Union City, California

Is It or Isn't It?

Downtown Union City
Downtown Union City
Veteran's Park and Tennis Courts
Veteran's Park and Tennis Courts
Charles F. Kennedy Park
Charles F. Kennedy Park



Sunny Days: 265
63100 Affordability
90100 Schools
80100 Diversity
81100 Safety

The Best Thing About Union City?

Right Price, Right Location

It’s hard to beat the combination of Union City’s central location within the East Bay Area and the median home price that up until recently was below $1 million. Some condominiums in neighborhoods east of 880 are as low as the $500-600,000 range, which is almost unheard for the Bay Area. Many young professionals and first-time home buyers gravitate to Union City for this reason. Think about it, just one city south is Fremont, where the median home price creeps up to $1.4 million. And the closer you get to San Jose, the more the prices make your eyes want to pop out of your head.

For the working professional or experience-seeker that needs access to every corner of the Bay Area, Union City sits in a prime location. San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Richmond, and the Tri-Valley are all a 30 to 45-minute drive (depending on traffic, of course). The BART station and bus system within Union City also make travel around the Bay Area possible without a car.

The Worst Thing About Union City?

Mixed Reviews on Schools and Crime

This one’s a bit tricky because answers vary greatly depending on who you talk to. Even Niche.com and Greatschools.org don’t seem to agree on the caliber of education Union City students receive through the public school system. Similarly, reviews written by residents range anywhere from it’s a “pretty safe” place to live to “crime is a problem.” So, let’s take a minute to parse through the conflicting ideas.

Starting with our “expert” resources, Niche.com rates the New Haven Unified School District as providing an “A-” education. Individual schools receive anywhere from “A” to “C+” with most falling in the “A-/B+” range. That’s positive, as far as we’re concerned. On Greatschools.org, you’ll find the same public schools receiving scores between 4/10 to 8/10. Anecdotally, we’ve heard that some people are really pleased with the public schools, particularly the district’s one high school, James Logan High School. On the other hand, we’ve heard that some families opt for private school, or look to live in cities like Fremont or Castro Valley because their public schools are perceived to be better. With ranging reviews like this, you’ll want to make sure you do your own research about the schools zoned for the particular area of town you’re looking at.

Similarly, Niche.com rates Union City a “C+” for Crime & Safety, while most of the reviews on Niche say that residents feel either “very safe” or “pretty safe” living here. Of course, like any city, there is going to be crime, particularly in certain areas. For more context, this map of crime in Union City provided by Neighborhoodscout.com might shed some light on which neighborhoods have the lowest reported crime within the city.

Lifestyle of Union City

Everything Within Reach

First-time homebuyers, young professionals and families see Union City as a place to grow within the Bay Area. Here, you can find more affordable homes than in surrounding towns, with the option to evolve into the higher-end neighborhoods or nearby cities. Others see it as their forever home that allows them to live relatively comfortably within the Bay Area without having to hand over $1 million for a house.

Union City has all the essentials and more, but young professionals may be disappointed with the large suburb’s lack of nightlife and activities. For a night out, sometimes they’ll travel north to Hayward or Oakland, or south to Fremont or San Jose. That said, the city does have entertainment options like indoor skydiving at iFly, catching a movie at Century 25 Union Landing, or some family fun at Pump it Up. There’s also several great ethnic restaurants, like the well-rated Happy Lamb Hot Pot and Tomatina. Or maybe you want to learn to cook yourself? Try a class at Niles Pie Company.

Beyond the buildings, in the great outdoors, lie several regional parks. Take your furry friend to Drigon Dog Park, enjoy a long bike ride on Alamada Creek Regional Trails, or immerse yourself in coastal beauty at Coyote Hills Regional Park. If traditional workouts are more your thing, you can find everything from Core Fitness classes in the historic district to martial arts classes just off Whipple Road.

What about the commute, you ask? Nestled along 880, you can get to everywhere you need to go within the Bay Area. And with a BART station and strong public transportation system, Union City residents can really take advantage of the town’s central location within the East Bay. When it comes to driving within the city, rush hour can lead to areas around the freeway getting backed up, but most often you should be able to get where you’re going in fewer than 15 minutes, with most neighborhoods having shopping centers and schools much closer than that.

We can’t close out this section without mentioning one thing residents love most about their city: the diversity. According to Niche.com, the population is 75% POC. A warm and welcoming small community, Union City is not in short supply of excellent ethnic food and multicultural events.

Schools in Union City

Conflicting Opinions

As we explained already, the ratings by Niche.com and Greatschools.org in addition to reviews by parents vary greatly from positive to negative. Niche.com awards the New Haven Unified School District and its fourteen schools an overall rating of “A-.” Greatschools.org has a slightly less enthusiastic assessment, with individual schools ranking anywhere from 4/10 to 8/10. This underlines how important it is for parents to do their own research of the schools your new potential home is zoned for.

Where the experts do agree is there are a few standouts amongst the mix of public offerings. The district’s only high school, James Logan High School, for example, is an “A” on Niche.com and 7/10 on Greatschools.org. Past students applaud the school’s multicultural education, abundant extracurricular offerings and long list of resources. Also in Union City, Connecting Water Charters is a K-12 public charter school with an “A” rating from Niche.com and 8/10 rating from Greatschools.org. It is known for its above average test scores, college readiness and equity.

For the families that opt for private school, there are several available in surrounding cities. The Quarry School (PK-12), located in Dublin, is rated an “A+” education and ranked sixth in the list of Best High Schools for STEM in California by Niche.com. Silicon Valley International School ranks as the “#4 Best Private K-12 School in Santa Clara County.” From preschool through their senior years students gain experience through the Chinese, French and German programs. Want to know more about the best private schools near Union City? Click here to view the list.

Why You Should Move Here Now

Be At the Center of it All

When we say “be at the center of it all,” we don’t mean the most exciting things are happening here (there are good restaurants and community events, but let’s be real, it’s not the big city). What we mean is Union City provides access to most of what the Bay Area has to offer, with relatively short drive times to all of it. So, no matter what your goals are, or what phase of life you’re in, you could probably build a life you like in Union City.

Neighborhoods in Union City

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Decoto Rd / Alvarado Niles Rd

Young Professionals, DINKs, Families

This area offers everything from great options for first-time homebuyers to fancier neighborhoods for more wealthy families, all clustered around the top-rated high school in the city: James Logan High School. This high school is rated 8/10 on greatschools.org and has an “A” rating from Niche.com. Other nearby schools include Cesar Chavez Middle School (rated 4/10 by greatschools.org) and Searles Elementary School (also rated 4/10 by greatschools.org). Families can expect that their children may be able to walk or ride their bike from home to high school, and possibly also middle school.
The nearest shopping center with all your essentials will be El Mercado Plaza where you’ll find everything from grocery and gas stations to banks and auto stores. You’re also close enough to the 880 where accessing it is a breeze but you don’t have to worry about freeway noise. There are even a few parks in the area, William Cann Civic Center Park and Charles F Kennedy Park being among them.
Like we said, there are several neighborhoods around this junction. Heritage Pointe neighborhood offers an average home value of $1.5+ million. Typically homes here have 3-4 bedrooms and 2 baths within 1300 to 1900 square feet. Then there’s the neighborhood of Downtown Estates where median home prices are in the $500,000s. Styles here include attached homes and single-family homes with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. This is the perfect spot for a first-time home buyer who wants peace of mind that their investment will appreciate well. For the area as a whole, you can expect to find an average home value of about $850K.
Do be aware that the northern part of one of the neighborhoods bordering this cross street, Decoto, includes what residents refer to as the “letter and number streets,” which are said to have more crime than other parts of Union City. Generally, the wealthiest neighborhoods in Union City are west of 880. The neighborhoods surrounding the intersection of Decoto Road and Alvarado Road are east of 880, sitting within the center and south part of Union City.
Impressively, almost 50% of the residents in the area are immigrants, primarily of Asian and Iranian descent.

Benson Road / Veasy Street

DINKs / Families

This western part of Union City (west of 880) includes some of the city’s most expensive neighborhoods. Residents are typically well-educated with upper-level careers. They drive luxury cars, can send their children to private schools and enjoy very well-maintained homes. Nearby public schools include James Logan High School (rated 8/10 by greatschools.org), Itliong-Vera Cruz Middle School (rated 6/10 by greatschools.org) and Alvarado Elementary School (rated 5/10 by greatschools.org).
Families who live in the area enjoy easy access to parks and shopping centers. The closest shopping center, Alvarado Plaza Shopping Center, has essentials like a Rite Aid, a UPS store, grocery stores and gas stations. A little bit further is another shopping center called Union Landing. The freeway is about 3 miles away, depending on your exact location.
One of the popular neighborhoods in this area, Ponderosa Landing, contains homes selling for a median price of $1.8 million. These single-family homes were built in the 1990’s and average 3-5 bedrooms and 4-5 bathrooms, all within 1,500-3,000 square feet. Another neighborhood in this section of town is the gated community of Meridian Court where home values average around $1.7 million with 2-stories, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms within 2,200-2,900 square feet. The HOA here is on the low-end for HOA’s in the Bay Area and everything you need is within 1.5 miles (Cosco is just 5 minutes away!).
High demand, limited inventory and the high-end lifestyle of the area demands an average home value in this area of upwards of $1.13 million. You can expect these homes to be between medium and large-sized single-family homes with some apartment buildings intermixed.