San Ramon vs Walnut Creek vs Lafayette?

Asked by Sudhakar, San Ramon, CA Wed May 29, 2013

We are moving with family to Northern California. My work will be in Concord, CA and we are looking for a community with good schools (have two kids), reasonable commute, good opportunity for my wife (physician) and proximity to SF (< 1 hour door to door). We are considering Walnut Creek, San Ramon, Lafayette - any suggestions?

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Bernard Gibb…, Agent, Danville, CA
Wed May 29, 2013
All great areas, Sudhakar. I live on the Walnut Creek/Lafayette border and previously had 8 years in San Ramon. There are four school districts that cover these areas and I recommend you visit as well as the individual school and school districts websites to get some insight into the difference between them.

Which you will prefer will depend on your budget and if you like older or newer homes. Lafayette would generally be considered the most desirable (and most expensive) of the areas you mention but the homes are predominantly older ones. Lafayette has a great community - still with something of a village feel to it.

If you like newer homes, San Ramon will offer you the most choice.

Whichever one you choose (and maybe you should also consider Danville) I'm sure you will enjoy living here.
1 vote
Steve Curtis, Agent, Walnut Creek, CA
Mon Jul 1, 2013
Sudhakar ... I am not sure what your time frame is, but if you are looking at your move as a reasonably long term investment then San Ramon edges out Walnut Creek and Lafayette... but all are running in excess of 15% year over year ... with some neighborhoods in each of those communities running in excess of 25%. Assuming that pace continues, and I suspect there is enough pent up demand that it will, then when combined with gradually increasing interest rates you could be paying 25% to 30% more in payments next year over this year if you decide to rent.

Since you are coming from WA I suspect you are familiar with the Windermere website. If you login into my site noted below that will take you to my Windermere Site which will give you all the latest info. Once registered you can use the Windermere corporate site and your search will include the ability to calculate the driving time from any home you are viewing to your place of work for either you or your wife.

Good Luck. Let me know if I can be of any further help
0 votes
Troy Fedders…, Agent, Lafayette, CA
Mon Jul 1, 2013
If you are interested in seeing all the details on recent Lafayette home sales, I have just updated to include all sales year to date, through June. It is helpful to see how much specific homes have sold for, above or below their list price (mostly above).
If you are now in Northern California, please contact me. I am an Accredited Buyers Representative, and I would be happy to discuss your choices, the process, and strategy.
Troy Feddersen
0 votes
Steve Curtis, Agent, Walnut Creek, CA
Fri May 31, 2013
Let's start first with a comparison with what you have now. Toll Brothers has built high end in San Ramon ... average list and sale price since 1/1 is above $1.6 million ... homes are bigger than you have currently. Average sale prices in Walnut Creek and San Ramon overall are currently running at $815,000 to $860,000. In general, you get newer in San Ramon, mostly 2 story homes, often on smaller parcels, almost uniformly in larger subdivisions than in Walnut Creek. If you rely on school test scores San Ramon and Walnut Creek are generally comparable

Lafayette is older, more hills, more single story homes and has an average sales price currently of about $1.35 million... for a smaller home in many cases. Again, if test scores are important to you, then Lafayette will have the edge. Bear in mind that to a substantial degree test scores follow the socio-economic level of the community ... the facts support the notion that higher income communities support personal educational excellence to a greater extent than in other communities.

Right now the average price of a home throughout the region are climbing faster than I have seen it in my 30+ years selling homes in Contra Costa County... approaching 3% per month. So, if you rent for 6 months expect to pay 15% to 20% more than if you bought now.

As to private schools, expect to pay $2000 to $2500 / mo per child for a top quality, non-religious based private school (eg Bentley School, Lafayette).

You need the expertise to help you make sense of all the different choices that you have. As a life-long resident of the East Bay, most of it here in the Central County, I may be able to help. Let me know.
0 votes
Troy Fedders…, Agent, Lafayette, CA
Thu May 30, 2013
Your choices will depend on your price range, and on a careful consideration of all the things that are important to you. A private school is one option, which not only would allow you to rent and then have the option to stay with the same school after moving, but can also open up other great neighborhoods to consider, that do not have the very best schools. My oldest son stayed with a top private school through 8th grade, while my younger two went to public elementary school in Lafayette. Academically, this particular private school was better than the best public school.
Some of Lafayette is not in the Lafayette school district, and some of Walnut Creek is in Lafayette schools.
Purchasing the right home is an important undertaking, and I understand you want to spend the time to make sure you make the right decision for you and your family.

Please contact me to set an appointment to meet in my Lafayette office, when you are here later in June. As an Accredited Buyers Representative, I would be happy to help review all your choices, and the process, without any obligation. I would also be happy to provide some great local rental resources.
You can read a little about me, through the About Me link on my website::

Troy Feddersen
Broker Associate, J. Rockcliff, Realtors
3799 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Suite 100
Lafayette, CA 94549
0 votes
Kim Glass, , San Francisco, CA
Thu May 30, 2013
Looks like there are two duplicate threads with more answers here:…

and here:…

-Kim, Community Manager
0 votes
Bernard Gibb…, Agent, Danville, CA
Thu May 30, 2013
Hi Sudhakar, sounds like you have it pretty well figured out.

San Ramon certainly has the most newer homes of all the areas mentioned and prices are beter also. Note that one of the large communities (Windemere) has higher property taxes though. Something to consider.

Yes, be careful of Lafayette. Most homes are in the highly desirable Lafayette School District but some on the north-east of Lafayette towards Pleasant Hill and Martinez are not.

Renting for a while is a great idea. You will probably need to committ to a year, although 6 months may be possible. Putting your son in a private school could also be a good interim move to minimize disruption.

If you need any information about San Ramon homes, check out my website at or contact me off-line..

Good luck to you. I think you will enjoy living here.
0 votes
Sudhakar, Home Buyer, San Ramon, CA
Thu May 30, 2013
Thanks everybody for the inputs. Some additional details and questions.

1. I currently live in a Toll home community in Central Massachusetts about 3200 sq ft. I am looking for a similar home. For the first few months we may rent just so that we are comfortable with the place.

2. I see that San Ramon has newer homes and is cheaper (per sq ft basis) and appears to have more communities. Although I found a few houses (by searching on the web) in similar price range/ sq ft in Lafayette - however I am not sure if those houses are outside the desirable school districts.

3. Ideally we would like my wife to have a shorter commute (~ 20 minutes). I currently commute 1.5 hours and want to reduce this down to 30 minutes or so (of course, if possible). As a secondary concern, I want to have access to other areas with job concentrations - places like Foster City, Bay Area - south of SF.

4. If we start with (ie start renting) a place like Lafayette and end up buying a house in say, San Ramon or Danville, are we required to change my son's school immediately or can he wait till he reaches middle school (he is entering 2nd grade) to change his school. Or are we just better off putting him in a private school till we figure out where we want to live to avoid changes at this end.

We want to spend the time and make sure that we are getting the decision right.

Thanks for your help. I will be in California starting late June
0 votes
David Bellin…, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Pleasanton, CA
Wed May 29, 2013

All three communities are excellent places to call home. The school districts in all three cities are well regarded. I would eliminate San Ramon from your list due to the distance from SF. The schools are excellent, but you are looking at a minimum one hour from San Ramon to SF on a good day.

Between Walnut Creek and Lafayette, I would lean towards Lafayette for a better overall school district and proximity to SF. You are close to all of the shopping and cultural events in Walnut Creek, but avoid the hustle and bustle of downtown Walnut Creek.

Best of luck on your move.
0 votes
Melissa Mcco…, , San Ramon, CA
Wed May 29, 2013
There are good schools in all three places. You should be able to find a great home in all three. Walnut creek and Lafayette are a little older, while the homes in San Ramon are a little newer. It depends. What type of home/ price range, are you looking for?
0 votes
Lance King, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Wed May 29, 2013
Lafayette has great schools and you are only about 30 minutes on BART to downtown. Additionally, they have built a new tunnel so once that is open the drive commute will be significantly better and I think it might increase home values there.

Although my company's offices are in San Francisco we work in Lafayette - just listed and sold a house there on St Marys Rd - and would be happy to help. We also work with out of area/international clients and can help streamline the process from afar.

Best Regards,

Lance R. King - Founder/Managing Broker
King Realty Group

DRE # 01384425
415.722.5549 - Cell
0 votes
John Souerbry, Agent, Fairfield, CA
Wed May 29, 2013
If schools are your primary concern, Layette is the only choice.
0 votes
Michelle Tho…, Agent, El Dorado Hills, CA
Wed May 29, 2013
I used to live in that area. (Now, we are in El Dorado Hills) I recommend San Ramon and Danville. Let me know if you need an agent. I still have contacts there.

Good Luck!


Michelle Thompson
Realtor, Top Producer
DRE 01859154
0 votes
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