Bay Area Breakdown: Oakland Profile

Dubbed "the Brooklyn of the Bay" by the New York Times, Oakland is San Francisco's younger, scrappier, more affordable cousin.

Located across the bay from San Francisco, just south of Berkeley, Oakland has become a haven for the artists and creatives that have been priced out of other Bay Area cities. The many BART line stops make the rest of the Bay Area easily accessible, even without a car.

But Oakland is no suburb of San Francisco. With a vibrant art community, booming food culture, and deep-set local pride, Oakland is distinct from its neighboring Bay Area cities.

Bursting with Personality

The Port of Oakland adds a dose of gritty charm to the Oakland skyline with its rows of cranes, and the plethora of street art adds pops of color across the city. Oakland also has an incredible array of bars, restaurants, and local shopping options. In classic California style, Oakland is a pretty granola town. VegNews named Oakland "vegan mecca" in 2013 for its endless options for vegan cuisine.

It also has a great climate. Oakland has the same mild weather of San Francisco, with none of the gloom or fog. Locals sport t-shirts that read "The Sunny Side of the Bay," in celebration of their hometown.

Oakland is the heart of the Bay Area's art scene these days. Oakland's Art Walk is the first Friday of every month, and is a beloved staple of Oakland's social calendar. There are also plenty of underground music venues, dance groups, and pop up art spaces that all contribute to Oakland's vibrant local culture.

Jack London Square is a happening part of town by the water. Hit up the massive farmers' market on Sunday morning, or go for an evening stroll along the waterfront. In the evening, check out Yoshi's, an East Bay fixture, which plays world-class jazz all night long.

Old Oakland is also worth checking out. The Victorian buildings in this neighborhood date back to the 1860s giving visitors a taste of Oakland's rich history. Today Old Oakland has a ton of hip dining and shopping options, and plenty of bars if you are looking for a night out.

Downtown Oakland is where the bulk of the action is happening. The bustling neighborhood is home to Oakland's business district, and the majority of the city's nightlife. Make sure to check out Fentons Creamery, a legendary Bay Area ice cream shop, that was the inspiration for the ice cream shop in the movie Up.

If you are looking for some nature, you can't go wrong with Redwood Regional Park. Just outside the city, this magnificent grove of Redwood Trees never fails to inspire wonder.

Shifting Demographics

Historically, Oakland is a major port city with a large number of blue collar jobs. To this day, the port of Oakland handles 99% of all shipments moving through northern California. The city's population exploded during WWII, when Oakland became a powerhouse for the defense industry. It has always been a very ethnically diverse city, with deeply rooted African American and Latino communities. In 2013, Priceonomics ranked Oakland the most diverse major city in the country.

Though Oakland is a refuge for the last of San Francisco's hippie counterculture, Oakland is not immune to the Silicon Valley makeover that has swept the Bay. Gentrification is the talk of the town. As housing prices shoot upwards and Oakland begins to fill with San Francisco transplants and tech professionals, longtime Oakland residents have been pushed out of the city. Since 2000, Oakland's black population has decreased by 25%. Locals decry the sanitization of Oakland's gritty culture as the city begins to attract more and more millennial hipsters.

Cheap, For the Bay Area

Of the three main Bay Area cities (San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley), Oakland is the most affordable.

In San Francisco, the most expensive of the three, the average rent is $3684 per month, with one bedrooms going for $3398 and two bedrooms costing $4555 on average. Berkeley is slightly cheaper, with rent averaging $3046 per month. One bedrooms in Berkeley cost $2649 per month, and two bedrooms average around $3406.

While housing in Oakland is still expensive, it is a relative bargain when compared to SF and Berkeley rental prices. As of September of 2017, the average rent for an apartment in Oakland is $2702 per month. Oakland one bedrooms cost $2390 on average, and two bedrooms average $2987 per month.

Though rents in Oakland have been rising over the past decade, for the moment, they seem stable. In the past year, Oakland rents have actually decreased by 2.15%.

If you love the Bay but can't stomach the crazy high rents of San Francisco and Berkeley, you may want to give Oakland a shot. Check out our Oakland rental listings today to get started.

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