Redwood City, California

Ranch of the Fleas

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What's it like to live in Redwood City?

How do you like life/family life in Redwood City?

My family has lived in Redwood City for nearly 30 years. Here’s some things we like.

Folks say the public schools are bad. I’d disagree. North Star was just rated one of the top elementary schools in the state ( Clifford has great pre-K teachers and a fun and economical after school program.

Redwood City School Districts has moved to a Basic Aid funding which should mean schools have a lot more funding that in the past, and be more competitive for good teachers. (

The library and parks are top notch. We live near Stafford Park, which has concerts throughout the summer! Stulstaft Park has some fun wild places. Edgewood has great trails. We have a Magic Bridge park off of Valota that’s neat.

Lots of cool places for kids. There’s a strong AYSO and Little League. Kings Swim and La Petite Baleen are great to get your little ones swimming. The Parks and Rec has some fun summer programs at the sports house. There’s an indoor play space called La Petite Playhose that wore my kids out pre-CoVID.

Downtown is great for kids. The Cinemark is a fun place to watch movies. My kids have exposure to lots of good and reasonable restaurants. There’s a lot of events most years (the Fourth of July parade and fun run, Hometown Holidays, Summer Downtown concerts and Zoppe Circus).

Plus the bars and restaurants are great for us adults too. A Michelin rated sushi restaurant just opened up on Broadway. Fox Theatre can occasionally have something interesting.

Unlike Palo Alto or Menlo Park, RWC feels more like a real city than a bedroom community. More varied housing, more industry, etc. If that’s something you like, you’ll like it here.

Safeway and Whole foods are close by. Home Depot is just down the road in San Carlos.

Every Saturday (except in winter) there’s a Farmers Market downtown.

All in all, I think it’s the best, most down to earth place on the peninsula. Hope to see you here!

How do you like life/family life in Redwood City?

We were in a similar place as you. We lived in San Francisco for over ten years. My wife and I got engaged there, met there, and all three of our kids were born there (we recently had our third, but my wife still gave birth at UCSF since she was used to it). We were feeling the space crunch in SF after we had our second kid, and we lived in the Inner Richmond and felt like the homeless problem was getting worse as well. We also realized that with two kids, the fun nightlife in SF was less appealing. We wanted to move to a place where we had more space for our family, a backyard, a reasonable commute to SF / San Jose, walkability, etc. We moved on Jan 2, 2020… so we're about two years deep into Redwood City. I have a 6 year old, 4 year old, and 7 month old. Apologies in advance that this is a long post - feel free to message me if you want to get in touch and have more specific questions, since it sounds like we were evaluating from similar places…

TL;DR: We love it.


Redwood City is VERY different depending where you live. As a counter example, San Carlos is a bit more consistent - you can live in the flats or the hill, but San Carlos culture is San Carlos culture. In Redwood City, you have an unincorporated area, you can live up in the hills so it's almost like Woodside, you can live near downtown in a more Urban setting, you can live on the border of San Carlos, and it feels like you're basically in San Carlos, etc. I just mention this because it's hard to generalize the whole city - if you're looking at real estate, really focus in on the neighborhoods you like and check those out.

Location on the peninsula - I honestly don't think you can do better. My wife and I always joke about this. SFO? 15 minutes with no traffic - 30 on a bad day. 45 if it's awful. SJC? 30 minutes with no traffic. OAK? 45 minutes with no traffic? Want to go to a mall? We're literally equidistant between Stanford Shopping Center and Hillsdale Mall in San Mateo. Need to commute to SF? The baby bullet from Redwood City is great, and you can tell RWC is a focus city for Caltrain. Menlo Park / Palo Alto have a lot to offer, and in Redwood City, you're super close. Similarly, San Carlos / Belmont have great activities / restaurants too - we're right in the middle!

Walkability - We live a few blocks west of Stacks on El Camino Real, and we LOVE the walkability of the neighborhood. Totally flat - we're ten to fifteen minutes walking distance from the strip of restaurants on Laurel Street in San Carlos or we're fifteen to twenty minutes walking distance from Downtown RWC. Is dining as good as SF here? No. But I consider myself pretty well traveled, and I think SF has the best food in the world… so… it's tough to beat, but the food on the peninsula is good, and I think the overall combo of San Carlos + RWC makes a pretty good dining scene.

Parks - the parks are great! Stafford Park is awesome. We ride scooters there. Magical Bridge Park is over the top even better.

Sports and activities - We played T-Ball last year, and it was great. All the families were super nice. Our kids take swim lessons at La Petite Baleen, and we love it - we transferred from the SF location when we moved. We're also members at the Hiller aviation museum, and my kids love going there all the time.

Outdoors - when the pandemic hit, it forced me to find hiking trails all over, and they are fantastic and quite diverse! Just google some of these: bair island, edgewood park, purisma preserve -- those three hikes are all pretty close to my house, and they are totally different. Also… we're an easy drive to Half Moon Bay - thirty minutes! Just make sure to go early in the morning - traffic to Half Moon Bay gets gross after 10AM when the entire bay area decides to go there for pumpkins. Go early, leave early.

Schools - My kids are pretty young, with the oldest in kindergarten. We're Catholic, and we wanted to send him to a Catholic school, but our neighbors send their kids to Clifford Elementary, and they seem super happy with it. I've heard mixed things about RWC schools, but honestly, it feels like COVID has caused a "great reset" of schools, and I don't know who ends up on top or bottom when it's all done. Teachers / administrators have moved, schools have been shut down, then open, then shut down, all over the state… I have no idea what the right call is right now.

Diversity - While I wouldn't say this is a huge priority for me, LACK of diversity drives me crazy, and I felt like I was getting that in SF pre-school. It was crazy competitive, and the only thing parents talked about was which venture investments they were in. At school, my kids interact with kids whose parents are everything - tech workers, doctors, carpenters, county employees, construction, local shop owners, etc.

Being close to things you need - I can commute to SF, and be there in less than an hour door to door. From the inner richmond, it would take me 35 to 50 minutes to get to downtown anyways - so I haven't lost much there, but also…. I can be at Lucky, Home Depot, Target, Costco, Safeway, or Whole Foods in like ten minutes.

Good luck!

How do you like living in Redwood City?

I live close to downtown RWC and I dig it. It’s not a city city, but it’s got a cute downtown. Coffee shop wise it has your usual chains plus a Red Giant, Coupa and Coffee Bar. I’m not huge into coffee, so I dunno which is good. It has a Century 12 theater and some live theater venues also. Overall, Redwood Coty is very pro-growth. That means more “cookie cutter” modern apartment buildings are going up, but that’s also driving some interesting new restaurants to come up. Overall I think it’ll keep getting more interesting over the next 5 years.

Moving to Redwood City, tell me about the area and what to do!
The entire SF Peninsula is a bit tough on social life, but RWC is a little better than some of the other suburbs for that.

It’s got a little hub around the train station that has a movie theater, small concert venue, and various small restaurants and bars of various types. It’s not a life-altering social life, but there’s a nice variety. Beyond that, RWC is a bit of sprawl, up the hills to the richer homes or down towards the freeway and the bay for…well, less rich. There’s a few other nearby suburbs with some social life options, including San Carlos with a lot of small restaurants, or Palo Alto with a college-oriented social scene with bars and some dancing.

Beyond that, you really need to go up north or south. Unfortunately, a lot of the suburbs hate social life, so more traditional activity centers have died out.

There’s plenty of recreation, though, all up and down the peninsula, whether you like hiking, biking, sports leagues, or more, so if that’s your game, you’ve got a lot of options if that is your game.

I don’t know if you’re planning to commute to work, but take note that the train that runs along the Peninsula and through Redwood City is going through severe financial issues, and there’s currently a dispute about funding that could, at its worst, end up sinking the system, or at least causing major reductions in service in the future. You’ll probably want to be aware of that in your plans.

Good luck!

Living in Redwood City