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9 Reasons to Relocate to Oakland

Roxanna Ahlbach


Whether you are already in the Bay Area or looking to relocate from across the country, there are many reasons to consider moving to Oakland. With a reputation for environmental stewardship and political activism, Oakland is a name known around the world. However, there is much more to this city on the bay.

If you are considering relocating, take some time to consider Oakland's less-known charms. With a little exploration, you can find yourself quickly caught up in everything the city has to offer. Need some ideas? Check out the list below to get started on getting to know Oakland better.

1. Jack London Square

Located on the waterfront, Jack London Square is a historic local stop with dining, activities, and regular live events. Featuring food options that range from fine dining to pizza, Jack London Square is a perfect place to grab anything your tastebuds crave, whether that be Thai, Mexican, rainbow-colored ramen, or fresh seafood.

2. Oakland's Chinatown

While many may be familiar with San Francisco's Chinatown, Oakland's district is actually one of the oldest and most prominent in the country. First settled in the mid-1800s, Oakland's Chinatown received fresh growth after the 1906 earthquake devastated San Franciso, with many choosing to move across the bay to start over.

Visitors to Oakland's Chinatown will likely hear Cantonese, Taishanese, Mandarin, and even Vietnamese. One of the district's most attractive attributes is its lack of notoriety outside of the local area. Whereas visitors to San Francisco's Chinatown are likely to see plenty of tourists, Oakland's Chinatown is known for being a "working" community full of shopping and dining experiences catering to locals.

3. Oakland is commuter-friendly

There are many ways to get around in Oakland, whether you prefer to ride, drive or take your bike. The city was recently recognized as a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. Only 35 other communities in the U.S. have received that title, and Oakland has made steady progress from bronze to silver to gold over the past decade.

Beyond the extensive bikeways crisscrossing Oakland, the city also provides multiple public transit options for the ecologically conscientious. The city also hosts several innovative private ventures involving ridesharing and even electric bikes.

4. Oakland driving is less stressful

While Oakland has the dense urban feel of a large city, it lacks the traffic jams typical of a large city. It is easy to drive around Oakland compared even to some of its closest neighbors.

5. Fine and eclectic dining options

Oakland has 11 Michelin-rated restaurants, including the 2-star Commis on Piedmont Avenue, where Thai and Chinese heritage inform fusion cuisine. Commis is characterized by soft music and a relaxed mood but is by no means casual.

Of course, there are plenty of dining options across the city, ranging from top-end to grab-and-go. Whether you are looking for chicken and waffles or deep-fried vegan soul food, you can find it in Oakland. The city's cuisine is as varied as its inhabitants, with Korean, Ethiopian, street tacos, and, of course, fresh seafood in abundance.

6. The arts scene

Oakland Museum California, which locals know as OMCA, provides a wide array of relevant exhibits and a rotating collection of almost 2 million pieces. Touted as a "museum, garden, and gathering place," OMCA has a uniquely Oakland take on art and expression that will keep you coming back.

FM Oakland was born out of the Berkeley Firehouse Collective in 2010 and focuses on showcasing local talent as a way to support artists from the East Bay area. In addition to the gallery, FM Oakland has private studio spaces to help artists grow and inspire one another.

Of course, art is almost everywhere in Oakland, and you do not have to go to a museum to see the handiwork of local artists. Oakland is home to a vibrant community of street artists; you can even take a tour of creatively painted utility boxes.

7. Festivals and live performances

Oakland has a rich and diverse music and entertainment scene. Woodminster Amphitheater is a city-owned venue that has been famous for its summer musicals since former Broadway performers took over the program in the 1960s. It is currently the area's longest-running live theater and presents three Broadway-style musicals each season.

Oakland's Frank Ogawa Plaza has been playing host to Art and Soul Oakland each summer for two decades. Serving as an exciting celebration of local culture and American history, the festival showcases artists who are not afraid to explore the depth of musical and cultural influence.

8. Nature and city intermingle

Right in the center of town, Lake Merritt is the oldest wildlife refuge in the nation, established in 1870. The lake is home to 70 species of native birds and features a well-lit, three-mile trail looping around its shores. Even though it is a wildlife refuge, visitors can still enjoy the lake and even take a gondola ride across.

If that was not enough nature in an urban setting for you, the Dr. Aurelia Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park and Joaquin Miller Park connect to form an expansive natural landscape right in town. With over 2,000 acres combined, the parks provide a great opportunity to step out of urban life and get lost in nature.

9. The weather is better here

The San Francisco Bay is famous for its foggy weather and chill winds. Even in September — the hottest month for San Francisco — the average high is only 72 degrees Fahrenheit. In contrast, Oakland stays consistently 5-to-10 degrees warmer than San Francisco year-round. You are also going to get a lot more sun in Oakland, and if you ever miss the fog, San Francisco is only a short drive away.

Get the inside scoop on Oakland real estate

Oakland is a city that has to be experienced to be understood, and an experienced agent is exactly what you need when moving to Oakland. With the help of a qualified real estate agent as your guide, such as Roxanna Ahlbach, you can shop the Oakland real estate market with the confidence of a local.

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