First things first: If you want to get the full San Francisco experience, there’s only one way to do it: Move to San Francisco. Concord is its own city, with its own allure and its own drawbacks. Like other East Bay cities, Concord boomed over the years as northern Californians sought out less crowded stomping grounds in the Bay area.
Well, for one thing, the city lies in the backyard of Mt. Diablo, which is not only one of the American West’s most picturesque mountains but also lays claim to the coolest name of any land mass anywhere (with Alaska’s Mount Powder Top coming in a close second, of course). Because of its scenic views and paradise-perfect weather (even in the “coldest” days of winter, you’ll barely need a windbreaker), Concord has emerged as one of the Bay’s most outdoorsy areas. Tons of quality golf courses can be found throughout the city, while other attractions include a mega-sized water park, amusement park, and farmer’s market.
The best part about Concord, though, is its affordability. The average rental unit costs less than $1200, and unlike other parts of the Bay area, you’ll actually have some room to kick your feet up: Most rental units cover 800-900 square feet, so can enjoy a spacious West Coast domicile at a modest, Midwest-like price tag.
Your options for bumming around town are limitless (if, that is, your idea of “limitless” is two). The good old gas guzzler is king of the road in Contra Costa County, and because the bulk of the area’s shops, banks, parks, and residential locations are so spread out, your best bet for navigating the streets of Concord is via your own wheels. If you live and work downtown, though, you can rely on the County Connection buses ($2 for a one-way, $60 for a monthly pass) or the courtesy of your own two feet to get around.
Ironically, using public transit to get out of Concord is a lot more convenient than using it to traverse within the city itself. Concord residents who work in San Francisco can simply hop aboard the BART and touch down on the Embarcadero in about 45 minutes. The subway also makes numerous stops in Oakland, as well as America’s official Bastion of the Bizarre, Berkeley (so you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in traffic while commuting peacefully to the revolution of your choice).
Well, first you should accept some basic truths about becoming a property renter in Concord, such as:
You have the power. Empowering though, huh? To say there is no shortage of rental properties in Concord is a bit of an understatement. City planners have kept their pace (and then some) with incoming residents when it comes to available housing, so whether you want to live in the Northern, Southern, or Valley District, you’ll have plenty of digs to pick from. Waiting lists are pretty much unheard of, and landlords are constantly conjuring up new incentives to lure leasers in. So take your time and explore all your options before signing the dotted line.
Go West, young renter, go West. The western and southwestern districts primarily consist of apartments and condos, and you’re likely to find the most affordable renting options there (often for less than a grand).
Or don’t go West. Go East. Go downtown. Or someplace else. Immediately north and east of downtown are several older neighborhoods where leasers can often find free-standing houses for rent (expect to spend anywhere between $1200 and 2 grand, depending on the property and amenities). The Walnut Creek downtown area, meanwhile, is home to a handful of brand-spanking-new high rises and lofts that are always available, so if you don’t mind bucking up a few more greenbacks (usually $1500 or more for a 1BR unit), you can live in the lap of luxury (with killer amenities and views).
Be prepared. Landlords in Concord have different expectations of potential renters in terms of income, renting history, and the duration of the lease, but you should be prepared, no matter where you rent, to show a bank account statement, paycheck stubs, and two forms of I.D. Also, Concord property managers often run background checks (usually at the leaser’s expense) before offering a contract.
And now you’re all set to begin the search for a super-sweet Concord crash pad. So welcome to the East Bay, and happy hunting!