The 10 Worst Oakland Suburbs For 2021


We used science and data to determine which Oakland suburbs are the real pits.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the worst suburbs around Oakland.

Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Oakland.

So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?

Today, we'll use science and data to determine which Oakland 'burbs need a little tender loving care - the sore thumbs of the Oakland area if you will. Realistically, you can't expect all the suburbs to live up to Oakland proper, although Belvedere certainly tries.

Of course, not all suburbs of Oakland are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones..

We examined the 70 biggest suburbs of Oakland to find out the worst places to live. And while you won't necessarily find them on the worst places to live in california lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Oakland in terms of quality of life.

Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Oakland for 2021:

  1. Richmond
  2. Pittsburg
  3. Antioch
  4. San Pablo
  5. Vallejo
  6. Hayward
  7. Concord
  8. San Leandro
  9. East Palo Alto
  10. San Rafael

What's the worst suburb of Oakland? Richmond ranks as the worst suburb of Oakland for 2021 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

Read on to see how we determined the places around Oakland that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don't blame the messenger.

Or, if you're thinking of moving to elsewhere in california check out the best places in california overall or the worst.

And remember, there are some good places to live around Oakland too.

Editor's Note: If you see a slight difference between the worst in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it's because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.

For more California reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Oakland Suburbs To Live For 2021

Richmond, CA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 109,884
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $68,472 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.0% (7th highest)
Median Home Value: $462,600 (5th lowest)
More on Richmond:  Data | Photos

We'll get the ball rolling with Richmond, the absolute worst place to live around Oakland according to the data.

And in the world of worst rankings, Richmond beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 3rd worst in the Oakland area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 5th worst when it comes to home values.

But hey, at least it's cheap to live there. But there's a reason for that... it's Richmond.

You won't feel bad about not having a great income for the area, there aren't a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.

Pittsburg, CA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 71,422
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $74,459 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.3% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $386,200 (3rd lowest)
More on Pittsburg:  Data | Photos

Welcome to Pittsburg. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.

This city is 24.5 miles to Oakland. Income levels here are the 5th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $74,459 a year, which doesn't go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.

But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.

Antioch, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 111,200
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $76,601 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.4% (highest)
Median Home Value: $397,400 (4th lowest)
More on Antioch:  Data | Photos

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Oakland suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Antioch on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that's an understatement.

In terms of numbers, it's in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school drop out rate is poor compared to other Oakland suburbs.

But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.

San Pablo, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 30,967
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Income: $53,198 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.7% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $355,000 (lowest)
More on San Pablo:  Data | Photos

If you live in San Pablo, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the lowest Oakland suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the 4th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Oakland. Remember, we looked at 70 cities for this study.

San Pablo is about 14.8 miles to downtown.

Vallejo, CA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 121,267
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Median Income: $69,405 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.2% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $370,000 (2nd lowest)
More on Vallejo:  Data | Photos

Vallejo has the distinction of being a Oakland suburb. Which means that's about all it has going for it.

All snarkiness aside, Vallejo has the 2nd lowest home values in the metro Oakland area, where the median price is $370,000. To put that into perspective, in Belvedere, the median income is $250,001, which is the best in the area.

Vallejo has an unemployment rate of 8.19% which ranks 3rd worst.

Hayward, CA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 159,293
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Income: $86,744 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (20th highest)
Median Home Value: $581,200 (12th lowest)
More on Hayward:  Data | Photos

Hayward has 159,293 residents that probably know it's a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you've ever been there, you don't need to look at the data.)

Incomes are towards the bottom and the poverty rate sits at 8.354777944510074%.

Concord, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 129,183
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Income: $89,564 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (14th highest)
Median Home Value: $551,300 (9th lowest)
More on Concord:  Data | Photos

Ah, Concord. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Oakland.

It's the place with the 14th most out of work residents in the Oakland metro area (4.98%).

San Leandro, CA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 90,025
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Income: $78,003 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.2% (12th highest)
Median Home Value: $590,800 (14th lowest)
More on San Leandro:  Data | Photos

San Leandro is a city about 5.7 miles from Oakland, but Oakland probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.

You'd be hard pressed to find a worse place to live. San Leandro has the 9th most uninsured people, 7th worst incomes, and has the 12th highest unemployment rate (5.18%) in the entire Oakland metro area.

Homes only cost $590,800 for a reason. That's cheap for Oakland standards.

East Palo Alto, CA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 29,593
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Income: $67,087 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (19th highest)
Median Home Value: $821,200 (24th lowest)
More on East Palo Alto:  Data | Photos

If you absolutely have to live near Oakland, then East Palo Alto might be a place for you to consider as it's only the 9th worst Oakland suburb.

About 4.39% of residents are out of work.

San Rafael, CA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 58,775
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 2)
Median Income: $91,742 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.2% (22nd highest)
Median Home Value: $923,100 (34th lowest)
More on San Rafael:  Data | Photos

Rounding out the ten worst Oakland suburbs to call home is San Rafael.

Located 21.2 miles outside the city, San Rafaels is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 22nd highest unemployment rate (4.17%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Oakland for 2021

To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2015-2019, this is the criteria we used:

  • High unemployment rate
  • Low median household incomes
  • Low population density (no things to do)
  • Low home values
  • A lot of high school drop outs
  • High poverty
  • High rate of uninsured families

FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Oakland.

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 70 suburbs to evaluate around Oakland.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 70 in each category, where 1 was the "worst".

Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.

And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index the "Worst Suburb near Oakland." We're lookin' at you, Richmond. You can download the data here.

Read on below to learn more about what it's like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.

The areas around Oakland where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2021

Well there you have it -- the worst of the 'burbs surrounding Oakland with Richmond casting itself ahead of the pack.

As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Oakland aren't all bad. Belvedere takes the cake as the best place to live around Oakland.

  • Belvedere
  • Los Altos
  • Piedmont

For more California reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Oakland Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Richmond 109,884 $68,472 $462,600
2 Pittsburg 71,422 $74,459 $386,200
3 Antioch 111,200 $76,601 $397,400
4 San Pablo 30,967 $53,198 $355,000
5 Vallejo 121,267 $69,405 $370,000
6 Hayward 159,293 $86,744 $581,200
7 Concord 129,183 $89,564 $551,300
8 San Leandro 90,025 $78,003 $590,800
9 East Palo Alto 29,593 $67,087 $821,200
10 San Rafael 58,775 $91,742 $923,100
11 American Canyon 20,261 $101,792 $499,300
12 Pinole 19,279 $100,315 $500,900
13 Daly City 106,677 $94,550 $783,400
14 Novato 55,642 $101,342 $782,500
15 Brentwood 61,961 $108,994 $580,500
16 El Cerrito 25,398 $108,298 $804,700
17 Berkeley 121,485 $85,530 $1,004,900
18 Newark 47,171 $116,856 $742,100
19 Hercules 25,616 $117,018 $561,600
20 Martinez 38,290 $107,328 $596,400
21 Pleasant Hill 34,840 $118,947 $716,300
22 Alameda 78,522 $104,756 $859,900
23 Benicia 28,192 $103,413 $585,600
24 South San Francisco 67,408 $105,459 $844,000
25 Half Moon Bay 12,834 $134,177 $999,500
26 San Bruno 43,083 $109,387 $908,300
27 San Mateo 104,333 $124,842 $1,098,400
28 Albany 19,804 $95,400 $882,500
29 Milpitas 79,517 $132,320 $858,600
30 Fairfax 7,578 $104,122 $849,800
31 Walnut Creek 69,567 $105,948 $793,100
32 Brisbane 4,697 $112,016 $889,200
33 Emeryville 11,899 $102,725 $489,400
34 Livermore 89,699 $127,452 $744,200
35 Pacifica 38,984 $125,500 $882,800
36 Sunnyvale 152,770 $140,631 $1,223,600
37 Fremont 235,740 $133,354 $931,600
38 Mountain View 81,656 $139,720 $1,413,500
39 Mountain View 81,656 $139,720 $1,413,500
40 Mountain View 81,656 $139,720 $1,413,500
41 Mountain View 81,656 $139,720 $1,413,500
42 Ross 2,290 $224,500 $2,000,001
43 Dublin 61,240 $150,299 $882,200
44 Menlo Park 34,138 $160,784 $2,000,001
45 Burlingame 30,576 $128,447 $1,901,900
46 Larkspur 12,319 $109,426 $1,309,200
47 Millbrae 22,625 $128,494 $1,403,100
48 Moraga 17,539 $140,378 $1,140,700
49 Pleasanton 81,717 $156,400 $986,800
50 Corte Madera 9,838 $149,439 $1,200,300
51 Palo Alto 66,573 $158,271 $2,000,001
52 Lafayette 26,305 $178,889 $1,428,900
53 Woodside 5,542 $250,001 $2,000,001
54 Danville 44,605 $160,808 $1,091,900
55 San Ramon 75,648 $160,783 $958,800
56 San Anselmo 12,525 $128,212 $1,066,800
57 Atherton 7,168 $250,001 $2,000,001
58 Clayton 12,083 $157,768 $771,400
59 Orinda 19,646 $223,217 $1,464,400
60 Sausalito 7,116 $111,906 $1,346,000
61 Belmont 27,097 $156,052 $1,527,500
62 Mill Valley 14,330 $163,614 $1,598,700
63 Hillsborough 11,447 $250,001 $2,000,001
64 Los Altos Hills 8,505 $250,001 $2,000,001
65 Portola Valley 4,592 $224,554 $2,000,001
66 Tiburon 9,144 $154,915 $2,000,001
67 San Carlos 30,154 $182,083 $1,625,700
68 Piedmont 11,317 $224,659 $2,000,001
69 Los Altos 30,504 $235,278 $2,000,001
70 Belvedere 2,134 $245,208 $2,000,001

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