Since your husband will be commuting to Pleasant Hill, I would recommend the East Bay. He'd be mostly going against traffic and would save about 20-30 minutes in his commute. Heâ€™d also have access to public transportation with BART. Marin, on the other hand, would be a minimum of an hour during the high traffic periods and also the public transportation, BART, does not go into Marin.
There are some great neighborhoods in Oakland and Berkeley. The Elmwood and Rockridge areas fit your description of 'chic, trendy, upscale, with great restaurants, shopping and good weather' to a tee.
These are diverse communities that you can walk to just about everything and since you're starting a family, there are lots of parks, preschools, and mom/dad type clubs in the area.
Here are a few links to check out:
http://www.rockridge.org and http://www.claremontelmwood.org
Good luck in your move and we'd be happy to give you a tour when your in the area.
Mary and Ken
Marin is great but you will have a commute. Sylvia....where are you for this one?
Sorry, work + back to school rush - Trulia took a backseat.
You know my answer - Marin, so I won't repeat. But I have to be honest, i am not familiar with Lafayette.
I do know that a lot of families are willing to either commute and/or pay a premium to live in Marin and they won't move away once they are here unless they absollutely have to.
I think that says a lot.
Go to http://www.greatschools.net to see for yourself. Also check out http://www.eastbayhomes.us/Default.aspx?page=26
for more information on East Bay neighborhoods!
Susan, here is my take on your question:
I understand your concerns and why you are so specific about where you want to stay; coming from Santa Monica.
My husband's family moved to Brentwood, LA when he was in high school. He and his high school friends used to go to Santa Monica, Malibu, and Zuma surfing and hanging out all the time. When we go back and visit grandparents, we still meet at the beaches sometimes. Anyway, he loves outdoors and he has traveled to many places. He was very discriminating about where we would finally settle down, and Marin won hands down. All due to the great outdoors and wonderful environment Marin offers.
His biggest passions are windsurfing, mountain biking and some tennis now (mellow sport for him). Being in Marin is great for going to beaches. Since he is a windsurfer, depends on where the wind is, he can be in Bodega Bay (west Marin), China Camp (here in central Marin), Marina Bay (East Bay), Crissy Field (right under GGB â€“ gonna be a great windsurfer to go there, I am not sure if he is completely there yet) all very easily. . Very rarely he goes to South Bay â€“ donâ€™t ask me where. The ocean is everywhere and easy to go to from Marin.
He works for a high tech, consulting company. His job was first in San Francisco downtown and recently, Oakland downtown. He goes to Pleasant Hill and the south bay sometimes. For him, even though he has to commute, it's worth it. He always says that if you have to commute, Marin is the best place to be. You canâ€™t complain about the gorgeous views when you drive. Richmond bridge (580) is a 4 mile long bridge although not as famous as Golden Gate, it's a totally different feel and a fabulous drive.
Of course, I am passionate about Marin. This is simply one of the best places to live in the country; the reason why housing prices are at a premium.
Go to my website http://www.FirstMarinHomes.com; there is a whole section about Marin county â€“ Marin towns, schools, parks and open spaces, outdoors and trails, even motherâ€™s clubs (quite a few and very active). Feel free to explore.
There are many great towns to live in Marin, each with itâ€™s own characteristics and unique features; all depends on what you want. There are many reasons why Marin is the most desirable place to live and what you hear is true.
We have great outdoors; open space abound; Mt. Tam, China Camp, Mt. Burdell to name a few - we love to go out and buy up open spaces if we can get our hands on them (thatâ€™s why build able spaces are few); we have national forest; national seashore; we have homes with dead on city, golden gate bridge views, homes with hill views, horse properties (yes, thatâ€™s big), homes on water, on ridge, backs up to open space, acreage, golf courses, tennis clubs to name a few.
We have a lot of cultural related activities and we are all that you asked for: trendy, chic, upscale, theaters, plays, quaint towns, boutiques, great restaurants, shopping (national and boutique) and more.
Marin is also a fabulous place to raise a family with a lot of support - we have very active mother's groups. You will find a great way to meet wonderful, supportive friends - by the way, volunteerism is the best way to find great people. The whole place just feels safe for kids and thatâ€™s what you want. We also have great schools and some of the best performing arts (music, drama) programs for kids â€“ my kids are in public schools. We have great Parks and Recreation programs for kids; tennis and swim clubs (teams). The list goes on and on.
Forbes recently rated Marin Schools as the best for the buck . http://www.sylviasellsmarin.com/Forbes+Rates+Marin+Schools+B
Another nice thing about Marin is that unlike L.A. (or even East Bay); everywhere in Marin and the city are both accessible within half an hour and you can do all the above and more very easily.
Weather wise, Marin has very pleasant weather year round; although the farther north you go, the sunnier and warmer it gets (Mill Valley can be foggy and damp at times); so that would be something to consider when you look for homes. Prices of homes also tend to be less expensive the further north you go due to the proximity to the city.
I think I am taking up too much space here. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you want more information or somebody just showing you the area. This is my job and I will be very happy to help!