Life in San Jose: 10 Things to Know BEFORE Moving to San Jose, CA!

Living in San Jose, California 

Moving to San Jose, CA? Here's what it's like living in San Jose!

San Jose, California is the largest city in Northern California. With a current population of 1.028 million people, the city continues to grow as more and more young professionals and college graduates move to the area searching for high-paying jobs. Spanish for Saint Joseph, San Jose is the third most populous city in California and is considered one of the best places to live in California. A great place to live, San Jose is considered the gateway to the Bay Area. Only an hour south of San Francisco and thirty minutes away from the beaches of Santa Cruz, San Jose is in the perfect location.

Moving to San Jose, CA - what is it like living in San Jose, California?

Part of Santa Clara County, San Jose is most notable for its affluent lifestyle, flourishing job market, cultural diversity, and beautiful natural landscape. Providing residents with a mixture of urban and suburban living, there is always something to do and the public school system is highly rated. If you have always wanted to live in California and are considering a move to San Jose, then this moving guide was created to help you make a decision. Read on to learn more about the 10 Things to Know BEFORE Moving to San Jose, California!

1. San Jose is the capital of Silicon Valley.

Considered the leader of the technology revolution, the city is booming with the high-tech industry at the front and center. The heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose has become the desired location for innovators and world leaders of many software and computer companies. In fact, San Jose is home to over 6,600 technology companies and start-ups. Named Silicon Valley for its production of silicon chips, San Jose is bustling with high-tech businesses.

Attracting only the best in the industry to the area, the demographic continues to change as young professionals move in with hopes to land a job at one of the top company names in the nation. Some of the most well-known companies that are headquartered in San Jose include Adobe, PayPal, Cisco, eBay, Calyx Software, Verifone, Sage Intacct, and Western Digital. Other industry leaders such as Apple, Google, and Netflix are located close by in the neighboring cities of Cupertino, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Menlo Park. 

San Jose skyline on a sunny day with the mountains in the background

2. The weather is beautiful.  

While many residents move to the area for job opportunities, most stay for the weather. Experiencing the amazing temperatures of a warm Mediterranean climate, San Jose is thought to have the most incredible weather in the country. Residents can expect warm and dry sunny weather in the summer alongside cool and mild wet winters. With an average daily temperature of 68 degrees, most mornings begin in the 60s and warm up to be in the mid-70s by afternoon year-round. The warmest month is August with an average high temperature of 71 degrees and the coldest month is January with an average high temperature of 59 degrees.

If you are moving from a cold climate you might want to consider leaving your snow shovel and heavy jackets behind since it never dips below freezing. No stranger to sunshine, San Jose has over 300 days of sunshine each year. This means that the city only receives an average of 17 inches of rainfall annually. While this abundance of sunshine means more time to spend outdoors, San Jose like the rest of California is in a horrible drought. Residents are encouraged to conserve water and to watch out for wildfires. 

3. High cost of living.

Known as the 31st most expensive city in the entire world, the cost of living in San Jose is famously high. With such a large demand to live here, the cost of living is 49% higher than the national average and housing costs are 81% higher than the national average. Considered one of the wealthiest cities in the United States, San Jose is home to the highest amount of multi-million dollar homes in the country. Due to the mass amount of successful technology companies in the area that pay their workers’ high salaries, the San Jose metropolitan area has the most amount of millionaires and billionaires in the country living within city limits.

Housing prices are not cheap. As of 2021, the median housing price is a whopping 1.2 million dollars. For those wanting to rent, the average rental price for a one-bedroom apartment is close to $3,000 and a two-bedroom apartment is close to $4,000. Plus with the added cost of utilities, living in the city will take a large portion of your paycheck. In order to live in San Jose, most residents will need to make an average annual income of $132,000 just to afford daily expenses. Families that make an average annual income of $150,000 in San Jose are considered low income. In order to live comfortably, a home buyer is recommended to make at least $15,000 a month or $180,000 a year.     

San Jose palm trees with downtown skyline and buildings in background

4. Get your fix of Japanese and Vietnamese food. 

San Jose is home to the oldest Japantown in the country. Located on Jackson Street downtown, residents can immerse themselves in authentic Japanese culture. The Japanese American Museum of San Jose even resides in this area of the town which features rotating exhibits and displays of Japanese American art, history, and culture. San Jose also has the greatest number of Vietnamese residents living in the city. With such international influence, San Jose is known for its delicious and authentic Vietnamese and Japanese food. If you love feasting on homemade Pho then this part of the city is a must-visit. Check out local favorite restaurants such as Pho Kim Long, Pho Viet, and Pho Dao Restaurant.

5. San Joseans love hockey. 

While San Jose, California may not seem like a hockey city, residents say otherwise. Home to the San Jose Sharks who play in the western division of the National Hockey League, head to the SAP Center at San Jose to watch a game. Make sure to wear your teal and black! This is a must-do.

San Jose City Hall at night time with the lights on inside the building

6. Make use of public transportation.

San Jose certainly experiences its fair share of heavy traffic. While not as bad as the traffic in Los Angeles, commuting to and from work especially during rush hour is sure to cause a few tears. Ranked as having some of the worst traffic in the country, finding other ways to get around instead of driving might be the better option. Since San Jose and the Bay Area are so spread out unlike New York City or San Francisco, getting rid of your car altogether is not recommended. But, with reliable public transportation options and rideshare services available, cut your commuting time in half while also reducing your stress levels. Most residents utilize the VTA Light Rail which takes you throughout the city and the rest of Silicon Valley fast and efficiently at an affordable price. The Bay Area Rapid Transit System is another train option that connects San Jose with surrounding suburban areas as well as providing routes to San Francisco and Oakland

7. Stock up on your reusable bags.

As a progressive city that loves to embrace environmental and sustainable efforts, San Jose encourages its residents to cut back on single-use plastics and products. When going shopping at your local grocery store or big-box store, make sure to bring your own reusable shopping bag. If you forget your own then be prepared to pay a minimum charge of $0.10 per bag no matter if it is paper or plastic. If you are moving to the area from outside of California then this may come as a surprise but this reduction of single-use plastic has caused residents to become more aware of their buying habits and the effect it has on the environment. 

8. In-N-Out is addicting.

The infamous In-N-Out Burger is a chain of fast-food restaurants that are prevalent in California and the southwest of the United States. If you are moving from an area that has no idea what an In-N-Out Burger is then you will soon learn why everyone is talking about it. Considered a right of passage, you are not officially a resident of San Jose until you have had a taste of what the hype is all about. Featuring cheeseburgers made with fresh ingredients, fries, and handspun milkshakes, In-N-Out Burger has certainly made an impact on Northern California. There is even a not-so-secret menu that needs to be tried. Order your cheeseburger animal style or get the grilled cheese which is the go-to for vegetarians. 

San Jose California with a skyline and mountains in the background

9. There are a lot of things to do.

Since San Jose is so business-minded, many young adults may be disappointed in the lack of nightlife. While there may be a few bars in town, most of the nightlife and club scenes can be found in San Francisco. On the other hand, if art, museums, and amusement parks are more on your level then you will be happy to know that San Jose has plenty of that. After long days in the office, residents need a way to relax and have fun after all. 

Check out these local favorite things to do: 

  • The Winchester Mystery House: The previous home of Sarah Winchester, the heiress of Winchester’s Repeating Arms, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Featuring many trap doors and dead ends inside the mansion, take a tour to learn all about the mystery that surrounds the estate. 

  • California’s Great America: A great place to bring the family, spend the day at this amusement park and waterpark. The waterpark even features a lazy river!

  • San Jose Museum of Art: This modern and contemporary art museum was founded in 1969 and is a cool place to admire both permanent collections and rotating exhibits.  

  • The Tech Interactive: Explore technology and how it affects your life at this non-profit institution that has workshops and an IMAX theatre. 

  • Santana Row: This residential area and shopping district hosts multiple events including a summer outdoor concert series and a weeknight farmers market where you can walk around and buy drinks.

10. Your dog will love San Jose too.

Do you have a dog or are you wanting to adopt one? Then you are in luck! San Jose is super dog-friendly. Not only are most apartments dog friendly but there are plenty of outdoor activities and dining options that allow you to bring your pet. Plus, since the weather is always nice and sunny it makes it easy for you to bring your pet along on all of your adventures. Some workplaces are even dog-friendly and allow you to bring your pet along to the office.

Check out these local dog parks and dog-friendly places in San Jose: 

  • Saratoga Creek Dog Park: A great place to play fetch and for your furry friend to socialize. There are even picnic tables for the people. One thing to note is that the park is not split up into a large and small dog area, all dogs no matter the size share the space. 

  • Hart’s Dog Park: Everyone is super friendly and the park is nice and small. 

  • Almaden Quicksilver County Park: What was once the location of former mercury mines, this 4,163-acre park is a great workout for both you and your pup. Walk up the high hills and enjoy the scenic views once you reach the top.

  • The Table San Jose: Featuring a dog-friendly patio, this restaurant is serving up a seasonal menu with an open kitchen. 

  • Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar: The dog-friendly patio at this bar and restaurant is super accommodating.

Moving to San Jose, CA - The Bottom Line

Famous for its unique activities and prevalence in the technology world, San Jose has certainly made a name for itself on the map. Holding the third highest GDP per capita in the world, San Jose is both wealthy and costly. Much like most large cities, San Jose has its fair share of dangerous crime but with the help of our team finding a home in a safe neighborhood could not be easier. When searching for a home, reach out to one of our knowledgeable Realty Specialists to help aid and guide you through the home buying process. Contact us today to help you find your dream home in sunny San Jose, California!

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I am a REALTOR®. My goal is to help you learn more about real estate through our Real Estate Blog! Hopefully, you enjoyed the above blog post and it found a way to provide help or value to you. When you're ready to buy or sell a home of your own let us know here. Please feel free to join the conversation by dropping us a comment below.