Where's smoke, there's headlines:
Oakland is a vast city, encompassing many neighborhoods and extending itself far into different tax brackets. There is a lot of crime, just like in any major city, but if you know the neighborhoods, you can generally avoid the scary stuff. No place is truly "safe" - unless you have the money to live up in the Piedmont hills.
That being said, it's important to be choosy about the neighborhood. Go with what you can afford, of course, but understand that while you may save money, you will earn stress.
Good choices (if you can afford them):
* Up the hill on Lakeshore Ave., before the overpass. Further up Lakeshore (past the commercial shopping area) is spendy, but excellent.
* Anywhere on the west hillside of Grand by Grand Lake Theater. You're approaching Piedmont territory, that's why. The hillside of Grand after the freeway overpass is okay (Adam's Point), too, with a few exceptions.
* The grid between Piedmont Ave. to Broadway, and 40th - 51st.
*... after that point, substitute Claremont for Broadway when going north.
* Past Alcatraz (going towards Berkeley), things get better.
* San Pablo & 40th and up to Alcatraz, but hugging close to San Pablo. West of San Pablo gets you into Emeryville, which is good.
* Around Lake Merrit's west side between 15th and 20th Street. Sandwich yourself between Broadway and the lake.
* "Pill Hill" is decent, but you get some spillover of crime from the 30's blocks on MLK. Stay on the hill, and don't go west of MLK.
* Jack London Square south of Broadway, but there's not much there that isn't condos.
* 40 blocks between Market and San Pablo are okay, but that gets hazy when you get into the high 50's and 60's.
"Not good" choices:
* Generally anything west of the 980. What is it about freeway overpasses?
Unknown to me:
* Anything southeast of Park Blvd. I've driven through and it doesn't "look" good, but I'm sure it's not horrible. I have seen the 90's and 100's blocks, and near Mills. Not good.
Any opinions, clarifications, telling me I'm wrong - appreciate the feedback.