Safe and boring places to live on the Amtrak train route near Emeryville, CA?
March 7, 2012 12:56 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for super-safe, reasonably nice, boring places to live in the Bay area, specifically a location that would allow me to walk to an Amtrak station and use Amtrak to commute daily to a work location that's next to the Amtrak Station in Emeryville, CA.

I'm looking to find a 1 bed/1 bath apartment, sublet, or possibly a condo. Here are some highly desirable features for the area where I'd like to find it in:
  • Super safe neighborhood and surroundings
  • Quiet neighborhood
  • Vegetation (trees, etc.) in the area
  • No need for night life or entertainment options whatsoever
  • No need for schools (we have no kids)
  • Preferrably don't want to get a car, opting instead for Zip car or renting a car when needed, therefore some stores in walking distance would be welcome
I'm exploring getting a place in Emeryville itself, but the close proximity of the Emeryville Amtrak station to my possible work location opens up the possibility of living outside of Emeryville proper and commuting in, so that's why I'm looking for options. Since I'd be doing a daily commute, it would be good if the Amtrak train duration could be as short as possible.

If you live in the area, what would you suggest?

Thanks for any help.
posted by StrawberryPie to Travel & Transportation around Emeryville, CA (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think "super safe" how I define it and "walkable to an Amtrak station" are antithetical, just because cities in general don't meet that for me. That said, the area around the Berkeley Amtrak station and around the Jack London Square Amtrak station are both great. you can google for Oakland and Berkeley crime maps and see if that level of crime is "super safe" or not by your definition. The Berkeley area especially you can find very residential, beautiful, quiet areas not too far from the station.
posted by brainmouse at 1:07 PM on March 7, 2012

Why don't you want to live in Emeryville? Whatever benefits you gain from a faraway quiet neighborhood can be negated by the commute. Is it really worth the time and expense?
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 1:50 PM on March 7, 2012

Temescal fits my definition of safe, quiet, and pretty neighborhood vegetation. It varies a bit in prettiness, but mostly is very pretty - lots of turn-of-the-century houses and multi-units.

It is not near an Amtrak station, but depending on where in Temescal you lived, you could bike it. I live in Temescal and bike to Emeryville (and an area near the Amtrak station) when I need to go there, and I am not super fit. Also, there is a free shuttle that goes from the Macarthur bart station to various parts of Emeryville, including not far at all from Amtrak.

If being near the Amtrak is 100% necessary, I agree with brainmouse, Jack London Square is great. Not as much vegetation as other parts of the Bay Area, but definitely some pretty bits, and overall safe.
posted by fireflies at 1:51 PM on March 7, 2012

I think safe + boring + OK without a car + near an Amtrak station will be tough. Berkeley seems like your best option. But Berkeley near the Amtrak station is already close enough to where you work that it would probably also be fast to take a bus or to bike, so the Amtrak part seems moot--you might as well live anywhere within the same distance and take a bus or bike.

Personally, I would feel uncomfortable living near the further-out Amtrak stops (like Hayward) without a car. They seem pretty suburban and I'm not sure Zipcar would be practical unless you live very close to a Zipcar parking area.
posted by needs more cowbell at 2:01 PM on March 7, 2012

I attend a school in basically the exact spot you are referring to. Emeryville in that area is really nice, and there are a lot of recently built apartments / condos in the area. There is very little going on nightlife wise in the area. It is quite urban, and there are neighborhoods nearby that I'm guessing would not fit your definition of super safe.
posted by MillMan at 3:01 PM on March 7, 2012

ZipCar and CityCarShare are in limited areas of relatively high density. If you want to use them and AmTrak you are pretty much limited to Oakland, Emeryville and Berkeley.

Currently I ride my bike eight minutes (or walk about 20 minutes) to Amtrak at Jack London. That neighborhood is pretty safe, though I don't know where people grocery shop. Emeryville proper is similar in feel to the Jack London neighborhood, though more isolated from BART, which is important if you are carless in the Bay Area. Neither is really tree-filled- new condo construction and warehouse conversions generally mean tiny trees. Berkeley has some new construction by the train station. My neighborhood (Lakeside) is awesome, 10 minutes to Whole Foods, 8 minutes to BART, 1 minute to CarSharing, and 2 minutes to Lake Merritt. It can have it's gritty moments as it is closer to Downtown and is much less homgeneous than Emeryville or Jack London- I'd say it is generally as safe as parts of Berkeley along University, and much safer than some of the shadiest bits of Emeryville. It is also not right by the train, though that hasn't stopped me from riding the Capitol Corridor nearly every day for the past three years.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:05 PM on March 7, 2012

The places that have been mentioned (e.g. Jack London, Berkeley, Temescal) don't really fit your criterion.

The closest place I can think of that does is Martinez.
posted by mikeand1 at 5:06 PM on March 7, 2012

Here's more info on Martinez. It is definitely safe, quiet, and boring.

It's kind of a cute little town, actually. I worked there for a summer, and it was a nice change of pace from Berkeley. Lots of little antique shops, jewelers, art galleries, cafes, shops and whatnot in the "downtown" area. It is much more of a suburban/rural mix than a place like Jack London Square, which is quite urban. You will finds lots of trees -- and in fact you could probably get a place with quite a rural/ranch type feel within a 20 min walk of the Amtrak station there. It's also much less expensive than somewhere like Berkeley, or even Oakland.

The downsides: In the summer, it is substantially hotter than in the Berkeley/Oakland area. It is politically more conservative and less diverse. There are a number of refineries nearby; occasionally they'll accidentally loose some cloud of gas, and anybody with asthma is warned to stay inside. That kind of thing.
posted by mikeand1 at 5:22 PM on March 7, 2012

Martinez was the first place that came to mind. I've spent a lot of time in the downtown area. The hills on either side of towntown have trees. Restaurants and groceries and cafes in walking distance from residential areas. The station is quite close to downtown and pleasant (as opposed to the Berkeley station, which is pleasant in its own train platform under the highway way).

Berkeley has apartments immediately next to the station at "4th and U." The building is super-dull but also you'd better like the sound of trains all night (building is close to the tracks, which are used for freight in addition to Amtrak).
posted by zippy at 5:32 PM on March 7, 2012

Thank you, everyone, for your really great suggestions! I'm looking into several of the regions people mentioned.

To answer one question:
Why don't you want to live in Emeryville?
Actually, I'm not ruling that out (and I did say explicitly that I was considering it); I simply wanted to explore more options, because the housing I found near (meaning 15min walk away) from my possible future workplace in Emeryville looked less than ideal for various reasons. (These reason include people's ratings of the management of apartment buildings, crime map statistics for paths between the housing and the work place, proximity to the highway in some cases, and so on.)
posted by StrawberryPie at 10:28 PM on March 13, 2012

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