Has a change in jobs or a work promotion made you think about moving to San Jose, CA? You wouldn’t be the first.
San Jose, California, is currently growing at an annual rate of 0.17%, and since the last census its population has increased by 9.27%. With a current population of over a million, San Jose is the third-largest city in California and the largest city in Silicon Valley.
Home to the world’s biggest tech centers, the innovative city is the financial and cultural capital of the Golden State.
And for house hunters not on a budget, living in San Jose is a great option if you’re a young professional looking to shorten your commute. To find out more, keep reading for our complete guide to living in the city. We’ll cover:
- About San Jose
- The Climate
- The Best San Jose Suburbs and Neighborhoods
- Employment in San Jose
- Cost of Living in San Jose, California
- Attractions In and Around San Jose
- Food and Restaurants in San Jose
- How to Get There – Moving to San Jose
- Is San Jose a Good Place to Live? Final Thoughts
About San Jose
San Jose was the first city in the Californias to be founded in 1777. Back then, it went by the name of the Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe. However, after the Mexican War of Independence, the city became part of Mexico.
Eventually ceded back to the U.S. in 1848, San Jose, which translates to “Saint Joseph,” would go on to remain a permanent part of U.S. territory.
After the Second World War, San Jose experienced an economic boom. This sparked a large population growth and meant the city could begin to build out into more of an urban metropolitan area.
In the 2000s, big tech centers such as Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and Google began to set up their headquarters in the surrounding area, and the real economic growth started. This has made the city what it is today.
The weather in San Jose, California, is best described as Medditeranean. Summers are warm and dry, with temperatures averaging around 82°F (27.8°C) during August, for example.
Living in San Jose during the winter isn’t too bad either, with mild lows averaging 42°F (5.6°C) in December.
While the average rainfall in San Jose is notably lower than other Bay Area cities, the wettest season is winter. Residents can expect to see an average of 15.9 inches (403.9mm) of precipitation per year.
The Best San Jose Suburbs and Neighborhoods
If you find yourself moving to the city, choosing where to live in San Jose is likely to be one of the biggest dilemmas you’ll face.
While friendly, livable neighborhoods are abundant, finding a home that fits your budget can be difficult. In fact, the city’s shortage of affordable housing has contributed to the development of a growing homeless population over the years.
Sharing accommodations can be a good option for young professionals considering how to live cheaply in San Jose. But if money is no object, the city is your oyster.
Here are our picks of some of the best inner-city areas to house hunt:
- Willow Glen – As far as commuter-friendly San Jose neighborhoods go, you can’t get much better than charming Willow Glen. Just a stone’s throw from Downtown San Jose, this neighborhood has more of a small-town feel, and on weekends residents enjoy strolling around the independent shops, cozy cafes, restaurants, and year-round Saturday farmers market.
- Japantown – Just north of Downtown San Jose, Japantown is renowned for its eclectic food and drink scene. Some of the city’s best restaurants line this neighborhood’s streets, scattered among high rise apartment buildings and chique townhouses, which are ideal living spaces for young entrepreneurs.
- Evergreen – If views are your thing, look no further than the foothills of Evergreen in East San Jose. Although the area isn’t particularly good for commuting, for those that work remotely it’s a great choice for its access to outdoor parks, hiking trails, basketball courts, and baseball fields.
- Downtown – For proximity to theaters, art galleries, museums, and general culture, try searching for a condo or a converted loft in Downtown San Jose. Although the neighborhood comes with a hefty price tag, the convenience levels are worth it.
Luckily, if you have a car, San Jose is home to a good selection of easily-accessible suburban neighborhoods that offer a respite from the city center’s hustle and bustle.
- West San Jose – This quiet, residential neighborhood is an ideal spot for families looking for larger houses. For shopping, look no further than the malls, which also offer a range of different options for eating out.
- Silver Creek – For house hunters not on a budget, the southeastern San Jose neighborhood of Silver Creek is filled with mansions worth millions of dollars, complete with stunning views of the valley. If a high-end, country-club, fast car lifestyle is what you’re after, Silver Creek could be the place for you.
- Edenvale – In contrast, if you’re looking for a more affordable neighborhood in the city’s suburbs, Edenvale is a practical option that’s still not too far away from the city center. The area is also home to above average public schools, parks, and coffee shops.
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Employment in San Jose
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in San Jose, CA, is focused in four occupational sectors: computer and mathematical, management, architecture, and engineering.
In May 2019, the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara Metropolitan Area had an average hourly wage of $40.37, around 57% above the national average.
These salaries have gradually been inflated by jobs in the startup sector and the trillion-dollar big tech industry, many of which have their centers in Silicon Valley.
The unemployment rate in the San Jose metropolitan area is 3.5%. This is way below the national U.S. average of 10.5%.
Cost of Living in San Jose, California
There’s no denying it. Living in San Jose comes at a (very expensive) price. In fact, the state has the highest median home value in the continental U.S. at $579,332.
Top-tier homes in 2020 can set you back an average of $1,065,479, while the median condo value is $525,594.
Real estate prices in California show no signs of going down, as the housing shortage continues to drive them up. Estimates by consulting firm McKinsey predict that the state needs 3.5 million new homes by 2025 in order to close the gap.
However, if you’ve decided that the Bay Area is the place for you, consider the cost of living in San Jose vs. San Francisco – you’ll find that San Jose is lower by approximately 25.5%.
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Attractions In and Around San Jose
In Downtown San Jose, besides the restaurants and bars to explore, you’ll also be close to the San Jose Flea Market. This is a great place to visit for live music, trivia nights, free dance lessons, food festivals, and other entertainment.
If museums are more your scene, there’s the San Jose Museum of Art and the Tech Interactive, which is a science and technology center in Downtown. This Silicon Valley landmark also has an Interactive IMAX Dome Theater. However, keep an eye on the website for COVID-19 guidelines and reopening information.
For more family-friendly days out, the Winchester Mystery House is also a great place for children and admirers of historic architecture.
Given that San Jose is surrounded by the Santa Cruz mountains, there are also lots of options for day-trips outside the city. Some ideas for outdoor activities around San Jose include:
- A visit to Castle Rock State Park
- Hiking in Rancho San Antonio State Park
- Ziplining at Mount Hermon Adventures
Food and Restaurants in San Jose
Although San Jose, California doesn’t have its own unique cuisine, the city is home to stellar restaurants that serve delicious food from all over the world.
Head down to Santana Row in West San Jose to find a mixture of casual to fine dining spots, from sushi and Japanese cuisine at Ozumo, to the French brasserie-style of Left Bank, burgers at The Counter, or Mexican food at Tacolicious.
How to Get There – Moving to San Jose
Do you know the way to San Jose? Well, the good news is that if you’re moving from San Francisco to San Jose, the journey only takes about an hour on the bus. From other cities in the U.S., however, it takes a bit longer.
- By air – San Jose is home to the Mineta San Jose International Airport, which is situated just three miles northwest of Downtown. San Jose is also close to San Francisco International Airport and Oakland International Airport.
- By road – San Jose is connected to San Francisco by two major freeways: the US 101 and the Interstate 280. If you’re driving from Los Angeles, take the I-5 North to CA-152 West, and then to US-101 North.
- By train – San Jose sits on one intercity rail line, the Capitol Corridor, which runs through the East Bay and then onto Sacramento and Auburn. The city also has two commuter train lines. All lines stop at Diridon Station.
- By bus – San Jose is accessible by buses run by the following companies: Bolt Bus, California Shuttle Bus, Greyhound, Highway 17 Express, Hoang Express, InterCalifornias, TUFESA, Megabus, and Jass.
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Is San Jose a Good Place to Live? Final Thoughts
If you’re considering moving to this area of the U.S., you’ll definitely want to factor in the lack of affordable housing and high cost of living in San Jose, California.
However, if you can afford it — as many high-paying tech jobs in the area allow — this innovative city, located against the backdrop of the beautiful Santa Clara mountains, could be the place of the ideal home you’ve always dreamed of.