a house in the West End, Alameda, California
Photo: Courtesy of Pacita Dimacali
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The West End, Alameda, California

Just off Oakland's shores, Alameda is a 23-square-mile island in San Francisco Bay. Long heralded for the stunning Queen Annes and California bungalows on its eastern edge, the area's West End is now getting the attention. The former home of a massive Naval Air Station, the west side's fortunes changed in 1997, when the U.S. Navy packed its bags, leaving behind enormous hangers. Before long, a new generation of enterprising Californians started to arrive, converting the cavernous spaces into film studios, fitness centers, wineries—even an absinthe distillery. Over the past decade, as retired military families have gradually sold their Arts and Crafts bungalows and Victorian-era cottages, the West End has adopted a new identity. "It's funky, it's edgy, and it's family friendly," says Kathy Ledner Moehring, a transplanted New Yorker who bought a 1912 Craftsman bungalow here eight years ago. Kathy, executive director of the West Alameda Business Association, notes that good schools and a low crime rate, plus dozens of restaurants and businesses, new and old, make Alameda a perfect family place.

The Houses
Modest Arts and Crafts bungalows and Victorian cottages generally needing some work are coming on the market at reasonable prices. A 1,377-square-foot bungalow built in 1915 was recently listed at $299,000.

Why Buy Here?
Housing values are expected to rise as redevelopment continues in the area surrounding the former base. An underwater tunnel gets you to Oakland in two minutes, and it's a 20-minute ferry ride to San Francisco.

Among the best for: The West & Northwest, Family Friendly, Cottages & Bungalows, Small Towns, Easy Commute, Walkability
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