Transportation. Car owners beware! Traffic and parking will become a great source of stress.Traffic gets really bad around downtown, Lake Merritt, 580, and the Bay Bridge. So when that rush hour highway begins to look like an insane asylum with turn signals, just settle into an apartment near the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). The BART is a heavy rail commuter system, which is just fancy talk for subway. It runs through Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, and the east bay communities. For those without a car, there are Zipcars available throughout the downtown area. You just pay an annual fee and get a card, which you use to unlock your zipcar from the nearest location. This service is much less expensive than owning or renting a car, and it’s great for getting groceries, or going on a beer run after dark, when the subway gets a little sketchier.
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, 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 less 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. 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. 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 to the upscale. Here, you can find both quiet neighborhoods and areas of young singles seizing the day, night, and early morning with the drunken intensity of their age.
Grand Lake. Right by the lake and jam-packed with joggers.
Trestle Glen. Tight-knit and walkable.
Glenview. Absolutely charming.
Oakmore. A 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.
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 cab ride home at night.
Jack London Square. High-rise living with bayside dining, jazz, and a funky weekend Artisan Marketplace.
Lake Merritt. Lots of fun, and many cultures blended together beautifully.
Fruitvale. A community of renaissance people.
West Oakland. A gem in transition: diverse projects, luxury condos, and work/live spaces with delightfully eccentric neighbors.
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.
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