Life in Oakland: 7 Things to Know BEFORE Moving to Oakland, CA!

Living in Oakland

Are you moving to Oakland? Here is what it's like living in Oakland, California!

Located just east of San Francisco lies the bustling city of Oakland, California. Known as the largest city in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, Oakland is considered a major west coast port city and the third-largest city in the entire San Francisco Bay Area. With a population of just over 425,000 people, Oakland is the eighth-most populous city in the state of California. Recognized as a popular trade center in the San Francisco Bay Area, Oakland is renowned for its prominence in business. As the area continues to see high levels of growth, many residents are moving to Oakland from surrounding areas to take part in its improved infrastructure and available housing.

Moving to Oakland, CA - What is it like living in Oakland, California?

Surrounded by shipyards and its flourishing automotive industry, the city of Oakland has a lot to offer its residents. Stretching for over 78 square miles, this marina and port city has a variety of delicious restaurants, trendy shops, and a thriving nightlife to enjoy. Often prized for its environmental friendliness and frequent push towards political activism and sustainability, Oakland continues to make a name for itself as a city that seeks change and high quality of living. No matter if you are moving to Oakland for work or simply for a change of scenery, this moving guide was created to help you navigate the ins and outs of your new city. Read on to learn more about the 7 Things to Know BEFORE Moving to Oakland, California!

1. High cost of living in Oakland.

Much like the rest of the state of California, Oakland has a very high cost of living. In fact, Oakland ranks as the sixth most expensive city in the United States and is the fourth most expensive metropolitan area in the United States. With a cost of living that is 49% higher than the national average, living in Oakland definitely comes with a high price tag. Utility prices are 14% higher than the national average, transportation costs including the price of gas are 30% higher than the national average, and housing prices are 118% higher than the national average. The cost of water has a minimum charge of $17.80 per 3,000 gallons of water and increases per 1,000 gallons of water.

Since everything is highly priced in Oakland an average annual salary of about $90,000 for a single adult is considered a good salary. In order to live comfortably, it is recommended to at least be making anywhere from $100,000 to $125,000 a year if you are living alone. If you have a family then a minimum of $150,000 is needed in order to afford housing and any unexpected expenses. The minimum wage in Oakland, California is currently set at $14 an hour. While the cost of living in Oakland might be 11.2% more expensive than living in Los Angeles, Oakland is still considered more affordable than living in San Francisco which has the second-highest cost of living in the United States right below New York City. Before moving to Oakland, it might be a good idea to already have a job or at least have some money saved up in order to afford basic necessities as you get settled.

Oakland Bay Bridge that Connects San Francisco and Oakland - 260,000 vehicles travel across the bridge each day

Did you know 260,000 vehicles travel across the Oakland Bay Bridge each day? Also known as the Bay Bridge by locals!

2. Beware of crime.

The city has seen a continuous rise in crime rates over the years. While there are certainly many nice neighborhoods in Oakland that are safe, it is important to distinguish between the good areas and the bad areas before moving. Here are the facts: Unfortunately, the chances of becoming a victim of violent crime in the city are 1 in 77 while the chances of becoming a victim of property crime are 1 in 15 as of 2021. With a crime rate that is 79 out of every 100 residents, Oakland is thought to have one of the highest crime rates both in California and the United States. With a crime rate that rivals that of San Francisco and New York City, Oakland has constantly been perceived as dangerous and scary. While the city certainly has a high crime rate considering it only has a population of 425,000 people, Oakland is no more dangerous than any other major city.

If you are moving to the area then it would be best to stay away from some of the notoriously bad parts of the town which include the neighborhoods of Eastmont, Acorn-Acorn, Webster, Fitchburg, and Hoover-Foster. If you decide to explore downtown Oakland at night then make sure to stay near the well-lit streets and most populated areas. If you are moving with your family or just want to live somewhere without worrying about crime then the safest neighborhoods in Oakland include Rockridge, Bushrod, Cleveland Heights, Grand Lake, Redwood Heights, and Temescal. Research and learn ways to prevent crime in your new neighborhood in order to create a safe community.

3. Beautiful weather.

Experiencing a sunny and warm Mediterranean climate with low humidity like the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area, the city of Oakland has pretty and mild weather all year long. Residents can expect warm and dry summers alongside wet and cool winters. The months from May through October are peak travel times to Oakland since the weather is considered the warmest and the best during this specific time of the year. The warm season which lasts from the months of June through October has an average high daily temperature at or above 71 degrees Fahrenheit while the average low dips down to around 58 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest month during the year is September where the average high is 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

On the other hand, the cool season lasts from the months of June to October with an average high daily temperature below 59 degrees Fahrenheit and the average low dips to around 44 degrees Fahrenheit. The coldest month during the year is January where the average high daily temperature is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the average daily temperatures rarely dip below freezing, Oakland averages around 0 inches of snow per year. If you are moving to the area from a cold climate then feel free to leave your snow shovel behind since the last time any measurable snowfall fell was during the years 2011 and 1976. Rainfall is also relatively scarce in Oakland. Experiencing 178 sunny days throughout the year, the city only receives around 24 inches of rain on average. While February may be the wettest month that receives the most rain, Oakland and the rest of the state of California remains in a severe drought. Since 97.5% of California is currently in some form of drought, residents are encouraged to help conserve water in any way possible. It is recommended to take shorter showers, turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, and only run the dishwasher and the washing machine when there is a full load.

Life in Oakland, California - a view of the entire city at sunset

4. Great public transportation.

One of the many cool things about Oakland is that there are many areas around the city that are super walkable and easy to get around. While driving can be one of the best ways to travel to and from work, the traffic in Oakland is notorious for being backed up and stressful. On the plus side, Oakland has an abundance of public transportation systems that are actually really easy to navigate and use while also being reliable. Not only are there LimeBike scooters to rent around the city as well as public bicycle sharing systems, but there are also ferries, AC Transit buses, and the Bay Area Rapid Transit trains which are also known as the BART system. The Bay Area Rapid Transit is a high-speed regional rail system that has routes all over the Bay Area with direct lines to San Francisco and San Jose. There is no better way to travel to downtown Oakland and to nearby cities than by taking the BART. With such amazing and reliable transportation that is readily available for all residents, getting around town could not be easier. So instead of fighting with traffic on the interstate and dealing with long commuting times, choose to travel by BART, bus, or ferry instead. Plus, by deciding to go with public transportation you will be helping the environment and reducing your carbon footprint.

5. Support the home team.

Do you love all things sports? Then you are in the right place! Oakland is home to multiple professional sports teams and amateur leagues that will have you attending a game in no time. If you like baseball then make sure to check out the Oakland Athletics, also called the A’s, which are an American professional baseball team that plays in the Western Division at RingCentral Coliseum. For soccer fans, the Oakland Roots SC is a men's professional soccer team that plays in the USL Championship. Plus, only 30 minutes away from San Francisco, head to the Chase Center to cheer on the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association. No matter what sport you like there is a team to support while living in Oakland, California.

Oakland and San Francisco are two major cities close to one another in what is known as the Bay Area

6. The food is fantastic.

Oakland is quickly becoming a foodie favorite. As a port city and a center for trade, Oakland has become a destination for all sorts of different cuisine and international flavors. Influenced by the slow food movement and a push towards farm-to-table eating, residents enjoy fresh produce and regularly attend the weekly farmer’s markets in town. Surprisingly, few people know that Oakland has one of the best soul food scenes in the whole country. Originating in the southern United States, soul food consists of strong flavors and incorporates classics such as fried chicken or fish, black-eyed peas, cornbread, and collard greens. From tiny cafes to five-star restaurants and trendy eateries, Oakland represents only the best of northern California’s food scene.

Check out these top local favorite restaurants in Oakland, California! 

  • Understory Oakland: Rated five stars out of five, this new and upcoming restaurant has taken the city by storm. Serving Filipino and Moroccan flavors mixed with vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Do not leave without trying the desserts! 
  • Lois the Pie Queen: A classic soul food favorite, this family-owned spot is serving up classics such as meatloaf, pork chops, and a lemon icebox pie. 
  • Commis: Named as the best restaurant in the East Bay, this favorite may be pricey but the food is out of this world. With an open kitchen concept, this American eatery mixes unique ingredients to create culinary wonders. 
  • Taco’s Oscar: Serving only the most delicious tacos in Oakland, have your choice of classic flavors as well as a wide variety of vegan and vegetarian options. 
  • Shakewell: This modern Spanish bistro is serving tapas alongside wine, beer, and hand-crafted cocktails. Considered one of the best restaurants in the area for its homemade pasta, fun vibe, and variety of different dishes. 

Oakland water at night time under the lights

7. There are many things to do.

While less populated than San Francisco, Oakland is making a name for itself as an up-and-coming city in the Bay Area. Named after the many Oak trees that adorn the city, Oakland has multiple parks and attractions that make it such a wonderful place to live. Prized for its cultural diversity, the city has many events and festivals that are always happening around the city. From concerts, dance performances, museums, walking trails, green spaces, and shopping districts, there are a plethora of things to do that will leave no resident feeling bored.

Check out these local favorite things to do in Oakland, California! 

  • Lake Merritt: A great place to bring the family and spend the day outside. This lake features greenspaces, picnic areas, themed gardens, and a three-mile path along the shoreline for walking, biking, or jogging. 
  • Jack London Square: This historic neighborhood by the water has a cool and trendy dining and shopping scene overlooking the marina. There is even a farmers market that is hosted on Sundays near the waterfront. 
  • Oakland Museum of California: Admire the galleries dedicated to Oakland artists and the history of the city's political activism. The museum even hosts live entertainment and events during the weekends. 
  • Children’s Fairyland: Inspired by Walt Disney World, this park is a great place to bring the kids as it features cute rides and a theater. 
  • Redwood Regional Park: Spend the day hiking among the coastal redwood trees at this regional park where the trees reach up to 150 feet into the air. There are even sites for overnight camping and picnic areas.

Moving to Oakland, CA - The Bottom Line 

If you have always wanted to live in California then consider moving to Oakland. While Oakland may be expensive due to supply and demand and its location in the Bay Area, the city has a lot to offer its residents. A great place to live and surrounded by lots of natural beauty, Oakland is culturally diverse and is home to multiple celebrities including Tom Hanks and Zendaya. While Oakland didn't make our best places to live in California list, it is right up there with the best of them! Before moving to Oakland, make sure you reach out to one of our knowledgeable Realty Specialists in order to help aid and guide you through the home buying process. Once you have decided on a budget and what you want in a home, our team will help you find a neighborhood that is safe and meets your needs. Contact us today!


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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I am a REALTOR®. My goal is to help you learn more about real estate through our Real Estate Blog! Hopefully, you enjoyed the above blog post and it found a way to provide help or value to you. When you're ready to buy or sell a home of your own let us know here. Please feel free to join the conversation by dropping us a comment below.