Contrary to popular belief, San Jose, not San Francisco, is the largest city in the Bay Area. This anchor city in the South Bay is known for its sunny skies, relaxed attitude and awesome cultural diversity. If you're looking for a San Jose apartment, here's the scoop on finding a sweet spot in this popular part of the Bay Area:

The basics
San Jose is located in Silicon Valley in NorCal where all of the oldest and hottest tech companies, social media sites and startups are based – think Apple, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and many others. The good news is that while the Bay Area is much pricier than the national average, San Jose has some less expensive rental options relative to the surrounding market. The vacancy rate here is low – about 3 percent – and rent across all apartment rental types averages around $1,700. One-bedrooms here average around $1,680 and two-bedroom apartments average $2,000 per month.

Having access to a car in San Jose is important. Public transportation isn't very convenient here, though many people live here and commute via the regional Caltrain to San Francisco and other Bay Area locales on the peninsula. However, if you plan to work in San Jose, living here is a good idea because rush-hour traffic here can get pretty congested. Additionally, the downtown area is bike-friendly and pretty walkable, but the other neighborhoods are not.

The neighborhoods
San Jose is a culturally diverse city with vibrant neighborhoods. Here are some of the best for young professionals:

  • Downtown – The Downtown area of San Jose has been recently revitalized, but surprisingly, decent apartments here are a bit cheaper than some of the outlying neighborhoods. You can get a nice one-bedroom for about $1,600. It's a vibrant scene with a mix of 20th century Victorians and brand new midrises, anchored by San Jose State University.
  • Japantown – Also known as J-Town, Japantown is a quiet neighborhood just north of Downtown between First and Eighth streets. Prices are similar to Downtown, and unsurprisingly, it has plenty of fantastic, traditional Japanese cuisine.
  • Willow Glen – This quaint, beautiful residential neighborhood in South San Jose is replete with farmers markets, cute shops and good restaurants. Housing ranges from single-family homes to apartments and condos. Rentals here are a bit more expensive than average – a nice two-bedroom here rents for about $2,500 per month.
  • Rose Garden – This western neighborhood gets its name from its proximity to the famous Municipal Rose Garden. This charming neighborhood sports homes from the 1920s and 30s, and prices are similar to those in Willow Glen.

Insider tips
It's nice to move anytime in San Jose, since the weather here is fabulous year-round! Moving permits aren't required, but it's a good idea to get one from the city government if you're moving downtown, just to be sure you won't get a ticket for blocking the street. Also, San Jose proper is small as far as major cities go – only 180 square miles. However, the surrounding metro area is made up of a whopping 8,800 square miles, so if you don't find a neighborhood you like in the city proper, there are plenty of more suburban options nearby.