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Renter's Guide to San Jose

While Los Angeles and San Francisco tend to claim a good deal of the fame from the other California cities, San Jose is a rich, vibrant center of culture and commerce, with arguably the most beautiful weather and architecture in the country to boot.

San Jose is the seat of Santa Clara County, as well as the largest city in both Northern California and the Bay Area. As of 2016, San Jose is the third most populous city in California after LA and San Diego. At only 55 miles from San Francisco and 59 miles from Berkeley—less than one hour’s drive—San Jose is truly at the heart of Northern California.

San Jose is prized for its position as a hub of the technology industry, its proximity to the thriving tech industries of Silicon Valley and San Francisco, and its corresponding affluence and high concentration of young professionals. Time Magazine ranks San Jose as the #1 city in the United States for jobs.

The climate makes the work environment even more inviting. The city enjoys an average 301 days of sunshine per year and an average annual temperature of 60.5°F.

San Jose, CA Demographics

  • Total Population1,023,031
  • Female 516,124
    Male 506,907
  • Median Age36.4

Cost of Living in San Jose, CA

It’s no secret that San Jose is not a cheap city to live in, yet many find it more affordable than other parts of the state due to the generally high salaries.

For cheap dining, a combo meal at a fast food restaurant will cost you an average of about $7, while the average lunch in the downtown area or business district of the city often runs for about $13.

A medium cappuccino costs an average of $4.81. A draft beer at a local bar is usually around $5.12, while the average dinner for two runs around $53.

Transportation can be a hassle if you are on a budget. The typical taxi trip for a five-mile ride on a weekday costs approximately $17, and gas price averages about $3.20 per gallon.

San Jose offers several different options for public transportation, including the VTA (Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority), the DASH (Downtown Area Shuttle), the Caltrain, and the Altamont Commuter Express. The latter two are best for traveling to other cities and suburbs within the Bay Area; tickets to and from San Francisco can cost anywhere between $2.50 and $7.75.

The VTA is the most commonly utilized system for those commuting and traveling within the city proper, with a standard fare of $2 on one of the three light rails or buses. Monthly passes lean on the more expensive side at $70, plus a $2 fee.

Average utility costs for a small studio apartment, including water, electricity, gas and Internet, run about $140 per month.

Average Rent in San Jose, CA

  • San Jose, CA Average Rental Price, December 2019 $2,685 /mo

    San Jose, CA Apartment Rent Ranges

    • $1,501-$2,0009%
    • > $2,00091%

    San Jose, CA Rent Trends

    Average Rent Nov / 2016 Mar / 2017 Jul / 2017 Nov / 2017 Mar / 2018 Jul / 2018 Nov / 2018 Mar / 2019 Jul / 2019 Nov / 2019 Dec / 2019
    San Jose, CA $2,543 $2,529 $2,639 $2,611 $2,624 $2,732 $2,734 $2,707 $2,792 $2,696 $2,685
    National $1,354 $1,350 $1,382 $1,385 $1,388 $1,423 $1,431 $1,434 $1,469 $1,473 $1,474

    Living in San Jose

    San Jose is an excellent city for those interested in exploring the arts. Public art projects abound through the downtown and business districts, and one can easily stumble across collections in the expanding civic neighborhoods and areas. These include parks, fire stations, and even libraries. San Jose is also conducive to a very active lifestyle, boasting a large number of gardens, parks, and recreational sites for the outdoor enthusiast in you!

    The city’s population is very diverse. There are various neighborhoods with large Mexican and Asian populations, Japanese and Vietnamese in particular.

    The large student population lends the city a young, pre-professional vibe, further enhanced by the thriving tech and startup scene in the Bay Area. As a result, there is also a thriving nightlife scene that both younger and older residents can take part in.

    One of the main downsides to living in San Jose is the traffic. Traffic jams can make commutes lengthy compared to other cities in the country.

    One of the great perks that many companies offer, however, is shuttle and bus services for their employees.

    Things to do in San Jose

    San Jose is a perfect place for singles or families. Take a walk through the beautiful Municipal Rose Garden park or awaken your inner history nerd by visiting the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum or the Winchester Mystery House.

    Looking for things to do with kids? Get your children’s brains rolling with a trip to the Children’s Discovery Museum or even the Tech Museum of Innovation, which features lots of interactive and fun exhibits to inspire the next generation of engineers and innovators.

    The San Jose Flea Market on Berryessa Road is home to anywhere between 1000 and 2000 vendors offering all sorts of wares, trinkets, and homemade items. With dozens of snack bars and restaurants nearby, this is the perfect weekend trip for friends, families, or even dates!

    Couples can stop by J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines for a fun tour of a California vineyard followed by a wine tasting! For a burst of flavor, try your hand at the original California sushi roll at the SJ Omogari Korean Restaurant.

    The Tahiti Fete is a great event that happens every summer. It is the largest event celebrating Tahitian culture outside of Tahiti.

    San Jose is a haven for sports fans as well. The city is home to San Jose state football, as well as the San Jose Sharks, the San Jose Giants, and the San Jose Earthquakes. No matter the team or the sport, you are bound to find plenty of sport-related things to do in San Jose!

    Employment & Economy in San Jose

    As the largest city in the Bay Area, San Jose is a hub for engineering, entrepreneurship, and technology. Local universities flood the labor market with thousands of graduates in the computer science and engineering fields each year; this trend has led to high levels of growth and skyrocketing housing prices.

    San Jose residents, in fact, have the highest median household income of any city with a population of over 280,000. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara MSA had an unemployment rate of just 3.7% in April 2016, well under the national rate of 5% in the same period.

    San Jose, CA Households

    • Total Number of Households319,558
    • Family 234,219
      Non-family 85,339
    • Children 123,977
      No Children 195,581
    • Average People Per Household3.15
    • Median Household Income$96,662
    • Median Housing Costs Per Month$2,034

    Top Colleges in San Jose

    San Jose is home to San Jose State University, San Jose City College (SJCC), National Hispanic University, Santa Clara University, and CALMAT (California University of Management and Technology), and is less than an hour away from Stanford and U.C. Berkeley.

    San Jose, CA Education Statistics

    • No High School9%
    • Some High School25%
    • Some College22%
    • Associate Degree7%
    • Bachelor Degree23%
    • Graduate Degree15%

    Tips for Renting in San Jose

    California law gives tenants a head start in many aspects of the apartment rental process. For instance, you cannot be locked out of your rental unit at the end of the notice of eviction if you have not found a place to move. In this case the court will require you to explain in writing within a given timeframe, usually 5 days, why you have not vacated the premises.

    Rent increases cannot be instituted by a landlord during the period of the rental agreement. In the state of California, landlords are required to disclose information on utilities provided as well as services in the area that provide these utilities in the rental agreement or lease.

    Tenants’ rights are heavily protected by law, such as against landlords retaliating against tenants for complaints about the conditions of their living space.

    California landlords must provide at least 30 days’ notice before increasing rent, and cannot raise rents as a form of discrimination.

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