Atlanta Vs. Oakland: Which City Is Better To Live In?

Upgraded Home Team
by Upgraded Home Team

Located on opposite ends of the country, it can seem nearly impossible to compare Atlanta and Oakland. Between hip and trendy west-coast flair and traditional Southern hospitality, it can be pretty tricky to choose a winner between these two popular cities.

Atlanta is a better city to live in than Oakland because there is a lower crime rate, more affordable housing, and a better school system. Couple this with the fact that the job market is projected to grow exponentially in the coming ten years and has a lower unemployment rate. Atlanta seems like the perfect city to create opportunity.

Of course, Oakland certainly has its perks, including seasonably warm year-round weather and plenty of culture and leisure activities. If you can get past the high housing prices, Oakland may be a great place to live. Before choosing one city over the other, please consult with a real estate agent who knows what it is like to live in these cities, which may provide a better insight into day-to-day life.

Which City Is Better: Atlanta or Oakland?

Both Atlanta and Oakland have their fair share of celebrities and high-income earners, but for our comparison, we will only look at how the average person lives. We want to know what the normal person can experience in each city regarding culture and leisure activities and understand how much the cost of living will be for your everyday person.

Quality of Life

Before moving to a new city, you must ensure that you will enjoy the intangibles that go into creating a good quality of life. Oakland and Atlanta are pretty close, and both have a much higher quality of life than other cities in the United States. Both cities are equally safe, but ultimately, Atlanta has the edge with more purchasing power and a lower cost of living.

Not to be ignored, though, Oakland offers better healthcare, a more seasonable climate, and less pollution in the city. If you can get past the cost of living factored into the overall quality of life, these two cities might just be tied.

Winner: Atlanta

Cost of Living

The clear winner in the overall cost of living is Atlanta, and this is mainly due to the high housing costs in Oakland. Comparatively, Oakland is over 182% more expensive for housing expenses. Furthermore, healthcare is about 13% more costly, and food will be nearly 12% more expensive.

In Atlanta, though, you’ll find higher utility rates. This fact is primarily due to Oakland’s consistent and comfortable year-round temperatures. Transportation costs are about the same between the two cities. With every ordinary expense included and counting the inflated housing rates, Atlanta will be about 62% cheaper than Oakland.

Winner: Atlanta

Housing Costs

The most significant difference in affordability between these two cities is housing costs. Oakland, like many California cities, is exorbitantly high for rent and housing prices. The average home costs about $731,000 in Oakland, 182% more expensive than in Atlanta. It follows then that only 41% of the population in Oakland owns their home, with 59% of the people choosing to rent. More people still choose to rent in Atlanta, at 56% of the population, but more people, 44%, can own their homes.

Median House Price$290,400$731,400
Average Rent 1 BDRM$1,153$1,445

Winner: Atlanta

Job Market

Both Atlanta and Oakland have a low unemployment rate compared to the national average, but it is clear that there is more opportunity in Atlanta. Between a much higher growth potential in the coming years and a higher individual salary average, Atlanta has many options for new residents. Top industries in Atlanta include finance, biomedical, and healthcare industries.

Oakland, close to the Bay Area hub of technology, is also home to several booming industries. Although growth potential may be stunted in the coming years, Oakland is home to businesses specializing in healthcare and transportation. Top employers in Oakland include Sutter Health and Southwest Airlines.

Projected 10-Year Growth51%35.3%
Median Household Income$59,948$73,692
Median Personal Income$47,424$43,191

Winner: Atlanta


Aside from common day-to-day expenses and quality of life, it is essential to consider the overall culture and vibe of the city. Atlanta was a critical epicenter in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and maintains much of this culture today. There is the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial site that welcomes millions of visitors each year. Further, Atlanta has one of the highest LGBT populations in the country.

The diverse musical heritage, including artists Usher and John Mayer that call Atlanta home, offers something for everyone to enjoy in this dynamic and exciting city.

The west coast Oakland also has a rich Black history and was home to the Black Panthers organization and movement. Oakland also was the city to host the first all-Black labor unions. Due to the fantastic weather and wonderful opportunity to explore nature, Oakland has a very outdoorsy vibe, with many attractions featuring Mother Nature herself.

Winner: Tie


Atlanta offers many fun attractions right in the heart of the city, including the World of Coca-Cola Museum and the Georgia Aquarium, home to whale sharks and manta rays. This city also is home to Piedmont Park, which has outdoor sports and regular farmers markets. Atlanta is also home to a professional football and baseball team.

Comparatively, Oakland lives up to its outdoor vibe offering an unlimited number of outdoor parks. Popular parks to visit include Mosswood Park, Lake Merritt Park, and Redwood Regional Park. There are several bird sanctuaries to see, and Oakland also has a professional baseball team. Oakland has a vivacious downtown area filled with bars, restaurants, and nightlife.

Winner: Oakland


Between the Rapid Rail system, light rail, streetcar, bus, and major highways in the area, Atlanta gives people plenty of options for transportation. The city is also home to the world’s busiest international airport connected to the rest of the city through MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.) Still, with several public transportation options, only about 10% of the Atlanta population relies on public transit, with many people still choosing to drive to the city each day.

On the other hand, Oakland is close to three major international airports offering plenty of opportunities to reach the city. The BART system (Bay Area Rapid Transit) also provides public transportation throughout Oakland and the Bay Area. Because commuting by personal car can be tedious and tiring, about 25% of the population in Oakland relies on public transportation to commute every day.

Winner: Oakland


Atlanta is a young city with the majority of its population between the ages of 25 and 34. This city is incredibly well-educated, with 23% of the people holding a Master’s degree, 29% having a Bachelor’s degree, and 20% holding an Associate’s degree. The city is a wonderful mix of all cultures and ethnicities. About 51% of the population identifies as Black, 41% is White, 4.7% is Hispanic, and 3.7% is Asian.

Even though Oakland is close to some of the best higher education systems in the world, the population is not nearly as educated as Atlanta. Only about 19% of the population has a Master’s degree, 25% has a Bachelor’s degree, and 23% has an Associate’s degree. The majority of the people are between the ages of 24 and 34, so it is an equally young and vibrant city as Atlanta. Even more diverse than Atlanta, about 35% of the population identifies as White, 25% is Black, 26% is Hispanic, and 15% is Asian.

Winner: Oakland


When it comes to top-notch school systems, Atlanta is hard to beat. Both their public and private schools earn top marks when it comes to academics. Of course, there are plenty of opportunities for higher education as well. Atlanta is home to Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State, and Spelman College.

Also offering top schools, Oakland has a solid offering of public schools for children and an even better range of options for students choosing to attend private school. Oakland is also home to higher education facilities that are some of the best in the world, including the University of California – Berkeley, Mills College, and Lincoln University.

Winner: Atlanta


In Atlanta, expect to have some hot summers and moderate winters. Summer will bring average high temperatures in the 80s, while winter will usually be in the low 50s. Although snow and ice are rare in Atlanta, it has happened on occasion. Expect major delays and significant travel impact if snow does occur. Atlanta is home to some severe storms, and in the past 60 years, there have been over 130 tornadoes in the area.

Comparatively, Oakland is all sunshine and roses. This city has a wonderfully cool summer temperature in the mid-70s, with winters rarely dipping below 60 degrees F. Weather is basically perfect year-round with minimal rain and no significant weather impacts in the city.

Winner: Oakland

Crime Rates

Like many major cities, Atlanta has a higher than average crime rate. Assault and robbery cases are about double the national average, with murder more than three times the national average. Burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft are slightly higher than the average number of cases throughout the country.

Looking at Oakland presents a much different picture. Rape cases are more than double the national average, while murder is also about three times the average. Property crimes are sky-high in this city, though, with robbery five times the national average, theft double the average, and motor vehicle theft about four times the national average. Although violent crimes are comparable between the two cities, property crimes are off the charts in Oakland.

Winner: Atlanta

Related Questions

Is Atlanta part of tornado alley?

Traditionally speaking, tornado alley includes South Dakota to the north and extends down to Texas in the south. Due to the frequency of intense storms and tornadoes in recent years, it is expected that the defined tornado alley region will shift east to include Georgia in the range of potentially strong storms.

Is Oakland a walkable city?

Extremely! There are plenty of neighborhoods downtown that are easily walkable, including Koreatown, Northgate, and Temescal. Oakland was ranked as the 9th most walkable city in the entire United States.


Comparing these two cities from across the country may seem complicated, but really these two cities have plenty to offer new residents moving to the area. When it comes down to choosing a winner, though, Atlanta is the clear-cut favorite. Between affordable housing costs, better job growth potential, and a better quality of life, Atlanta is an attractive option for new residents. Plus, families will enjoy the fantastic public and private schools, as well as the low crime rates in the city.

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