on a personal note:

what can y’all tell me about oakland?

me and the mister are considering moving over yonder.

good, bad? some places there you like?

can you live w/o a car?

raise your hand if you’re in the e. bay!

do pipe in and help a girl out, if you can!

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  1. heather

    I live in Oakland and love it! The East Bay is great, largely because it’s so much less expensive, but it also has its own vibrant, but more relaxed culture. I find it to be more homey and softer than the city. Slightly less urban, slightly more spread out. There are trees here. It’s a little warmer and sunnier. Of course there are parts of Oakland that you want to stay away from, but there are many good parts as well. There are lots of good restaurants here. Good crafting/thrifting resources too, from what I can tell (I do some, but not a lot). And I love Berkeley! FWIW, I don’t think I’d want to live anywhere other than Oakland or Berkeley in the East Bay — everything else feels too suburban and boring.

    You can get by here without a car, provided you live near enough to public transit. I’ve been riding the busses a lot lately and am really liking it. BART is good too, and is often faster than driving to the city. A lot of people get by with bikes + public transit here (plus, biking in the East Bay is a lot less scary than biking in the city). Where do you work? That could make or break it. Working in downtown SF is really easy–just a quick BART ride away.

  2. tricia

    heather: the husband works in the southern part of soma, sort of…and he rides his bike right now to work. takes him like 10 minutes to get there now! we’d prefer getting by w/o a car, so it good to know it’s perhaps possible!

  3. Katie

    I just wrote out a long reply that got eaten. I lived in Oakland for 10 years before moving to Oregon and I LOVED it. I can give you lots of info/advice about Oakland, or answer any questions if you want, but I don’t have time to retype my whole reply right now!

  4. tricia

    sorry katie…not sure why it got eaten! i have lots of questions, but i guess i was sort of looking for an overview? no worries.

  5. Sami

    Just in case you can’t guess by the novela that follows this paragraph, I’m all sorts of fond of my adopted hometown, Alameda (I’m originally from Oakland). And as fond as I am of Alameda, there are other East Bay folks who are just as passionate about their districts / towns – I have friends that love the Lake Merrit area or who think that civilization begins and ends in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. Others wax poetic about the Fruitvale district or Temascal or Fourth Street or Benicia or … You get the drift, yes? I’ve gotta be honest, though: if you want night life and a multitude of wonderful restaurants, stay in the City. If you want cheaper rents, better weather, a looser vibe and slower pace, then the East Bay is the place for you. As others have or will say, there’s a lot to love about living over here.

    We live in Alameda, and we love it. It has a lot of charm, the rents are almost affordable, and the weather is just about perfect (not too hot, not too cold). Our town’s kinda small, but it has one FABULOUS sushi joint and a couple of other decent ones, along with a very amusing German restaurant called Speisekammer (and it’s often sunny enough to sit in their beer garden). We have decent thrift stores and one really nice dress shop (M Zoe – SF prices but ooooooh such beautiful clothes). There’s a bus into the City that runs until midnight during the week (it runs all weekend, too). I take the ferry to SF, myself. It’s more expensive than the bus but well worth the extra bucks (think of the view you get coming into NYC on the Staten Island ferry, then subtract pretty much all of the other passengers: that’s my ride to/from work). Need more convincing? Hanger One / St. George Spirits is on the island, over by the Oakland/Alameda ferry (there’s a good winery right next to the ferry, too). There’s a wonderful place on Park Street called the Marketplace where we buy most of our food (there’s a grocery store, a cafe, a butcher and a fish market and other shops – it’s the kind of place where folks remember you and will stop to have a chat). And so on and so forth …

    There are drawbacks to living on the island, mind you. Traffic is getting pretty bad as more folks discover us. Rents are climbing – not as high as Rockridge, but high enough to hurt. Also, there aren’t the rock-star-good restaurants that you’d find in Rockridge/Elmwood or Temascal or Piedmont Avenue (all districts in Oakland). BART doesn’t come to the island – the closest stops are in downtown Oakland. As a side note, remember that BART stops at midnight, which means if you’re out in SF late and you miss that last train, it’s a VERY expensive cab ride to anywhere in the East Bay. However, AC Transit has all-night service, so you’re not stuck calling a cab. On that note, having a car does makes life a lot easier if you live in the East Bay. There’s a lot of ground to cover and public transportation is spotty and/or unpleasant in some districts. If you choose the right district, however, you won’t have to use your car much for local stuff. For instance, depending on where you live on Alameda, you can bike or walk to either one of the two main shopping districts (Webster Street, which is grittier, and Park Street, which is more upscale). In fact, many people bike or walk in Alameda, due in part to cops who have no sense of humor and will issue tickets to drivers for minor infractions. Other cities don’t have the resources that Alameda does, so the streets can be more challenging to navigate, but for the most part the East Bay is very bike friendly (especially Berkeley). Did I mention the weather? The rents? Oh, I’ll shut up now…

  6. Chee Ann

    I lived in Oakland for two years. (I’m originally from Brooklyn.) I loved it. Not only do I not have a car, but I don’t even know how to drive. It’s very easy to get around if you have a bike, are a bikeable distance to BART or can work out a carpool-type situation. I regularly commuted to San Francisco, Berkeley, Laney College and Merritt College while living on the corner of Alcatraz Avenue and Shattuck Avenue.

    Perks of the East Bay: cheaper rent! The Berkeley Bowl (http://www.berkeleybowl.com/)! Several farmers markets a week (mostly in Berkeley.) Lots of community / sustainable gardening projects going on all over the East Bay, including in the “worst” part of Oakland: West Oakland. (Check out the People’s Grocery: http://www.peoplesgrocery.org/) Even if you don’t end up moving to the East Bay, I highly recommend checking out the Bay-Friendly Garden Tour (http://stopwaste.org/home/index.asp?page=673) at some point because there’s awesome gardens out there (esp. Christopher Shein and Glenn Schneider, if you check out that link). (If you’re into that kind of thing!) There are great restaurants and bakeries in the East Bay, too. Lots of good, less-expensive food like Ethiopian and Cameroonian (Taste of Africa by the Ashby BART station, if it’s still open). There’s also a big flea market in the Ashby BART station parking lot.

    That’s all I can think of right now but there’s more! As a woman who’s small in stature, I can say that I never felt unsafe in the East Bay. I think Oakland has a bad rep for being unsafe but I never felt that way.

  7. patrick

    hi tricia

    we lived in oakland for 5 years, two of them without a car and the rest of them without using our car hardly at all.

    mostly we cycled. the AC transit system is quite handy as well– I didn’t use it much but when I did there was always a bus going where I wanted, they were on time, etc.

    we lived in “temescal.” it was a nice/odd mix of absurd affluence and old oakland. lots of fruit trees. reasonably close to several decent groceries and basic services. I would also consider Elmwood, Piedmont Avenue area (different from Piedmont the City) and parts of South Berkeley. However, where you choose to live in the vast expanse of the East Bay is largely a personal preference.

    our one criteria when moving there was to be close to a BART, and it paid off. we were in between Rockridge and Macarthur. Macarthur is handy because every train goes there so there’s lots of connections.

    one bit of advice: a folding bike is a godsend when living in the East Bay and working in the West Bay. Get a Brompton, you (he) won’t regret it. Goes onto a bus, BART, or in a car trunk in a jiffy. Doesn’t hurt to haul up BART stairs. Stores neatly in your house.

    another bit of advice: AC Transit has a line of cushy Transbay Express buses to take people to and from SF at peak hours. They are very handy and faster and less crowded than BART. They have bike racks on the front or you can take your folding bike on board.

    a third bit of advice: there are two good bike maps, one for Oakland, one for Berkeley. They overlap and you need both, because knowing the good connecting routes/traffic crossings is essential. They both look like the SF map, but shoot me an email if you have trouble finding them.

    the best coffee: Cole Coffee, off of College near Claremont.
    The best baguette resides nearby at La Farine, and they are hot out of the oven at 11am.
    My favorite bike store: Montano Velo on Piedmont Ave.

    Write me privately for top secret information about the best time to shop at Berkeley Bowl. And any questions you might wanna ask.



  8. lily

    i totally agree w/ heather, i grew up in sf, but moved to oakland in 2000, i really do love it there, i can afford to have a small home and a yard for my toddler to run around in. it is more family freindly and we do have a car which i don’t want to give up. i can see how you don’t need one in the city, but try lugging 4 gallons of milk home on a bike or a huge box of diapers : )

    i love the fact that you can go anywhere and not have to worry about parking, pretty much compared to the city.
    i work in the city, either taking the car pool which is so convenient or the ac transit home. i love the weather too! as for thrifting my fav is thrift town now, either in san pablo or hayward, it’s totally fun + i always seem to find someting special.
    oh and we live close to the fruitvale district, lots of single family homes and sort of i’d say a working class neighborhood w/ lots of familys. hope that helps!

  9. jacqui

    i am just about to move FROM the ebay to san francisco. but:

    one solution for the car problem is citycarshare.org. cars everywhere in the east bay, average trip about $6 an hour. good for grocery shopping + laundry days (or whatever). email me and i can send you a link for a 60-day trial membership (with driving credits for both of us).

    i like west berkeley and kind of wish i had lived there (i live near downtown now). i really like the west side bakery cafe in west berkeley. lovely breakfast/brunch. berkeley likes and loves: the bread workshop (good bread, also serve br/lunch/dinner)–on university; fellini (good pasta, pizza, and weekend brunches, incl decent vegan food) is right across the street. brazil cafe on university near berkeley campus serves an AWESOME tritip beef sandwich that must be eaten to be believed. decent coffee at cafe milano (indoor seating) on bancroft at telegraph and caffe strada (bancroft at college, outdoor seating). good bookshops: pegasus (shattuck), moe’s (of course! on telegraph), university press books (bancroft). monterey market in n. berkeley is like the lower-key berkeley bowl. espresso roma is right across the street. lovely outdoor patio. (on hopkins.) in albany, (shattuck up through berkeley) the pub is a really nice bar that’s in a house. smoking room in the back. sell decent range of beers and fresh tobaccos. pie in the sky pizza, downtown berkeley, center and shattuck. cafe durant, durant and telegraph, has good and fairly cheap breakfasts (but bad coffee). amoeba and rasputin are both on telegraph.

    lanesplitter pizza is in oakland and berkeley.
    in oakland: cafe eritrea du afrique at 40th/telegraph serves EXCELLENT eritrean/ethiopean food. ici ice cream on college. lots on college, actually, around ashby and alcatraz, including another espresso roma, la mediterranee restaurant, shen hua restaurant, mrs. dalloway’s bookshop.

    we never had coffee! i fell off the ball.


  10. charlie

    i live in oakland, and i love it here. i’ve lived in the east bay my whole life, and in oakland for about five years. i’ve lived in many different neighborhoods- the piedmont dist. and temescal are my favorites. temescal has a lot of new condos going up, so you could get in on that action. also a lot of the rentals in the grand lake area are quite nice.
    it’s really easy to get around without a car, especially if you are close to a BART station.
    i also used to live in the trestle glen neighborhood, which was idyllic and perfect, but there are hardly any rentals to be found, there. the glen view district is really nice, but not so close to BART.

    the thing to remember about oakland is, no matter where you go, it’s still oakland. i keep the OPD emergency and non-emergency numbers in my cell phone, i’m aware of my surroundings and i know what neighborhoods not to go to. and pretty much, expect that around the corner from every nice neighborhood will be a not-so-nice one. but you’re sure to find a gem.

    feel free to email me if you have more questions, tricia.

  11. patrick

    i forgot to mention city carshare but then Jacqui took care of it. Very handy for when you need it.

    also, best thai food we found in the bay area is on San Pablo just above the Albany border. Ruen Pair. get the sum tam with the preserved blue crab. yow! 2nd best is the thai temple brunch on Sundays, which is great for the experience too.

    there was a very good little chocolate cafe on College called Bittersweet. I wonder if it’s still there. Serious drinking chocolate. plus all your basic chocolate needs. Between Broadway and Rockridge.

    also, you can say on your ebay listings that your location is the e(ast)Bay. I always liked that 🙂

    i am probably going to remember other little tidbits and post them. but keep in mind i haven’t lived there for 2yrs.

  12. Charlise

    I’ve lived in Rockridge for a few years, it is easy to get around since there is a BART station there. I also work in Downtown Oakland. It is sunnier here than in San Francisco, which I enjoy. I go to San Francisco a lot for the opera, but it easy to get there from here.

    I spend a lot of my time on College Ave, there are tons of good restaurants and cute stores and pretty gardens. As far as the East Bay goes I like the Oakland Zoo, the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens, Lawerence Hall of Science, and the Albany Bulb.

  13. Rachael

    I LOVE OAKLAND. Really, truly. I’ve lived here 11 years, in every part of town, and I don’t want to live anywhere else. If you have a specific question on an address, feel free to shoot me an email, and I can tell you about the neighborhood…..

    It’s a magical, secret town. We like to keep it to ourselves….. 🙂