Originally Posted by Baloo2
Caution: Pay close attention to foreclosure rates and real estate devaluation. Tracy, Mountain House and Fairfield have struggled throughout the downturn. Brentwood and the whole 680 corridor is nice, if a little 'suburban boring'. Your daughter is in Alameda, yet you don't mention that delightful town. It is fantastic and has some high-end neighborhoods in the Gold Coast and Harbor Bay. It's central to everything you seek. You also seem to have skipped the penninsula where you'll find some of the finest neighborhoods in the nation: Saratoga, Portola Valley, Woodside. And it has the best mcycle roads in the area and it's close to SJ. Finally, as much as anything else, consider the climate. Climate/weather-wise, the coast is a different planet from the bay which is a different universe from anything over the hills. In the summer, there is often a 50-degree temp difference between Orinda and Oakland.
I have spent many days and many nights in Oakland and Alameda (40+ year Raider fan). I've spent even more time on the Peninsula. My price range won't touch the Peninsula for the type of house that we want to live in and my wife wouldn't live in Oakland or Alameda. She's seen the good, bad and ugly of the East Bay and it just isn't her desire to live there.
As far as climate goes, I'm more of a Peninsula guy without the extreme high temps, but my wife loves the heat and has no problem with a few weeks of 100+ days. We'll end up compromising with some in between. I know all about the foreclosure rates in place like Tracy, Fairfield and Valejo but it doesn't bother me. The prices bottomed out around 6 months ago and it's not going lower anytime soon. People are buying the foreclosures and short sales in the area for what amounts to 50 cents on a dollar. A lot of cash purchases and people are upgrading the homes they are buying so it's coming back big time.
I'm definitely not buying a house based on where my family and friends are today. My daughter has 2 years left in law school and she is engaged so it's no telling where she will end up. My guess is someplace between the East Bay and Sacramento so anywhere I buy in my range is going to be reasonable distance from her.
I've got friends that live in Antioch, Brentwood, Mountain House, Livermore, Vallejo and Vacaville as well as the Peninsula and East Bay so I'll be in good shape there.
They all have biased opinions so that is why I've been looking for unbiased ones.
Thanks for the feedback....