Moving to the Bay Area
June 17, 2016 5:24 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to rent a house for ~$3k? If so, where?

My husband has been offered a great work opportunity in San Jose. We're excited to move to the Bay Area. I've been to SF many times for work but I don't know the surrounding suburbs very well at all. And to be clear - we'd like to be in the suburbs and not SF proper. I was wondering if anyone could suggest neighborhoods for us to look at?

Some quick bullet points about our situation:
-Husband has an office in Redwood City he'll need to get to 1x a week but otherwise he can work from home. So ideally no further than an hour's commute from there. I work from home and have no need to go to an office.
-We have a newborn so family friendly neighborhoods would be ideal (we don't require much of a nightlife but a sense of community and neighborhood-ness would be appreciated like parks or places to go for a walk/hike). I'm not super concerned with schools yet because we have quite a few years before we need to consider that.
-We also have 2 small dogs so a house with a yard would be GREAT. I know I'm asking a lot here.
-Since we both work from home, at minimum I think we need a 2 bedroom. Ideally we'd have a 3 bedroom.

Our budget is around $3k but probably no more than $3500. Thoughts? Thanks in advance!
posted by modernsquid to Society & Culture (14 answers total)
Yeah, this is doable with $3k.

Basically the entire peninsula from San Jose to San Francisco is easily within an hour of Redwood City, so you have your pick of, well, everywhere. It won't be too hard to find a decent place within your budget.
posted by ryanrs at 6:04 PM on June 17, 2016

Redwood City itself could fit the bill, San Mateo is quite nice with a nice small downtown area as well, or you could go farther south to Cupertino, Sunnyvale, and Saratoga if you want to trade commute time for more space. All nice suburban areas. Just don't sign up for a commute that involves 237 + 101 or the Google traffic will drive your husband crazy.
posted by asphericalcow at 6:08 PM on June 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

Bonus question: Is craigslist the place to go for rentals or is there another site? I know in LA its westsiderentals. I've looked on zillow but without a lot of success.
posted by modernsquid at 6:12 PM on June 17, 2016

Yeah, a $3k budget within an hour of RWC gets you from SF down to Cupertino and over to San Jose. RWC is very walkable and I suspect your husband's office will be near the Caltrain station, so you may want to factor that in too. I wouldn't live much farther West than La Honda, but living up in the hills is possible too, if cool, rural and wet is your bag.

As to your requirements, I'll tell you what I tell everyone who moves here: be prepared to compromise. For example, with your budget, if you want a yard and a nice neighborhood, you may share a wall. If you don't want to share a wall, you may not be near anything at all. And so on.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 6:13 PM on June 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

I bet Cupertino is maybe too expensive because of Apple and the really good schools. But really your search area is all of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. I'd start looking in Redwood City itself.

One thing you probably haven't considered is that there are also a lot of woodsy, rural/mountain areas in the Santa Cruz Mountains, if that sounds appealing. Living up in the redwoods in Sky Londa, Boulder Creek, etc can be neat. I grew up there, so I'm sort of partial to the Bay Area woods.
posted by ryanrs at 6:15 PM on June 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

You can use realtors to find rentals here, but it's not very common. CL is basically your best bet. Be prepared to arrive a few minutes early to an open house, to write a check and sign a lease on the spot, and to compete with other people who also arrived early and are ready to write a check. Negotiation on the terms is also a thing here (paying more rent, increasing the lease term, and so on).
posted by TheNewWazoo at 6:15 PM on June 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

I have used craigslist for every place I've rented on the peninsula (albeit apartments rather than houses). I would definitely start there.
posted by ryanrs at 6:17 PM on June 17, 2016

Oh, I'll also say that, if you find you aren't having very much luck on the peninsula (which is basically bizarroworld right now), it's worth considering one of the towns near the bridges on the East side of the bay. Hayward has, by all accounts, developed itself into quite a nice place, and a bridge commute once a week is cake.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 6:19 PM on June 17, 2016

Pacifica might work too, although its been a few years since I knew the rental prices there. It doesn't have much (any) nightlife or anything, but its a nice town and close to the City and well within an hour of RWC. It tends to be cheaper than the main peninsula because its over the mountains.

It is, however, pretty cold and parts of it are foggy much of the year. On the other hand, you're right next to the ocean. I liked it there, but its a little more remote/different than much of the peninsula.
posted by thefoxgod at 6:22 PM on June 17, 2016

TheNewWazoo understated how crazy open houses can be. Early could mean like an hour early. I've turned up at open houses 15 minutes after the listing said, and the unit was gone. That was Berkeley, not the peninsula, but I'd be shocked if it's much different.
posted by colin_l at 6:25 PM on June 17, 2016

On the other hand, as an abnormal datapoint, I know someone renting a 2-br in Mountain View on the Los Altos border (Marich Way) for $2800, so be aware such things are possible, if rare (landlord is weird/crazy).
posted by ryanrs at 6:28 PM on June 17, 2016

We moved to the East Bay from SoCal a year ago and were flabbergasted by the competition for rentals. Be sure to get your rental portfolio in order before you show up (bios, financial info, a completed rental app, a credit report). We were lucky to get this place in Kensington, but after getting swooped on a couple others we liked, we were also better prepared.

Good luck!
posted by notyou at 7:11 PM on June 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have some co-workers who live in Half Boon Bay, one of whom has toddler-aged (or so) kids.
posted by MikeKD at 7:27 PM on June 17, 2016

i live on the coast near half moon bay. anywhere from there north to montara would fit your bill i think. like anywhere else in the bay area rents are inflated but certainly within your budget. communities include half moon bay, el granada, miramar, moss beach, and montara. they're much of a muchness. it's mainly families, the scenery is beautiful, and it feels really detached from the nonsense either north in SF or "over the hill" in the valley. worst case scenario would be a 1 hr commute to RWC from any of these places. i'd even argue it's more rural than suburban but HMB has everything you'd need day to day.
posted by iboxifoo at 11:43 PM on June 17, 2016

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