1. The Rent
Umm… yeah… I’ve seen all your tiny apartments in SF that you pay double what I pay for my huge place. You just can’t argue this one. It’s cheaper to live in Oakland.
2. The Food
OK… I know I’m going to get a lot of shit for this one, but I’m going to argue this anyway. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some good food in SF, but we still win here. When it comes to cheap eats, Oakland easily wins – I eat lunch for $6 or less almost every day in downtown, and the food’s incredible… mmm… vietnamese sandwiches, 8 pieces of sushi for $2.50, the lunch line at Golden Lotus…
And when it comes to the nicer restaurants, SF may have some more well-known places, but that’s what’s such a pain. I’m not down to wait an hour for a table – at most of the nice spots in the East Bay, you can just walk in and get a table in under 15 minutes. Oh yeah, I almost forgot the most annoying part about nice places in San Francisco – they are so much more pretentious. In the East Bay, you can walk into any fine dining establishment in jeans and a shirt, but in SF, you’ll at least get stared down if you do this, and you’ll probably get crappy service. And Chez Panisse is on my side of the bay – without Alice Waters, Bay Area eating would not be nearly so sublime…
4. Driving & Parking
If you know the streets out here, you’ll never get stuck in traffic, and I can’t remember ever spending a HALF HOUR looking for parking in the East Bay, but I can remember several times doing this in the West Bay. And once you do find a parking spot in SF, you better check five times because there’s street sweeping 4 nights a week, your wheels better be turned all the way towards a curb, and don’t even think about parking a half inch into a driveway, or you’re going to get a parking ticket (and they’re not cheap).
Also, the street addresses in San Francisco never make sense. In Oakland, 1226 Webster St. means Webster St at 12th St, or if the address was 326, it would mean at 3rd street. But in the West Bay, there is no such correlation, which makes finding a location that much harder. If you got a car, the East Bay is where it’s at.
5. The Weather
Another one you can’t argue with. It’s always 5-10 degrees warmer here, and we actually get to enjoy sunny days during the summer. I know this is probably a shocker to those of you living in SF cause you never cross the bay, but I spend my summers basking in the sun at farmer’s markets, parks, just walking down the street, or hiking through the hills.
6. Downtown Oakland vs. Downtown SF
I gotta say that I’ve fallen in love with downtown Oakland, so much so that I’m planning to move there within the next couple years. It’s surprising, but downtown has a small-town vibe. I walk down the streets and can’t help running into people I know. All the folks who work at the restaurants and stores I frequent know me by name – Ichiro at my sushi place even asks how my sister’s doing when he hasn’t seen her in a while! Downtown SF is stiff, boring, and overpriced. Suits and cell phones – I’ll pass that up any day… and watch out, cause downtown Oakland nightlife is about to explode once all those new apartments and condos open…
7. The Quiet
You know, everybody goes on and on about how San Francisco’s so much fun and there’s so much to do, but at some point, I just want to relax. I want to be able to take walks down my street without seeing even one person. I want to be able to lay down in my bed at night and not hear the thump-thump of the club next door, or the cars rushing by, or the drunk 20-somethings leaving the bars and falling over each other. Yep – sometimes I just want quiet. And that’s pretty easy to find in the East Bay. Don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty to do here and I’m still in walking distance of a great gay bar, cheap eats, fine dining, several markets, and some of my favorite places to shop, but I’m also in a quiet neighborhood. If you like relaxing, the East Bay is where it’s at…
8. City Planning… We Have it, They Don’t
OK… this sounds boring and unimportant, but it really is EXTREMELY important. The East Bay pretty much exists on a grid and streets tend to do what you think they’re going to (except for the hills, but I could do a whole other blog about why the flats are better than the hills). And there aren’t a million places where you can’t make a left turn. Seriously, it’s pretty hard to get lost or very off track in the East Bay and I just can’t say the same about SF. I mean, I’ve lived here for more than 6 years (and SF was my second home for 2 years before that), and I’m just now starting to find my way around the West Bay! And I recently found out why SF makes no sense from the Bay Guardian: “The reason that the north and south of Market grids don’t connect very well is that the mayor couldn’t decide which bribes to take and thus split the job between two architects who hated each other and didn’t speak.” Hah! Pretty appropriate… yup… so that’s why it will never be easy to get around SF.
9. Even Historians Agree…
Yes, way back when before there were any cities in California, the people settling the Bay Area thought the East Bay was more inhabitable. In 1796, Don Pedro de Alberni studied the Bay Area under the orders of the governor, and claimed that San Francisco was “the worst place or location in California” for a town! It was barren and cold, and the only reason it ever became such a large city was because in the craze of the Gold Rush, people rushed off the boats into SF and needed the amenities of a city quickly. Conversely, writer Richard Henry Dana described the East Bay in 1840: “The abundance of wood and water; the extreme fertility of its shores; the excellence of its climate, which is as near to being perfect as any in the world; and its facilities for navigation, affording the best anchoring-grounds in the whole western coast of America – all fit it for a place of great importance.” What am I trying to say here? The East Bay was always better, and it probably always will be. If you want to find out more, check out Oakland: The Story of a City, by Beth Bagwell.
10. We know how to cross the bay…
This last reason might seem counterintuitive, but just listen… People in the West Bay don’t know how to cross the bay (ok, I’ll admit there are a FEW exceptions) so they never get to appreciate the fruits of East Bay living. But us East Bayers don’t think we’re too good for SF – we cross the bay all the time. So we get all the benefits of the West Bay with few of the downfalls. If I want to party all night, I go to SF. If I want to see some of my friends, I hop on BART. When there’s a festival, I cross that bridge. And then when I get tired of the exhaustion that is San Francisco, I go home to the East Bay and get some rest.