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: https://www.visitberkeley.com/events/
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!