Moving to Oakland, CA

Picture this; you’re a short drive across the Bay from San Francisco, living your best life in the Bay Area. Movie stars, museums, historical landmarks, the Art Deco Fox and Paramount theaters are just uptown from you. You can have Chinese food in Chinatown tonight and Mexican tomorrow. The views of the city are plagued with magnificent art and inspiration as you walk out of your Victorian style home on your walk to work. Does this sound like a dream to you? Oakland, California may be the perfect place for you! We are going to provide you with all the resources you need to determine if this slice of the Bay Area is the destination of your next home.

Oakland, CA is in Alameda County in the eastern region of the San Francisco Bay and home to the 5th largest port in the U.S. Residents are drawn to this locations for its numerous attractions including the Jack London Square, Tilden Regional Park, and Chinatown. You can experience everything from vivid green rolling hills on the outskirts of Oakland to wineries overlooking the bay, and the Art Deco Paramount Theater on Broadway. The list of things to do in Oakland is endless. You’ll find inspiration everywhere from the shoreline surrounded by city to the highest mountain peak with untouched greenery. 

The food scene is what lures tourists in, but the city itself turns tourists to residents. The city even made “National Geographic Travel’s Best Trips List for 2019”. You can bet there is no shortage of excitement and activities in this area of the bay. Artists of all variations come together here to make the streets vibrant and inspirational. In fact, May is Oakland’s Art Month in which the city promotes events and performances for everyone.

Jack London Square

Oakland is known for being a major port city, but that’s not all this waterfront neighborhood has to offer.  Jack London Square is a tourist hotspot, and for good reason. Whether you chose to board a sailboat with Captain Kirk’s San Francisco Sailing or hop in a kayak with California Canoe and Kayak the water is not off limits here. You can take your pick and explore the wide-open waters with the wind in your hair! If you prefer to enjoy yourself on a more stable platform, you won’t be disappointed. Thai food, Palestinian cuisine, pizza, burgers, sushi, and Ben and Jerry’s will put your palate at war and have you coming back for more. Your options are endless and Sundays offer the added benefit of fresh fruits and veggies at the farmers market. Outdoor enthusiasts will quickly be drawn to the Bay Trail and wildlife scenery it provides.

Lake Merritt

Speaking of wildlife…did you know that Oakland is home to the only saltwater lake in the middle of a city? Lake Merritt resides just southeast of Jack London Square and is the oldest designated wildlife refuge in the U.S. designated in 1870. Here you’ll find the much talked about “Necklace of Lights” where lampposts topped by glowing pearls circle the lake. In 1941, due to the WWII blackout, the lights were removed. The locals saw no reason to continue the blackout following the end of the war and lobbied tirelessly to get them back. They once again illuminate the lake’s shoreline for everyone to enjoy. While the “Necklace of Lights” makes it impossible to miss the city’s silhouette, you may miss the wildlife! Many species of birds call Lake Merritt home including Canada Geese and a variety of diving duck species. Most plant species are non-native to welcome immigrants with plants from their hometowns, which makes for an incredibly scenic route. You might even feel as though you have taken a trip around the world after covering the 3-mile shoreline. Venture too far from the serenity of the lake, however, and you will find yourself back in the midst of a bustling city.

Eating, Shopping, & Entertainment

Exploring the lake within a city, and enjoying the waterfront at Jack London Square is only the tip of the iceberg for things to do in Oakland, CA. For starters, if you decide this is the perfect place to call home for you, we challenge you to set out on a local hunt to locate the hidden stairs and painted gnomes that plague the city. The stairs were built following the 1906 earthquake. When San Francisco’s residents escaped to Oakland the hills posed a problem. Hidden stairs were then built in-between homes and buildings to provide access to transportation. The gnomes, however, carry a much more secretive and light-hearted story. A group of anonymous artists has been painting gnomes on utility poles around the city, reflecting Oakland’s presence of art and art enthusiasts.

On your search for stairs and gnomes you’ll come across the beautifully refurbished Art Deco  Fox Theater (Hint: there is a secret door in Ruby’s Can’t Fail Café if you want to fit in with the locals), in Chinatown near West Oakland. Kid favorite option - Chabot Space and Science Center can be found near the Redwood Regional Park and offers many educational opportunities that kids and adults love. Oakland Chinatown is reflective of the melting pot the city has lent its self to become. Traditional Chinese art forms, cuisine, languages, and cultural events are what make this little town feel like home to local Chinese residents as well as the thousands of other residents who are also of Asian descent. You may not be able to pry your kids away from Chabot Space and Science Center where they will learn about the limitless universe and everything it takes to see the vast unknown first hand.

There is something for everyone here and if you enjoy the artistic nature of a city that never sleeps, read on to learn about some neighborhoods that just might convince you to make the big move.


“The hills” and “the flats”, as locals reference the land, divide the city of Oakland. The “flats” are the areas of flat land striking out from the rolling hills. They are occupied by Downtown and West Oakland whereas “the hills” are home to northern regions of Oakland. If you enjoy city life, the flats are for you, but if you prefer to be out in the suburban family-oriented areas, you’ll want to skip to the hills.

In the Flats, you will find the Central Business District incorporating Downtown, Old Oakland, the Jack London District, and Uptown, all of which are very easily walkable and bike friendly. This part of town is diverse in culture and a dreamland for busybodies who enjoy nights out on the town, apartment-style living, and venues covered in street art. You can’t turn a blind eye to the higher crime rate the Business District comes with, but the unique coffee shops, art galleries, shopping centers, and cuisine sure are great sales points!

The Oakland Hills are home the suburbs, a much quieter and relaxing lifestyle with city access, of course. The Northeast Hills offer housing options in Panoramic Hill, Montclair, Oakmore, Lake Temescal, and more. In contrast, the Lower Hills District is home to Glenview, Crocker Highlands, and Redwoods Heights. Sequoyah Heights, Chabot Park, and Grass Valley can be found in the Southeast Hills.

Other popular neighborhoods include Fruitvale which is the Chinatown of the Hispanic culture with the city’s largest population of Hispanic residents, Old Oakland where the original Downtown was located, and Rockridge, where you will find traditional family style home with trees canopying the streets and chic coffee shops on the corners of town.

Cost of living

Now that you have been introduced to the city of inspiration, it’s time to familiarize yourself with Oakland’s cost of living. As with any city, Oakland comes with various housing options, employment statistics, and its own education system.  As we explored, there are hundreds of neighborhoods amongst “the hills” and “the flats” from skyscraping apartments Downtown to large family style homes in the suburbs. Renting is a great option for you while you save up for your dream home as the median rent in Oakland is $1,189, 8% lower than California. The median home price, however, is 22% higher than the median home price in California at $500,500. The income per capita or average income earned per person is $34,984, 17% higher than the national average. To secure its residents a lifestyle in such a desired location, it certainly must pay more! 

Alas, no city is perfect and Oakland does have its weaker points, the school systems in Oakland currently are experiencing lower graduation rates and test scores than California averages, but don’t let this chase you away. Alameda County is nearby, across the Oakland Inner Harbor and was given a B+ by Area Vibes for their school systems! Their schools have a 90% graduation rate and an 18:1 student-teacher ratio. Both are higher than the California averages.

Time to Move

More often than not, we read about places like Oakland but never take the big leap to move. We hope you’ll consider this inspiring, diverse community. It’s not far from San Francisco and is full of opportunity. People from all cultures and regions of the world have blossomed here and come to call the welcoming city home, and you can too! Let the team at A-1 Self Storage - Oakland make your next move flawless! From moving and packing supplies to step-by-step guidance for new renters, we are ready to assist you. Learn more about our offerings and find the storage unit that’s right for you today!

A-1 Self Storage

(510) 545-4586

301 High Street Oakland, CA 94601

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