With its sunny weather, multicultural population and strategic position in the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose offers expats a pleasant and rewarding lifestyle. It might not be as glamorous as neighbouring San Francisco but for those looking for a modern city that still retains somewhat of a small-town atmosphere, San Jose is definitely worth considering.
There's something to appeal to every taste and interest in San Jose. From wineries to museums, theatres, parks and markets, there is always something to enjoy in the city. Further afield, mountains and national parks offer day and weekend getaways for those wanting to explore the wider California region.
Shopping in San Jose
Shopping opportunities are abundant in San Jose with many large, modern shopping malls such as Westfield Valley Fair, the largest mall in San Jose. Other popular malls include Westgate, Westfield Oakridge, Eastridge Mall and Almaden Plaza Shopping Center.
Santana Row is an upscale shopping district offering luxury brands and high-end boutiques alongside high-end restaurants. For those looking for something more unique, there are older, more eclectic shopping districts, such as in the Downtown Historic District, along Paseo de San Antonio and at the San Jose Market Center on Coleman Avenue.
Eating out in San Jose
Although San Jose’s dining scene may not be as well known as neighbouring San Francisco’s, there are plenty of good restaurants to be found in the city. With the warm climate, diners can enjoy many lovely outdoor eating options. As can be expected in such a multicultural and ethnically diverse region, there's a wide variety of cuisine available. From budget takeaway outlets to fine dining establishments, from traditional American steakhouses and seafood specialists to Italian, Mexican and Asian fare, there is something to suit every taste and budget.
Downtown San Jose is particularly popular for eating out, with many restaurants, bars and coffee shops lining the streets. Santana Row has many dining establishments as well; it’s best to book if wanting to eat in this upmarket area.
Nightlife and entertainment in San Jose
Expats will be spoilt for choice when it comes to nightlife and entertainment in San Jose.
Downtown is arguably the most happening area with restaurants, bars, theatres, museums, live music and comedy venues catering to every age and lifestyle.
San Pedro Square, in particular, has many popular pubs and restaurants, and even a microbrewery to enjoy. The area also hosts an outdoor cinema and a farmer’s market. The SoFA District (South of First Area) is the centre of visual arts and entertainment in Downtown. Known for its eclectic and creative crowd and venues, there are many coffee shops, theatres and galleries to enjoy.
Sporting and outdoor activities in San Jose
As with most of California, outdoor activities are a major part of the San Jose lifestyle all year round.
From the San Jose Rose Garden to the Japanese Friendship Garden, the city has many outdoor parks and gardens for families to enjoy a relaxing day out in the sun. Walking and running are also popular pastimes in the city, particularly along the city’s established trails. A network of bicycle trails also makes it relatively easy to cycle around the city.
Lake Cunningham offers opportunities for fishing and boating, while national parks such as Yosemite National Park and Big Basin Redwoods State Park are great for those wanting to explore the wilderness for a weekend of camping or hiking.
California’s beautiful beaches are also not far away, and a drive along the Pacific Highway offers an opportunity to explore the state’s magnificent coastline.
►For information on finding the perfect home in the Silicon Valley, see Accommodation in San Jose
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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