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Oakland, CA BAH Rates, Education, Cost of Living

Find housing, employment, cost-of-living, and BAH rates for Oakland, CA. Listed below are BAH Rates, college and universities, cost-of-living information, school resources for children of military families, and things to see and do in the Oakland area.

Some of the military installations that are proximal to Oakland include:

Oakland Colleges & Universities

The Oakland area is home to several colleges and universities. This is a partial list.

The state of California offers a College Fee Waiver for Veteran Depends benefit program that waives tuition and fees for public colleges and universities throughout the state. Discover more information about the multiple plans offered under this program.

>>To find more Oakland area schools, use the free CollegeRecon School Finder tool.<<

Using your GI Bill in Oakland

Anyone considering using the Post 9/11 GI Bill in Oakland, you should know the following:

  • You may be eligible for Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) if you are a full-time student.
  • MHA is comparable to the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for an E-5 with dependents.
  • MHA is calculated based on the zip code of where you physically attend most of your classes.
  • Those attending only online classes receive a set MHA of approximately $1,054 (in 2023)
  • Up to $1,000 is available each year for books and supplies.
  • The Post 9/11 GI Bill can be transferred to a spouse or dependents but you must still be on active duty to transfer.
  • The Yellow Ribbon Program offers financial support in specific situations where the GI Bill does not fully cover the cost of tuition at participating colleges

Cost of Living in Oakland

Oakland is located in the Bay Area and provides access to major cities such as San Francisco and San Jose. According to BestPlaces, Oakland has a cost of living score of 195.5  percent, which is 95.5 percent higher than the national average, and 30.4 percent higher than the state average.

The cost of housing in Oakland is significantly higher than the rest of California coming in at 315.6 percent compared to the state average of 234.8 percent.


  • Overall – 195.5
  • Housing – 316.6
  • Groceries – 111.3
  • Transportation – 125.8
  • Utilities – 90.3

Other categories to consider

  • Healthcare
  • Childcare
  • Taxes

Oakland Housing

While Oakland is an expensive place to live because of its location in the Bay Area, it is still possible to find affordable and high quality housing. According to RentCafe, the average rent in Oakland is $2,553 and the average apartment size is 781 square feet.

Some of the most affordable neighborhoods in Oakland include:

  • Fairfax – Median Rent $1,703
  • Fremont – Median Rent $1,703
  • Adams Point – Median Rent $1,996
  • Grand Lake – Median Rent $1,996
  • Cleveland Heights – Median Rent $2,498

Other neighborhoods in Oakland include Piedmont Avenue, Oak Center, Prescott, and Downtown Oakland.

According to Realtor.com, the average sale price of a home in Oakland as of April 2024 is approximately $900,000. The city is currently rated as a balanced market, which indicates that the supply and demand for homes are about the same.

To learn more about VA Loan Program benefits, you can get a free eligibility assessment from our VA loan partner.

Primary Education In Oakland

Access to primary education is an important consideration for parents with school age children. There are currently no DoDEA schools in the Oakland area, however there are many top primary schools in the area.

According to Greatschools.org, some of the top primary schools in Oakland include:

  • Havens Elementary School
  • Wildwood Elementary School
  • Bay Farm
  • Beach Elementary School
  • Amelia Earhart Elementary School

Employment Opportunities

The Oakland area is home to a diverse number of sectors and a competitive job market. The economy of Oakland has been rapidly developing since 2010 and has added over 4,000 businesses to its sector portfolio. According to the City of Oakland, the top industries in the area include:

  • Information Technology
  • Health and Wellness
  • Manufacturing and Logistics
  • Financial
  • Transportation

The largest employers in the Oakland area are Kaiser Permanente, Southwest Airlines, Wells Fargo Bank, McGuire and Hester, and the Clorox Company.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in Oakland as of April 2024 is 4.4 percent.

Things to do in Oakland

Oakland is full of fun and interesting things to do with its rich arts and culture scene and access to stunning natural landscapes. It offers both historic districts and trendy neighborhoods, making it a place that has something for everyone.

Some of the best things to do in Oakland include:

  • Having a day of arts and culture by visiting the Oakland Museum of California, seeing the numerous murals around the city, and catching a show at the Paramount Theatre of the Arts.
  • Getting in touch with nature at the Redwoods Regional Park that features the iconic redwood trees that California is famous for.
  • Spending a day at Lake Merritt, the oldest wildlife refuge in the country, that is described as the jewel of Oakland. This area seamlessly fuses the natural and urban landscape to create a unique area of the city.
  • Visiting the USS Potomac, which is a floating national historic landmark that was the yacht of President Franklin D. Roosevelt until his death in 1945.
  • Having a day of family fun at the Oakland Zoo, which features 850 native and exotic animals, and access to a gondola ride that offers spectacular views of the bay area.

About the author

Sarah Tucci

Sarah is a Philadelphia-based writer. She comes to CollegeRecon with an interdisciplinary background in international relations and cultural heritage with an interest in understanding the intersection of armed conflict and cultural heritage, particularly in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. When not writing for CollegeRecon, Sarah enjoys traveling, watching documentaries, and hanging out with her beloved Pitbull, Brutus.