We just moved to Piedmont Pines neighborhood in Oakland, next to Montclair, and we love it! Most people don't realize we're actually in a different neighborhood -- it all blends together. We don't have a yard because the hill where we are is so steep (a big compromise), but we haven't minded at all. We have a 13 month old who loves to run, but there are a ton of parks around with lots of kids. Plus, we play on our decks while we enjoy the view!
If you work in SF, the commute is fairly easy. I drive to the West Oakland bart station (Rockridge parking fills up fast!!!) and ride in. Takes me about 30 minutes to get to my office from Montclair after day care drop off.
The public elementary schools are really well reviewed, and Joaquin Miller, Montclair, and Thornhill Elementary are all super close: http://www.trulia.com/real_estate/Oakland-California/schools/ (To be honest, high school situation concerns me, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there!)
We've been surprised how many kids are around, but it's a great place for them. Parks, super kid-friendly restaurants in Montclair, safe community, etc. Overall we LOVE living in the Oakland Hills!
Looking for schools can be stressful I know! I have two school aged kids myself (one in second grade and one in seventh). Schools can be a pretty personal thing, and what works well for one family does not always work well for another. I personally have been happy overall with schools. There have been some challenges, but it seems like no matter where you are that is the case.
In Oakland you do have the option of petitioning to attend a school that is not in your immediate neighborhood. There are a few schools in Oakland that are pretty competitive to get in and this process can be challenging depending on the school. Per Oakland Unified they do not guarantee a school, even if you do live in the neighborhood where the school is located. I personally feel like this there general pat answer because from year to year they really can't predict the enrollment and gives them a chance to move kids around if need be.
If you want to look up what school is located in which neighborhoods you can utilize this mapping service at OUSD's website: http://www.ousd.k12.ca.us/domain/51
Which neighborhood in Oakland you may consider will relay on your budget for a purchase of a home. Based on your budget you could narrow down the areas to concentrate your search and at the same time investigate the schools in those areas.
Another couple of websites you can check out to investigate schools is http://www.greatschools.org/ and also the Berkeley Parents Network at http://parents.berkeley.edu/
Taking a look at other parents experiences is important but I highly recommend visiting schools if you can. Test scores alone usually do not provide the full picture of a school.
If you have any other questions about schools and neighborhoods, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Hope that helps!
Alain Pinel Realtors
Depends on where you work at. If you still work at S.F. Even though Castro Valley is less expensive city of all the cities and area I mentioned above, the commute is the furthest of them all. For city of Alameda, single family housing price are similar to Rockridge and Montclair, but if other than single family houses you will consider townhouse. On newer part of Alameda called Bay Farm, the townhouse over there are as big as 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms with about 1500 sq.ft. are still around 500K. Please visit my website - http://www.HelenKwong.com and click on - School Tab to view score for the 2 elementary school - Bay Farm and Amelia, middle school - Lincoln. Also check out my blog on Alameda. Alameda is community for family and a haven for kids to grow up in. My daughters grew up here and never want to leave.
If you do not feel like committing to any realtor to represent you yet, it's a good idea to take a drive over here to the East Bay and visit the areas you are interested in and get a feel for yourself and take it from there :)
I would recommend visiting neighborhoods where the schools might be an option for you.
The test scores on some schools may not be so high but that is rarely the whole story!
You may prefer one community over another. As a former Oakland school PTA board member I know we were always happy to speak with anyone who had questions about the culture of the school and parent involvement etc.
Here's a link to the Academic Performance Index
Are you only looking in Oakland, or would you consider adjacent cities like Castro Valley, Berkeley, Albany and Alameda --- all of of which are noted for having good schools.
If you're working in San Francisco, these cities also offer commuting options.
How may I help you?
I live in the Oakland hills and specialize
In this area and would be happy to explain the pros and cons of each neighborhood if you like. Feel free to see my reviews on Yelp or trulia and give me a call if you'd like to take further. Enjoy your weekend.