Home > Moving Guides > Moving to City Guides and Tips > California > Things You Should Know Before Moving to Oakland, CA

Things You Should Know Before Moving to Oakland, CA

3.5  3.5/5 based on 4 visitor(s)
views  2,281 Views

With beautiful lake views and a hearty port industry, Oakland draws plenty of people to the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California. If you're thinking of being an addition to this city in Alameda County, take a look at the information below to help guide you through your decision-making process.

Whatever influence has led you to consider moving to Oakland, your final evaluation should be an educated one. Here are some highlights about the city and useful tips for moving:

Oakland Climate

Oakland's climate is characterized by a seasonal Mediterranean climate, and is ranked number one in climate among US cities by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Its temperatures are much like San Francisco and San Jose, with warm dry summers and damp mild winters. The northern part of the city can have cool fog that generally dissipates during the afternoon hours, leaving the rest of the day sunny and warm.

Winter months between December and February generally do not drop lower than mid 40's, with highs of mid 60's. Every other month has a typical range from low 50's to mid 70's.

Oakland residents may occasionally deal with movement from earthquake faults, like the Hayward fault that runs through Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose and neighboring areas.

Oakland Neighborhoods

Oakland is divided into over 50 neighborhoods, which are spread out between the greater divisions of the city that include: downtown Oakland and the greater Central Business District, Lake Merritt, East Oakland, North Oakland, West Oakland and Oakland Hills.

More than half of Oakland is comprised of East Oakland and East Oakland Hills. Lake Merritt is surrounded by downtown Oakland, Children's Fairyland and Laney Community College, and has city neighborhoods that have a more suburban tone to them than that of the urban scene of downtown. Locals enjoy jogging and biking outdoors in these neighborhoods.

For more of an upscale neighborhood, scope out Rockridge, with award-winning schools, boutique shopping and easy access to public transportation.

Registering Your Car

In order to avoid any penalties, you must register your vehicle within 20 days or entry or residency, according to the state of California's DMV website. You will need an application for Title or Registration signed by the owner as they appear on the out-of-state title, the last issued out-of-state title, smog and weight certification (if applicable), any fees or taxes, and the vehicle must be inspected by the DMV.

Upon moving to California, you have 10 days to acquire a California driver's license. You will need to complete application form DL 44, give a thumbprint, have your picture taken, and provide your full name and social security number. You must also pay the application fee, pass a vision exam and pass a traffic laws and signs test.

Oakland Schools

Oakland Unified School District serves the entire city of Oakland, and includes 59 elementary schools, 23 middle schools and 19 high schools. OUSD also offers 4 different adult education schools as well as 9 alternative education programs. The three largest high schools in the district are: Oakland High School, Oakland Technical High School and Skyline High School. Some private high schools in the area include The College Preparatory School, Head-Royce School, Catholic Bishop O'Dowd High School and St. Elizabeth High School.

As far as higher education in the area goes, Oakland has many notable accredited colleges and universities, such as: Laney College, Merritt College, California College of the Arts, Lincoln University and Patten University.

Oakland Employment

As of 2012, the unemployment rate in Oakland was at 8.5 percent, just slightly higher than the national average, but down from it's 10.1 percent average in 2010. The average household income is approximately $49,000 annually. Construction trades are part of the economy in Oakland, and the city offers programs to learn these trades and help towards city planning and development.

Some other leading industries in the city are business and health care services, wholesale retail and trade, transportation, food processing, arts, culture and education. The Port of Oakland moves poultry, animal feed, raw cotton, wood and lumber and many other goods, comprising over 200,000 jobs related to these goods.

Living Costs in the City

The average cost of a home in Oakland is just under $300,000, while the cost of living is over 35 percent higher than the national average. Although the median household income falls just below $50,000, households in more upscale areas bring in closer to $100,000 per year. A one-bedroom apartment can range from $600-$1,700 per month based on the size, neighborhood and amenities.

You utility bills will vary depending on if you rent or own, as some of these costs may be included with the price of your rent; however, homeowners generally pay separate fees for gas, electric, water and garbage. Electric and gas bills can average between $100-$300 per month depending on the size of your home and how much power you use.

Fuel costs tend to be higher in the Golden State, so be sure to factor that into your commuting costs if you own a car.

Oakland Moving Resources

Moving and storage companies are ready and willing to help you with your move to Oakland, whether you're moving from out of state or from another county in California. Make sure you get estimates from multiple moving services before you commit to hiring any (at least three estimates). Check back to our guides for tips on how to choose your moving service wisely with important questions to ask, differentiating between types of estimates, and mistakes to avoid. Visit the following pages at Movers.com to get quotes for the following services:

Oakland Transportation

Almost a quarter of Oakland's population depends on public transportation to commute to work. The city's regional and long distance trains are serviced by Amtrak, with stations in Jack London Square and Oakland Coliseum. Bus services used in Oakland are Alameda, Contra Costa Transit Direct and Bay Area Rapid Transit. Jack London Square also has the Alameda/Oakland Ferry, which goes between Jack London Square to Alameda, San Francisco and Angel Island.

If you don't have a car, you can also get around the city by taxi, or even a bicycle taxi service. Many bicycle lanes also exist in the city, with more in the works, as it has one of the largest bicycle commuter populations in the nation.

Major highways in the city include the MacArthur Freeway (Interstate 580), Interstate 980, Interstate 880, Interstate 80, SR 24 and SR 13.

Culture & Contemporary Life

Oakland's nightlife is alive and buzzing, with many bars and nightclubs that include modern lounges, jazz bars and dance clubs. The Fox Oakland Theatre pulls in a number of different musical performers including rock, blues, jazz, punk and reggae bands.

Outdoor parks are in abundance in Oakland, including Joaquin Miller Park, Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve, Morcom Rose Garden, and Lake Merritt.

For a major city, Oakland is considered one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country, having ethnic groups from various origins including countries like Cuba, Japan, Mexico, Vietnam, China, Korea, and the Philippines, as well as Pacific Islanders and Alaskan natives.

Oakland claims three professional sports teams: Oakland Athletics (MLB - American League West), Oakland Raiders (NFL - AFC West) and the Golden State Warriors (NBA - Pacific Division); the Raiders and the A's share space at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum.

Oakland Relocation Tips

  • Locals say parking around Lake Merritt isn't ideal, and many people rent garages in the area. Keep an eye out for street parking in residential areas if you own a car, but you may not even need to use it since many people use the public transportation system.


  • Lake Merritt boasts great farmer's markets - go there on Saturdays to enjoy fresh produce and some live music.


  • Like the diverse people, there's also diverse food! Open up your taste buds to Mexican, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Ethiopian and other exotic food genres.

Jenna Farmer  Posted by Jenna Farmer on April 3, 2013

Rate this guide Things You Should Know Before Moving to Oakland, CA