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14 Things to Know About Living in San Jose

Thinking about moving to San Jose? Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, this California city has a thriving tech industry, gorgeous natural landscapes, and diverse culture. If you’re thinking of moving to the Bay Area near San Francisco, here are 14 things you should know before living in San Jose!

Experience Cost-Effective Living in California

Skyline view of San Jose. Photo by Instagram user @sjsu

Photo via @sjsu

If you’re looking for a life of luxury, then San Jose is the perfect city for you! While living in San Jose is more expensive than the national average, it’s still better than the cost of living in San Francisco and other large metros in California. You can expect to save money on groceries, housing, utilities, and transportation if moving from San Francisco. Plus, San Jose residents are some of the highest earners in the U.S., which can help offset some of the costs. And though the Capital of Silicon Valley carries a higher price tag, the gorgeous multi-million dollar homes, fine-dining experiences, unique boutiques, and higher wages make this city an attractive option if you can afford to spend a little extra.

Work in the Capital of Silicon Valley

If you move to San Jose, be prepared to live beside technological innovators and quick thinkers, as this Bay Area city is the most populated place in Silicon Valley. The San Jose job market has grown 2.5%, with technology and manufacturing among the top fields in the city. San Jose’s unemployment rate sits at just 2.3%—1.2% lower than the national average—and locals earn highly competitive salaries. Young professionals living in San Jose can find tech jobs with industry leaders like Google, Cisco Systems, Western Digital, eBay, Adobe Systems, IBM, and Apple. Tech isn’t the only sector for careers in San Jose, though. Experience a role in the medical field at Satellite Healthcare, or take your talents to the financial sector at Verifone.

Enroll in San Jose Universities

Students relaxing on the Tower Lawn Green Space at San Jose State University. Photo by Instagram user @sjsu

Photo via @sjsu

Looking to further your education while living in San Jose? Attend the oldest public university in California, a premier institution with degree programs in advertising, chemical engineering, computer sciences, and more at San Jose State University. If you want to break into the Silicon Valley tech world, set yourself up for success with an esteemed degree in computer science or information technology from California University of Management and Technology (CALMAT). Dive into undergraduate programs like environmental science, Latin, Greek, or bioengineering at the nearby private Jesuit school Santa Clara University. For more affordable education options, there are also several community colleges in the San Jose area, like San Jose City College or Evergreen Valley College.

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Utilize San Jose Transportation

Trying to beat the long commute times in San Jose? Check out the many San Jose public transportation options available to you! Hop on the Valley Transit Authority (VTA) light rail system or buses to quickly get around San Jose. Hitch a ride on Eco City Cycles to support San Jose’s sustainability vision, and soak in San Jose sights while you’re drawn in a pedicab. Catch the Caltrain from the San Jose station to San Francisco. Explore the West Coast on Flixbus. Or fly in and out of the Capital of Silicon Valley through the San Jose International Airport.

Celebrate Diverse Culture

Parade in San Jose Japantown with Drums. Photo by Instagram user @sanjosetaiko

Photo via @sanjosetaiko

The city of San Jose is one of the largest multicultural areas in Silicon Valley. Explore vibrant Japanese culture through food markets, restaurants, and events in one of the last authentic Japantowns in the U.S. Immerse yourself further in Japanese culture with exhibits like BioQuilts and Pioneers of San Jose Japantown at The Japanese American Museum of San Jose. Venture to Little Saigon, which features the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam, and learn the history of Vietnamese immigrants or shop at Vietnam Town. Celebrate the Vietnamese New Year with dancing, music, and more at the annual Tet Festival. Or check out the Mexican Heritage Plaza, where you can take part in art programs, find community engagement opportunities, enroll in classes, and more.

Visit Unique San Jose Attractions

Need ideas for unique things to do in the Bay Area? Try some of the best places to visit in San Jose! Challenge friends in a game on the Guinness World Records-certified World’s Largest Monopoly Board. Get lost in the Victorian Gardens on your tour of the spooky former mansion of the heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune at the Winchester Mystery House. Drink hot chocolate, listen to carols, ice skate, and admire holiday decorations with locals in Downtown San Jose during the free event Christmas in the Park. Stop by the San Jose Flea Market during Berryessa Night Market to try food from local vendors, shop for fun jewelry, ride the Ferris wheel, and much more. Appreciate a rotating set of fine art exhibits and a permanent collection of more than 2,500 pieces at the San Jose Museum of Art. Or enroll your kids in the Junior Archaeologist Program and learn more about Ancient Egyptian deities at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum.

Thrive in Sunny California Weather

A field of flowers, with nice sunny weather and building in the farbackground. @bongarang

Photo via @bongarang

If you’ve been dreaming about playing beach volleyball on Christmas or ditching the winter coat in December, then living in San Jose is a must. Along with over 250 days of sunshine per year, San Jose weather boasts average temperatures between 42 to 84 degrees and 14.9 inches of rainfall each year. Because of the city’s year-round gorgeous Mediterranean climate, you can find plenty of outdoor activities in San Jose. Explore trails, ride horseback, or lay out a picnic at Alum Rock Park. Ride your bike along the Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve, or venture minutes outside of San Jose to Castle Rock State Park or Half Moon Bay State Beach for great rock climbing, fishing, camping sites, and sunset views. Or smell the flowers and appreciate the wide variety of plant life at the Municipal Rose Garden.

Find Family-Friendly Activities in San Jose

Help your kids connect with animals and nature in experience programs like Tales for Tots, Teen Paint Night, or Junior Keepers at Happy Hollow Park & Zoo. Zip down the Serpentine Slides, climb on nets and shoot canons from Pirates Cove, or relax in the Endless River at Raging Waters waterpark. Spark creativity with interactive exhibits like Reboot Reality, Cyber Detectives, and BioDesign Studio at The Tech Interactive. Have your kiddos practice teamwork inside the Amazing Airmaze! or stay active in Bill’s Backyard at the Children’s Discovery Museum. Or pick out your next bedtime story from Hicklebee’s children’s bookstore.

See the Green Vision of San Jose

Bed of Yellow Flowers at San Jose Municipal Rose Garden. Photo by Instagram user @visitsanjose

Photo via @visitsanjose

San Jose is a city that takes going green seriously! Over a decade ago, the city added The Green Vision into its economic plan to reduce its environmental impact. San Jose continues to lead the way in environmental good by being one of the first cities to lay out a detailed plan to reach the climate goals of the Paris Climate Agreement by 2030. One of the state-wide efforts includes several rebates to make the process of purchasing an electric car even more worthwhile. San Jose residents can also expect the city to invest heavily in green energy with the non-profit San Jose Clean Energy. Join grassroots sustainability efforts in San Jose, like the community GoGreen Teams, where residents get together and take action for sustainability. After moving to San Jose, remember to bring your own reusable totes to the supermarket, as the city signed the Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance.

Spectate Professional Sports in Fin City

Several Hockey players reacting to a goal being scored. @sanjosesharks

Photo via @sanjosesharks

There are several sports teams in San Jose for you to cheer on! Root for the San Jose Sharks (NHL) and San Jose Barracuda (AHL) at the SAP Center (also known as The Shark Tank to locals). Witness the San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) fake out their opponents and score goals on the pitch at PayPal Park. Catch the San Jose Giants (MiLB)—an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants (MLB)—stealing bases at Excite Ballpark, and stick around for fireworks after the game! Show some college pride and tailgate outside CEFCU Stadium before kickoff with the San Jose Spartans. Take a quick trip to Levi’s Stadium for the San Fransisco 49ers (NFL). Or make a stop in Oakland to see the Oakland Athletics (MLB) play at RingCentral Coliseum.

Attend San Jose Festivals Year-Round

A close up shot of a singer perfoming on stage. @lupecato

Photo via @lupecato

While San Jose is best known for its innovative technology companies, the city also makes a name for itself with its variety of festivals. Shop a diverse set of vendors that sell arts, crafts, and delicious food while snapping your fingers to classic jazz music at the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest. Appreciate the art of filmmaking at family-friendly events in San Jose like Cinequest or the San Jose International Short Film Festival, showcasing films from international filmmakers and artists. Make a stop at the annual Obon Festival in Japantown to enjoy food booths, taiko drummers, and more. Check out vendors, relax in the beer garden, and celebrate the creative indie spirit at SubZERO Festival. Or jam to music, catch a Los Luchadores wrestling match, and celebrate Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) at Dia San Jose.

Take Your Taste Buds on an Adventure

Person squeezing lime on top of crawfish, corn, and potatoes. Photo by Instagram user @boilingcrab

Photo via @boilingcrab

With the diverse culture in the Bay Area, residents will have no problem finding a variety of delicious food and amazing places to eat in San Jose! Cook your own all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ like Nook Gan Sal, Spicy Pork Bulgogi, or Smoked Samgyubsal at Gen Korean BBQ House. Dine at The Boiling Crab, a favorite among locals for its Crawfish, King Crab Legs, and Shrimp covered in the famous Whole Sha-Bang! sauce. Order Gyros in a Pita, a Falafel Salad, and Baklava from Falafel’s Drive-In. Feast on classic Vietnamese dishes like Bun Rieu, Ap Chao, and Pho Bo at Pho Kim Long. Visit La Victoria Taqueria—one of the best restaurants in San Jose—and try Super Nachos, Chiles Rellenos, or Carnitas Tacos smothered in their signature Orange Sauce. Or have dessert for breakfast and order a Cereal Killer, Strawberry Fields, or Glazed & Confused donut from Psycho Donuts.

Tour a Hopping Beer Scene

You’ll never be short on options for local San Jose craft beer after moving to the Bay Area. Stop at the independent brewery, Uproar Brewing Company, for beers on tap like Fresh Squeezed IPA, Ace Pineapple Cider, or Misfit Toys Black Saison. Down baseball-inspired brews like Screaming Hand Red IPA or Two Seam IPA at Strike Brewing Co. Quench your thirst with innovative beers like Barbie’s Blonde Ale or Little Angel American Porter from Hapa’s Brewing Company. Fuel your craft beer obsession further with DeBock Ale, From Prussia With Love, and UncleDad Drinks at Clandestine Brewing. Or settle down in the beer garden with a Pale Rider Grapefruit Pale Ale, Follow The Arrow Bohemian Pilsner, or Cafe con Leche Coffee Milk Stout at Camino Brewing Co.

Hit the Town with San Jose Nightlife

A close up shot of a singer grabbing their mike on stage. @deziloo_kungfu

Photo via @deziloo_kungfu

When the sun goes down, San Jose comes to life. Try unique cocktails like the Nautilus or Wanderer’s Tale at Five Points. Dance the night away to live music from artists like Helado Negro, Vista Kicks, or Deerhoof at The Ritz—or if a live DJ is more your style, make a trip out to Liquid Restaurant and Lounge for weekend bottle service and no cover on Thursdays. Park your car and watch the latest blockbuster film from the retro West Wind Capitol Drive-In theater. Lace up your bowling shoes, play old-school arcade games, or share a Dunk Tank cocktail with friends at Bowlero San Jose. Or order a specialty cocktail like Darker the Berry or Apple Pie and prepare to laugh at national and local comedy acts at San Jose Improv.


Moving to San Jose soon? Extra Space Storage has several storage facilities in the area that can help with your transition. Find self storage in San Jose!

San Jose, 14 Things to Know

About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.