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Buying first house in Bay Area, with 1 mo. old child

Bogleheads • View forum - Personal Finance (Not Investing) - www.bogleheads.org
Hi Bogleheads,

I've been trying to tie up some loose conceptual ends in my mind about buying a house in the SF Bay area. I know the market is hot and supply and rates are low. My wife and I are in our mid 30s and we just got to SF in 2011. We don't know everything about the area and are out an about looking at neighborhoods in north bay, east bay and on the peninsula/city often. I work in the city and my wife works part time at home/in the city as well. We enjoy the city and the small number of friends we have here but are looking towards future needs (schools, more space, another child). I would hate to buy a house in bernal, mission terrace, cayuga terrace, portola (spending ~$650,000) and then in 5 years wish I was in a better school district for our child's kindergarten.

I'm really curious how you would approach these (admittedly subjective) problems...

1. Buy in "the city" in the 'hoods listed above, or similar, don't worry about the schools, as they could change in 5 years anyway.

2. Buy in the east bay where we'd be isolated from existing friends and be separated from work/social things via the bay/BART? I have lots of worries with Oakland and other east bay areas, crime, governance, etc. but I hear there are good schools here and there.

3. Buy north bay, be isolated as in #2, possibly worse, but have great schools and great environment, but BAD commutes.

4. Buy down the peninsula, probably good schools, but more suburban (boring) living, possibly long commute.

How do I evaluate and compare schools? (I've seen greatschools.org)

How do I think about my current values and priorities vs. my near term future priorities (schools, etc.) when considering a house/'hood?

Do you have any experiences with the above questions, even outside of the bay area?

Thank you all in advance!
Date: Jan 6, 2013   


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