I'm a CV agent, and I lived in CV for 20 years. I grew up there, and went through all 3 levels of their public schools. I played in the community baseball and soccer leagues, and was also in a great Boy scout troop and became an Eagle Scout. I've since moved to San Ramon, which everyone would consider an upgrade, but it's pricier and not as centrally-located. Here's the truth about CV with no suger-coating. Let's look at the cities/towns it borders on the North, West, and South; Oakland, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, and Hayward. Aside from a handful of exclusive communities in the Oakland and Hayward Hills, Castro Valley is way nicer than all of those places in just about every way. MUCH better schools, MUCH lower crime, beautiful surroundings (parks, trails, canyons, Lake Chabot, Willow Park golf course, etc), higher household income, and a nice small-town feel. However, due to the close proximity to the questionable areas that Castro Valley borders, some of that element has crept in over the years, especially after BART came to town about 15 years ago. There are some parts of town with a high number of apartments and rental properties, and I wouldn't recommend buying in those parts. Also, there are some parts of town on the Hayward and San Leandro borders that while still in Castro Valley fall into the Hayward and San Leandro School Districts. If you've got school-aged children, I wouldn't recommend in those parts either. Almost all of the commerce in CV is on Castro Valley Blvd and Redwood Rd. Driving down those 2 streets you may see an occasional transient, or kids dressed like punks, but not often. For the most part, CV is quite nice. The only places in the East Bay that are nicer are very pricey, and may be out of your budget (Pleasanton, Piedmont, San Ramon, Danville, etc). CV offers a great value for the average middle class to upper middle class family. It's also probably the best all-around place to live for East Bay commuters. In sumation, there are parts of CV that range from ok, to good, to great. Your best bet is to team up with an agent who knows the area like an encyclopedia. There are many parts of CV that I guarantee you would be highly impressed with.