If you think San Francisco is the main city when it comes to Silicon Valley, think again. San Jose is the original, and even today is the capital of Silicon Valley. San Jose is home to a number of leading tech giants and Fortune 500 companies in the US, and residents enjoy one of the highest average annual salaries in the US. But what San Jose boasts in terms of business and industrial capability, it lacks in personality and vibe. Read on for the good and bad of San Jose to figure whether moving here is good for you.
What Should I Know Before Moving To San Jose?
The huge concentration of high-tech engineering, microprocessor, computers, and other big companies in and around a region of California led it to be called Silicon Valley. At the heart of the Valley is its largest city, San Jose, the seat of culture, economics and politics. Founded way back in 1777, today it grows at an annual rate of 0.17%. With an estimated 2020 population of 1,033,670 people, San Jose is the 3rd largest city in the state of California and the 10th largest city in the US. Spanning over 181 miles, it has a population density of 5,813 people per square mile.
San Jose is characterized by its innovation, high concentration of big corporations and companies, and Mediterranean climate. It certainly holds a lot of appeal: the promise to work for some of the world’s best (and best paying) companies, excellent provisions for education and affluence abounding. Unfortunately, the flipside of this coin is quite terrifying: the expenses. San Jose has some of the highest cost of living rates in the country. But before we delve into those morbid details, get acquainted with the rest of what this city has to offer.
There’s plenty to do in and around San Jose, and it is an excellent city for those seeking to be closer to nature. It possesses almost 16,000 acres of parkland within the city limits, including part of the huge Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Take a stroll in the city’s oldest park, Alum Rock Park, established in 1872, or visit the beaches of Santa Cruz, a 30 minute drive away over the mountains.
Culture and music lovers will also find plenty to do here, among which are enjoying music at the jazz festivals that happen downtown, catching shows at the San Jose center for Performing Arts, browsing museums downtown and visiting the Happy Hollow Park and Zoo.
There’s also several great restaurants to choose from, and you’ll find a predominance of Vietnamese and Mexican food. Japantown is a must visit, as are the Vietnamese restaurants run by the large number of Vietnamese expats. Amenities are easily available at one of the city’s many grocery stores. You will find big names like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Costco, Target and FoodMaxx with at least one if not more outlets in the city.
Crime Rate In San Jose
One thing that San Jose has less of is crime! Like any other big city, crime definitely has its presence in San Jose, but it has comparatively low rates. The violent crime rate comparison per 1,000 residents is 4.38, just a tad bit over the national average of 4 and a tad bit under the Californian average of 4.47. The rate of property crimes per 1,000 residents is 25.49, crossing the national average (24) and the Californian average (23.8) by a small margin. For similar sized cities all across America, San Jose is actually safer than most.
San Jose Weather
San Jose boasts some of the best weather in all of the United States. With over 300 days of sunshine in the year, annual temperatures hit an average high of 77°F. Winters are pleasant and lovely to explore the city, especially since there’s no snow to clog up the streets. San Jose is protected on 3 sides by mountains, and lies on the rain shadow side of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Summer lasts from June to October with an average daily high temperature above 78°F. San Jose sumners are usually dry, which means the sun doesn’t need to share space with rain clouds, like in other cities like Sarasota or Miami. However, a rare thunderstorm may occur when a monsoon storm drifts here from Arizona. But the skies are sure to clear soon after.
Fall is brief and thankfully has no rainfall. Winter season on the other hand is mild and pleasant, with an average low temperature of 42°F. But you may find a rainy shower or two, especially in the months of January and February when there could be a few thunderstorms.
San Jose faces a problem of another kind; it lies near the San Andreas Fault and the Calaveras Fault, making it prone to earthquakes. Minor earthquakes occur a few times a year, some of magnitudes so low that people can’t even feel them.
How Expensive Is San Jose?
Now to answer the deal-breaking question. Keep in mind that these statistics will vary depending on the location of San Jose you choose to live in, but everything will have a certain state income tax rate, the rate of which will vary based on how much you earn.
A family of 4 will have to spend around $3,635.33 a month on expenses, while a single person will spend around $1,006.48.
You’ll spend around $4.02 on a loaf of bread, and $4.06 on bananas. A gallon of milk is $2.34, while you’ll spend around $.2.18 on a carton of eggs. Healthcare in San Jose is 16% higher than the national average, with a visit to the doctor costing $128.53.
Buying A Home
Housing expenses in San Jose are 148% higher than the national average, and the typical home value of houses is $1,104,081. This value has gone up 15.2% over the past year and may rise by another 12.1%. The median home price is $860,907.
Renting A House
The average monthly rent in San Jose is $2,554. A massive 86% of the houses in San Jose are rented for over $2,000 a month, while only 13% are rented for in between $1,500 and $2,000. Renting is clearly not a trend in San Jose, especially considering the jobs. Once you land a position with these, you would certainly want to move closer to work. This is why it’s no surprise that only 26% of the households in San Jose are renter-occupied.
Utility bills in San Jose are 26% higher than the national average. You’ll spend around $210.75 a month on your energy bills, and around $224.65 a month on your phone bill. A gallon of gas is $2.91. In terms of water bills, you’ll pay $3.2770 for between 0-3 CCF, $4.9160 for 4-18 CCF, and $6.5545 for over 18 CCF. These are costs that exclude the meter rates. The current average monthly bill for water service is approximately $100 (or about $200 per two-month billing period).
San Jose Economy And Employment Opportunities
It goes without saying that San Jose’s biggest strength is its tech prowess. Names like eBay, PayPal, Adobe, Cisco and Verifone are all headquartered here. You have to believe us when we say that these are just a few names out of many more. This makes employment one of the biggest reasons that people move to San Jose. Some of these companies are also some of the highest paying companies to work for. Another big industry in San Jose is manufacturing, offering a range of high-paying jobs.
Software engineers, mechanical engineers and project managers are some of the most popular jobs in San Jose, paying between $57k and $169k per year. Some of the most popular employers in San Jose are Cisco Systems Inc, Apple Computer, Inc, PayPal, Wester Digital and Adobe Systems Incorporated. And finally, the average salary in San Jose: 101k. This helps even out the terror of the high rates quite well!
87% of the students in San Jose study in public high schools. If you ask us, that should come as no surprise, considering the high quality of education available. Public education in San Jose is administered by a range of districts, most notably the San Jose Unified School District. 85% of the people in San Jose are high school graduates, with 44% having gone on to complete their bachelor’s.
Discovery Charter School, Montclaire Elementary School, Northwood Elementary School, University Preparatory Academy Charter, Joaquin Miller Middle School, Lynbrook High School and Evergreen Valley High School are some of the many excellent schools available in San Jose. San Jose is also home to some excellent universities, two of which are the San Jose State University and Stanford University.
Getting Around San Jose
San Jose doesn’t have an airport of its own, but is conveniently located only 4 miles away from San Jose Mineta International Airport that serves all of Silicon Valley. It is a well connected city, only 45-minute drive away from its Silicon partner city San Francisco. A proposed California bullet train project will only improve its connectivity with the surrounding region.
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority is the congestion management agency for Santa Clara county. It operates a bus and light rail service in the county, which includes San Jose.
Light Rail and Bus
There are 3 routes for the light rail: the orange line, blue line and green line. All 3 lines are designed to move passengers from the suburban areas into the major business areas that surround. Lines run for 20 hours per day on weekdays with an interval of 15 minutes. On weekends, the train runs at 20-minute headways for most of the day. Trains run at 30 minute intervals after around 8 p.m on all days.
There are local buses, as well as frequent buses and express buses, so you get to your destination on time. Express routes have fewer stops and run on freeways, covering longer distances faster than local buses. They mainly operate during peak hours. The fare for a single ride, bus and rail, is $2.50. It accounts for 2 hours of travel.
Altamont Corridor Express (ACE)
The Altamont Corridor Express connects the cities of San Jose and Stockton. Named after the Altamont Pass it runs through, ACE is a commuter rail service in California. The route has a travel time of around 2 hours, with 10 stops in between.
Caltrain is a rail service running from Gilroy to San Francisco. Though it isn’t a local service in San Jose, it stops at a few stations – College Park, San Jose Diridon, Tamien, Capitol and Blossom Hill. Your fare will depend on how far along the route you need to travel, as every station is in a zone. So the farther away the zone, the more expensive the fare. College Park, San Jose Diridon and Tamien fall in Zone 4, while Capitol and Blossom Hill fall in zone 5. It also conveniently connects to San Francisco Airport.
Eco City Cycles
Eco City Cycles is an eco-friendly, zero emissions mode of transportation that runs in San Jose. These fun pedicycles make for a great way to go about the city, and even have their own tours. However, anyone in a hurry to head to work or drop the kids off at school are better off in a bus or car.
BART (San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit)
The BART system is yet to get a foothold in San Jose, but plans are certainly underway. A 6-station extension of the line will connect to San Jose by means of a five-mile subway tunnel. The subway line will run through, or under downtown San Jose, and also connect to 28th Street and Diridon Street. Passengers can get off at Diridon station to hop into a Caltrain, as the two are conveniently connected. These stations are expected to be fully functional and servicing by 2026.
Apart from these, you can also flag down a cab or use ride-hailing apps Uber or Lyft. You can also walk around the city with ease. There are around 392 miles of on-street bikeways in San Jose, so cyclists can pedal their way around the city. However, compared to other cities, the transportation options in San Jose are fairly limited. Those who do not own their own vehicles are certain to have a hard time getting around with ease.
Where Should I Live In San Jose?
Picking the right neighborhood to live in is critical, especially in a city like San jose. There isn’t much public transport to depend on, so your drive to work mustn’t be too long. On top of that, you definitely want a good school for your child’s education to be within distance. Read up on these 3 neighborhoods to get the ball rolling.
1. Willow Glen
Loads of events, quaint houses and a bustling community – Willow Glen is perfect to raise a family or spend your years of retirement. The architecture is of the 1920s, and it has its own downtown, complete with boutiques, restaurants, bars and bookstores. Willow Glen even has its own festivals throughout the year. The typical house value of homes here is $1,370,928, and the average rent is $2,675.
2. North San Jose
Young working professionals and workaholics will love North San Jose for its convenient proximity to the tech companies and offices. It reflects its nature though, as the buildings look dull and the environment is not as vibrant as other corners of San Jose. However, respite from work can be found in the Sierra Vista Open Space preserve. The average rent here is $2,657, and the typical home value is $985,481.
3. Cambrian Park
Cambrian Park is pleasantly family-oriented, and is the perfect neighborhood for those who prefer a quaint suburban lifestyle. The streets are tree-lined, the homes are spacious, and the schools are all high-quality, some of which have even earned the California Distinguished Schools designation. There’s a farmers market that runs from May to September. To add to that, the proximity to lakes and parks means outdoor lovers will have a blast. The typical home value in Cambrian Park is $1,325,758, and the average rent in this neighborhood is $2,145.
Is It Worth Living In San Jose?
This question is a bit of a cliche, since your decision needs to be well thought out. Right off the bat, anyone moving to San Jose with a job relocation package in hand will find it easy to settle in. Having a well-paying job (or a fat savings account left to you by a rich uncle) is essential if you want to live in comfort in San Jose. The job hunt may prove challenging, especially to someone older in age, since fresh graduates from Stanford University and the University of California are constantly gunning for the open positions.
Owning your own vehicle is practically a must in San Jose, unless your route is perfectly aligned with bus and light-rail routes or your company offers daily transit. Even so, traffic can be a pain, so consider your commute time and distance when picking out a neighborhood. San Jose lacks a lot of the dynamism and character that most other cities have in abundance, but it still has things to do and is great for outdoorsy people as well. You may find it drab, or you may find it perfect, which is why you should definitely visit your new neighborhood in person before you buy a house.
Above all else, make sure you have the right moving company for your move. Moving within California would require a local or long-distance moving company, while moving from another state needs an interstate mover who is verified by the FMCSA. Contact us to narrow down on your search and find the perfect movers.
See also: Best Moving Companies in San Jose