Cost of Living in Oakland, CA
Cost of Living in Oakland, CA

Cost of Living in Oakland, CA

Living expenses vary widely from one location to the other. That is, the cost of living in any area can be used to measure the cost difference of living in another area. Hence, if you are planning to move to Oakland, CA, you need to know the cost of living in the region before making your final decision. The estimate can be affected by several factors such as your career, average income, and the real estate market of that area.

Oakland is the largest city in the East Bay and the third largest in the Bay Area.  It is the 45th most populated city in the United States and the 8th most populated city in California, with a population of 440,646 as of 2020. This city is ranked 7th out of 154 cities across the U.S in terms of cost of living and is one of the most important industrial cities in California. For example, the Port of Oakland is the 5th busiest maritime port in the whole nation.

The cost of living in Oakland is a bit higher than in many places in the United States. It is 74% higher than the national average and 12% higher than the California average. Also, house rent in this region is 216% higher than the national average, and the utility bills are 15% higher than the national average.

Inaccurate Notions

Taking these into consideration, it is advisable that you check out the neighborhood profiles and learn about the community before you relocate there. To make life easier, you should work with a reputable realtor in Oakland, CA that has an in-depth understanding of the real estate business in the area. You can never go wrong when you seek help from a trained and experienced professional.

In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the things many people don’t know about Oakland, CA, and the cost of living in this area. Read on to learn more.

Inaccurate Notions

There are certain preconceived notions about the cost of living in Oakland, CA, that we have all registered into our minds. Although some of these things are true, many aren’t. For instance, the cost of living in this region has been told to be extremely high. This is not always true as it can vary so much depending on the neighborhood. It costs more to live in Piedmont Avenue than others, such as Trestle Glen.

In Oakland, the winters are short, cold, wet, and partly cloudy while the summers are long, arid, and mostly clear. The temperature in this city typically varies from 6.67°C to 23.89°C and is rarely above 29.4°C or below 2.78°C.

On average, this city has 261 sunny days in a year – a big advantage for many people. The summer, with its warm and dry climate, is attractive and rents are reasonable compared to other cities in the United States. However, those sunny, hot days could also result in higher utility bills to keep the air conditioners working. Although the very mild winters, on the other hand, could mean low utility bills. It could not always be as you think.

If you are asking these questions: “What is the cost of living in Oakland?” or  “How much should I earn to maintain my current living condition, at the least?” The answer is…it depends. The income you need to live in this city depends on a few factors, such as the environment you stay in and your family status. You can use average expenses on necessities such as rent, utilities, food, healthcare, transportation, and other basic goods and services to estimate the cost of living in the area.

Variations in Cost of Living Categories

Variations in Cost of Living Categories

Based on recent studies, the overall cost of living index of Oakland, CA is 174.4. This is why it is regarded as one of the most expensive cities in the country. Yet, when you have a look at the cost of living categories in this area, you will be surprised to see that the uniformity isn’t really there.  Let’s use the categories below as a case study.

Food costs in Oakland are 11.3% higher than the national average. A loaf of bread costs $3.47, and a gallon of milk costs $4.49. You can get a dozen large eggs for $4.04, and you can use $5 to buy a pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. If you buy your food in bulk and take caution of how often you eat in restaurants, the highest you can spend on a healthy diet per month is around $600 or less.

The summers are usually very hot in Oakland, and the winter is cold and accompanied by mild falls. They all affect the utility bills in one way or the other. That is, utility bills vary significantly according to the season. However, you can expect around $230 per month living in a 1,000-square foot apartment.

Transportation costs in Oakland, CA are not as high as in other cities. Transport fares for local adults are $2.10 for one ride or $5 for a daily pass. Make sure that you check the AC Transit site for fare changes. Seniors, the disabled, and older children receive discounted fares, and it is free for young children.

Generally, the largest percentage of your monthly expenses is always on housing. The average monthly rent in Oakland for a 2-bedroom apartment is around $2,800, which is 134% more than the average rent across the United States. Keep in mind that this estimate has taken both metro and suburban areas into consideration. Given this, the costs may vary depending on which neighborhood you decide to live in.

If you prefer to buy a house, the median home price in Oakland, CA is around $925,000, and the median price per square foot is $670. The cost of housing in Oakland is 228% higher than the national average.

Let’s have a look at some of the cost-of-living percentages in Oakland . . .

  • The overall cost of living is 174.4%, 25% higher than the California average.
  • Sales tax is 4.25% higher than the California average.
  • State income tax is 9.3% and 2% higher than the national average.
Oakland Suburbs and Neighborhoods You Should Try Out

Oakland Suburbs and Neighborhoods You Should Try Out

In general, Oakland is a city with a high cost of living. However, there are some suburbs and neighborhoods in this location with a low cost of living. Pacheco is a suburb in Contra Costa County with a population of 4,361. Living in this area gives residents a dense suburban feel. This neighborhood is to show that there is a high possibility for lower living expenses in the city. Trestle Glen in Alameda Couty is not representative of all of Oakland. In fact, it has numerous neighborhoods that suit people who want to avoid the high cost of living.

For singles who want to live in a lively neighborhood just minutes away from bars and restaurants, with convenient access to economic opportunities and will allow them to have an active lifestyle, the following neighborhoods are considered the best places:

  • Downtown Oakland
  • Grand Lake
  • Piedmont Avenue
  • Temescal
  • Rockridge

Adult individuals with children would prioritize the safety of their families and the quality of schools in their choice of places to stay in Oakland. Below are the best neighborhoods for families:

  • Fairview Park
  • Bushrod
  • Lakeshore
  • Shafter
  • Lakeside
  • Montclair

Retirees will definitely be looking for neighborhoods with relatively low cost of living. They would also put the proximity of the neighborhood to gaming and shopping centers into account. Based on this, the best neighborhoods for retirees are:

  • Adams Point
  • Panoramic Hill
  • Lake Merritt
  • Pacheco
  • Piedmont Avenue
Cost of Living in Oakland, CA Infographic


The Cost of Living in Oakland, California, is the estimated cost of the basic necessities required for the survival of an individual in the city. Like other places in the world, the biggest expense of living in this city is rent, followed by food. Rent takes up more than 40% of income, which is a shockingly high percentage, and this shows how expensive rent is in this region. Since you are spending that much on rent, you should get the value of money.

Even if it is your first time in Oakland, you should ensure that you hire the services of a licensed and experienced real estate professional that is already familiar with the area. By doing this, you will get an accurate estimate of the property and close the deal without any issue.

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