Oakland, California

Diamond In The Rough

My most prized possession was my library card from the Oakland Public Library
-Bill Russell

The Best Thing About Oakland?

The Bay on a Budget (Kind of)

Although San Francisco gets all of the attention, Oakland is known for its better weather, affordability (only compared to SF), better character, and down-to-earth vibe when compared to its next door neighbor. It’s also serious about being Green. Oakland’s empty lots have been transformed into urban vegetable patches, and buying locally grown food is simple. Oakland is indeed Hella Cool. And they know it.

Here's a strong take on the advantages of Oakland from a local:
That Oakland has the best weather in the Bay Area — certainly in the true (central) Bay Area — is inarguable. And the location is ideal. If someone dropped into the Bay Area from outer space they would require an historical explanation for why San Francisco, and not Oakland, is the leading city. One can head out of Oakland toward the Sierra with an hour’s lead on the San Franciscan, with similar advantages toward the wine country.

The culture of Oakland is honest. The culture of San Francisco is fake. I say this as someone who spent a great deal of my student and working life in San Francisco and who loves and respects that great international city deeply. But if you are here to live, not on vacation, Oakland offers an unaffected — even self-deprecating — tone that works on a daily basis.

For more reviews of Oakland from locals check out: The Buzz

The Worst Thing About Oakland?

The hype.

As disgruntled young San Franciscans go in search of friendlier climes, and the pandemic and property prices displace residents and put rental properties in the hands of corporate developers, gentrification threatens the nature of what makes Oakland great. See Brooklyn for comparable history.

Here's a local on the pros/cons of Oakland:
Oakland is a much bigger and more diverse town than people think. It can be a very nice town to live in but the news doesn't cover quiet prosperous neighborhoods. Also when I say diverse I don't mean that there are people with a lot of different racial backgrounds, though there are, I mean that there a lot of different kinds of people with varying backgrounds, traditions, and expectations. People who have not lived in an diverse environment sometimes have a hard time making accurate value judgement about Oakland. Oakland is large enough and diverse enough that it really isn't one thing. Large stretches of the city are very well off and beautiful while others are very poor and grim.

Lifestyle Of Oakland

While making a short trip across the bay to SF is a popular (and always available) social option, Oakland is filled with its own entertainment and cultural scene. There’s an incredible history of social movement -- minorities of all kinds have a cultural voice in Oakland. Oakland has serious coffee, craft brews, food, and street art scenes. I mean c’mon, where are you going to get a city, an ocean bay and redwood parks that overlook stunning views all in one place? And there’s even a gorgeous lake (Lake Merritt) right in the middle of downtown.

Workstyle Of Oakland

Not to be redundant here, but making the short trip over the bay to SF is a popular commuting option. Taking advantage of SF’s big tech and finance wages for non-SF rent is always going to be a solid financial decision, and the Bay Area’s phenomenal public transportation system makes that convenient. Back in the east bay, big name companies like Clorox, Kaiser Permanente, and Pandora call Oakland their home. The health sector is big in Oakland too, and that combination of solid local and short commute options make it a great place to live for work.

Why You Should Move Here Now?

Location, location, location.

It’s easier to get to downtown San Francisco by public transit than it is from even some San Francisco neighborhoods, and Berkeley is an even shorter hop. If you’re not all that interested in San Francisco, Oakland is a hot location in its own right. It has been experiencing a massive growth in jobs, especially in tech and media. Seven companies within Oakland made Forbes magazine’s list of the country’s top 100 fastest growing companies.