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10 Things to Know Before Moving to Oakland, CA

Written by Allie Gardner

Oakland, California can be found to the east of San Francisco. It is the most populous city in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area and the third-most populous city in the overall San Francisco Bay Area.

Oakland is home to about 425,000 people, making it the sixth most populated city in the Golden State. 

This city has a stellar reputation as a major commercial hub in the Bay Area. Many people from outlying places are relocating to Oakland now that it has become a desirable place to live due to its expanding economy and abundant housing options.

As a community that actively pursues change and a good quality of life, Oakland has become known for its commitment to environmental friendliness and its advocacy for political activity and sustainability. Before you make the move to Oakland, read these 10 things you should know first!

1. Watch out for crime

The crime rate in Oakland has been steadily increasing over several decades. There is a 1 in 77 chance of becoming a victim of violent crime in the city, and a 1 in 15 chance of becoming a victim of property crime in the city. Oakland has one of the highest crime rates in California and the United States, with 79 crimes reported per 100 citizens. 

The city’s reputation as a violent place to live has long been justified by its high crime rate, which is comparable to that of San Francisco and New York City. With a population of 425,000 people, Oakland’s crime rate is indeed high for a city of its size.

If you’re new to the area, it’s advisable to avoid the more dangerous neighborhoods in the city.

2. A high cost of living

To a large extent, Oakland has the high cost of living that California is known for. It is the fourth most expensive metro area in the United States and the sixth most expensive city.

The cost of living in Oakland is 54% more than the U.S. average. Housing costs are 118% higher than the national average, with a whopping median home price of $923,963, utilities cost 14% more, and transportation costs 30% more.

It’s a good idea to have a job lined up or at least enough money saved up to get you through the first few months after relocating to Oakland.

3. A good public transport system

One of Oakland’s many appealing features is the city’s excellent walkability; getting from one place to another is a breeze in many parts of the city. Although driving is sometimes the most convenient option for getting to and from work, Oakland’s traffic is infamous for being slow and frustrating.

Fortunately, Oakland’s many public transportation options are both user-friendly and dependable. There are ferries, AC Transit buses, and the Bay Area Rapid Transit trains (commonly known as the BART system), in addition to public bicycle-sharing systems like LimeBike that can be used to get around the city.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is a rapid rail system that connects the greater Bay Area to major cities including San Francisco and San Jose. Getting around town is easy with the city’s convenient and one-of-a-kind public transit options.

4. Lots of fun things to do

Even though it has fewer residents than San Francisco, Oakland is becoming recognized as a promising and dynamic Bay Area city. Oakland, which got its name from all the oak trees that decorate the area, is a great place to enjoy the many parks and interesting activities. 

The city is known for its rich cultural heritage, thus there are constantly festivals and celebrations going on. Live music and dance events, museums, hiking and biking paths, parks, and commercial districts ensure that no local ever have to be bored.

Some of the exciting places to visit in the city include Redwood Regional Park, Lake Merritt, Oakland Museum of California, Jack London Square, Children’s Fairyland, and many others.

5. An amazing cuisine scene

Since Oakland is a major port and trading hub, it has become a mecca for foodies interested in trying dishes from all over the world. It’s quite surprising that very few know that this city has one of the best soul food scenes in the country. Classic dishes like fried chicken or fish, black-eyed peas, cornbread, and collard greens are hallmarks of soul food, a culinary style with its roots in the American South. Oakland has some of the top restaurants in all of northern California.

Check out some top restaurants in the city like Commis, Shakewell, Lois the Pie Queen, Taco’s Oscar, Understory Oakland, and lots more.

6. The weather is awesome

Like the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area, Oakland experiences a sunny and warm Mediterranean climate with low humidity, making for relatively mild temperatures throughout the year. The months of May through October are the busiest for tourists visiting Oakland since that’s when the weather is at its warmest and most pleasant. During the warm season (June–October), highs typically go around 71°F, while lows hover around 58°F.

During January, highs are typically around 55°F, making it the coldest month of the year. Because Oakland rarely experiences temperatures below freezing, the city typically receives little or no snowfall each year. In addition, Oakland receives a limited amount of rain annually. The city enjoys an average of 24 inches of rain and 178 days of sunshine each year.

7. A great art scene

Oakland has a thriving art scene that provides locals with a wide variety of entertainment options. Visit the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) or FM Oakland to check out displays and exhibitions highlighting the works of influential artists and thinkers. 

Check out Oakland’s Koreatown Northgate District on First Fridays to show your support for the local arts scene. Get a place to stay in KONO and go on an Art Murmur stroll to see painted utility boxes. Experience the elegance of O-Art Town’s Deco theaters by visiting Fox, Paramount, and Orinda. The 90s Experience will transport you back in time and make you feel a flood of nostalgia. You can also visit The Crucible to learn how to produce glass, ceramics, and jewelry.

8. Sports are a big deal 

Are you a sports fanatic? If so, you’ve found just the place for you! You’ll have no trouble finding a sporting event to attend in Oakland, as the city is home to numerous professional and amateur teams and leagues. 

The Oakland Athletics, commonly referred to as the A’s, are a Western Division American professional baseball team who plays at RingCentral Coliseum. The A’s have won nine World Series championships and 15 American League pennants.

And if you’re a soccer fan, you can watch the Oakland Roots SC  (a professional men’s soccer team) play at Laney College Football Stadium. In addition, the Chase Center, home of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, is only 30 minutes away from San Francisco. You can root for any of the different sports teams in and around this city.

9. The city has a thriving job market

Good news for anyone considering a move to Oakland in search of employment! Employment in the city is on the rise, and with it comes a higher average wage. Oaklanders can take advantage of a diversified work market thanks to the city’s proximity to several major enterprises. 

If you are seeking employment in healthcare, you can join Kaiser Permanente, Oakland’s largest employer. Send your resume to one of the busiest container ports in the country, the Port of Oakland, another major employer in the city. Sutter Health, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Southwest Airlines, and the University of California are also prominent players in Oakland’s job market.

10. It has the highest number of LGBTQ members in the country

Oaktown is home to the largest concentration of adult LGBTQ people in the United States. The Oakland LGBTQ Community Center serves as a hub for the city by providing access to health and wellness initiatives, social and educational opportunities, and other vital resources. 

The city hosts many Pride celebrations for the LGBTQ community. Oakland Pride is a seven-block parade down Broadway, marked by a rainbow crosswalk, during which participants wave pride flags and cheer on onlookers. Pridefest Oakland is a three-stage event with a wide array of gay musicians performing, including Jasmine Masters, LaLa Ri, and Trinity K Bone’t. Plus, every Wednesday is Drag Night at The Port Bar.

To Sum it All Up

A lot of things make Oakland exciting; the flourishing economy, amazing weather, and lots of fun things to do. However, the crime rate and the high cost of living are drawbacks, so it’s important to consider both sides of the coin before deciding to move.

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