Thoughts about West Oakland?

Hello, my partner and I are wanting to buy a house in Oakland, but it appears that the only area we can afford is either West Oakland or East Oakland. We prefer West Oakland as it is closer to the more interesting neighborhoods of Oakland, but just wanted to hear your thoughts of the area especially any parents who already live there. We are expecting and due in February. The last posts on this topic were several years ago and from what I understand the neighborhood has changed quite a bit.

I have lived in urban centers before and am used to some level of crime but personally have little experience in West Oakland besides eating at some of the restaurants there in the daytime. Thanks!!!

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RE: Thoughts about West Oakland? ()

I live in south Berkeley and worked the Census this year in north Oakland a few blocks from my home. Around Alcatraz, 64th to 66th area. Amazing, north Oakland reminded me of west Berkeley in the sixties. Some run down homes, others spiffed up with landscaping and new additions. Lots of young families, friendly people, Black Lives Matter signs in the ecofriendly front yards.  Then a month later I worked the polls in east Oakland. Lots of bars on the windows, pit bull dogs, and chain link fences. Nice people! But fear of crime was apparent.

RE: Thoughts about West Oakland? ()

We bought a house in West Oakland a little over a year ago (moving from Lake Merritt). Our realtor's euphemism was that ours is a very "transitional" neighborhood...

On the good side:

  • we could afford an amazing beautiful Victorian house with a big yard; just a much nicer place than we could have afforded anywhere else in the bay
  • it doesn't feel isolated, the way the hills do; there's plenty of pedestrian activity and an ever-improving set of local businesses that are easy to get to
  • the neighborhood doesn't feel actively unsafe, and we can walk around without worrying, people go jogging etc

On the bad side:

  • there's still a lot of urban decay, a weird mix of nice family homes shoulder-to-shoulder with derelict houses, a constant fight against garbage in the streets, and in general city services will be much less responsive about those kinds of issues than they would be in, say, Rockridge
  • a lot of problems with local addicts/mentally ill especially in the vicinity of the neighborhood liquor stores; there's a reason everyone's yards here have iron fences and gates, and we've had two instances where we needed to call the police for attempted break-ins, though nothing successful yet (got an alarm system after the first one too)
  • the local parks are usually completely abandoned or have people camping on the playgrounds; we generally don't take our kid there

Even during the pandemic, for better or for worse it's felt like the neighborhood has continued its inexorable gentrification march, a bunch of shiny new apartment buildings going up too (like a lot of places in Oakland). But it will still be many years before anywhere in West Oakland feels even as bougie as Temescal or Adams Point.

Feel free to get in touch if you have other questions!

RE: Thoughts about West Oakland? ()

My hubby and I also looked there and decided against it after doing some research. There are some very serious air quality concerns in west Oakland and health studies that have been done. I have also heard that it is a complete food dessert with no grocery stores. Hopefully someone who lives there can chime in with their experience. Good luck!

RE: Thoughts about West Oakland? ()

I have limited experience in West Oakland, but we recently were in a similar place to make this choice too. We went with East Oakland (a house kind of between Maxwell Park, Fairfax and Fruitvale; we mostly look at Maxwell Park and Fruitvale). We had lived for seven years in a higher crime, high poverty neighborhood in Washington, DC and while were willing to do that again we looked at the choice differently now that we have kids, the oldest of which is in public schools now. We've lived that last two years in Jingletown. For us, living near Spanish speakers and Spanish immersion schools for our three young kids was a big draw to the part of town we ended up in. But besides that to us there seemed to be more amenities to the East. We had also had a friend who had lived in West Oakland for a bit and couldn't deal with the amount of crime and a shooting on her block. I don't think that she was someone who was easily scared away but it was too much for her. I think wherever you buy, get to know the area as much as possible first. Go there at all times a day. Think about where you will eat, shop, go play with your kid, send them to school, etc.

RE: Thoughts about West Oakland? ()

We purchased in West Oakland 6 years ago, pre-kids, and love it; we expect to stay here until our family grows out of our loft space. The neighborhood is kinda block-by-block, I think, as far as walkability/comfort/beauty (is in the eye of the beholder?). For kids, the City Slickers Farm Park is awesome, as is the library, and having Community Foods nearby has been a game-changer; very convenient to have Target nearby, too, especially with a newborn. There's a lot of fireworks especially in the summer, which some folks mistake for gunfire. We do leave the house mostly by car, though, because there's not much around that is commercial. We are sending our child to a non-neighborhood public OUSD elementary school that we got into by lottery -- that was a bit stressful, but Prescott, which is in a different zone than where we live, is awesome! Congratulations on bebé!

RE: Thoughts about West Oakland? ()

I live in West Oakland (16th/Mandela) with my husband and 20 month old son. We've been here about 6 years and have had a very good experience. The neighborhood can be loud (especially fireworks) but it's generally safe and family-friendly. A homeless encampment moved nearby which I don't love and the city isn't addressing any of them during COVID. As far as getting around, West Oakland can't be beat for its proximity to the rest of the East Bay and San Francisco. Feel free to reach out if you'd like to discuss it further! 

RE: Thoughts about West Oakland? ()

My husband and I looked in west oakland before kids 11 years ago. The home prices were attractive and it's close to BART but we are glad we didn't buy a home there, we ended up in North Oakland instead. Of course prices in North Oakland have skyrocketed in the 10 years since we've been here. The West Oakland area have been in "transition" for as long as I remembered, it hasn't gotten much better except for the shining new developments. If anything, there are more homeless encampments now than there were a decade ago. I would suggest driving around during different times of the day and night, go on crimemapping dot com to get crime stats. For the same budget, you can get a house in a more family friendly neighborhood in Richmond.