Moving to San Jose, CA? Read Our Ultimate Moving Guide
If a move to San Jose is in your future, get ready for a unique lifestyle in a scenic city at the very heart of the global tech industry. While San Jose is famous for its Silicon Valley locale, there’s a lot more to the city. Read on for what you need to know to get the most out of living in San Jose, then call on Suddath®‘s San Jose residential moving services to get you there.
Tech Is Just the Beginning
Your first question after moving to San Jose is whether the city is in the Santa Clara Valley, the San Francisco Bay Area, or Silicon Valley. The answer is yes, to all three! San Jose is the seat of Santa Clara County, located on the southern shore of San Francisco Bay, and an important part of California’s high-tech hub. This third-largest city in California is about much more than startup companies and microprocessors, though—San Jose is a cosmopolitan city with a diverse population, and a nearly perfect climate (if your idea of perfect is an abundance of sunshine and a January high temperature of 72°F). It’s also home to more than 15,000 acres of city parks and just a short drive from San Francisco.
It’s true that the cost of living is notoriously high, thanks to the influx of affluent tech people from all over the world, but there aren’t too many other shortcomings in this expansive city. Check out the rest of our guide to help you know what to expect as you plan your move to San Jose.
Getting Around San Jose
Unlike many other major American cities, two of the best ways to get where you’re going in San Jose is by foot or bicycle. Many San Jose neighborhoods are thoroughly walkable and roads are bike-friendly, making the city a place you live without a car.
When it comes to in-city transportation, San Jose truly leads the way. Its mass transit strategy is seen in everything from its investment in reducing congestion on local roads to employers that offer incentives for those who commute via public transportation or carpooling.
There are several excellent public transportation systems (with great savings for residents who purchase a pass), including:
- The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) runs several bus lines, three light rail lines, and special transportation services for people with disabilities. It offers service to a number of surrounding cities, such as Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Santa Clara.
- Caltrain is a commuter rail line that runs from San Francisco south to Gilroy. It has 32 stations, most of which offer daily service.
The city is served by the San Jose Mineta International Airport (SJC), which is known as “Silicon Valley’s airport” and is just four miles from downtown. If you don’t find the flight you want from among SJC’s 170+ flights a day, it’s an easy drive to the international airports in Oakland and San Francisco, which can take you anywhere in the world.
San Jose also has all of the ride-share services you’d expect in a tech-savvy town, such as Lyft and Uber, plus bike-share services, hourly car rentals, and more options that you may not find in the city you’re coming from.
San Jose for Families? Yes!
Where else can you wander through the redwoods one weekend and visit kid-friendly wineries the next? If you’ve wondered what moving to San Jose with kids is like, you may be surprised just how family-friendly the city and the surrounding Bay Area can be. In and around Silicon Valley, the multiple museums, aquariums, wildlife centers, botanical gardens, indoor play spaces, bike parks and paths, zoos and so much more provide a nearly endless list of places for kids of all ages to go. San Francisco—one of the world’s great cities—has everything a family could want for entertainment and recreation, while San Jose’s own neighborhoods each offer something great to do or see.
Parents will be glad to know it’s not all fun and games, though—the schools in the San Jose area are excellent. In addition to the top-notch public school system, the county also offers educational alternatives, including a long list of charter schools, most with a particular focus. There are more than 70 public elementary, middle and high schools, and more than 180 private schools throughout the area. Twenty-two of San Jose’s high schools are recognized on the U.S. News & World Report’s Best High School rankings.
Visit the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s website and these links for more information about San Jose schools:
Things to Do and See in San Jose
Have you never met a bike trail that’s too challenging? Or is quality time spent sampling the latest ale at a great brewery more your speed? Whatever you do for entertainment or enrichment, San Jose and the surrounding region have you covered.
Here’s just a fraction of the area attractions, landmarks, and culture available:
- Raging Waters
- California’s Great America
- Monterey Bay Aquarium
- Winchester Mystery House
- Children’s Discovery Museum
- Cinnabar Hills Golf Club
- Lick Observatory
- The Tech Museum
- Intel Museum
There are plenty of out-of-the-ordinary options as well, including San Jose Semaphore, art installation atop Adobe’s headquarters that invites visitors to get interactive, 24/7 gaming at Casino M8trix, and a gigantic Monopoly game with a 930-square-foot permanent game board at Monopoly in the Park.
When it comes to the visual arts and exceptional museums, it doesn’t get much better than what San Jose has to offer visitors and residents:
San Jose Sports and Recreation
Maybe it’s the year-round great weather or perhaps there’s just something in the water, but either watching or participating in sports and related activities are very big in San Jose and the Bay Area.
Like to support the home teams? These are just some of the major league teams in the San Jose and Bay Area:
- San Jose Sharks (NHL)
- San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)
- Oakland Athletics (MLB)
- San Francisco 49ers (NFL)
- San Francisco Giants (MLB)
- Oakland Raiders (NFL)
- Golden State Warriors (NBA)
If you can’t just sit on the sidelines, there are plenty of opportunities to take part in your favorite recreational activities. Here are just a very few ways to get in the game:
- Golf: Choose from municipal courses and private clubs throughout the area.
- Surfing: A short drive takes you to the sandy beaches of Santa Cruz (“Surf City,” according to some).
- Archery: San Jose has more than its share of archery clubs and ranges for beginners and pros.
- Climbing: Visit one of dozens of indoor climbing gyms or get out in one of the any state parks to tackle real terrain.
- Fishing: You can drive to the shore for saltwater fishing, or cast a line on the thousands of acres at one of the recreation areas, lakes or reservoirs, including Calero Reservoir, Anderson Reservoir, or Coyote Lake.
- Skateboarding: Wherever you land when you move to San Jose, you probably won’t be far from a skate park. Some are part of larger “adventure” parks, while others are freestanding.
- Paintball: In addition to a large paintball facility right in San Jose, there are several other fields and facilities within easy driving distance.
- Hiking and biking: San Jose and the Bay Area is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise. With forests, mountains and beaches, there are trails for every level of ability.
Higher Education Opportunities in San Jose
If you’re reading this guide, there’s a reasonably good chance you’re moving to the San Jose, CA area to attend one of the area’s public or private colleges or universities. That’s because the area’s population is near the top for education level in the U.S.
The Bay Area draws students from around the world to elite and highly renowned schools such as Stanford University, The University of California, San Francisco, and The University of California, Berkeley. Right here in town is San Jose State University, ranked as one of the top 15 public master’s universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report, and a destination for engineering, business and science students. Browse the Wikipedia page for an extensive list of colleges and universities in the San Francisco Bay Area.
San Jose Neighborhoods and Districts
The best way to describe San Jose neighborhoods and communities in a word is “diverse.” Whatever your idea of a Bay Area neighborhood is, San Jose probably has a good example. These are just some of the most popular neighborhoods to consider if you’re planning on moving to San Jose, plus a few that are always worth visiting:
Downtown San Jose: The crowds and cost of living in San Francisco make downtown San Jose an increasingly desirable destination for those who want a downtown living experience without many of the downsides.
St. Leo’s: It’s walkable, close to downtown San Jose, and is a center of gay life in the city. If you’re a homebuyer who prefers houses with character and history, you’ll want to look into this neighborhood, since the majority of homes were built before 1930.
The Alameda: You’ll want to return again and again to this district to sample great food, wine and craft beer, and everything else this area’s restaurants and tasting rooms have to offer. The Alameda also has a 200-year history and stories to tell.
West San Jose: If you want to come home to a more leisurely pace after a workday in the city, West San Jose is right for you. It’s a good spot for families, since it’s mostly residential.
Almaden Valley: Peaceful and pretty, with open spaces all around, Almaden Valley is known for its stellar views overlooking San Jose. Located in southwestern Santa Clara County, Almaden Valley is relatively more affordable than many other San Jose neighborhoods. It also has a low crime rate and high-quality schools.
Japantown: This neighborhood is a top choice in San Jose, thanks to its one-of-a-kind vibe and environment. Downtown is only one mile from Japantown, but people choose to live in the neighborhood for many more reasons, including its cultural options, great shopping and restaurants, and year-round farmer’s market.
Little Italy: This small district packs a lot of diversity, culture and great Italian fare into its few blocks. Come for dinner, the annual Little Italy Street Festival, and an interesting lesson in the neighborhood’s history.
Willow Glen: This neighborhood is urban and upscale, but still feels like a small town. It’s a very popular area, thanks to its easy commute to downtown to its north, a great collection of shops, bars, eateries and coffee shops, and a choice of beautiful, historic homes.
Evergreen: Great, scenic views of the foothills provide the backdrop to a range of communities in this newer San Jose neighborhood. Its high schools rank as some of California’s best.
Cupertino: Yes, it’s home to Apple’s world headquarters, but plenty of residents call it home as well. Cupertino’s schools are exceptional, making it a good spot for families with children.
Silver Creek: Silver Creek is known for its large, luxury homes and affluent residents, but it has a somewhat more affordable side as well. You’ll find plenty of people who live here to get away from their high-powered work lives in Silicon Valley’s tech sector.
San Jose Restaurants Bring You the Globe
Authentic ethnic restaurants capture the best of San Jose’s multicultural population and style, and it will take you a long time to sample them all. San Jose’s food scene gives San Francisco a real run for its money, with don’t miss food destinations like these:
Shop ‘Til You Drop in San Jose
San Jose shoppers can expect nothing but the best, with luxury retail options with top designer brands. There are also malls, of course, great deals at outlets, the year-round San Jose Flea Market (which gets more than four million visitors each year and is the nation’s largest outdoor market), and everything in between. These are just some shopping choices in and around San Jose:
- Santana Row
- Grand Century Mall
- The Great Mall
- Midtown Arts Mercantile
- Park Place Vintage
- Streetlight Records
- Ohana Board Shop
- Westfield Valley Fair
- Gilroy Premium Outlets
- San Pedro Square Market
Important San Jose Links
Planning to move to San Jose? Visit the following links for important information for new residents.
Esri. Find statistics on San Jose, CA, based on ZIP code.
DMV/Licenses. Get your California state ID or driver’s license at the local State of California Department of Motor Vehicles office. You can find the closest San Jose DMV location based on your address by using the location map.
Voting Locations. Use the County of Santa Clara Elections website to find polling places.
Hurricane and Emergency Shelters. The county of Santa Clara offers several shelters that residents can use. You can use the county’s website to locate the shelter should the need arise.
Evacuation Maps for Natural Disasters. Use the emergency management website at SanJoseCA.gov to find out where to go and what you should have prepared.
Trash/ Recycling Services. San Jose residents can get trash pickup and recycling services from the city.
Cable and Internet Providers
Let the Experts Move You to San Jose
If you’re planning on moving to San Jose, learn more about the full suite of moving services Suddath provides, including residential moving, employee relocation, office moving and much more. We invite you to request a free, no-obligation moving quote online, over the phone, or via your mobile device with a smartphone video estimate. You can also read reviews from our San Jose customers.
Moving to San Jose, CA: FAQ
The question of whether San Jose is a good city for retirement depends upon what’s most important to you. If you’re looking to spend your retirement in a city with great weather, a diverse cultural scene, fantastic restaurants and that’s close to beaches, San Jose may be the perfect choice. But if you’re on a moderate, fixed budget, you’ll find better choices in the region. The cost of living in the Bay Area is one of the highest in the U.S., with the high cost of senior care such as assisted living and expensive real estate. Taxes on the wealthiest individuals are also high.
If you have the means, however, retiring to the Bay Area gives you access to some of the best healthcare facilities in the country, including top-ranked Stanford Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, a research and teaching hospital.
If you’re trying to decide whether a move to San Jose is right for you, here are a few of the most commonly cited pros and cons.
• Fantastic weather tops the list! You can get outdoors in the sun nearly every day, with an average of 301 days of sunshine every year. “Snow” is not part of the local vocabulary.
• Jobs are plentiful, particularly if you’re in the tech sector. Some of the world’s largest tech employers are right outside your door in San Jose.
• That great weather lets you take good advantage of the nearly 16,000 acres of parks, plus the nearby mountains and shoreline.
• The city has a low crime rate, thanks to a high level of security.
• Cultural options abound, from film and music festivals, to museums and art exhibitions.
• San Jose’s location puts you within easy driving distance of San Francisco, Napa Valley, Monterey, and many other cities that are destinations for travelers from everywhere in the world.
• The cost of living is high in California, and the San Jose region has one of the highest in the state. Median home values and rental costs put the city out of reach for many people.
• If you like to have nightlife just steps from your door, San Jose may not be the city for you. It’s fairly quiet after the work day is done and commuters leave for home.
• There are certainly California cities with worse traffic problems (hello, L.A.?), but as a large city, San Jose has the typical traffic woes in some spots.
The fact that San Francisco has the highest rents of all cities in the U.S. gets a lot of media attention, and it often overshadows San Jose’s place as the fourth most-expensive rental market. If you’re looking to be a San Jose homeowner, however, the answer isn’t quite as clear. Real estate prices in high-end areas may be stratospheric, but if you’re willing to commute (via the area’s excellent public transportation options), there are suburbs and nearby cities where housing prices are more affordable.
Overall, the cost of living in the Bay Area is high and still rising, according to analyses by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There’s no question that families moving to San Jose will be pleased to find how much there is to do and see. Few places in the country have easy access to both beaches and mountains and a fantastic combination of urban communities surrounded by vast green spaces. There’s always something interesting just outside your door, no matter what you or your kids are into.
There’s more good news for families: The city has a high employment rate, some of highest quality schools in the nation, and a low crime rate. In fact, Forbes lists San Jose as #6 on its list of America’s Safest Cities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment in the area continues to see a steady drop and is well below national numbers. Per U.S. News & World Report, the local job market favors younger workers, who are attracted to the opportunities offered by Apple, Google, Facebook and other tech titans.
Here’s how the local industries break out per number of employees:
• 147,800 are in professional, scientific and technical services with a salary range of $53,000 to $90,000
• 121,800 are in health care and social assistance with a salary range of $22,000 to $31,000
• 86,100 are in accommodation and food services with a salary range of $18,000 to $26,000
Another interesting angle on employment in San Jose is Glassdoor’s list of the 25 Best Cities for Jobs in the U.S. Taking three factors into account—the relative ease of getting employment, affordability, and employee job satisfaction—San Jose ranked #2 on the list of where employees are happiest.
To top it all off, the CareerBliss 2017 Happiest Cities to Work puts San Jose at #2, just behind Santa Clara. Influencing factors were work environment, job resources, company reputation and culture, compensation, and opportunities for growth.
The following cities are within 25 miles of San Jose, making for a lot of day-trip choices as well as a tolerable commute if you want to live outside of San Jose proper:
• Menlo Park
• Palo Alto
• Los Gatos
• Santa Clara
• Mountain View
• Morgan Hill
• Boulder Creek
Beyond the 25-mile radius:
• Half Moon Bay
• San Francisco
• Carmel by the Sea
If you’re not coming from outside the country, you can keep your driver’s license, but you will need to update your address. If you’re simply visiting here from another country, the state allows you to drive here on your foreign driver’s license for up to a year; for students or for work however, you can only drive with a foreign license for one month.
Here are a few more quick useful or fun facts to know if you’re planning to move to San Jose that may help you become an insider:
• The 2017 population was estimated at 1,000,536
• The population has grown by 10% for the last ten years
• The official language is English, of course, but many area residents speak Chinese, Spanish, Tagalog, Hindi, Korean or Vietnamese
• The median house price in 2016 was more than $1 million. Rental prices range from about $2,200 for a one-bedroom apartment to more than $3,400 for three bedrooms
• Sales tax is 8.875%
• Earthquakes happen once or twice a year, but they fall into the “moderate” category
• San Jose was California’s first state capital