When I was looking for affordable housing in the Bay Area, Lafayette Patio Apartments fit the bill. I wouldn't say they're ideal for a large family (nor modern nor large) but the apartment I was in was very spacious for a single person. It had 1 bedroom and a study (and advertised it as such when most would call it a 2 bed to justify charging more). And, at $1000 a month, it was cheaper than anything in Emeryville ,Berkeley or Walnut Creek, and far safer and nicer than Oakland or Concord. Lafayette has a strong community feel, and this small complex fits right in. The local manager, Tom, is a great guy as well (though hard of hearing). The units even have air conditioners!
The one major downside is that when you move out, they REALLY drag their feet getting you your deposit. Overall, a quiet, safe place to live - I'd move back in a heartbeat!
PS - this is not the place to move for a strong nightlife... it's a QUIET bedroom community