"In the city /City of Brentwood /They take really good care /Of all their homeless" -(California Loves the Homeless South Park Parody)
Brentwood got its start in the late 19th century as a farming community. Produce -- namely peaches, cherries and corn -- still grow abundantly in the area, but Brentwood has seen a significant shift to a bedroom community over the last few decades. It now boasts a population of 50,000 people. Its farming origins can still be found in the abundant and fruitful land that surrounds Brentwood on three sides. A popular u-pick-em farm trail through the outskirts of Brentwood allows residents to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the growing year.
Moving to Brentwood
Unless you spend your days tilling soil or plan on working at one of the local wineries, don't count on finding a job in Brentwood. Most residents make the trek into a neighboring city -- San Francisco is an hour to the west -- or work at one of the two new Federal research facilities located just south of town. These laboratories have brought even more tech-minded folk (and their higher incomes) to the region, leading to a boon in planned communities, increased infrastructure and more money being poured into the local schools. In fact, Brentwood's real estate is some of the newest in the country. This also means, however, that the costs to rent, buy or even rent to own here remains at the top of the list as well. But, when you're in California, price is relative. What seems an astronomical price to pay for a 3 bedroom house to a Midwesterner will seem like a downright steal for someone moving from Southern California.
Getting to Brentwood could be easier. It wasn't until 2008 that a freeway lead to the town. The John Marsh Heritage Highway (or better known as State Route 4) runs along Brentwood's western edge. Because it's the lone main road and one of the only direct routes into Brentwood from the west (and therefore from San Francisco), the road sees lots of traffic (seriously, we mean a lot). Sitting on the road leading into Brentwood isn't unusual, so keep a book with you for the times when you seem to be parked on the freeway. But, don't think you'll outsmart everyone by forgoing the car in favor of public transportation. Public transportation is limited to the point of not being worth the trouble. Stick to a car, even if it will take you longer to commute.
Once you are in town looking for an apartment, expect to spend a little longer than typically necessary to secure a place to live. Because of the higher prices, landlords tend to look a little deeper into your financial and employment past to make sure you're not going to try to skip out on the rent one month. Cut them off at the pass by presenting your case with pay check stubs, tax returns, a credit check and even references from past landlords. In other words, make it impossible for them to say no to you.
Neighborhoods in Brentwood
Since San Francisco is to the west of Brentwood, it makes sense that real estate generally gets pricier the further west you go. That doesn't mean there aren't hidden gems on the west, though. Read on for descriptions on all of Brentwood's neighborhoods to see which one will be right for you. The relative rental prices that follow each description should help you hone in on where you should start looking first.
Marsh Creek Rd./Deer Valley Dr.This suburban area is made up mostly of newer residences -- primarily homes, although there are some apartment complexes here as well. The Marsh Creek Reservoir and Deer Ridge Golf Course in the 'hood make it a popular place for all residents on the weekends. $$$$$$
Lone Tree Way/Empire Ave.:Hwy 4 runs through this more urban area. It's primarily made up of larger (and newer) homes, along with brand spanking new apartment complexes. Scoring a pad here will mean chances are high that you'll be the first person ever to burn a pizza in your oven. Lucky you. $$$$$
Lone Tree Way/Anderson Ln.:if the area around Lone Tree Way and Empire Avenue is slightly out of your price range (what, you're not a bajillionaire?), then look directly to the east here for a place about the same size but for about half the rent. While there has been a lot of new growth in this nabe, many of the apartments were built about 20 or 30 years ago. Bummer, right? Well, writing a much smaller rent check each month should go a long way towards cheering you up! $$$
Concord Ave./Balfour Rd.:Just south of downtown, this area has one of the lowest vacancy rates in Brentwood. It just goes to show that once people find a place to live here, they tend to not give it up for years and years. Search high and low for that rental home or townhome, and maybe you'll understand what's so special about this place, too. $$$$
Fairview Ave./Minnesota Ave.:If having someone tell you exactly how tall your grass should be and what color blinds are (an aren't acceptable), you should find plenty to love about this area. Tons of planned communities with perfectly landscaped lawns will make this triangle of a 'hood feel like a 50s sitcom set. Score a spot here and see if you can live out your Father Knows Best fantasies. $$$$$
East Brentwood: The area closest to Discovery Bay is also the biggest neighborhood. It includes the downtown district and has the most rental properties in the town. In addition to apartment complexes and even low and high-rise apartments, you shouldn't have any trouble finding single-family homes to rent either. Just keep in mind that you're further away from San Francisco and most other places you'll likely have to commute to for work. $$$
Dainty Ave./Walnut Blvd.:This area has many planned communities of its own here, but nothing like the sheer number in the area around Fairview and Minnesota avenues. The vacancy rate is low here, but still manageable. It just might take you an extra week or so, or even an extra large security deposit. Remember, chances are there's a waiting list so the landlord has the power. $$$
Living in Brentwood
With shopping centers such as the Streets of Brentwood, you won't have to leave Brentwood to shop at major stores like REI, Victoria's Secret or Trader Joe's. Popular restaurants include nationally recognized Vic Stewart's steakhouse and BJ's Brewery. With the plethora of tech workers in the area, don't be surprised to see a coffee shop -- the big chains and small, independent roasters -- on the proverbial every corner.
Even with new retail stores popping up everywhere, Brentwood still celebrates its past with events like the Cornfest every July. Local food, crafts, fireworks and a finale concert make up the popular event. Many of the local wineries offer special tastings or a tasting room where you can sample their varieties. Once you know what you like, pick up a few bottles at the winery or head to CoCo County Wine Company in downtown Brentwood. The store has a vast selection of local and imported wine, along with a pretty impressive micro-brew beer selection.
You can spend Saturday mornings at the farmer's market from April through October, or take to the outdoors on the Marsh Creek Regional Trail. Other places to explore the outdoors include at the Vasco Caves or the Round Valley preserve. Whatever you do, though, know that living in Brentwood, which is surrounded by verdant fields, will make you want to get out and enjoy the clean, fresh air and abundant local produce. Oh and that fresh air -- it's free!