What's it like to live in San Jose, CA?


Jennifer Lin

Profile written by local expert:

Jennifer Lin

Nicknamed the capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose is a diverse area with an innovative spirit. While it has a distinct downtown, San Jose is a sprawling metro area that is as much defined by its suburban neighborhoods and large tech campuses as it is by the high-rises in its business district. San Jose's proximity to other tech headquarters in Silicon Valley, including Google in Mountain View and Apple in Cupertino, cements San Jose's position in the tech hub. But the metro area also retains its character with quirky attractions like the 160-room, maze-like Winchester Mystery House; a 120-acre flea market complete with ponies; and a larger-than-life Monopoly board.

Cradled by the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Diablo Range, San Jose offers a prime environment for outdoorsy residents, with its proximity to the ocean, the Sierra Nevada and the vineyards – not to mention about 300 sunny days a year.  

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

San Jose, California is ranked:

#17 in Best Places to Live

#92 in Best Places to Retire

7.1

Overall

Scorecard

Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
    6.6
  • Value
    5.7
  • Job Market
    8.8
  • Quality of Life
    7.4
  • Net Migration
    6.4

Read how we rank places

San Jose, CA Quick Stats

  • 1,943,107

    Metro Population

  • $78,990

    Average Annual Salary

  • 72.4° / 50.6°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 36.8

    Median Age

  • $932,108

    Median Home Price

  • 14.9 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 3.3%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $1,801

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 27.3 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in San Jose, CA?

The cost of living in San Jose is one of the highest in the nation. While spurring a hiring surge, the tech boom has also made much of the metro area unaffordable to those unable to pull in high-tech salaries. Housing prices here are much higher than they are in most other parts of the country, and residents often find themselves paying more for everyday necessities, such as groceries, utilities and gas, than the average American.

Value Index

Index Score: 5.7 /10

How we calculate this.


San Jose offers a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs this Year


San Jose
$932,108

USA
$222,408

Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in San Jose, CA.

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What's the weather like in San Jose, CA?

The San Jose climate is Mediterranean, consisting of hot, dry summers and mild winters. Residents might have a hard time remembering rain. Droughts are common and can result in water use restrictions and yellow lawns.

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)

52.4°F


Winter

60.1°F


Spring

70.0°F


Summer

63.5°F


Fall

Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

3.3 in


Winter

2.0 in


Spring

0.1 in


Summer

1.9 in


Fall

Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around San Jose, CA?

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light rail and bus system takes passengers to most points of interest in San Jose proper, but due to the metro area's sprawl, some rides are lengthy and include multiple transfers. The Caltrain, which makes stops between San Jose and San Francisco, offers a public transportation option for some commuters living outside the city proper.

Additionally, many tech companies operate convenient shuttles to their campuses for employees, and bike infrastructure is continuing to grow. But in the end, San Joseans still rely heavily on cars. San Jose has some of the worst traffic congestion in the country.

The Mineta San Jose International Airport is located just outside central San Jose; however, the number of flight routes available is limited by the airport's size. For more options, residents rely on the San Francisco International Airport, which is about 30 minutes away. San Jose is also serviced by Amtrak and a number of commercial coach bus companies.

Commuting in San Jose, CA

Means of Transportation
Driving
86%
Equal to national average

Bicycling
2%
Equal to national average

Walking
2%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
4%
Equal to national average
Average Commute Time

27.3 minutes

1.2 minutes more than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in San Jose, CA?

With nearly 2 million residents, San Jose is one of the largest metro areas in the U.S. and the largest in the Bay Area, having quietly surpassed San Francisco. In its evolution from Spanish pueblo to technology hub, San Jose has been influenced by a variety of cultures. Many of the area's neighborhoods have a rich Latino or Asian influence. Central/South American and Vietnamese enclaves are found throughout the metro area, as is a Japantown with 125 years of history.

Students and singles often prefer to live downtown, while families and older citizens are drawn to the tree-lined, stroller-filled streets of Willow Glen and suburban areas like Blossom Valley or Cambrian. However, given the already high cost of living in San Jose, homes in these neighborhoods are out of reach for many residents. 

More than half of the metro area's population does not identify as religious. Those who do tend to affiliate with Catholicism or other forms of Christianity.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


Fewer single people in San Jose than
national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in San Jose, CA?

The San Pedro Square Market in downtown San Jose provides a gathering space for foodies who come to stock up on produce from local farms. For a different type of shopping, residents head to Santana Row in West San Jose, which has upscale shops and boutiques. Professional sports fans root for the Sharks (hockey) at the SAP Center ("the Shark Tank" to locals) and the Earthquakes (soccer) at Avaya Stadium. For football, San Joseans head to the state-of-the-art Levi's Stadium in neighboring Santa Clara, now home to the San Francisco 49ers.

Also, camping and hiking in Yosemite National Park, as well as skiing and watersports in Lake Tahoe, are just a few hours' drive away. For more relaxing escapes, Napa Valley wine country is less than two hours away by car, and the Santa Cruz beaches are a 45-minute drive. And for technology enthusiasts, The Tech Museum of Innovation offers hundreds of family-friendly interactive exhibits devoted to science and technology.

Find out more about what there is to see and do in San Jose, CA