10 of the Best Places to Live in The East Bay

|September 12, 2018

The East Bay is frequently defined by the bustling urban centers Oakland and Berkeley, but as one of the Bay Area’s largest regions, it offers much more than these two awesome cities. (Don’t worry, they’re both on our list, too).

Today, we’re exploring a few of the East Bay’s best cities and communities to call home. Many of them are listed as the best and most affordable in the Bay Area, too!

If you’re looking both in the East Bay and outside of it, check out our other Bay Area guides The 11 Best Bay Area Suburbs to Live, 15 Up-and-Coming Neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area, The 9 Most Affordable Neighborhoods Outside San Francisco and The 10 Hottest Bay Area Neighborhoods for Young Professionals.

San Ramon

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San Ramon is a wonderful community in Contra Costa County that is spotted with parks, golf courses and local restaurants. Highlighted in our guide, The 11 Best Bay Area Suburbs to Live, it snags a spot on this list thanks to its affordability, strong housing market, high per capita income, high graduation rates, low crime rates, and an unemployment rate 1.5% lower than the state average.

Its East Bay location puts it just 15 minutes from Walnut Creek and 30 minutes from Oakland. But the community itself offers attractions like The Bridge Golf Course and Crow Canyon Country Club, Diablo Vista Park, Bishop Ranch Regional Preserve and local businesses like Canyon Lakes Golf Course & Brewery, Firehouse No. 37, Shish Grill and Primavera Ristorante.

Albany

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Situated just north of the University of California, Albany is a hidden gem when it comes to living, working, eating and playing on the East Bay waterfront. Traveling down San Pablo Avenue or Solano Avenue will take you past some of the community’s best eateries, including Mangia Mangia, Sam’s Log Cabin, Rivoli and Potala Organic Café.

But food and close proximity to Berkeley and Golden Gate Fields are not the only reasons we love Albany. The city also boasts a high graduation rate and excellent schools, a high income per capita, and a crime rate 6% lower than the California average. Additionally, median home price in Albany is just over $1 million making it one of the Bay Area’s most affordable communities.

Oakland

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As one of the Bay Area’s most thriving urban cities and a great neighbor to San Francisco, Oakland is an obvious choice in the East Bay. Its neighborhoods West Oakland, Dogtown and Jingletown are all featured in 15 Up-and-Coming Neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Jack London Square, Temescal and NoBe made our list of The 9 Most Affordable Neighborhoods Outside San Francisco.

Because of Oakland’s booming local art scene, music scene and food scene, it’s a popular destination for both young professionals and trendy families. Uptown Oakland, Jack London Square and Rockridge even made the list, The 10 Hottest Bay Area Neighborhoods for Young Professionals.

For more on things to do in this side of the Bay Bridge, check out The 15 Best Brunch Spots in Oakland and What To Do in Oakland if You Only Have 24 Hours.

Walnut Creek

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Award-winning schools, easy commuter access, and one million excuses to get outside all make Walnut Creek one of the Bay Area’s most desirable places to settle down. In fact, it was ranked on two of our guides: The 11 Best Bay Area Suburbs to Live and The 9 Most Affordable Neighborhoods Outside San Francisco.

And, at nearly 70,000 residents in 2016, it’s one of the East Bay’s largest communities outside of Oakland and Berkeley, which are located about 30 minutes west. Many of the city’s favorite dining and entertainment spots can be found between North Broadway and North California Boulevard, including Benvenuti Ristorante, Walnut Creek Yacht Club, Stanford’s and Havana.

For more things to do in Walnut Creek, check out Explore the East Bay’s Hidden Gems in 24 Hours.

Piedmont

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Though completely surrounded by the City of Oakland, Piedmont has its own mayor, city council, fire department, police department, school district and unique identity. And it has for over a century! The city is home to over 11,000 residents who are drawn to its tree-lined streets, top-rated schools, small-town atmosphere and close proximity to both Oakland and downtown San Francisco.

In recent years, the greatest draw for new residents to Piedmont has been its excellent school district. Consisting of three elementary schools, a middle school, a high school and an alternative high school, the district ranks tenth out of California’s 756 districts.

Bordered by Oakland’s charming Piedmont Avenue and Montclair shopping districts, living in Piedmont puts residents within walking distance of local favorites like Fentons Creamery, Cato’s Ale House, La Farine and The Wolf.

Emeryville

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Sandwiched between Oakland and Berkeley, Emeryville is one of the Bay Area’s most impressive Cinderella stories. Once coined the “rottenest city on the Pacific Coast” thanks to its large population of speakeasies and racetracks, the community has been transformed in recent decades into an eclectic and trendy East Bay locale.

Because of its location on the waterfront at the base of the Bay Bridge, residents enjoy water views as well as the attractions of Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco just minutes away. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find plenty of Emeryville businesses to frequent. Hotspots include Honor Kitchen & Cocktails, The Bureau 510, 612one and Townhouse Bar & Grill which is set in one of Emeryville’s infamous old speakeasies.

Berkeley

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There’s never a shortage of things to do, see and explore in the City of Berkeley, which makes it one of the best places to spend a day and a great place to live in the East Bay. Downtown Berkeley is known for its exciting and luring theatre district covering everything from film to live music and even performance art. North Berkeley is defined by Shattuck Avenue and the renowned University of California, Berkeley. And for inexpensive foods, unique stores, cultural events and trendy millennial hotspots, head over to Telegraph Avenue just south of the UC Berkeley campus. Most famous amongst the city’s local businesses are Chez Panisse, The Cheese Board Collective and the original Peet’s Coffee!

For more reasons to love Berkeley, check out What to Do in Berkeley if You Only Have 24 Hours.

Dublin

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Dublin is a suburban East Bay city known for its cozy, family atmosphere and its St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. But even more importantly, the city boasts a median household income 101% higher than the California average, a low crime rate and a high school graduation rate that is 14% higher than California’s.

Because the median home price is under $1.1 million in 2018, Dublin offers one of the Bay Area’s most affordable housing markets and its steady growth and appreciation is expected to continue steadily.

Fremont

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Boasting a population of over 200,000 residents, Fremont has been ranked the fourth most populous city in Alameda County, and it’s easy to see why people want to make this charming city their home. Known for its plethora of parks and conveniently located on the southeast side of the bay, Fremont provides easy access to local universities, nearby airports and, most importantly, BART which makes it easy to travel to the Bay Area’s other major cities.

Alongside educational and fun attractions like Ardenwood Historic FarmCoyote Hills Regional ParkMission San José and the Aqua Adventure Water Park in Central Park, the city averages high graduation rates, above average test scores, both private school and public school education, low crime rates and high income per capita making it an excellent option for families.

Sunol

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Located just east of Fremont and west of Livermore, Sunol boasts a small town community of just over 1,000 residents, as well as acres of open space. A few of those must-visit open spaces include Mission Peak Regional Preserve, Sunol Regional Wilderness and Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park.

But the most popular destination in Sunol is Niles Canyon Railway, a living history museum run by The Pacific Locomotive Association, Inc. Their trains are fully operational so you can hop on in Sunol and ride all the way to Fremont!

Want more information on the Bay Area?

Our other neighborhood guides include The 11 Best Bay Area Suburbs to Live15 Up-and-Coming Neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay AreaThe 9 Most Affordable Neighborhoods Outside San Francisco and The 10 Hottest Bay Area Neighborhoods for Young Professionals.

If you want to peruse the region yourself, check out our Community Search. And, as always, feel free to contact us directly!

Category Community Guides, East Bay, East Bay, Real Estate

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McGuire Real Estate

McGuire Real Estate

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