17 Reasons Not to Move to Oakland, California (Voted by the locals!)

All of California is a warm and diverse state with many cultures emanating from it. Though California itself is worth your time to visit, I would not suggest living there, especially in certain cities. A city in California called Oakland is one of these places where everything good about California isn’t cut out the way it’s supposed to be.

Oakland, California is one of the cities in California that will always get a bad reputation and stigma towards it. Here we will explore why this is so and overall, why someone should not live or consider living in Oakland, California.

1. Too Populated

First off, we need to address the location where Oakland is located. Oakland, California is roughly located near the western part of central California. It is near San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean, which makes it a great place to have an accessible source of water and entertainment. However, because of this commodity, it brings in a lot of people into the city and nearby cities.

Oakland is currently the 8th largest city in California, and it currently has a population of about 400,000 people. This makes it incredibly hard to find a location where “alone” time can be attained, and it makes it difficult to find a place to live temporarily or long-term, especially if you are looking for something that is affordable. If you’re looking to find a place to live, avoid Oakland, California.

2. Frequent Droughts

If we know anything about Oakland, California, it’s that droughts occur yearly. Since there is a lack of rainfall, snow, and overall precipitation, the water supply must be kept in check. California has been in the middle of a drought since I can remember, so don’t think that you will only have to deal with it for a few months each year, as you will likely have to deal with it year-round.

The lack of water is a significant detriment to the citizen’s well-being since they depend on water to live. Living in Oakland, California means you are accepting routine droughts and are agreeing to procedures that involve managing water supplies heavily.

3. High Taxes

If you like keeping your money and not paying high sales taxes, you don’t want to move to Oakland, California. As of 2017, the sales tax rate in the state of California was about 8.75%Opens in a new tab., and it has been the same since.

However, for Oakland itself, the sales tax is roughly 10.25%. It is safe to say that if you move to Oakland, you will find that your total will be much higher than you expected.

4. Traffic

This next one is something I know all too well while traveling across California from time to time. Regardless of if it’s Oakland or another city, almost all of South California is riddled with traffic whether cars are driving or parked. As mentioned earlier, because of the high population in the city, there are crowded areas that are impossible to navigate effectively around without becoming the next victim of road rage.

Traffic in California is like no other and better off if you didn’t drive at all in Oakland. Even public transportations fall victim to traffic, but at least it isn’t you driving. Even traffic on public sidewalks and streets is common while walking, maybe not as common in larger cities but the same concept applies to driving.

5. Crime Rates

How can we talk about Oakland, California if we did not talk about the overall conditions that California has with its crime rates? According to a friend of mine who lives in a nearby city in California, he said that just in the month of April of 2022 there have been 37 reported homicides, and back in 2021, reached about 133 homicidal cases.

Now, when most people think of the most “dangerous” city in California, most would say Oakland however, it is only second to Emeryville in terms of violent crimes; it is also fifth in property crimesOpens in a new tab.. As an idea, here are these numbers per 100,000 people: rapes are 104, robberies are 609, assaults are 544, burglaries are 566, thefts are 3,655, and car thefts are 1,178. Safe to say that if you choose to live in Oakland, you may likely become a victim in any of these categories.

6. Cost of Living

Aside from housing being high which you will read about in the next section, all things having to do with living are expensive. Groceries, gas, clothes, and any rate you get for any kind of service will be high, but because it’s California it will look like you’re getting a deal. Above we mention the taxes and just imagine that affecting your home life, your office, your dining out experiences, and more. Simply being able to live in Oakland California is too much.

7. Cost of Housing

What can I say about the cost of living, other than it is expensive the close you are to the ocean? California’s cost of living is absurd and will break anyone’s bank, even for a small closet size bedroom, which can go up to $1,500/month (source). In terms of means, Oakland is ranked high above the US means of living.

Here are some numbers that rise above the US means of living: housing is 103.5, the median home cost is $923,400, and utilities is 90.3 (slightly below the US mean of 100). The cost of living is rough and if you cannot afford this cost, it’s better to save your money somewhere else.

8. Homelessness

One major issue is homelessness, and it is common to see that across most communities in California. But, since the pandemic, the homelessness rate has increased and as of 2022, in Oakland, you will find that more than 5,000 people are homeless. To give you some perspective on this, a small town is considered to have 5,000Opens in a new tab. residents or less. So, within one city, they have enough homeless people to make a small town. (SourceOpens in a new tab.)

9. Racoons, Mice, and Rats

Rodents are no joke, and they aren’t fun to deal with. During the year, many people will have to hire an exterminator to go under their house or in their garage to set up traps and get these various rodents out. Mice and rats multiply fast, and when they decide a place is their home, even after relocation they will try to find your house again. So, solving the issue of rodents is not easy, and it can be very dangerous for you and your health.

10. Extreme Heat and Humidity

Returning to the weatherOpens in a new tab. of Oakland and California, California is hot and humid. If you don’t plan on feeling sticky and gross for most of the year, California is not the place. The average temperature for Oakland is about 79-degree Fahrenheit, while most of California reaches to 84-degree Fahrenheit. Overall, it is hot and humid at an uncomfortable rate, even if you are a native California resident.

11. Long Business Commutes

Because businesses in California are usually large, they are not common locally and will require one to travel to reach their place of work. Again, traffic will be horrendous during peak work hours, and planning to arrive on time is key to effective commuting. However, even with an effective plan to make it safely to and from work, one will always find struggles in maintaining these routines for longer periods.

Again, as briefly mentioned the cost of housing, comes with other costs such as gas. According to my roommate, currently, California is averaging around $7.85 of regular gas per gallon. That is an absurd amount, even for California. The long business commutes include a significant loss of money due to the increase in gas prices. All in all, not a fun time to be traveling and navigating anywhere.

12. Parking is Miserable

Again, returning to the traffic and having the city overcrowded, you would be pressed to find a safe parking space that would be optimal. However, there are too many people with cars involved to properly find a parking spot for any location. The challenging part is to decide if having a car is required.

Unfortunately for most people in California, having a personal vehicle will most likely be needed for such commutes. It is impossible to travel anywhere in California without a vehicle of any kind. Seattle, Washington is similar in that it is hard to find parking space, but in California, not even small cities are immune to space limitations.

13. Ghetto Environment

As we have been talking about Oakland and about its crime rates, it’s safe to say that most of Oakland is poverty-stricken and only a few areas (usually on the hills) are not. The poverty rate for Oakland is about 17.63% and the age of living in these neighborhoods is about 36 for males and 37 for females, averaging about 36 years old.

The cost of living returns to give us an idea that having money and a reliable source of income is vital for anyone wanting to stay away from these areas. No reliable source of income will most likely land you in an area you wish you weren’t there. The location is not pretty, unorganized, and riddled with suspicious activities such as crime and drugs.

14. Democratic State

I will not harp on this topic much, but California is predominantly a democratic stateOpens in a new tab.. Back in February 2019, out of the 19 million registered voters, 8 million were Democrats and only 4 million were Republicans. From 1992 and on, California has always voted for Democrats in the presidential and other statewide elections. Democratic parties are the dominant forces over the Republicans and seem like it will continue in that direction for a while.

15. Electric Vehicles Due to Climate

From what my Californian friend mentioned, because of the constant climate change, California may be soon forcing everyone to utilize electric vehicles, even though they are unaffordable and will cause other problems such as not being able to effectively charge without the cost of other resources such as the owner’s property resources.

From this, the business may also be taking other logistic companies for the inclusion and eventual replacement of gas-powered trucks to electric ones. It may be around 2030 when gas-powered vehicles will be harder to obtain or become obsolete and illegal to operate. Shifting from one method of fuel to another is cause for concern and reevaluation if you are currently living in California.

16. Wildfires and Other Natural Disasters

With California being dry, it is no secret that they get their handful of wildfires to tame each year. Oakland is not new to this, and if you want to live here then you need lots of insurance coverage. You will need fire insurance and earthquake insurance. It happens throughout California, and it would be horrible if those happened to you without the protection of insurance.

17. Pollution

The weather in California continues to be a detriment to many of its residents such to the pollution. As people like to call it, “SMOG”. The air is terrible and hard to breathe while the fog reduces our capabilities to see and safely navigate around places. The general weather of Oakland and California is rough and since the heat is common, so are wildfires which can elevate that pollution.

The best way to remove the SMOG is to simply stay indoors, hold your breath, and travel safely if you do require to leave the home. Currently living in Idaho, we get SMOG from time to time from the western states such as Washington, Oregon, and California. If our pollution is terrible in Idaho, imagine how bad it really is at the source of it all. Keeping your lungs safe is the priority of anything else during these occurrences.

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Nathan Aydelotte

Hello! I'm Nathan, the lead editor for Suggested by locals. I grew up in the Boise, Idaho area and have lived here most of my life. I enjoy being close to the mountains where I can go hiking, camping, and mountain biking.

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