The Best Thing About San Leandro?
The Price is Right
If you’re moving from another part of the country, you probably wouldn’t put the words “affordable” and “average home value of $827,981” in the same sentence. But if you’ve lived in the Bay Area, you know this kind of pricing is a rare find.
Up until the late 20th century, San Leandro was largely a light industrial and warehouse community. Today, this history is still baked into the neighborhoods west of the 880. Built mostly between the 1930’s and 1960’s, homes in San Leandro range in styles from bungalows and craftsman to Victorian and 1950’s ramblers. Mixed in, you will find duplexes, newer builds and manufactured homes, meaning no matter what they’re looking for, home buyers can almost always find their vibe.
This area is great if you’re looking for a small, starter home. First-time homebuyers can expect older builds with 2-3 bedrooms and 1-2 bathrooms. Newer builds are larger with more than three bedrooms and around two baths.
Renters also benefit from more reasonable rates. Typically a 1 bedroom will cost anywhere from $1,800 to $2,500 and a 2 bedroom will cost between $2,100 and $3,000 (as of late 2023).
It’s important to note that demand in the Bay Area is increasing faster than supply, forcing San Leandro’s housing costs to rise. That said, it remains one of the most affordable places to live in the Bay Area.
The Worst Thing About San Leandro?
Unless you’re in healthcare, education, the industrial sector or a remote tech worker, you’ll likely be commuting for work. And if you’re a young professional looking for live music or a club, you’ll have to “commute” to a town with nightlife as well.
Luckily, San Leandro is a commuter-friendly town. Running right through the city you’ve got main freeways like the 880 and 580 as well as several smaller freeways like the 238 and 112. Fair warning, all this “access” leads to more traffic congestion in the city. If you don’t want to deal with all that, the city hosts two BART stations (the San Leandro and BayFair stops). Centrally located within the Bay Area, you can get almost anywhere you want to go in 40 minutes.
Not to renege on our choice for the “worst” part of San Leandro, but job opportunities and entertainment options aren’t nonexistent. One of the cool things about the city is the economic diversity. You’ve got teachers living next to software engineers and Ghirardelli Chocolate Company factory workers living next to Kaiser Permanente Medical Group employees.
There are also several established restaurants and breweries that attract people from neighboring cities. For example, the upscale food with a view at Horatio’s is a mainstay of SL, you can’t watch a video on “what to do in San Leandro” without hearing about Drake’s Brewing Company, and the dining experience at Paradiso's is said to be top notch. For those who do need to work and play outside the city, Oakland is only 20 minutes away and San Fran is 30.
Lifestyle of San Leandro
Eat, Hike and Be Merry
San Leandro is a hybrid of city and suburbia. As we’ve mentioned, getting out of the city to other parts of the Bay is pretty easy, and within city limits almost anything you’d need is fewer than 10 minutes away.
History and charm are infused into the culture and aesthetic here. The downtown area is populated with Mom-and-Pop shops and family-owned restaurants. While residents often complain the city needs a “facelift,” they mean improved infrastructure and a few upscale amenities, not trading in the community-centric appeal for generic corporate offerings.
Eating is one of residents favorite activities. In addition to finer dining options like Horatio’s and Paradisos, and fan favorite breweries like Drake’s and 21st Amendment Brewery, you can get your daily dose of caffeine at the lovely Zocalo Coffeehouse or satisfy the sweet tooth at Koolfi Creamery (seriously, check out their Indian-inspired flavors, if you don’t decide to move here you’ll at least want to visit).
On a nice day, take your scoop of Bombay Butterscotch from Koolfi Creamery on a walk in one of San Leandro’s 20 parks. Niche.com’s “A” rating of San Leandro’s “Outdoor Activities” reflects the city’s winning combination of great weather and great access to the outdoors. Marina Park is the star amongst the green spaces. Here, fishermen, boaters, swimmers and picnickers can enjoy a beautiful view of the Bay Area with family and friends. On the other side of town is Lake Chabot Regional Park. Available activities here are numerous, ranging from biking and golfing to kayaking and horseback riding.
For some indoor family-fun, residents head south to Hayward where they can bowl and play arcade games at Southland Mall’s Round 1.
Schools in San Leandro
Could Be Better
For some families moving to San Leandro, the schools are a concern. As one resident described it, the public schools are just good enough to make it feel like you’re rolling the dice on your child’s education. That said, enough students excel and are accepted into Ivy League schools to satisfy some concerned parents.
The city of San Leandro is served by three school districts. Most students will attend schools in the San Leandro Unified School District, but those who live in unincorporated Ashland or the southern part of the Washington Manor neighborhood will attend school in the San Lorenzo Unified School District and students in a section of the hills will attend Castro Valley Unified School District. In other words, get familiar with the city’s wonky school zoning before you move.
The San Leandro Unified School District has 13 schools and received a “B” rating from Niche.com. San Leandro High School (rated “B” by Niche.com and 6/10 on Greatschools.org) is one of the top schools in the district. It offers Advanced Placement Courses in all the core subjects and relatively good college prep. John Muir Middle School (rated “B” by Niche.com and “4/10” by Greatschools.org) offers a nice balance between rigorous academics, diverse extracurricular activities and helpful support services. Madison Elementary School rated “A-” by Niche.com and 6/10 on Greatschools.org) is committed to cultural diversity and academic excellence, with a special emphasis on Mandarin dual language immersion.
Families have their pick of top private schools in the Bay Area. The College Preparatory School (9-12) in Oakland, Head-Royce School (K-12) in Oakland, The Quarry Lane School (PK-12) in Dublin, The Bentley School (K-12) in Lafayette and Bishop O’Dowd High School (9-12) in Oakland are all rated “A+” by Niche.com.
Whether students attend public or private school, they’ll benefit from the city’s well regarded San Leandro Community Library.
Why You Should Move Here Now
The standard of living and prices in San Leandro are trending upwards. If you’re thinking about moving to the Bay Area, but need a starter home, you should seriously consider San Leandro. And as they say, these good prices won’t last forever so better get ‘em while they’re hot!