Anyone in the SF bay area?

in AppleOutsider edited January 2014
I'm moving to the SF bay area next month and need advise on where to live. I'm interested in living outside of san francisco because I need parking. What communities are safe, affordable, and close to SF with maybe public transportation to SF? Thanks in advance.



  • Reply 1 of 12
    xoolxool Posts: 2,460member
    Where there are lots of places to live, it all depends on your budget and your expectations.

    I live in Berkeley and have lived here since attending UC Berkeley (Go Bears!). I have a killer deal on rent so I don't see moving until me or my girlfriend's work situation changes.

    A number of cities have access to BART which can take you to SF or elsewhere around the bay. The downside of BART is that its not like local bus lines that can blanket the city. BART has specific routes and is used to connect the various cities together.

    That said, I work in downtown SF which is near a BART station. I commute daily from the Downtown Berkeley BART to downtown SF's Embarcadero station and practically never drive, ever. (If you do take BART you can use my BART Widget ).

    If you were thinking about the east bay, Oakland or Emeryville are other cities you might want to look in to. Rent in Berkeley is probably the most expensive and Emeryville the least. Rent in SF will kill you. Depending on the size place you're looking for I can probably give you some examples.
  • Reply 2 of 12
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,665member
    If you're commuting to SF by car you want to look long and hard at traffic patterns, unless you don't mind spending a couple of extra hours a day in your car.

    For instance, the freeway that runs along the east side of the bay going north is hell, hell, hell. So while rents might be attractive in some of the cities along that route, I myself would never want the hassle.

    Also, the next county over to the east is just a few miles by tunnel (through the coastal hills) and is quite a bit more open space/rural feeling, but the tunnel makes a choke point that consigns commuters from those lovely lands to a special kind of hell.

    In fact, do like Xool says and look for a place near a Bart station and forget about commuting by car. It pretty much sucks.

    Oakland is a huge city, area wise. Some of the neighborhoods are pretty grim, and lots are perfectly pleasant, but often those two practically overlap, so it's hard to say "this region is nice", unless you have plenty 'o dough and want to live in a massively gentrified enclave (which, of course, by some standards is what the entire Bay Area is).

    Emeryville has made a dizzying evolution from sketchy Barbary Coast holdover to artist's community to massively gentrified enclave, although all three coexist to certain extent. There are some very sweet "artists lofts" type places (read: urban lifestyle affectation), but they tend to be real pricey (like $1500/month for 600 square feet).

    Berkeley is nice but you're competing with UC students for housing, so you kind of need an "in".

    Outside of the East Bay (just remember, pig latin for Beast), you're pretty much talking about Marin to the north of SF, but: no Bart, perpetually choked freeway (kind of a theme around here) and you pay dearly for the beautiful scenery (although some of it truly is among the most beautiful of all).

    Then there's Alameda, a big "island" about 20 feet off the "coast" of Oakland, which until recently was dominated by its big military installations but is gradually changing into something else. For my money it still has this sort of weird twilight zone small town vibe, like outwardly friendly but with a terrible secret, but maybe that's just me. It does have white sand beaches with a view of downtown SF across the bay.

    Personally, if I had the money I might look for a place along the Oakland estuary (the channel that separates Oakland from Alameda).

    Until a few years ago this was a wasteland, but somehow Oakland managed to pull off a nice waterside mixed-use development. All of the old warehouse buildings in the area have been, or are being converted to "loft" spaces, which I have mixed feelings about, but the area is very pleasant, with walking access to movie theaters, restaurants, a world-class jazz club (and surely the only one that is also a Japanese restaurant), book stores, coffee houses and like that. Not quite that "college area" vibe but a pretty good example of livable urban development.

    North Oakland also has a couple of pretty nice neighborhoods, Rockridge and Temescal, although Rockridge has gotten crazy expensive.
  • Reply 3 of 12
    xoolxool Posts: 2,460member
    What's your vibe and what do you like to do? Where will you be working and what's your take on commuting?

    If you just want to drive your hummer to the local Big Box store I'd make one kinda recommendation.

    If you're more granola and like good eats and would rather walk to the local organic cafe I'd have other suggestions.

    The Bay is large. And like addabox, some drives are brutal. Also some areas I wouldn't want to live in because I'd be bored or I'd hate the mindset of the local populace. But YMMV.

    So yeah, what are you looking for? Based on your initial post, parking is sucky in a lot of places, so that doesn't give us too much to go on.
  • Reply 4 of 12
    thanks for the replies! I know that there is going to be traffic and if I could I would live in SF so I wouldn't need my car but I have to use my car for my job (going site to site and carrying parts). I'm okay with traffic as I'm moving from NYC and I'm sure that traffic in NY is just as bad or worse than the bay area. I've been looking online at some places in San Mateo. How's that town? Is the peninsula a good place to look? Anyways, thanks a lot for your help. It's hard to determine neighborhoods when just reading online.

  • Reply 5 of 12

    I'm open to different environments. My first apartment there I'm going to try to get month to month and after may my girlfriend is going to move out and then I'll have a better idea of where I want to live. But for now I wouldn't mind the typical apartment complex that's in a safe area and no more than 1 hour to SF. Parking is key because of my job. I work on machines in hospitals so that's why I need wheels.

  • Reply 6 of 12
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,665member
    The peninsula south of SF, including San Mateo, is pretty much one giant ex-urban sprawl. Each little "city" has its own remnants of a few blocks of "downtown" with a coffee shop, thrift store, bank, etc., but really it's just wall to wall condos, apartments and suburban tract developments. San Mateo, Burlingame, Coma, it really doesn't matter.

    If you're looking for an apartment in a complex with amenities, and "fun urban" stuff in walking distance isn't a priority, the area certainly has the advantage of offering a lot of choices. The commute up 101 is grim but not the worst.

    If you are of a mind to be on the west side of the bay but not in SF proper you might also look at Pacifica, which is a (relatively) small coastal town just south of the city. Kind of funky, not so much with the uber-money coastal thing. I'm not sure how the commute plays out, but the drive is a hell of a lot prettier than 101, parts of it on the Pacific stretch of Highway 1, which is surely the most beautiful vista in all of God's creation.
  • Reply 7 of 12
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,665member
    BTW, given your sig I'll mention again Yoshi's, the jazz club down at the Oakland estuary.

    It's really a fantastic room, intimate with great sound and great acts, plus lesser known and locals during the week for cheap. Plus, really, it's attached to one of the best Japanese restaurants in town.

    Wherever you end up living you must, as soon as possible, have the quintessential Bay Area experience of listening, say, to McCoy Tyner's band while the waitress brings you tsukemono (pickled vegetables) or a bit of tempura.
  • Reply 8 of 12
    pfflampfflam Posts: 5,053member

    Originally posted by dolphyjazz

    thanks for the replies! I know that there is going to be traffic and if I could I would live in SF so I wouldn't need my car but I have to use my car for my job (going site to site and carrying parts). I'm okay with traffic as I'm moving from NYC and I'm sure that traffic in NY is just as bad or worse than the bay area. I've been looking online at some places in San Mateo. How's that town? Is the peninsula a good place to look? Anyways, thanks a lot for your help. It's hard to determine neighborhoods when just reading online.


    I grew up (well aside from the pre-San Mateo military brat years) in San Mateo . . . .back then?

    Can you say cultural waste-land . . . . but actually its a nice upscale suburban naighborhood if yor loaded (my mom was a real estate agent and SCORED on a great house at way below market back in the day they since moved to a retirement community and sold the house for over 1.5 Mill

    That's all on the other side of El Camino . . . San Mateo is a good high school, and though it was a waste-land I managed to find a bunch of dissaffected floppy-heads who were likewise angsty and spiritualy crushed (this was back in the 80s) . . . I am still in touch with them today and despite their shared suburban hell background they are almost all of them very creative active individuals . . . and doing it for their livings . . .

    Every time I go back to CA I am absolutely STUNNED by how awfully crowded it is and how much worse the traffic gets EVERY time I visit (annually)

    I can not suggest strongly enough that you look on the East Bay . . .. Rockridge area or Peidmont . . . In San Mateo, you might as well live in Los Angeles . . . it sometimes felt that far away from the city
  • Reply 9 of 12
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,665member
    Well, since I live in the Rockridge I didn't want to get to gung-ho, but: absolutely. Rockridge, Temescal, Piedmont.

    All roughly contiguous North Oakland neighborhoods with great urban amenities (central, walking distance avenues with coffee, groceries. bookstores, restaurants, etc.), close to mass transit, close to the fabulous East Bay hills park system (it's huge), midway between downtown Oakland and the UC campus in Berkeley.

    For instance, from where I am I can toss my bike in the car and be on park trails in about ten minutes, or, if I prefer, take a two hour hike where I never glimpse a hint of urban development. Or I can take a 5 minute walk to the Bart station and be in downtown SF, or suburban Walnut Creek (opposite direction) in about 20 minutes. Or, I can drive for ten minutes, park in a free parking structure, and take the Oakland/Alameda ferry across the bay. Or I can walk to the UC campus in about 20 minutes.

    Sometimes when the density and crowding of the Bay Area get to be too much, I remind myself that I don't live in the "Bay Area" but rather Rockridge, which is like a small village that's close to the big city (as are other distinct neighborhoods).
  • Reply 10 of 12
    I understand what you guys are saying but do keep in mind that I live in NYC right now. I'm used to overcrowding and bad traffic. I'm going to look for places in the east bay. My first apartment is going to be temporary 1-3 months and then my girlfriend is coming out and we are getting a different place. By then I should have a feel of where I want to live permantly.


  • Reply 11 of 12
    xoolxool Posts: 2,460member
    I grew up on the Peninsula in Menlo Park, which is near Palo Alto and Stanfurd University. It wasn't bad, but comparing it to living in SF or Berkeley makes it seem downright sleepy.

    I haven't lived in other parts of the Peninsula but driving along El Camino makes me think that its a little to run down and bland for my tastes.

    Unless you need to be on the Peninsula, I'd think Emeryville would be a good bet for your short-term housing situation. Its a little more central and gives you some more options. Not sure how the rents compare.
  • Reply 12 of 12
    I think knowing if your going to spend more time east or west of the bay bridge is important. That bridge can be a real headache. I know people who live in Pacifica, Daly City and South San Francisco. The rents are cheaper than SF and you can park your car. You can also get to SF easily for some fund on the town. You need to like fog, however. East bay and south bay are warmer.

    Craig's list is always a good place to start to look for places to rent.
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