It's been a long time since I lived in the Bay Area. I used to work out of Hayward. Nobody ever really thought about living in Oakland unless it was up in the Oakland Hills. I had a student who lived on Alameda Island, which was fairly nice. Lots of people are now commuting from the Central Valley, places like Tracy, Stockton, Modesto, etc because the price of housing in the Bay Area is so high. Those places aren't really that interesting though. If you are going to do that you may as well go up to Sacramento or into the foothills. Places like Auburn, Placerville, or Columbia.
To the north it is pretty industrial until you get over the bridge into Vallejo. There are some nice communities nestled in the hills there. Another student had a very nice place on a golf course between Fairfield and Napa. Napa Valley itself is pretty nice, but expensive.
Once you get over the hills dividing the Bay Area from the Central Valley there is a significant climate change. The Central Valley is much warmer in the summer and much cooler in the winter. That is one of the reasons people didn't live out there until the price of housing got so astronomical in the Bay Area.
Bay area is obviously way expensive. I would give anything to live in San Francisco. One day I hope. As far as flying out of Oakland, I know of a pilot that lives in the valley and drives in to Oakland for his trips (lives in Turlock). If you are going to commute from the valley to Oakland, I would recommend living in another base. The valley is certainly not as expensive as Oakland, but the costs are still up there because its California. The valley is nothing like the bay area. Very hot and dusty in the summer and very cold and foggy during the winter. I lived there a while and every chance I got I went to San Fran. Its probably better to live in a cheaper base, put away some money, and move to the Oakland base after you have already saved. If not, renting in the area is possible, but you would be dumping a lot of hard earned money into property you will never own. Just my opinion....its almost nice enough to do the renting thing though. Quality of life is amazing there and almost worth the money.