may have heard, there was a fire that has basically shut Chez Panisse down for now--thus ruining our original plans. Mom was very disappointed--she has always wanted to go and my moving to this section of the Bay Area was her big chance, she thought.

We decided to come here anyway and check out some of the other offers of this stretch of the Gourmet Ghetto as it is affectionately called by Berkeley denizens.

Despite being a pretty busy street, Shattuck Avenue still has a fairly quaint feel to it because of all the stores and restaurants that line the sidewalks. It really does have a European feel to it.

We ended up going to Gregoire, an affordable French joint, where I had the honey bbq pork and moms had the crispy potato puffs. It was really great. We both loved it.

But this was only one of a number of places we could have gone on this strip of the Gourmet Ghetto. There are also a bunch of Asian restaurants like Taste of the Himalayas (an Indian place) and Cha-Ya, a Vegan Japanese joint. We also considered going to Tratoria Corso or to the other French place along this strip, the French Hotel.

The area is also packed with students and local families. On weekends you really do get a sense of being in a metropolitan center of the East Bay. (I still prefer Palo Alto, but I am beginning to see the appeal of Berkeley.)
Pros
  • Great Restaurants
  • Cool Atmosphere
  • Good Stores
Cons
  • Crowded
  • Some Traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"A Taste of Tokyo in Bear Territory"

Maybe its the Stanford gal in me, but I haven’t quite gone gaga over Berkeley the way some of my friends have. The other day though, I did put aside my love of the Cardinal to venture here into Bear territory for a meal within just steps of the UC campus.

What brought me here to Center Street was the restaurant Ippuku. It’s a Japanese restaurant that was voted one of the Top 100 Bay Area restaurants by SFGate last year. It is very Japanese. You feel you like you have stepped on the set of the Last Samurai or Lost in Translation when you are there. We thoroughly enjoyed it even though I don’t remember the names of what ate. My only problem with it was that the plates were way too small.

As to the rest of the street, it seemed like it was a typical Downtown Berkeley street, filled with noisy traffic and dirty. (Sorry, any street in Stanford has Berkeley beat in terms of cleanliness.) But I can completely see what Cal students like about the area surrounding their campus--you do feel like you are in the heart of a bustling international city (I heard at least 4 foreign languages while we were there.)

The other great thing is that BART is right there, so you don’t have to hassle with parking. And there look to be a ton of other restaurants on this part of Center including Le Regal, a Ben & Jerry’s and a place called Alborz--all of which I am keen to try next time I am here. Of course, there was also a Starbuck’s on the corner, a Quiznos and a Bongo Burger which I’m sure are great for undergrads but which have no pull with me.

I also saw a Tibet souvenir store which looked kind of cool but we were in a hurry to catch a movie on one of the streets over, so I didn’t spend much time inspecting it. Oh yeah, and Games of Berkeley--a store devoted solely to games, is on the southern corner with Shattuck--pretty cool!

I was a lot less impressed with Center to the south of Shattuck. There was a parking lot down there and I understand that Berkeley High is there too, but there seemed not to be much worth exploring down there--very urban looking.

Overall, a great place to grab a bite to eat, and to keep your Cardinal Red well hidden away.
Pros
  • Great Restaurants and Shops
  • Close to UC Campus
  • BART
Cons
  • Dirty
  • Parking, Traffic and Noise
  • Crime Worries
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Golf, Bricks and Beaches"

Looking to play a few holes of that Scottish terror known this side of the Pond as “golf”?

Well then you have come to the right place. Peacock Gap, this far eastern peninsula of San Rafael, is most famous for its eponymously named golf course. This is one of those large, beautiful golf courses that appeals to the 1% since they are probably the only ones that can really afford them.

It isn’t all about greens and ruffs here, however. The southern end of Peacock Gap is home to McNear Brick and Block, where you can get all your bricking needs met--everything from driveways to fireplaces. They look very nice and I guess they make all the bricks and blocks right on site. You certainly see enough trucks coming in and out of the yard. (They must be doing pretty well given their ability to afford this prime bay front property which I’m sure developers would love to get their hands on.) The other company that shares this southern end of the peninsula is the Dutra Group--three companies that dredge, construct and provide materials , all wrapped in one.

The rest the of Peacock Gap section of the peninsula is pretty much residential with streets named after birds and famous seaside places: Partridge Dr., Peacock Ct., Pheasant Ct, Biscayne Dr., Riviera Dr., San Marino Dr. and Point San Pedro Dr . As you might expect given the water and the golf course around which many of the homes are built, this is prime real-estate. The typical single family home here probably sells for about a million dollars. I’m sure there are some that go for even more. These are large beautiful homes built mostly in the 60’s on the southern end and getting newer (and no doubt more expensive) as you head north.

There are also some condos up here as well which sell for alot less than the homes.

And with China Camp State Park and McNear’s Beach Park right at the edges of neighborhood, this is a dream come true for outdoorsy types who love a good hike, bike or walk.

In addition to the great location, you also get virtually zero crime and great schools. Glenwood Elementary, Davidson Middle School and San Rafael High are all above average schools with great programs and lots of parent involvement.
Pros
  • Big, Beautiful Homes
  • Close to Beach, Parks and Golf
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • Trucks on Southern End
  • Car Culture and Commute
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Steak, Apple, Molly and a Pint of Guiness"

This is the famous 4th Street Mall section of Berkeley, known for it boutiques and restaurants. There’s lots of stuff to do here. I’ve only been a couple of times but here are my favorites so far:

1. O Chame: A Japanese place with great pancakes and pretty good Tempura.

2. Cafe Rouge: A Berkeley style steakhouse with its own butcher inside.

3. Zut: I haven’t been here yet, but this American style restaurant with its Mediterranean spin looks really great.

4. 4th Street Yoga: Definitely want to check this place out (though there are definitely no shortage of Yoga places in the East Bay).

5. The Apple Store of course--can’t live without one of these.

6. The Molly B clothing boutique

7. Jigsaw London for the bags mostly

8. Books Inc.

9. The Peets (always need some Joe)

10. Brennan’s Irish Hofbrau for when I need a pint of Guinness. (Okay so it is technically not on 4th Street and is south of University, but its close of enough for horseshoes, hand-grenades and Irish pubs, right?)

I’m sure I will continue to change this list as I discover new favorites.
Pros
  • Great Restaurants
  • Cool Boutiques
  • The Apple Store
Cons
  • A Little Crowded
  • A Little Expensive
  • A Bit Out of the Way
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Rivoli and Morning Brunch"

Came here to Solano Avenue to go to Rivoli, which is listed in SF Gate’s Top 100 Bay Area restaurants.I am not that familiar with Berkeley, being more of a Stanford gal myself. However, I love this area in North Berkeley. It just has a very European feel.

Rivoli is great. Don’t be fooled by the name, it is not an Italian restaurant. They actually serve a Western menu--what is called “California comfort food” by SF Gate. I had the grilled yellowtail and for dessert the strawberries and cream panna cotta (which I was supposed to share but didn’t).

My friend who I went with tells me that this section of Solano is an especially popular spot for Sunday morning brunch, especially during spring and summer. With a Copy Central and a 7-11, it definitely has a college town feel. There are also some cute little restaurants and shops down there that I want to check out.

Apparently the Northbrae neighborhood is home more to graduate students and young married couples though there are still a lot of people who are somehow involved with the university.

I will definitely have to check it out again sometime and add to this review.
Pros
  • Cool Restaurants
  • Attractive Hip Street
  • Next to Quietish Neighborhood
Cons
  • Too Much Traffic
  • A Little On the Older Side
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Not Florida Nice, but Nice"

Came here to Florida Drive in the Clayton Valley Highland to take a look at a 4-Bedroom Ranch home that is up for rent. It is a pretty typical looking Eisenhower Era street but really well kept, with a wide open feel to it that makes the overgrown lawns and un-kept bushes seem not so bad. There are even some picket fences. I don’t know if it is just because this section of Concord is slightly more hilly or because of something else, but this just seems lots better than another similar street we visited earlier down in the flatter part of Concord.

You will totally pay for the difference though. This home here is about $300 dollars more per month than the place we looked at in the Ellis Lake area.

One of the benefits that you get from taking Ygnacio Valley Road past the Cal State East Bay Campus is that the schools are a lot stronger on this side than in the rest of Concord. Highlands Elementary and Clayton Valley High are way above average and even the weakest link, Pine Hollow Middle School is solidly average--which is still above the standard set by most Concord Schools.

This actually a pretty nice spot. I would definitely not mind living here.
Pros
  • Nice Home
  • Good Schools
  • Quiet Street
Cons
  • A Bit Out of the Way
  • A Bit Expensive
  • A Bit Unkept
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Old and Woodsy"

Picnic Valley is a very woodsy hillside neighborhood at the southern end of San Rafael. It comes right off of Lindaro Street. This is the kind of neighborhood where the streets are narrow and it is hard to fit two cars next to each other.

The homes here are a mix of very old homes (a century old in some cases) and homes dating from the 1960’s. The older homes tend to be on the lower, straighter northern part of the neighborhood and the newer ones tend to be up in the hills.

This is a pretty nice spot and homes here climb with the elevation, going from about half a million dollars at the lower elevations to more than 3 quarters of a million at the upper reaches.

Of course, this is hilly forest living, so you need to be prepared for extra home costs related to erosion, critter nuisances (like knocked over trash cans) and the fire worries.

You do, however, get strong schools, a safe area and you are close to an okay number of restaurants and things of this nature.

Overall, a pretty good spot for families--especially if you are into an outdoorsy sort of a feel.
Pros
  • Very Woodsy
  • Good Schools
  • Close to San Rafael Restaurants
Cons
  • Hillside Problems
  • Fire Worries
  • Very Expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
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 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Once a White Picket Fence Street"

Oakmead Drive in the Ellis Lake neighborhood in Concord is mostly a pretty typical residential neighborhood. I came here with my friend in our continued quest to find a 4-bedroom that is within our price range and livable.

Oakmead itself is pretty much filled with somewhat shabby looking Ranch styles homes. It is one of those streets that used to be the American Dream for the middle class. The homes were once pretty nice with white picket fences and the whole bit (some of these still remain) but now the upkeep is a little uneven, with yards that are occasionally brown and with untrimmed hedgerows.
But what we really came to look at was a planned community just off of Oakmead. It is brand new and quite beautiful, and although small and too apartment-like for a 4-bedroom, was very enticing. At nearly $2000/month it is affordable for two, though maybe not for one.
The only other concern has to do with the close quarters of this location--too much like apartment living.
I don’t know about this neighborhood long term though. The schools in Concord I hear are not too good and there is possibly a gang problem, so I don’t know if I would want to live here long term.
Overall though, we are thinking of putting our hats in ring for this place and seeing if we can get it.
Pros
  • Relatively Affordable
  • Nice Newer Apartments
  • Close to Movies and Shops
Cons
  • Poor Schools
  • Some Rundown Looking Homes
  • Possible Crime Worries
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 1/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"A Major Commercial/Industrial Force in Marin"

The Francisco Boulevard West neighborhood is pretty much a commercial area where you can find a lot of businesses. It is the home of at least one of the Skywalker Sound studios. (I don’t know if there are others in San Rafael in Marin.) As you may know George Lucas’ home is here.

You will also find a lot of other companies that are much less famous around here. Such as: Thornton Paving, Wine Cellar Pros (which build wine-cellars apparently), and on the western end, truly industrial companies like Shamrock Materials (provides masonry for house foundations?) and California Closets (which creates custom closets). There are a lot of typical stores you expect in a location like this as well: Geek Squad, TJ Maxx, BevMo and DollarTree. And car dealers and repair shops like Toyota, Ferrari and Volvo.

Marin Vet Hospital is here too for your kitties and woof woofs.

There is even a bit of a nightlife scene in Francisco Boulevard West. Hot Club 101 is here--it is a Latin oriented club that features a Sunday Bandas night, a Thursday No-Cover College night and, this being the Bay Area, a Wednesday Transvestite extravaganza.

Part of the benefit of this location is that it is just off Highway 101, within striking distance of San Francisco.

Of course, this is not the most attractive of locations, nor is it where you would come to look for an apartment, but it is the kind of place that makes all those other pretty Marin County places more convenient--where you come to buy the stuff that creates those lives of comfort and leisure.
Pros
  • Lots of Strong Companies
  • Good Vet Hospital
  • Where To Buy a Car
Cons
  • Not a Highly Attractive Area
  • Not Where You Will Find Residences
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"A Nice Little Nest with Plenty of Parking for the Chickadees"

Thrush Court is a quiet cul-de-sac in the Birds neighborhood of Hercules. I came here with a friend to look at a house for her and her kids. She is going through a divorce and the two of us were thinking of maybe trying to share a place like this. The rent for this place was pretty expensive for our budgets--close to $2000, but for a 4-bedroom that we could both share it could maybe work.

These are mostly 2-story Contemporary style homes of the kind that is typical of the mid-1980’s. The other cool thing about this court is that it has extra parking spaces at the middle of the court for when you have guests for a dinner party or something along those lines.

This is a great location in terms of looks. The homes are not too old and you feel pretty safe here. It is also somewhat elevated so you probably get a little bit of a sea breeze.

I hear that the schools in Hercules are also pretty good so it would be great for the kids.

My main concern with living in Hercules has to do with commutes. I hear that they are pretty terrible from here. That would be the main problem.

Overall though this is a pretty nice spot, and I definitely wouldn’t mind working here if I could work out the logistics of it.
Pros
  • Nice Homes
  • Relatively Affordable
  • Safe
Cons
  • Terrible for Commuting
  • Not Much by Way of Nightlife
  • A Touch on the Bland Side
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Older Neighborhod But Close to Outdoor Splendour"

Like most of the neighborhoods on this southern part of San Rafael, Bret Harte is named after and anchored by a park. The neighborhood itself is made up of straight narrow streets with post-WWII Ranch styles homes. Basically it is one of those neighborhoods the Boomers grew up in. The residents here tend to be older (maybe even some of the original home buyers). Front lawns are small and far closer to the street than in more contemporary style neighborhoods.

Friends that I have around here tell me that schools are pretty good and mostly above average. Crime is also low--you mostly get minor sorts of stuff like petty thefts and the occasional burglary.

Most people who work here make the commute into the city, which seems just crazy to me. But I think if I worked at one of the companies that calls Marin home, it might not be too bad.

You also can’t beat Marin when it comes to outdoor activities. You can go to the beach or mountain biking and are basically living in one of the greenest, most beautiful places on the Earth.

You are also close enough to the main shopping and entertainment spots in San Rafael to get to them in just minutes.

Overall though this is not one of the most beautiful spots in Marin; it is probably one of the more affordable ones. I can see living here in order to be close to all the other benefits--especially if you happen to work up here in Marin.
Pros
  • Close to Outdoors
  • Safe
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Long Commutes
  • Older Homes
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Very 70's"

Sherwood Forest Drive in El Sobrante--just a couple of blocks off San Pablo Dam Road--looks like a typical 1970’s style neighborhood with Ranch style homes and garages with dolphins on the occasional garage door.

These don’t look like your typical Ranch style homes however. First, many of them have shingled roofs, gabled dormers and prairie style porches. All in all a very Western feel to homes. Also a lot of lawn chairs on front porches, suggesting the neighborhood is mostly made up of older folks. Homes here sell for around a quarter of a million dollars.

This is also a fairly safe area with only the occasional burglary or incident. It is far enough from the city that those kinds of urban problems seem to fade.

The local elementary here is pretty good as well. (Though the rest of the schools are progressively worse for the older kids.)

Overall this seems like an okay neighborhood if you are just starting a family or if your kids are already out of the house.
Pros
  • Cute Dormers
  • Good Neighborhood Elementary School
  • Good Spot for Commuters
Cons
  • Bad Middle and High Schools
  • A Bid Older Looking
  • A Bit Remote
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Quiant Older Neighborhood Close to 2nd Street"

The Gerstle Park neighborhood in San Rafael is an older neighborhood. Most of the homes here date from before 1945. These are mostly walk-up bungalows. You will also find some occasional apartments mixed in here and there.

Homes here can sell for close to $1 million dollars. Most homes, however, go for about half that.

One of the central benefits of living in Marin County are the good schools. Even when you are living in one of the more affordable areas, this tends to still hold true. This is somewhat the case here. Most of the schools are above average. The local elementary--Dell, however, has an API of 4 which makes it about average, or slightly below.

This is also a very safe area with few criminal incidents to report beyond mostly minor stuff. There are of course more incidents near 2nd streets and the higher traffic area, but most of these are of the petty theft and occasional public urination variety--as can be expected in any high traffic area like this.

This is also one of the draws of the area, you are within walking distance of pubs like the Flatiron Saloon and restaurants like Citrus and Spice (a Thai place).

This is part of what makes this an attractive area for the historic century old Panama Hotel. The hotel, which also has a restaurant, is a popular place to lodge visiting business folks and vacationers visiting Marin. They also have live music. A few other inns have also popped up, such as the Gerstle Park Inn.

So this is actually a pretty good spot to live if you like older homes and living close to the action--such as it is in San Rafael.
Pros
  • Close to Restaurants and Pubs
  • Quiant Homes
  • Cool Inns
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Long Commute for Most
  • Old Home Problems
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Nice Hilly San Rafael Neighborhood"

California Park is a pretty typical hillside neighborhood around these parts. It has nice sloping streets with homes set up along them to make the best of the views here--which are mostly of the valley below from these locations.

You get all the typical hillside problems here, of course, like erosion and critters eating your gardens and getting into your garbage. But you also get the great schools and the benefits of being close to everything from nice restaurants to hiking and beaches.

Of course, this is Marin County so you can expect to pay a couple of extra hundred k here for the privilege of living amongst the wealthy. Most people are happy to so, however, if they can afford it.
Pros
  • Nice Houses
  • Woody
  • Mostly Strong Schools
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Hillside Problems
  • Long Commute for Most
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Nice Suburban Street Close to Movie Theater"

Hull Lane in Martinez is nice quiet two block long street ending in a cul-de-sac. It is mostly made up of large Contemporary style homes that seem to date from the 1980’s as far as I can tell. There is also a condominium complex here. The nice thing about this spot is that you get the quiet and safety of a suburban setting while being within walking distance of a movie theater and supermarket. You also have a Kaiser medical facility right next door. Highway 4 rushes by just to the north.

You can rent a 3-bedroom in the condo complex for $1800. So it is a pretty good deal. A nice spot.
Pros
  • Not Too Expensive
  • Close to Theater
  • Quiet Street, Good Schools
Cons
  • Out of the Way for Commuting
  • Traffic
  • Chemical Worries from Chevron Plant?
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Eat, Drink and Visit Faux Mission"

Downtown San Rafael reminds me a lot of Palo Alto. It is definitely the same kind of demographic as well.

Like most downtowns, this is where you go to find the cool restaurants. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Napoli Pizza
2. Lotus Cuisine (an Indian place)
3. Sol Food (a Puerty Rican joint)
4. Il Davide (an Italian place)
and 5. Panama Hotel Restaurant

These are all on 4th Street, the main drag here. There are some bars and pubs too:

1. Nickel Rose
2. The Mayflower Pub
3. Pint Size Lounge

It is definitely a nice spot to hang out on a Sunday morning or to come at night for a bite to eat.

This is also where you will find the public library, the San Raphael Arcangel Church--which is a reconstruction of the original church that the Catholics once built here.

There is even a tattoo parlor: Spider Murphy’s. So its got something for everybody.
Pros
  • Good Restaurants
  • Good Bars
  • Lots of Shopping
Cons
  • Busy
  • Expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Kind of Like Grandma--Old but Nice"

Came to see a house here on Sodaro Drive in the Vine Hill section of Martinez. This is the section of Martinez that feels more like Pacheco than Martinez. What I mean is that the street has sort of a rural feel. If the roads weren’t paved, it would feel like you were in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Most of the homes here are very old and they have late model cars parked out front, suggesting the residents are on the older side as well. But the homes are mostly very well kept. It is not unusual to see white picket fences out front and well trimmed shrubbery.

I don’t know if this is typical, but we came to see a 4-bedroom here that was going for $1850. That is pretty good for a 4-bedroom.

Overall the area is fairly safe and has solid schools. It is also relatively well situated for commuting into the rest of Contra Costa County (though I wouldn’t want to try to make it into SF from here).

This actually seems like a nice quiet spot to raise kids.
Pros
  • Relatively Affordable
  • Okay Schools
  • Relatively Safe
Cons
  • Some Old Boarded Up Houses
  • Not Great For SF Commute
  • Not Great for Public Transportation
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Companies South, Condos North"

This is the spot where the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge touches down in Marin County. The southern end of this neighborhood is made up of companies and the detritus of such industrial locations. What companies are located here?

The San Rafael Heliport, the video game maker Telltale Games, a Home Depot, the ceramics designer Daltile, Parnell Pharmaceuticals and video production company, 32 Ten Studios--to just name a few.

The northern end of Canal is much more suburban. Along the water you get one of those planned condo neighborhoods where all of the homes look somewhat alike and the streets are named after New England locations: Nantucket, Newport etc. In this location, most of these run between $600K and $800K .

These give way to some very boxy looking apartments which pretty much make up the rest of Canal. These apartments--listed as condos mostly--sell for about about $150K.

As far as school goes, they are mostly fairly strong here as throughout most of Marin.

Overall this is probably a very good place to work and fairly good place live.
Pros
  • Lots of Businesses
  • Okay Condos
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Ugly Boxy Apartments
  • Some Industrial Detritus
  • Traffic off Bridge
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Not Worth the Gamble Yet"

Came here with a friend for her to look at a 4-bedroom house. It was actually listed at $1000/month which is an amazingly low price.

18th Street is a fairly typical San Pablo street. It is filled with older homes dating from World War II and before. Rent here is as low as I have ever seen it and you can tell the reasons why by just looking at the homes along the neighborhood: they all have bars on the windows and and steel reinforced screens on the doors. Basically there are crime fears here, even though it is not considered to be as bad as Richmond.

There are some newer Contemporary style homes on the end of 18th Street, but even they have bars on the windows.

It is actually not a bad spot from which to commute and if you happen to be in school, Contra Costa College is nearby. If you are in high school or below, schools are pretty bad however.

This street and neighborhood have potential but I don’t think it is to the point where I would want to gamble on it yet.
Pros
  • Some Nice Newer Homes
  • Close to Contra Costa College
  • Very Affordable
Cons
  • Bad Schools
  • Crime Worries
  • Mostly Worn Down Older Homes
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Nice Suburban Larkspur Neighborhood"

The Heather Gardens/Meadowoods neighborhood is just to the south of the high school. It is mostly made of Ranch homes though there are some cul-de-sacs where you find some newer Contemporary style homes that are pretty unusual.

From some spots in this neighborhood you even get some pretty good views.

Homes here, of course, are at the ¾ of a million dollar range.

Overall this is a nice little neighborhood located right at the suburban heart of Larkspur and within walking distance of both the high school, middle school and Old Town Larkspur.

Definitely worth a look if you’re looking for a place to live.
Pros
  • Nice Homes
  • Close to Schools and Old Town
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Bad For Commuting
  • A Little Bland
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
2/5 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 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Big Cheap Houses but Bad Schools and Terrible Commutes"

Where can you find a 7-bedroom house for under $3000?

Here on Pueblo Drive apparently. Pueblo Drive is an attractive suburban street on the southern end of Pittsburg that could easily be used as the backdrop for a movie meant to be set in the 60’s or 70’s. It is flat and not the least bit flashy but it is nice.

It is close to Buchanon Park and has a nice working class feel.

Although there are a fair number of reported sex offenders in the neighborhood, overall crime here seems relatively low despite Pittsburg reputation for being a gangland.

So what is the problem? Why are the rents so low?

Schools are first of all significantly below average with API’s of 2 and 3s.

The worst problem however is the terrible commute. If you have to go farther than Walnut Creek, you might as well move into your car, you will be spending most of your time there.

That’s why you can find an affordable home for this price here.
Pros
  • Large Inexpensive Homes for Rent
  • Close to the Park
  • Working Class Suburban Feel
Cons
  • Terrible Commutes
  • Some Local Sex Offenders
  • Bad Local Schools
Recommended for
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"A Little Older But Nice"

Palm Hill is a little nook of a neighborhood to the southeast of downtown Larkspur. It is a cute neighborhood with narrow bushy streets. This is a fairly old neighborhood with a good number of Ranch style homes. It does not look as expensive as other areas of Larkspur with newer and better homes, though I am sure it is still well above most people’s budgets.

Even so. You still get most of the benefits of living in Larkspur, from the great schools to the amazing natural beauty.

You also get the drawbacks as well, of course. Here I am talking about the high cost of living.

You are also within walking distance of the movie theater and the restaurants of the cute Old Town area of Larkspur. A pretty good deal, actually.
Pros
  • Great Schools
  • Within Walking Distance of Old Town
  • Nice Views
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Older Homes
  • Commute Problems
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Cheapest 4-Bedroom in the Bay Area but Too Dangerous"

Ever wonder where the cheapest place to rent a 4-bedroom is in the Bay Area?

You guessed it: Oakland. Specifically, at this moment, it is the Webster neighborhood. What kind of a place is it? Not completely sure since the posting was entirely in Spanish.

We came to take a look. Webster is just to the east of the Oakland Colliseum, squeezed between International and Bancroft. It is one of those neighborhoods packed with rickety pre-World War II homes.

You can tell this is a high crime area by the bars on the windows and the steel reinforced screens on the doors. Oakland schools are also notoriously poor.

Some of the streets in this neighborhood looked pretty bad--not where I would want to be at night. Some of them looked pretty nice. Unfortunately the place we came to see was not in one of the nicer looking places.

Needless to say, I couldn’t even get my gal friend to get out of the car to take a look at the place.
Pros
  • Very Affordable
  • Close to the Airport
  • Some Nice Streets
Cons
  • High Crime
  • Poor Schools
  • Ugly in Spots
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 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"A Forest Paradise"

Stretched out against the woody southwestern hills, Chevy Chase is absolutely one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Larkspur. This is one of those hilly areas where the homes have great views not only of the valley below but of the north bay.

This is hardwood deck territory. The kind of large homes that must cost above million dollars even in a down market like we have been having.

The downside to living in a paradise like this--other than the high property costs--is that you have to deal with narrow lanes and the many problems of having a hillside home in the middle of what is essentially a forest. You will have to keep the trees at bey and your fire insurance up to date. You will have to deal with wildlife getting into your garbage, eating your vegetable garden and occasionally skunking your neighborhood. Hardwood decks and moist environments also add to the upkeep of a home.

But with great schools, no crime and just the aesthetics of this area, Chevy Chase well makes up for these drawbacks if you can afford it.
Pros
  • Beautiful Views
  • Great Homes
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Fire Hazards
  • Very Expensive
  • Wildlife and Hillside Issues
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Close to Old Town but Overpriced"

Baltimore is the Larkspur neighborhood just to the south of Old Town. It is mostly a residential neighborhood except around Magnolia where you get some spillover from the “downtown” area. The Italian restaurant Picco is technically in this neighborhood as is The Tavern at Lark Creek, a high ceilinged restaurant and wedding venue that is the fountainhead of half dozen plus Lark Creek restaurants around California.

Most homes in this area are estimated at around $1 million, but you will also find some small 20’s era bungalows that sell for about 3 quarters of that. Although there have been some newer homes added here it mostly still has the wide-laned feel of an older neighborhood and enough of the original homes that were once here to firmly indicate that it is one of the oldest spots in Larkspur.

You get a fair amount of traffic along Magnolia, but the inner streets are pretty quiet. You are fairly close to the Old Town neighborhood as well so you have all the restaurants and stores within walking distance.

Overall this is an okay neighborhood but way overpriced in my opinion, given what it actually offers.
Pros
  • Quiant Older Bungalows
  • Close to Old Town Restaurants and Shops
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Overpriced for Location
  • Bad Commute
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Forest Living Close to Town"

If you like the feeling of living away from it all, Madrone Canyon may be the place for you. Although it is just down the road from the rest of Larkspur, the feel of the area is remote--as if you were living much farther up the coast not just across the bridge from San Francisco. The narrow winding streets the make up this neighborhood give way to homes that are perfectly perched (in many cases) to catch glimpses of the Bay. These are big homes often with more than 5000 ft. of space, often multiple stories, though you can’t always see how big they are from the street because of tree cover and the need to pay attention to the road.

The median price for homes here is easily a million dollars and I know that some rise to 2 million. You probably won’t find anything in this neighborhood for under $750,000.

This is hillside living at it most extreme, so although it beautiful and the schools are great, you should also be ready for the downsides of owning a home in a location like this. First, of course, you should be ready for the maintenance issues involved in living in place with these kinds of topographical features. First, there are problems with erosion when ever you live on hillsides. This means, in many cases, fighting a constant battle against sliding off the hill.

Second, this kind of living also requires constant home maintenance, as you fight off the elements, keep trees trimmed, and are constantly trying to keep nature at bay. Next, don’t forget nuisances like critters getting into your garbage on trash day, skunks getting under your house and skunking you when the dogs bark, deer eating your vegetable garden, and having to drive the winding roads everyday to take kids places,etc.

Finally, don’t forget that you will also have wildfire worries in such a woody area. During fire seasons, which climatologists tell us will become more intense, but which are intense already, you will have to cross your fingers and hope you don’t have you house razed.

So it is not just paradise. However, if you can afford to live in a place like this, you will probably find it one of the best places to raise children. It is close to nature, has great schools, is super safe and still has nearby restaurants and movie theaters. What else could you ask for?
Pros
  • Beautiful Location
  • Great Homes
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Erosion Problems
  • Critter Nuisances
  • Wildfire Worries
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Woody but Close to Town"

The Loop is the residential neighborhood that sprawls out just to the west of the Old Town neighborhood in Larkspur. The narrow lanes that head up into these mild hills give way to large, older homes. This neighborhood dates from the 1960’s mostly. There is definitely a sort of bucolic feel to the area with all the sidewalk-less streets and driveways that disappear back into the trees. You feel as if you are out in the middle of nowhere here.

You will also get some critter worries on garbage day, and some erosion worries during the rainy season, so factor that in when deciding whether this is the right place for you.

I am given to understand that most of these homes are valued at $1 million.

Of course, as throughout Larkspur, one of the big draws are the great schools. Redwood High School receives some of the top ratings, as does Hall Middle School. There is even a private religious school--St. Patrick--which is just to east.

Larkspur also has the benefit of being close to all the natural offerings of Marin County with hiking, biking and beaches nearby. The commute into the city is, of course, a bit of a drag: it will take you about an hour to make it to most places in SF and about the same to make it into Oakland, which means most Larkspur residents are spending a lot of time in their cars heading to work.

As to restaurants and nightlife, you are right by Old Town which means you can have a nice meal and be home in 10 minutes.

Overall a great spot to live.
Pros
  • Bucolic Area
  • Close to Old Town Restaurants and Shops
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Critter Worries
  • Erosion Worries
  • Expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Fun Old Town"

Old Town is Larkspur’s version of a “downtown.” Of course, since Larkspur is not exactly Oakland this is basically just a cool little strip where you can go to nice restaurant and catch a movie. The area does have a sort of quaint old feel to it, but in a really well-maintained sort of way. (Probably more fiction than reality.)

I’ve been to the Lark Theatre a few times. Here’s the selling point: it’s an eclectic small town movie house that serves beer and wine (you and some of the movies provide the cheese). Now the screen is not the biggest but if you love watching quality current movies and some less of the beaten path selections on a screen that is not in your own home, this is the place for you. Also, it is unusual in not being in the big city, not many of these kinds of places left. Just to give you an idea, right now they are playing The Impossible (the Naomi Watts movie about the Thailand tsunami) and a live night at the Met (on weekend mornings). Every month they also have a sing-along night for movies like the Wizard of Oz and periodically they do special events like a Oscar’s Night and a Super Bowl event. So it is definitely an unusual theater.

Old Town also has a dozen or so restaurants that cater to locals and the weekend/summer traffic who find their way here. You have a couple of Chinese places, a sushi place, Fabrizio’s and Picco (both Italian joints), Left Bank (French, of course), and Avatar’s Punjabi Burritos--Indian style burritos that are plate licking good; just check out their website to see what I mean: http://www.enjoyavatars.com.

There are also some cool stores like the Nicolette Boutiques and Gala’s, kids clothing like Max and Addi’s, and even a little bar, The Silver Peso.

This isn’t the city, but given that Larkspur has a population that barely breaks 10,000 this is quite a selection. Definitely a nice place to spend a weekend morning or evening.
Pros
  • Cool Theater
  • Nice Restaurants
  • Cool Stores
Cons
  • Small
  • Expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Larkspur on the Relatively Cheap"

Skylark is a condominium neighborhood, nesting up along Skylark Drive and the streets that branch out from it. It is a very leafy area, which makes the uniform look of the condos not seem as oppressive as they might otherwise feel in another location. In fact, many of the condos here have a nice wood shingled look to them. You can get a two-bedroom here for about $2000.

For Larkspur, that is, of course, pretty affordable. And you still get all the benefits of living here in Larkspur, from the great schools and safety to all the natural beauty and proximity to hiking and beaches. Basically, it is a back door to a truly high quality lifestyle.

It is a nice little nook for single parents and singles looking to live large on a modest budget.
Pros
  • Relatively Affordable
  • Nice Condos
  • Great Schools and Safe
Cons
  • Long Commutes
  • Expensive Area
  • Condo Living
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Nice Main Drag"

This is the neighborhood on the far northwestern end of Larkspur, just to the south of the College of Marin. There is not much to it. The main attraction to this “neighborhood” is Magnolia Avenue with its row of stores and eateries. Magnolia is too much of a speedway for this stretch to have a “small town” feel, as you might expect from what I have said so far but you will still find a cool little bakery with outdoor seating, a pizza place and Thai place. You will also find a boutique, a Masonic lodge, a cleaners and bank. (It pretty much has the feel of 1982 around here.)

That is pretty much it.
Pros
  • Nice Stores--Especially Pearl's Boutique
  • Close to the College
  • Okay for Eating
Cons
  • Magnolia Too Much of a Speedway
  • Feels a Little Like a 1980's Strip Mall
  • A Little Out of the Way
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Average Neighborhood, Expensive Location"

Hillview in Larkspur is a pretty average looking residential neighborhood. But as anyone who knows anything about Larkspur and Marin County, there is nothing average about the home prices here. So even an average looking neighborhood like this, filled with nice but not opulent Ranch style homes on nicely kept wide streets, will actually have very, very expensive homes in it. These Ranch homes that would probably sell for $400 K or so across the Bay, sell for more than $1 million here.

That is not really surprising. What Larkspur has that those East Bay homes don’t have is great schools and safety--and people will definitely pay extra for those benefits.

As far as commuting, you can be to almost anywhere in SF or the northern East Bay within an hour. You could also head north and make it as far as Petaluma within an hour.

There are some nearby restaurants and some Larkspur watering holes as well, even if these are not anything that people will go out of their way to find.

Overall an average neighborhood made above average by...you guessed it, location, location, location. That’s what it’s all about, after all.
Pros
  • Great Schools
  • Close to Natural Wonders
  • Safe as it Gets
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • Long Commutes for Most
  • Not Much by Way of Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Great Spot for Developers"

North Magnolia isn’t much of a neighborhood. It is mostly just one or two little streets with big houses on them. The rest of North Magnolia is just undeveloped land, though maybe one day it will get filled by homes like much of the rest of the locations around here.

The homes that are here are nice and big. They would definitely cost more than $1 million. It’s a nice spot and I’m sure some developer will take advantage of it soon.
Pros
  • Great Homes
  • Great Schools
  • Lots of Undeveloped Land
Cons
  • Critters
  • High Home Prices
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Trendy & Stylish
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 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Condos and Million Dollar Homes"

The Creekside neighborhood in Larkspur is a tiny neighborhood just to the west of the Boardwalk neighborhood. Creekside is mostly made up of what looks to me like condominiums and model homes. The homes, which are on the western end of Creekside, look to date from the 90’s and I hear sell for $1 million dollars or more. The condos that mostly make up the eastern end of the neighborhood, are a lot less expensive, with the median price being only about a quarter of the price of a home.

Of course, regardless of whether you pay a million dollars or just $250 k, you still get the great schools and the low crime. You also get a bit of shopping and proximity to lots of great outdoor delights not too far away.

Overall, this is a pretty good deal if you like living among the rich tycoons of our day but don’t really have the bank account for it.
Pros
  • Inexpensive Condos
  • Great Schools
  • Close to Great Recreation
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • Far From Most Jobs
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"And Also a Great Middle School and Government Offices"

The Boardwalk neighborhood in Larkspur is best known for its namesake, the boardwalk that leads you out to the homes along the water. There is no road access directly to these homes, so there is a big parking lot at the entrance to the boardwalk and then residents have to hike it out over the wood boards of the walkway regardless of the weather. Kind of cool, though perhaps not the most practical way to live, and definitely a lifestyle whose days are numbered given the forecast changes attributed to Climate Change.

What locals also know about this neighborhood is that it is the location of Hall Middle School--Larkspur’s exceptional junior high school that is ranked as a perfect 10. This neighborhood is also the location of a handful of government offices, such as the Twin Cities Police Authority and the Office of City Business Licences.

Piper Park is also here. It is basically Hall’s baseball fields, but is okay for what it is.

That is pretty much it for this area.
Pros
  • Cool Set-Up
  • Great Middle School
  • Close to the Water
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • Climate Change Worries
  • Impractical Perhaps
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Country Lovers
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Great But Overpriced Waterside Living"

The Larkspur Marina, like many places in the SF Bay Area, such as locations in Foster City and in Alameda, and Discovery Bay, offer homes with backyards facing the water. That is the appeal of locations like this. As you would expect the homes here are really nice. Not spectacular--but nice.

Many of the homes on the interior section of this neighborhood however, do not have boat access, facing an inward closed lagoon. For these homes it is just the pleasure looking out onto water from their backyards. These are million dollar homes and just like in Foster City, these date from the 1970’s when apparently this kind of neighborhood was a popular idea.

Overall this would be a pretty cool place to live, if you really like to be on the water, but if you are not that keen on it, just way, way overpriced. (Really, way overpriced anyway--but if people will buy these homes at those prices I guess someone thinks it is worth it.)
Pros
  • Great For Yachters
  • Great Schools
  • Close to Parks and Recreation
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • Not All Homes Get Boat Access
  • Streets Are Narrow and It Is A Little Cramped
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Beach Lovers
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Good Spot for Renters"

The Bon Air/Spy Glass Hill neighborhood in Larkspur is just across Sir Francis Drake Blvd from Greenbrae. The neighborhood is mostly known for being the home of the Bon Air Shopping Center and Marin General Hospital.

Bon Air Shopping Center is little more than a glorified strip mall. There you will find a Mollie Stone’s Supermarket, an apparel store named Arch Rival, a CVS Pharmacy, and a Susie Cake’s Bakery. There is also a Fifi’s Diner and a sport’s bar, Wipeout B&G. No big deal, but they do seem to get a ton of traffic on the weekends when I have been here.

In addition to the hospital (which I don’t review here because I really don’t know anything about it) and the shopping center however, the Bon Air-Spy Glass Hill neighborhood/hoods also have residential sections. On the eastern half, the Bon Air side, you have a gated condominium complex with nice newer dwellings.

On the western end it is mostly apartments, with most of these units dating back to the 1960’s by all appearances, but having dingy looking balconies that probably offer pretty good views.. Apartments around here will run you around $2100 for a 2 bedroom, which given the territory is not insane, though it might be a little steep in terms of what you actually get for this.

One of the big benefits here is that the schools are strong. You in effect get the same schools that those paying for their $1 million homes for around $24,000 per year. A pretty good deal.

Commuting is also pretty good so long as you are staying in the North Bay area (no farther down than SF or Oakland). This is not where you want to live if you work way down in San Jose.

There are also a ton of parks and green spaces in this neighborhood, and even if there weren’t, you could head on over to the many green spaces in Marin, such as Stinson Beach or Mt. Tamalpais.

Overall a pretty good place for renters who want to hobnob with the really well off. Though, of course, it will cost you to do so.
Pros
  • Relatively Affordable Apartments
  • Great Schools
  • Close to Parks and Recreation
Cons
  • Very Expensive Area
  • Not Good for San Jose Commute
  • Older, Uglier Apartments
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Beach Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Mobile Homes, Marsh, Industrial Hangers, Strip Mall"

Even Marin County has trailer parks--or more accurately in this case motorhome parks. That is what you find here. Greenbrae East is a bit of an industrial area with wharf style hangers housing auto body shops, truck repair shops, a tow yard, a car glass place, a heating and sheet metal place, and that sort of thing. It is mostly ugly and rusty looking like a lot of these places have been for a long while.

There is also a mid-sized motorhome park here. It isn’t much, and feels a little bit like it has just been plopped down here.

On the far southern end of this neighborhood there is a pretty typical strip mall, with stores like Cost Plus and Trader Joes--it looks far more modern and inviting than the rest of this neighborhood. On the far northern end of the neighborhood you will find there is the Greenbrae Boardwalk which has a line of homes that are some of the oldest in all of Greenbrae. They extend out into the marsh and have backyards that give out onto Corte Madera Creek. They are nice but precariously built near the water--especially given Climate Change projections.

Overall this is a pretty interesting place, if not particularly attractive. .
Pros
  • Unique Area
  • Trader Joes
  • Historic Homes
Cons
  • Kind of Ugly
  • No Real Homes
  • Parking Issues
Recommended for
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Great Place to Live But Very Very Expensive"

Greenbrae in Larkspur (though I thought it was separate from Larkspur?) is all about location, location, location as the saying goes. This is one of those places that if you picked it up and moved it across the Bay, the home price would be cut nearly in half. But being in Marin County and close to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, Greenbrae is basically million dollar home territory. (You will rarely find any homes selling for below $750,000 around here.)

The homes here are mostly spread out against the hills with pretty good views. They date mostly from the 1950’s and 60’s, and they are pretty nice for homes from that era. This is hillside living where you get great views of the north Bay out to Richmond and of the valley down to Larkspur. Very nice but high maintenance.

One of the big draws, as you might expect are schools, which are very strong in this area. From Redwood High School and Hall Middle School down to the elementary level, the education system here is top notch--the best that money can buy. You cannot be farther from the urban problems that plague the schools just on the other side of the Richmond Bridge.

As far as commuting goes, this is a pretty good starting point for commuting to anywhere in the northern Bay from SF to Oakland. This is not, however, where you want to be for a Silicon Valley commute. As mentioned before, the Larkspur Ferry Terminal is nearby so you can definitely make that commute work. From the Larkspur Terminal you can either go to the SF Ferry Building or down to AT&T Park.

As far as entertainment and the rest of it, this is pretty much suburban living with all of its benefits and drawbacks. There are all the usual stores and conveniences of living a relatively quiet suburban life. You get the usual set of movie theaters and even an occasional watering hole--usually of the sports bar variety. You are also close to SF for all the weekend entertainments you could hope for and to the outdoor activities offered by Marin County and the northern Bay Area.

Overall, a pretty nice place to live and raise a family, but very, very expensive.
Pros
  • Beautiful Views
  • Great Schools
  • Nice Suburban Area
Cons
  • Very, Very, Very Expensive
  • Hillside Problems
  • Commute Hassles
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Ferry, Mall, High-Priced Condos"

Just to the northwest of San Quentin State Prison is this most eastern section of Larkspur. It’s most prominent landmark is the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, with its huge parking lot up against the breaking waves of the bay.

Just to the north of the ferry terminal just off Sir Francis Drake Blvd. is an open air sort of mall (basically a slightly glorified strip malls) that has the usual things you might expect, such as a Bed, Bath & Beyond, a 24-Hour Fitness and a Yoga -Works. It is a bit of a tourist trap on the weekends drawing those who have just crossed the Richmond Bridge and are on their way to beach or one of the many outdoor attractions of Marin.

North of the mall there is a hotel and several apartments. The hotel is a Courtyard Marriot, so it is pretty nice.

I am not sure how much most of these cost to buy but I did notice that the condos over in the Drake’s Cove area run in the $900,000 range. They have nice views, but this still seems very, very high for condos.

Overall, this is a nice location, well situated for taking the ferry into the city and for have a nice outdoor life. But, as should be clear from what I have already said, very, very, very overpriced.
Pros
  • Close to Ferry
  • Nice Views
  • Great Location
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • Mall is a Bit of a Tourist Trap
  • Close to San Quentin
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Beach Lovers
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 1/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Childcare 1/5
Just now

"An Attractive Prison"

This is world famous San Quentin Prison. I think it is what is known as a “super-max.” San Quentin which is currently at more than 150% capacity like most of the California prison system has been the home of many notorious killers and famous folks. It currently houses Scott Peterson and Richard Ramarez (the “Night Stalker”) and has been home to Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, Merle Haggard and Art Pepper (the jazz great).

Since there is no longer any Alcatraz, this is now the prison of note for San Francisco. San Quentin has a number of programs for the inmates, including a drama program, a summer baseball league and even a college degree program.

It is just on the other side of the Richmond Bridge.
Pros
  • Nice Location
  • Good Rehab Programs
Cons
  • It Is a Prison
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 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"An Okay Place for a Year or Two Maybe"

Located just to the east of Old Town, Highlands--which really doesn’t feel all that much higher than Old Town--is pretty old as well, with lots of Mission and California style bungalows mixed in throughout the neighborhood.

Most homes here sell in the $200,000s I think. Which is higher than in Old Town, but seem about right for the homes here which seem to have weathered their long hard history a little bit better than homes to the west. These are, as is common for older homes like this, fairly small homes in terms of space. (many times around 1000 ft.)

Unfortunately schools around here aren’t very good, there is a bit of crime, and the commute is pretty terrible. Oh yes, and lets not mention that you are right next to the ConacoPhillips Refinery. Who knows when you will have to shelter in place to escape some sort of harmful release. (Not to mention what we may not know about releases that are effecting us without our knowledge.)

These factors in combination usually make Rodeo only a short term stop off and not a place to really set down roots. But if you are single or just getting started, this could be a place to lay your hat for a while.
Pros
  • Nice Older Homes
  • Very Affordable
  • Close to Some Restaurants and Dives
Cons
  • Terrible Commute
  • Bad Schools
  • Close to ConacoPhillips Refinery
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Hipsters
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Old and Salty, Just Like You Like It"

Old Town is the main downtown area for Rodeo. They aren’t kidding when they call this “old town.” It is in fact old. Very, very old.

You will find nearly century old homes here and tiny little Depression era hovels. Far from being quaint however, many of these places simply look old to the point of being almost dilapidated. I don’t know if it is the wet weather near the coast that wears them out but they definitely look worn out.

This of course makes them very affordable with homes here recently selling for $200,000 and less. Of course, the asking price for homes here can be as much as twice this much but it seems like recently to get them sold you have to go lower than that amount to get them off your hands.

Rodeo is not a huge hub for entertainment and dining, but it is not a food desert either. You do have a small selection of restaurants here in the downtown area, such as Ricky’s Place, an Italian place; El Sol, a Mexican place; Doregon Sushi; D’s Giant Burgers; and Flippys, a greasy spoon sort of a diner.

There is also a pretty good pool bar with cute gal bartenders, Troy’s Tavern (which adds to the row of dives that you find here, Crockett and across the bridge in Vallejo).

Overall, this is a pretty good spot to visit, or to live if you like the sleepy, bayside town feel, but if you have kids and want to live in something built closer to this millenium, you will have to go up into the hills for it.
Pros
  • Good Restaurants
  • Good Bar
  • Close to the Water
Cons
  • Dilapidated Homes
  • Bad Schools
  • More Than A Little Seedy
Recommended for
  • Singles
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Great View, Terrible Commute"

Just to the east of the Foxboro neighborhood in Hercules is this neighborhood, Viewpoint in Rodeo. It includes Foxboro Downs, just to the east of Highway 4, which most people would consider to just be an extension of Hercules rather than an altogether new city. There is little sense that you have entered into Rodeo.

The Viewpoint neighborhood that includes what people call Foxboro Downs, I think, is well named. If you have ever been to the upper reaches of this neighborhood, you know it offers up some pretty good views of the San Pablo Bay.

The homes here are big contemporary style homes from the 1970’s that sell for about $225,000 or so. Everything here is Me Generation big from the homes with the steeply sloping roofs to the wide streets. Given what you are getting--a 2000ft. plus home with great views in a relatively safe area, you should really pay much more. (In the Peninsula you would be looking at $600,000 easy.)

So what is the catch? Like in the rest of this area, the commute into the city is pretty terrible. More than an hour to SF or even Oakland. And you can forget about San Jose--you have no chance of making it.

The schools are pretty mediocre too--but as long as you push your kids they can overcome that I think.

So I would say that if you can handle the commute--or maybe telecommute at least a couple of days a week, this could be a steal of neighborhood for you.
Pros
  • Great Views
  • Big Affordable Homes
  • Pretty Safe
Cons
  • Terrible Commute
  • So-So Schools
  • A Little Boring
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"It is the Projects"

The Rodeo Projects is the neighborhood right next to the ConacoPhillips Refinery in Rodeo, CA. This is, it seems, what the name indicates, low cost housing for those in need. And looks somewhat like you might expect: very shabby looking apartments with boarded up windows and stuff laying around in the front yard.

As you might expect there is a bit of crime in the area, though not too much. About a dozen assaults have been reported in the neighborhood in the past six months and about two dozen more just beyond the borders. There have also been about the same number burglaries as well.

The schools here are actually pretty bad too. The local elementary being solidly below average.

Put simply, this isn’t the kind of place that I think people would choose to live if given a better option.
Pros
  • Very Inexpensive
  • Cool Nearby Dive Bars
  • Close to the Bay
Cons
  • Some Crime
  • Delapidated Looking
  • Right Next to the Refinery
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
Just now

"The Refinery"

This is the biggest industry in Rodeo, the ConacoPhillips Refinery. This is the petroleum processor you don’t hear as much about, probably because it isn’t right next to a major population center like the refineries near Richmond and Martinez are.

Rodeo, as the name indicates, used to be a big ranching town where cows were brought to be shipped to slaughter. (PETA actually tried to get them to change their name to Union because they find the name offensive.) After the 1906 Earthquake that came to an end and eventually ConacoPhillips came in to keep the town from going under.

The refinery is a major industry however and the detritus of it is unpleasant to look at. That said, I assume it does provide local jobs and surely must help somewhat with the local economy.

There is an annual run here every February sponsored by the company.

There is not much else to say about this area.
Pros
  • Brings Revenue to Community
Cons
  • A Bit of an Eye Sore
  • Health Worries
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"An Island of Nice Homes"

The Islands Neighborhood in Hercules is the neighborhood that is on the farthest southeastern section of the city. The theme here is islands, so the streets have names like Catalina Drive, Montego Drive, Grenadine Way, Aruba Court, etc.

This is one of the newest neighborhoods in Hercules, with homes dating from the early 1990s and selling prices usually in the high $300,000s.

You are also next to one of the best elementary schools in Hercules--though, of course, the rest of the school system is fairly average, at best.

You don’t really get views of San Pablo Bay way out here, but you do feel rather sheltered from the world in your own little valley. The homes on the outer edge of Grenadine Way and Aruba Court actually have back yards that give way to undeveloped hills that stretch for miles. (I think there are a couple of trails up there--like Goat Trail--where you can go for a run or hike.

Pretty much though it is just peace and quiet up here. Almost as if you are on a deserted island...
Pros
  • Nice, Newer Homes
  • Quiet and Secluded
  • Good Local Elementary School
Cons
  • Out of the Way
  • Terrible Commute
  • Mediocre Schools Overall.
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Not Quite Out of this World But Nice"

Just to the north of the explorer themed neighborhood there are a set of streets and courts named after the astronauts from the original space missions: Armstrong, Shepard, Grissom, etc. This is the Astronauts neighborhood.

The homes here are really nice contemporary style homes. You don’t get the views of San Pablo Bay as much up here because the hills around much of the neighborhood block it out, but you do get that same clean feel that you have from some of the other themed neighborhoods.

The homes here date from the late 1980’s and sell for around $350,000.

There are, of course, the usual drawbacks to living in Hercules in general, from the mediocre schools to horrible commute.
Pros
  • Nice Relatively Affordable Homes
  • Clean Quiet Streets
  • Relatively Safe
Cons
  • Terrible Commute
  • Kind of Boring for Singles
  • Mediocre Schools
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"A Gem of a Neighborhood"

As the name indicates, Gemstones has streets with names like Obsidian Way, Amethyst Court, Turquoise Drive and Emerald Way. It is just to the southwest of the Birds neighborhood with its aviary of bird themed streets.

Like in those other themed Hercules neighborhoods, Gemstones is a long neighborhood with very nice modern Contemporary styles homes dating from the late 1980’s. These are nice big homes (mostly more than 2000 ft.)--many of them on courts where you can find extra parking in the center. These courts could also function as a place for kids to play pickup games, though I admit that I haven’t seen kids playing out in the street like for a long time, probably because of abduction worries fed by media induced hysteria.

Gemstones is also similar to Birds and to Trees in that the farther you head up into the neighborhood the better are the views of San Pablo Bay.

Overall I would say that this is pretty great suburban living and about as affordable as it gets for these kinds of homes in the Bay Area. At around $350,000 in a safe neighborhood with okay schools, that is pretty good.

The main drawback of all of Hercules, of course, is the nightmare commute no matter where you are going.

So this is a great neighborhood if you happen to work nearby or can do a fair amount of telecommuting, but definitely too far out of the way if your office is in San Jose or the Peninsula.
Pros
  • Nice, Affordable Homes
  • Great Views
  • Quiet and Safe
Cons
  • Terrible Commute
  • A Bit Dull
  • Okay, Not Great Schools
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Nice Condo"

The Caprice neighborhood in Hercules is actually just one donut shaped street--Caprice Circle. This is basically a condominium complex, with lots of nicely kept condos. It is clean and well-maintained like most of these condos are and looks to date from around the 1980’s as far as I can tell. They sell for about $200,000; which is very moderate.

Schools are good and this is definitely the quietest area in Hercules. The drawback, of course, being that you are sort of out of the way. The schools are good and there is as close to a community feel as you get anywhere these days. (Though, of course, it is still possible to live next to someone for years without knowing what they do for a living or where they go when they disappear during the holidays.

Overall, however, I think Caprice is a pretty good value given all that.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Nice Condos
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • Out of the Way
  • Kind of Boring
  • Poor Public Transportation
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Bravo? BRAVO!"

The Bravo Neighborhood is basically just a condominium project hidden way up in the hills of Hercules. These homes here have red tiled roofs and adobe walls. They are mostly two stories and have a fair amount of parking. As with several other neighborhoods in Hercules, the streets are named thematically here, with an Italian theme this time: Napoli Court, Miramar Avenue, Florence Court, Dorada Court etc.

Price? Same as with Bay Pointe in the $100,000 to $200,000 range.

They both also share the same above average elementary school and the quiet of this relative isolation up here in the hills. they also both have swimming pools and jacuzzis in the main area, which is a nice touch.

The Bravo neighborhood also has a wood walkway that leads right up to the field by the elementary school, making it that easy to walk you kids to school (or to have them walk themselves).

Overall, a pretty good spot for a neighborhood.
Pros
  • Affordable Condos
  • Close to Elementary School
  • Swimming Pool!
Cons
  • Out of the Way
  • Too Many Condos
  • Terrible Commute
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Worth the Voyage"

The Baypointe neighborhood, deep into the hills of Hercules is mostly just a big condominium project with those sort of bland gray buildings that are fairly common in condominiums. Streets here like in several other neighborhoods in Hercules are set up thematically according to a nautical theme: Porthole Court, Malibu Drive, Lighthouse Court, Oursman Court, Scupper Court.
These are nice little condos built in the late 80’s and the typical unit runs between $100,000 and $200,000.

There is one street that goes off by itself up and away from the condos: Midship Drive. It has lots of newer homes and is a pretty nice spot with bigger homes.

What is nice about this area is that you get a lots of opens spaces up here where you can easily go for walks since your home is right up against them.

The other nice thing is that, unlike in most Hercules, the elementary school, Hanna Ranch Elementary, does really well on its achievement tests.

Overall, one of the better spots in Hercules for those with young kids or small families.
Pros
  • Nice Condos
  • Good Elementary
  • Cool Out of Way Spot
Cons
  • Critter Problems
  • Pretty Far from Everything
  • Mediocre High School/Middle School
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"A Very Leafy Neighborhood"

The Trees is the neighborhood that runs parallel to the Flowers neighborhood and which, like the Birds neighborhood to the west of here has streets named thematically.. So here in the Trees, the neighborhoods are named after types of trees (I think based on those that are common here in California): Redwood Road, Beechnut Drive, Sequoia Road, Pepperwood Street, Manzanita Place, and Sycamore Avenue, to just name a few.

This is pretty much the mirror image of the Flowers neighborhood just to the east of here in terms of the homes which date from the late 1970’s through the Reagan Era. The main difference is that this neighborhood is just on flatter ground than that neighborhood--or at least that is the impression that I get from it.

Homes here like in neighboring Flowers run in the $300,000 range. Low here as it is there, I think.

One of the features of this (and The Flowers neighborhood as well) is that the neighborhood is set up with a series of courts that branch out from the main arteries. These courts all have parking spaces right in the middle of the turnabout, though it seems like they aren’t really needed. These extra spaces might come in handy, however, if you happen to be entertaining someone or having a party where you would need guest spaces.

This neighborhood is right next to Hercules High School. Hercules High School gets average ratings, as I have mentioned elsewhere.

Though maybe a little bland, the Trees is a pretty typically nice neighborhood for Hercules.
Pros
  • Nice Homes
  • Cool Street Names
  • Nice Lookin Homes
Cons
  • Mediocre Schools
  • Bad City Commute
  • Kind of Vanilla
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"A Nice Little Bouquet of Homes"

So here is what is cool about the Flowers neighborhood here in Hercules: like the Birds neighborhood to the south, the streets here are named after flowers: Poppy Court, Iris Road, Heather Avenue, Daisy Court, Azalea Court, Lotus Court. I always dig a good themed neighborhood--at least you always know when you are getting close to where you’re going.

Okay, but its not the only cool thing about the Flowers neighborhood in Hercules. The other thing I like about his neighborhood is that a lot of the streets are on a bit of a sloop, so you get some pretty good views from many of the homes here. These are big upper-middle class Contemporary style homes dating from the late 70’s through the 80’s, and following that aesthetic they have big streets and big, bright living rooms.

The homes here are relatively affordable, running the $300,000 range which is a good price for these kinds of homes.

There are also a lot of nearby rolling hills which may (I’m not sure) have some nice spots for a little hike, bike or dog walk.

The rest is pretty typical of Hercules: average schools, relatively low crime and terrible commutes.
Pros
  • Nice Houses
  • Good Views
  • Cool Street Names
Cons
  • Average Schools
  • Kind of Out of the Way
  • Terrible Bay Area Commutes
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
2/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Internet Access 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
Just now

"It's A Golf Course"

Franklin Canyon is home to Franklin Canyon Golf Course---that is pretty much it!

I don't know anything about golf, but judging from the reviews on Yelp! it si a pretty average course. It's a nice spot for a golf course, I guess. No homes to get broken windows or anything like that.

But there is really not much else to it. 'nuf said!
Pros
  • Away from Homes
  • Pretty Spot
Cons
  • Average Course
  • Nothing Else Here
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Country Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • 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 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"A Little Cramped but Okay"

Sycamore Villa is a little sliver of a neighborhood made up of lots of tightly packed newer tract homes. The homes here date from 2001--so they are pretty new and very nice, though very cramped. The streets feel like alleys and there really is no space inbetween homes--they are barely stand-alone.

Homes here sell for around $300,000 which would usually seem pretty low to me for these kinds of homes, but because things are so cramped here, seems about right.

The neighborhood is just to the east of the library and that “main” section of Hercules.

Otherwise this neighborhood is pretty much like every other neighborhood in Hercules: relatively low crime, average schools, terrible SF commutes. Pretty much par for the course for this little East Bay City.
Pros
  • Nice New Homes
  • Close to Library
  • Okay Schools
Cons
  • Very Cramped
  • Terrilbe SF Commute
  • Very Average
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Buyers Market"

If you are expecting to find the New England Patriots, then all you have to do is hop on Highway 80 and head some 3000 miles east. This is not THAT Foxboro. The Foxboro neighborhood of Hercules, CA is the mostly residential neighborhood just to the east of where Highway 4 and Highway 80 meet.

On the western end, Foxboro is a pretty typical Hercules neighborhood, made up of relatively newer model tract homes in the Contemporary style. These are Reagan Era homes of the smaller variety, having between 1100 and 1600 sqft. They are nice, but kinda vanilla.
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The Foreclosure Crisis has walloped Foxboro! There are a ton of homes here selling for under under $300,000--a total buyers market for these kinds of homes!

On the eastern end of Foxboro it is totally condo city. So you can slash those home prices in half and look forward to living among divorcees and single dudes on this end of Foxboro. Like the houses, the condos here also date from the Reagan Era and are, of course, even smaller than the homes: less than 1000 sqft. They have also been hit hard by the Foreclosure Crisis.

The proximity to Highway 4 is nice since it is a back way into places like Walnut Creek and although this is not exactly a reverse commute a lot of the way, it is probably a lot easier than trying to make into SF or places like Oakland. (San Jose, btw, is probably a 2 hour commute during rush hour.)

As with most of the rest of Hercules, schools here have very average ratings, so depending on whether you are a glass half empty or a glass half full sort of a person, that is either good or bad. (It basically means, imo, that schools are what you make of them here.)

As to crime, we are mostly looking at pretty small time stuff here that most every town has to a certain extent: thefts from vehicles, domestic battery, the occasional burglary.

You will also find a few eateries along Willow (on the eastern end of the neighborhood). Mostly these are just places like Straw Hat Pizza and the usual Chinese food offerings that seem to be pretty ubiquitous in California. But you can also find and Indian food place--which are not quite so ubiquitous and a sports bar, 44, which is a nice treat for these parts. (Though not really my scene.)

Overall, this is pretty okay neighborhood, not terrible, not great, but definitely above average in terms of value.
Pros
  • Nice, Affordable Homes
  • Good Sports Bar
  • Lots of Choices
Cons
  • A Little Vanila
  • Not Good for SF Commute
  • So-So Schools
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 1/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 1/5
Just now

"Hill Yes, Town No!"

Like open spaces?

Well, you will find them in spades here. Unfortunately not much else.

There is one of those big fuel containers here, but this is mostly just a whole lot of nothing right now--not really much of a neighborhood.
Pros
  • Open
  • Quiet
Cons
  • There is Nothing Here
  • Left Over Detritus
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Bio-Rad HQ"

North Shore is home to the most famous employer in Hercules, Bio-Rad Labs. Bio-Rad is a bio chemical corporation that specializes in creating diagnostic tests that identify constituent elements of organic matter. I think that is accurate, anyway. Basically they are a company known for creating medical tests (that find diseases and that kind of thing). Bio-Rad has, for example, made a test for identifying BSE (“mad cow disease”) and blood typing. They also have a series chemical spectroscopy solutions and a computer software called “KnowItAll” that helps sort it all out.

The rest of the North Shore neighborhood is home to other companies, such as A&B Die Casting. (If I had any idea what “die casting” is, I would tell you more about it, but since I don’t, I can’t.) There is also a Mechanics Bank operations center and a paper company (like on The Office, I think.)

There are some other commercial offices here too: an optometrist, a pathologist, a fitness center and a couple of eateries (a gelato place and a cheesesteak joint).

The streets here are named after inventors and science related types like Alfred Nobel and Linus Paulie.

That is pretty much it. No one lives here, but Bio-Rad is definitely one of the major players in the biochemical industry.
Pros
  • Major Bio-Medical HQ
  • Good Fitness Center
  • Optimestrist and other Offices
Cons
  • Kind of Ugly
  • No Homes
  • May Be Off-Putting for Some
Recommended for
  • Professionals
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Levittown, Hercules Style"

Bayside Central is a PUD (Planned Unit Development). PUD’s--which are basically the modern day version of Levittowns--are communities that are designed around offering residents homes on small lots with a common space they share.

Bayside Central is a pretty typical PUD in those terms. The lots here are barely 1500 ft. and the homes are built to use the entirety of the space. There is an open space at the center of Bayside, as well.

What is somewhat unusual about Bayside Central is the architectural design they have chosen for these 1995 homes. You really feel as if you have stepped back into the 19th Century when you look at these house fronts, with their walk-up stoops and wood planked walls. Of course these give way to sidewalks and streets with modern cars, but the look is definitely retro.

I personally can’t decide whether I love it or hate it. On the one hand, I dig this kind of quaint architecture. On the other hand, there is something about the execution here that just makes it feel sort of cheap looking. Not sure what it is, exactly.

These homes typically sell for around $300,000.

Unfortunately, the schools in the area are just okay. With slightly below average API ratings. There is nothing terrible about them, they are just sort of middle of the road.

Crime is really low.

If it weren’t for the terrible commute, this might actually not be a good spot to live as you were getting started out--but with such a terrible commute into the city, and Hercules being such a podunk little town, I am not sure it would really work for most people who don’t have jobs in and around Hercules.
Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Quiet
  • Safe
Cons
  • Mediocre Schools
  • Terrible East Bay/SF Commute
  • Poor Public Transportation
Recommended for
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now

"Not Quite Mt. Olympus"

Olympian Hills is just a big condominium complex--it is somewhat hilly, though Mt. Olympus it is not. However, the streets that make up the arteries of this apartment complex are all named after Greek gods: Zeus, Hera, Athena, Apollo, Orion, Titan, Bacchus and, of course, the big guy himself, Hercules.

The condos here will run you between $100,000 and $200,000. These mostly date from the 1980’s as far as I can tell from my limited exposure to them and are little better than glorified apartments in my book. Still for the price, they might be worth checking out if you are in the market for a condo. (A bit small for a family, if you have more than one kid--this is more single mom living.)

Crime is very low here, views of the Bay are pretty nice from some units probably, schools are just okay, and commutes are terrible--mostly the same as in other neighborhoods in Hercules.
Pros
  • Very Safe
  • Nice 80's Units
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Too Many Foreclosures
  • A Bit Bland
  • Terrible Commutes
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now

"Pretty Good Neighborhood--Should Go to the Bay"

Hercules by the Bay is the neighborhood on the far western end of Hercules that stretches from San Pablo Avenue to Chelsea by the Bay, which is right by the Bay’s edge. (Really, I think I would have have just included Chelsea by the Bay as part of Hercules by the Bay--renamed them both Chelsea by the Bay. Chelsea is just too small to be a neighborhood by itself and Hercules by the Bay just feels as if it should naturally extend to the Bay as the name indicates.)

Hercules by the Sea was built just a bit before Chelsea by the Sea to the north (mid-80’s mostly I think). The homes here are almost all nicely kept Contemporary style homes and typically these homes sell for around $300K. Like in Chelsea by the Sea, virtually 100% of homes here sell due to foreclosure, which explains, a bit, why they sell for such relatively low prices.

The streets here are nicely kept and quiet enough where kids could conceivably ride bikes. Like most of the rest of Hercules the schools are okay, it is relatively safe and the commute kind of sucks.

Given the low prices however, this area is still a steal if you have a job that is somewhere in the mid Bay or north.
Pros
  • Nice Homes
  • Fairly Affordable
  • Sidewalks for Walking and Biking
Cons
  • Too Many Foreclosures
  • Okay but Not Great Schools
  • Bad Commute
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now

"More of a Mini Neighborhood"

Chelsea by the Sea in Hercules can barely be called a neighborhood at all. It is really just a few streets of a modular home community--a community that actually continues far to the south of these streets and should all be included as part of the same neighborhood if the coherence of a neighborhood is to make any sense.

I think marketing probably had a lot more to do with the naming of this place more than anything than anything else. This neighborhood is, in fact, right by the Bay with views of the waters from some spots. The western end of this “neighborhood” is a canal that washes in from Bay. On the northern end there is a marshy break, railroad tracks where the Amtrak and other trains pass (I think) and a great walking trail.

Homes here are pretty affordable, running around $200 K--which is not surprising given that this neighborhood feels more than a little bit like a condominium complex. These were all built out in the late 80’s (1988, I think) and have plenty of bedrooms, usually 3 or 4, but just only about 1500 ft., so a little bit on the cramped side.

The schools here are apparently just so-so. Neither great nor terrible as throughout Hercules. Crime here is really low as well with very little to report (basically a burglary and an assault in six months).

The commute is pretty bad but you can make it as far as SF in about an hour, or down to Oakland or Walnut Creek, or up to Fairfield in the same amount of time. San Jose, however, would be way too much of a stretch.

So I would definitely recommend checking it out if you are looking for an affordable place to live.
Pros
  • Close to the Sea
  • Affordable
  • Newer Homes
Cons
  • A Bit Bland
  • Mediocre Schools
  • Smaller Homes
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"For the Birds"

The Birds is a mostly residential section of Hercules just to the south of the central commercial area of Hercules. The name of the neighborhood, “The Birds” seems to be a reference to the street names here: Pheasant Drive, Swallow Way, Partridge Drive, Starling Way, Crane Court, Robin Court etc.—rather than an allusion to Alfred Hitchcock’s famous film which was set across the Bay.

The streets here are clean and on an incline as they rise up to the south, offering a very nice North Bay views. These are mostly Contemporary style homes dating from the Seventies and Eighties and selling for around $300,000.

On the northern end of the neighborhood, though, there is a Lucky’s Supermarket, where the locals get their groceries. There is also a McDonalds, a Subway and a Hawaiian BBQ up here as well.

This is classic suburban living for the most part, though I would definitely say that the value offered by the great views and nice homes seem higher than the asking prices here. I am not sure that it is simply a bit too far out of the way, or if it is because the schools are not so great in this neighborhood.
Pros
  • Nice Houses
  • Good Views
  • Safe and Sound
Cons
  • Traffic
  • Mediocre Schools
  • Bland Restaurant Offerings
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Home Depot and Fast Food--Not Much Else"

Every suburban city needs a good strip mall with a variety of stores to keep people from the necessity of buckling up just to go fetch some groceries. Well that is basically what the New Town Center neighborhood of Hercules is.

This is where you can find your local Taco Bell, Round Table Pizza—but also where you can find a sushi place like Suishen Sushi, and household necessities like a Home Depot and Big Lots (whatever that is), Post Office and USPS store. On the other side of Highway 80, you can also find a Starbucks, Yuck-in-the-Box, Extreme Pizza and the highlight of the bunch, a Kinder’s bbq. There is also an optometrist.

There are also some city offices here like the Library and the Police Station.

Okay, so nothing here is fantastic, but it is convenient and there are some other basic necessities like a supermarket in Country Run, the neighborhood just to the south.
Pros
  • Convenient Stores
  • Close to Freeway
  • Local Optometrist
Cons
  • No Really Good, Distinctive Restaurants
  • Bland Appearance
  • Lots of Commuter Traffic
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
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
Just now

"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).
Pros
  • Nice Affordable Homes
  • Nice Community Feel
  • Okay Shopping and Conveniences
Cons
  • Poor Schools
  • A Bit of Crime
  • Terrible Commute
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 1/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 1/5
Just now

"Run Down and Dangerous"

If you are looking for rock bottom house prices—the lowest in the Bay Area, probably—then you have come to the right place. Parchester Village is the neighborhood on the far northwestern end of Richmond.

Of course there is a price to pay for this savings. Namely it comes in the homes which look pretty run down and ramshackle. There is, of course, the problem of crime as well which is fairly prevalent in the area. Even though this is a small neighborhood there 6 sex offenders who live here and there have been a dozen assaults reported in the last six months and several vehicle recoveries as well.

Schools are mostly pretty bad as well, except for the nearby high school,

Overall, I would really not feel safe living here.
Pros
  • Very Inexpensive
  • Okay Public Transportation
  • Off the Beaten Track
Cons
  • Dangerous
  • Rundown
  • No Local Conveniences
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • 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 5/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Where you Go to Cash In Your Chips"

The Alvarado neighborhood in San Pablo is most famous for two things: St. Joseph Cemetery and the Doctor’s Medical Center. St. Joseph Cemetery is one of many cemeteries that form a network of Catholic cemeteries in the East Bay. It is a large cemetery and the network offers some of the nicest chapels for ceremonies around.

On the southern end of the neighborhood, you have the Doctor’s Medical Center. In addition to general hospital services there are cancer and sleeping disorder centers here.

Squeezed in between the hospital and the cemetery in one of the most unlikeliest of spots is maybe the best neighborhood in all of San Pablo—especially if you like newer Contemporary style homes. The streets are wide here, clean and slightly hilly so that you get an occasional view.

Anywhere else in the East Bay or Bay Area, these homes would easily go for more than $500,000. In San Pablo however, these large beautiful homes can’t even seem to break $250,000 apparently, which I guess proves what say in Real Estate:
Only 3 things matter, location, location, location.

There are also some strip malls on the southern end of this neighborhood that include fast food chains like Quiznos and Jack-
In-the-Box and the usual set of strip mall outlets. This is also where you will find the Lytton Casino, which is one of those Native American casinos which you may have heard of—in this case it is owned and operated by the Pomo tribe from what was the Healdsburg Rancheria.

And of course, to really bring this neighborhood together there is a mobile home park on the far western end of the neighborhood.

Of course, you still get the same problems here that you get in the rest of San Pablo, terrible schools and crime worries.
Pros
  • Nice Cemetery
  • Nice Houses
  • Good Hospital
Cons
  • A Bit Noisy
  • Depressed Home Prices
  • Older Homes and Trailer Park
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • 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 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"CCC, Condos and Lil' Ole Ranchers"

El Portal is best known as the home of Contra Costa College—it is the administrative center of the Contra Costa Community
College District, although Diablo Valley College is really the major campus. Contra Costa College is a good little school that meets the basic needs of their students but doesn’t go much beyond these basics as far as I can tell.

As to housing, south of the campus there are some really nice modern condos, the three story kind in faux Spanish style. I could see these condos fetching a good $450,000 in a nicer area, but because these are in San Pablo they don’t even break the $200,000 mark.

Once you get to the east of here and the college, the rest of the neighborhood is actually a fairly typical San Pablo neighborhood: these are smallish 1940’s style Ranch homes, usually with either white picket fences or, more often with chain link fences.

The condos are nice enough where they might actually work for people, so long as they don’t have kids that they expect to send to the local public schools, which are unfortunately quite terrible.

Crime also seems to be a bit of an issue just beyond the borders of this complex.

Otherwise there is not much else to this neighborhood.
Pros
  • Nice Condos
  • Okay Community College
  • Very Affordable
Cons
  • Crime Worries
  • Terrible Schools
  • Worn Out Look
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Some Nice Views But Same Problems"

Not to be confused with the Bayview neighborhood across the Bay in SF proper, the Bayview neighborhood of San Pablo is one of the better neighborhoods you will come across in this area.

And the best part of this neighborhood is on the far northern end where you actually do get some pretty good views of the Bay as the neighborhood climbs up into the hills. This northern end is filled with Eichler style homes with their flat squat look. Some of them—though not the majority—look fairly well kept. I find it kind of nice but it is not the kind of place that exudes wealth or anything like that—it still looks pretty much like a working class neighborhood and the real estate prices reflect that.

Once you get off this hillock on the northern end of Bayview, however, what you find in the flatter section of the neighborhood is a fairly traditional San Pablo neighborhood filled with older Ranch and some Contemporary style homes. There is something kind bushy about this area that almost makes it feel like the last neighborhood at the edge of a bigger metropolitan area—the kind of neighborhood that almost feels rural in spots because the overgrowth of bushes.

Because of the crime and bad schools, house prices don’t really break the $250,000 mark.
Even with the views though, I would not feel safe here and would not want to bring up my kids here because of the poor schools.
Pros
  • Good Views
  • Affordable Houses
  • Okay Public Transportation
Cons
  • Poor Schools
  • Crime
  • Rundown Houses
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 1/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Rundown Homes and Gated Communities"

Rumrill is the western most neighborhood in San Pablo. You can tell that there is a bit of a crime problem here because of the lockable metal screen doors that help protect the homes. Many of the streets do have the kind of rundown, decrepit look to them. Overall the neighborhood does not have a very inviting feel—not that many people will ever experience any part of Rumrill outside of rolling by on Highway 80.

There are 2 or 3 nice, more modern, gated condominium complexes within Rumrill, but that is more the exception than the rule. Most residences here are really rundown looking, shoebox shaped apartment buildings.

Rumrill homes sell for between $100,000 and $300,000, dragged down by the poor schools and high crime.

So basically, the choices for this neighborhood are either to live in one of these ratty apartment complexes or to hide behind the walls of your gated community. Not very uplifting.
Pros
  • Nice Gated Communities
  • Affordable Homes
Cons
  • Bad Schools
  • Crime
  • Rundown Looking
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Old Houses, Bad Schools and Crime"

Old Town, San Pablo is the southern most point of San Pablo, the city you find just to the north of Richmond. As you might expect given that its called “Old Town,” there are a lot of older homes here. I would guess that maybe one in three houses here dates back to World War 2 or before. A lot of these are tiny little wood paneled walk-ups with tiny little flat yards—the kind of places you only see in movies these days.

The second third of homes in this neighborhood are made up of mostly Ranch style homes from the post War era when baby boomers were coming home. These are the smaller rundown looking versions of those homes, not the really nice long flat versions that you might sometimes think of when you sometimes think of the really nice version of these kinds of homes.

Home prices are dirt cheap. You can basically get a home here for under $250,000. Of the fifty odd homes that have sold here recently none have broken that barrier.

Of course a lot of people rent here. You can find a 2 bedroom for under $1000/month.

Of course, just like in Richmond, the major problems with trying to live here in Old Town is the combination of terrible schools and crime. In terms of schools, these are really pretty bad across the board.

Crime is also pretty bad, which is one of the drawbacks of the area. The crime rate in San Pablo is almost twice as large as the national crime rate. That is not as bad as Oakland or even Richmond, but it is still pretty bad.

Overall, I can’t really recommend this neighborhood to anyone.
Pros
  • Very Cheap Homes
Cons
  • Old Rundown Homes
  • Crime Worries
  • Terrible Schools
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Affordable But Unappealing"

El Sobrante seems to overlap with a lot of the neighborhoods in what seems to be the eastern section of Richmond. El Sobrante is mostly a hilly residential neighborhood whose proximity to Richmond and slightly out of the way feel helps keep property prices low.

Census figures show that the median household income here is a little bit above the California average though well below the Bay Area average (around $72 K), which gives you a good sense of El Sobrante. It is basically a middle class neighborhood, though slightly on the lower end of that. You might even call it a working class city, I guess.

The median home price here is around $225 K or so and the area has been strongly hit by the housing crisis.

The schools in El Sobrante range from well below average to average, which makes it not altogether ideal for families.
In terms of crime, it is a little bit higher than in other neighborhoods, but nowhere near as high as in the more urban areas of Richmond to the south. There has, however, been a murder in the area in the last six months, and also some 50 assaults, which is nothing to take lightly. There have also been nearly a hundred robberies and break-ins.

That said, the farther east you go and the farther you get away from the main drags (Alpine Way and San Pablo Dam Road) the safer you generally are.

Although this is a fairly leafy neighborhood, I am not sure I would call most of it particularly attractive. Perhaps it is because many of the homes on the western end of this neighborhood are so old and sort of shoddy. It has that sort of country feel, where things were built only with function in mind, and virtually no thoughts to aesthetics. (Maybe I am revealing my city slicker prejudices here, but it just makes the western end of El Sobrante not very appealing—which may explain the low home prices.)

The vast majority of homes here are from the 50’s, though they are not particularly attractive either. Mostly they are just run down Ranch homes with unkept front yards.

As I mentioned, however, on the eastern end of El Sobrante you get a fair number of nicer looking newer homes.

Overall, however, this is one of the more affordable places to live if you commute into the northern Bay Area to as far down as San Francisco or Walnut Creek or if you are a divided household with one of you working up in Marin while the other has to go out to Pittsburgh.

In fact, El Sobrante is much like many of its homes: not terribly attractive, but functional.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Well-Placed for North Bay Commutng
  • Some Nice Newer Homes
Cons
  • Mediocre Schools
  • Unattractie Older Homes
  • Weak Property Prices
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"No Different than Carriage Hills"

Countryside is a little neighborhood squeezed in between Carriage Hills North and Carriage Hills south. (It is little more than a half dozen courts.) It is pretty much indistinguishable from these neighborhoods: it has nice homes 1980’s style tract homes of the nicer variety, relatively low crime and nice schools. It is also well located for commuters to virtually anywhere in the North or East Bay.

That’s pretty much it for this neighborhood. Not much else to say about it.
Pros
  • Nice Affordable Homes
  • Good For Commuters
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • A Little Crime
  • Kind of Boring
  • Depressed Real-Estate Values
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Good Richmond Commuter Neighborhood"

Carriage Hills North is one of those newer tract house developments, where all the homes were clearly designed by the same home builders—they do not look identical but they all are built in roughly the same style so that you can tell that they all went up in about the same period—I am guessing in the mid to late 1980’s.

Of course, if you placed these same homes in another city in Contra Costa County—say Walnut Creek—they would definitely be priced at over $500 K. But because this is still considered Richmond, none of these properties ever seem to break the half a million dollar mark.

But, as with the rest of the area on the eastern end of Richmond, it doesn’t really feel much like Richmond. It is very leafy here, the streets are wide and everything has that newer 1980’s kind of a look to it.

Something else that is different is the quality of the schools which is generally better here, I think, than it is down in Richmond.

Crime is also fairly low in this area with just a couple of assaults and burglaries in the last 6 months—relatively low for Richmond.

From this location it is just as easy to head into Martinez, Napa, and Berkeley as it is to head into San Francisco or Marin.

There really isn’t much else to this neighborhood.
Pros
  • Nice Affordable Homes
  • Good Spot For Commuters
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • A Little Bland
  • Some Crime
  • Not Good for Property Prices
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Nice Quiet Woodsy Neighborhood"

The Greenbriar neighborhood is one of the newer neighborhoods in Richmond, having those kinds of Contemporary style homes that became so popular in the late 1970’s—the kind that have incorporated other styles in, like the red-tiled roofs from Mediterranean style homes, but placed atop what look like Ranch homes. The area is very woodsy and bushy, and fairly removed from other locations.

The average home here costs between $300 and $400 K.

It has pretty nice views of the tree covered hills of the El Sobrante National Reserve.

One of the real bright spots of this neighborhood is Olinda Elementary, which ranks really well when it comes to test scores.
Crime is relatively low here, with only a handful of reports of break-ins and domestic battery reported in the last 6 months.

Overall, this is a relatively affordable middle class neighborhood.
Pros
  • Affordable Homes
  • Nice Quiet Streets
  • Nice Views
Cons
  • Some Nearby Crime
  • Schools Just Okay
  • Out of the Way
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Hidden Away But Affordable"

Just to the east of May Valley, El Sobrante Hills is also not very much like what we usually think of Richmond. In fact, it feels a lot more like El Sobrante than its larger, blighted neighbor to the west.

El Sobrante Hills is elevated—physically—offering views of leafy hills and long streets with cul-de-sacs branching off and forming quiet residential courts. You find those mobile basketball backboards in a lot of these neighborhoods, just like you would in places like Palo Alto and the Peninsula in general, and you just get the feeling that this part of Richmond is far enough away from things that you can feel relatively safe and go about a middle-class life without too much disturbance.

Homes here are in the late 1970’s Contemporary style for the most part, each with a fairly unique look—definitely no neighborhood planning here, each seems to have been built by a separate architect to conform to an individual’s needs rather than created to fit into a model home neighborhood.

Homes here sell for between $300 to $400 K, the prices dragged down by being associated with Richmond, the poor nearby schools, and the housing woes of late. (3/4 of homes are on sale due to foreclosure here.)

The schools are actually more mediocre than terrible here with schools being either average or slightly below when it comes to test scores. So the worry about schools may actually be slightly exaggerated. As to that other worry, crime, there have not been any violent crimes reported within the neighborhood (though there was a murder just to the west in the last six month and about a dozen assaults as well). There have been about a half dozen home robberies however, so El Sobrante Hills is still close enough to the city where you want to be weary of such things. But then again, regardless of where you live this is a bit of a worry.

This is definitely car territory as well. No one that lives here is going to be dependent on public transportation completely even if they drive to the BART station and then head off to work. The location is well suited to getting to anywhere in the North Bay, though commuting to Silicon Valley from here would be a dispiriting trek, for sure.

Overall, I would recommend this neighborhood as sort of hidden neighborhood that is affordable for a middle class family.
Pros
  • Affordable Homes
  • Nice Views and Quiet
  • Fairly Safe
Cons
  • Mediocre Schools
  • Depressed Housing Prices
  • A Bit Remote
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Probably Richmond's Nicest Neighborhood--So Un Richmond"

This section of Richmond is definitely my favorite—unfortunately it is probably because it seems so very un-Richmond-like. I don’t mean to insult Richmond. I like much of the East Bay, my new home, but I simply do not feel safe in most of Richmond because of the high crime. Though it is not quite as bad as parts of Oakland, it is close enough to make you feel on guard and uncomfortable.

Not that you are completely safe here. Although within May Valley you are fairly safe, the second you cross out of it there is definitely some crime to worry about. Just beyond the border, for example, there has been a homicide in the last six months and more than 2 dozen assaults. So there is violence and that sort of thing not too far from May Valley, as well, but it is mostly safe in the neighborhood.

That said, May Valley does not make me feel unsafe for the most part. There is something almost quaint about the older homes that make up this neighborhood. Most of the homes here look like older Ranch homes. One of the unusual things about May Valley however, is the architecture of some of these homes. A fair number of homes here have what my architecture friends tell me is a chalet look to them; they have peeking roofs that extend virtually to the ground—kind of like when you build a card house by leaning two cards against each other without creating a square foundation for them.

On the far eastern end of the neighborhood on roads like Heavenly, you will find some newer homes built since the 1980’s.
These are the highest priced homes in May Valley, no doubt and offer not only some of the newest construction but also some pretty good views of the northern waterways that lead inland from the San Francisco Bay past places like Benicia and Martinez.

Though most of the homes up here are fairly typical—red tile roofs on adobe walls or as a variation on the Ranch them, there are some more unusual looking homes here as well. There is one home, for example, there is one home that is somewhat like a three story tower halfway up a hill. It has balconies all the way around which are painted blue, making it almost look like an office. Just down the street from here there is another manor-like home with white columns, French windows, and a circular porthole style window over the main entrance. What is most unusual here however is the unusual bonnet shaped roof atop the house and the porcelain 3 foot high saint that sits right out front protecting the home with his benedictions, no doubt.

Homes here sell for around $300 K, which is of course still low for the Bay Area.

The main problem, of course, is the schools which, although not terrible like in many areas nearby, are somewhat below average, the worst being Crespi Middle School. De Anza High School is in this neighborhood. Although it is not a great school academically, hard rockers may know that this is the alma mater of Kirk Hammett, the bassist for Metallica, and Les Claypool, the lead singer of one of my favorite raunchy hard rock/punk bands Primus.

I am told that many people only know this neighborhood as the short cut to Highway 80 off San Pablo Dam Road. They cut across using Valley View Road to get up to 80 right by the Hilltop Mall.

Overall, however, this is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Richmond—probably my favorite. I certainly wouldn’t mind living on this eastern portion of the neighborhood.
Pros
  • Unusual Looking Homes
  • Nice Views on Eastern End
  • Relatively Safe
Cons
  • Below Average Schools
  • Poor Public Transportation
  • High Foreclosure Rates
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"As Old as the Old Folk's Home"

This is a tiny neighborhood just off San Pablo Dam Road. (San Pablo Dam Road is a back way that many people use to commute deeper into Contra Costa County from the Richmond area. It allows people to avoid the Caldecott Tunnel traffic and the other problems associated with Highway 4. It is especially good for getting to Lafayette and Moraga and that area.)

There really is not much to this neighborhood. There is a senior home up at the top and a bunch of older Ranch homes along the five or so streets that make up this area. It has more the feel of El Sobrante than Richmond, because it is hilly and a little bit out of the way. Homes in the area are still fairly inexpensive with prices in the high $300 K range.

The main benefit of living here is that you are away from the worst parts of Richmond in terms of crime and well situated for commuting to other places. Now, just recently (in the past 2 weeks before this writing), there has been a murder in neighborhood just to the west—this is not however highly typical. There have also been a fair number of assaults in the area. So it is not the safest neighborhood, but there are fewer incidents here than in other areas.

The houses here are okay too—there are some individual homes that are nicely kept and have a certain appeal to them.
Overall, something about the look just feels a little bit run down and out of place, but the combination of price and location make it worth it for some, I believe.
Pros
  • Affordable Homes
  • Good for Commuters
  • Away from the Street Action
Cons
  • Some Recent Troubling Crime
  • A Little Shabby and Rundown Looking
  • Poor Schools
Recommended for
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now

"The Mall and Apartments"

Of course, when talking about Hilltop-Bayview we have to start with what draws people here: the Hilltop Mall. This is basically one of those giant Fast Time at Ridgemont High style malls where you have everything from Radio Shack to JC Penny. If you are not into malls then this is nothing you will be interested in, but for those who like the convenience and entertainment of having so many stores under one roof, this is a pretty good place to go. It has everything you could expect in a mall from ample parking to a big movie theater.

Just to the east of the mall there are couple of motels: Courtyard Richmond and Extended Stay America, placed strategically right by Highway 80.

To the north of the mall are probably the nicest apartment complexes in all of Richmond. These are very nice, newer looking complexes, with covered parking spaces and green spaces inbetween. These are nicer, 1980’s style apartment buildings. Very livable.

On the far western end of the neighborhood there is an office park that is home to a Post Office, the California Autism
Association and businesses like CK Enterprises—a kid’s clothing manufacturer--, Trans USA—a shipping company--, and Aspheric—an optics company. There are also a couple of different schools here: A Better Chance and Making Waves Academy.

Overall this is one of the better neighborhoods in Richmond both for living and shopping.
Pros
  • Big Mall
  • Nice Apartments
  • Good Commercial Area
Cons
  • Some Crime
  • Bad Schools
  • Busy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"For Mall Rats and College Students"

Located just to the south of the Hilltop Mall, the Fairmede-Hilltop neighborhood is a diverse neighborhood in terms of residential choices and geographical landmarks. On the far western end, Fairmede-Hilltop is made up of several boxy apartments arranged around a circular drive. These are the kind of boxy apartments you might find near a college campus—the non-descript kind of buildings that simply offer people places to find shelter without really offering much more. (Contra Costa College—Richmond’s community college—is actually just to the south of these apartment complexes, so you may get some students living here.) They are pleasant enough and open, and on a sloping area which makes them not seem oppressive. But they are not anyone’s dream residences.

Rents here, however, are dirt cheap, with a one-bedroom going for around $800/month and a 2-bedroom for about
$900/month.

To the east, Fairmede-Hilltop neighborhood is a fairly typical Richmond neighborhood, filled with WWII era Ranch homes.
These are L-shaped homes with the garages sticking forward to the driveway next to yards that stretch back to the living room windows and front doors. The look is very dated and looks especially so in these somewhat rundown looking homes.

The homes here are also typically inexpensive, as throughout Richmond, with homes selling for around $200 K.

Unfortunately the schools are mostly like the rest of Richmond’s schools as well, very low-performing. Vista High School which is located in Fairmede-Hilltop has an API of 2 out of a possible 10. Hilltop Community Church, whose large facility is in Fairmede-Hilltop also runs a private religious school, Canterbury School, which is certainly worth checking out given the low ratings of the local public schools.

The other problem, of course, is crime. There have been about 50 assaults in this neighborhood in the last six months and maybe 2 dozen robberies—high enough to make you a little weary of living here, but manageable should you choose to do so.

The main feature of the neighborhood is the North Reservoir—basically just a giant pool of water at the center of the neighborhood. I assume this provides water for Richmond and the surrounding area. It is covered, which I assume has something to do with the fear of the contamination that might occur should one of the nearby refineries have a release like it did a couple of weeks ago, an incident that is still being investigated.

In a nutshell then, I would say that the apartments on the western end of the neighborhood could be a good bet for local students, but that overall I wouldn’t make this neighborhood my first choice.
Pros
  • Affordable Apartments
  • Close to Contra Costa College
  • Close to the Mall
Cons
  • Terrible Schools
  • Some Crime
  • Old, Ugly Houses
Recommended for
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Not Much Like Richmond"

Carriage Hills South is the farthest east you can go and still technically be in Richmond. The neighborhood, however, doesn’t feel at all like Richmond. To begin, unlike most neighborhoods in Richmond, it is filled with newer homes built right at the end of the 1980’s and being part of planned neighborhood.

All of the homes here have the same homogenous look to them, with adobe walls and red-tiled roofs. The streets are wide and the neighborhood is far enough up that you get views of the green Contra Costa hills nearby.

Home prices here hover around $300 K making it both one of the more expensive areas in Richmond while being one of the best values in the Bay Area.

This is a safe area with virtually no crime. Unfortunately, only the elementary schools around here are strong, middle schools and high schools are plagued by the same problems as the rest of Richmond’s schools.

Overall, this is a good neighborhood—especially if you don’t have school age kids or can afford to send them to private school.
Pros
  • New Homes
  • Affordable
  • Away from the City
Cons
  • Bad Schools
  • Hillside Problems and Rodents
  • Weak Home Values
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Great Views, Bad Schools"

Hasford Heights is small neighborhood crowning the northern most foothills of Wildcat Canyon Regional Park. On the western end of the neighborhood, hilly streets are lined by nicely kept Ranch homes, with bushy front yards and very nice North Bay views. On the eastern end, Hasford is mainly made up condos.

The Ranch homes on the western end of the neighborhood go for between $250 and $300 K while the condos run between $50 and $150 K. These rock bottom prices are as a result of this being in Richmond, whose reputation for crime and poverty drive prices down.

Crime is actually relatively low in the area, with the only serious crime occurring outside of Hasford Heights proper. I would feel relatively safe living in this neighborhood.

As to the local public schools, they are unfortunately still pretty bad, with only the elementary school being okay in term of API.

Overall a very affordable neighborhood with pretty great views.
Pros
  • Great Views
  • Nicely Kept Homes
  • Safe
Cons
  • Terrible Schools
  • Hillside Maintanence Problems
  • Depressed Home Prices
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Retirees
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 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Low Crime But Bad Schools"

East Richmond, as the name indicates, is the long stretch of neighborhood just to the east of Highway 80, ranging from Canyon Park to McBryde Ave.

This is definitely one of the nicest neighborhoods in Richmond. Although this is not really a hilly area, for the most part, the neighborhood is on an incline. Like in most of Richmond these are very old homes, mostly dating from before 1960. But they are a little better kept here than in other parts of Richmond.

Despite this being a nicer neighborhood in appearance, however, the prices here are still depressed by being located in Richmond. The median home price here is $275 K, with less than 10% of homes breaking the half million dollar barrier.

This is somewhat unjustified however. East Richmond is a significant improvement on many Richmond neighborhoods. Take the level of crime here. There were only a handful of assaults and robberies here in the last 6 months. The freeway seems to provide shield from much of the violence that plagues the rest of Richmond.

Unfortunately, one of the areas that is not improved is the school situation. Schools here are just as bad in as in the rest of Richmond, offering below average results for students. Mira Vista Elementary, for example, has a 4 out of 10 API, while de Jean Middle School is even worse, with an API of 1.

Overall, I suppose it is an okay, fairly affordable place to live if you send your kids to private school or if you don’t have kids.
Definitely a good deal in terms of price.
Pros
  • Low Home Prices
  • Relatively Safe
  • Close to Freeway
Cons
  • Bad Schools
  • Old Home Problems
  • Close to High Crime Areas
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • 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 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Some Really Nice Pockets Here"

North and East Richmond is another giant residential neighborhood filled with lots of older pre-WWII homes. This neighborhood is just to north and east of Richmond BART.

North and East Richmond is home Richmond High School. In terms of test scores Richmond High is not a very good school—which is par for the course for the education system in Richmond. Actually it is very bad with only 3% of students being proficient in Math, 8% in history and 12% in Science. Overall schools are pretty lousy here as well. Richmond High is the real school on which the Samuel L. Jackson movie, Coach Carter was based.

Although for the most part this is just a pretty standard Richmond neighborhood, there are some kind of cool mini-neighborhoods here. On the east end of Clinton Avenue, for example, there is a European style turnabout, which marks entrance to this section that is atop a knoll. The curving streets here and nice homes are very reminiscent of the best parts of Berkeley. There are also rows of bungalows here that are really cute.

North and East Richmond home prices range from $50 K to $300 K, with the median being around $175 K. This area, like a lot of poor areas around the Bay is still being devastated by the Foreclosure Crisis—more than 90% of the homes here are on the market due to foreclosure.

Crime, of course, is a concern here as throughout Richmond. Here is the breakdown:

There was a murder here this summer, in June.

And in the last six months there were nearly a hundred assaults and fifty burglaries.

Relative to Richmond overall this is lower than normal. It is also generally the case that things get safer, the farther north you head in the neighborhood.

Overall, if you are going to choose a place in Richmond to live this might not be a bad choice, except mainly for the school situation.
Pros
  • Some Really Cute Houses
  • Crime is Moderate On Northern End
  • Public Transportation is Good
Cons
  • Terrible Schools
  • Lots of Foreclosure
  • Crime Bad on Southern End
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Students
JessicaW
JessicaW This neighborhood, and Richmond High in particular, is very well served by its residents and its local business community. The neighborhood councils are very hands-on, such that crime is very, very low. I've lived in N&E for two years, and every day am aware that my neighbors are looking out for me, and am comforted - not distressed- by the sound of footfalls on my front porch. I'm safer here than I was in North Berkeley, simply due to neighborliness.
Richmond High is served most notably [to me: childless, engager of teenagers in lofty dialog] by Philadelphia Station, at 23rd St x Lowell. This is the burger joint of your dreams, serving perfect American fried foods and a lot of healthy plates as well. Everything is locally sourced, and the proprietor, a Korean-American SF native [like myself] who graduated from Lowell with what I'd guess was a near perfect GPA. Phila Stn sponsors and operates a summer SAT prep intensive: for t6 weeks, students study, engage each other and the moderator toward shaping and honing their dreams and ambitions, practice, and generally use every resource available to become mature contributing citizens. Its remarkable, and emblematic of the N&E/San Pablo complex' development through the ages: the people here are self-made, neighbor-serving, builders of sturdy bootstraps put to the test with regular tugs.
I moved here after the rape of the student at her prom, 5years back. I had suffered a similar trauma, in a fancier neighborhood with a much more robust tax base, in broad daylight over a long 10hrs. No one acknowledged the barbarous event, and I've been struggling to heal and navigate the epic divorce that followed on my own. Richmond/San Pablo is not that kind of community: everyone within earshot called 911. The girl, and another woman assaulted nearby that same year, found unqualified support from strangers. This is a vital community of great active diversity, and not so many vacancies. As a renter, I'm struggling to find my next 2BR 1BA with off street parking, in what was until recently a well-kept secret. I highly recommend this town, to populist folks who want a rich home environment. Look beyond the numbers to see the context and know the value.
2yrs+
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2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Crime and Bad Schools Maek It a Deal Breaker"

Belding Woods is a largish neighborhood just north of the Richmond BART Station and south of Richmond High School.
This is pretty much just a residential neighborhood filled with the characteristic pre-WWII homes that make up most of Richmond. There are some fairly well kept streets here, which show that many of the residents take real pride in their homes and work hard to keep them nicely. Every so often, however, you come across a boarded up house that looks as if it has been basically abandoned or is a “crack-house,” as the old saying goes.

There are also some newer homes in the area as well, which look as if they have just been built (perhaps the first signs of an impending gentrification?).

The median home price here is only $125K with prices ranging from as low as $50 K to as high as $300 K.

Of course, when it comes to Richmond, you have to consider crime. In the last six months there has been:

2 murders in and just around the Belding Woods neighborhood. One in February, the other in May.

There have been more than 150 assaults and 75 burglaries.

The other problem here are the schools, all of which are well below average in terms of test scores and other indicators.

Even without the bad schools however, crime just makes it a deal breaker for me. If I can’t feel safe where I set my head down to sleep at night, I just can’t live there.
Pros
  • Cheap Homes
  • Some Newer Homes
  • Close To Pubic Transportation
Cons
  • Crime
  • Bad Schools
  • Some "Burnt Out" Looking Houses
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Depressing and Dangerous"

Let’s start where you have to start when it comes to neighborhoods in Richmond, with crime concerns.
In the last 6 months there has been one murder here in the Coronado neighborhood and one murder just outside of this neighborhood. During the same period there have been over 100 assaults and about half as many robberies.

Now for me that is enough of a crime worry to disqualify this neighborhood.

Even if that weren’t though there are other problems here as well, such as the underperforming schools and the rather rundown look to the neighborhood overall. Though there are some nicely maintained bungalow houses here, many of the homes just look rather ramshackle. There are some odd looking developments on the western end of Coronado where homes are set up around a play area, but they have kind of an abandoned look to them which is in no way inviting.

There are a lot of bars on windows, gates and doores all over the place, which suggests to me that living here is like living in a prison. All fairly depressing, overall.

I can’t recommend it.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Close to BART
  • Close to Kaiser
Cons
  • High Crime
  • Run Down Looking
  • Terrible Schools
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"The Center of Violence Maybe"

Forest Park is just a little four block stretch of a neighborhood with Harbour Way one end and the BART railroad tracks on the other. Kaiser Permanente (the hospital) and the Richmond BART Station are just to the south of this neighborhood, so it is a pretty busy spot.

Forrest Park is, like most neighborhoods in Richmond, an older neighborhood made up older homes and buildings. The tallest building in the neighborhood is a shabby looking 6 story building on the eastern end that looks more like something you would find on the East Coast than in California. It is just across the street from the clean red brick facilities of Kaiser Permanente—which only makes its weather worn tan look that much shabbier looking. (It also isn’t helped out by rugs and sheets that have been commandeered as makeshift shades—always a bad look signifying poverty in the East Bay.)

Most of the rest of Forest Park is made up of pre-WWII walk-up bungalows with a high enough use of bars on windows and doors to indicate that the crime rate in this neighborhood must be pretty high.

Homes here sell for just over $100 K.

Schools are also pretty bad, with API’s in the lower range.

Overall, except for the easy access to transportation and to the hospital, a pretty lousy place to live. It also doesn’t help that the Chevron Refinery less than a mile to the west.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Close to BART
  • Close to Kaiser Permanente
Cons
  • High Crime Area
  • Bad Schools
  • Old and Rundown Looking
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Close to BART So You Can Leave More Easily"

Forest Park is just a little four block stretch of a neighborhood with Harbour Way one end and the BART railroad tracks on the other. Kaiser Permanente (the hospital) and the Richmond BART Station are just to the south of this neighborhood, so it is a pretty busy spot.

Forrest Park is, like most neighborhoods in Richmond, an older neighborhood made up older homes and buildings. The tallest building in the neighborhood is a shabby looking 6 story building on the eastern end that looks more like something you would find on the East Coast than in California. It is just across the street from the clean red brick facilities of Kaiser Permanente—which only makes its weather worn tan look that much shabbier looking. (It also isn’t helped out by rugs and sheets that have been commandeered as makeshift shades—always a bad look signifying poverty in the East Bay.)

Most of the rest of Forest Park is made up of pre-WWII walk-up bungalows with a high enough use of bars on windows and doors to indicate that the crime rate in this neighborhood must be pretty high.

Homes here sell for just over $100 K.

Schools are also pretty bad, with API’s in the lower range.

Overall, except for the easy access to transportation and to the hospital, a pretty lousy place to live. It also doesn’t help that the Chevron Refinery less than a mile to the west.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Close to Public Transportation
  • Close to Kaiser
Cons
  • High Crime
  • Old, Uglier Buildings
  • Bad Schools
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
Just now

"The Chevron Refinery"

Right around this area is where the Chevron Richmond Refinery sits, right at the western edge of Richmond. This last weekend, as everyone who lives in Richmond and the immediately surrounding areas now knows, there was a big fire at the refinery that spewed toxic back smoke up into the air. Luckily it wasn’t a windy day or it could have been much more wide spread though lots of people who were here are looking to get some redress from Chevron. They suffered respiratory problems and eye irritation.

(Here is a link to news about the fire: http://www.contracostatimes.com/top-stories/ci_21287738/chevron-refinery-has-history-fires-and-pollution-releases)

Luckily for us, me and my fiancée that is, we were visiting family out of town so we didn’t experience it directly, though we are suddenly much more aware of yet another of the big drawbacks of living near Richmond. The refinery is as old as Richmond, having opening at the beginning of the 20th Century and it has a history of chemical releases and such problems.

For locals, their issues with the refinery are very direct. For others on the West Coast, the closing of the refinery (one of California’s largest) will be felt in their pocketbooks. Gas prices jumped 5 cents the day after the fire and Nor Cal, which already has some of the highest gas prices in the country, is likely to continue to feel the sting well into the fall.
Point San Pablo is basically a green space just to the west of the refinery—there is even a little marina, but to the east of here are the large round containers of the refinery and the dock where the crude is delivered to be refined. It is nicely set up for Chevron’s purposes.

It is a pretty ugly spot right by the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.

Even though you will not find any houses here or shops, or anything that you would normally think of in terms of evaluating neighborhoods, it is probably one of the biggest determinants of why the property values in Richmond are unlikely to every rise very far.

It is also the reason, probably, why there is a higher rate of asthma in Richmond than in other cities in California.

Put simply, no one wants to set down roots near an oil refinery where their health might be at risk. It is a little bit like living next to a nuclear power plant. You forget about it until you get that shelter-in-place warning and then, those who can, find a place to live farther away from the danger zone. That is the sad fact.
Pros
  • Big Local Employer
  • Some Green Space
  • A LittleMarina
Cons
  • Pollution Worries
  • A Bit of an Eye Sore
  • Drag on Property Prices
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 1/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Broken Windows"

Fenced in yards, steel-reinforced front doors and occasional piles of refuse greet you in the Cortez/Stege neighborhood of Richmond. In the bestselling book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell explained the “Broken Windows” theory about crime and neighborhoods. The theory is that you can help fix crime by fixing the little indicators that a neighborhood isn’t working—like fixing the street lamps, replacing traffic lights and, yes, fixing the broken windows. Well, the impression I get from the Cortez/Stege neighborhood from my brief experience with it is that it is an example of the Broken Windows theory in reverse.

Things look shabby here, like they have come apart, which scares people away and makes those who live here feel less hopeful. Is this reflected in the statistics for this neighborhood?

Let’s start with the obvious starting point: crime.

Although there have been no homicides that fall directly within this neighborhood, there have been 5 homicides just outside of Cortez/Stege since the beginning of the year. Assaults are in the hundreds since the beginning of the year, as are burglaries and robberies of all varieties. Put simply, this is a dangerous crime-ridden neighborhood, where I doubt anyone feels safe.

This, of course effects everything else as well, with the median property price here submerged at $175K and with close 20% of properties selling for less than $100K. The homes here are mostly older, except for in the southwestern end where there some newer looking low cost homes. Lawns are mostly dead and unkept, however, and except in that southwestern area, although even there most backyards are dead.

The eastern end of the neighborhood is dominated by boxy looking apartment buildings, which are relatively nice though still not desirable for most people.

Schools fair no better either: With the local elementary being about average, but the middle school and Kennedy High being well below average.

Put simply, this is a neighborhood where no one with a choice would choose to live.
Pros
  • Affordable Homes
  • Close to BART
Cons
  • Very Dangerous
  • Dirty and Unkept
  • Poor Schools
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"A Nice Slice of Richmond"

The East Shore neighborhood in Richmond is a tiny, little pizza slice of a neighborhood, which strangely, is not really on the east shore, as far as I can tell, since there really isn’t a shore on the eastern end of Richmond.
The streets here are narrow and lined by older Ranch style homes. It turns out these homes here are not as old as they seem with homes from the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. These homes are not luxurious, but some of them are rather cute. Despite the fencing and metal re-inenforced doors, the yards are well-kept and display a pride of ownership which you might not expect.

The median home here sells for around $175 K. The price range here is roughly from $70 K to around $400 (with only an occasional home going for more than this. The Foreclosure Crisis has hit this neighborhood pretty hard, just about every home that is for sale here is on the market due to foreclosure.

One of the problems here is that the schools are pretty bad—a real drawback for a neighborhood like this.

Like in all of Richmond, there are crime worries here, though they are mostly not in the East Shore neighborhood itself. Within this little neighborhood, there have been no murders and only one assault so far this year (we are half way through at this point).

Overall, it’s a nice little corner of Richmond—though I think the crime worries will keep most people away.
Pros
  • Affordable Homes
  • Crime Not Too Bad
  • Some Neigborly Spirit
Cons
  • Bad Schools
  • Kind of Old Looking
  • Tons of Foreclosures
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Controlled Community"

I stumbled across this place when we were researching Richmond as a possible place to live. Atchison Village is actually a pretty historic spot. During WWII, the Port of Richmond was one of the major ship builders for the war effort. So the population of Richmond swelled to 100,000. Atchison Village is what remains of the housing for those workers (much of it was torn down after the war as the population dropped by almost a third.)

The Village is actually still controlled by some kind of a board that parcels out properties to new members, but which can also revoke ownership.

Because home prices are controlled, home prices are about as low as they get in the Bay Area, with homes going for between $30 and $70 K. There is not a lot of turnover and new owners must be approved by the board. Also, because you don’t fully own the home that you buy (only the use of the home), I understand that it is difficult to get a loan to buy a house here.

Richmond is known as a high crime area on a par with the worst sections of Oakland. (It was actually voted the #3 most dangerous city in California a couple of years ago, I think.) Atchison Village, however, doesn’t have a lot of crime compared to some areas in Richmond. This is because there is a community policing program that does night patrols and because there is a choke point that leads into the Village making it harder for those looking to make mischief to do their thing comfortably.

Overall a pretty interesting area, though I don’t know if I would want to live here.
Pros
  • Very Affordable
  • Relatively Safe
  • Historically Interesting
Cons
  • Surrounded by Crime Hotspots
  • Very Worn Down
  • Community Controlled
MadelineM
MadelineM Things have changed in Atchison Village. Also, you obviously did not fully understand how things work in AV when you wrote this. The board does not parcel out properties. A buyer makes a deal with the seller and the only thing the board does is approve the buyer, check that they have a decent credit rating, are employed, etc. This is to insure they can afford the monthly dues, which include taxes, garbage, water, sewage, and outside maintenance. At this time they average around 3 to 4 hundred a month.

Crime is way down in Richmond, we have the best weather in the bay area, traffic no where near as challenging as in the rest a of the bay. We have free high speed internet, great community spirit, and home values have increased by around 40% in the 18 months I have lived here.

When I bought in March of 2012, 2 bedrooms were going for around 50 to 60 thousand. Now they are averaging 100,000.

Your statement about being worn down I presume was about the surrounding neighborhood as the village itself is well maintained.

Values are sure to increase even more in the future as UC Berkeley is building a campus in Richmond bringing in thousands of jobs and with that housing demands.

You missed out on a great opportunity here by not buying a few years back. It's still a good deal but it was a great deal.
2yrs+
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4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"The Best Neighborhood in El Cerrito"

If I had my druthers—yeah, that’s right, I use the word “druthers”—then we would have moved here to Mira Vista. I think this little neighborhood on the northeastern end is the best neighborhood in El Cerrito. It is basically just a residential neighborhood filled with cute older homes that stare out over the North Bay.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t really find a place to rent up here. So pretty much we would have had to buy a place, which we’re not quite ready for yet. Houses here are relatively affordable, ranging from $300 K to about $650 K, with the median home going for about $450 K. The most expensive homes are on the south eastern end of the neighborhood.

I don’t know if it is because my sense of home prices have been warped from spending so much time looking at homes in the Peninsula, but that seems so affordable to me. If we were ready to settle down and put down roots for the long haul we might be all over that.

This is probably one of the safest neighborhoods in El Cerrito as well, with basically no assaults reported in the last 6 months. (Although you do get a fair share of robberies and car break-ins and that sort thing.)

Unfortunately this is car territory. You are too far up into the hills to walk or even bike places. So that’s the main draw back.
Well that and the fact that the schools are just so-so.

Overall though, I am still a big fan of this neighborhood.
Pros
  • Great Views
  • Cute Houses
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Average Schools
  • Car Culture
  • Old Home Probems
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
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 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Pretty Good So Far!"

We just moved here from the Peninsula. We just couldn’t take the soaring housing prices and needed some relief. We found a 2-bedroom here for about $1500—in the Peninsula, the same place probably would have cost around $2000 (or more)—so that a $6000 difference over the course of year, at least.

This neighborhood is mostly an apartment city, especially to the west of the BART tracks that bisect the neighborhood. As you head farther up into the hills towards El Cerrito High School, things get progressively nicer. Colusa Avenue—the eastern border of the neighborhood—hardly feels like the same neighborhood as the western end. There is not a hint of a boxy apartment building there and residents get some pretty sweet bay views.

Judging from the 30 odd homes that have sold here in the past 9 months, home prices here range roughly from $300 to $650 K with the median being right around $450 K. As you might expect given what I’ve said so far, homes tend to get more expensive as you go farther east. Into the hills—which is pretty much the case, as far as I can tell, throughout the East Bay.

At the heart of the neighborhood is the El Cerrito BART station and the nearby shopping mall. The mall has a Lucky Supermarket, a Pier 1 Imports, a Petco and a Bed Bath and Beyond; but also a Barnes and Noble (great for just hanging out and reading), and a Pasta Pomodoro. The 2 best restaurants in the neighborhood however, are WikiWiki Hawaiian BBQ and Al Burger’s.

The schools here are okay—getting so so marks in terms of assessment tests. El Cerrito High is on the eastern end of the neighborhood. It is a nice big school with good facilities and good programs.

As to crime, it is pretty light in this neighborhood with only about 2 dozen assaults since the beginning of the year. (It’s July now.)

Overall, I am pretty happy. Given our budget constraints I think this turned out pretty well.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Great Transportation Options
  • Relatively Safe
Cons
  • Kind of Bland
  • Too Many Apartments
  • A Bit on the Drab Side in Appearance
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • 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 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Solid Apartment Living"

Silva Ranch is pretty much apartment city. Bookended by El Camino Real on the eastern end and Taylor Middle School on the western end, Silva Ranch is pretty much just one boxy apartment building after another. These are pretty typical apartment buildings. Some are of the older variety, shaped likes U’s around a central courtyard. Others are of the 1970’s style apartment campuses with smaller buildings housing 8 or so units separated by winding paths from other similar buildings with covered parking nearby. There are even some newer, more pricey units.

In general getting a one bedroom here costs about $2000, while a 2-bedroom runs about $2500.

Taylor Middle School is a consistently high performing school with test scores well above both the California and national averages. Though apartment living is not really conducive to family living, the schools here do make Silva Ranch a good destination for those looking for affordable living.

Overall this is a pretty good spot for those looking for apartment living in the Peninsula.
Pros
  • Good Schools
  • Relatively Affordable
  • Okay Apartments
Cons
  • Kind of Dull
  • Little Nightlife
  • No Homes
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Million Dollar Homes and Great Bay Views"

Mills Estates is one of Millbrae’s largest neighborhoods. It stretches from Magnolia, near El Camino all the way up to Highway 280.

On its eastern end Mills Estates is the home of Mills High School, Millbrae’s central and only high school. (I think Capachino High School is actually for San Bruno.) Mills High School is an outstanding high school, having test scores significantly above California and the national average. In this sense, it is like many of the schools on the Peninsula and partly justifies the high property prices here.

The neighborhood is also very nice, getting increasingly more attractive the farther west you go. You get a number or nice, larger style Ranch homes and Eichler houses up here as well. Both are of the larger more luxurious variety that were so popular among the upper middle class in the 1960’s and 70’s. (Three quarters of the homes here were built in the 1960’s.)

Up on the far western end of Mills Estates you get some of the best views of the Bay that you will find in Millbrae. Really attractive.

This is definitely million dollar home territory. Home prices range from $850,000 to about $1.5 million with the median single family home price being just over $1.2 million. (There are currently a couple of homes from the 80’s and 90’s that are the exception to this general rule—one is up for $2.1 million, the other $1.5.)

Far more affordable, of course, are the condos that hide up on Vallejo Drive by Highway 280. These range from about $280K to $550, with about a third of them being on sale due to foreclosure. (In the rest of the neighborhood the foreclosure percentage falls to about 1 out 3.) They also have very nice views from spots, though there is something about them that make them feel like an old folks home. (It may be the old folks who seem to make up the majority of the residents.

Overall this is a pretty great neighborhood for those families lucky enough to be able to afford it. (In case you are wondering the monthly mortgage payment on your average million dollar home would be about $5200.) Though it is probably way out the league of most of us.
Pros
  • Great Houses
  • Great Views
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Car Culture
  • Expensive
  • No Night Life
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Nice Quiant and Overpriced"

Millbrae Villa is one of those attractive older neighborhoods with stately vintage homes. Many of homes here date back to the Great Depression, making it one of the oldest neighborhoods in Millbrae.

Except for the occasional outlier (such as a recent foreclosed home sold at auction for $400 K), home prices in Millbrae Villa range from $800 k to $1.25 million, with the median home going for around $945 K. Home sizes accord to a certain extend with prices, with the less expensive homes offering about 1500 feet of space while the more expensive homes usual offer well over 2000 ft.

Most streets tend to offer large front yards (though a bit flat and squarish) leading to older walk-up style homes, many adopting the Spanish revival style featuring red-tiled roofs and adobe walls.

And as the other reviewer noted, the homes do become nicer as you head to the northern end. On the southern end of the neighborhood, the homes are smaller, the streets narrower and the front yards smaller and squarer. These are smaller bungalow style homes—the tiny walk-ups that were popular in semi-urban settings during the 30’s and 40’s.

The other really nice thing about this neighborhood is that you are close enough to everything that you really don’t need a car on a daily basis. You could walk to the BART/CalTrain station (or SFO for that matter) and take those virtually anywhere in the Bay. You are also close enough to the supermarket and virtually all other basic necessities to do that as well.

And since you are right by the Downtown area, you also have a number of restaurant choices within walking distance.

Overall this is a really great neighborhood, though it is unfortunately way too expensive for most people. The usual Peninsula problem.
Pros
  • Attractive Older Homes
  • Good Schools
  • Great Access to Transportation
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • Not Good For Renters
  • Smaller, Uglier Homes on Southern End
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Very Nice and Out of the Way"

Meadows is the neighborhood just to the south of the Junipero Serra Park on the western end of Green Hills Country Club.

Ensconced as it is up in the hills near San Andreas Lake, Meadows is one of newer neighborhoods in Millbrae. Homes here largely date from late 50’s and early 60’s, though many have been significantly renovated. Of course, that means a fair number of Eichler houses—some really nice ones.

There are also a number of Ranch homes up here—except they are a little unusual because they are decorated with faux half timbering, as it they were Tudor cottages.

The price range for homes up here run from $775 K to $1.1 million with the median being $940K.

The schools here are strong as well.

This is definitely a car neighborhood, so you should definitely plan on having a car or two if you want to be able to get basic needs met.

One thing you certainly do not lack in this area is green spaces. From the country club on the east to Junipero Serra Park on the north and Meadows Park on the south, you will not lack green recreational areas here.

Overall, one of the nicer neighborhoods in Millbrae.
Pros
  • Nice Homes
  • Lots of Green Space
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • Car Culture
  • Expensive
  • No Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Nice Homes, Boxy Apartment, and Fitness 24/7"

Meadow Glen in Millbrae is a long strip of a neighborhood, better known to me and my local friends as the location of the 24-Hour Fitness center.

Except on this eastern edge, however, most of the neighborhood is residential with homes dating from the early 1950s. Homes in Meadow Glen are pretty nicely kept, especially given their age. Each has a fairly unique look to it with hedges and unusual driveways occasionally. These tend to be on the smaller side in terms of floor space. (They average about 1300 feet in terms of space.)

The nicest spot is probably on the far western end of the neighborhood where it gets slightly hilly. The houses get somewhat bigger and newer on this end. There are some really nice wood shingled homes here with nice terraces and some Mediterranean style homes.

Home prices here range from $680 K to $950 K roughly, with the median price floating at about $750k-ish. About half the homes here are on sale due to foreclosure.

The southern end of the neighborhood is marked by Richmond Drive which is basically apartment row. These are mostly boxy apartments set up so that they look in on courtyard-like areas. They are okay as far as older style apartment buildings go. (There some slightly older, nicer looking ones down on Magnolia.)

On the eastern end by Broadway and El Camino Real, the neighborhood is basically a strip mall with a Kohls and the 24 hour fitness I mentioned earlier. There is a Safeway and a U-Haul and that sort of thing as well. There is also your usual quota of Asian restaurants, as is the wont in Millbrae.

Overall a pretty nice area, though overpriced as the Peninsula always is.
Pros
  • Nice Older Homes
  • Shopping Convenience
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • Ugly Boxy Apartments
  • Overpriced Home Prices
  • Airport Noise
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Okay Houses, Best Western, and Good Zen"

Located just to the west of SFO across the BART train tracks, Marina Vista can roughly be divided into two parts: an eastern residential section and the western commercial section.

On the eastern end, Marina Vista is made up of older homes. These are basically tract houses dating back to the early 50’s—the kind of neighborhood where you feel slightly claustrophobic because the streets are just a bit too narrow and the front yards too small to really make you feel as if you have the elbow room you need.

Now the front yards are really nicely kept here with green lawns, squat white fences, and decorative stones in some cases.
So I don’t want you to get the impression this place is a dump. It is not that at all. But you do definitely feel as if you have stepped back in time about 60 years. You could remove the cars and film a period piece about Greatest Generation coming home from WWII to start afresh here. This is a firmly working class neighborhood.

The homes here are also on the smaller side, closer to 1000 sq. ft. in most cases than 2000. The Foreclosure Crisis has hit this area especially hard—basically every home that I found here is currently on sale due to foreclosure. This has made it so that the average home here is going for $450 K currently—really low for the Peninsula.

Once you cross over the train tracks, you find a western end that is made up of commercial structures. There is a Best Western hotel and an Orchard Supply and KFC—which gives you a sense of the appearance of the place.

Marina Vista is also home to a couple of really great restaurants as well. Zen Peninsula and the Terrace Café. Zen
Peninsula is a great Chinese food place with outstanding dim sum. Many people around Millbrae use them to cater their weddings and other social events. Terrace Café in the Best Western is okay too, though everyone complains about having to wait too long for the main entrée. For an okay steak it is the place to go. For breakfast just go down to the Millbrae pancake place instead.

Overall, okay for an airport area. If you can handle the noise and don’t mind the tight street plan, this could be a passable
place to set down roots.
Pros
  • Zen Peninsula
  • Good For Commuters
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • Old Houses
  • Ugly Commercial Area
  • Lots of Foreclosures
Recommended for
  • Retirees
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Old Houses, Burger King, Pricey Condos and Jet Noise"

The Manor neighborhood in Millbrae is a long strip of a neighborhood that stretches along El Camino Real just to the east of Downtown Millbrae. It is a bit of a hodgepodge of a neighborhood with older homes, apartments and businesses all mixed together.

The homes are mostly north of Millbrae Avenue between El Camino and the train tracks. These are largely older homes dating to the 40’s and 50’s as far as I can tell and it looks as if the average home goes for about $500 K or so. These are not particularly attractive streets—there are too many nearby commercial structures to create the kind of homey feel that can sometimes make older neighborhoods seem quaint.

As to the commercial offerings in the Manor neighborhood, they aren’t much to write home about. You have fast food places like Burger King, law offices, a locksmith, and a mixed bag of stores (like a computer repair shop, for example). There is a nice looking Marriot as well.

On the southern end of the neighborhood, near the BART/Caltrain that leads up to the SFO, there is a Lucky supermarket which is the main grocery store for this part of Millbrae.

One thing you do have in this neighborhood are a number of Asian restaurants. You can get everything from your typical Chinese or Dim Sum to Vietnamese. There are a few other restaurants like this as well. So it is pretty good as far as eating out goes.

The real draw of this neighborhood however are the apartments and condos—especially when you take into consideration the proximity of the BART and Caltrain stations which are just to the east on Millbrae Avenue. Most of these condos and apartments are right by Millbrae. You can buy one for between $650 k and $1 million. Okay, so you might as well buy a house somewhere else in Millbrae for those kinds of prices.

Unfortunately rents here can be pretty high as well, with a 2-bedroom going for around $3K/mo in these newer apartments.
(Though I would assume they are cheaper in the boxy 1970’s style apartment buildings that also make up much of the neighborhood as well—though I couldn’t currently find any for rent to verify this.)

The other problem with the area is the airplane noise. Since you are right in the path of SFO, you get fairly constant jet noise.

Overall, I would not call this a great neighborhood except in terms of commuting. (I would live in another nearby neighborhood and just bike over here for the commute, rather than live here.)
Pros
  • Great for Commuters
  • Nice Condos
  • Good Asian Food
Cons
  • Expensive Home Prices
  • Airport Noise
  • Ugly Older Homes
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Nice but Overpriced"

The Highlands neighborhood sprawls out from Hillcrest Blvd. As the name of the neighborhood suggests, it offers some of the best views of the Bay in all of Millbrae and is one of the most expensive areas as well.

The median home price up here is around $875 k with prices ranging from roughly $685 k to $1.25 m. On average homes here offer around 1750 sq. ft. of space with the price roughly corresponding to the size: those on the lower end offer 1500 ft. or less while the million plus dollar homes usually offer around 2500 ft.

The main street that brings people up here is Hillcrest Blvd. For a main artery it is really quite attractive, with interesting front yards and a fair amount of diversity in terms of house styles. This area also offers some of the oldest architecture in Millbrae, with some of the homes dating back to the 1930’s. Many of the homes up here have panoramic views from their back decks while others have Jacuzzis or pools. Don’t get me wrong, these are not the mansions you find in Hillsborough, but are definitely nice homes.

Of course, if we were not in the Peninsula these homes would not fetch million dollar price tags, but that should pretty much go without saying at this point.

One other thing you will notice is how relatively few homes are on sale here due to foreclosure. Only about half the homes on sale here are on the market because of foreclosure. (As compared with 2/3 or higher in other Millbrae neighborhoods.)
There is no public transportation up here so this is definitely car culture up here.

Overall this is a pretty nice neighborhood with good schools, but way overpriced.
Pros
  • Nice Homes
  • Great Views
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • Expensive
  • No Public Transportation
  • Hillside Problems
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • 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 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Pancakes, Golf Balls and Good Schools"

Just east of the country club and south of Capuchino High, Green Hills is one of the nicer kept 1940’s era neighborhoods in Millbrae. (Much of Millbrae dates from the 1940’s and early 50’s.) Capuchino High is actually in San Bruno and I think that only residents of San Bruno send their kids there. I think Mills High School is where Millbrae kids go, but I am not 100% sure about that.

Green Hills is also home to Green Hills Elementary and St. Dunstan’s Church and School as well as the local chapter of the LDS church. Green Hills is one of the strongest schools in Millbrae with tests scores consistently above the Millbrae average (which is itself above the California and national average). St. Dunstan’s is a Catholic, so it is not required to publicly post its scores. That said, locals seem to believe it is a good school and are satisfied with it as a religious alternative to public education.

The major commercial area in Green Hills, as throughout most of the Peninsula, is El Camino Real. That is where you will find Millbrae Pancake House which doubles as a historic landmark—it opened in 1959—and is a great spot to get some pancakes on the weekend. It is the kind of place that captures the spirit of Millbrae, a family oriented place with a sort of early 1960’s feel to it.

In terms of the residences here, you can roughly break the neighborhood up into two sections. On the southern end where the streets snake westward there are newer contemporary style homes, built in the 1970’s. They are all similar looking enough that it is clear they were built by the same company.

On the northern end of the neighborhood where the streets are straighter and are organized largely by quiet cul-de-sacs, the neighborhood is much more typical of Millbrae with homes dating back to the 1940’s.

The median price for a home in neighborhood is $800 k. There are also a few newer condos on the eastern end, which also are priced roughly in that range.

Overall this is a pretty nice neighborhood, though pretty overpriced in my opinion.
Pros
  • Good Schools
  • Millbrae Pancake House
  • Nicely Kept Houses
Cons
  • Overpriced
  • A Touch on the Bland Side on the South
  • Airport Noise
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Millbrae's Highest Point--In Every Sense"

Glenview Highland is where you will find the best views of the Bay in Millbrae. Glenview Highland is also one of the newest neighborhoods in all of Millbrae with homes dating to the 1960’s and some brand new construction as well. These are some of the largest homes in Millbrae averaging around 2000 sq. ft. They have that wide open modernist feel that so many 1960’s style homes do and they are generally very well kept.

Millbrae overall is an upper-middle class city and this neighborhood is where the “upper” part of the upper-middle class reside, if that makes sense. In other words, this is where the rich folks from Millbrae live.

Even if you never walked into any of the homes or checked out the interiors online by looking at real estate sites, you would be able to tell this is a rich neighborhood just by looking at the well-kept front lawns. It is not so much that every stone is in place—it is not that kind of a look—but rather, it is that every lawn has a unique look to it, with its own decoration. There are stone designs, large shady trees, curving front pathways and bushy hedges—this is not unlike some other neighborhoods in Millbrae, but because the homes are about 15 years newer than those other neighborhoods and because you are at a higher elevation, it just looks a lot more attractive. The streets are also wider up here which gives it more of a wide open feel.

Of course the prices are also about $200K higher than in those other neighborhoods with the median home going for around $925K here. (The range is roughly from $800 k to $1.25 m.)

There are no buses that run up here so you are definitely in car culture unless you really like taking your bike to work.

As another poster accurately pegged it—this is the best spot in Millbrae, if you can afford it.
Pros
  • Great Views
  • Great Houses
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • No Public Transportation
  • Very Expensive
  • No Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"As Overpriced as a Starbucks Mocha"

Like getting an espresso at a Starbucks, look to pay about twice as much for a home here in Capuchino than you would for a comparable home in the East Bay. This neighborhood dates back to the 1940s and 1950s and the homes are typical of that period: They are smaller homes (between 1000 and 2000 sq. ft. for the most part) and not really very flashy.

Now the homes here are pretty well kept. One gets the sense that the residents take care of their neighborhood, which given the price they paid, is not surprising. Homes here run between $500K and $850K which though not high for the Peninsula is definitely high for a neighborhood with homes which are so old and small. I personally think it is crazy to pay this much for one these homes, when you can buy a much newer and bigger home in the East Bay for less.

That said, I do like what people have done with their front yards here, keeping what feels like period specific decorations. It feels a lot like how one’s grandparents might have kept this neighborhood. Hedges, well-trimmed topiary, colorful bushes, decorative fencing and the occasional shady overarching tree branches make each home have its own individual flare.

Capuchino is also home to Capuchino High School, home of the Mustangs whose most famous alumni is Suzzanne Somers of Three’s Company fame. It is a strong school, like most of the schools in the area.

Overall a nice residential neighborhood, though way, way, way overpriced.
Pros
  • Nicely Kept Older Homes
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • Small Homes
  • Way Overpriced
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 1/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Airport Noise and Expensive Little Old Homes"

This neighborhood just to the south of SFO is a major Peninsula transportation hub. It is home to Millbrae BART and Millbrae CalTrain stations (located at the same spot), so this is where those commuting to and from the Silicon Valley can transfer from one means of transportation to the other. This is also the strongest argument against building further transportation systems in the Bay Area. Many NIMBY’s use this as evidence for their arguments for not having high speed rail beyond San Jose.

I don’t have a particular side in that argument, except to say that I think the fact that you have both here makes Millbrae a great place for SF/Peninsula split couples to settle down—basically people like me and my bf. Millbrae Avenue is the major entryway into Millbrae and is always packed due to airport traffic. There is a well placed In-N-Out Burger joint right by the freeway entrance here.

There is also a residential area here on the northwestern end of the neighborhood. This is an older neighborhood made up of small homes dating from the 1940’s for the most part. The typical home here offers only 1000 sq. ft. and has the run down look of a home that is almost three quarters of a century old at this point. And, of course, you are right in the flight path of the SFO runways here, so you need to expect noise. Despite this, homes in this neighborhood have been going for around $500K—which given the drawbacks I have mentioned here just seems nuts to me—way overpriced.

Three quarters of homes here are also on sale due to foreclosure, so this, like a lot of spots on the northern end of the Peninsula, has been hit pretty hard by our current financial crisis.

To the east of Highway 101, there are two big multi story hotels: a Clarion and a Westin.

If you are a pilot or flight attendant or had you flight canceled, this might be a good spot, but otherwise I would not really recommend this area for anything other than airport related activities.
Pros
  • Good for Commuters
  • Right Next to Airport
  • In-N-Out Burger
Cons
  • Airport Noise
  • Old Ugly Homes
  • Overpriced Real Estate
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Airport Noise and Ugly Apartments"

Airport Park, as the name implies pushes right up against a park next to SFO. So you should definitely expect some airport noise.

The neighborhood is mostly made up of apartments and hotels by El Camino and older single family homes on the east. On the western end of the neighborhood you can find a La Quinta Inn whose proximity to the airport and mid-level prices ($120/night) make it one of several nearby choices for travelers.

The apartments around here are pretty ugly, having that fairly typical 1970’s look to them. They are ugly and boxy and not very inviting. A one-bedroom will run you $1600/month. So about midlevel prices. (Overpriced in my opinion, given the airport noise and unappealing look of them.)

There are also some newer condos (dating from around 1980) which will run you around $300K. This price seems about right for this kind of condo given the airport noise.

The homes on the interior of the neighborhood are of the older early 50’s style Ranch homes. They look their age, unfortunately and, like most of these homes, are on the smaller side (1000 sq. ft.), although some come on much larger lots.
One of these will run you around $500K.

To add to the airport noise, there are also train tracks separating the neighborhood from Marina Vista Park, which is pretty much a wasted green space. It is fenced in and overgrown and has telephone wires and freeway overpasses on it. Despite this it would actually make a good spot for a play area for local kids, though I don’t get the feeling this will happen any time soon.

Schools here are above average, so it is a pretty good spot for raising kids, even if it does feel a bit run down.
Pros
  • Affordable Apartments
  • Close To Transportation Hubs
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • Small, Old Homes
  • Ugly Apartments
  • Airport Noise
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • 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 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Okay For Locals but Nothing to Brae About"

Although Millbrae’s Downtown doesn’t quite rank up there with other San Mateo downtowns either in terms of size or offerings, it still has enough going on that it is worth exploring—especially if you live in Millbrae. The 5 block stretch of Broadway is the heart of the downtown area. There you can find a fair number of stores and restaurants.

Some of the restaurants worth checking out:

--16 Mile Steakhouse: A pretty solid steakhouse. It is not Espetus, but it gets the job done.

--La Collina: A little family owned Italian place on El Camino right by Fiddler’s Green. Great Italian food, with the especially nice touch of having great bread with a homemade olive dip as an appetizer. Yum!

--Hoa Ky: Excellent, inexpensive Vietnamese food. My favorite of the several East Asian joints in the area—though I must admit there are many to still explore.

As far as bars, your one and only choice, as far as I know, is Fiddler’s Green, an Irish Pub. It is a good spot to go with friends if you want to hang out and talk.

You will also find a number of boutiques and beauty shops around here like Dee Dee’s Boutique and Jeet Sing’s herbal store.

You will also find some brand new apartment buildings on the southern end of the downtown, though I am not sure what they
are charging for rent there.

With the Millbrae BART on the southeastern end of the downtown area, this is a perfectly walkable area.

Overall, a nice little spot so that you don’t have drive down to Burlingame or up to the city to find something to eat.
One unfortunate drawback of the area is that your are right in the flight path of SFO, so if you are sensitive to airplane noise, this place may drive you nuts.
Pros
  • Nice Restaurants
  • Close To BART
  • New Apartments
Cons
  • Not Much Nightlife
  • Smallish
  • Expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Little Box Homes Close to the City"

At the risk of being a master of the obvious, Westpark Townhouses and Condominiums is pretty good spot for renters. This neighborhood is largely made up of condominiums. These are squarish looking houses with driveways close to the street and garages that take up the majority of the face of the homes. Narrow walkways lead back to the front doors and most homes have metal gates—I assume due to crime worries.

Homes tend to be two stories with the bedroom looking out onto the street over the top of the garage. The effect is very apartment-like. They are on the smallish side, rarely being larger than 2000 sq. ft. The average condominium in this neighborhood rents for between $1200 and $1400 roughly, which is actually not too bad for the Bay Area. (A 3-bedroom however will run you closer to $2500.)

There is an even bigger market for those looking to buy a condominium or a townhouse. 85% of the homes for sale here, are on sale due to foreclosure. For those homes listed as condominiums, prices seem to range from $250K to $350K. For those homes listed as single family homes, their median price is $450K with prices ranging from roughly $400K to $600 K.

The streets here are largely on gentle slopes. One of the things that I really like about this neighborhood is that in between the homes there are green spaces with play areas for kids. These areas cut in between the homes like alleyways but they are completely off limits to cars. They have walkways and are mostly grass and they usually will have the play area right in the center, well away from traffic. This is great for both families with kids and for adults to be able to go for an evening walk or for taking the dog out for some exercise.

The schools are pretty strong and it doesn’t have much of a nightlife scene, so it is a pretty good place to raise a small family—say if you are just starting out or only plan to have one kid on a limited budget. We actually strongly considered a place here, but decided against it ultimately.
Pros
  • Affordable Rents and Homes
  • Good Schools
  • Lots of Green Spaces
Cons
  • Small Homes
  • Some Crime Worries
  • Lots of Foreclosures
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Some Nice Newer Homes"

Unlike most neighborhoods in South San Francisco which are packed smaller homes dating to the 50’s and 60’s, Serra Highlands has a newer section on its northern end. Homes here in this northern section date from the late 1990s and have that planned look you often only find in the suburbs of the East Bay or in Contra Costa County. Usually I would say that this makes it rather bland but when placed in contrast to the rest of the neighborhood and the surrounding neighborhoods there is something rather attractive about these newer homes that makes them stand out.

Along with the newer homes come the bigger price tag as well. Homes on this northern end average around $775K versus the $525K of homes just to the south of this section.

All of Serra Highlands, however, has been hard hit by the foreclosure crisis. Virtually every home here is on the market due to foreclosure.

The schools are good here and there are even some nearby bars—such as Molloy’s Tavern--that could make living here sort of fun. (Unfortunately this is not really a renter’s market. There are not really many apartments up for rent in Serra Highlands.)

Schools here are good as well.

Overall, however, this is a pretty typical area. Nothing that special.
Pros
  • Nice Newer Homes
  • Good Public Transportation
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • Lots of Foreclosures
  • Lots of Older Homes
  • Kind of Bland
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • 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 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Affordable But Lackluster"

Sterling Manor is pretty attractive neighborhood that has been hit really hard by the foreclosure crisis. More than 90 percent of the homes that are on the market in this neighborhood are on the market due to foreclosure.

Partly because of this, partly because of the location of South San Francisco in the liminal space between the big city and the more expensive San Mateo County area to the south, Sterling Manor has relatively affordable homes. The median price for a home in Sterling Manor is around $525K. Given how many of these homes are in foreclosure, even that seems a little bit on the high end to me. The range of prices here seems to go from around $400K to $600K without having very many outliers.

Homes here date from the 40’s and 50’s and are on the smaller side, mostly offering 1000 to 2000 feet of space without much that is larger than that. The lots are small but the slightly hilly neighborhood offers gentle slopes and pleasant views.

The California Golf Course makes up the southern border of this neighborhood. So if you are a big golfer, I suppose this could be a plus.

The schools that serve the neighborhood are strong all the way from elementary to high school—as with above average test scores and good reviews.

There is also a medical center just to the east of the neighborhood, so those with medical conditions or potential medical conditions are less than 5 minutes away from help.
Pros
  • Good Schools
  • Close to Transportaton Hubs
  • Affordable Homes
Cons
  • Older Homes
  • Lots of Foreclosures
  • Run Down Looking
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Good Enough For Now"

If you are into white picket fences, you will probably like Parkhaven. There are a fair number of homes here that actually have white picket fences. Of course, these homes are so old that it is likely that the white picket fences were there from back when white picket fences were on the cutting edge of front yard décor.

Unfortunately this doesn’t really feel like a quaint neighborhood. It has kind of a rundown feel to it. Like in many South SF neighborhoods, the homes here date from the 1950’s and are on the smaller side: less than 2000 sq. ft. usually.

Homes here sell for between $350K and $500k. (Recently one went for over $600K but that feels more like an outlier.)
Foreclosures account for about half the sales here. In a sign of the depth of the financial crisis, there is currently a stretch of Fairway Drive where a cluster of 5 homes are all on the market at the exact same time.

This is not a bad spot for renters, either, as there are some apartments in the area. A 2-bedroom here goes for about 2k/month, which is okay for Bay Area prices.

Schools are okay and crime is low as well, so this might be an acceptable neighborhood for smaller families looking for an affordable Peninsula location to live.

In addition to the usual suburban amenities that you can find nearby, the neighborhood is home to the local public library on its northern end, and the California Golf Course on its western end.

This is not the best neighborhood in South SF, but for some it may be good enough for now.
Pros
  • Good Schools
  • Affordable
  • Good For Commuters
Cons
  • Small Homes
  • Airport Noise
  • A Bit Rundown
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian