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Old 12-16-2013, 01:07 AM
 
10 posts, read 29,879 times
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I am a 25 year old single male and I'm about to move to the Bay Area for a job in Redwood City. I don't mind charming small towns but I am growing tired of suburban cookie cutter strip mall sprawl areas.

I'd love to live in San Francisco but the commute and parking situation wouldn't be ideal. I know there are some interesting areas in east bay, but that's even further. What are some interesting peninsula towns?

Ideally:
Interesting downtown that doesn't shut down at 7pm
Young People
Local music

Based on all the research I've done, it would seem that San Mateo and Palto Alto are the only two peninsula towns I might enjoy. I was also considering Millbrae for BART access. I've heard mixed things about Foster City and Burlingame. Should I settle for a peninsula town or live in a city I love and deal with the commute?
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Old 12-16-2013, 01:12 AM
 
Location: US
24,091 posts, read 24,335,101 times
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I would recommend San Mateo the most because it has a thriving downtown area. I would also recommend Burlingame, which also has a nice little downtown area. Millbrae is also nice with another small thriving downtown, but it is more on the Asian side, which I don't know is a pro or con for you. Foster City is nice and clean, but a bit boring. You are very close to San Mateo though. Enjoy!
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Old 12-16-2013, 01:40 AM
 
Location: Richmond, CA
1,366 posts, read 1,210,356 times
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San Mateo, Palo Alto, Burlingame, and Mountain View in that order. Don't even bother with other cities along the Peninsula unless you want a commuter spot like Millbrae (where you can take Caltrain to work and BART to fun but don't have much worthwhile otherwise). If your office is near the Caltrain station in Redwood City and you can manage to afford to live in SF near the 4th & King or 22nd Street stations, go for it.
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Old 12-16-2013, 11:58 AM
 
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Thanks for the replies!

davdaven, what makes you choose San Mateo over Palo Alto? I know a lot of people really love Millbrae because of the transit access, but I will likely be working very late/irregular hours. 10am - 9pm days may be common and I know Caltrain and BART don't run so late. I worry the only time I'd really benefit from transit would be on the weekends and that I'd have to drive down to work if I did live in SF.
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Old 12-16-2013, 02:56 PM
 
10,925 posts, read 6,421,904 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IronCOOKARU View Post
Thanks for the replies!

davdaven, what makes you choose San Mateo over Palo Alto? I know a lot of people really love Millbrae because of the transit access, but I will likely be working very late/irregular hours. 10am - 9pm days may be common and I know Caltrain and BART don't run so late. I worry the only time I'd really benefit from transit would be on the weekends and that I'd have to drive down to work if I did live in SF.
I have lived in San Mateo for a few years (downtown, couple blocks from the Caltrain station) and I work in Palo Alto (Stanford), so I have a lot of knowledge on both. I personally chose not to live in Palo Alto mainly because the rent is just a lot more. You pay a good amount more for the same kind of apartment in Palo Alto. I also prefer San Mateo's downtown over Palo Alto's: San Mateo's has a more "neighborhood" feel to it than Palo Alto's, and I also felt that many restaurants in Palo Alto were overpriced...basically, one way to describe Palo Alto well is "overpriced". You'll find plenty of young people in both downtowns (Friday nights usually better than Saturday nights since there are many companies with young employees in both towns that enjoy going to happy hours).

Another point I liked is that San Mateo is closer to SF (I wanted to be closer to SF being that I moved to the area when I was 26). You being on the younger side might find that appealing. Getting to SF from San Mateo is fairly easy by train (Caltrain). BART connections aren't too bad: you can take Caltrain two stops to Milbrae, drive to the BART station (a little under 10 minutes for me and free parking after 4), or take the El Camino Real Bus a couple of stops (about 15 minutes). None are that big of a deal since Milbrae is very close. And diving isn't that difficult: 101 is ok and can take as little as 20 minutes to the FiDi for me (outside of rush hour, obviously); 280 is preferred for less traffic but is a little further distance-wise.

I also looked at Burlingame, but felt it was also a little overpriced for what you got. Considering some apartments I looked at were ~2 miles from where I live now and were ~200-400 dollars more a month (for roughly same quality), that was reason enough for me not to move there. Redwood City has a nice downtown and is worth looking at (especially since you'll be working there), but it seems you might have dismissed it already.

And two last comments:
1) I used to recommend San Mateo pretty regularly, but it has not been immune to the ridiculous rent increases that the entire Bay Area has seen, so I am less eager to recommend it now. Don't expect East bay affordable prices. But if you aren't scared away by the prices in SF, the prices on the peninsula shouldn't scare you too much.
2) Outside of the downtowns on the peninsula (which do offer a lot of "things to do" and many amenities such as groceries), it is still mostly suburban. It is very walkable and dense suburbia (I bike and ride to most places I go), but still suburban nonetheless. This doesn't bother me too much, but it might bother you.

If you're ok with these caveats, then my recommendation to you would be to look at areas around downtowns on the peninsula (San Mateo being the top).
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Old 12-16-2013, 03:08 PM
 
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Thanks for the information, HockeyMac. I guess I'm not so scared of the bay area prices because I can find something within my price range just about everywhere I look. The difference is that my price range will get me something MUCH smaller in the city. I'd also have to worry about parking and gas prices if transit is an issue.

I'm glad that even if it's suburban, it's dense and walkable. I may not enjoy it as much as city living but I'd definitely enjoy it more than some of the spread out endless apartment complex/strip mall towns I've had to live in.

I haven't dismissed Redwood City outright, but most people seem to say the peninsula offers more interesting options that aren't far. I'm definitely not into the club scene. I do enjoy a casual neighborhood dive with some music though which is hard to find in a place like Orange County. How does San Mateo compare to Redwood City?
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Old 12-16-2013, 03:43 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
28,234 posts, read 34,771,755 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IronCOOKARU View Post
Thanks for the replies!

davdaven, what makes you choose San Mateo over Palo Alto? I know a lot of people really love Millbrae because of the transit access, but I will likely be working very late/irregular hours. 10am - 9pm days may be common and I know Caltrain and BART don't run so late. I worry the only time I'd really benefit from transit would be on the weekends and that I'd have to drive down to work if I did live in SF.
Bart runs till at least midnight daily but the trains come every 20 minutes. Caltrain runs about 1x and hour outside of commute.
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Old 12-16-2013, 04:13 PM
 
Location: A bit further north than before
1,651 posts, read 3,526,380 times
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Live as close to work as possible, you want to minimize your daily commute.
You can drive/train up to the city for fun on the weekends when your time is more flexible.
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Old 12-16-2013, 04:16 PM
 
10 posts, read 29,879 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gone down south View Post
Live as close to work as possible, you want to minimize your daily commute.
You can drive/train up to the city for fun on the weekends when your time is more flexible.
So, you wouldn't even want to make the 15 minute commute from downtown San Mateo to Redwood City? It would require me to take 101 but it'd be southbound and after 9:30am.
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Old 12-16-2013, 06:31 PM
 
Location: Pacifica, CA
297 posts, read 732,902 times
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I'd pretty much second everything that's been suggested. The peninsula towns have mid century downtowns, and in no way resemble orange county sprawl, mini malls etc. I would also put San Mateo as the best downtown, its the largest and with the most variety (nice restaurants and dive bars etc, all mixed together). Palo Alto is a good size and nice, but mostly high end and pretty snobby (often referred to as shallow alto). I also really like San Carlos, Mt. View, Millbrae, Burlingame and RWC. Any of those would be good places to live, assuming you're right downtown -the downtowns are usually right where the caltrain stations are. RWC is a bigger city, but smaller downtown then SM or PA, but its a good option. There are a couple of sketchier neighborhoods, one being right next to downtown, the city layout is just kind of weird, but the immediate downtown is nice.

Note if you live north of the the junction of HWY 101/92 there is often a traffic backup there in both directions, its a bit of a bottleneck. if you're going to work at 9:30, there will still be traffic, but it might be tolerable by then. depending on where you live and work taking 280 may be preferable.
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