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Unhappy, Might be moving to East Bay Area, Ca. Any info on Life/housing?

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firebirdgold

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What can you guys tell me about living in the East Bay Area? Hopefully something positive? Fi may get a job offer we can't turn down in the area, but I'm not feeling terribly enthused. We'd be living in Pleasanton and Dublin which look like expensive suburban exile. What are the upsides other than being 45min away from San Fran by BART?

I think it's the housing market that's making me the most unhappy. I'm so used to houses full of character, charm, and details that the idea of having to spend 3/4's of a million dollars for a box whose price may collapse at any minute fills me with dread.


But I really don't know anything about the Bay area.

oh, and I'm originally from LA and was happy to escape so any comments that point out how different the Bay Area is from LA would be appreciated!


 

movie zombie

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if the job is in sf why live in the east bay?! also, there are east bay towns with older sections that are charming. pleasanton, livermore, hayward, come to mind. however, i''d seriously consider being on the pennisula which might offer more asthetics.

movie zombie

ps or you could move to the santa cruz mountains, live in the woods and have the benefits of the bay area and sf just an hour away....which is what we do.
 

Gypsy

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That''s where my whole family lives... so I''m very familiar with that area. Do you want to meet at Pleasanton Mall (Stoneridge... has some bling to view) and I''ll fill you in Indie? I''ve lived in LA and on the east coast... And I lived right in that area too.
 

KristyDarling

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Many people love life in the East Bay. Are you going to rent or buy? In either case, you might consider Berkeley. There are lots of areas in that town that have TONS of character and charm, homes with history that aren''t at all like crappy soulless boxes. (think Craftsmans, Victorians, etc) The Rockridge area in Oakland is also very charming and nice, tho expensive. Albany (just north of Berkeley) is uber-charming with beautiful historic homes that can actually be affordable! And with a really nice, small downtown area (Solano Avenue). Kensington is in the hilly area near Berkeley, with awesome views. Kind of a small-town feel...expensive but worth looking into.

All the neighborhoods I mention above are the more down-to-earth and charming ones, very much unlike some of the snootier Peninsula towns. Berkeley, Albany, and Rockridge in particular are chock full of character and interest! Most of the people living in those areas are diverse, creative, free-spirit, liberal-leaning types who take GREAT pride in their towns. There''s lots of great shopping and dining there too.

Now, towns such as Lafayette, Walnut Creek....while there are nice parts, in my opinion they''re kind of suburban hellish. Not a ton of character, lots of big-box shopping like Walmart, TGIF/Applebee''s, etc. Some people don''t mind that kind of character, but others who want more diversity and culture may not.

Give the East Bay a chance...the towns I mentioned above (berkeley, albany, rockridge oakland) are some of the biggest critics of soulless living and are waaaay against the type of suburban exile that you referred to. Anytime someone tries to bring a Target into the neighborhood, everyone goes up in arms! Good luck and keep us posted!
 

Mara

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lol pleasanton and dublin ARE expensive suburban exile!

where is the job? in SF? i wouldn't live in the east bay then...i have never lived there but i'm not a huge fan based on visiting friends who have lived there. i'd live in san mateo or burlingame if you like older charm. i am not a city person so i'd never live in SF. and it's super expensive in the city itself too, i have friends who are renting and it's insane. buying is even more pricey.

quite honestly, if i was not from here, i'm not sure i'd want to move here! it's really expensive, the weather has gone downhill in the last 5 years (in my opinion) where it's super hot in summers and it gets colder and rainier each winter, and each 'winter' gets longer. on the plus side you are within 1-3 driving hours of snow/skiing, gambling, beach, city, suburbia, country, mountains. it's a great place to live if you like to explore and drive around.

also how long would you want to stay here? i'd probably only come here if i had a plan on what the next 5 years would look like kinda thing...and a plan to move back in case!
 

firebirdgold

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The job would be in Livermore/Pleasanton area, not SF proper. But I''m going back to college for a degree in CS and the most likely school is San Francisco State. That''s why we''re thinking of Pleasanton and Dublin. It''s easy and basically painless to get to the university via the BART, yet his commute would still be short. And we''d probably want to go into San Francisco regularly.

So those towns have some older sections with more attractive houses, that''s good to know? I''ve looked a little and the majority of the market is pretty terrifying in regards to what you get for the price compared to other places.

Is it hard to get to SF from the santa cruz mountains? Do you honestly go into the city regularly? We''re an hour away from Abq and we almost never go there. ... Granted there isn''t much reason to go to Albuquerque.
 

Aloros

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My parents live in Pleasanton! I used to live there, and honestly, it is a bit of suburban exile. However, I''m more of a city girl, so that may be why I think of it that way. They have a nice mall there, Stoneridge, and a charming downtown area. Shopping and entertainment are all close by. If you''re into the club or bar scene, you''re out of luck. Go to SF. When I did live there, I went to SF pretty often. BART is very convenient, and it''s easy to bring a book or some work on your ride over. The weather is absolutely lovely. It''s not too far inland, and not too close to the ocean, so it doesn''t get terribly hot or cold.

I used to live close to LA at one point in my life. The traffic is WAY better, it''s not as hot and not smoggy at all. Pleasanton and Dublin are both very safe. I''d recommend Dublin over Pleasanton just because the housing is cheaper (last I knew).
 

Mara

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We live in San Jose which is about an hour drive from SF (and the 10th largest US city now) and we go up there about 2-3x a month, sometimes more depending on events. We have a lot of fave restaurants up there so we go up for dinner, we have friends that live up there that throw parties, and we also attend the ballet and symphony sometimes as well. It's fun to drive up there for a night...but we love coming back home and out of the craziness of SF. I was raised in a suburb though so that's just how I feel most comfortable.

SF is about a 1.5ish hour drive from Santa Cruz...maybe less...but it's a tedious drive regardless. We live about 40 minutes away from SC where we are. We also drive into Half Moon Bay which is about 45 minutes for us from SJ...it's where we had our first date. We do that about 2x a month. Otherwise we mostly stay local within the adjacent 4-5 towns to us which are all within about a 15-30 minute drive.

OH and we have visited LA and I couldn't stand to live there!! It's way too smoggy and gross and the traffic is insane.
 

Beacon

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I live in the SF Bay area and I don''t think too much of the East bay to be honest with you. If you try and drive to SF, you have this terrible traffic problem and a bad bridge to cross. BART you can do but, this is just me, you''ll be travelling under and across the SF bay in an underground tube. It freaks me out. If that happens to be the moment of a big earthquake, I can think of places I would rather be. OK, that is just my paranoia.

Berkeley is often referred to "the People''s Republic of Berkeley", if you see where I am going. Think rent control and poor maintenance. There are some attracive places surrounding it, but I am not sure about all those. There are some good restaurants in Berkeley though and interesting shops.

East Bay used to be a place where people moved b/c they could not afford to be on the other side of the bridge. But things have changed over time and now there are some very lovely and expensive places in East Bay that are really, really nice, like Blackhawk, which I think is technically in Dublin.

I have not been in downtown Walnut Creek in a while, but was recently told it has some nice shops. I did recently travel to the Pleasanton Mall - not that nice, I have to say.

It so much depends on what you are hoping for and where, exactly, you end up moving. You''ll have to spend some time driving around to sort it out.

Where are you moving from?
 

KristyDarling

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Date: 2/1/2007 3:14:52 PM
Author: Beacon
I live in the SF Bay area and I don''t think too much of the East bay to be honest with you. If you try and drive to SF, you have this terrible traffic problem and a bad bridge to cross. BART you can do but, this is just me, you''ll be travelling under and across the SF bay in an underground tube. It freaks me out. If that happens to be the moment of a big earthquake, I can think of places I would rather be. OK, that is just my paranoia.

Berkeley is often referred to ''the People''s Republic of Berkeley'', if you see where I am going. Think rent control and poor maintenance. There are some attracive places surrounding it, but I am not sure about all those. There are some good restaurants in Berkeley though and interesting shops.
It''s so funny, people who live in the EB can be hardcore and looooove living there, and rarely travel across the bridge unless they have to. Same goes for people living in SF and the Peninsula...they don''t go to the EB unless they really have to. Different strokes! I agree with you about the bridge traffic....avoid at all costs if you can. Weekend bridge traffic can be just as brutal as rush hour commute. However, I do a reverse commute on the bridge almost daily at off-hours (9:30am eastbound, 4:00pm westbound), and it''s not bad at all.
 

Moosejaw

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Indie,

I lived in the bay area for 5 years while I went to school. I lived in the beautiful suburb? of Hayward/San Leandro. So don''t move there.

It took me 2 years to acclimate to the city, SF, Oakland, and the environment. I started going to the nicer parts of the east bay..Berkeley, Piedmont, Oakland Hills...and dated a girl who lived in Walnut Creek for a few months.

I can honestly say I really enjoyed my time there, once I got out of the semi-ghetto.

I also lived in Alameda, which is cool Island on the outskirts of Oakland. It was a fantastic place to live.

I live on Queen Anne now, in downtown Seattle in a very neat place...and I am a 4 minute trip from downtown. I love the character of my house, and completely understand your position on purchasing a place for 800k and getting a rathole with no soul. It may be in your best interest to rent for a bit, just to get used to the areas.

I wouldn''t hesitate to purchase in the Berkeley area...and other areas you might want to consider are Moraga and the surrounding parts. Very cool homes, but can also be very pricey.

If you can afford to purchase, buy in the best area you can. The market may have slowed a bit there too...

Look at it as an adventure, since it is one of the coolest places to live, with a ton of history.

I personally would move AS CLOSE TO WORK as possible since I hate commuter traffic, and the bay area ranks as one of the worst areas in my opinion. I live two blocks away from work now and love it.

It will take some getting used to...but I actually learned to enjoy the mild winters, and dry heat summers...not to mention its a short trip to Napa, San Jose Sharks games...San Francisco...

Other areas to make day trips to:

Santa Cruz
Sacramento
Monterey
Carmel

-G
 

firebirdgold

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You know, I hadn''t thought to ask about how long we''d be there! I guess I was assuming that it''d be very long term. He''s not really in a field where they move around alot. The only reason he''s changing jobs now is that his current company is going to hell in a hand basket and everyone is fleeing. Considering how closely related the current job and the new job would be (other than a nice raise), I just figured this would be it barring a similar disaster.

Berkeley seems a bit far from where he''d work, and he''s told me I''d hate going to school there. We''re sort of looking forward to at least one of us getting rid of the 50 min commute. I work from home when I''m not in class, so I wouldn''t mind a non-driving commute for a few years. Walnut creek isn''t too far and I''ll check out Blackhawk.

We do enjoy going out on the weekends. He loves music and we both enjoy spending a friday night playing pool. We like sports games... that''s a plus. Napa is another plus... hmmmm.
 

firebirdgold

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Ok ok. Admission time:

The truth is that I was so sure that we''d be moving to Eugene this summer that I had perfectly pictured our life there. We''d get a lovely house with enough money left over for new furniture and maybe even a down payment for a weekend cottage on the coast. It''d be in biking distance (on a nice day) from the University and the downtown area. He''d work at the university and I''d go to school there and we''d meet up for lunch. We''d have a fun social life since he has friends there I get along with and who are our age for once. Every month or so we''d take the train up to Portland for the weekend and visit his folks, shop, and eat sushi.
(Ok, so I got a bit carried away with the day dreaming)


But the bay area job is a lot more money, has job security (which euegene doesn''t) and retirement, is practically identical to his current job only better, and would be a safer and perhaps a more prestigious career move for him. So I''m trying to shift my rosy dream of a quiet life in eugene for an equally rosy dream of life in the Bay area. For some reason I''m having some problems visualizing it.
 

Moosejaw

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Sounds like you have everything covered to make it a successful move...and no reason you shouldn''t love it there.

I find Blackhawk to have very nice EXPENSIVE homes...but the second somebody puts a gate around the area...to keep the supposed riff-raff out...or riff-raff in...I wouldn''t move there in a million years.

Walnut Creek, and Pleasanton are surely the suburbs.

The commute from Berkeley to Pleasanton etc...is not a bad one, thats why I think people have suggested it. I am not sure whats not to like about the school since it is practically Ivy League, but I would consider it...if theyd let me in.

I look at my house once in a while and think...man do you know what I could get with a 30-60 minute commute? I could get a 5000sqft mini mansion, and feel like I was in the Desperate Househusbands club...or moving to Eugene? Its like going to Target and feeling like a millionaire since there is nothing there I couldnt buy.

Hehe.

-G
 

Sundial

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As a fellow resident, Indie we''ll hate to see you leave beautiful New Mexico!!!
 

codex57

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Berkeley''s ghetto. Sure you can find a charming house, but it''ll be a fixer upper. It''s ok as a college student where everyone is slumming it, but my wife''s roommate (back when she lived there) got mugged at noon a block from the police station.

The prices shouldn''t shock you too much. LA is about the same. East Bay is like LA, cept further north with more vegetation. It''s less suburbia than LA is.

Pleasanton is pretty centrally located tho, so you can check out all the Bay Area has to offer.
 

Moosejaw

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East Oakland, San Leandro etc...are Ghetto.

Berkeley is far from Ghetto...but it is comparable to any large university with a diverse group of people.

-G
 

KristyDarling

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Date: 2/1/2007 7:03:17 PM
Author: codex57
Berkeley''s ghetto.
okaaaay, totally overgeneralizing here. Just like any town, Berkeley has some shadier parts, especially the further south and closer to Oakland you go. It also has some very chi-chi parts and some rather middle-class parts. I lived there about 9 years ago and there were plenty of very pretty, upscale, charming areas....especially the further away you go from campus. Ever heard of the Berkeley/Oakland Hills? Stately multi-million dollar mansions. Hardly ghetto.

Anyway Indie, Berkeley/Albany to Pleasanton is not a bad commute at all, maybe 30 minutes during rush hour? But if you and your DH are just not wanting to commute much at all, then well -- from Pleasanton you''ll have the wonderfulness that is BART to get anywhere you want in the Bay Area!
 

qtiekiki

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I grew up in Alameda, but now lived in LA. I miss it so much. It''s a nice little island, well the west side is kind of ghetto. I think that''s how most of the city in East Bay Area are; there''s nice part, then there''s ghetto part. Pleasanton/Dublin area are relatively newly developed, so a lot of the houses are boxes. Well there''s also Piedmont and Montclair (sp?) in Oakland that nice but expensive. Certain parts of berkeley very nice, other parts are more ghetto. I haven''t been out there too often since I graduated. But I did go to this really good peking duck place by campus; they remove all the fat from the roasted skin. If I were to choose I would live in Alameda, it''s in the center of everything. It''s so convienence. They are prettifying the city (I think I made up this word). It''s quite nice. My family still live there, but I couldn''t get DH to move up there when we got engaged.
 

Gypsy

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I have a friend who lives in Alemeda... and like Milpitas... there is a really offensive odor in Alemeda at times.

There are some ''charming'' unbox like houses to be found in Danville. Older but lovely. And honestly... there is no ghetto part of San Ramon or Danville. Despite the lack of housing creativity... I like it out there... but I seriously am not a ''city'' type person... I like the city to be close enough to go to, but I like to live in the burbs.

We live in Fremont b/c of the commute to my work. And it sucks here. Don''t come here.
 

Skippy123

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Oh my gosh Indie, I didn't know you were from New Mexico!!! Where???? I live in ABQ! Will fI work for Sandia out there? I am so jealous. Fun!
 

qtiekiki

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Date: 2/1/2007 8:32:31 PM
Author: Gypsy
I have a friend who lives in Alemeda... and like Milpitas... there is a really offensive odor in Alemeda at times.

There are some ''charming'' unbox like houses to be found in Danville. Older but lovely. And honestly... there is no ghetto part of San Ramon or Danville. Despite the lack of housing creativity... I like it out there... but I seriously am not a ''city'' type person... I like the city to be close enough to go to, but I like to live in the burbs.

We live in Fremont b/c of the commute to my work. And it sucks here. Don''t come here.
Your friend must live in Bay Farm island. The water by Doolittle smells horrible when you drive by during its low tide. But I don''t think you can smell it when you are actually in there.

Here''s the website for the city of Alameda if you want to check it out: http://www.ci.alameda.ca.us/
 

movie zombie

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depending on which vehicle i''m driving, time of day, and time of year i can be in sf in an hour and a quarter max ....sorry it takes you so long mara! but here just 5 miles north of boulder creek taking 9 to 35 to 92 to 280 gets me into the city very very veyr easy. santa cruz mountains does not mean santa cruz........

however, back to the original post: given school in sf and work in the east bay but lots of trips planne dto sf, i''d opt to live in sf and let hubby bart it to work.......

movie zombie
 

diamondfan

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Berkeley is a bit more bohemian from my memory...I think the Hills or Heights is rustic and pretty but it has been many years since I have been there. I have family in San Francisco who just moved to Kentfield? Is that a suburb near the city? They sold their home near the Presidio on Spruce Street, which was gorgeous...but the city is just beyond expensive, at one point it was pricier than NYC to live in, which is insane. I am sure those areas are lovely and I think you just have to make sure to look at homes with more charm and maybe be clear with the broker what you do and do not want.

Beacon, I am with you...grew up in So. Cal and lived through some earthquakes, underground in the city of SF is a bit scary to me! One nice thing about Pennsylvania is there aren''t really any earthquakes!!!
 

movie zombie

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kentfield and ross are across the golden gate in sunny and expensive marin county.

movie zombie
 

Beacon

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Date: 2/2/2007 8:53:07 AM
Author: diamondfan
Berkeley is a bit more bohemian from my memory...I think the Hills or Heights is rustic and pretty but it has been many years since I have been there. I have family in San Francisco who just moved to Kentfield? Is that a suburb near the city? They sold their home near the Presidio on Spruce Street, which was gorgeous...but the city is just beyond expensive, at one point it was pricier than NYC to live in, which is insane. I am sure those areas are lovely and I think you just have to make sure to look at homes with more charm and maybe be clear with the broker what you do and do not want.

Beacon, I am with you...grew up in So. Cal and lived through some earthquakes, underground in the city of SF is a bit scary to me! One nice thing about Pennsylvania is there aren''t really any earthquakes!!!
I felt crazy writing about the BART vs earthquakes but it does scare me. Especially the idea of the BART between SF and the East bay cause you are literally travelling underneath the deep water of the Bay. In a big quake I don''t know how frightening that would be.

I was here in the 89 quake. Unbelieveable. The BART under the water was not affected as far as I know, but still. I would do it if I had to, but if I had to do it everyday twice a day I would not like it that much!

After the 89 quake, not just me, but very brave guys I know, were nervous when they had to pass under a freeway in their cars. It does make you nervous, for quite a long while.
 

ImpatientOne

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I was dating a guy from the east Bay for about a year and a half and spent a lot of time there. He lives in the San Ramon/Danville area. I found it to be pleasant enough and at one point I really thought I was going t o end up marrying him and moving down there.
 

Mara

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danville and san ramon are super cute...i have friends who live in san ramon in a beautiful new cookie-cutter home. but it''s very much family suburbia out there. SR is hugely centered on families and things for kids, playgrounds, schools, etc. i like the idea of living in a place like that...when we have kids someday. but for us now there''s no way we''d be into it.

walnut creek can be cute, the downtownish area...also danville has a cute downtown area if i recall correctly with some cutish houses.

there are so many ''pockets'' of cute areas here and there but stay out of areas 3-4 blocks away kinda thing. that is so like our area too. there''s our townhouses, new cookie cutter stuff, then 2 blocks over it''s kinda not as nice, then 3 blocks over there are 3-4million dollar homes scattered amidst 1m homes and some small 800k cottages. we like going over there and walking around, it''s fun.

but this whole area is notorious for that kinda thing, pockets of nice and not so nice, and most of the time it''s not a whole TOWN that''s nice or bad, but pockets within.
 

flopkins

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Date: 2/1/2007 7:03:17 PM
Author: codex57
Berkeley''s ghetto. Sure you can find a charming house, but it''ll be a fixer upper. It''s ok as a college student where everyone is slumming it, but my wife''s roommate (back when she lived there) got mugged at noon a block from the police station.

Pleasanton is pretty centrally located tho, so you can check out all the Bay Area has to offer.
codex, I have to disagree w/you. As a former resident of Berkeley for over 6 yrs and three locations, I can tell you Berkeley can be very very nice in some areas. Yes, some areas are less safe. And if your friend got mugged near downtown Berkeley, I am not entirely surprised. (Yes it''s a block from the PO station but that area is not the best) On the other hand, the areas kristydarling mentioned, like Rockridge, College, North Berkeley, Albany/Solano, Kensington, Piedmont areas, you will be in an uber nice neighborhood with lots of great small urban community feel and lots of restaurants and shops nearby.

And, IMHO, Pleasanton is not centrally located. I think it''s def suburbia and in the 8 yrs I''ve lived in Bay Area, I''ve only been there ONCE. However, for Indie''s purposes, it might be ''central'' as in, a decent spot between where her DH''s job and her job might be.

Like Mara said, there are pockets of nice areas and bad areas, you just have to check out the neighborhood.

And on the topic of UC Berkeley, as an alum I feel I must defend my school and say that it is a big place, and there is something for everyone there. I think people get the wrong idea about Berkeley (university and city) in the sense that people think everyone here is a vegan hippie w/dreds and smokes pot. (which you might find here in greater numbers, but does NOT represent the general population!) While I do think the city is very health/eco friendly/conscious, and very progressive in general, it is not the place of the 60s. OVer 50% of the student population is Asian/Asian American. The vast majority of students (undergrad and grad) are middle class, as in the surrounding community. Locally speaking, there is a large percentage of hispanic, african american, white, and asians in the community... very diverse.

In terms of other nice areas to live, suburb areas that are nice are Walnut Creek, Moraga/ORinda/Lafayette, Danville, some areas of Castro Valley are nice too, but a bit further south. Oh and Alameda, but I don''t think they have easy BART access.

And to get to SFState is a definite commute, you ahve to transfer from BART to MUNI to get to the campus. Doable but rather long IMO. It depends how many classes you''ll be taking and all that. There is Cal State East Bay (formerly Hayward) if you are looking for other alternatives on East Bay.

I actually agree w/whever said that it might actually be more fun to live in SF and commute out to Pleasanton, if at all possible.

Oh, and buying out here is insane. CHeck out movoto.com for housing in bay area. DH and I are looking, at it''s about 500k+ to get into a 2/1 1000 sq ft house in a decent/marginal area of town. THe nice areas I mentioned above? You''re looking at 700k+ for the same thing (or similar price for a larger tract home in the suburbs). Amazing but true. But, there are lots of 1920''s craftsman homes all over the east bay, and some are really nicely kept up. I
craftsman homes, and old homes built in the 20s, they are just so gorgeous and it is my dream to own one someday!!! Beware that buying anywhere w/a decent school district is a premium though.

I would like to add taht I''m an LA transplant too. It took me a year or two to adjust, and I''ve loved it ever since. IMO it''s just more relaxed and friendly out here. LA is very image/who you know/what''s hip driven for me, I remember high school and dressing up every day was a big deal, and up here it just isn''t. To be honest I hated it up here at first, I didn''t have a car a the time (freshman at college and parking near the campus is horrendous) and I felt really trapped. But after I figured out how to navigate the public transit, and I worked in UCSF part time, I started getting to know SF better and it really grew on me. I started hanging around Inner SUnset, and then shopping a lot in downtown SF, and it''s just a beautiful place with wonderful food. hehe, you can tell my priorities. DH is from SF, so we travel there pretty much every week still. And several friends/family live on the Peninsula/South Bay, and it''s nice there too - lots of great areas down that way but more suburban in general. And north, like Marin/Napa/Sonoma is uber pricey but also uber nice... def more suburban also though.

I would recommend finding a place to rent near your DH''s job initally, and start exploring the area and getting to know where things are and what you like, there''s really something for everyone out here, I think!

Feel free to pick my brain if necessary!
 

firebirdgold

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Well, I''m feeling much encouraged! It seems like so many fellow PSers live and love the Bay Area!

We''re really not big city people. We like to visit, but we also like having a yard. My 80lb dog rather likes his yard too! Although his favorite thing is lying on the front porch people watching.


There are a few interesting houses around, especially in Walnut Creek! And I finally started spotting some older houses that are just drop dead gorgeous! It helped that I sorta upped the price range I was looking at.
It''s funny, but if you up your budget the houses suddenly start to look worth the price.


I''m also feeling happier about it because I suddenly realized that there was a college my fi forgot to mention! He said I should look at Stanford, SF state, Santa Clara U, and San Jose state. (SF state seemed like less of a trek). He said that I''d hate Berkely as an undergrad, and that East Bay is a bare step up from a community college. However, he forgot Mills College! (understandable since it''s a woman''s college). I don''t know what their CS department is like but it''d be easier to get to from both Walnut Creek, pleasanton, and even livermore.

Hey Skippy123, we''re in driving distance of Abq! I''d, uh, rather not admit where he''d be working as he wouldn''t like it on a public web board that gets googled and archived.
 
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