Berkeley, California

Making San Francisco Look Less Crazy Since 1878



Sunny Days: 256
81100 Affordability
90100 Schools
58100 Diversity
63100 Safety

The Citadel Of West Coast Radicalism. Hunter S. Thompson

The Best Thing About Berkeley?

Too many to choose from.

There’s a bit of everything for everyone in Berkeley. It’s a smaller city that has both an urban and college town vibe due to the dominating presence of UC Berkeley. It has an intimate culture and arts scene, but you can also hop on a rail train and be in San Francisco or Oakland in twenty minutes if you’re feeling like something bigger on the weekend. The weather year round is mild, with winters much warmer than the rest of the country, but also without the blistering heat of Phoenix and Vegas or the humidity of the midwest and east coast in the summer.

Berkeley consistently ranks as the healthiest city in America, with bike and hike friendly streets and a ton of outdoor activities a short drive away. Berkeley is also extremely family friendly, with good public schools and a ridiculous number of things to do with your beans.

Now we’d be remiss to not point out the fanatically liberal political climate of Berkeley. For some this is the best thing about Berkeley, and for some it goes in the category of the worst thing about Berkeley. We’re going to assume everyone knows this and no hard-core Tea Party or MAGA fans are fixing to move the family here and so we’re sticking this point in the Best Thing bucket. There is however a Portlandia feel to the progressive nature of Berkeley and even the most ardent AOC fan can find themselves getting canceled if they get the compost mix wrong, so buyer beware or buyer celebrate, depending on your appetite for street-level activism.

Lifetime resident comment: I’m incredibly grateful to get to live here. Berkeley is sort of a hub that is close an endless range of activities. There are also a lot of good restaurants, some (although limited) nightlife, and it’s generally just a beautiful city with so many interesting people to meet.

The Worst Thing About Berkeley?

The Price of Gold(en Bears)

While there is a little bit of everything here in Berkeley, it’s brutally difficult for everyone to afford those slices of everything. Higher costs of living and California taxes are major obstacles that get in the way of living comfortably here. Bay Area job markets mitigate some of that, but the costs are definitely things that you have to be prepared for if you’re moving to Berkeley, or anywhere else in the Bay for that matter. Also, as noted above, Berkeley definitely lives up to its “hippie” reputation as well, and if you’re not into the affluent, hyper-liberal vibes, Berkeley can be a lonely place.

One local's note about housing prices here: It seems like if you want to live on your own in Berkeley (and not with a ton of roommates), or raise a family, you need to have a lot of money to do so (or the sheer will to take on a lot of challenges). I Still live with my mom (we rent) because I could never afford to live on my own in the Bay Area.

Lifestyle of Berkeley

Berkeley is only 3 miles by 4 miles, but that’s a stat even some long-time residents are shocked to learn, in large part due to the number of distinct neighborhoods and living options. The campus area is mostly students with a lot of apartment housing, and colorful streets with plenty of bookstores, cafes, restaurants and bars.

“Downtown” Berkeley is pretty much on the doorstep of campus with a mix of apartments and houses, and students and non-students.
As you continue moving away from campus/downtown, you get to more quiet, single family residential neighborhoods like Westbrae and North Berkeley. It’s all pretty expensive, with the southern part of the city a bit more affordable, but still… it’s Berkeley.

Check out the Berkeley calendar of events if you're interested in seeing the happenings in the coming year:

Why You Should Move Here Now?

Re: Best Thing(s) About Berkeley

It’s no secret we’re living through crazy times. If you want to live and get involved in one of the true centers of political movement for the left then Berkeley should have a spot near the top of your list. Go Bears!

Neighborhoods in Berkeley

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South Berkeley/North Berkeley

College Students

Not unusually the neighborhood choices for students at UC Berkeley are often driven by undergrad/grad distinctions. Undergrads often choose South Berkeley due to its proximity to south campus and the fact the neighborhood is the center of the restaurant, bar and music scene in the city. North Berkeley is where graduate students live due to the fact it is quieter than South Berkeley and the housing options are more varied. Some graduate students will even live farther out from campus in towns like Albany, Oakland and El Cerrito. Excellent public transportation including the BART train system that drops you off at campus makes this possible.

  • South Berkeley
  • North Berkeley


Young Professionals/Students

Young Professionals tend to live in overlapping neighborhoods in Berkeley. Downtown Berkeley draws everyone that wants to live near work/school and the bars and restaurants of the city. Southside and Northside pull more students but professionals will also pick it depending on prices. Berkeley is not an inexpensive city and beggars can’t be choosers for affordable housing options if you want to be in the midst of the action.

  • Downtown
  • Southside
  • Northside

Berkeley Hills


The Berkeley area has a ton of options for families but the Berkeley Hills is for sure the most popular. Beautiful homes, Craftsman and Bungalows generally, line golden streets in the winding hills of the neighborhood. Prices can be exorbitant but the lifestyle is wonderful if you can pull it off. Claremont is another fancy neighborhood in a hilly section of Berkeley. Similar to the Hills it has beautiful homes on stunning windy streets that sit near commercial districts.

  • Berkeley Hills
  • North Berkeley/Thousand Oaks
  • Claremont
  • Elmwood
  • Westbrae
  • Oceanview
  • South Berkeley