Safety. Generally, the higher the elevation, the safer you’ll be. The flatlands of Oakland see the most violent crime in the area. Then, the lower hills get a little safer. Then you reach the hills and it’s all sunshine and lollie pops. Of course, the rent skyrockets when you’re apartment hunting in sunshine and lollie pop land. Read Guide >
Slumlords. Many Oakland apartments have horrible, ridiculously sketchy reviews on sites like city-data and yelp. Complaints such as rudeness, laziness, and unprofessionalism give way to stronger accusations of sexism, racism, loss of privacy and money, as well as straight up creepiness. So, go into your apartment search with the skepticism you would use with a used car salesman. Before the meeting, check out your landlord on landorslum.com, a landlord rating system. Or, just simply google the apartments and see what comes up. When viewing the apartment, make sure you actually see the one you will be living in. Often times, a crummy landlord will show the one nice unit in the whole building and claim, “It looks just like this one”. Sure it does. When you see the lease, keep an eye out for completely ridiculous things in the fine print, such as not being able to have guests, or giving the landlord the right to come into the apartment whenever he feels like it. Also, make sure all the promises about maintenance, safety, rent prices, and deposits are in the lease. That way you will have legal recourse if your slumlord never gets around to fixing your toilet, trash chute, or that window in the lobby that has become a doggy door for junkies and thieves.
“Creative Types”. Do phrases like “creative types” make you cringe? Do you define yourself as an interactive artistic revolutionary, or maybe just a humble dharma bum? Find salvation in creative collaborations with other artists, musicians, street performers, eccentric techies, and the like. Search craigslist and the classifieds for shared live/work warehouses. Rent is much cheaper when split between a group of like-minded people, and the environment will be like an incubator of creative inspirations.
The Hills $$$$$
Welcome to sunshine and lollie pop land. Here, the neighborhoods are quiet and family-oriented, the schools are great, and the streets are safe to park on. Places that attract a bad element, such as rundown bars and liquor stores, are all far, far away… which is how the residents here like it.
Montclaire. Safe, scenic, and an easy commute. If you can afford it, you will love it!
Piedmont. Slightly more affordable, and experiencing a little renaissance.
Rockridge. Upscale, with quirky shops, a burgeoning art scene, and just a few blocks to BART.
The Lower Hills $$$
The lower hills are a great middle ground. Here you’ll find the bridge between ghetto and upscale. Here, you can find both family-oriented neighborhoods and areas of young singles seizing the day, night, and early morning with the drunken intensity of their age. As far as crime goes, this area is prone to burglaries, but if you keep everything locked up then you won’t really have to worry about it.
Grand Lake. Right by the lake and jam-packed with joggers.
Trestle Glen. Tight-knit, safe, and walkable.
Glenview. Absolutely charming.
Oakmore. A safe and quiet haven for the upper middle class.
Diamond District. Everything you need within walking distance: groceries, bank, park, and bus.
Lincoln Highlands. Nice and family-oriented.
Adams Point. Seriously affordable for the hills, seriously close to Lake Merritt and downtown, and seriously interesting things going on all the time. Seriously.
Redwood Heights. Hilltop views, upscale diversity, and family-oriented neighbors… all bordered by Highway 13, which is a straight shot to Berkeley.
The Flatlands $ - $$$$
Unfortunately, the flatlands are notorious for gang violence, robberies, carjacking, junkies and prostitute peddling. But, if you’re a chronic creative in need of like-minded neighbors, then it is worth your time to search through this seemingly seedy area. Clusters of creative communities neighbor some of the most dangerous areas. A few blocks apart can be a whole world apart in the flatlands. There are also plenty of high rises and lofts with great safety features, such as secure parking, private courtyards, and strict security.
Uptown. Great nightlife scene and home to Oaksterdam University.
Old Oakland. A quirky neighborhood, an awesome farmers market, and walking distance entertainment.
Chinatown. Exactly how it sounds, plus walking distance to downtown… just spring for a safe cab ride home at night.
Jack London Square. High-rise living with bayside dining, jazz, and a funky weekend Artisan Marketplace.
Lake Merritt. Fairly safe, lots of fun, and many cultures blended together beautifully.
Fruitvale. A community of renaissance people living in the midst of East Side turf wars.
West Oakland. A gem in transition: rundown projects, luxury condos, and work/live spaces with delightfully eccentric neighbors. (By the way, don’t live here if you’re bothered by the smell of pot and cigarettes mixed with spontaneous bursts of laughter).
Enjoy the East Bay Life
Many people move to San Francisco without ever venturing into the wonderfully local vibe of Oakland. But doesn’t that just make your new home that much better? Everything is a little more chill on the east bay, much more affordable, and completely lacking in hoards of obnoxious tourists. This, I think you will enjoy.