Oakland, California

Diamond In The Rough



Sunny Days: 261
79100 Affordability
79100 Schools
69100 Diversity
35100 Safety

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.

Neighborhoods in Oakland

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The Area

The city of Oakland is just east of San Francisco, across the Bay. The west side of the city runs along the bay and the east side is surrounded by natural preserves including Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, the Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, and the University of California Botanical Garden. Just south of downtown Oakland is Alameda. Located in the bay, it’s a city that includes Alameda Island, Bay Farm Island, and other minor surrounding islands. Just north of Oakland is the popular area of Berkeley, home of UC Berkeley. Inside the city limits of Oakland is the city of Piedmont. It's a separate city although it’s completely surrounded by Oakland. The city detached itself from Oakland in the early 1900s and has since kept its reputation for being a more wealthy area. Local Piedmont residents, because they have a higher median income and, by design, better schools and local services, fear rejoining Oakland because they believe it would reduce their standard of living. The geography of Oakland can be split into what is called “the flatlands” and “the hills.” These terms can also symbolize the economic divide between Oakland’s residents. The hills cover about ⅓ of the land in Oakland and were historically considered to be more affluent.


Young Professionals

Oakland is California expensive without being SF expensive, and that’s an important distinction. If you’re moving to Oakland, take into consideration your budget, how close you want to be to bars and restaurants, and how close you need to be to BART. We suggest you start your search in Temescal. It has an artsy, slightly hipster vibe, in a good way. It’s super convenient to BART and Telegraph Ave has coffee shops, breweries, restaurants and more.

  • Temescal
  • Grand Lake
  • Downtown



While Oakland doesn't have a particular neighborhood like the Castro known as the center of LGBTQ+ community the town has the highest concentration of lesbian couples of any city in the country and the second-highest same-sex couple households right behind San Francisco.

Popular areas include Temescal; a hip, spot with a growing arts scene, coffee shops and easy access to the local BART station. It also has its own craft brew scene, plenty of restaurants, shops, and nightlife to enjoy.

Uptown is another good option. It runs along Broadway in downtown (we get the irony) and the area is home to the Fox and Paramount theaters, tons of bars and restaurants, and even an ice skating rink.

Piedmont Ave

Young Families

If you don’t want to give up the Oakland scene, but need to find a place to settle down, we suggest looking for a home or apartment in Piedmont Avenue. It feels more suburban than other areas of Oakland, but still has walkable amenities. It’s just northeast of Downtown, but not in the hills. You’ll have your choice of apartments, bungalows and super cute American Foursquare homes. Despite feeling suburban, Piedmont Avenue runs through the center of the neighborhood and has a grocery store, theaters, coffee shops, and restaurants.

  • Piedmont Ave
  • Grand Lake
  • Lake Merritt


Established Families

If you’re looking for a suburban feel with a dash of city living, check out Rockridge. It’s not the Hills, so you can avoid feeling like you’re super far away from Downtown. It can be expensive, so keep that in mind when you start house hunting. We thing it’s worth it for the tree-lined streets and the bungalow style homes. It’s mostly residential, but the west side of the neighborhood has restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and boutiques. It’s close to BART and, to top off the pros, it has a Trader Joe’s.

  • Rockridge/Upper Rockridge
  • Montclair
  • Temescal