Moving to Silicon Valley? 2020 Living Costs & Relocation Tips

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Moving to Silicon Valley? 2020 Living Costs & Relocation Tips

San Jose and Silicon Valley California Skyline

Photo by Michael

Silicon Valley sits in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area. It is home to Apple, HP, Intel, Oracle, Cisco and many other technology companies. It sits in the Santa Clara Valley and includes the city of San Jose.

If you are considering moving to Silicon Valley, the various costs listed below will help you make an informed decision on what costs are involved when moving and living in this area of sea and mountains.

Quick Silicon Valley Facts:

  1. Population: 3 million (2016 estimate).
  2. Official Language: English (de facto) with over 100 spoken in the area including Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Chinese, French and German.
  3. GDP Per Capita: $65,212 USD (2017 estimate)
  4. Valley of Death: Before the advent of the internet, Silicon Valley was known as the Valley of Death as people feared personal computers would take over their jobs.
  5. Currency: US Dollar (US$). As of early 2017, £1 = $1.25, €1 = $1.08, $1 CAD = $0.75, $1 AUD = $0.77

1. Moving and Shipping Costs to Silicon Valley

Below are some sample container shipping costs to Silicon Valley from other major world cities. Just keep in mind they only reflect the shipping portion of the cost and not the full moving costs.

  • New York City – $525+
  • Los Angeles – $155+
  • Canada (Vancouver) – $565+
  • UK (London) – $1,508+
  • Australia (Sydney) – $1,156+
  • Ireland (Dublin) – $1,742+
  • New Zealand (Auckland) – $1,823+
  • Hong Kong – $1,195+
  • Dubai – $3,030+
  • Singapore – $2,003+


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2. Silicon Valley City Housing Costs

Silicon Valley Garage Sign

Photo by ZTebaykina

Property in Silicon Valley is expensive and the cost of living is high but salaries are also high.

Monthly Rental Prices in Silicon Valley

  • 1 bedroom flat (apartment) in City Centre: $2,200+
  • 1 bedroom flat outside the City Centre: $1,800+
  • 3 bedroom flat in City Centre: $3,362.50+
  • 3 bedroom flat outside the City Centre: $2,900+

Silicon Valley Home Purchase Prices

  • Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy in City Centre: $6,894.88
  • Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy outside City: $4,974.23

Silicon Valley Housing Cost Comparison

This is how rents in Silicon Valley compare with other cities around the globe.

London is 16.47% cheaper
New York 19.89% higher
Los Angeles is 19.65% cheaper
Toronto is 52.29% cheaper
Sydney is 20.65% cheaper
Paris is 48.41% cheaper
Dubai is 12.43% cheaper
Source: Numbeo

How to Save on Housing Costs

  • Share an apartment or house. Have a look at the following sites to find your perfect roommate: : Easyroommate, Roommates, Kangaroom, For Rent and Yelp.
  • Different areas – different prices. Palo Alto is one of the best places to live in Silicon Valley. It provides a great quality of life, parks and green space and fine dining.  San Mateo is an interesting neighbourhood with a diverse population, many historic buildings, parks and restaurants. Menlo Park is Facebook’s home and is home to the environmentally conscious and educated. Mountain View is an expensive, popular for its golf course and parks. Redwood City is extremely proud of its revitalised downtown area and it has an amazing number of parks. San Jose has many areas to choose from, each with a different feel, character and price tag.

3. Silicon Valley Food, Grocery and Restaurant Costs

Silicon Valley has restaurants serving food from most countries in the world. They range from great burgers to excellent fine dining.

  1. Inexpensive Restaurant: $12 – $20
  2. Takeout Coffee: $3.75 – $5.00
  3. Bottle of Coke: $1.00 – $3
  4. 1L of milk: $0.79 – $1.32
  5. Loaf of Bread: $2.20 – $4.41
  6. 12 Eggs: $2.80 – $6.00
  7. 1kg Chicken: $6.61 – $13.23
  8. 1kg Beef: $8.82 – $17.64
  9. 1kg Apples: $2.65 – $6.61
  10. 1kg White Rice: $2.20 – $6.60

This is how restaurants and food prices compare with other major cities in the world.

  • London restaurants are 8.28% more expensive and groceries are 28.50% cheaper than Silicon Valley.
  • New York restaurants are 21.00% more expensive and groceries are 20.69% more expensive than Silicon Valley.
  • Los Angeles restaurants are 0.92% cheaper and groceries are 8.95% cheaper than Silicon Valley.
  • Toronto restaurants are 20.09% cheaper and groceries are 23.85% cheaper than Silicon Valley.
  • Sydney restaurants are 9.52% cheaper and groceries are 2.72% cheaper than Silicon Valley.
  • Paris restaurants are 0.67% cheaper and groceries are 7.42% cheaper than Silicon Valley.
  • Dubai restaurants are 22.34% cheaper and groceries are 30.23% cheaper than Silicon Valley.

Source: Numbeo

Bonus Tips for Cheaper Food, Restaurants and Groceries

  • Know your supermarkets: The towns of Silicon Valley have a large number of independently owned grocery stores and ethnic stores as well as the usual supermarket chains. There are also farmers’ markets and shops which sell health and organic foods. Popular supermarkets are Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, Chevez Supermarket in San Jose, Molly Stones in San Mateo and Bianchini’s in San Carlos.
  • Find Cheap Eats: With a little bit of effort you can find places which offer excellent food at affordable prices. Have a look at Serious Eats, Yelp , TripAdvisor (San Jose), TripAdvisor (San Mateo), Yelp (San Carlos) and TripAdvisor (Palo Alto).

4. Silicon Valley Alcohol Costs

The variety of watering holes throughout Silicon Valley is astounding. Whatever vibe you are looking for, you will find it here.

  • Pint (0.5L) domestic beer at a restaurant/pub: $3.00 – $6.00
  • Bottle of imported beer at a restaurant/pub: $5.00 – $8.00
  • Pint (0.5L) domestic beer at a supermarket: $1.50 – $3.00
  • Bottle of imported beer at a supermarket: $2.00 – $3.50
  • Mid-range bottle of wine at a supermarket: $10.00 – $15.00

How to drink for less in Silicon Valley

  • Keep an eye on the local papers and websites for specials over weekends and public holidays.
  • Sundance the Steak House in Palo Alto has happy hour Monday to Friday from 4-6pm. They offer house wine and draft beer for $5 and cocktails for $7. If you enjoy trendy bars, try SP2 Communal Bar in San Jose from 3-7pm and drink bottled beer for $4, draught beer and wine for $5 and cocktails for $6. Have a look at the following websites and see which establishment suits you – Bay Area, Yelp, 7 x 7, TripAdvisor, Meetup and Stephen Husted.

5. Silicon Valley Transportation Fares

Silicon Valley has an excellent transport system for moving around and in and out of the valley. Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority runs busses and light rails throughout San Jose, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale.

The Caltrain takes you around San Jose and into San Francisco. The Acetrain takes passengers out of San Jose towards Livermore and Stockton and has stations in San Jose, Santa Clara and Great America. Bay Area Rapid Transit moves thousands of people every day around Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

Here are some example ticket costs (San Jose)

  • Adult Single – $2.00
  • One day ticket – $6.00
  • Monthly season ticket, unlimited – $70
  • Annual season ticket, unlimited – $770

How to save money on public transport

  • Buy a Clipper Card to get the best daily, monthly and annual deals
  • Buy a bike. San Jose is in the process of developing more cycle lands and depending on where you live and work, cycling to and from work may be an option. Many cities in Silicon Valley have dedicated bike lanes.
  • If you live relatively close to where you work, try walking.

6. Cost of Internet in Silicon Valley

Despite being the world technology capital, internet prices in Silicon Valley are not really much different from the rest of the United States, which means someone expensive by global standards.

  • Xfintiy: From $29.99/month for for 10 mbps.
  • AT&T: From $40.00/mo for 45 mbps

7. Cost of Clothing, Personal Items, Gym and Leisure

Silicon Valley’s hottest month is in April where the temperature reaches an average high of 77°F (25°C). Its coldest month is in January, where the average temperature plummets to 72°F (22°C)! September is the wettest month with an average rainfall of 10 inches (240mm). Silicon Valley enjoys around 300 days of sunshine a year.

Here are some clothing prices, together with other useful prices.

  • Pair of Jeans: $34 – $60
  • Summer Dress: $25 – $75
  • Running Shoes (Trainers): $50 – $85
  • Business Shoes: $60 – $130
  • Short Doctor’s visit (15 mins): $94
  • Deodorant: $3.40
  • Shampoo: $5.21
  • Toilet Paper (4 rolls): $3.12
  • Gym membership: $20-$50 per month
  • Movie (cinema) ticket: $12-$15

Source: Numbeo and Expatistan

8. Cost of Owning a Car and Driving a Car in Silicon Valley

Palm Trees along raod in San Jose California

Photo by David Sawyer

It depends on where you live in Silicon Valley as to whether you want to use your car for work. Many people prefer to use public transport and avoid the traffic. Also many of the workers in Silicon Valley are environmentally conscious and so want to reduce their carbon footprint, so they opt to walk or cycle to work.

If you’re moving to Silicon Valley from within the US, you’ll be able to keep your license but need to update your address to your new one.

You can drive on a foreign license for up to 12 months as a tourist but after that you will need to get an American license. If you are working or studying in the US, you can drive on your foreign license for 30 days. If you want to exchange your foreign driver’s license you have to follow the process here.

Here are some other sample costs of owning and operating a car in Silicon Valley:

  • Volkswagen Golf:$22,000
  • 1 litre (¼ gallon) of gas (petrol):$0.76
  • Other fees (if any): The average cost of state and local taxes, license, title and registration fees is $665 per annum

Source: ExpatistanAAA Study

Ways to save money driving in Silicon Valley

Need your car/vehicle moved to Silicon Valley? Then read our guide to: Car Transport & Vehicle Shipping

9. Taxes in Silicon Valley

No matter where you live in California who have to pay state and federal tax. To learn more about the different taxes in the States go to Immihelp and USA taxes.

Sales Tax in Silicon Valley is 8.5% and is added to most goods and services. Generally, the price you see on an item does not include sales tax.

If you own your home, you will be subject to property tax based on the area in which you live and the size of the property you live in. Learn more about property tax in Silicon Valley at Property Tax.

Finally, if you decide to buy an apartment or house in Silicon Valley you’ll have to pay real estate transfer tax.

10. Flight Costs from Silicon Valley

If you do make the move to Silicon Valley, here’s approximately how much it will cost to fly to other major world cities based on lowest, one-way fares from Skyscanner as of early 2017:

  • London: $346
  • Los Angeles: $59
  • New York: $125
  • Toronto: $163
  • Vancouver: $89
  • Dubai: $626
  • Sydney: $590
  • Melbourne: $582
  • Cape Town: $942
  • Hong Kong: $389

Other Tips on Moving to Silicon Valley

The costs and pricing above should give you a good idea of the cost of living in Silicon Valley but perhaps the following extra tips will make your move go smoothly.

11. Relocating to Silicon Valley Alone

Moving anywhere can be a lonely experience, but moving to a new city can be rather daunting. Here are a few tips about relocating to and settling in Silicon Valley.

12. Moving to Silicon Valley with a Family

Silicon Valley has a lot to attract families. There are beaches, countryside, hikes, history and lots of art, drama and social events.

  • New parents (or parents to be): There are free and paid antenatal classes and courses. Have a look at PAMF and Bay Area Birth Info.
  • Live in a family friendly area: Most of Silicon Valley is considered family friendly as you can see by the number of families that live all over the area. There are excellent schools and family homes throughout the region.
  • Find things to do with the kids: Silicon Valley is fun place for kids to live. Have a look at the following sites to be inspired – SV Toddler, Silist, Visit SF Bay and Visit California.

13. Moving to Silicon Valley for Work

People generally move to Silicon Valley for work. While it is possible to move without a job, it makes sense to ensure there are jobs in your field before you make the move.

The obvious jobs are in the high-tech industry but other fields, such as law, finance, education, health and service industries are also big employers in the area.

Here are a few things to consider when moving for work:

  • Salary: Salaries vary enormously depending which industry you are in. The costs we outlined above should give you a rough idea, how much more you’ll want to be making to make the move worthwhile. You can also check salary ranges on sites such as Glassdoor and Payscale.
  • How to find work: If you want to have a job lined up before you move to Los Angeles, but aren’t sure where to begin, the following sites are good places to start:MonsterIndeed, and Snag a Job. You may also want to google recruiters in your industry, as they can often help land you some initial interviews as well.

14. Moving to Silicon Valley from Australia

There’s a large group of Australians living in Silicon Valley. It is estimated that there are 20,000 software engineers before you begin on other skills, so if you are thinking of joining them, here are a few things to consider.

  • Size comparison: If you compare the population size of Silicon Valley with a city in Australia, then the closest would be a slightly larger version of Brisbane.
  • Join expat groups: There are a number of expat groups enabling you to meet fellow Aussies. Try Internations and Aussie Founders Network.

15. Moving to Silicon Valley from Canada

There are over 350,000 Canadians living and working in Silicon Valley so if you’re considering making the move from Canada here are a few things to consider.

  • Size comparison: If you look at the population size of Silicon Valley, the nearest sized city in Canada would be somewhere between Vancouver and Montreal.
  • Expat groups: Meeting up with fellow Canadians helps the moving process. Link up through sites such as InterNations and Meetup.

16. Moving to Silicon Valley from the United Kingdom

There are thousands of talented Brits working in Silicon Valley, if you would like to join them, here are a few things to consider.

  • Size comparison: If you compare the population size of Silicon Valley with the size of a city in the UK, then think of a city three times the size of Birmingham.
  • Expat groups: If you want to get together with others from the UK who are enjoying Silicon Valley, then go to Internations and Meetup.

Hopefully, the tips and costs above are helpful. If want to get started pricing out how much it will cost you to move to Silicon Valley you can start by comparing moving quotes here.

Guides to other cities in the Bay Area & Silicon Valley

Guides to other cities in California

Guides to moving and living in other American cities

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Moving to Silicon Valley? 2020 Living Costs & Relocation Tips


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