San Francisco has it all: mild seasons, a vibrant city life, close proximity to natural escapes… and a high price tag. Of course, that hasn’t stopped the city from seeing sustained population growth over the years, making it a competitive place to look for a new home.
Whether you’re drawn to the appeal of public art, the food scene, or realizing your entrepreneurial dreams, there’s no denying San Francisco’s allure. But if you want all of the allure of SF without the cost of living, have no fear. There are options in the area in neighborly suburbs, so you can still get that Bay Area vibe.
Let’s look at some of the best suburbs of San Francisco (in no particular order):
Aptly named, Pleasanton is only about an hour east of San Francisco. With a low unemployment rate and much lower cost of living, it’s a great place to find a job and make a home. You’re close enough to be in that SF bubble, but far enough away to enjoy Pleasanton’s own unique… pleasantness.
Like to unwind with a round of golf or a delicious glass of wine? Pleasanton has multiple golf courses and wineries on offer. Santa Rita Rd. is where you’ll find the vibrant downtown scene. There’s also a Saturday farmers’ market for locally produced, baked treats, and even local honey. Pleasanton is one of the safest SF suburbs and boasts great schools if you’re bringing your family. If you happen to have a job in San Francisco, your commute will be a breeze with two choices of BART stations and plenty of other transportation options.
Don’t sell it short by labeling Berkeley as a college town – it’s so much more than that. There’s a thriving scene amongst young adults with bars, restaurants, and cafes lining the popular Shattuck Ave. Families and retirees can also find themselves at home here amongst tree-lined streets with suburban charm.
With more affordable living options than San Francisco proper, Berkeley still has a median household income well above the state and national averages. Considering it’s only 30 minutes from SF, that’s a pretty good mix.
Of course, Berkeley is home to UC Berkeley, a prestigious university attracting students from around the world. There are also great schools for younger students, so families should feel confident raising their kids in this beautiful city. If you’re interested in art and international films, you’ll find the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive fun to explore. The Berkeley Rose garden offers an opportunity to head out for a peaceful (and beautifully-scented) wander on a sunny day.
Looking for a residential suburb without sacrificing the vibrance of a bustling downtown? Walnut Creek has a mix of both! It’s primarily residential and offers lots of parks and green spaces to keep you connected to the peace and pace of nature. Your pets will thank you for that one, too. When you’re ready to indulge in retail shopping, coffee sipping, and trendy dining, you don’t need to venture to San Francisco. Main St and N Broadway have all of your city lifestyle needs covered.
Walnut Creek has a low unemployment rate and a strong job industry, meaning many residents don’t need to venture to the big city in their daily lives. If you take a job in SF, you’ll be able to easily commute while saving parking fees by using the suburb’s BART station. Add to that the great schools in town, and you’ll see Walnut Creek is a great place for you and your family.
San Jose is on the proverbial map, primarily for its reputation amongst the high-tech industry. Companies like Adobe, Cisco, eBay, PayPal, and many more are headquartered there. This has also drawn the attention of tech startups looking to be the next big thing. Here in the heart of Silicon Valley, the job market is strong and the cost of living is significantly lower than that of San Francisco.
But, that’s not all San Jose has going for it. With more than 250 sunny days a year and summer temperatures in the 70s and 80s, the weather is a big part of the city’s charm. Those who love the outdoors will find their place in San Jose, which is also placed near many state parks and mountain ranges a short drive away.
If NHL is your thing, you can cheer for the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center. If you’re more of a film and art buff you’ll look forward to the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival each March. No matter what food you like – from underlit diners to food trucks to Michelin-starred restaurants – you’ll find it here.
A more affluent suburb, Mill Valley lies about 14 miles northwest of San Francisco. With a population of under 15,000 people, this suburb feels like a community, with residents coming from a variety of backgrounds and industries. If you move to Mill Valley, expect to meet locals ranging from retirees to business owners to executives and even film industry folks.
With close proximity to Muir Woods National Park, you can easily spend your weekends connecting with nature. Hiking and camping are favorite ways to escape to the forest, and kids can even be Rangers for a day. If you decide to stay in town, you can check out the Sweetwater Music Hall for live acts, or head downtown to check out some of Mill Valley’s great local restaurants.
With great schools and gorgeous surrounds, this 5 square mile town appeals to young professionals, retirees, and budding families alike. It’s amongst the safest places in California, as well.
When you’re ready to make the move to one of the best suburbs of San Francisco, FlatRate can help. With moving, packing, and storage services, we can get you there swiftly. You’ll be exploring your new town in no time!