With its beautiful tree-lined streets, small-town feel, and excellent schools, Piedmont attracts people in search of a great community with easy commutes to San Francisco. Some say it reminds them of their native East Coast. Others say it is a wildly overpriced bastion of snootiness - and the truth is, you do get much more house for your dollar in Oakland. So you won't be moving to Piedmont for a good deal on four walls and a roof over your head. But there must be something more to it - since it does remain a very sought after location.
Incorporated in 1907, Piedmont already had the reputation of being “the city of millionaires” by the 1920s, as wealthy San Franciscans built estates in the East Bay community. The city is its own island, surrounded on all sides by some very nice neighborhoods in Oakland. But as its own city, it has its own police and fire departments, a fantastic recreation department for kids, a great adult school for the grownups, and even a new center for the arts intended to add a bit of 'culture' to a town low in artists and high in lawyers. (I've read that one in eleven Piedmont men is an attorney. I'm not sure about the women.)
The city of 10,800 also offers residents 44 acres of parkland. Both CNNMoney and Forbes magazine have ranked it among the best places to live in the U.S. Piedmont's voter roles show about 50% registered Democratic and 50% Republican. This reflects the nations split, but feels very conservative for the Bay Area.
With the highest rankings in Alameda County, the Piedmont Unified School District earned an overall state Academic Performance Index score of 938 out of 1,000 in 2012. The district operates three elementary schools (Havens, Wildwood and Beach), Piedmont Middle School, Piedmont High School and Millenium High - which offers an alternative track for those who don't thrive in the more regimented environment of a traditional high school.
Piedmont's Fourth of July parade draws folks from all over the Bay Area. It seems the whole town participates and the party in the park afterwards is generally filled to capacity. Your kids can run away and get lost for a good hour before you start to worry about where they are. The rest of the Bay Area just isn't like that. The feeling of safely is a true luxury. The city is primarily residential with just a few businesses on Highland and Grand Avenues.
Many residents commute to the city with “casual carpool,” an East Bay tradition (founded by a Piedmont resident, by the way) where drivers pick up commuters at specific locations for carpooling to downtown San Francisco. Others take advantage of Oakland’s nearby BART stations. For the ride home, the transbay bus is incredibly convenient.
Much of Piedmont’s architecture is traditional in style and dates back to the 1920s, with a smattering of mid-century and ranch homes mixed in. Buyers tend to snap up any home close to the center of town as they tend to be within walking distance of schools and parks.
Piedmont homes for sale in the $1 million to $1.5 million range attract the most interest. In September the median sale price for a single-family Piedmont home increased 24 percent to $1.49 million, up from $1.2 million a year earlier, according to MLS data. 2 bedroom homes in Piedmont can be had for much less than that. While the nations average length of stay at any address is about 7 years, people who purchase in Piedmont stay in one place for 22. So, love it or hate it, they must be doing something right.