Castro Valley, California

Beautiful and Boring

Castro Valley View
Castro Valley View
Castro Valley Dock
Castro Valley Dock
Castro Valley Boating
Castro Valley Boating
Chabot Space & Science Center
Chabot Space & Science Center

The Best Thing About Castro Valley?

Peace & Quiet

Looking for wide open spaces? Up until World War II, ranching was Castro Valley’s primary industry. A housing boom followed the war, subdividing much of the ranch land. Interestingly, because Castro Valley is unincorporated, the lack of centralized planning for the area’s population growth resulted in a mismatch patchwork of housing options. You can almost literally find any kind of style to fit your needs. There are mansions on ranch land, trailer parks, gated communities, and more traditional and established neighborhoods. The west and central part of town are where you’ll find most of the older and very diverse styles. Two bed and one bath homes sit on the same block as four bedroom and three bath homes. Then on the east side you’ll find your more modern planned housing communities.

While it’s not all ranch houses today, the peaceful and quiet rhythm of the past lives on here. Residents enjoy great access to outdoor spaces and in some parts, both ridge and bay views. It cannot be described as the “hub” for really anything, but it is where folks come to settle down. To complement the slower pace of life, Castro Valley boasts well-regarded schools and a prime location within the East Bay. It’s easy enough to see why more and more families are taking a closer look at CV.

Please keep in mind that one person’s “peaceful” is another person’s “boring.” More on that in the next section.

The Worst Thing About Castro Valley?

Quiet…Maybe Too Quiet

“Fast” is not a word you’d associate with peaceful and quiet Castro Valley…unless you’re talking about fast food.

If you’re imagining this Oakland suburb to reflect the impressive cuisine options in nearby San Francisco, this one might hurt a little. Castro Valley is home to not one, but sometimes two of each of the most popular fast food chains in the country. In other words, drive-thru dining makes up the majority of your go-out options. So if you’re a foodie, we’re sorry, but also don’t give up on Castro Valley yet. We can confirm there IS a Trader Joe’s.

While lack of food options is the top drawback on most residents’ list, locals do have their go-to spots. Most mentioned was the Southern Comfort Kitchen where Californians can get their fill of authentic southern fixin’s prepared by three brothers from New Orleans (when you go, we recommend the shrimp and grits). For the sushi lovers we have Tancho Japanese Restaurant and for those with a weakness for southeast asian cuisine, you’ll be frequenting Phad Thai Cuisine and Top Thai Cuisine.

But don’t forget dessert. Yogurt Deluxe is there for when you’re being good about following your new health plan and Milk & Cookie Bar https://milkandcookiebar.com/ and Rita’s Italian Ice and Frozen Custard are there for days when you “deserve it.”

As we’ve hinted at, Castro Valley’s convenient central location within the Bay Area makes travel to other places easier. When you’re itching for more options, check out popular dive bar Curly’s Place in Hayward or the mall in San Ramon called City Center Bishop Ranch.

Lifestyle of Castro Valley

Did we mention Castro Valley is unincorporated? It’s the fifth largest unincorporated area in California and is managed by Alameda County. This can mean a few things. One pro is that without localized government and services, there are potentially fewer taxes. One con is that there isn’t a centrally located public safety presence, but residents note that they feel comfortable walking around at night and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and California Highway Patrol have great response times.

And like we said, the lack of centralized planning resulted in a range of housing styles. Prospective transplants can find anything from ranch and horse properties to custom homes within newer subdivisions. The wide range of options does mean a wide range of prices (think $600,000 to $2+ million). While the median home price sits at $1.2 million, local realtors argue that you can expect to get a two bedroom and one bathroom starter home for $750-900,000 (as of late 2023). In terms of renting, a one bedroom will be about $1,900 and a two bedroom will be about $2,400 according to Zillow.

Castro Valley is as ethnically diverse as its housing options are varied. Its primarily upper middle class population demographics are White (Non-Hispanic) (39.5%), Asian (Non-Hispanic) (28.2%), Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) (9.56%), White (Hispanic) (8.85%), and Two+ (Non-Hispanic) (5.08%).

Unless you work in healthcare or are fully remote, you’ll get to experience the joys and drawbacks of driving to and from Castro Valley. In terms of location within the Bay Area, Castro Valley scores highly. It’s just 25 miles east of San Francisco and 30 minutes away from most major hubs like SF, the Mid-Peninsula and Silicon Valley. Oakland is even closer, just 20 minutes away. If sitting in rush hour traffic isn’t your thing, Castro Valley also has a BART station. The downside of having great access to highway 880 and 580 is all the through traffic. Commuters who live elsewhere will often use Castro Valley backroads to avoid back-ups on the main freeways, causing surprisingly bad traffic jams that logically shouldn’t be there with a town of CV’s population size.

But let’s forget about work for a minute and focus on recreation. You can trust us when we say CV is lacking in nightlife, food and entertainment options but those who love the great outdoors won’t mind. The area’s eastern border is the Lake Chabot Regional Park where residents can rent boats, picnic, hike and more. You can mountain bike all the way to Oakland, walk the 10-mile loop around the lake or test your luck at catching bass, catfish, trout or carp. Also to the east of Castro Valley, Cull Canyon Regional Recreation Area offers swimming, hiking, dog areas and more.

If you’re not into outdoor activities, but you don’t mind drinking in beautiful views, perhaps you’d prefer to pair the region’s nice weather with a little wine tasting. Visit a few local wineries before continuing the fun further east on the region’s popular Livermore Valley Wine Trail.

Schools in Castro Valley

Rated Highly

Castro Valley may not have a city council, but it does have a local school district. And a good one at that. The Castro Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) serves 9,000 students via its nine elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools. Additionally, it offers the [Castro Valley Virtual Academy](https://virtualacademy.cv.k12.ca.us/), where students grades K-12 can enjoy a fully online education.

CVUSD has an overall “A” rating on Niche.com and Greatschools.org reports 86% of schools in this district are either average or above average in quality, with the majority being above average. The district is praised for its academics, teachers, diversity and in particular, its college prep. Within CVUSD, Jensen Ranch Elementary School (K-5) gets a gold star for its excellent equity practices, above average academics and well above average test scores. It even offers a Spanish dual immersion program, is rated 9/10 on Greatschools.org and received an “A” from Niche.com. Castro Valley High School also received a 9/10 rating from Greatschools.org and “A” rating on Niche.com. It ranks far above the state average in terms of preparing students for college and beyond.

But if you’re a parent looking at moving to Castro Valley, don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet. Like other surrounding areas, the zoning can be tricky. A good general rule is that any property south of the 580 will be zoned for Hayward Unified School District, despite having a Castro Valley postal code. In other words, if you’re moving here primarily for the schools, do your research before signing on the dotted line.

You can forget about zoning if you’re looking at the long list of top-tier private schools in and around Castro Valley. The College Preparatory School (9-12) in Oakland, Head-Royce School (K-12) in Oakland, The Quarry Lane School (PK-12) in Dublin and Redwood Christian Schools (PK-12) in Castro Valley are particularly well rated and located pretty close. Also, not a private school but certainly worth mentioning, in nearby Oakland the Yu Ming Charter School is regarded as the best charter elementary school in all of the San Francisco Bay Area.

All that said, whether they’re in public school, private school, or being homeschooled, all children (and adults!) will benefit greatly from the Castro Valley Library.

Why You Should Move Here Now

Rising Popularity

When families move to Castro Valley, they’re here to stay – at least until the little ones are off to college. This means low turnover and therefore low inventory. Not to mention, like almost everywhere else, that median home price is only getting scarier. We recommend starting to look for homes now and not giving up when you’re outbid on the first few Castro Valley homes you fall in love with.