There is not enough housing in the Bay. Period.

There, we said it. It's a known crisis that's been getting worse every year. It means that the rent is too damn high AND it's a whoooole lot of work to find a place. Needless to say, you need to start searching early.
You have two main ways to tackle this:
    University housing, on or off campus (this is SUPER limited)
    Non-university housing (e.g. Craigslist)
More details on these in the next pages. But first where on the map should you live? Near or far from school? Let's get you a little bit oriented first.

Basic Geography

Here's the main spread of the parts of the Bay Area where grad students tend to live, though most stay fairly close to Berkeley (starred on the map):
The "East Bay" is the right half of that map: a flat area with a bunch of cities smushed together -- Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, Albany, El Cerrito. To the right of this string of cities (gray stuff on google maps) you'll see a streak of green, because there be hills. And parks. And nice nature-ey stuff, but not places to live. Here's a better breakdown of the major East Bay towns:
Zooming in one more time, here's the main neighborhoods of Berkeley, courtesy of the law school's guide on the topic, which we've overlaid with some basic deets. Click to make it bigger/legible.
You can find maps of neighborhoods of Oakland and San Francisco around the internet as well.

More neighborhood detail

Students live all over, but here's some rough ideas of what the various areas are like to live in. On the next page we'll go over the all-important how to get housing in different places.
      Southside– The main pro is that it’s close to campus and there’s a lot of food and good restaurants. BUT they are overrun with undergrads (ew). Things get nicer as you move south, away from campus and towards Oakland (into Elmwood, Rockridge, Temescal).
      West Berkeley – It’s a little further away from undergrads but has great food options and feels safe. It’s pretty easy to commute to Berkeley Way West (psych building) because the 51B runs every 10 minutes from about 5 AM to late night, and is under 15 minutes from anywhere down University Ave. The 4th Street area is also super cute and family + pet friendly, has some shopping too (a physical Amazon 4+ star items store!), multiple small grocery stores and a lot of places include parking.
      North Berkeley – pretty much starts at the psych building and runs north to Solano ave, the beginning of Albany. Home to the "gourmet ghetto" and foodie gems like Cheeseboard, but largely residential.
      Temescal – Temescal, north of West MacArthur Blvd is a safe, fun neighborhood, full of hipster restaurants, breweries, shops, and close to transportation (MacArthur BART station and the 6 bus will get you to Berkeley in about 30 minutes). The area is relatively quiet at night and has lots of young professionals. Every month there are food trucks and once a year they hold a festival with games, food, etc. for families.
      Downtown Oakland/Lakeside – Great area to live in. No cons really, except the bus can have variable timing (expect to take at least 45 minutes in the morning). The area is brimming with young adults and professionals, very few undergraduates. Oakland is the most racially and ethnically diverse city in the US, so if you want to live in a racially diverse area, this is the place to be. As in all of the Bay Area, excellent restaurants from all over the world. It can be more expensive than other areas. City Hall is nearby too, so there are plenty of political events to attend if desired (Kamala Harris kicked offer her presidential campaign there, and Elizabeth Warren held a townhall at Laney College).
      East Oakland – East Oakland is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the Bay Area. Rents are relatively cheaper than other neighborhoods in Berkeley and Oakland. A BART trip from Fruitvale station takes about 20 minutes, which I would recommend, otherwise taking the bus from East Oakland can take about an hour. East Oakland in general isn’t the safest, but there are pockets of safer areas. Definitely check the crime map. A good rule of thumb is that the closer you are to Lake Merritt, the better the neighborhood tends to be.
    Albany – UC Village is located in (west) Albany and this area is pretty nice overall. Lots of grocery stores and great restaurants. Pretty easy access to buses that go to campus. Solano ave is full of restaurants. Easy freeway access.
    Emeryville - Emeryville is mostly home to the Big Box stores of the east bay -- Ikea, Best Buy, Home Depot, Target, etc. It's useful to travel to for move-in supplies, and it's nice (if not especially cozy) to live in. Reasonable bike to campus, easy freeway access.
    San Francisco - Really needs its own guide (anyone want to take that on?). Looot going on there, some grad students live there, but mostly upper years who don't come to campus much. Get to the east bay via BART, which doesn't cover all of SF, so you either need to live near a BART stop (which leaves you a ~45m commute) or bike to BART (making for a loong commute). Totally worth it to some people.
Safety: Check out https://www.crimemapping.com/ to get a sense of which areas have the highest crime rates and of what type. That said, this is all urban area - you can stay safe or make yourself unsafe almost anywhere.
Last modified 2yr ago