Finding suitable accommodation in San Jose is one of the biggest challenges facing expats moving to the city. Those headhunted by tech companies in Silicon Valley are often lucky enough to have their employer provide accommodation or assist them in finding a suitable home. But for many others, finding the perfect home in San Jose can be a bit of a struggle.
San Jose is one of the largest cities in California with plenty of accommodation options of all kinds available for new arrivals. That said, with the influx of high-income earners moving to the city because of its proximity to Silicon Valley, property prices and rental rates in San Jose are continuing to rise each year.
Types of accommodation in San Jose
Whether one is looking for a luxury apartment in the city centre, a large family home in a leafy suburban area or a skyscraper condo unit, San Jose has plenty to choose from.
Young professionals and single people often choose to live in Downtown San Jose because of the area's proximity to most of the city’s major attractions and amenities. Residents living in central areas of San Jose can expect to pay a premium as property prices here are incredibly high. Japantown is also a popular option for those wanting to live close to the city centre. While the buildings in this area are a little older than elsewhere, they certainly have a lot of character. Those looking to raise a family in San Jose opt for housing in the West San Jose neighbourhood. Although properties are by no means cheap, residents do benefit from larger houses and a lot more space.
Finding accommodation in San Jose
The majority of expats initially rent accommodation for a few years before they decide on whether to remain in the city long-term. Expats looking to buy property in San Jose should be aware that demand is high, and good properties tend to sell quickly so it’s best to have proof of funds before searching for accommodation.
Whether expats plan on renting or buying property in San Jose, they can get a head start by trawling the internet, even before they arrive in the city. There are a large number of useful real-estate sites, classifieds and online versions of local publications that have property sections. New arrivals can also approach property management companies to assist them in their search for a home.
Expats should always view accommodation in person before committing to anything. While in the city, expats may also stumble on some great housing options simply by exploring a neighbourhood they like on foot and taking note of any sale or rental signs.
Those looking to find their ideal home fast should enlist the services of a real-estate agent. These professionals can narrow down accommodation options according to an individual’s specifications, provide photos and answer any questions one may have about a property and the rental or buying processes.
Agent fees are generally paid by the person selling the property or the landlord. We do recommend checking with the estate agent before using their services, simply to avoid any hidden fees at the end.
Renting accommodation in San Jose
The demand for property in San Jose is high and since many of the city’s residents are high-earning professionals working in Silicon Valley, landlords are in a position where they can charge high prices for accommodation.
Making the application
As in most of the US, to secure a rental property, potential tenants will need to obtain an application form from the landlord. Subsequently, the landlord will contact their chosen tenant and together they will sign a standard lease agreement. Having a US bank account will act in one's favour when applying to rent accommodation in San Jose, especially for expats without a social security number.
Most rental contracts are valid for a year. San Jose has a mix of furnished and unfurnished accommodation. Furnished accommodation oftentimes includes everything from appliances to bedding and curtains. These properties tend to be more expensive and usually run on shorter leases. However, unfurnished accommodation rarely means a completely bare apartment or house, and would still come with large appliances such as ovens, washing machines and fridges. Unfurnished leases usually run for a year or longer.
Tenants will be required to put down an amount equivalent to a month’s rent as a security deposit. This deposit is refundable once the tenancy agreement has come to an end. If any damage has been done to the property, the deposit will be used for the cost of repairs.
Expats renting accommodation in San Jose should consult the conditions of their lease to find out the details on utilities. The landlord may assume responsibility for utilities such as gas, electricity and water, but tenants will usually be expected to pay for extras such as telephone services, internet and cable TV packages. New tenants should spend some time looking into different service providers as one can often find a good range of inclusive deals for telephone and internet services.
Buying property in San Jose
In order to buy property in San Jose, expats will need proof of employment in the US. They will also need to show that they have sufficient funds or a pre-approved mortgage. Expats will need a portion of the cost of the house to put down as a deposit.
Expats should hire a real-estate agent to assist them when it comes to buying their first home in San Jose. The agent will be able to give buyers detailed insight into the process of buying a property, do the majority of the administrative paperwork and negotiate on the buyer’s behalf. As property is in such high demand, much of the best accommodation gets snapped up even before it's advertised publicly. Agents will have access to many suitable properties that expats won’t be able to readily find online.
Those buying property in San Jose will need to sort out all the utilities themselves. Expats are advised to do their research as there are a number of gas and electricity providers servicing San Jose and the surrounding Bay Area.
►Read Work Permits for the USA to learn about what paperwork needs to be done
Are you an expat living in San Jose?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to San Jose. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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