The 10 Best Oakland Suburbs To Live For 2021


We analyzed over 67 places around Oakland to identify the most in demand places to live.

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Editor’s Note: Data has been updated for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the best Oakland suburbs.

Big city living isn't for everyone--but at the same time, urban areas certainly have their perks.

There's the culture, the food, the arts, the food, the energy, and you know, the food. But there are drawbacks. There's traffic, expensive parking, expensive housing--pretty much, expensive everything, depending on which big city you're looking at.

But that's where the suburbs come in--they have all of the benefits of being near big cities, without actually having to be big cities.

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...

Here are the 10 best suburbs to live around Oakland for 2021:

  1. Belvedere
  2. Los Altos
  3. Piedmont
  4. San Carlos
  5. Tiburon
  6. Portola Valley
  7. Hillsborough
  8. Los Altos Hills
  9. Mill Valley
  10. Belmont

What's the best suburb of Oakland? Belvedere ranks as the best suburb of Oakland for 2021 based on the most recent Census and FBI data. If you happen to be a resident of Belvedere, you're probably not too surprised to find it on the top our list.

We'll tell you what makes each of these 10 Oakland 'burbs better than the rest--but first, a bit about our methodology.

Note: This result may differ from our state wide data as we did not include commute times and crime for this analysis to allow for a larger selection of suburbs.

Feel free to check out some more reading about California:

The 10 Best Oakland Suburbs To Live For 2021

Belvedere, CA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,134
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $245,208
Unemployment Rate: 2.8%
Poverty Rate: 2.7%
More on Belvedere: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Belvedere is always mentioned as one of the best suburbs in the Oakland area. We'll tell you the good about "Awesome Belvedere."

Everyone here is rich; families average $245,208 a year, which is the 5th highest in the Oakland region. And only 2.79% are out of work. Homes average more than $2,000,001 each.

Los Altos, CA

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 30,504
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Income: $235,278
Unemployment Rate: 3.3%
Poverty Rate: 2.8%
More on Los Altos: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Los Altos is the second best 'burb we looked at near Oakland for 2021.

It ranks 6th for incomes in the area and only 0.87% of residents lack insurance, good for 4th best.

Piedmont, CA

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 11,317
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Income: $224,659
Unemployment Rate: 3.9%
Poverty Rate: 2.4%
More on Piedmont: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Here in Piedmont, it's really safe, and residents are just about as rich as you'll see in the Oakland metro area.

The bad side? Schools are more crowded, and the cost of living puts a large part of the city out of reach for most families.

But price is based on demand and a lot of people want to live in Piedmont.

San Carlos, CA

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 30,154
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 3)
Median Income: $182,083
Unemployment Rate: 3.4%
Poverty Rate: 3.0%
More on San Carlos: Real Estate | Data | Photos

San Carlos ranks as the 4th best suburb of Oakland for 2021.

You won't find many better places to raise your kids in the region than in San Carlos and the schools are some of the best around.

Tiburon, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 9,144
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Median Income: $154,915
Unemployment Rate: 2.7%
Poverty Rate: 2.6%
More on Tiburon: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Coming in as the fifth best is Tiburon.

Tiburon gets kudos for having the 6th most expensive homes in the Oakland area, where houses sell for an average of $2,000,001. However, the cost of living here is among the highest in the area.

Portola Valley, CA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 4,592
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 7)
Median Income: $224,554
Unemployment Rate: 2.8%
Poverty Rate: 1.8%
More on Portola Valley: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Portola Valley is proud of its 6th place finish on this list. And here's why.

Most residents have great jobs and the unemployment rate sits at 2.84% which is 8th best in the area.

According to online reports, Portola Valley is quickly becoming one of the more affluent suburbs in the Oakland area, meaning you need to get in soon.

Hillsborough, CA

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 11,447
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 7)
Median Income: $250,001
Unemployment Rate: 3.0%
Poverty Rate: 2.4%
More on Hillsborough: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The 7th best suburb on our list goes to Hillsborough.

Hillsborough schools are some of the best in the region, and crime is really low. The cost of living makes it a lot more desirable for many families, especially first-time home buyers.

And, it's only 16.4 miles to downtown, which is a good thing.

Los Altos Hills, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 8,505
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 3)
Median Income: $250,001
Unemployment Rate: 3.2%
Poverty Rate: 3.6%
More on Los Altos Hills: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Los Altos Hills is growing quickly, and for a good reason. Crime is far below average, and most residents are gainfully employed. Even the cost of living is reasonable.

A solid 0.52% of people lack insurance, good for 1st in the area.

Mill Valley, CA

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 14,330
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 3)
Median Income: $163,614
Unemployment Rate: 2.3%
Poverty Rate: 5.6%
More on Mill Valley: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Is 'Everything Better In Mill Valley?'

Almost.

It placed 9th on our list thanks to the fact that it's really expensive to live here, but the schools are great, so you get what you pay for in that regard.

Belmont, CA

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 27,097
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 5)
Median Income: $156,052
Unemployment Rate: 3.2%
Poverty Rate: 4.1%
More on Belmont: Real Estate | Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten for 2021 is Belmont.

This city is far above average in every category, and the best part? It's far more affordable than the other cities listed above. So, you get a big bang for your buck here.

How We Determined The Best Suburbs Around Oakland for 2021

Figuring out the best suburbs around Oakland was pretty simple; we just needed to list several things that people like, and then find out which cities have the most of those things.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible:

  • Low unemployment rate
  • High Median household incomes
  • Population density (lots of things to do)
  • High home values
  • A lot of college educated people
  • Low poverty
  • High rate of insured families

Then we used the newest American Community Survey data for 2015-2019 to research each suburb.

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 "best.

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

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

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

Welcome to the Best Oakland 'Burbs of 2021

We said it once and we'll say it again--life in the big city isn't for everyone. At least not all the time.

So if you're hankering for some of the amenities of a larger city like Oakland, but don't want to deal with the drawbacks, one of these suburbs might just be for you.

For more California reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Oakland Suburbs

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

How Is Your Town In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.