San Mateo, situated about 20 miles south of San Francisco, is a diverse & lively city in Silicon Valley. Only minutes from companies like Google and Facebook, this city along the Peninsula opens the door to a plethora of opportunities, whether it’s working for a tech giant or getting your startup off the ground. It also helps that San Mateo is also considered one of the best cities to live in America!

If you’re a tech geek, you’ll love living in San Mateo, CA. But the city is not a one-trick pony. On the contrary, this affluent suburb of San Francisco has a long list of impressive selling points: great year-round weather, fantastic shopping, award-winning restaurants, world-class schools, gorgeous parks, topnotch libraries, pro sports (49ers to Golden State Warriors), proximity to beaches – we could keep going, but you get the picture. As you can see, San Mateo is an excellent place to live!

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Living in San Mateo, CA: What to Know Before Moving to San Mateo

San Mateo, located in the eponymous county, is the 70th most populous city in California, with a population of 104,000. If you like tech and innovation, you’ll fall in love with this area. And even if you’re not into the whole Silicon Valley thing, there are so many amazing amenities, attractions, destinations, and opportunities that make it one of the best US cities to live in for pretty much anybody!

Pros and Cons of Living in San Mateo

Pros: 

  • Top US city: In 2018, Livability ranked the City of San Mateo #29 among the Top 100 best places to live in the nation, highlighting its economic strength, prime location, and more.
  • Year-round climate: Escaping frigid winters or boiling summers? You’ll love the city’s mellow seasons and sunny weather tempered by the San Francisco Bay breeze.
  • Opportunities galore: Of course, if you’re moving to San Mateo, chances are you want to be in the middle of the tech industry. You certainly won’t be disappointed in that regard!
  • Parks & outdoor activities: From Central Park and the Japanese Gardens to Coyote Point, there’s an endless list of options for playing, hiking, fishing, relaxing, and enjoying nature.
  • Diversity: From people to cuisine to shopping, the Bay Area city is a melting pot of ethnicities, races, and cultures (including Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and many others).
  • Arts, culture & cuisine: From Bayside Performing Arts Center to Downtown San Mateo to Ramen Dojo, this city has loads of delightful cultural offerings & attractions.
  • Environmentally & family friendly: When it comes to these two points, San Mateans don’t mess around. It’s all about eco-friendly initiatives and close-knit community here!

Cons:

  • The high cost of living: Okay, so there has to be a catch with San Mateo, right? Unfortunately, this fabulous community comes with a hefty price tag (see ‘Cost of Living’ section below).
  • Extreme housing prices: Along with more expensive groceries and transportation than the US average, housing costs are absolutely through the roof, even by Cali standards.
  • Overcrowding: It’s easy to see why so many people want to live in the city by the Bay that isn’t San Francisco, but with its popularity has come increasing density and congestion.
  • Heavy traffic: No two ways about it, the Bay Area is one of the worst places when it comes to traffic delays and bottlenecks. If you plan on commuting, be prepared.

Tax Rates

  • Property tax: According to the Overview of Property Taxes by SmartAsset, the average county tax rate is 0.658%., and the average property tax is $9,212 (on an assessed home value of $1.4 million).
  • Sales tax: The state of California has a base sales tax rate of 7.25%. When added to local taxes, the 2020 minimum combined sales tax rate in San Mateo is currently 9.5%.
  • State income tax: The state currently has ten separate tax brackets. Rates range from 1% to 13.3%. A resident’s rate depends on income and filing status (single or married).

Housing Market

Brace yourself: the median home selling price in San Mateo is currently $1.4 million. No doubt, this can be quite a shock to those moving from other states. 55% of residents, however, do own their homes. As for rentals, the median rent price is $3,565 per month for a 1BR apartment (or $42,780 annually) and $4,479 for a 2BR apartment (or $53,748 annually).

Here are the cheapest neighborhoods to live in San Mateo, CA:

  1. Bridgepointe Pky / Fashion Island Blvd
  2. S Norfolk St / La Selva St
  3. Peninsula Ave / N Delaware St
  4. Tilton Ave / N Humboldt St
  5. 2nd Ave / Lindbergh St

Cost of Living

According to the Cost of Living in San Mateo by BestPlaces, the city has a cost of living index of 270.6. This index is significantly higher than the national average of 100.

Here are some examples of separate costs (relative to the average of 100): Groceries (116.7), Health (106.5), Housing (610.2), Utilities (91.9), and Transportation (143.4). The median household income in San Mateo is $103,399 per year. This income level is much higher than the US median of about $62,000.

Here’s a breakdown of the average expenses in San Mateo County for a family of four:

  1. Housing = $3,310
  2. Food = $923
  3. Childcare = $1,787
  4. Transportation = $1,316
  5. Health Care = $1,171
  6. Other necessities = $1,708
  7. Taxes = $2,808
  8. Total = $13,024 per month or $156,292 per year

Weather & Natural Disasters

Offering nearly 270 days of sunshine, along with proximity to beaches like San Gregorio State Beach and Moss Beach, San Mateo is home to beautifully temperate weather!

The City of San Mateo experiences the warmest temperatures in August and September, with September seeing an average high of 73°F and a low of 54°F. Conversely, the coldest months are December and January, with an average high of 56°F and low of 41°F in January. If you’re trying to get away from frigid winters or steamy summers, you’ll love the mild weather here!

If you’re a four seasons lover, you might be a little disappointed. As with most parts of California, San Mateo receives zero snow. It gets about 24 inches of rainfall, but there aren’t any significant seasonal variations. Of course, that might be a big selling point for you.

As for natural disasters and emergencies, earthquakes, pandemics, cases of the flu are at the top of the list. To be prepared, check out the City of San Mateo’s Emergency Preparedness resource.

Economy & Job Market

Situated in Silicon Valley, San Mateo exemplifies the diversity, innovation, and economic robustness of the famed tech region. Along with technology, other strong sectors include healthcare, finance, and retail. The unemployment rate is currently only 2.1% (compared to the national average of 3.9%). Projections anticipate future job growth to increase by 38.7% (compared to the US average of 33.5%).

Major industries in San Mateo include educational services, healthcare, and social assistance; professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste; arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation & food services; finance and insurance; and retail trade.

Here are the Top 10 major employers in San Mateo:

  1. SolarCity
  2. Cloud Lending
  3. Franklin Resources, Inc.
  4. NetSuite Inc.
  5. San Mateo County Health
  6. Capcom
  7. SugarSync
  8. Guckenheimer Services
  9. Roblox
  10. WageWorks

In search of a job in San Mateo, CA? Here are some helpful online resources: CareerBuilder, CollegeRecruiter, Indeed, LinkedIn, and Career Opportunities – San Mateo, CA.

Traffic and Transportation

Looking for public transportation? There are several options in San Mateo. These include Caltrain, SamTrans, and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority (SMCTA). There’s also San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Metropolitan Oakland International Airport, and Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport. Ridesharing is another popular option, including Uber and Lyft.

Plan on driving? Here are the primary routes for the City of San Mateo. State Route 92 (east-west) is a major corridor in the Bay Area. Via the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, it connects the city with Hayward and the East Bay region. Highway 101 and Interstate 280 run north-south through San Mateo, offering convenient travel to major hubs like San Francisco in the north and San Jose in the southeast.

According to Walk Score, the City of San Mateo scores the following: 65 (Walk Score), 40 (Transit Score), and 65 (Bike Score). It’s known for being a walkable and bikeable community, but public transportation benefit from some improvement (though Caltrain offers excellent service).

Let’s talk about traffic now. According to The Mercury News, the Bay Area has the second-longest traffic delays in the country. If you’re going to commute, keep in mind that you’ll need to account for the extra time spent on the road. Unfortunately, delays and bottlenecks are just a part of life here.

What to Do

As a highly diverse and dynamic city, San Mateo wears many hats when it comes to stuff to do. From world-class shopping to renowned cultural attractions to the natural beauty of the Bay Area, it’s nearly impossible to get bored along the Peninsula. And if you like to explore, there are multiple destinations & attractions within a short distance, including the Pacific coastline and beach communities.

Schools and Universities

There are two main school districts – San Mateo-Foster City School District (K–8) and San Mateo Unified High School District (grades 9–12) – that provide education to more than 11,800 and 9,480 students, respectively. Both districts are highly rated, with SMUHSD ranked as the #1 school district in San Mateo County. The average standardized college admission test scores are 1270 (SAT) and 29 (ACT).

Top public schools include Aragon High School, Carlmont High School, San Mateo High School, Hillsdale High School, and South Hillsborough. Looking for private education? Consider Junipero Serra High School, Fusion Academy San Mateo, St. Matthew Catholic School, and St. Gregory School.

As for higher education, the city is home to College of San Mateo (Top 150 community college in the United States), Gurnick Academy – San Mateo (four-year for-profit college specializing in training for nurses, medical assistants, sonographers, and ultrasound technicians), and San Mateo County Community Colleges (Canada College and Skyline College – San Bruno).

Crime

According to Crime in San Mateo by BestPlaces, the city has a property crime rate of 30.7. This rate is lower than the national average of 35.4 and the CA average of 37.1. The violent crime rate (comprised of four offenses: murder / non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) is only 17.4, which is lower than the US average of 22.7 and CA average of 25.2.

Utility Providers

Before you move to San Mateo, you’ll want to get your utilities up and running by the time you arrive at your new home. Here’s a list of the major providers:

  • Electric & gas services: Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is the leading provider for the City of San Mateo. To start service, visit the company’s Start or Stop Service page.
  • Water service: California Water Service (Cal Water) provides water. New customers can get things flowing by checking out Cal Water’s Start or Stop Service page.
  • Trash pick-up/recycling service: The City of San Mateo coordinates service. For more information, visit the city’s Residential Service & Fees resource page.
  • Internet/Cable service: Of course, we don’t want to forget internet and cable TV. Major providers include AT&T, Comcast (Xfinity), Mediacom Cable, and Dish TV.
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Best Neighborhoods in San Mateo, CA

Baywood-Aragon

Baywood-Aragon borders S El Camino Real (aka State Route 82, northeast), Hobart Ave (southeast), Melrose Ct (southwest), and Crystal Springs Rd (northwest). The neighborhood offers the charming touch of vintage-style homes that reflect old-era San Mateo. This community is less than a mile southwest of Downtown San Mateo, and 81% of residents are homeowners.

Beautiful and well-maintained, Baywood-Aragon is one of the most popular neighborhoods in the city. It offers a desirable mix of Spanish, Mediterranean, Colonial, and Tudor-style homes built between 1927 and 2005. Baywood-Aragon is also home to San Mateo Public Library, Baywood Elementary School, and Aragon High School. San Mateo Central Park is just to the northeast of the neighborhood.

  • Population – Under 3,800 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $1.52 million
  • Household Income – Median yearly income over $141,000
  • Rent Prices – $1,875 for studio and $3,400 for 2BR apartment
  • Schools – Aragon High School, Borel Middle School, Baywood Elementary School

Beresford Park

Nestled about 2.5 miles south of the downtown area, Beresford Park borders by S El Camino Real (northeast), W Hillsdale Blvd (south), and J. Arthur Younger Fwy (northwest) with Alameda de las Pulgas cutting northwest-southeast through the neighborhood. Here, about 88% of residents own their homes.

Offering gorgeous homes and quick commutes – there’s a Caltrain station in the southeastern section of the neighborhood – Beresford Park also provides a nice assortment of amenities. These include Beresford Park, Peninsula Golf & Country Club, and Nordstrom Hillsdale Shopping Center. It’s also just northwest of San Mateo Medical Center. One drawback is that homes are particularly pricey in this neighborhood.

  • Population – Under 3,000 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $1.78 million
  • Household Income – Median yearly income over $120,000
  • Rent Prices – $2,900 for studio and $3,300 for 2BR apartment
  • Schools – Aragon High School, Hillsdale High School, Beresford Elementary School

Downtown

Downtown San Mateo – it’s bordered by N Delaware St (northeast), E 5th Ave (southeast), S El Camino Real (southwest), and Peninsula Ave (northwest) – offers an urban feel with reasonably priced housing. It’s also considered the best downtown in San Mateo County. Approximately 62% of residents are homeowners.

Offering a mix of modern and traditional homes, Downtown consistently ranks as one of the Top 5 places to live in the city. From great dining and shopping options to fun nightspots, the neighborhood is full of excellent eateries, restaurants (like Wursthall), coffee shops, Century 12 San Mateo, and more. It’s also home to College Park Elementary School and San Mateo High School.

  • Population – Under 1,800 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $882,000
  • Household Income – Median yearly income over $85,000
  • Rent Prices – $1,850 for studio and $2,500 for 1BR apartment
  • Schools – San Mateo High School, Aragon High School, College Park Elementary School, Baywood Elementary School, San Mateo Adult School

Hayward Park

Located less than 1.5 miles southeast of Downtown San Mateo, Hayward Park is often considered the perfect older neighborhood – most homes were built between 1939 and 1983 – ideal for younger people. It borders Highway 101 (northeast), California State Route 92 (southeast), S El Camino Real (southwest), and 9th Ave (northwest). Around 62% of residents own their homes.

Home to generously sized lots, greenery, and well-kept homes, Hayward Park offers easy access to Central Park, as well as Highway 101, State Route 92, and Hayward Park Caltrain station for convenient commuting. Favorite food spots include El Sinaloense (Mexican food, vegetarian friendly) and Ramen Parlor. It’s also home to Borel Middle School, Trader Joe’s, and Samuel Merritt University.

  • Population – Under 2,100 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $1.58 million
  • Household Income – Median yearly income over $108,000
  • Rent Prices – $3,550 for 1BR and $4,400 for 2BR apartment
  • Schools – Aragon High School, Borel Middle School, Sunnybrae Elementary School

Hillsdale

Hillsdale, formerly known as a lackluster neighborhood, has been transformed into a vibrant and attractive community over the years. Less than three miles southeast of the downtown area, it’s bordered by Highway 101 (northeast), S El Camino Real (southwest), Alameda de las Pulgas (west), and California State Route 92 (north). 54% of residents are homeowners.

Offering a nice blend of newly built amenities and charming older homes (constructed between 1940 and 1974), It’s home to Hillsdale Shopping Center (offering topnotch shopping, dining, and entertainment), Piazza’s Fine Foods, Hillsdale High School, and San Mateo Medical Center. The neighborhood also provides quick access to Beresford Park, Peninsula Golf & Country Club, and Laurelwood Park.

  • Population – Under 2,200 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $1.69 million
  • Household Income – Median yearly income over $95,000
  • Rent Prices – $2,280 for studio and $3,320 for 2BR apartment
  • Schools – Hillsdale High School, Abbott Middle School, Highlands Elementary School

North Central

Situated between Burlingame and San Mateo, North Central is a bit of Bay Area hidden gem. The neighborhood borders Bayshore Freeway (aka Highway 101, northeast), 9th Ave (southeast), N El Camino Real (southwest), and Peninsula Ave (northwest). Approximately 42% of residents own their homes.

Offering attractively affordable properties, North Central is a particularly great choice for single professionals and commuters. This community offers a host of outdoor recreation, including mountain biking, kitesurfing, and cycling. It also shares its northeastern border with Poplar Creek Golf Course, CuriOdyssey, and Coyote Recreation Area, a highly popular outdoor space in the city. Convenient for jet setters, the neighborhood is also just southeast of San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

  • Population – Under 13,100 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $701,000
  • Household Income – Median yearly income over $81,000
  • Rent Prices – $1,850 for studio and $3,400 for 2BR apartment
  • Schools – Bayside S.T.E.M. Academy, Baywood Elementary School, Beresford Elementary School

San Mateo Park

San Mateo Park, the most expensive neighborhood to own a home on our list, is also considered the #1 community to live in San Mateo. Less than two miles northwest of downtown, it is bordered by N El Camino Real (northeast), W Santa Inez Ave (southeast), N San Raymundo Rd (southwest), and Barroilhet Ave (northwest). Approximately 77% of residents are homeowners in this stately neighborhood.

Filled with charming streets, San Mateo Park is virtually free of crime. It’s safe and great for walking & jogging, but it does lack nightlife and entertainment. It’s also home to San Mateo Park School and Steve Lewis Gallery. If you have the money, this is a stellar neighborhood to call home.

  • Population – Under 3,900 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $3.03 million
  • Household Income – Median yearly income over $160,000
  • Rent Prices – $1,875 for studio and $2,475 for 1BR apartment
  • Schools – San Mateo Park School, South Hillsborough School, Crocker Middle School, North Hillsborough School, Hillsborough City Elementary

Sugarloaf

Last but not least, we take a look at Sugarloaf. It borders S El Camino Real (Northeast), Bayview Ave (southeast), J. Arthur Younger Freeway (west), and W Hillsdale Blvd (north). The neighborhood is four miles south of Downtown San Mateo, and 78% of residents own their homes.

Offering a suburban feel and homes with large garages (built from 1940 to 2003, with 1–5 bedrooms and 1–5 bathrooms), Sugarloaf is perfect for larger families. It’s home to Laurelwood/Sugarloaf Park, which offers a playground and serene walking and hiking along and into the Sugarloaf Mountain area. The neighborhood also shares its border with Hillsdale Shopping Center.

  • Population – Under 1,400 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $1.59 million
  • Household Income – Median yearly income over $120,000
  • Rent Prices – $2,430 for studio and $3,100 for 2BR apartment
  • Schools – Aragon High School, Carlmont High School, Cipriani Elementary School, Fox Elementary School, Ralston Intermediate School

Quality Moving Services from San Mateo Movers

Moving can be super stressful – choosing movers shouldn’t have to be. Great Guys Long Distance Movers effortlessly connects you with top San Mateo moving services at the best rates.

Interstate Moves

Whether you’re moving from a neighboring state or the East Coast, you don’t want to put your relocation in the wrong hands. With Great Guys, you can easily book fully vetted, certified, and insured interstate movers. Enjoy a seamless moving experience with our highly qualified partners.

Intrastate & Local Moves

Simply put, it’s never been easier to hire local movers. And it doesn’t have to cost you a ton of money, either. The San Mateo companies we work with know the city and neighborhoods in and out, resulting in an efficient and drama-free relocation. Experience a smooth start to your new chapter.

Small Load Moves

Moving into or out of a small apartment, studio, or college dorm? Assume you have to DIY? No way! We’re here to tell you that not only can you benefit from the stress-free moving services enjoyed by larger households, but our small load movers will take it easy on your wallet, too.

Furniture Shipments

Staring at rooms full of furniture? Need special handling of antiques or valuables? In any case, our furniture moving companies make it a breeze to safely and securely wrap, load, transport, and even arrange everything from bulky couches and tables to vintage chairs and curio cabinets.

Piano Transport

Okay, so it’s come time to move your prized instrument. Who are you supposed to trust? Let go of the anxiety and get of a hold of us. We work with the best piano moving specialists in the business. What makes them so good? Their attention to detail. Breathe a sigh of relief and contact us today!

Art & Antiques

Fine art, collectibles, and antiques should be handled with the utmost care. Enlisting the services of standard movers is a risky move. Want to avoid damages? Book our highly specialized art shippers. From non-abrasive packaging to custom art display installation, they are a cut above the rest.

Storage-In-Transit

Taking a sabbatical and traveling? Remodeling your dream house? Between homes? Whatever the reason, it sounds like you could use a temporary storage solution. We provide a storage-in-transit service that gives our customers much appreciated time to set up their place or enjoy a long trip to their destination.

Car Shipping

Just purchase a vintage exotic? Need to relocate a family SUV across the country? Either way, you want to make sure that your vehicle is handled with proper care. With Great Guys, it’s a cinch! In a matter of minutes, we’ll provide you with competitive bids from top auto transport companies.

Packing Services

Let’s keep it real; packing isn’t fun. And when you have to juggle it with life and work, it can be a significant undertaking. Remember, you have options. From partial packing needs to full packing services, our highly skilled movers and packers can lend their hands for a stress-free packing experience.

Residential Moves

Whether you’re moving into a new household in San Mateo or elsewhere, this can be both a joyous and nervous time. You shouldn’t have to deal with the latter. For an anxiety-free relocation, hire one of our residential movers. They excel at offering topnotch services that relieve the stress of a move.

Commercial Moves

Moving into a new experiential brick-and-mortar location? Need to transplant your entire office? From retail to corporate relocation, our highly trained & experienced commercial movers help provide you with a successful transition. Focus on your work, and avoid unnecessary delays and downtime.

Same Day/Emergency/Short Notice

Feel like the walls are caving in around you? Don’t have a lot of time to move? Great Guys is here to help. We know how stressful a short-notice job relocation, eviction, or other time-sensitive issues can be. That’s why we make it super easy to hire emergency movers. We’ve got your back!

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Devin Barroga

Ever been bitten by the wanderlust bug? It's a powerful force, one which has captivated Devin for his entire life.... Read More