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FAQs about Living in Downtown Oakland

downtown Oakland from a distance - tall buildings surrounded by green and lake Merritt

Where is downtown Oakland?
Downtown Oakland is in the heart of the city, extending from Grand Avenue at its northern boundary south to Jack London Square, and with I-980 as its western border and Lake Merritt on the east. It is just across the Oakland Estuary from Alameda, and less than a 30-minute drive to San Francisco.

Is downtown Oakland a good place to live?
Residents of downtown Oakland love to sing the praises of their city—and it’s easy to understand why! People love the area’s diverse mix of people, eclectic array of shops, and destination-worthy restaurants. But more than anything, they love the energetic vibe. Unlike the downtowns of many other cities, which tend to empty out at the end of the work day, Oakland’s downtown feels vibrant and full of life at all hours of the day.

How far is Oakland from…

  • San Francisco - 13 miles
  • Berkeley - 5.5 miles
  • Palo Alto - 36 miles
  • Mountain View - 45 miles
  • San Jose - 47 miles

What is the weather like in Oakland?
Oakland has an average of 260 sunny days every year, with warm, dry summers and cool, damp winters. The temperature ranges from the low 40s in the cooler months to the mid to upper 70s in the summer.

What is there to do in downtown Oakland?
With everything from recreation to museums to fantastic restaurants, Oakland has something for everyone. Jack London Square is a great place to get your bearings when exploring the area. Perched on the waterfront, with restaurants, shops, entertainment venues, and recreation options, the square draws millions of locals and visitors every year. Don’t miss Jack London Cabin, a replica of the famous writer’s Oakland-area home, and his favorite haunt, Heinhold’s First and Last Chance Saloon, which is still in operation today.

From the square, head away from the water into the heart of downtown to explore the wide array of shops, including local favorite Oaklandish, a clothing company that donates a portion of its proceeds to community projects. On the first Friday of each month, join the crowds at First Fridays to celebrate Oakland’s community and culture.

Craving nature? You’ll love Lake Merritt, where you spend an afternoon exploring the gardens, and Preservation Park, where you’ll have the added bonus of getting a glimpse of the city’s history, thanks to the restored Victorians.

What is the restaurant scene in downtown Oakland like?
The dining scene in downtown Oakland is as eclectic as the population, with everything from Italian and Japanese to tacos and vegan. This list includes the hot spots in the north part of downtown (aka Uptown), but don’t miss the array of options in Jack London Square, as well.

How big is Oakland?
Oakland covers a little more than 55 square miles of land and has a population of around 430,000.

Is Oakland affordable?
Like most major cities in California, Oakland has a high cost of living compared to the rest of the country. However, the cost of living in Oakland is about 10.5% lower than in San Francisco, which can be a draw for people deciding between the two cities.

Is living in Oakland better than living in San Francisco?
An impossible question! Both cities have incredible things to offer, so where to live is, of course, a matter of personal preference. Here’s where the cities land on some key categories:

  • Cost of Living:
    This being California, both Oakland and San Francisco have costs of living that are higher than the national average. Oakland’s cost of living is about 10.5% less than San Francisco’s.

  • Population density:
    San Francisco has about 875,000 people packed into 50 square miles, whereas Oakland has around 430,000 people and a little more than 55 square miles of land. In other words, San Francisco is more densely populated than Oakland, so depending on your preference, one may call to you more than the other.

  • Food and Drink:
    Let’s be honest: San Francisco is widely known to be one of the best food cities—not just in the country but in the world. That’s tough to compete with! However, Oakland offers its own unique dining scene, with a wide range of cuisines ranging from casual food trucks to higher-end establishments—with a healthy dose of breweries and wine bars to round things out. Are you celebrating the accomplishment of your life? You might want to book a table at one of San Francisco’s famed spots. Planning a get together with a group of friends? Oakland is ready to welcome you with open arms.

  • Outdoor Spaces:
    This category falls into the apple-to-oranges zone. Does San Francisco have more parks? Yes. Bigger parks? Definitely. But are Oakland’s parks beautiful? Absolutely. Integrated into the city? Absolutely. In other words, you can’t lose. Check out some of San Francisco’s top parks here, and Oakland’s green spaces here.