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10 Things to Know Before Moving to Lafayette, CA

Written by Leigh Cooper

Relocating to or around the Bay Area? Lafayette, California, is a charming little city in the East Bay region, not far from Oakland. Lafayette is a fantastic city to call home due to its pleasant climate, outstanding public schools, and bustling downtown. There’s a BART station right there, and it’s within reasonable commuting distance to both San Francisco and Oakland. 

Marquis de Lafayette, an officer in the American Revolutionary War, inspired the naming of the town of Lafayette in 1848. It was incorporated as a city for the first time in the 1960s, which is reminiscent of the time when the town changed from an agricultural center to a San Francisco suburb.

Let’s talk about ten things to know before moving to Lafayette, CA.

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1. It’s very expensive to live in

At 259, Lafayette has a really high cost of living index. With a cost of living index of 150, California already has a higher standard of living than the rest of the country, and this city is nearly two times more expensive.

To live frugally but comfortably in Lafayette, the Economic Policy Institute estimates that a family of four must earn $159,013 annually. Housing will cost $3,553 per month, food $1,109 per month, childcare $1,798 per month, healthcare $1,481 per month, and transportation $1,152 per month.

Lafayette is notoriously pricey due largely to the high cost of housing. Houses in Lafayette average $1,940,000. On RentCafe, the median monthly apartment rate in Lafayette is $2,993.

2. Live in Happy Valley or Reliez Valley

Though small, Lafayette is home to a number of unique communities. There are some smaller communities in Lafayette, and they are grouped into four primary areas:

The elementary school and pleasant neighborhood of Happy Valley draw many families. The 6,200-acre Briones Regional Park is located immediately to the north of the neighborhood, and the Lafayette Reservoir Recreation Area is the crown jewel of the community.

The landscape in Reliez Valley is predominantly rural, with plenty of open fields and pastures. Burton Valley is loved by outdoor enthusiasts like hikers and dog owners because of its wide open spaces. The valley is home to several well-known communities like Los Pallos and Lafayette Valley Estates.

Schools and Restaurant Row on Mt. Diablo Boulevard make downtown Lafayette an attractive residential area for those who like to avoid driving.

3. An incredibly safe town

Those who want to make their home in Lafayette will do so in total safety. The crime rate is 56% lower than the U.S. average, and the violent crime rate is 86% lower. The crime rate in Lafayette is only 1,024 for every 100,000 residents, with only 56 violent crimes for every 100,000. On average, there are 442 violent crimes per 100,000 people in California.

Lafayette has a police force of 19 policemen to protect the city.

4. The city has a Mediterranean climate

The climate in Lafayette is typical to that of the Mediterranean. Depending on where you live in the East Bay, you may experience a completely different kind of weather than you would in places west of the Berkeley Hills. Long, dry, and usually clear summers are regular. However, morning fog can occur occasionally. The western half of the Bay Area can be up to 20 degrees cooler, but the eastern part can reach temperatures well above 100 degrees. The highest temperature ever recorded was 117 degrees Fahrenheit in July, making it the warmest month by far.

The winters are damp and foggy but not very long. The average annual precipitation in Lafayette is 24 inches, most of which falls during the colder months. With daily averages in the range between 39 and 54 degrees Fahrenheit, January is the coldest month of the year.

5. Explore the Lafayette Reservoir or The Lafayette Ridge Trail

Lafayette Ridge Trail

Lafayette is a beautiful, lush city with parks and hills covered in oak trees. It’s a stunning part of the San Francisco Bay and a haven for nature lovers. Hiking, horseback riding, and swimming are just a few of the many available pursuits. 

The Lafayette Ridge Trail is fantastic for experienced hikers. You can see all the way to Briones Regional Park, Mount Diablo, and Lafayette from that vantage point. This is a dog-friendly trail, so feel free to bring Fido along.

Do you like getting your hands dirty and meeting new people through gardening? If so, the Lafayette Community Garden might be a good fit for you. Plots for eco-friendly gardening are available at this facility. During the growing season, there are excursions to the area offered twice weekly.

Lafayette Reservoir is a lovely spot for a stroll if you want to get some exercise while enjoying the outdoors. The park in which the reservoir is located is perfect for a day out with the kids. There are a lot of pathways to choose from, and you can even go boating and have a picnic.

6. Eat at The Hideout Kitchen & Cafe or Postino Restaurant

Restaurant Row, as Mt. Diablo Boulevard in Lafayette is affectionately known, is thriving. There are different restaurants in the city, from fast bites to five-course meals that will not disappoint, whether you’re craving traditional American fare, Italian, or something else entirely.

There’s a good reason why The Hideout Kitchen & Cafe has so many glowing five-star reviews on Google: it’s delicious. The excellent American comfort food here is served in a stylish yet cozy bistro. 

Locals refer to The Cooperage American Grille as “The Coop.” Meat eaters, you owe it to yourself to check out this acclaimed grill. Favorites on the menu include burgers, steak, and rotisserie chicken. The grill has a beautiful patio that customers love to sit in and is noted for its high-quality furnishings. 

Postino Restaurant is the place to go if you’re looking for a classy and elegant venue to celebrate a wedding, anniversary, or other momentous event. The restaurant is among the most upscale in all of Lafayette. With cozy fireplaces and exposed masonry, this Italian restaurant offers delicious food.

7. Murphy McKay & Associates, CBEM, and the Lafayette School District are the major employers

With the city’s BART station, many Lafayette residents can commute to Oakland and San Francisco with ease. It’s also possible to get hired in the city itself. 

Murphy McKay & Associates, CBEM, and the Lafayette School District are just a few of the city’s most prominent employers. The average wage in Lafayette is $76,000 per year, or $22.45 per hour, according to Payscale.

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8. The Lafayette School District is one of the best in the state

If you are considering a move to Lafayette and have school-aged children, you may be wondering how good the local schools are. You may rest assured knowing that Lafayette has an excellent educational system. The Lafayette School District is one of the best in California, with multiple schools consistently placing in the state’s top 100.

Private school education is another option. In addition to public schools, Lafayette is also home to some prestigious private institutions like Meher School, Contra Costa Jewish Day School, and St. Perpetua School.

9. Traffic is brutal

California traffic is notoriously brutal, and Lafayette isn’t left out. It might not be as bad as Brentwood, but it’s still pretty hectic. Ensure to factor in extra time when getting around the city. 

The rush hour traffic around I-24 is pretty bad, so it’s best to keep this in mind. The city’s average commute time is 31.5 minutes, which is longer than the national average of 26.4 minutes.

10. Get around the city by BART

Residents and tourists to the city can choose from a number of different modes of transportation. BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, links Lafayette to nearby cities like Walnut Creek, Concord, Berkeley, and San Francisco. 

In addition to the Bay Area Rapid Transit, Lafayette is connected to nearby cities, including Oakland and San Ramon, by a number of bus lines. Likewise, there are a number of ridesharing options, such as Lyft and Uber, for individuals who prefer something different. 

Last but not least, a growing number of Lafayette residents are choosing to commute by bike. The city has numerous bike lanes that make cycling a pleasant and secure mode of transportation. Residents in Lafayette are spoiled for choice when it comes to modes of transportation.

In Conclusion

Lafayette offers its residents a safe community, different places to explore, diverse modes of transportation, great schools, and lots more.

On the other hand, the city has an exorbitant cost of living, and traffic is often hectic.ย 

Learn More About Living in Lafayette, CA


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