Where to live near Walnut Creek, CA

25 Replies

Hi everyone,

I live in Sunnyvale, but got a job in Walnut Creek, CA. I’m looking to move to somewhere near by the area and buy my first home. I’m single, so I’m thinking of buy a house and share a room with other people. 

Does anyone have any suggestions for a safe place to live with not too expensive homes? I open with any type of homes (mobile homes, condo, SFH, or MFH).

I searched online and found Concord, Vallejo, Pittsburgh, Antioch, and Clayton. Is any of these cities safe and can be a good rental? 

Thanks a lot for your help.

Nikky.

If you're thinking about house hacking in the bay area and think that you're going to live for free. Think again.

I grew up in the Bay Area and recently moved to LA which is surprisingly cheaper. 

I would recommend not buying in the bay area right now. Instead you should rent, keep your cash in your bank, and use that cash to invest out of state and buy yourself some rental properties which will create cash flow which will then allow you to pay for your rent every month. 

Just a thought!

Originally posted by @Antoine Martel :

Nikky.

If you're thinking about house hacking in the bay area and think that you're going to live for free. Think again.

I grew up in the Bay Area and recently moved to LA which is surprisingly cheaper. 

I would recommend not buying in the bay area right now. Instead you should rent, keep your cash in your bank, and use that cash to invest out of state and buy yourself some rental properties which will create cash flow which will then allow you to pay for your rent every month. 

Just a thought!

Sorry, but this is horrible advice. You can very easily cash flow and/or live for free if you buy a house in those cities and have roommates. I'm saying a 4 bedroom house where you rent out 3 bedrooms, but honestly a better strategy would be for you to buy a tri/quad plex (each with 2br minimum), and rent out the other 3 units. Rent out the 2nd bedroom in your unit too, and you might even be profiting while living for free. There are plenty of properties in Richmond, Vallejo, Antioch, etc., that will fit this profile. Even at FHA 3.5% down, you should be able to make this happen.

Don't let one piece of bad advice deter you from making it in real estate.  Good luck 

Originally posted by @Saj S. :
Originally posted by @Antoine Martel:

Nikky.

If you're thinking about house hacking in the bay area and think that you're going to live for free. Think again.

I grew up in the Bay Area and recently moved to LA which is surprisingly cheaper. 

I would recommend not buying in the bay area right now. Instead you should rent, keep your cash in your bank, and use that cash to invest out of state and buy yourself some rental properties which will create cash flow which will then allow you to pay for your rent every month. 

Just a thought!

Sorry, but this is horrible advice. You can very easily cash flow and/or live for free if you buy a house in those cities and have roommates. I'm saying a 4 bedroom house where you rent out 3 bedrooms, but honestly a better strategy would be for you to buy a tri/quad plex (each with 2br minimum), and rent out the other 3 units. Rent out the 2nd bedroom in your unit too, and you might even be profiting while living for free. There are plenty of properties in Richmond, Vallejo, Antioch, etc., that will fit this profile. Even at FHA 3.5% down, you should be able to make this happen.

Don't let one piece of bad advice deter you from making it in real estate.  Good luck 

 And then what happens when you have a quad and it takes you 6 months to evict a tenant? There goes you cash flow. 

Also - now you've got to be a property manager for your property so you just created a job for yourself. Now you have to focus on making sure all your tenants are happy instead of going out and investing more real estate and growing your portfolio. 

Using the FHA loan you also have to live there for one year. You're locked down and are not able to move.

@Antoine Martel Where does it take 6 months to evict a tenant? I live in Oakland, where it's considered very tenant friendly, and it only takes around 2 months here. 

So you are telling the OP to avoid multi-family because of vacancy? Vacancy is part of the business, but the beauty of multi-family is that you are rarely under 80% occupied. Not the same in SFRs, especially OOS SFRs

Nothing wrong with managing a property you live in yourself. That's how you learn this business. After a few years if it tires you, you can always hire one.

Having to live for 1 year is not a big sacrifice. Being able to purchase a million dollar property for $30K seems unfair in my opinion.

You talk about losing cash flow...what happens in the Midwest when you need to spend $5,000 to make a unit rent ready? Doesn't that wipe out years of your cash flow? 

This post has been removed.

I grew up in Concord and went to high school in Walnut Creek. I can tell you to avoid anything in Concord towards downtown below 6th Street/Coventry. Some of the main corridors I would try to be near would be Ygnacio Valley Road/Treat Blvd/Denkinger. If you have the budget and want to buy a condo, you can also look in Pleasant Hill. Both options would be a short commute to Walnut Creek. Clayton is safe, but it's out there with less to do and if you're looking at this as an investment, try to think what type of lifestyle you and your tenant would want to have. 

As far as Antioch goes, the safer sides are going towards Brentwood and then it's a full commute. Freeway 4 is no joke. My parents moved out there in 2002 and traffic is a nightmare, but prices are much more affordable. Again, you have to figure out what you want out of this investment in the long run, I'm trying to give you the perspective from a local. 

@Saj S. - I've been looking in the Bay Area for quite some time and it's very difficult. Not only are the MFH homes today tenant-occupied, but tenants are paying way below market rent which makes it hard for a buyer who is using an FHA loan. Banks will never approve this. Unless you find a MFH that's COMPLETELY vacant (which is hard to find), it seems like you're out of luck. Please tell me if i'm wrong here...

Originally posted by @Jason Pabon :

@Saj S. - I've been looking in the Bay Area for quite some time and it's very difficult. Not only are the MFH homes today tenant-occupied, but tenants are paying way below market rent which makes it hard for a buyer who is using an FHA loan. Banks will never approve this. Unless you find a MFH that's COMPLETELY vacant (which is hard to find), it seems like you're out of luck. Please tell me if i'm wrong here...

You aren't trying hard enough. I just bought a vacant 4plex in Oakland a year ago, for $480K, on MLS! I now rent it for $8600/month, and my PITI is $2650. After all expenses, I am cash flowing more than $5000/month.

I was the only offer! And I paid $5K over the asking price ($475k). 

There are deals out there. You just gotta find them. 

Regarding occupied properties, banks don't care about the current rental income (unless you don't make enough W-2 to qualify). You can ask the seller to get one unit vacant prior to close. There are many methods to do this. 

All I hear are excuses. The only person to blame is yourself. 

@Saj S. Not making excuses. Just sharing my experience. You obviously have a lot more experience than others out there so just sharing my comments with the group. And yes, you do need a certain W2 income to qualify which has been half the battle I bet for most people. I recently lost a deal on a triplex in Oakland because there was one unit that was paying WAY below market value and therefore, could not justify the rents for the bank to underwrite the loan.

Thanks everyone for many insight thought. 

@Saj S Thanks for the tip on buying a Quad. That’s exactly what I want to do. I just wasn’t sure if it’s possible in those area. I agree with @Jason Pabon that it’s very hard to find a tri/quad like you mentioned. That’s what I concern and want to know if BP members think it’s possible.

@Carolina Solorzano Thanks lot for the tip on local perspective. I’m total new to the area, and this helps a lot. I will keep that in mind when Im looking. 

@Antoine Martel  I thought about investing out of state, but I just feel like I need to learn the basic by starting small and local before I can really understand and be comfortable investing out of state. That would be my next step in the journey, but not the first one.

@Nikky Ly thanks for sharing. Since the Bay Area was so expensive for me, I recently bought a turnkey rental in Ohio and so far so good. The key to this is working with a trusted turnkey provider that have the existing relationships, especially when it comes to property management. You will learn the basics about the business and start building relationships. Cashflow for me was key which is why I went this route. Good luck to you and let me know if I can be a resource. 

Why not rent, get a roommate(s), and your down payment money out of state? Depending on your social life expectations some those areas (clayton for example) might not tick that box(s). There are tons of places here where rents are FAR FAR FAR cheaper than what the mortgage would be... and more so if you had a roommate...

A realistic example would be 3k mo condo, probably 2-3 bd would cost you like 7-800k. Get 1 room mate it's 1500 mo ea. Let's just put it this way, you'd need enough $ down that you could free and clear enough houses to probably double what your portion of the rent would be.

https://hotpads.com/616-ahwahnee-ct-walnut-creek-c...

probably close to 900k, none for sale though. Walking distance to downtown, close to freeways, quiet location and plenty of space for roommates.

Originally posted by @Nikky Ly :

Hi everyone,

I live in Sunnyvale, but got a job in Walnut Creek, CA. I’m looking to move to somewhere near by the area and buy my first home. I’m single, so I’m thinking of buy a house and share a room with other people. 

Does anyone have any suggestions for a safe place to live with not too expensive homes? I open with any type of homes (mobile homes, condo, SFH, or MFH).

I searched online and found Concord, Vallejo, Pittsburgh, Antioch, and Clayton. Is any of these cities safe and can be a good rental? 

Thanks a lot for your help.

 Could never go wrong with the Midwest!

Originally posted by @Tom Ott :
Originally posted by @Nikky Ly:

Hi everyone,

I live in Sunnyvale, but got a job in Walnut Creek, CA. I’m looking to move to somewhere near by the area and buy my first home. I’m single, so I’m thinking of buy a house and share a room with other people. 

Does anyone have any suggestions for a safe place to live with not too expensive homes? I open with any type of homes (mobile homes, condo, SFH, or MFH).

I searched online and found Concord, Vallejo, Pittsburgh, Antioch, and Clayton. Is any of these cities safe and can be a good rental? 

Thanks a lot for your help.

 Could never go wrong with the Midwest!

 Only downside on the midwest is you NEVER come close to the bay area appreciation, but I guess you don't see that kind of depreciation either lol...

Originally posted by @Matt K. :
Originally posted by @Tom Ott:
Originally posted by @Nikky Ly:

Hi everyone,

I live in Sunnyvale, but got a job in Walnut Creek, CA. I’m looking to move to somewhere near by the area and buy my first home. I’m single, so I’m thinking of buy a house and share a room with other people. 

Does anyone have any suggestions for a safe place to live with not too expensive homes? I open with any type of homes (mobile homes, condo, SFH, or MFH).

I searched online and found Concord, Vallejo, Pittsburgh, Antioch, and Clayton. Is any of these cities safe and can be a good rental? 

Thanks a lot for your help.

 Could never go wrong with the Midwest!

 Only downside on the midwest is you NEVER come close to the bay area appreciation, but I guess you don't see that kind of depreciation either lol...

 Well no, it is a different market. In the Midwest, you mainly buy for cash flow. Appreciation is not something to bank on out here. In fact, it is risky to bank on anywhere since 2008.

@Nikky Ly as @Saj S. has pointed out, it is totally possible in this market.  The real issue is how much direct involvement do you want and how much capital do you have starting out.  There are very few home runs out there for somebody who is just starting out. Saj knows his market and his customer base, so he can see the hidden value in a property.  I am sure that the reason that unit was free for his picking is because it would have scared the pants of most people who are just starting out.  I have several properties in Oakland, and I might have looked closely at his deal, but ultimately I would probably have walked away because it was not in my "farming area".  The key to success in a tight market like this is knowing yourself and the exact area that you want to focus.  Your question covers hundreds of square miles and 10's of thousands of properties.  I personally only look in a several block radius of a single point.  So my knowledge about prices of buildings and rents is very focused.  I know very little about West Oakland or deep East Oakland, but that is on purpose.

It sounds like you have decided to do a small multifamily building house hack.  That is a great way to start.  I would personally go into knowing it will be a learning experience.  Knowing that I would live there, I would look in an area that I actually want to live in, or would not mind living in for a few years.  For me, that would mean that the property would be more expensive then some "better deals".  I promise you that it would especially suck to commute between your W2 job and home, knowing that you have to deal with maintenance issues and tenants, in an area that you don't really want to live in.  Don't get caught up in trying to find "the best deal".  That is how "paralysis by analysis" sets in... Start with some basic criteria: I don't want to loose money, I want to have a decent commute, etc.  I am sure there are some people who will see my advice as sacrilegious, but my advice comes from a longer term investment perspective.

Good luck to you! 

@Nikky Ly I second @Carolina Solorzano 's feedback. The area of Concord she referenced is nice/safe enough, and I would guess that there are some deals to be had there, as the area in general is a bit older. Pleasant Hill could also be a good option, as well as Brentwood, and maybe Bay Point (but not so much Pittsburgh and Antioch, IMO, but I'm sure there are some good pockets on decent blocks).

Clayton is an older area - millenials definitely are not flocking there. They have a nice golf club, though. :-)

I would avoid Vallejo, if for no other reasons than to not have a bridge commute, and to not need to take 680 in a commute direction.

I think you are going to find the good deals in single family homes in Pleasant Hill which is just one exit over from Walnut Creek.  You can get a yard with 2 or 3 bedroom homes for reasonable prices.  Good Luck.  My friend lives in PH and loves it.  

Hi Nikki,

I've lived in the Bay Area since 1981 and have lived in the East Bay for a total of 21 years. Your choices of safe places to live are all pretty good and would require more of a personal decision on your part because what I might consider unsafe has changed because of the influx of consumers looking for more affordable property from all over the Bay Area. 

Gentrification is permeating across the Bay Area and area's that use to be undesireable are becoming more desireable because of affordability in certain area's which increases property value. People are buying homes and remodeling and either flipping, renting them out, or living in them bringing with them, value. 

Here are some website's that can help you make a better decision:

AreaVibes

FamilyWatchdog

CrimeReports

@Jason Pabon , do make sure you go into that buying out of state TK thing with your eyes wide open. I can gaurantee you will not hit the cash flow numbers you've been sold on. Maybe in a year here and there, but over time the cost of vacancy/turnover, maintenance, and CapEx are going to be higher than you think and it won't cash flow the way you expect. And if you're not getting appreciation...............

@Jason Pabon @Matt K. @Tom Ott Investing out-of-state is always a good idea for people in the Bay Area right now. And I will need a lot of advise from you guys on that if I change my mind. I just try to gather more opinions from others before I decide to stick with one.

@Arlen Chou Thanks a lot for sharing. This is very valuable to me. I have been procrastinating for quite a bit with all the fancy criteria I learned from BP. Maybe it’s best to focus on just basic criteria for now. 

@Jana Cain @Angela Yan Thanks a lot for the local view. It’s really really helpful to me. I would love to know more local people sharing like you since sometimes real estate is just block by block.

@Clyde Allen Thanks for sharing the websites. I know CrimeReport, but not the other two. I will definitely check them out. Thanks a lot.

Should follow @Arlen Chou . He is super knowledgeable in the bay area😁. If he doesn’t know he can find out for you. 

Out of state is easy, time consuming but not nearly as bad as people make it out to be. You just have to do a lot of research and understand the area you're investing in to near the same level you'd know here.

Skip the turnkey route, the effort needed to due proper due diligence is basically the same to source your own deal.

Thank you @Angela Yan for the shout out!  I don't deserve such a nice compliment. I am still learning and growing like everybody on the forum. @Nikky Ly feel free to reach out if you have any questions, I will try my best to help where I can.

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