Best Neighborhoods in Oakland
November 12, 2020
Oakland has a unique history of its own, and its status as a sister city to San Francisco makes it an ideal place to live. When researching where to live in Oakland you probably have a lot of questions. Luckily, we have your answers!
Why Live in Oakland?
Living in Oakland California has a lot of advantages. These includes a vibrant startup scene, welcoming weather, an array of shopping, and more. For people who are engaged in entrepreneurial enterprises yet want relaxed, green, and comfortable spaces, living in downtown Oakland is an ideal way to create a living experience that’s unique yet budget-friendly.
Here are some of the big reasons why the quality of life is so great in Oakland:
Oakland is part of the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) system that also serves San Francisco and Berkeley. This connects Oakland to the rest of the Bay Area and makes it easy to commute to work and shopping. In addition, AC transit serves all of Oakland as it’s regional bus service. An extensive system of bus routes and ferries provide alternatives to the dreaded tedium of the infamous traffic found in cities like Los Angeles. These buses run all night up and down local route 800. Finally, Amtrak has service regularly out of Jack London Square, located in downtown Oakland. These options make it easy to get around local Oakland and the wider Bay Area.
Oakland schools have a strong dedication to excellence, with the schools located in the Montclair neighborhood among the best in the nation. In fact, many new homeowners move here from Berkeley and San Francisco due to the spectacular school districts.
While Montclair has the best Oakland schools, all of the neighborhoods mentioned in our Top 10 Oakland Neighborhoods list have excellent educational options as well. Moreover, several colleges and universities are also located in Oakland, such as Mills College, Laney College, and Lincoln University.
There are several large natural spaces in Oakland. With easy access via public transit, you can enjoy some amazing examples of natural beauty and destress in gorgeous surroundings. These include:
Redwood Regional Park
This inviting space is located in the hills east of Oakland. It is accessible via BART and is home to several second and third growth Redwood trees. One first growth tree remains--a 93-foot-tall tree that grows out of a rock face near Merritt College.
The park has spaces for hikes and nature walks as well as large green spaces for relaxing. The park is also home to the Chabot Space and Science Center, which hosts a wide array of science and astronomy programs in conjunction with the City of Oakland and the Oakland Unified School District.
This large tidal lagoon is located near Downtown Oakland and Redwood Regional Park. It includes jogging paths, canoes, and rowboats. In addition, Lake Merritt has large grassy shores that are perfect for relaxing. This area is also a wild bird sanctuary, with several areas set up for wild bird nesting.
Oakland has terrific shopping. In fact, even fashionistas from San Francisco find that Oakland is the place to go for exclusive vintage shops and great consignment shopping. Moreover, areas like Rockridge and Temescal Alley are shopping paradises.
Oakland has superior levels for air cleanliness and quality due to its position in the East Bay. The temperatures are in the 60s and 70s year-round, with predictable sunny weather the norm.
A Vibrant Startup Scene
Entrepreneurs and startups are flocking to Oakland due to the low cost of rent as compared to San Francisco. As a result, startups are finding a home in Oakland. While many companies are simply trying to find a cheaper space, the startup community here wants to avoid the troubles that have plagued the tech industry in San Francisco. Demands that “tech be done right” with community values in mind are at the forefront of the startup scene in Oakland. With that in mind, startups such as Broadly, Snapstrat, and Sparkart call Oakland home.
What are the Factors for Rating the Best Neighborhoods in Oakland?
We’ve chosen jobs, affordability, safety, and amenities as the factors for rating the best places to live in Oakland. We’ll be listing 10 neighborhoods that have various combinations of these factors that make them wonderful places to live. We’ll also be using data from Homesnacks.com, which works on a scale of one to ten (with ten being the best).
While each neighborhood will have its own unique vibe and charm, these brief overviews can serve as inspiration for you as you research living in Oakland. This Oakland neighborhood guide isn’t numbered in any particular order. Your needs and lifestyle will vary, so we leave it to you to judge which is the best neighborhood for you. However, we feel these are some of the best Oakland neighborhoods to live in.
The 10 Best Neighborhoods in Oakland
Here is our list of the 10 best Oakland CA neighborhoods. All of these neighborhoods are ranked as some of the top-rated safe neighborhoods in Oakland CA. They all have excellent schools and amenities as well. As premier neighborhoods, affordability of living is always an issue, but these neighborhoods are nearly universal regarding their local job markets.
Jobs 9, Affordability 3, Safety 8, Amenities 8.5
Fairview Park is renowned for its wide-open green spaces. It also has a high level of job security as well as safety for its residents.
Jobs 9, Affordability 4, Safety 8, Amenities 5
Located on the border of Oakland and Berkeley, homes here lie along the scenic corridor of Panoramic Way. The Panoramic Walking Path contains several built-in steps that lead up and down the side of the adjacent hills of Orchard Lane. The area is also a noted redwood preserve.
Jobs 9, Affordability 4, Safety 8, Amenities 5
This neighborhood is part of the so-called “Lower Hills District” in Oakland. The city of Piedmont is on the northern border, Grand Lake/Lakeshore to the west, Trestle Glen to the south, and Glenview to the east. The Olmsted brothers, who are sons of famous architect Frederick Law Olmstead (noted for his Central Park design), helped residents to create the Lakeshore Homeowners Association, one of the oldest homeowner associations west of the Mississippi River. This was done, in part, to protect the local sycamore trees and the vibrant natural beauty of the area.
Jobs 9, Affordability 3, Safety 8, Amenities 8
This area is east of Telegraph Avenue and south of the Berkeley city limits. Rockridge, as a whole, was listed by Money magazine as one of the best places to live in 2002. The town is known for its deeply committed residents who are involved in various civic organizations, and its excellent schools.
Jobs 9.5, Affordability 4, Safety 8, Amenities 8.5
Trestle Glen is named after a railroad trestle that was built in 1893 and removed in 1906. A local myth is that Mark Twain road on the local streetcar when it first started operation. However, Twain lived in Europe at the time.
Jobs 9.5, Affordability 4, Safety 8, Amenities 6
While considered by many to be part of the larger Montclair district, Piedmont Pines has its own distinct character. It is a quiet neighborhood that does not have a business district and is noted for its affluence and charm.
Jobs 9.5, Affordability 4, Safety 8, Amenities 8
This heavily forested neighborhood has, at its center, a shopping district known as Montclair Village. This is also a well to do neighborhood with a wealth of pre-war architecture. The area is noted for its highly rated schools, such as Montclair Elementary, Thorn Hill Elementary, Joaquin Miller Elementary, and Montera Middle School. David Brubeck, noted jazz composer, also calls Montclair home.
Jobs 10, Affordability 4, Safety 8, Amenities 5
Shepherd Canyon cuts a line between the Montclair and Piedmont Pines neighborhoods in Oakland. As a result, it shares schools with the two districts. Due to its central location, it is considered an ideal location for jobs.
Jobs 10, Affordability 4, Safety 8, Amenities 6
Also called “Merriewood” in some older sources, this is another crossover neighborhood and is a section of larger Montclair. In 1925, ads in the Oakland Tribune stated that no other tract of land in Oakland could offer “…a combination of magnificent views and comfortable homes.” Today, it’s a green and tranquil spot that is an excellent place to live.
Jobs 9.5, Affordability 3, Safety 8, Amenities 9
Piedmont is a small city entirely surrounded by the greater city of Oakland. This small residential enclave is cozy and comfortable, offering many small parks, coffee shops and restaurants.
If you’re looking for Oakland apartments or other Oakland home options, reach out to us regarding your new place to live.