Because of the problems that Oakland faces, you want lots of time to find a good apartment. Start your search at least three to four months before you want to move in. This gives you enough time to thoroughly vet any neighborhood or landlord before you commit to a new lease.
When you're looking for a place in Oakland, proving that you're not a part of the problems the city has will be extremely helpful. Show that you're enrolled in school, have steady employment, and have verifiable references when you're coming in from out of town. A lot of Oakland landlords will have experience with problematic tenants, so proving that you're not will be extremely helpful.
As in most of California, bus service is not as comprehensive or as punctual as people who are used to relying on public transit might like. If you're moving within heavily populated areas within central Oakland, the AC transit system or the BART trains should work well. If you need to travel at odd hours, or to the outskirts of the city, you're going to want a car.
If you get a chance to take in an Oakland Raiders NFL game, you'll witness firsthand how intense Oakland sports fans are. Visit Jack London Square to enjoy some great shopping and dining in one of the most tourist-friendly hotspots in town. If you're in the mood for Chinese food, Oakland's Chinatown is a fabulous destination. There are also some fantastic parks in and around Oakland, including the Redwood Regional Park