Pros and cons of living in Oakland, California

Oakland is right across the Bay of San Francisco but has managed to form its character. As one of the most desirable places to live in Canada, we won’t be surprised if you’re considering moving to Oakland too. So, what’re the pros and cons of living in Oakland?

Its proximity to San Francisco is the first thing that makes Oakland a great place to live. But there are other factors such as its art scene, transport system, architecture, dog friendliness, and education system. Still, Oakland has its negatives, such as cost of living, crime rate, and tax burden.

Regardless of the negatives, a good overview of its pros and cons is necessary to know if it’s a great place to live. Here, we examine what makes the suburban city a good place while also looking at its bad qualities.

Pros of Living in Oakland

Here are the benefits of living In Oakland:

Superb Location

Oakland is located very close to San Francisco, Berkeley and Pleasanton. It takes less than 30 minutes to drive from the city into the heart of San Francisco. This is why many move there while still working in San Francisco, and you can do the same. It’s a laidback and kid-friendly city that allows you to raise a family while working in San Francisco.

Beyond its proximity, the city also has excellent transport links. So, getting from Oakland to any of the major cities around it’s easy.

Vibrant Art Scene

Oakland has a large concentration of artists. Its art scene is rich and with so many galleries in every part of it. As an artist who wants to live in California, Oakland should be one of the cities on your shortlist. Not only does it offer several galleries for exhibition, but you’ll also find several art classes in the city.

Great Transport System

Unlike most major cities in California, you’re unlikely to experience any traffic congestion here. This is because the city has a very efficient transport system. There are regional and long-distance railway services. It also has intercity buses for commuting within the city and the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) that serves the metro area. It’s what makes it perfect as a place to live even if you’re working somewhere else. Beyond this, the city is close to three major airports.

For those who want to travel by bike, the city has over 160 miles of bike paths to navigate your way. There are bike racks all over Oakland, and it’s a city where biking is a huge culture. It has a Walk Score of 74, making it the 9th most walkable city in the US, Bike Score of 65, and Transit Score of 56.

Dog Friendly

Like the neighboring San Francisco, Oakland is also dog friendly. There are several parks in the cities where you can take your dog for walks. All the parks are dog friendly, but you may be required to keep your dog on a leash in some. However, with a total of 15 parks all over the city, you have enough space here.

Beautiful Architecture

The city is a pleasant place to walk in due to its spectacular architecture. No matter where you turn your head, you’ll find some incredible structure. For example, it’s home to the Cathedral of Christ the Light, one of the most beautiful churches in modern times. There are also places like the Fox Theatre, Oakland Rotunda, etc.

Access to Education

The city boasts of access to quality education to a certain extent. More than 100 elementary, middle, charter, and high schools are in the Oakland Unified School District. While most of them are below average, some are well above average. Notable schools here are Hillcrest Elementary, Crocker Highlands Elementary, Chabot Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Oakland School for the Arts, etc. 

When it comes to higher education, the city is close to top colleges and universities. The UC Berkeley, California College of Arts, and Mills College are the closest.

Cons of Living in Oakland

Oakland does have some negatives too, which you should be aware of to live there. They include:

Cost of Living

This city is expensive to live in. While it might be cheaper than San Francisco, it’s still more expensive to live in than California or the national average. The cost of living is 74.4% higher than the national average. 

Another expensive aspect of living in the city is the cost of housing. Whether you’re renting or buying, be ready to pay a lot. The average price of a house in Oakland is $959,760. That is still below the over $1.5 million that it costs to get a house in San Francisco, but it’s over three times the national average. So, this might be a place to buy a home instead of San Francisco. But you’ll still be paying a princely sum. The percentage of renters in the city is 59.3% of residents. 

High Crime Rate

Crime is a serious issue in the city. The total crime rate is 209% higher than the national average, and property crime is 204% higher. With such a high crime rate which surpasses the California average, you have a 1 in 13 chance of being a victim of a crime. In addition, the rate of violent crimes in the city is 235% above the national average.

However, the crime rate isn’t the same across all neighborhoods. Some are much safer than others.

High Tax Burden

By being a California city, the tax burden of Oakland is high. Living here means you’ll be returning a substantial part of your income to the government. This might be an issue if you’re not earning enough. Apart from the high-income tax, sales tax is also high in the city. While most cities in California have a 7.5% sales tax rate, Oakland’s is 9.5%.

In Conclusion

Oakland is a fine city with great weather, accessibility to bigger cities, and lots more. But it has its challenges, such as the high cost of living and crime rate. These are issues that you have to consider if you’re planning to move to the city. However, it might still be an excellent option for you despite these issues, especially if you work in San Francisco.