Oakland is the New Brooklyn
My KISA is convinced that Oakland is the new Brooklyn. For those that aren’t familiar with the reference, Brooklyn has experienced gentrification in the past decade of people that couldn’t afford Manhattan or the “better” parts of New York City and therefore sprawled out into Brooklyn, pushing many lifelong residents with it, along with much of the low income housing. Oakland doesn’t exactly have the best reputation when it comes to crime rates, but there aren’t a lot of places left to move to, which is why he believes it’s following in Brooklyn’s footsteps.
Since many of you aren’t from the Bay Area, let me give you some background on the 4 areas which one could live:
- San Francisco is super hipster and has all the amenities you’d want in a big city. However, it’s unbelievably pricey and the average person can’t afford to rent, much less buy a house in the city. My friend Sheena told me last week that her saved online search to have 1 bedroom apartments under $2500 has fizzled out in the last few months. And, odds are you’ll probably have a job down in the South Bay which you’ll need to commute to.
- The South Bay, which is everywhere south of San Francisco to San Jose (some people also call it the Silicon Valley) has some of the best school systems in Northern California, therefore making the housing unbelievably high and unaffordable for non-millionaires. (But your kids would be hanging out with Mark Zuckerberg and other big name CEO’s kids.)
- The North Bay (across the Golden Gate Bridge), which is Marin County, is absolutely stunning but has also been absolutely expensive for decades. Imagine having a house set perfectly on a hillside to have beautiful sunsets over the bay while having a skyline view of San Francisco. Yep, that’s what you’re paying for.
- The East Bay has cities without much crime, such as Berkeley, Piedmont, and Walnut Creek. However, as you can probably guess, people flocked to these areas early and it is now overpriced as well. Oakland is also in the East Bay and is literally the only city left with “affordable” house (I put it in quotes because you’d probably still wet your pants if you knew the prices).
In all fairness, Oakland has many of the same perks as San Francisco, including eight BART (subway) stops and is literally just a bay away from San Francisco. (I like to think of Oakland as San Francisco’s naughty half-brother…same genetics and potential, but not quite molded into its potential.) It has some really cool, hip areas with restaurants, bars, and stores – but there are more neighborhoods not like that. It also has a lot of very residential areas that remind me more of Madison than Oakland. And, since we escaped Madison to postpone suburbia those neighborhoods aren’t real appealing to us DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids) yet.
When my KISA initially proposed the idea of buying a house in Oakland I naturally shut him down. I understood the investment potential as Oakland housing was already on the rise, but it wasn’t an area I saw myself living. Or at least from what I knew of the times I visited Oakland to go to an A’s game and to buy our car. Ok, maybe I hadn’t really given it a fair shot. I put my Oakland feelers out at work and I learned a lot of our executive staff lived there, including our VP of Client Marketing and our VP of Sales Operations, my boss’s boss. Then our Inside Sales Manager told me he thought it was a phenomenal idea because it was so up and coming. He warned me I’d hate the commute, though. Great. That was what put me into my panic attack a year ago and made me want to quit my job. But, maybe I could somehow tolerate that this time.
I knew my KISA often let me have my way and I realized it was my turn to let him have his way…or at least hear him out. He told me that if we bought a house in Oakland we could take the honeymoon to Antarctica, have babies sooner, and I could get a convertible. I was sold. (I mean our current car is leased, so I’d for sure be going over the miles driving four days a week until our lease is up…we’d need another car so a convertible made sense.) He knows the way to my heart; it took me all of 15 seconds to start creating a short list of realtors and loan officers to scope out.