In the belly of the beast

We’ve been living in Oakland for about a month and a half now and Sarai and I both agree that this is a much better place for us than San Francisco. The East Bay is more laid back than the city and the people here are generally friendlier. When we lived in Berkeley I wanted to live in the city, but once we did, I realized that the East Bay is not just the area “outside of San Francisco”, but a place with its own culture that doesn’t need to be in SF’s shadow.

Our original reasons for moving were to a) save money, and b) have more space, but we forgot how crazy the rents are around here right now, so we weren’t able to do both. We’re actually paying $100 more than we were in SF, but we’ve got an extra room and about 400 extra square feet to show for it. Not to mention that our new neighborhood is cleaner, quieter, and generally nicer than our neighborhood in the Mission. Not a bad deal, considering.

Sadly, while the neighborhood is quieter, the building itself isn’t. Our upstairs neighbors have quickly shown themselves to be the one sticking point to living here (there’s always one, isn’t there?). They’ve got two dogs, a toddler, and no rugs, so all day long we hear running, stomping, and dropped toys on the hardwood floor above our heads. Sigh.

Our landlord, on the other hand, is pretty awesome, and a far cry from the insane woman we rented from in SF. When we met to sign our lease he bought us coffee at Philz, told us about his home furnishing business, and talked about how much he loves his iPhone. When we went to the new apartment for the first time after getting the keys, we found a Vosges chocolate gift box waiting for us along with a card welcoming us to the neighborhood. Amazing. He’s since been in touch via e-mail a couple times to tell us about local points of interest, such as a new wine store that just opened up around the corner.

We don’t have the wealth of restaurants and bars here that we had in the city, obviously, but we’ve found some places that look promising plus we’re so close to our old place in Berkeley that we already know some good spots nearby. Some of our new discoveries are a punk rock dive bar just around the corner and the Parkway Speakeasy Theater, a great old theater where you can see a movie while relaxing on a sofa, eating pizza, and drinking beer or wine.

I think the biggest benefit of this move so far has been that it’s got us thinking about what we want out of our living space, neighborhood, and city. Ironically, moving to a better place here has strengthened our resolve to leave the bay area entirely. We’re in a good place now but see how it could be so much better.


Kenn Christ says:

Neat, I’ll keep that in mind. Your Portland posts were a source of lots of great ideas for us on our most recent trip there this past weekend. Thanks!