Moving to the Bay Area from NYC. Have two kids, ages 4 and 2. Will be commuting to downtown SF and Mountain View. Where should I be looking?

Asked by throttlefinger, Pleasanton, CA Wed Sep 18, 2013

Looking to rent at first but want area that has good schools and family environment.

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Julie Lauer, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Wed Sep 18, 2013
Good morning,

Many people who work in SF and the South Bay live in Pleasanton or Dublin. Both cities are adjacent to the 580/680 interchange, and the Pleasanton/Dublin BART stations provide hassle-free commuting to downtown SF.
Pleasanton has terrific schools, a wonderful downtown, and many different housing options. It's a great place to live no matter what neighborhood you're in.
Rentals are hard to find but often times it comes down to who you know. We have an in-house property management company that has a lot of rentals in the Tri-Valley.
Good luck with your move, and let me know if I can help in any way.

Julie Lauer
Web Reference:
2 votes
Thanks for the reply, Julie. Understand rentals are harder, yet want to get a sense before buying. Moving from NYC so don't want to rush into it. Will contact you once we finalize the details of our move.
Flag Wed Sep 18, 2013
Doug Buenz &…, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Wed Sep 18, 2013
Pleasanton would be a good choice in terms of being a mid-point between Mt. View and SF. It has awesome schools and a great community feel. The commute will not be pretty. If your long term plan is to rent, you might want to consider the peninsula to cut down on your commute. But if your long term plan is to buy, you will find the home prices, quality of schools and attractiveness of the community, Pleasanton would be a strong choice if you are willing to accept a 45 minute commute. Many people feel it is well worth it.

Here is a link to extensive community information on Pleasanton, including schools, neighborhoods, market trends, lifestyle, etc:

Best of luck with your move!

Doug Buenz
The 680 Group at Alain Pinel Realtors
(925) 463-2000
2 votes
Thanks, Doug. This is fantastic. Going to rent at first and get a feel for the area before buying. Moving from NYC.
Flag Wed Sep 18, 2013
Ali Qureshi, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Wed Nov 13, 2013
Tri-Valley has excellent schools! Most people move here from other parts of the bay especially for the school district. You can take the bart and reach San Francisco is just around 40 mins. Your biggest challenge will be the commute to Mountain View but that also depends on the time. If you don't have flexible hours then I would seriously consider Fremont.
1 vote
The Medford…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Thu Sep 19, 2013
If it was me, I'd be taking a serious look at Fremont. There are two BART stations (Fremont for South Fremont and Union City for North Fremont) providing very good access to San Francisco. Since Fremont is currently the end of the line, you'll more than likely get a seat. As for Mountain View, I commute from Fremont to Mountain View at least once a week across the Dumbarton Bridge - takes me 18 minutes in good traffic from start to finish. The Dumbarton Bridge is usually good during rush hours as well.

As for schools, Fremont has the highest-ranked schools in the Bay Area. You are equidistant between the San Jose and Oakland airports and SFO is only 10 minutes further. It's also cooler in Fremont than the Tri-Valley - something we really appreciate on hot summer days. You are close to everything the Bay Area has to offer AND ... you don't have to deal with the serious commutes going through the hills to get to the Tri-Valley - they are horrible during rush hour. There are only 2 major routes from the East Bay to the Tri-Valley - I-580 and I-680 - and both are horribly congested during peak hours.

Let me know if you'd like any additional information.
1 vote
Thanks for the great insights about Fremont, Carl! Use to live in SF and had a buddy in Fremont. Not a bad commute. Schools are definitely attractive. Will get back to you once we get our plans more in place.
Flag Thu Sep 19, 2013
Kristina McC…, Agent, Orinda, CA
Thu Sep 19, 2013
San Ramon has a wonderful family vibe, amazing sports complexes, great schools and all the commuting options you would need - public transportation to "the City" or a reasonable driving commute to Mountain View. Because of the shape of the Bay - it's a tough call to get everything you want. If you can afford it, Menlo Park is wonderful, as is Cupertino - but, with the Silicon Valley price tags you might need to consider something on the other side of the Bay if you don't want to do your house hunting in San Jose.
1 vote
Good luck with your move. Happy to show you around - looks like you have quite the selection of great agents!
Flag Sun Oct 6, 2013
Yeah, we like San Ramon. We want to be mindful of SV prices, as we're not making SV money. Thanks for your insights, Kristina!
Flag Thu Sep 19, 2013
Pacita Dimac…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Wed Sep 18, 2013
Of course, those of us who prefer to live elsewhere besides San Francisco, would tout where we live now.

The first things you should ask yourselves before people can give recommendations.....

Are you buying? And if so, what is your budget range? NYC prices may be somewhat closer to SF prices if you lived in the city, so you probably won't experience the sticker price shock.

What is your lifestyle -- do you like the NY city vibe, the total urban experience? Or are you ready for that house with a yard, a garage, and where you can have pets?

How far and how long are you willing to commute

What kind of amenities do you want for your family

If academic performance standing is of prime importance, that that may be the first place to start, and work from there.

I lived in Mountain View, San Francisco and Oakland before relocating to Alameda -- a small island city between San Francisco and Oakland. Residents commute to SF via the express bus, ferry...or take the bus downtown Oaklland or take the car to the nearest BART. Lots of options.

Excellent schools. And for a small island, we have a restored theater with 8 screens, a vibrant downtown, and believe it or not, lots of good place to eat. Best of all, we enjoy the wonderful weather -- it's almost always sunny. We don't have fog, it's usually 5 degrees warmer than SF, but it doesn't get quite as hot as say, Walnut Creek. Fabulous walking and biking. Peaceful, quiet.....Check it out!
1 vote
Come check out Alameda. More things to love than you may remember. The second longest July 4th parade (kids and adults have a good time), outdoor movies at Alameda Point, Sand castle building, Arts and Wine Faire, lots of water activities (kite boarding, wind surfing), skate board park at Alameda Point, wine tasting (more than one winery), and more. Come back to Alameda :)
Flag Thu Sep 19, 2013
Appreciate the insights, Pacita!

I use to live in SF from 1994-2000. And actually I helped write a brochure that sold the converted Naval Yards at Alameda for residential living. It is quite nice over there.

Definitely want to live in a house in an area with great public schools. Doing a condo right now and done with that. So playgrounds/parks, community events that are kid friendly, etc are what we are focused on. We're looking to rent until we are comfortable with the area. This mostly means in terms of schools and other things for our children. I currently commute 40 minutes. So open to it being more than 30.
Flag Wed Sep 18, 2013
Christine and…, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Wed Sep 18, 2013
I've lived in both the Peninsula and the East Bay, and based on just the information in your question, my recommendation would be to look FIRST in the mid-Peninsula area, specifically the cities of Foster City, Redwood Shores, Belmont and San Carlos. The schools are great with very few exceptions. I lived in Belmont for 12 years and that would be my first choice of the 3 cities. There's a woodsy feel to the area. If you like water and newer homes, Foster City and Redwood Shores would be the best bet.
The one downside is price of course. These cities are near the big boys here: Apple, Google, etc... so for what you can get for a townhouse there, you can get a nice single family residence in the Tri-Valley area. Given your commute info, Danville, San Ramon, Dublin and Pleasanton would be your best bet so that it is more equidistant to the two cities. Of these, Danville and Pleasanton would have more character and more of a small town feel. San Ramon and Dublin would have more newer homes. Schools are generally great in all these cities as well, so that should not be an issue.
I cover both areas and would be happy to work with you to find the right home at the right budget, whatever it is.
-Raymon Ayroso
1 vote
Barbara Wils…, Agent, Danville, CA
Wed Sep 18, 2013
Dublin/Pleasanton/San Ramon are suburban "bedroom" communities that offer access to BART (commuter train) for the trip to San Francisco with 2 stations in Dublin. Depending upon your company, those areas are served by corporate busses (for example, Genentech has a bus that picks up their employees at a spot in San Ramon for the trip to South San Francisco). It is about a 45 minute ride from West Dublin to Embarcadero. For the trip to Mountain view, Pleasanton and Dublin would be better choices, saving perhaps 15 -20 minutes each way in commute time.

Other areas, like Walnut Creek (35 minutes to SF on BART) or Piedmont (20 minute BART ride) but the commute from WC to Mtn View would be an additional 30 minutes than from Dublin, and from Piedmont, maybe 10 to 15 minutes longer.

There are communities on the peninsula that also could work well for you with maybe a shorter commute to both locations. However, the prices are significantly higher there. I pulled up homes in San Carlos, Redwood City, Foster City,and a couple others, and found (1) 3 bed, 2 bath home with at least 1800 sq ft listed for $1.095,000, on a 2350 sq ft lot. I found 36 listings in Dublin, Pleasanton, San Ramon (tri-valley, or san ramon valley) priced from $639,000 to $800,000 with lots ranging from 2800 to 41,000 sq ft. There are 3 homes in the SRV priced between $1,mil and $1,095, and they are all over 3000 sq ft of living space. So the choice depends upon how important the house is to you. .if you are ok with the cost differential and are willing to accept a smaller house for the same money, the peninsula could be a choice for you. .

I have lived in all of those areas, and they all have something great to offer. If I were to set up a home search for you, my system allows you to put in important addresses (like that of your work) and it will tell you how far and how long that particular home is from your important place. If that sounds helpful to you, let me know.
1 vote
Marcia Kelly, Agent, Topeka, KS
Wed Sep 18, 2013
I lived in the San Ramon-Dublin area. It's quite affordable compared to areas closer to San Francisco. It has excellent transportation, the Bay Area Rapid Transit System offering a station right there. I-580 and I-680, with easy access to the East Bay & San Francisco, run through this area. It is located near golf courses, shopping, wineries & a private airport if you own a plane, which we did. It's about an hour's drive to Santa Cruz & the Ocean Beach. Fremont, over the hill, is also an affordable location, which offers BART transportation & easy access to the City, as well.
1 vote
Moxley Team, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Wed Sep 18, 2013
We run across a lot of people with a similar commute and when we do I encourage people to look in south Pleasanton for easy access to 680 and also the west side to provide access on 580. Pleasanton is a great location because of the 580/680 interchange. You also have the option of BART that can be accessed from the new Pleasanton station on the west side. Beyond that it comes down to price range and neighborhoods in that geographical area. You can view most of the Pleasanton neighborhoods on our site at and find commute distances, schools, floor plans and a Pleasanton video too.
Enjoy, and if you need anything, please let us know.

Moxley Team
Web Reference:
1 vote
ThankedAppreciate the detailed reply, Moxleys. We check out your site. Going to start renting than when we're comfortable move towards buying. Making the move from NYC. Thanks again for your insights.
Flag Wed Sep 18, 2013
JoAnn Wheeler, Agent, San Ramon, CA
Wed Sep 18, 2013
Good Morning,

Firstly congratulations on your move to California.

I am a leasing agent for Park Place Property Management in the Tri -Valley. Please email me privately and I can send you some information. The inventory on rentals is very low and know of a couple of homes coming up that are not on the market.

The neighborhoods in San Ramon, Pleasanton,Dublin and Livermore are great and the schools are very good. Once you move here you will find that a lot of people do the same commute you will be doing. Nice thing about Pleasnton is BART. Only 45 minutes and you are right in the heart of San Francisco.
1 vote
Thank you, Joann!
Flag Wed Sep 18, 2013
Jeff Nesselr…, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Wed Sep 18, 2013
The rental market is difficult in the Tri-Valley area (Danville, San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton & Livermore). You can't go "wrong" anywhere in the Tri-Valley area. Check API scores of schools in Livermore to make sure, but otherwise you can't go wrong. BART trains are available to SF from Dublin and Pleasanton. Mountain VIew would require a commute along Interstate 680 to 237. Pleasanton is the closest community to Mountain View in the Tri-Valley. Many people working in the Silicon Valley would consider Pleasanton to be the furthest north that they would go.
1 vote
Thanks Jeff. This is very helpful.
Flag Wed Sep 18, 2013
Susie Kay, Agent, Dallas, TX
Sun Oct 6, 2013
The Tri-Valley area is a really nice area for family as well as Fremont. I used to live there years ago and I still have families living there. You'll probably want to take BART (train) to downtown SF as it will be too much traffic during rush hour to commute from East Bay to downtown SF.

Good luck!
Susie Kay, Realtor®
United Real Estate
III Lincoln Centre, 5430 LBJ Freeway #280
Dallas, TX 78240

Servicing your real estate need is my priority!
0 votes
Depends on your budget & commute time. Can you commute in off hrs? I check GoogleMaps for travel times and ad 1/3 for traffic hrs. Google puts Sausalito at 47.6 mi/1hr from Mt View in non Traffic. 10 min one way can mean 30-40 minutes round trip in traffic = less time w/ your children. Keep in mind how valuable that time is to you.
That being said, the burbs mean a great life for your kids, with lower crime, easier parking than the City. If you are less than 5 years from retirement, then it may be worth the sacrifice. MARIN is also an option.
I grew up in MARIN COUNTY across the Golden Gate Br. from SF. It was a Paradise as a kid. Yuppies move from the City when kids reach grade school age. I call it the Kindergarten Effect. They want the kids in the good schools, safer neighborhoods where they can ride their bikes to school.
You almost can't go wrong when you live in the outlying areas away from the high populations, but you pay in the drive.
Write me with your questions
Flag Thu Nov 14, 2013
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