Salutations, one and all, and welcome to the online nerve center for your San Mateo, California apartment hunting escapades! Conveniently located just 15 miles from San Francisco, San Mateo is a scenic alternative to the hustle and bustle of the “City by the Bay.” So what do you say? Are you ready to join the 93,000-plus proud peeps who call San Mateo home? Of course you are! But before you pack your windbreaker and your 49ers jersey and hit the streets in search of your future home, take a few moments to learn what life is really like in arguably San Fran’s most aesthetic suburb …
Sorry, Left Coast leasers, but it’s true. Apartments are generally available in some capacity, but unlike much of the country, San Mateo isn’t experience a massive housing surplus at the moment (less than 2.5 percent of residential buildings are currently vacant). Because the supply and demand for rentals is about even, landlords very rarely offer dynamite move-in specials or other bargain-bin incentives to attract new leasers. On the bright side, it’s not like it’s impossible (or even all that difficult) to find available apartments, lofts, or even condos in San Mateo.
Property managers probably won’t admit it, but the greatest amenity of most San Mateo apartments is the city itself. True, there are some quality digs in the city, and more than a few feature snazzy amenities like balconies, vaulted ceilings, scenic city views, and live-in maids (not really on that last one; just checking to see if you’re still with us). However, you should know that, as a San Mateo renter, you’ll be paying more for what lies outside your walls than what lies within them.
The city also boasts a number of distinct neighborhoods. San Mateo Park is an attractive part of the city, but it’s dominated by single-family houses. A few apartments can be found in the area. The downtown area puts renters in the hub of the city’s shopping and cultural destinations and is also located close to the BART and Caltrain stations that haul commuters expediently to both San Francisco and Palo Alto. San Mateo Hills showcases a mixture of freestanding houses, apartments, townhouses, and high rises. Hillsdale on the southern edge is a suburban stomping ground that features multiple high rise apartments, while other ‘hoods for renters include Hayward Park, Baywood, and Sugarloaf. Generally speaking, the more modern units are situated west of El Camino Real, while East San Mateo apartments are generally a bit older.
San Mateo residents have easy access to the surrounding communities, which the BART and Caltrain rail services provide. The SamTrans fleet of city buses do an adequate job servicing the city itself, so it’s quite possible (especially if you live in the walker-friendly downtown or near a BART or Caltrain station) to survive in the city without a car. Traffic, unfortunately, can get ugly on the El Camino Real getting in and out of the city (especially during rush hour), so do yourself and your blood pressure a favor and hop aboard one of the rail lines for your daily commute if at all possible.
Attractions include a vibrant downtown shopping district, an arboretum, a tea garden, performing arts center, numerous scenic hiking and biking trails, and a pair of beachside parks.
When an attractive apartment at a decent price becomes available, it’s usually not on the market for long before someone swoops in to claim it. In other words, if you’re lucky enough to find an amazing apartment deal, don’t hesitate too long to fill out a leasing application or wait around for the price to drop, because it’s not going to happen. As always, have the basics in tow when submitting a leasing app, including proof of income, banking info, and a list of previous residences.
And now it’s time to hit the streets and scour the interwebs for the perfect apartment for you, so best of luck and happy hunting!