Article Overview: Pros & Cons of Living in San Jose, California
Thinking about moving to San Jose for a job opportunity too hard to pass up? Join the club.
That’s exactly what led to my move 7 years ago and I’m happy to report that living in San Jose is quite enjoyable.
San Jose is a powerhouse. The tech hub of Silicon Valley, this area is home to some of the biggest names changing the world.
These companies seek out the cream of the crop from all corners of the world and you’re probably doing something right if you have the opportunity to move here.
But make no mistake, money runs this town. As such, you can except the best of everything (and the price tag that comes with it). From incredible entertainment, top notch schools, world class leisure and memorable restaurants — there’s a lot to love about calling this city home.
But is living in San Jose right for you? That’s the million dollar question only you can answer. But I’d like to help. Read on for things to consider before moving to San Jose, based on firsthand experience.
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Living in San Jose, California
If you plan to visit San Jose before finalizing your decision and need a hotel recommendation, here’s my go-to option. It’s the one I stayed at before making my move. If you’re into luxury (or your company is paying), you can’t go wrong with this one.
Pros of Living in San Jose
#1. Ample employment opportunities
Moving to San Jose means moving to a city flooded with employment opportunities. Hell, it’s what brings most of us here in the first place.
The average annual salary in San Jose clocks in at an impressive $106,000, but before you start eagerly packing your bags you should know that sum won’t afford you many luxuries.
The reason? The steep cost of living will keep you humble (we’ll cover that shortly).
In terms of job satisfaction, you may be surprised to learn that San Jose often ranks as one of the 10 best cities for job satisfaction (especially with millennials).
All this to say, tons of people end up moving to San Jose for monumental career opportunities and most of them seem very happy with their decision.
If you find yourself living in San Jose because of a job you’re unhappy with, you have (many) options. Here’s a quick roundup of the biggest names in town:
- Cisco Systems
- Western Digital
- Adobe Systems
As of May 2023, the city’s unemployment rate sits at 3.3%.
Did you know? San Jose is considered the second-most college educated city in the country. Expect high standards and touch competition in the job market.
#2. The Mediterranean Climate
One of the best things about living in San Jose is the perfect weather year-round. The average daily temperatures don’t fluctuate much throughout the year.
Lows tend to hover around 45-60°F and highs linger between 60 and 80°F depending on the season.
The best part about the breezy Mediterranean climate is having the opportunity to experience the great outdoors regardless of the season. Summers are manageable and arid, winters are downright enjoyable.
You won’t be limited by scorching temps (like southern California) or freezing blasts because the weather is quite reliable.
#3. There’s always something going on
Yet another big perk of living in San Jose is that you’ll never have a reason to be bored. There seems to be something going practically everyday that’s guaranteed to impress and entertain.
The economic market attracts folks from all over the world, which makes San Jose one of the most diverse cities in California.
The perks of diversity are plenty. Not only will you rub elbows with people from all walks of life, but you’ll also get to experience cultures, activities, festivals and events you may not have known about otherwise.
From weekend farmer’s markets to music venues, public gardens and top-notch parks — there’s always something going on while living in San Jose.
If helpful, here’s a quick list of spots I usually take friends when they visit:
- Stroll the Municipal Rose Garden
- Wine tasting at Ridge Vineyards
- Visit the Rosicrucian Museum (great Egyptian collection)
- Hike the Bay Area Ridge Trail
- Sequoia National Park (3.5 hour drive but so worth it!)
#4. The great food scene
Piggy-backing off of diversity, let’s talk about the city’s great food scene. Having access to world-class food is one of the biggest perks of living in San Jose because you’ll never go hungry.
In terms of diversity, you’ll be hard pressed to find a craving that can’t be satisfied.
Try Orchard City Kitchen (American), 10 Butchers Korean BBQ (Korean) or Acopio (Mexican). If you’re feeling fancy, try LaForet (French) or LePapillion
If you’re into the casual vibe of breweries, check out Camino Brewing Co. and Beer Garden or Hapa’s Brewing Company. You’re bound to have a good time (and great grub) at both.
#5. Diverse community
If you’re moving to San Jose from a different country, you’re not the only one. San Jose is considered one of the most migrant-friendly cities in the country.
It’s said that San Jose paves the road for success for migrants by actively removing economic barriers that hold people back. The city is all about providing equal access to opportunities for all residents and strives for financial empowerment.
Migrants make up more than 40% of the metro‘s population, which is nothing to scoff at.
#6. Decent public transportation
If you’re moving to San Jose soon, I have some good news for you — you may not need a car, especially if you own a bike.
The city’s light rail system is well connected and there’s a daily train between San Jose and San Francisco. If you live close to where you work, you’ll be fine using public transportation.
I don’t want to deceive you though, like most US Cities, San Jose is no stranger to stuffed freeways and general car-centric planning.
But it aligns with the Bay Area’s laudable public transportation system, making it possible to get around without getting behind the wheel.
Of course, you’ll want to get (or rent) a car if you plan to take advantage of the breathtaking beauty around San Jose.
But if you’re just looking to get around the city, the public transportation should fit the bill. Also worth mention: if you’re moving to San Jose with kids in tow, you’ll probably want a car.
#7. San Jose is a green city
If you plan on moving to San Jose and you care about the environment, you’re in good hands. San Jose is considered one of the most sustainable cities in the country.
The city is known for passing progressive policies that focus on the environment, chief among them is San Jose Green Vision (SJGV).
Originally passed in 2007, the Green Vision is a 15-year sustainability plan that strives to reduce greenhouse gas emission through initiatives that focus on green energy.
Here’s a roundup of some goals the city of San Jose has set:
- Create 25,000 clean tech jobs
- Reduce per capita energy use by 50 percent
- Receive 100 percent of our electrical power from clean renewable sources
- Build or retrofit 50 million square feet of green buildings
- Divert 100 percent of waste from the landfill and convert waste into energy
- Recycle or beneficially reuse 100 percent of our wastewater (100 million gallons per day)
- Adopt a General Plan with measurable standards for sustainable development
- Ensure that 100 percent of public fleet vehicles run on alternative fuels
- Plant 100,000 new trees and replace 100 percent of our streetlights with smart, zero emission lighting
- Create 100 miles of interconnected trails
Also worth mention — San Jose is in the process of reducing landfill waste to 0% by 2040. This effort has earned San Jose a spot as one of the best cities in the USA for recycling and waste management.
San Jose’s enviormental goals are ambitious indeed, but someone has to curb the determinant effects of climate change. Who better than the innovation capital of the world?
To that end, I love living in San Jose because I’m huge on environmental causes. It’s nice to live in a place where values and daily habits align without much thought.
Cons of Moving to San Jose
I’d be doing you a disservice if we didn’t cover the honest cons of living in San Jose. Here’s what you should know.
#1. The (super) high cost of living
I’m probably not the fist to tell you that living in San Jose won’t come cheap. But before you write me off as dramatic, allow me to share this: San Jose is the 8th most expensive city in the country. Let that sink in.
The cost of living is astronomical (hell, it’s almost comical) until you end up moving to San Jose only to realize the price tags are non-negotiable.
Expect everything to cost more. From groceries and restaurants to haircuts and entertainment. As such, I don’t recommend moving to San Jose without a lucrative offer lined up.
#2. The work-life balance is non-existent
Those moving to San Jose with dreams of a steady work-life balance may find themselves disappointed, to say the least.
Home to some of the biggest names in innovation and tech, don’t expect 40-hour work weeks and long weekends at the beach.
Most of my coworkers (myself included) didn’t have time for socializing for at least 2-3 years after moving to San Jose. The pace of daily life in San Jose is intense and the pressure is real.
I know that not everyone thinks the work-life balance in San Jose is terrible. Some of my friends are thriving on the fierce work culture and are getting promotions left and right.
They’re climbing the corporate ladder and feel adequately compensated — many consider a lack of social life as a small price to pay for being financial stable.
Take that for what you will. I’ve found myself close to burn out a handful of times since moving to San Jose. So if you’re looking to strike a healthy work-life balance, you may find little respite while living in San Jose.
#3. Home prices will make you cry
In connection to the high cost of living in San Jose, another thing to be mindful of is the obnoxious housing market. With median home prices clocking in at $1.245 million, don’t expect to land a house without substantial savings.
But don’t just take my word for it. San Jose is considered one of the least affordable cities in the world to purchase a home.
In addition to lack of affordability, the housing market is extremely competitive. If you’re opting to rent, be prepared for sticker shock in that department as well.
Average rent for a one bedroom is currently $3,000, which puts it on par with NYC and San Francisco prices.
The housing market isn’t all that surprising when considering the proximity to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley.
Prices are high because salaries are high, but even still — paying for housing while living in San Jose is nothing short of obnoxious.
Best Neighborhoods in San Jose, California
|Neighborhood||Median Home Price||Miles from City Center|
|Los Gatos Hills||$950,000||12|
Here’s a hard-to-stomach truth about moving to San Jose: The city has the 5th-highest rate of homelessness in the country.
Lack of affordable housing is a large factor, as is limited access to mental health services.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know the solution to homelessness, but I’d be remiss not to mention it because it will become a part of daily life in San Jose for those that move here.
#5. Moving to San Jose? Expect to pay high taxes
Ready for another hit? Living in San Jose comes with steep tax burdens.
California has the highest income tax in the country (up to 13.3% depending on income bracket). Couple that with the city’s sales tax (9.38%) and you’ll be feeling the pinch.
So between the federal, state and sales taxes, you’ll be losing around 30% of your paycheck — something to consider before moving to San Jose.
Retiring in San Jose FAQ
If you received a job offer that’s too good to pass up then you’ll find moving to San Jose is an enjoyable prospect. The city boasts one of the strongest job markets in the country and has and excellent climate with year-round sunshine. However, the high cost of living in San Jose, coupled with sky-high housing prices should make you think twice. Even a lucrative salary can only go so far when home prices start at 1.2 million. Oh, and don’t forget those gnarly California taxes, either.
Retiring in San Jose can be a good option for some, but by and large — I’d argue that San Jose is not ideal for retirement. Between the obnoxious home prices, high cost of living and high taxes, the cost of retiring in San Jose is too great for the average American living on a fixed income.
Is marijuana legal in San Jose?
Yes, marijuana is legal in San Jose, California. California legalized the use of recreational marijuana through Proposition 64, which was approved by voters in November 2016.
Is San Jose a tax-friendly city?
The short answer is no, San Jose is not a tax-friendly city. San Jose, like many cities in California, has relatively high taxes compared to some other parts of the United States.
The state of California has one of the highest income tax rates in the country, and the sales tax rate in San Jose is also relatively high. At the end of the day, retiring in San Jose won’t come cheap, which is why it’s not a viable option for many Americans.
Interesting Facts About Living in San Jose
- Population: The population of San Jose is approximately 983,489 making it the 3rd largest city in California and 10th largest in the US.
- Median Age: The median age in San Jose is 37.1 years.
- Median Household Income: The median household income in San Jose is $117K.
- Median Home Price: The median home price in San Jose is $1.2 million dollars.
- Unemployment Rate: The unemployment rate in San Jose is 2.5%.
- Silicon Valley: San Jose is known as the “Capital of Silicon Valley” and is home to the headquarters of many technology companies.
- First: San Jose was California’s first city and the location of the first state capital of California.
Living in San Jose (Post Summary)
Living in San Jose isn’t for everybody. It will all come down to your preferences, needs, and what you’re generally looking for in a city. If you’re aiming for an affordable place to live, moving to San Jose is not a strong contender.
In sum, here’s a quick roundup of the pros and cons of living in San Jose, California.
- Ample employment opportunities
- The Mediterranean Climate
- There’s always something going on
- Great food options
- Diverse community
- Good public transportation options
- San Jose strives to be environmentally friendly
- The high cost of living
- The work-life balance is non-existent
- Homes are not affordable
- Expect to pay high taxes
|Ample employment opportunities||The high cost of living|
|The Mediterranean Climate||Homes are not affordable|
|There’s always something going on||Homelessness|
|Great food options||Expect to pay high taxes|
|Diverse community||Work-life balance is non-existent|
|Good public transportation options|
|San Jose strives to be environmentally friendly|
Map of San Jose
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