A definitive guide to find accommodation, as told by locals
Last updated: February 2018
How to rent a place in Berkeley
Finding a place in Berkeley can be particularly hard, especially during summer and winter breaks. In this period of time, lots of students try to look for a place to live before the semester starts and, due to the imbalance between supply and demand in all Bay Area, house hunting can result in a very long and expensive process. That’s why Housing Anywhere puts big efforts in making sure that the number of rooms listed on the website is always high and that the rooms have a good price/quality ratio. All of this while providing a safe booking system. So don’t waste your time, check our website and learn more about Berkeley with our ambassador’s tips on how to have the best time in the city!
Hey, guys! I am Marco and here, I’ll give you some nice tips and things you should know before moving to Berkeley. I'm Italian and I studied Business Management in Rome. When I was only 13, I took part in an exchange program in Sweden. After that followed France, Ireland, Singapore, United States, and Rotterdam. I'm familiar with all the uncertainties when moving to another country, and that’s the reason I wrote articles on the best places to see, the coolest neighbourhoods to check out and some facts about Berkeley itself. I hope you'll enjoy the reading!
Living in Berkeley and its neighbourhoods
Cost of living
Affordable for everyone...almost
Berkeley is for sure more affordable than San Francisco, but a lot more expensive compared to the California average. Higher prices are related especially to everyday goods and services. Most of the time, due to the fact that the demand from students is really high, housing is also more expensive than the average. To give you an example, the cost of goods and services is 8% higher than in the rest of California and 15% higher when comparing them with the national average. Just make sure that your wallet is big enough, ok?
Easy to reach, easy to leave
Its peculiar location at the center of the San Francisco Bay Area has made Berkeley a regional transportation Hub. The city is served by three major airports. BART, a rapid transit system serving Berkeley and the entire Bay Area, works as a subway through Berkeley with 3 underground stations (Ashby, Downtown Berkeley and North Berkeley) and offers train service to several regional destinations such San Francisco and the local airports. The primary bus operator is AC Transit, that provides a coverage in downtown with many daily bus connections to different destinations.
University of California, Berkeley
The UC Berkeley is the oldest and the most important university among the ten California universities. Founded in 1868, its campus goes from Berkeley to the Oakland Hills, in front of the San Francisco Bay. Due to the great accomplishments especially in the science field through the years, the university counts 72 Nobel Prizes, 9 Wolf Prizes, 7 Fields Medals, 18 Turing Awards, 45 MacArthur Fellowships, 20 Academy Awards and 11 Pulitzers among its Alumni. UC Berkeley gained also a big notoriety in the ‘60s due to the students’ activism. The Free Speech Movement and the revolts in the People’s Park in 1964 were a big part of the protests raised all over the US, usually associated with the hippie movement. In spite of that, nowadays the campus is among the most pacific ones in California, counting numerous green areas and peculiar buildings.
Places to see
A one day tour around the city
I know what you’re thinking, one day in certainly not enough to visit a city. But if for some reasons you find yourself in this situation, I will guide you through the places you really cannot miss in Berkeley. Start your day with visiting some of the main historical hotspots of the city: the Sproul Hall, Sather Gate (remembered especially for the many protests for freedom of speech that took place there in the ‘60s), Sathet Tower and the impressive Hearst Mining Building, where Roosevelt had a speech back in 1903. Then go ovest towards the Life Science Building, a massive building with really nice external decorations with animals figures. For a relaxing afternoon, I would suggest you go to the Faculty Glade, full of oaks, cedars and amazing lawn, ideal for a picnic or a nap. Another interesting place is the Berkeley University Art Museum, located in a weird building shaped as a fan. It was founded back in the ‘60s by the expressionist Hoffman, who left many of his pieces to the museum. Near the Museum you can find the University Botanic Garden and the Lawrence Hall of Science, a science museum with a suggestive view of the Bay.
Welcome to the Valhalla
If you want to see the best view of East Bay, Berkeley Hills is the place to be. This neighborhood will give you an overlook of Bay bridges, San Francisco but also the Golden Gate. Sometimes referred as the “Valhalla”, the mythological home of the Nordic Gods in the sky, Berkeley Hill is also known for its high quality of life and forested hilltop homes. Try to see also the hills floating in the fog when it decides to rolls in below. You should also discover houses around Southampton Avenue. Rich in the variety of architecture (with Italian villas and Tudor manors), you will be highly impressed.
Center of arts
Downtown Berkeley has been the main center of commerces in the town. Today, you can discover this city center across arts and gastronomy. If you want to discover new artists, with a big variety of music, you should just go to the Freight. Created in 1968, the Berkeley Repertory Theater is the home of theatre and music shows. As an example, in 2011 American Idiot musical has been launched in this theatre for the first time. Downtown Berkeley is also where all events happen. Just visit downtownberkeley.com/ to enjoy the events.
Welcome to San Francisco Bay. If you want to have a walk near the ocean, this is the best place. Near Cesar Chavez Park, you will have an incredible view of San Francisco, Alcatraz and Oakland. And of course, this is the best spot to admire the sunset under San Francisco. Do you really want to miss that?
The old district
If you follow the College Avenue, you will find Elmwood. The neighborhood is primarily residential but it also has a small commercial area. Elmwood is one of the oldest residential neighborhood, built from nothing during the housing boom that followed the 1906 earthquake. For this reason, walking around you will be able to see some of the Colonial Revival homes, usually one or two stories, usually landscaped with well-kept gardens. The commercial corridor is centered on the intersection of Ashby and College Avenue, but it spans College Avenue two blocks in each direction. There is also a small movie theater near the intersection.
Learn more about accommodation and living in the following cities around the world