Author Topic: Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5  (Read 5980 times)

BaldingStoic

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Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5
« on: November 19, 2014, 12:29:41 PM »
Hello Bay-Area Mustachians, I'm in need of housing advice.  I will be relocating-  along with my wife and 3 young kids - from San Diego for a job in Foster City.  I'll be earning a good salary, but I'm still a bit shell shocked by the housing costs.  Looking for a semi-reasonably priced neighborhood to raise the family with solid public schools that's not too far a commute.  Would welcome recommendations and suggestions.  I'll be flying back up in early December to take a company sponsored "Area Tour" but would love to tap some local Mustachian wisdom. 
 

« Last Edit: November 19, 2014, 12:57:07 PM by BaldingStoic »

MrsK

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Re: Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2014, 01:47:51 PM »
I live in Monterey, CA which is also shockingly expensive.

I think the MMM thing to do is to live as close to work as possible and be open to renting.  If you can bike to work you save money and get more time with the family and less time commuting.  We've been renting for 6 years and have been able to stash quite a bit of money during that time.  You always get people who say we are throwing money away on rent, but the math is pretty clear in this housing market.  I simply refuse to be a part of some other person's get rich quick scheme. 

We also save on time and resources by renting in this area as we don't have weekend house projects or Home Depot runs.  We spend our weekends hiking, camping and having fun with the kids.

Just my 2 cents.

Cheers

BaldingStoic

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Re: Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2014, 02:08:12 PM »
Thanks for the comment.  Monterey is a beautiful area!  Generally I'd agree, but the housing prices drop off considerably if pick a location like Newport or Fremont.  Not looking forward to the commute but the math seems to make sense. (Assuming the public schooling is respectable).  I certainly am open to renting, rather then buying, since it will allow more time to assess the area.   

simplified

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Re: Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2014, 03:37:14 PM »
I did the Fremont to Foster City commute for 3 years and it was not bad back in the day (5 years ago). The traffic has gotten considerably worse over the last 3 years. If you have the flexibility to go late and come back home late, the commute is ok. You have to pay 6$ in toll over the bridge.

I don't think Fremont is that much cheaper than the other places anymore, but I think it is not congested like the rest of the areas (Foster city, San Mateo). It still has the semblance of a suburb and is connected to the BART system. I like Fremont the best and I lived in the bay area for 7 years now.



galliver

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Re: Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2014, 03:48:49 PM »
I lived in Sunnyvale from when I was 8 to 16 with 2 younger sisters in a 2-BR apartment. We moved away for a while and my parents moved back to Mountain View when my sister was in high school. Great schools all through that area, at least for high-achieving kids (many classmates went to Ivies). Rents are kind of high, but honestly that's why salaries are high. If you can snag a deal on a roomy 2-BR, or at worst 3-BR, you should be ok with a good salary. You can commute by train (cutting car costs).

I glanced at the map and it looks like Castro Valley might be a good choice for you across the bay. Rents on 2BR were much lower (many 1.5-1.7k I think, vs 2.4-3k+). school-ratings.com had all green bubbles up there, too (high ratings). I have no personal experience here, though.

My mom had me choose my own high school when we moved (and then had my sister do the same when they moved again) and our preferred method was AP course offerings. Good schools offer more. I was interested in Calc BC, Physics, and Chemistry. My sister was more interested in history offerings (and picked the school with AP European History as well as AP US). Not sure how old your kids are or what matters to you in terms of schools, but there you go. :)

vulgar_girl

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Re: Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2014, 04:05:13 PM »
I saw this info-graphic in the SF Gate a while back when I was looking at moving.  May be helpful.

http://blog.sfgate.com/bottomline/2014/08/20/heres-what-it-costs-to-buy-a-house-around-the-bay-area/

I am lucky to live in a rent controlled apartment in SF.  It was/is expensive, but cheap compared to what is going on with this recent bout of real estate nonsense.

ubermom4

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Re: Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2014, 05:28:07 PM »
I lived in the East Bay for a few years with my 4 kids. Bay Area COL is out of control. School choice is very personal and complicated. Greatschools.org  gave me a lot of info on different districts. Parent reviews were  very helpful. Be aware, with a larger family your children might not end up going to same Elementary, Middle or High Schools. Our kids went to separate Elementary schools because the closer one was 'full'. We were afraid of this and wanted a town where all of the schools were 'good' and not just some of them. As a new person in town, you are an easy target to send to the weakest school in the district. Hope this helps.

Goldielocks

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Re: Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2014, 06:21:43 PM »
I haven't lived there in 5 years, but found Pleasanton /  Dublin to be highly bikable with some of the best rated schools in the state.   If you get a place biking distance from BART or walk to BART, it could work very well for you.   Some areas are very "Toll brothers" and "conformist suburbia", but not all, and many come with those schools,  if that is what you are looking for.


Plan on $3k+ for rent for a family size home...   lots of detached and semi attached newer homes on micro lots for that price... or a great older family home.

Philo Beddoe

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Re: Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2014, 07:06:29 PM »
As a Bay Area native I can say wholeheartedly that traffic really sucks in the Bay. If I were in your shoes I would try to live on that side of the Bay at least.

A great resource is City-data.com (http://www.city-data.com/forum/san-francisco-oakland/ There are always various postings with people from out of the area asking which neighborhoods are best.

I was an East Bay resident (I have since moved to the Sacramento area, but lived in the Bay for 35 years), so I don't really want to comment on where to live near Foster City. All I will say is that there are many nice neighborhoods nearby (I remember San Mateo being pretty nice and not too expensive, but this was years ago.)

Good luck to you in your search. The Bay has a lot to offer, and the cost of living shock will fade after a while. It's not like San Diego is cheap either.


sobezen

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Re: Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2014, 08:40:22 PM »
Congratulations on the new adventure!  The Bay Area is filled with wonderful opportunities for your family.  Are you open to a short commute?  If so consider researching the following neighboring cities with good school districts close to Foster City:
Belmont
San Bruno
San Mateo
Do you have a dedicated local realtor?  If so you may want to obtain one who is well-versed with the Bay Area to help you.  Feel free to PM if you want more information and if you want a referral.  Good luck.

NoraLenderbee

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Re: Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2014, 09:17:58 PM »
The East Bay is cheaper, but the commute will be pretty awful (plus you will pay a toll every day to cross the bridge). BART doesn't go all the way to Foster City; you'd have to take BART to Millbrae and then a bus shuttle, which will take a long time. How much are you willing to commute?

Belmont, San Carlos, San Mateo are where I'd look. Generally, the flatlands (close to the Bay) are cheapest and prices go up as you go uphill (West).

vulgar_girl

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Re: Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2014, 09:42:09 AM »
You should test drive the commutes you are considering yourself before committing to anything during rush hour traffic.   It may look okay on a map, and some may say it is "not that bad", but until you experience it you wont really know.  Before my MMM days I was considering a commute from the East Bay.  After I drove it once, I was sure I didn't want to do that every day of my life. 

mrs sideways

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Re: Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2014, 09:44:13 AM »
Are you moving here just for the job, or do you plan on putting down roots? If it's just for the job, I'd say rent and bail when the job changes. If this is where you want to live until the kids are out of the house, bite the bullet and buy. In the Bay Area, housing prices and school districts line up like teeth on a zipper, moving from the "good" to the "bad" school district, even if it's LITERALLY across the street, can be a six-figure price difference.

My husband and I are Bay Area natives, and if we didn't have families here we would have moved out a while ago. The housing costs are just too high and the commutes are just too bad.

Goldielocks

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Re: Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2014, 03:21:35 PM »
You should test drive the commutes you are considering yourself before committing to anything during rush hour traffic.   It may look okay on a map, and some may say it is "not that bad", but until you experience it you wont really know.  Before my MMM days I was considering a commute from the East Bay.  After I drove it once, I was sure I didn't want to do that every day of my life. R

+1

I only suggested east bay\ pleasanton option if you can find a comfort level with a transit option. And one that is relaxing for you...  Except for the commute, dublin\ pleasanton has all the hallmarks if a MMM small city.  ( OK and $3k for a detached home on tiny lot 1.25 hr from the city centre is a bit high for most of the country).

$200k

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Re: Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2014, 05:10:34 PM »
BaldingStoic,

I'm also moving from the San Diego area to the Bay Area in January '15.  I'm originally from San Mateo, which neighbors Foster City, but I am moving to Fremont when I get back.

You can probably meet two of your criteria (good schools) + (close commute) in any of the surrounding cities in San Mateo County, but nothing reasonably priced.  Like others mentioned here, I would look at these options:

Foster City
San Mateo
San Carlos
Belmont
Redwood City
Burlingame


flyfig

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Re: Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5
« Reply #15 on: November 20, 2014, 05:28:49 PM »
Hello Bay-Area Mustachians, I'm in need of housing advice.  I will be relocating-  along with my wife and 3 young kids - from San Diego for a job in Foster City.  I'll be earning a good salary, but I'm still a bit shell shocked by the housing costs.  Looking for a semi-reasonably priced neighborhood to raise the family with solid public schools that's not too far a commute.  Would welcome recommendations and suggestions.  I'll be flying back up in early December to take a company sponsored "Area Tour" but would love to tap some local Mustachian wisdom. 
 

Hi- living in the Bay area for the last 6 years. The traffic here is TERRIBLE and gotten very bad in the last 2 years. For context- I live in SF city and do the reverse commute to South San Fran for a biotech job. Looking at the rush hour maps, its bad across the board.

On surface, the East bay offers the best value for housing + school. Going from East bay into the city to the peninsula it is insane (Bay bridge and 101). Going south along the east Bay directly to the peninsula (880 to dumbarton or san mateo bridges) not much better.

If you company offers a transit option (bus, etc)- use that. Or some ride sharing option.

Otherwise, I would bite the bullet and buy or rent on the "correct" side of the bay. If my fellow colleagues are any indication for school quality/family living, Burlingame is a winner.

john c

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Re: Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5
« Reply #16 on: November 20, 2014, 06:10:44 PM »
How much are you looking to spend on a rental?  That really determines where you should look for housing.  Traffic on the peninsula is horrendous, but manageable if you can commute off-hours (in early or stay late).  Another issue is schools.  Good school districts add ~$200k to the price of a home, and ~25% to rent.  A way around this is charter or private schools.  The issue is that the good charter schools have wait list and/or lotteries to get in, so it takes a year or so gain entry.  Luckily, the areas close to Foster City have either very good schools (Menlo Park, San Mateo, Burlingame) or horrible schools (the ghetto parts of Redwood City, across the bay in Fremont, Newark, etc). 

If you can afford it, the peninsula, and the Bay Area in general,  is paradise.  The climate is perfect, the schools some of the best in the country, and the commutes are reasonable.  If you can't afford it, it's hell.  Crappy housing, unbelievable traffic, atrocious schools, and high taxes.  Rents have gone up about 10% per year for the last 3 or 4 years.  Purchase prices have gone up 25% in the last two years. 

If your jobs pays VERY well, as in $200k plus, then go for it.  If not, I personally would reconsider.  I write this while sitting in my cube in Palo Alto, staying late to avoid traffic back home to San Jose.  I'm happy with my choice, it works for me, but it's not for the faint of heart.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2014, 06:16:11 PM by john c »

Us2bCool

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Re: Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5
« Reply #17 on: November 20, 2014, 07:33:37 PM »
We moved to the SFBA a couple years back, and ended up in Pleasanton since that's where my job is. I agree that it's a great place to live, but if I worked in Foster City, well, there's no way. I had to make the drive across the San Mateo Bridge during commute hours and I say, Never Again.

My advice is, use GreatSchools to find a neighborhood on the peninsula and live close to work. Try to avoid getting on 101 at all costs. I know so folks who live in FC and they love it. There are some really beautiful places on the peninsula.

TerriM

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Re: Best places to live near San Francisco for Family of 5
« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2014, 01:49:48 PM »
BaldingStoic,

The Bay Area housing market is very, very high right now.  You're pretty screwed trying to move here right now.  I hesitate to say it, but you might want to reconsider the move.    (I mean that in the nicest way, but that's what I'd tell myself if I knew then what I know now.)

If you decide to come, your best bet would be to live on the East Bay (Newark/Fremont) and then commute.  On the peninsula, the cheapest housing tends to be in Redwood City or San Mateo, but the schools are not as good as the other areas.  The commutes to the Peninsula and SF are pretty trafficky, so from where you are, check the Google maps traffic in the morning and see what the traffic looks like from various cities to your job.  Red on 101 means 10-20MPH.  Keep in mind that crossing the bridge is $5/day.

Checkout padmapper.com for rental prices.  What you see is what you're going to get--there's no secret cheap inventory:  $5K+ for a small (1200 sq ft) 3BR in Menlo Park.  $3K+ and up in the areas with less desirable schools on the Peninsula

Good luck.