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View of Oakland, CA from Berkeley

12 Reasons to Live in Oakland Instead of San Francisco

Thinking about moving to the Bay Area? Of course, San Francisco is the popular choice for many, but have you considered living in Oakland instead? With 131 neighborhoods, beautiful weather year-round, and outdoor recreation galore, Oakland is a Bay Area gem! And the major bonus? This bustling city has a lower cost of living than others in the area. Here are a few of the best things about being an Oaklander!

You Can Afford to Live By Yourself

Tassafaronga Village in Oakland, CA

Photo by Mark Hogan

Oakland is one of the more affordable spots in the Bay Area. In fact, the median monthly rent is $1,114, so it’s possible to live on your own without needing a roommate (or multiple roommates). Compare that to San Francisco’s average monthly rent of $3,244, and it’s easy to see why people choose Oakland over San Francisco.

Location, Location, Location

While Oakland offers plenty to explore within the city, it’s also close enough to other awesome spots that day trips and weekend getaways are easy! Oakland is about 20 minutes from San Francisco and Berkeley, an hour from Pacific Coast Highway (which provides a scenic drive along the California coast from San Francisco all the way down to San Diego), and two hours from Sacramento and San Jose. Parks like Redwood Regional Park, Anthony Chabot Regional Park, and Wildcat Canyon Regional Park are also close by. And if your travels take you beyond the Bay, Oakland International Airport is right there, too!

Perfect for College Students & Military Personnel

USCG Alameda ships in Oakland, CA

Photo by Jared Frazer

Oakland is a great place to live if you’re a college student or a member of the military! Mills College, Lincoln College, and Holy Name University are among some of the local options for students seeking higher education—and larger universities like University of California San Francisco and University of California Berkeley are within 15 to 30 minutes of the city as well. There’s also USCG Base Alameda, home to the U.S. Coast Guard, which has stations throughout the Bay Area, and Travis Air Force Base, which is located a little more than an hour outside of the city in Fairfield.

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Get Around the Bay Area Quickly

BART system in Oakland, CA

Photo by Hitchster

The BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) system is a transit masterpiece, making it easy to commute throughout the Bay Area. It’s safe, clean, affordable, and popular among Oakland residents who work in San Francisco. The 12th St. Oakland City Center Station is served by the red, yellow, and orange lines. Hop on the red line for a 13-minute ride to San Francisco. Save on gas, catch up on a book, and let the train do the work!

It’s Gorgeous Here

Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA

Photo by chucka_nc

With fantastic weather year-round—average temperatures are typically between 50°F and 62°F—Oakland is a hot spot for outdoor enthusiasts. Check out Lake Merritt, a beautiful lagoon right in the heart of the city, where you can bike, kayak, and more! Or venture out on some family-friendly hikes in the East Bay area. Oakland also borders Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, where you can enjoy camping and fishing!

Live It Up in Uptown

You don’t need to go to San Fran to experience great shopping! Oakland’s Uptown attracts everyone from young professionals to retirees. As an official arts and entertainment district, you’re guaranteed great food, drinks, and fun things to do every night of the week! Grab a cocktail and play bocce ball at Make Westing. Splurge at Flora Restaurant & Bar, an upscale Art Deco restaurant that serves amazing food in a gorgeous space. Take in a performance at Fox Theater, a venue that’s still dripping with 1920s splendor.

You Might Spot a Gnome or Two

Gnomes around Oakland, CA

Photo by George Kelly

In various spots around Oakland, you may see little gnome paintings at the base of telephone polls. These gnomes have actually been the center of much debate with Pacific Energy and Gas almost disposing of them in 2013 because of their positioning on electrical equipment. Oaklanders rallied to save these little guys, and PG&E decided to let them live. There are now over 2,000 gnomes throughout the city!

Oakland Knows Art

Oakland has a great reputation for its art scene, and artists of all genres have created a number of spots that showcase the artistic spirit of Oakland. On the third Saturday of every month, join Oakland Art Murmur Walking Tours, a free event that takes participants to galleries in the city, complete with curator lectures and chats with the artists when available. Stop by Vessel Gallery in Uptown, renowned for its unique exhibits, ranging from sculpture to paintings. Or visit Creative Growth, a gallery that showcases art from developmentally and physically disabled artists.

Festivals Galore

Art+Soul Festival in Oakland, CA

Photo by Brad Greenlee

Festivals are huge in Oakland! The popular Art+Soul Festival is a two-day event with great food, lots of dancing, and live bands. The Oakland Music Festival is a week-long event that takes place in the fall and features a dynamic lineup of artists that embody the spirit of Oakland’s music scene. For a dose of culture, stop by the Oakland Chinatown Streetfest. This two-day event hosts 200 vendor booths that stretch down several blocks in Oakland. Enjoy Asian cuisine, products, and cultural dancers and entertainment!

Eat at Amazing Restaurants

Fried chicken plate

Photo by Neil Conway

Oakland has an awesome food scene, one that rivals San Francisco. Grab a beer from one of the 25 beers on tap and a cheese plate at The Trappist, a pub in Downtown Oakland. Keep the European vibe going with a visit to Wood Tavern, a brasserie serving delicious food in a cozy environment. Try the pan seared day boat scallops! Or keep it causal with Tacos Mi Rancho, a wildly popular taco stand. Pack it all in at the Eat Real Fest, a two-day food festival that celebrates all things delicious. Admission is free!

The Beer Is Flowing

Beer on tap

Photo by Rick

Craft beer is finally getting the recognition it deserves in Oakland. There’s even an Oakland Ale Trail that gives pointers about breweries in the area. Pacific Coast Brewing is a small craft brewery that has been serving Oaklanders since 1988. Try their Willy the Walrus IPA. Is being a brewmaster on your bucket list? Check it off at Diving Dog, a brew on premises taproom where you can brew your own beer!

Home of Blue Bottle Coffee’s Headquarters

Blue Bottle Coffee headquarters in Oakland, CA

Photo by star5112

If you’re from the Pacific Northwest, then you know Blue Bottle Coffee. The headquarters for this coffee company is right in the heart of Oakland, which is appropriate since the brand was born right here in the city! Famous for their single origin coffee and espresso blends and strict adherence to flavor and freshness, this company has gained not only loyal customers, but major investors as well. Look for the blue bottle logo and choose from freshly dripped coffee, hot chocolate, tea, or espresso. Try the single origin Burundi Bukeye Munyinya Hill, a warm, subtle sweet brew with hints of spice. Take some to go, too, like cold brew in cans or whole-bean coffee.


Did we miss anything on our list? What would you say makes Oakland a great place to live?

Are you moving to Oakland soon? Extra Space Storage has several storage facilities in Oakland that can help with your transition!

All images are licensed under the Creative Commons.

View of Oakland, CA from Berkeley
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