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Best places in Bay Area to live for working in Foster City

Best places in Bay Area to live for working in Foster City

Old Oct 27th 2019, 5:55 pm
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Default Best places in Bay Area to live for working in Foster City

Hi all,

subject to getting my visa on Wednesday, I’m due to move over to Foster City, California next month with work! So starting to think about everything I need to do before then...eek.

most importantly, I’m looking for advice on areas to live - most of my colleagues have families so unfortunately can’t offer me location advice. I’m in my late twenties, moving as a single female, and from North Greenwich in London - so used to quick commutes, everything near around me and open 24/7, but not directly in the hustle and bustle (eg I have become very accustomed to a silent night, even with windows open).

whilst I can see most advice is on commuting TO San Francisco rather than FROM it, i was wondering how plausible it would be to live closer to the city and drive down to FC to everyday - what is a realistic commute time from there / how bad is the traffic? And are there better parts of the city to get in and out to?

OR - are there other areas you would recommend instead that still have a buzz but much easier commute? I am considering San Mateo too, but concerned that any of these more suburbs will have me missing London and wanting to spend my nights in SF anyway, which then would be more of a hassle.

for reference, I will have a housing allowance of c$3.5k pm for a one bedroom rental - so any advice on where to get best for my money for that too would be most appreciated.

thanks in advance for any help you can give me!
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Old Oct 27th 2019, 6:11 pm
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Default Re: Best places in Bay Area to live for working in Foster City

Always liked Palo Alto....(15 miles down the road).. attractive town centre with plenty of restaurants, Stanford Shopping Centre, and you have the University with all its various, on campus, concerts etc.
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Old Oct 27th 2019, 7:23 pm
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Default Re: Best places in Bay Area to live for working in Foster City

For places with a buzz that aren't SF proper you can consider Palo Alto, Mountain View, Redwood City and San Carlos. Fair warning: none of these places have anywhere near the kind of buzzy city feel you will be used to but all have a nice walkable 'downtown area' (aka street with cafes, shops and bars), are safe and pretty and have cal train stops and easy access to the highways.

3.5k a month will get you a decent 1 bed in the areas mentioned. Commute times vary - San Carlos is the closest and could be anything from 15 - 30 minutes depending on time of day. Mountain View is the furthest, around 30 mins to an hour depending on the time.

Don't bother with anything north of Burlingame and south of the city (shrouded in fog and cloud most of the time and just...meh).

You could think about living in SF proper but you are still not going to get the London vibe. Finding a place with a parking spot is going to be hard and cost you a lot of money. While you will be doing the reverse commute, it's still going to take you at least an hour each way, possibly more depending on where you live in the city and that commute daily is soul destroying. Bernal Heights, Portola, Glen Park and Noe Valley are nice areas south of the city but are super popular and very expensive.

Perhaps you can stay in an airbnb or serviced apartments (look at Marriott Residence in Foster City or San Carlos) for the first month or two so you can figure out where you want to live. Leases are signed for a year so you want to be sure about where you are living before you jump in.
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Old Oct 28th 2019, 10:02 am
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Default Re: Best places in Bay Area to live for working in Foster City

Thank you, that’s really helpful and given me a lot to think about! I have up to a month of temporary accommodation provided for me, so may do a bit of moving around to try out some of those areas before committing.
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Old Nov 27th 2019, 4:32 pm
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Default Re: Best places in Bay Area to live for working in Foster City

This is an old thread by now but I'll cast another vote for Palo Alto. It's not going to match London, of course, but it has a very vibrant 'downtown' full of restaurants - good restaurants - and it's well situated for everywhere - easy drive up to SF, easy drive to work, and not a bad drive over to the ocean - which is beautiful around there. The Stanford Campus is beautiful, as are the foothills in the area. When I moved over from London back in the '80s, I was insistent on living in SF - moved to the inner Sunset, and later, the inner Richmond districts - but back then, the commute down 280 was a dream by comparison to now, and I was lucky enough to be working just off 280 at Page Mill Rd.

In retrospect, I think I might have been happier living in Palo Alto. I also think SF has taken a turn for the worse over the past 30 years ... the homeless situation is ridiculous for example, and rents are crazy. Traffic is nuts also. If Palo Alto is too expensive, then San Mateo is a decent alternative. I personally like Burlingame also. Mountain View has improved its 'downtown' over the years. Be aware that Palo Alto has a second 'downtown' (as in, busy business district with shops/restaurants) on California Ave - not as busy as the University Ave area, but still lively (and with its own Caltrain Station). I would definitely echo the idea of staying in temporary accommodation as long as possible, to get a feel for the different places - even if your allowance doesn't cover the costs.

It would be great if you could update this thread in the future with what you end up doing!
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Old Nov 28th 2019, 9:08 pm
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Default Re: Best places in Bay Area to live for working in Foster City

Hi Steerpike,

Thanks for picking this thread up and sharing your insight - really helpful! I’m heading over next week to check out the different areas, including Palo Alto - so will definitely report back with where my head is at. I’m moving over the first week of January now, and I think I will definitely be spending my first month in temporary accommodation to get a better feel of everything before committing.

thanks!
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Old Dec 31st 2019, 5:20 am
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Default Re: Best places in Bay Area to live for working in Foster City

If you work in FC, it is better for you to commute from SF downwards to FC, traffic gets so bad, because most people work/travel upwards towards SF. Highway 101, gets really bad by 06:30. If you find a place in south San Francisco, then you can avoid most of the traffic or leave really early. FC, used to be a nice small community but due to the expansion of Gilead and Visa, it has really changed traffic is really bad and getting worse, cost of living is out of the world expensive.

Originally Posted by Beccac7 View Post
Hi all,

subject to getting my visa on Wednesday, I’m due to move over to Foster City, California next month with work! So starting to think about everything I need to do before then...eek.

most importantly, I’m looking for advice on areas to live - most of my colleagues have families so unfortunately can’t offer me location advice. I’m in my late twenties, moving as a single female, and from North Greenwich in London - so used to quick commutes, everything near around me and open 24/7, but not directly in the hustle and bustle (eg I have become very accustomed to a silent night, even with windows open).

whilst I can see most advice is on commuting TO San Francisco rather than FROM it, i was wondering how plausible it would be to live closer to the city and drive down to FC to everyday - what is a realistic commute time from there / how bad is the traffic? And are there better parts of the city to get in and out to?

OR - are there other areas you would recommend instead that still have a buzz but much easier commute? I am considering San Mateo too, but concerned that any of these more suburbs will have me missing London and wanting to spend my nights in SF anyway, which then would be more of a hassle.

for reference, I will have a housing allowance of c$3.5k pm for a one bedroom rental - so any advice on where to get best for my money for that too would be most appreciated.

thanks in advance for any help you can give me!
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Old Dec 31st 2019, 3:59 pm
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Default Re: Best places in Bay Area to live for working in Foster City

Originally Posted by veryfunny View Post
If you work in FC, it is better for you to commute from SF downwards to FC, traffic gets so bad, because most people work/travel upwards towards SF. Highway 101, gets really bad by 06:30. If you find a place in south San Francisco, then you can avoid most of the traffic or leave really early. FC, used to be a nice small community but due to the expansion of Gilead and Visa, it has really changed traffic is really bad and getting worse, cost of living is out of the world expensive.
Minor clarification - there's 'south San Francisco', meaning the southern parts of the city of San Francisco, and there's 'South San Francisco' - a separate town that is south of San Francisco, not physically adjacent to SF.

Neither of these two locales are in my opinion terribly desirable, though of course you can always find a diamond in the rough! I guess Noe Valley is towards the southern end, and is pretty decent - I lived there from 89 to 94.

I will also use this post to 'warn' the OP - if you travel to the Bay Area in late fall or winter, you will likely encounter lovely weather in San Francisco. Be aware that the weather in summer (May/June through Sept) can be terribly cold - foggy, windy, etc. This cold weather spreads from SF itself down to about Millbrae or Burlingame. After that, the foothills provide protection from the ocean fog. Some people don't mind the fog; I lived in SF for 12 years and grew to despise it. Living in Palo Alto, by comparison, you'll enjoy lovely weather in summer.

Last edited by Steerpike; Dec 31st 2019 at 5:13 pm.
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Old Dec 31st 2019, 4:34 pm
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Default Re: Best places in Bay Area to live for working in Foster City

Would be interesting to know where BECCA (OP) finally ended up renting.....
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Old Dec 31st 2019, 5:12 pm
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Default Re: Best places in Bay Area to live for working in Foster City

Originally Posted by Steerpike View Post
Minor clarification - there's 'south San Francisco', meaning the southern parts of the city of San Francisco, and there's 'South San Francisco' - a separate town that is south of San Francisco, not physically adjacent to SF.

Neither of these two locales are in my opinion terribly desirable, though of course you can always find a diamond in the rough!

I will also use this post to 'warn' the OP - if you travel to the Bay Area in late fall or winter, you will likely encounter lovely weather in San Francisco. Be aware that the weather in summer (May/June through Sept) can be terribly cold - foggy, windy, etc. This cold weather spreads from SF itself down to about Millbrae or Burlingame. After that, the foothills provide protection from the ocean fog. Some people don't mind the fog; I lived in SF for 12 years and grew to despise it. Living in Palo Alto, by comparison, you'll enjoy lovely weather in summer.
"Terribly cold" is an over exaggeration. It's never "terribly cold" anywhere in the Bay Area. It is true that during the summer months SF can be 10-15c colder than the Peninsula but we are talking 15c rather than 25c not -10c. Even in the winter, SF doesn't ever get below 10c during the daytime and about 5c at night. So yes, "terribly" cold it is not, especially for someone from the UK!
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Old Dec 31st 2019, 5:34 pm
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Default Re: Best places in Bay Area to live for working in Foster City

Originally Posted by sherbert View Post
"Terribly cold" is an over exaggeration. It's never "terribly cold" anywhere in the Bay Area. It is true that during the summer months SF can be 10-15c colder than the Peninsula but we are talking 15c rather than 25c not -10c. Even in the winter, SF doesn't ever get below 10c during the daytime and about 5c at night. So yes, "terribly" cold it is not, especially for someone from the UK!
I agree with your point. Especially winters - it's actually warmer in SF than anywhere in the Bay Area in winter due to the warming effect of the ocean. Winters are a dream compared to UK (where it's not only colder, but horribly damp and drizzly). So maybe it's psychological to some extent. I used to leave my office in Palo Alto at 6 or 7pm, and it was a 'perfect' 70-75F (21-24C), with blue skies and no wind. I would arrive at my place in SF and it would be foggy, windy, and a temp of 55F (13C). That is a big contrast considering it's only about 30 miles. But I put up with it, as I got to spend the weekday daytime in the sun. The last straw for me was when I finally achieved what was originally my goal in life - a job in downtown San Francisco. Living AND working in SF meant that, during summer, I could go for days without ever seeing the sun. That's when I moved out of the city to the east bay, which I personally thoroughly enjoy (yes, I like the 90F summers!).
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Old Jan 2nd 2020, 2:49 pm
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Default Re: Best places in Bay Area to live for working in Foster City

I was talking about south san francisco, location after Burlingame etc. Palo Alto is nice but the commute to FC during morning hours will be long.

Originally Posted by Steerpike View Post
Minor clarification - there's 'south San Francisco', meaning the southern parts of the city of San Francisco, and there's 'South San Francisco' - a separate town that is south of San Francisco, not physically adjacent to SF.

Neither of these two locales are in my opinion terribly desirable, though of course you can always find a diamond in the rough! I guess Noe Valley is towards the southern end, and is pretty decent - I lived there from 89 to 94.

I will also use this post to 'warn' the OP - if you travel to the Bay Area in late fall or winter, you will likely encounter lovely weather in San Francisco. Be aware that the weather in summer (May/June through Sept) can be terribly cold - foggy, windy, etc. This cold weather spreads from SF itself down to about Millbrae or Burlingame. After that, the foothills provide protection from the ocean fog. Some people don't mind the fog; I lived in SF for 12 years and grew to despise it. Living in Palo Alto, by comparison, you'll enjoy lovely weather in summer.
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Old Jan 3rd 2020, 6:06 pm
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Default Re: Best places in Bay Area to live for working in Foster City

Originally Posted by sherbert View Post
For places with a buzz that aren't SF proper you can consider Palo Alto, Mountain View, Redwood City and San Carlos. Fair warning: none of these places have anywhere near the kind of buzzy city feel you will be used to but all have a nice walkable 'downtown area' (aka street with cafes, shops and bars), are safe and pretty and have cal train stops and easy access to the highways.
Vote here for Redwood city and San Carlos too. Worked for a company in Redwood city for a year and saw a lot of growth in the city. Stepping over to San Carlos is OK, and there are options there too, if a little quieter. Palo Alto and Mountain View will be more expensive though.
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Old Jan 4th 2020, 7:47 pm
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Default Re: Best places in Bay Area to live for working in Foster City

Originally Posted by Steerpike View Post
I agree with your point. Especially winters - it's actually warmer in SF than anywhere in the Bay Area in winter due to the warming effect of the ocean. Winters are a dream compared to UK (where it's not only colder, but horribly damp and drizzly). So maybe it's psychological to some extent. I used to leave my office in Palo Alto at 6 or 7pm, and it was a 'perfect' 70-75F (21-24C), with blue skies and no wind. I would arrive at my place in SF and it would be foggy, windy, and a temp of 55F (13C). That is a big contrast considering it's only about 30 miles. But I put up with it, as I got to spend the weekday daytime in the sun. The last straw for me was when I finally achieved what was originally my goal in life - a job in downtown San Francisco. Living AND working in SF meant that, during summer, I could go for days without ever seeing the sun. That's when I moved out of the city to the east bay, which I personally thoroughly enjoy (yes, I like the 90F summers!).
Right: what is true is that the temperature and conditions vary hugely over just a very short distance. On a typical summer's day it will be 25-30c with not a cloud in the sky anywhere south of SFO and around 15-18c and overcast anywhere north of it.
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Old Jan 15th 2020, 4:27 am
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Default Re: Best places in Bay Area to live for working in Foster City

Hi everyone, OP here and I officially made the move over last week! I really appreciate everyone’s comments - it helped me pinpoint areas much clearer than just looking at a map blindly!

You wanted an update and.... after experiencing the commuting traffic on the 101 as well as realising Palo Alto is sadly out of my budget, I’ve plumped for a 1bed in Redwood City.

I think it’s a good choice for now (it’s a 12 month lease) with enough in the downtown to explore and allow me to walk around, but still easy enough to get into the city.

and yes, I did pay attention to the fact it’s below the fog line

So we’ll see if I get itchy feet once I’m properly settled in, but for now it’s time to start my CA life!
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