These Are The 10 Worst Oakland Suburbs For 2018


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

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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 Los Altos certainly tries.

Of course, not all suburbs of Oakland are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado…

We examined the 63 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 2018:

  1. Richmond (Photos)
  2. Pittsburg (Photos)
  3. Vallejo (Photos)
  4. Hayward (Photos)
  5. San Pablo (Photos)
  6. Antioch (Photos)
  7. East Palo Alto (Photos)
  8. Concord (Photos)
  9. San Leandro (Photos)
  10. American Canyon (Photos)

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:

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Oakland for 2018

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, 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 5,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 63 suburbs to evaluate around Oakland.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 63 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.

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.

1. Richmond

Richmond, California

Population: 108,303
Unemployment Rate: 9.3%
Median Home Price: $330,200
Median Income: $57,107
More on Richmond: Data | Jobs

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.

2. Pittsburg

Pittsburg, California

Population: 67,998
Unemployment Rate: 11.8%
Median Home Price: $280,900
Median Income: $63,950
More on Pittsburg: Data | Jobs

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 $63,950 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.

3. Vallejo

Vallejo, California

Population: 119,644
Unemployment Rate: 13.0%
Median Home Price: $254,100
Median Income: $59,600
More on Vallejo: Data | Jobs

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Oakland suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Vallejo 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.

4. Hayward

Hayward, California

Population: 154,507
Unemployment Rate: 8.0%
Median Home Price: $404,500
Median Income: $68,138
More on Hayward: Data | Jobs

If you live in Hayward, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 8th lowest Oakland suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the 8th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Oakland. Remember, we looked at 63 cities for this study.

Hayward is about 11.8 miles to downtown.

5. San Pablo

San Pablo, California

Source: Public domain

Population: 29,991
Unemployment Rate: 10.1%
Median Home Price: $221,400
Median Income: $45,503
More on San Pablo: Data | Jobs

San Pablo has the distinction of being a Oakland suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.

All snarkiness aside, San Pablo has the 1st lowest home values in the metro Oakland area, where the median price is $221,400. To put that into perspective, in Los Altos, the median income is $250,000, which is the best in the area.

San Pablo has an unemployment rate of 10.1% which ranks 3rd worst.

6. Antioch

Antioch, California

Source: Public domain

Population: 108,675
Unemployment Rate: 9.7%
Median Home Price: $291,400
Median Income: $65,530
More on Antioch: Data | Jobs

Antioch has 108,675 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 14.3%.

7. East Palo Alto

East Palo Alto, California

Population: 29,353
Unemployment Rate: 8.1%
Median Home Price: $515,900
Median Income: $55,170
More on East Palo Alto: Data | Jobs

Ah, East Palo Alto. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Oakland.

It’s the place with the 7th most out of work residents in the Oakland metro area (8.1%).

8. Concord

Concord, California

Source: Public domain

Population: 126,938
Unemployment Rate: 8.0%
Median Home Price: $423,100
Median Income: $71,477
More on Concord: Data | Jobs

Concord is a city about 18.6 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. Concord has the 5th most uninsured people, 10th worst incomes, and has the 8th highest unemployment rate (8.0%) in the entire Oakland metro area.

Homes only cost $423,100 for a reason. That’s cheap for Oakland standards.

9. San Leandro

San Leandro, California

Population: 89,039
Unemployment Rate: 6.8%
Median Home Price: $426,900
Median Income: $64,065
More on San Leandro: Data | Jobs

If you absolutely have to live near Oakland, then San Leandro might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Oakland suburb.

About 6.8% of residents are out of work.

10. American Canyon

American Canyon, California

Population: 20,334
Unemployment Rate: 8.3%
Median Home Price: $374,200
Median Income: $83,673
More on American Canyon: Data | Jobs

Rounding out the ten worst Oakland suburbs to call home is American Canyon.

Located 28.1 miles outside the city, American Canyons is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 6th highest unemployment rate (8.3%), and poverty is far above the area average.

The areas around Oakland where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2018

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. Los Altos takes the cake as the best place to live around Oakland.

For more California reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Oakland Suburbs

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Median Home Price Median Income
1 Richmond 108,303 9.3% $330,200 $57,107
2 Pittsburg 67,998 11.8% $280,900 $63,950
3 Vallejo 119,644 13.0% $254,100 $59,600
4 Hayward 154,507 8.0% $404,500 $68,138
5 San Pablo 29,991 10.1% $221,400 $45,503
6 Antioch 108,675 9.7% $291,400 $65,530
7 East Palo Alto 29,353 8.1% $515,900 $55,170
8 Concord 126,938 8.0% $423,100 $71,477
9 San Leandro 89,039 6.8% $426,900 $64,065
10 American Canyon 20,334 8.3% $374,200 $83,673
11 San Rafael 58,948 5.9% $758,600 $81,360
12 Pinole 19,040 5.9% $387,500 $74,124
13 Newark 44,677 5.7% $547,800 $91,965
14 Benicia 27,780 6.2% $475,500 $87,011
15 Milpitas 73,447 7.3% $635,300 $103,623
16 Brentwood 56,923 7.4% $428,500 $94,130
17 Emeryville 11,111 6.3% $396,900 $74,295
18 Alameda 77,409 6.4% $677,000 $83,048
19 South San Francisco 66,587 6.6% $644,500 $85,076
20 Novato 54,790 4.7% $625,900 $83,895
21 El Cerrito 24,646 6.6% $636,600 $92,670
22 Martinez 37,544 6.7% $462,300 $93,874
23 Berkeley 118,585 7.3% $795,200 $70,393
24 Walnut Creek 67,568 6.7% $647,400 $82,848
25 Hercules 25,011 5.3% $422,200 $103,044
26 San Bruno 42,736 5.4% $668,700 $89,000
27 Livermore 86,493 4.6% $595,500 $104,223
28 Pleasant Hill 34,395 6.0% $584,700 $93,476
29 Half Moon Bay 12,281 4.9% $774,000 $106,211
30 San Mateo 102,224 5.3% $850,200 $95,667
31 Albany 19,420 6.1% $697,600 $85,458
32 Fremont 227,934 5.3% $702,800 $111,613
33 Sunnyvale 149,596 6.0% $859,100 $109,799
34 Mountain View 78,827 4.7% $973,000 $109,249
35 Mountain View 78,827 4.7% $973,000 $109,249
36 Pacifica 38,844 4.1% $680,500 $103,545
37 Fairfax 7,598 3.4% $733,800 $99,438
38 Millbrae 22,522 5.0% $1,037,400 $98,533
39 San Anselmo 12,623 7.2% $914,400 $107,818
40 Menlo Park 33,319 3.6% $1,581,700 $126,045
41 Sausalito 7,115 6.6% $1,163,500 $116,325
42 Moraga 16,977 6.0% $971,700 $136,336
43 Larkspur 12,268 5.3% $1,117,800 $91,848
44 Dublin 54,523 4.0% $693,900 $128,403
45 Burlingame 30,118 4.5% $1,447,400 $102,443
46 Clayton 11,655 6.3% $629,200 $136,946
47 Pleasanton 77,046 4.3% $828,900 $130,170
48 Palo Alto 66,649 4.8% $1,702,100 $137,043
49 Belmont 26,918 5.0% $1,074,600 $120,169
50 Lafayette 25,381 5.0% $1,127,400 $142,977
51 Corte Madera 9,694 4.5% $1,061,700 $125,915
52 Atherton 7,127 6.1% $2,000,000 $250,000
53 Danville 43,758 5.1% $919,500 $146,603
54 San Carlos 29,596 5.8% $1,107,600 $135,220
55 Woodside 5,496 3.4% $2,000,000 $223,934
56 San Ramon 74,366 3.9% $810,700 $134,188
57 Hillsborough 11,312 5.4% $2,000,000 $216,292
58 Orinda 18,936 4.6% $1,125,000 $178,704
59 Los Altos Hills 8,376 3.5% $2,000,000 $243,701
60 Tiburon 9,170 3.9% $1,847,800 $149,510
61 Mill Valley 14,318 2.6% $1,201,600 $149,336
62 Piedmont 11,201 3.7% $1,572,700 $202,083
63 Los Altos 30,238 3.2% $2,000,000 $187,656

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