Oakland versus San Francisco: Oakland is more than just the #1 turnaround town in the nation, it is the #1 place to live
Oakland was recently named the number one turn around town by realtor.com in the US with a quarterly year-to-year change in list prices up 41.3% and quarterly year-to-year days on market down 53.1%. These are great statistics for anyone looking to sell in Oakland, but what do they mean for buyers? More importantly, what do they mean for buyers from San Francisco who typically move across the bridge for better deals?
Oakland is approximately 10 times the size of San Francisco and has roughly half the population. It is a place of beauty as well as urban blight and it is quickly gentrifying. I am not going to do a piece about how great I think Oakland is—suffice to say it is, though, and improving every day.
I am going to write a piece about why Oakland is an excellent opportunity for all buyers at any price point. It is still the most affordable and convenient option when compared to living in San Francisco proper and why while the statistics like those in realtor.com are catchy, they are hyperbole.
Some facts first:
- San Francisco’s median sales price for all properties is $850,000.00. Up 12.4% year over year.
- Oakland’s median sales price for all properties is $423,000.00. Up 35.5% year over year.
- In San Francisco a four bedroom house will run on average $1,107,000.
- In Oakland a four bedroom house will run $787,000.00, on average. This is roughly two-thirds of what the same number of bedrooms will buy in San Francisco.
While I spent most of my childhood in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood, my family moved to Oakland while I was in high school and I really liked it here.
My mother’s second marriage was a mixed one and Oakland was, and still is, one of the only places in the United States—and possibly the world—where diversity is celebrated and families of all types are not just tolerated but welcomed. It is also one of the few places left in the U.S. with a true middle class.
As a young adult, I moved back to San Francisco because it was a vibrant and amazing community. It was a place where young people could have blue hair and roommates and work in low paying jobs, like I did at first in television and film production, and still have a baseline standard of living that was above desperation. Unfortunately, and largely due to the tech boom, it is not really affordable for most people anymore.
As a fairly successful adult living in San Francisco I got tired. Tired of always looking for parking. I was tired of no, or shared, backyards. For these reasons, and a few more, I moved to Oakland from San Francisco—for the second time. I was working for a national bank, as a real estate agent, selling foreclosed homes in the Bay Area. I saw the great deals in the East Bay and thought I should take advantage of them. It was one of the best decisions of my life.
Ironically it is a shorter trip from downtown Oakland to downtown San Francisco than it is from where I was living in San Francisco, Sunnyside neighborhood, to downtown San Francisco. From my neighborhood in San Francisco it took about 30 minutes walking to get to BART alone, then take it to work. Or if I was driving and looking for parking then walking to my office it was also over 30 minutes—not to mention the cost of a monthly parking space.
Now that I live in Oakland it is much easier to get to downtown San Francisco. If I want to drive it only takes about 15 minutes from where I live. Public transportation to the City is just a stroll down the hill and an express bus that also only takes 15 minutes and saves me the cost and hassle of parking.
So even though Oakland is the #1 turnaround town in the nation right now, it is still a great deal, especially compared to buying in San Francisco. Perhaps even more importantly, I think you’ll find an easier, better lifestyle in the East Bay. And of course you will find less fog and more sun—the sun people think of when they picture California.
*Facts are from Trulia.com.