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How to Find an Apartment in San Jose, CA

By: Emily Kho
September 7, 2021

A move to San Jose offers the perfect backdrop for safe suburban neighborhoods, incredible hiking trails, and unbeatable weather. You can figure out how to find an apartment in San Jose independently or use our guide to simplify the process and make sure you find the best rental possible.

Here’s how you can find the best neighborhood and apartment amenities in San Jose.

How to Find the Best San Jose Neighborhood

Living in the "Capital Of Silicon Valley" offers much more than the tech grind it’s known for. The rolling hills of Silicon Valley bring with it long, warm, and sun-soaked summers, where hiking and jogging are regular activities in this northern California city.

San Jose boasts a wide assortment of housing options, making it an inviting place for all who are considering a move there. Choose from quiet single-family homes in San Jose's suburbs or luxury high-rises downtown. Regardless of what you’re looking for, you’re sure to find the quality of life you're looking for.

Here's where to get started!

1. Willow Glen

If you head just south of Downtown San Jose, you will find the commuter-friendly neighborhood of Willow Glen. Known for its unique character and vintage California charm, Willow Glen offers its residents that cozy, small-town feeling with the luxury of an upscale neighborhood.

For those looking for a more urban feel, Willow Glen even has its own downtown area. The Downtown Willow Glen area is on Lincoln street and is filled with unbeatable restaurants, margarita bars, boutiques, and coffee shops.

Families, couples, and young professionals move to Willow Glen for more space. With tree-lined streets and home styles ranging from the 1920s and 1930s, you can find everything from Craftsman bungalows to Spanish stucco to Victorian-style homes. In Willow Glen, residents enjoy security, safety, and high quality of life compared to more urban areas of San Jose.

2. Edenvale

Named in reference to the Garden of Eden, the neighborhood of Edenvale is known for its beauty. Located in South San Jose, Edenvale is nestled between the Silver Creek Hills, Santa Teresa, and Blossom Valley, offering its residents a densely suburban lifestyle.

There is a rich history in Edenvale, with one of the oldest buildings in the area built in 1905. This historic building, known as the Hayes Mansion, is a prime example of the Mission Revival architecture found throughout Silicon Valley and predominantly in San Jose.

There are other historic features within Edenvale, including the El Camino Real, also known as the Monterey Road, and the Union Pacific Railroad. Residents can enjoy easy access to this neighborhood via Amtrak’s Coast Starlight line.

3. Downtown San Jose

It’s no secret that Silicon Valley is the hub of tech offices, including big names like HP, LinkedIn, and Google. The techie couples and individuals working for these companies once lived in San Francisco and commuted to their jobs but have since reconsidered. As such, Downtown San Jose has become the new residing epicenter for these individuals. Anyone living in Downtown San Jose can see the influx of new residents with the latest developments of condos and lofts all around.

Those looking for a more urban lifestyle will find Downtown San Jose the perfect place to call home. With so much activity all around, you can find countless entertainment options, including museums, art galleries, theaters, bars, and restaurants.

Other exciting things to do in Downtown San Jose include catching a San Jose Sharks game or watching a concert at the SAP Center. For the more outdoorsy type, you can set up a picnic in the Plaza de Cesar Chavez, which offers over two acres of green space.

4. Blossom Valley

Another South San Jose neighborhood is Blossom Valley, located west of Edenvale. Like many surrounding neighborhoods in the area, Blossom Valley offers its residents a seamless blend of urban and suburban living.

Here you will find a friendly sense of community with young professionals and growing families. The Blossom Valley residents partake in multiple community-led events throughout the year, including monthly community pick-ups, annual community garage sales, and holiday Santa meet and greets.

Not surprisingly, all of the schools around Blossom Valley rank well, encouraging young families in the area to provide their children with a high quality of education. Schools aren’t all this neighborhood ranks highly with, though, as Blossom Valley is known as one of the most diverse neighborhoods in San Jose and one of the best for young professionals and families.

5. Parkview

Another great neighborhood within San Jose is Parkview, which is known for being particularly renter-friendly. With more than half of the resident population renting their housing, this tends to be a better neighborhood for those who prefer to keep to themselves.

While Parkview has the best walk, bike, or transit score in San Jose, there are public transportations readily available. There are 5 VTA bus stops in Parkview, the local public transit for the area.

Although you might need a car for most errands, you’ll find that this freedom opens up a whole world of options in terms of things to do. Some of the favorite restaurants in the area include La Victoria Taqueria, Sanraku, and Chavez Supermarket. To fill your sweet tooth, check out Sweet Rendezvous, Sweet Retreat, or Yogurtland.

How Much are Apartments in San Jose

Considering moving to San Jose? Before you get started packing your things, you’ll want to first learn about the average rent prices in the area.

Average Rent in San Jose

San Jose rents have increased by 1.56% compared to last month and are down by 4.19% compared to the previous year. Here’s more information to help you determine your budget:

  • 0% of apartments in San Jose cost less than $1,000 per month.
  • 8% of apartments in San Jose cost between $1,000-$1,999 per month.
  • 58% of apartments in San Jose cost between $2,000-$2,999 per month.
  • 33% of apartments in San Jose cost over $3,000 per month.

How to Find Cheap Apartments in San Jose

It’s one thing to figure out how to find an apartment in San Jose, though it’s an entirely different beast to find a cheap apartment. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources available to help you find something you can afford.

One of the first steps you’ll need to do is figure out how to budget for your first apartment. Some key items you’ll want to be sure to include in your budget are:

  • Moving expenses
  • Rent
  • Electricity
  • Heating and gas
  • Cable/internet
  • Etc.

As you start totaling up all of your expenses, you might begin to feel a bit overwhelmed. You should always take advantage of seasonality when renting and look for different move-in specials to help cut down on some of your costs.

What’s the Best Time to Find an Apartment in San Jose

Not surprisingly, the rental market has a seasonality of its own. In San Jose, similar to the majority of the nation, seasonality can impact rent prices drastically.

Typically, you will find more apartments available during the winter months when people are less interested in moving. Similarly, the summer months usually prove more competitive, and therefore more expensive, to find a San Jose apartment.

Regardless of the season, come prepared to look at apartments in San Jose with all your documentation. Being ready to sign a lease agreement on the spot could be the ticket to you beating out your competition.

How to Find an Apartment

Learn the steps to finding an apartment in San Jose! Here’s the process:

Determine Your Budget

Part of finding your perfect apartment in San Jose means considering your budget and following the recommended 30% rule in terms of rent. According to the 30% rule, no more than 30% of your gross income, or pre-taxed monthly take-home pay, should go towards rent. If you want to figure it out based on your annual income, just divide your gross annual salary by 40.

If you are looking for a one-bedroom apartment in San Jose with an average rent price of $2,751, you can use the 30% rule to determine what your minimum gross income should be. Based on this rule, your gross income should hit right around $8,253 per month or about $99,036 annually.

Understand the Trust Cost of Renting

As much as we’d like to rely on the 30% rule entirely, it works best as a baseline. It’s important to remember that there are also hidden costs when it comes to renting. How much apartment can you really afford? Let’s take a close look at some of the hidden apartment expenses that are often overlooked, including:

You also have to factor in the other financial circumstances. Renters who have high bills for different financial needs, including medical expenses, student debt repayment, etc., may quickly realize that the 30% rule doesn’t quite fit their budget.

That’s why we want to help you determine how much rent you can afford to pay. Try the Apartment List’s Rent Calculator, put together just for renters, to better understand what type of rental budget you are working with.

Set Your Apartment Priorities

San Jose boasts dozens of older craftsman homes and apartment buildings, as well as brand new apartment buildings. You can narrow your search once you have established your budget and find the best apartment in San Jose by figuring out your priorities regarding specific amenities.

Amenities

You’ll want to start by brainstorming a list of needs and wants for your apartment in San Jose. Your list should include all the amenities you love, including things such as bike storage, covered parking, proximity to public transportation, or dedicated outdoor space.

You’ll find that the more you can identify what you want, the easier it will be to narrow down your options and find your perfect apartment.

San Jose Location/Neighborhood

With so many great options to choose from, finding the best neighborhood in San Jose will come down to personal preference. Factor in things like walkability, convenience, and overall vibe. If you’re looking for more space or outdoor options for a pet, try looking for apartments outside the downtown area.

Otherwise, you might opt for a more lively neighborhood known for its nightlife to make the most of your leisure time. To figure out which is best for you, measure your desire for accessibility to extracurriculars, including what types, before signing your next lease in your ideal San Jose neighborhood.

Consider Your Commute Time

Your next apartment in San Jose should factor in commute time, as well as your dream location.

San Jose's walk score is just 49, with a transit score of 41. However, because people love biking around San Jose, the city earned a bike score of 62. Keep in mind that San Jose is beloved by outdoor enthusiasts. So it is possible to find a great San Jose apartment within walking distance to work or just a short stroll to public transportation.

Public Transportation in San Jose

Thankfully, San Jose's public transportation makes getting around the city relatively easy. The Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) light rail serves Downtown San Jose, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods. Fares on the VTA include a single fare running $2.50 per ride, a day pass at $7.50, a monthly pass at $90, and an annual pass at $990.

The San Jose Diridon Station is at the end of the CalTrain line, making commuting to Silicon Valley a breeze. CalTrain fares include a one-way fare across one zone $1.75, a day pass across one zone $3.50, or a monthly pass across one zone at $38.40.

If you’re looking to help reduce your monthly expenses, you might choose an apartment in San Jose near your work or bike paths.

Prepare for Apartment Tours

One of the last things you’ll do before signing a lease will be an apartment tour. When you show up for yours, don’t forget to bring documentation, including ID, references, and your application fee. Property managers may accept cash, credit card, or check, depending on their preference.

To make sure that you are well prepared, find out how the application process works first.

You’ll want to take your time on the apartment tour to ensure all the amenities in the listing are functioning correctly. During this time, you can jot down a list of questions you may have, such as rules about pets, painting, and other building rules.

If you’re not sure what to ask, here is a list of 20 questions to ask when renting an apartment to help give you a better idea.

Applying for Your San Jose Apartment

After you’ve successfully toured your San Jose apartment and have gotten all of your questions answered, it’s time to apply!

In addition to having all of your materials gathered from the tour, you’ll also more than likely need to include rental references, which are typically previous landlords. Make sure you have reached out to these individuals ahead of time so they can anticipate the call and respond at a quicker rate on your behalf.

If you have no previous rental history, don’t worry. Most property managers will accept personal references.

Protect Yourself from Rental Scams

According to a rental fraud report by Apartment List, 43.1% of renters have encountered an apartment listing they have suspected was fraudulent. Sadly, 5.2 million U.S. renters have lost money from one of these rental scams. Remember to be cautious and follow these tips for avoiding rental scams.

Using Apartment List to Find Your San Jose Apartment

Of course, don’t forget to enjoy your apartment hunting process! Congratulations to you for starting your search for a beautiful new apartment and life in San Jose!

Here’s how it works: We like to start by getting to know you first. You’ll answer a few simple questions, and we’ll find the best matches explicitly tailored to your desires. After that, we’ll mix and match your personalized results to help make it easy to discover places with the perfect combination of price, location, and amenities for you.

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EMILY KHO
Emily is a professionally trained SEO writer who covers a wide range of topics but specializes in business and hospitality content. With over a decade of professional writing experience in the hospitality industry, Emily comes from a strong background in the field backed with a BS from the world-renowned William F. Read More
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