Moving to Oakland: 12 Things to Know Before You Go

Hall | Jun 27, 2017

Moving to Oakland is something many people do every year for a variety of reasons. We did some research and compiled some facts for this article to help you make your decision.

Oakland skyline

How big is Oakland?

Oakland has a population of about 413,000 and it is a diverse city with approximately 34% African-American, 26% White, 17% Asian and a number of Native American and Pacific Islanders.

How much is housing?

The median home value is $678,000 and the average rent is $2,781. You can find small condos for much less than the median home value though. For example, there might a few for $400,000 or slightly less. For renters, there are some studios for about $1,500 and shared living situations for $1,000 or less.

If the median home value in San Francisco is well over one million dollars, moving to Oakland may seem like a bargain. Many people living in San Francisco have no chance of owning a home so places like Oakland, San Leandro and San Lorenzo are much more affordable for housing.

According to a MarketWatch article, to live comfortably in Oakland you would need an annual salary of $80,000 and $110,000 in San Francisco.

Are there jobs?

Oakland has long been a center of industrial and business activities, here are some of the top employers:

Kaiser Permanente
Oakland Unified Schools
County of Alameda
City of Oakland
BART
State of CA
Children’s Hospital Oakland
Alameda Health System
UPS
Southwest Airlines

Moving to Oakland could be a good choice for someone who is open to a range of employment options. For example, there are a number of startups and tech companies in Oakland, in addition to the more established organizations like Kaiser and BART.

How is the weather?

The average daytime high temperatures range from 58 in January to 75 in August. Of course, there are lower temperatures on winter nights and in summer some days are well past 75.

There are only about 23 inches of rain each year and hail is possible but not at all common. When we think of California, we might immediately expect warm, sunny weather, but Oakland has a mild climate which includes many days with fog.

Compared with San Francisco, of course, there is less of that and Oakland is warmer as well. If you are moving to Oakland from San Francisco you might be pleased with the slightly better weather.

If you are moving from LA, San Jose, San Diego or the Inland areas you might be a little surprised that Oakland is as cool as it is. Moving to Oakland might be an adjustment for people who are accustomed to very warm or hot weather.

How are the schools?

According to Great Schools, the Oakland public schools are rated slightly below average.
For adults, there are a number of options for both 2-year and 4-year degrees.

Community Colleges:

Merrit College
Laney College
Samuel Merritt University

Institutions offering at least bachelor’s degrees:

Patten University
Lincoln University
Mills College
Holy Names University

How is the food?

San Francisco is known for having high-quality cuisine — Oakland probably less so, but there are many very good places to eat there too. Here is a list of some of the top-rated ones:
Belly
Kinja Sushi
CHICA Oakland
Shakewell
Marica Restaurant
Homeroom
Arthur Mac’s Tap and Snack
Blind Tiger
Mua
The Gastropig
Wood Tavern
Moroccan Palace Restaurant
Hopscotch
Aburaya Japanese Fried Chicken
Daughter Thai Kitchen
The Punchdown
LocoL
Chop Bar
Belotti Ristorante E. Bogetta
Rio California
Cholita Linda
Yaya Poke
Mistura Rotisserie
Homestead
Small Wonder
Agave Uptown
Commis
Flora Restaurant & Bar
Teni East Kitchen
Communite Table
Royal Kitchen Indian Restaurant
The Wolf
Osmanthus
A Cote Restaurant
Ding Japanese Restaurant
Burma Superstar
Grand Lake Kitchen
Wing Man
Tin & Pig
RnR Sushi & Bowls
Camber Uptown
Shandong Restaurant
Southie
Dopo
Clove and Hoof
Geta
Noodle Theory Provisions
Grand Tavern
Michel Bistro
Taqueria Sinaoloa

Grocery stores:

Oakland has many grocery stores and some that are intended to be socially aware:

Sprouts
Farmer Joe’s
Grocery Outlet Bargain Market
People’s Grocery
Lucky
Safeway
Piedmont Grocery
Whole Foods
Nature’s Best Foods
Rocky’s Market
The Food Mill
Monte Vista Food Center
Trader Joe’s
Mi Pueblo Food Center
Temescal Produce Market
Mandela Foods Cooperative
Village Market
House of Produce
Smart and Final
Specialty Foods Inc.
Lakeshore Produce
Hometown Grocery
Grand Perkins Market
Swan’s Market

 

Oakland, Lake Merritt

Is there entertainment?

Oakland is well known for its sports teams like the Raiders, Warriors and A’s, but two of the three will no longer be located there.

High school sports are very big though, and many local athletes go on to top colleges and universities — some make it to the professional ranks too.

Live music is a significant part of Oakland’s culture, such as jazz. Yoshi’s has been hosting musicians for decades and is a local favorite. Here are some of the most popular live music venues in Oakland:

Yoshi’s
The Sound Room
Cafe Van Kleef
Fox Theater
The New Parish
The Night Light
The Legionnaire Saloon
Paramount Theater

In a city the size of Oakland, you would expect to find moving screenings and you would be correct. Here are some of the theaters:

Grand Lake Theatre
Piedmont Theatre
The New Parkway
Regal Cinemas Jack London 9

Are there parks?

Oakland has many parks, including Joaquin Miller, which has redwood trees. Here are some of the popular parks in Oakland:

Frog Park
Joaquin Miller Park
Dimond Park
Avenue Terrace Playground
Lincoln Square Recreation Center
Children’s Fairyland
Cleveland Cascade
Lake Merritt
Montclair Recreation Center
Astro Park
Lake Temescal
Redwood Regional Park
West Oakland Farm Park
Lakeside
Mosswood
Marin Luther King Regional Shoreline
Anthony Chabot Regional Park

If you have a dog, some Oakland parks allow them to roam within, such as:

Leona Canyon
Bridgeview Trail
Robert Sibley
South Prescott Dog Park

Is there access to nature?

As mentioned above, there are a number of parks, and Joaquin Miller, in particular, is large and dense with trees and other plants, so it almost seems like being in the Sierra. There are wilderness areas not far away, like Las Trampas, Wildcat Canyon, Mt. Diablo, and Briones. To reach Muir Woods in Marin, you drive about 30 miles.

Point Reyes is about 46 miles from Oakland and it is one of the more popular outdoor destinations, with forests and undeveloped land near the coast. Sonoma is about 48 miles and it has much open space with both mountains and green slopes during spring. Of course, there are many wineries and the area can be very picturesque. Napa is similar to Sonoma and it is slightly closer.

At a distance of 25 miles is Pacifica and the coastal areas around it. The open space and beaches between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay are beautiful and relaxing, though during summer months they can become crowded.

Yosemite National Park is much further away — 156 miles, but it is one of the most visited national parks in the United States. Yosemite Valley is well-known for its granite peaks, cliffs, and walls, along with various waterfalls. Lassen National Forest is about 250 miles north and east if you like mountains, forests, and hydrothermal activity. Moving to Oakland might seem like a choice that would lead to an exclusively urban experience, but this is not true.

What are some things to do?

Oakland is a thriving community with many options for activities. Here are just some of them:

Oakland Zoo
Chabot Space Center
Lake Merritt
Oakland Museum
Oakland Aviation Museum
USS Potomac
Lake Merrit Garden Center
Oakland Ice Center
Children’s Fairyland
Late Nite Art

Are there places or worship?

Oakland has a number of different types of places for worship or spiritual connection:

Light of Buddha Temple
Buddhist Church of Oakland
East Bay Meditation Center

The Cathedral of the Christ the Light
Oak Life Church
New Life Community Church
Convergence
Regeneration
Skyline Community United Church of Christ
First Covenant Church Oakland
Christ Church Oakland

Temple Sinai
Beth Jacob Congregation
Temple Beth Abraham
First Hebrew Congregation Temple Sinai

What is near Oakland?

Berkeley — 5 miles
San Francisco — 11.7 miles
San Jose — 40 miles
Marin — 41 miles
Napa — 47 miles
Sacramento — 81 miles

Having read through all this information, are you still interested in moving to Oakland?

Image Credit: Basil D Soufi, CC BY-SA 3.0

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