Should You Move to the East Bay: Top 5 PROS and CONS
Have you ever thought about moving to Northern California, but you weren't sure what to expect or what it will cost??
Let's talk about the Top 5 PROS and the top 5 CONS of living in the San Francisco - East Bay Area
PRO #1 to living the East Bay: and the reason probably why my family picked up and moved to the Bay Area is the proximity to just about everything. Anything you could want to do is very close to home. If you want to travel internationally, we have three large airports nearby: Oakland Airport, San Jose Airport and San Francisco International Airport.
You can get just about anywhere from those three airports. We also have three major cities nearby: San Jose - 45 minutes away, San Francisco - 45 minutes away as well, and also Oakland - 30 minutes away. With these three cities, you can get just about anything you want. If you want to see Museums or see professional Sport Teams play, they are all under 1 hour away. Let's just say you get sick of the sun (……rarely), but if you get sick of the sun and you need some snow, you've got Lake Tahoe right in your backyard. Lake Tahoe is 3-4 hours drive, depending on whether you're going to South Lake Tahoe or North Lake Tahoe. Plus if you need to see mountains, Yosemite is just under 3 hours East.
Now if you need ocean, Carmel and Monterey Bay are about 2 hours away. If you want to go to Santa Cruz, boardwalk or the beach, that's only 75 minutes away, and Half Moon Bay is about 1 hr away, where you will see the most spectacular coastline probably anywhere in the world. We have Sausalito, which is an adorable town right up in the North Bay. That's only going to take you about 55 minutes to get there from the East Bay, it's under an hour. Let's just say it's Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, and you need something a little bit more indulgent, how about Wine Country? Well, we've got Napa and Sonoma under an hour away from the East Bay. Now, if you can't wait that long, you can get to Livermore Vineyards. Livermore is only 30 minutes away and they've got roughly 50 vineyards to chose from. So, no matter whether you want to the ski or drink wine, you can do that very close by in the East Bay.
Pro #2 Should I moe to the East Bay: is open air spaces. Do you know that East Bay Park District is comprised of a 125,000 acres? There are 73 parks, 1,250 miles of trails and 55 miles of shoreline. The link is www.ebparks.org. Here are a few of my favorite parks. One right here in my backyard is the Iron Horse Trail, which is 25 miles long. It was previously the site of a railroad track and it goes between Concord and San Ramon. It was transformed in the 1980s to become a trail that is heavily used by the locals for exercise, running, biking, as well as roller blading. Probably my number two favorite park is Lake Chabot. Lake Chabot is absolutely magnificent. You have the ability to paddleboard, run, kayak, sail and walk at Lake Chabot.
Pro #3 Should I move to the East Bay: is that each little town and city has its very own personality, and has a “small town home” feel. There are 77 small towns where you can go and see an Oakland A's game, errrhh, you can see Oakland A’s win at RingCentral Stadium in Oakland. You can also go to see the Lighting of the Old Oak Tree in Danville, right after Thanksgiving every year. We also have the Pleasanton Music Fest (“Concert in the Park) nearby. East Bay folks travel from all around just to see the bands play outside. Usually a few thousand people travel here for this, or you can even watch the Pig Races at Alameda County Fairgrounds, so you get that country feeling if you want it out here in the East Bay.
Pro #4 Should I move to the East Bay: believe it or not, is affordability. The East Bay is probably the most affordable housing in all of the Bay Area. You get more land, you get more space for swimming pools and yards out in the East Bay. If you don’t believe me, let's just compare a little bit. So, the average price for a single family home of any size in San Francisco County (which includes the city) = $2.39M for the last 12 months.
In Marin County, that same single family home = $2.128M, so a little bit less… When you get to Santa Clara County, which encompasses San Jose and the South Bay, that same single family is going to cost = $1.68M. When you get to Alameda County, that number drops down = $1.225M for a single family home. Sounds like a deal, right? Now, here's even better. Once you get to Contra Costa County, the average price of a single family home is $994,000, just under $1M. You can tell why I've labeled number four as affordability, somewhat of a surprise, huh?
Pro #5 Should I move to the East Bay: Weather. You're going to need your sunglasses all day, every day. Between March and November, you will get sun every single day. So, bring your sunglasses everywhere you go and keep a line item for sunglasses in your budget because if you lose them, you can't go a day without them. The winters here are a little bit rainy and cool, but we do still get sun. It's not foggy like San Francisco, we have a warmer and sunnier climate here in the East Bay. Summers are warm and dry but not uncomfortable. I'm a Midwest girl, and I'm used to humidity, there is almost no humidity out here in the East Bay. It's dry heat unless you go further east. There is a refreshing cooling off at night and in the early morning. I would say that there's probably a few weeks during the year where we might see high 90s, 100’s, but it doesn't happen very often.
Con #1 Should I move to the East Bay: Traffic. Traffic out here is a real stinker because this area was built to be a small town and somehow it has become very, very populated. Because of this, our roads can't handle it. Additionally, there is many times either a mountain or a bridge that you have to deal with to get anywhere outside of your own little city, town, or neighborhood, so many times there is only one way to get where you are going. If you're taking a bridge to get to this city of San Francisco and something happens on the bridge, it shuts down. Guess what? You just have to wait. Getting around is a little bit different awkward because of the mountains and bridges. This city wasn't built on a grid system like many other cities with East/West Coordinates or sensical numbering like 5000 North/600 West. You just have to know where you're going or thank goodness for phones and GPS. Here are some of the traffic hotspots I run into, just so you know, to avoid them. Where 580/680 intersect, there is an awkward merge where the folks on the right want to go left and other people are trying to merge right at the same time. It also happens where 680N and 24W splits off of I-680. You don't want to get caught in that mess either. Around rush hour, that is a very, very hairy situation. Try to avoid those two spots if you can. Well, you might say, "Okay, well I'll just avoid all that by using public transportation." We do have BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) https://www.bart.gov/, which is very, very helpful. However, it's not as comprehensive as we need in the East Bay to reduce traffic.
Con #2 Should I move to the East Bay: Smoke. Even though the weather is a PRO, it’s noteworthy that it's so dry here, we do have a lot of fires. It's throughout the northwest and not just in California, but we've been hearing a lot about California recently in the news. Because of this, we have some of the unhealthiest air days https://www.sparetheair.org/understanding-air-quality/air-quality-forecast. So, when the air quality gets really rough, even if your house isn't on fire, you could still feel the effects because the smoke lingers in the air and gets stuck between the mountains, and you are forced to breathe it in.
Con #3: Should I move to the East Bay Cost of living. Now, I already told you that it was more affordable to buy a home in the East Bay. However, the cost of living and services is significantly higher than many other places in the country. So, even if you want to get a painter or someone to clean your house, or maybe take care of your dog, it's going to be more expensive too. Even a gallon of gas is $5 right now. Restaurants, if you want a drink, is anywhere between $12 - $18, and if you go for a nice glass of wine it's going to be $20.
If you want to grab lunch at work, think again. It's anywhere between $10 - $20 just for a sandwich. So, it is very expensive. When I did check NerdWallet, https://www.nerdwallet.com/cost-of-living-calculator/compare/chicago-il-vs-san-francisco-ca, it's about 50 to 75% more expensive than the average cities across the country.
Con #4: Should I move to the East Bay Not enough houses. There are more people than there are houses. So because of that, all home buyers should be getting an education about what the houses are priced for and what they actually sell for. Usually those two are different numbers. A well-educated buyer will end up searching in a price point that is far below what they're actually looking to pay for a home, so that when they have to bid for the home, they can win. This has actually become a “self-fulfilling prophecy” over time. Now sellers need to underprice their home in order to get the right buyers in to get the competition needed for the best offer.
Con #5 Should I move to the East Bay: It's crowded. There are a lot of people here (remember it was built as small towns). Everybody wants a piece of the sunshine. There are 2.2 million people living in the East Bay. So, when you live here, you always need an appointment for things. Now, if you thought you could go out for dinner and just show up, no can do! 90% of the time you're going to need a reservation for that dinner.
So, now that you've heard everything that I LOVE about living in the East Bay and everything that maybe I DON’T LOVE about living in the East Bay. After all, nothing's perfect. Are you thinking about moving to the East Bay? If you are, just click here www.exploreeastbayhomes.com. There's no commitment. I not to hound you. Reach out and let me know if you’d like some help, but otherwise feel free to look around. If you need some help, don't hesitate to reach out. We're always here for you.