21 Things You Should Know Before Moving to Alameda

Nina Tamburello

City Profiles


The city of Alameda is one of the best-kept secrets in the San Francisco Bay area. Located just outside of a city known for its exorbitant housing prices, this 23 square mile beach-side town offers an affordable, less crowded, small-town feel. Here are a few things you should know about moving to Alameda.


1. You’ll Get to Say You Live on an Island


If you’ve ever want to brag about living on an island, here’s your chance. Alameda is an island, like Oahu or Manhattan. While it might not have the tropical feel of Waikiki, you’ll still see folks wearing Hawaiian shirts and shorts – and drinking pina coladas at Forbidden Island, the local tiki bar.  


2. You Can Beat Traffic with a Ferry Commute

While other San Francisco Bay area residents are stuck in traffic or being elbowed by fellow train passengers, you can enjoy a beautiful, stress-free commute overlooking the San Francisco Bay. Try not to brag about it—your co-workers will be jealous.


3. Small-town charm

The city has a Mayberry-esque small-town feel. In fact. it’s even earned the nickname “Mayberry by the Bay”. From its small size, quaint shops and friendly dwellers, you’ll get all the benefits of small-town community but with proximity to the bigger, non-island cities of San Francisco and Oakland.


4. The People are Alarmingly Friendly


People will say “Hi!” to you when you’re walking down the street. If you’re a life-long city person, you may find this alarming. Do not be frightened. Just say “Hi!” back and smile—you’re an Alamedan now. 


5. Crime is Low

Much like Mayberry, Alameda is a very safe town. The crime rate is only 28.58 per 1,000 residents, a startling contrast to nearby Oakland and San Francisco. Oakland has a crime rate of 83.40 per 1,000 residents (and is ranked as the 5th most dangerous city in the U.S.)  and San Francisco’s crime rate is (67.67 per 1,000 residents).  Why is the crime so low? Some people theorize that criminals think twice before committing crimes because the police could close off the entrances to the island if they had to.


6. Life in the Slow Lane

Life moves at a slower pace here—figuratively and literally. Even though Alameda is is only minutes away from the Interstate-880 in Oakland,  the speed limit is only 25 miles per hour here. Remember to slow down once you enter Alameda—the speed limit is strictly enforced! Don’t be a rebel and try to go up to 30mph.


7. Step Back in time with Vintage Cars

You may notice a lot of vintage cars as you’re strolling down the street. In fact, Alameda has been featured on a blog called Jalopnik, which has nicknamed Alameda “The Island That Rust Forgot”.

Alameda is also home to the classic car show, which showcases Alameda’s eclectic collection of hot rods, muscle cars and other forms of antique roadsters. Where else can you see a hot rod while rocking out to live music from the 50s and 60s?


8. It’s Home to a Pinball Museum

How many people can say they have a pinball museum in their town? Well, if you move to Alameda, you’ll be one of the lucky few who can brag about that. The Pacific Pinball Museum is home to classic pinball machines like Tron, the Twilight Zone and the Terminator.


9.  It’s Animal Friendly

Animal lovers, rejoice! Alameda residents embrace dogs. And they also embrace cats and pigs. It’s not unusual to see people walking their pet cat on a leash. And if you’re lucky, you may even spot someone taking Bosco, the pig, for a stroll.


10. Perfect for Hittin’ the Beach

Alameda is home to the beautiful Crown State Memorial Beachthe water is warm and the view of San Francisco is delightful.


11. Victorian Architecture 

San Francisco is like Alameda’s cool older sister who gets all the attention even though Alameda knows she’s secretly every bit as cool. So even though San Francisco is world-famous for its Victorians Alamedans know that the best architectural gems are in their city. Grand Street and the Gold Coast are the best places to see rows of vividly decorated houses, and avoiding San Francisco’s gawking throngs of tourists is the icing on the cake.


12. Food, Glorious Food

When you stroll past the diverse selection of restaurants on Park Street, you’ll be amazed at how many restaurants are packed into such a small space. Whether you’re craving sushi, pho or diner food, Alameda has you covered.


13. The Weather is Damn Near Perfect

The cities surrounding the San Francisco Bay area experience the force of micro-climates—different regions are different temperatures. Alameda residents enjoy temperatures of around 71 degrees much of the year (with much hotter temperatures during the summer.) The weather is generally about 10 degrees warmer than the city of San Francisco and it’s the perfect excuse for hitting the beach.


14. It’s Bike-friendly 

Remember the opening scene of “Murder, She Wrote”, where Angela Lansbury is zipping around town on a bike? Yeah, that’s what Alameda is like. Alameda has achieved bronze-level status for bike-friendliness thanks to rigorous bike-parking standards, advanced transportation plans and work on protected bike lanes.


15. Your Inner Child Will Love It

Alamedans know how to have fun.  High Scores Arcade offers up video game classics from Pacman to StreetFighter II.  Still bored? Head down the street for a game of air hockey or glow in the dark mini golf at Subpar Mini Golf.


16. The West Coast’s Only Lithuanian Restaurant 

If you’re craving Lithuanian specialties like stuffed cabbage rolls, borscht or honey cake you’re in the right city. Mama Papa Lithuania has great food—and you can eat it outside in the beer garden.


17. It Has a Naval Base/Movie Set

Alameda’s Naval Air Station is a decommissioned naval base that’s been used as a site for MythBusters more dangerous experiments.

Remember the freeway chase seen from the Matrix Reloaded? It was built from scratch on an old airplane runway on the base. There were high walls lining the freeway, to hide San Francisco. Yes, that’s right, if you live in Alameda, you can brag about about having a distant connection to Keanu Reeves.

18. Some Shops Close on Sundays

Several of the cafes and shops close are closed on Sundays. You might have to put some thought into coffee-drinking or errand-running on weekends.


19. It’s Family Friendly

If you move to Alameda, you may notice there are lots of children and teenagers around. Alameda is popular with families due to its wholesome, small-town feel and strong public school system.


20. It’s a Tree Lover’s Paradise

A good deal of the streets are filled with shade-providing trees. It’s kinda like living inside a park. Fun trivia fact: Alameda is Spanish for “tree-lined avenue” or “grove of poplar trees” (nobody ever seems to be able to agree on the exact translation—but either way, it means “lots and lots of trees”).  


21. People Tend to be West Siders or East Siders


Even though Alameda is a small city, that doesn’t stop people from being loyal to one end of the island or other. People tend to live on the West Side or East Side and don’t always venture to “the other end of the island.” (yes, people really do say that!)


Finding a home for sale in Alameda



Ready to move to Alameda? Whether you’re looking for an modern condo, or shingled cottage by the beach, you’ll find Estately.com or the Estately iPhone App are the best ways to find a home in Alameda. Download it for free today!



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