Nothing says paradise like blue skies and sunshine, and Redwood City, California has that in spades. This cozy California city of 75,000 is conveniently located halfway between San Francisco and San Jose and provides a vibrant, growing place to call home after the workaday grind. It’s got plenty of entertainment, retail, scenery and fluffy clouds to go around for everyone! Whether you're new in town or moving across town, finding a rental home in Redwood City can be daunting. From the suspiciously inexpensive apartments and rental homes on the east side, to the hip, urban apartments around downtown, to the woodsy, suburban west and the luxury villas on the waterfront, this guide is here to break it all down for you.
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Neighborhoods East of El Camino Real (Highway 82)
Downtown: Be here and be wonderfully square with downtown's numerous events in the majestic daylight and the hue-shifting night lights of the courthouse square. There is Music on the Square, Salsa on the Square, Art on the Square, Dancing on the Square, and Lunchtime on the Square, all with killer music and eclectic crowds. Art, music, and dancing can be found among many of the neighborhood bars and restaurants, as well. Housing ranges from affordable short term rentals to chic downtown apartments and lofts.
Centennial: An upbeat, urban neighborhood that is both affordable and highly desirable due to its tight-knit character and convenient location next door to downtown.
Middlefield: An edgy, yet delicious neighborhood. Here, you will find numerous bakeries, a farmer’s market, a meat market, Thai food and taquerias that will make your taste buds melt. Housing is basic, but affordable. Live here if you love food, enjoy short walks to downtown, and can maintain some degree of street smarts.
Central: Just west of El Camino Real, this neighborhood of affordable apartments and duplexes comes with an old fashioned barber shop, a record store, a couple of nice parks, and plenty of downtown entertainment next door.
Fair Oaks: Also known as "Little Michoacán", this neighborhood has a surprisingly high number of people from Michoacán, Mexico–and they brought their home cookin' to the neighborhood, with multiple taquerias, panaderias, mercados, and full-scale restaurants throughout the area. Like the food, this neighborhood is authentic, affordable, and amazing. $
Friendly Acres: Also known as "Little Mexico", this is a neighborhood of great Mexican food, small rental homes, and trailer parks. $
Marina Park: In this neighborhood, people either rent luxury waterfront villas and apartments or they live in floating homes at Docktown Marina, where millionaire's yachts and power cruisers float next to modest houseboats and sea-battered, old sail boats. In this floating community, neighbors all know each other’s names. The whole sea-loving community comes together for eats and drinks at the Peninsula Yacht Club. How posh.
Redwood Shores: Another neighborhood for the nautical-at-heart, Redwood shores is surrounded by water, making for great waterside nature trails and plenty of places for fishing, swimming, and windsurfing. Rentals include luxury, resort-style apartments, high-priced condos, and coveted waterfront rental homes.
Neighborhoods West of El Camino Real
Sequoia: This is a very walkable neighborhood. Housing is mostly small, inexpensive apartments on El Camino, and affordable single family houses throughout.
Eagle Hill: A neighborhood of young families and empty-nesters looking to get away from the apartment scene. Here, your best bet will be a rental house. There are a couple of small neighborhood parks, as well as the bigger Red Morton Park just across Jefferson Avenue.
Arlington: A neighborhood of small apartments and single family houses with plenty of eats and activities on El Camino Real.
Palm: A dense neighborhood of pricey townhomes, lower cost apartments, and a range of rental homes on cookie-cut lots.
Oakwood: A high-paced neighborhood with a suburban feel, this residential area is near shopping, restaurants, night life, and coffee shops. You can rent an affordable apartment, a luxury apartment, or a painfully expensive penthouse.
Canyon: A neighborhood of winding hillside roads, open space, wildflowers, suburban homes, Spanish villa-style mansions, and a huge nature preserve nearby. Be careful at parks after dark, as there have been numerous mountain lion sightings.
Farm Hills: The Emerald Hills Golf Course, huge parks, and Cañada College are the main attractions here. Homes are logically palatial and expensive. Again, beware of mountain lions at the parks after dark.
Getting around Redwood City is a cinch. The distance from one end of the city to the other is less than 5 miles, with most neighborhoods within easy walking and biking distance of downtown and the marinas. For those who do drive, there is plenty of free parking, as well as street parking with strategic pricing downtown. Are you going to San Francisco? Well, hop on the Caltrain, with a new station located off El Camino Real in downtown.
Out of this World Weather
More than a half a century ago, Redwood City tied with the Canary Islands for the world's best climate. With weather that ranges from pleasantly warm to pleasantly cool, many homes are rented without any heating or air conditioning. Those who are warm or cold natured may want to narrow their search down to homes with central air, or else purchase space heaters and window units, or suck it up and enjoy nature.
Getting What You Pay For
Welcome to California, the land of milk and honey and extortive rental rates. Don't expect a nice home in a nice neighborhood for less than $1100, or a closet-sized studio next to a liquor store for less than $900. It's a big chunk of change. However, pennies can be pinched very easily in such perfect weather. Ride a bicycle instead of blowing cash on gas. Open a window instead running the air conditioning. Make a fire instead turning up the heat. Or, just get outside and enjoy a long walk, a hike in the park, or a day on the water instead of wasting energy on television and video games.
A lot of the nicer apartments and houses ask for a deposit equal to the monthly rent, and some ask for even more. That's upwards of $1,100, which not only is hard to save up for, but also hard to get back upon move-out. A standard carpet cleaning or replacement, as well as a fresh coat of paint will instantly make a good chunk of your deposit disappear upon move-out, so be sure to read the lease carefully and get any guarantees from the landlord in writing.
Redwood Community Spirit Award
Each community has its own unique mojo and tight-knit family feel. This strong sense of community will either make you feel like a member of the community, or like matter-out-of-place, but most people will tell you it’s the former. Redwood City's ridiculously perfect weather also helps make for a ridiculously perfect place to live, so bring your boat, your board or just your beautiful self and check out the many rental options Redwood City has to offer!
-By Katy Comal