Silicon Valley Relocation Guide

By Victoria Fellows


What you need to know about living and working in and around Palo Alto, Cupertino, Fremont and San Jose

Silicon Valley is, to many of us, a mythical beast. A world where entrepreneurs live in oversized houses and send their children to fancy schools that have a very forward-thinking approach to education. But living and working in Silicon Valley is a real possibility – one that is taken up every year by hundreds of ex-pats looking to build their career in the technology sector.

Silicon Valley sits along the coastline of the San Francisco Bay. It embraces Palo Alto, Cupertino, Fremont and even San Jose, which means there are plenty of different places to consider if you’re looking to relocate to the area.

Known for its sunshine and year-round temperatures that only occasionally dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius) and seldom stray above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius), San Jose and the Silicon Valley is a great place for those who like to make the most of being outside all year-round. Handy for the thousands of people that have moved to the Silicon Valley – the world’s most famous technology and innovation hub, with all of its opportunities for employees wanting to get on in the technology industry.  

Housing in Silicon Valley

If you fancy getting on the housing market in Silicon Valley, you’re going to need a healthy bank account. Silicon Valley is one of the most expensive places to live in the US – and the price of property isn’t for the faint-hearted! Even rent in London is 16% cheaper than in Silicon Valley.

For a one bed studio, you’re looking at spending half a million dollars. An extra two bedrooms will tip you over the $ million mark. But don’t despair. Because of the insane property prices, the rental market in Silicon Valley is extremely buoyant.

The Silicon Valley rental market moves fast, so it’s best to only start looking 30 days before you’ll be looking to move in. Most leases start from either the 1st or the 15th of the month, so plan to move in on one of those dates and work your way back a month. Then, when you find a property you like, move fast. Good properties don’t hang around for long.

Renting a one-bed studio costs a much more palatable $2,300 a month, and for a 4-bed house, you’re looking at around $5,200 per month. You’ll typically find that you need to prove an income three times the value of the rent you’re signing up for.

Visa requirements for working in Silicon Valley  

If you’re not a US citizen already, relocating to Silicon Valley will require a fair amount of paperwork but, for the year-round sunshine, it’s a small price to pay. You’ll need a visa, but the type of visa you’ll need will depend on your situation. You can find out more about the type of visa you’ll need here.

The cost of living in Silicon Valley

According to the US census, average housing costs in Silicon Valley are $2,341. It’s a good job that companies tend to offer such competitive packages! The general cost of living isn’t cheap either. A takeaway coffee will cost between $3.50 and $5.00 and a loaf of bread up to £4.41. You can pick up a litre bottle of Cola for around $1.00.

Having said that, restaurants are around 8% cheaper in San Jose and the Silicon Valley than they are in London, and are about 21% less expensive that dining in New York.. Apartmentlist suggests you should have a monthly pre-tax income exceeding $7,800 if you want to live comfortably in Silicon Valley.

Salaries in Silicon Valley

Conveniently, in the US, a law came into effect that requires all publicly traded companies to report the median pay of their employees. Silicon Valley was, by far and away, the leading region from a generous salary perspective. The average starting salary for a software engineer in Silicon Valley is $111,000 and many of the companies offer employees attractive benefits packages too. Google pays up to $300,000 for a software engineer, but the average Silicon Valley software engineer’s salary is closer to $118,000 per year.

An average programmer’s salary falls somewhere between $122,797 and $174,459 and the highest of these salaries tend to be for roles based in Mountain View, Palo Alto and Santa Clara. San Jose also ranks well on the list of well-paying regions of Silicon Valley.

You can find out more about salaries for roles in Silicon Valley from the crowd-sourced website, levels.

Commuting and Public Transport in and around Silicon Valley    

The most popular mode of transport in Silicon Valley is the car. That is, unless you’re living and working in San Jose where the transport network is so good, you won’t need one.

However, even if you have a car, you can choose to use public transport from time to time.

The Caltrain runs from 4.30 am until 1.30 am daily between San Francisco in the north of Silicon Valley to Gilroy in the south. It stops at San Mateo, Belmont, San Carlos, Redwood City, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, and San Jose along the way. The cost of the Caltrain depends on how far you’re travelling. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority runs a light rail and bus service, and there’s also a separate bus service for San Mateo County and the 16 cities and 4 towns that fall within it.

The Education system in Silicon Valley

When moving to America, it’s important to understand the schools in your area. The quality of the school will have a direct bearing on the cost of the accommodation in the area. 

Children in Silicon Valley start elementary school at the age of 5 and stay until 12 years of age – much like the UK’s primary school system. Then Middle School (also known as Junior High) sees children through to the age of 14 when they then attend high school. They stay at High School until the age of 18 unless the student passes a proficiency exam or has parental permission. This is the equivalent to secondary school and college or sixth form in the UK system. After this, it’s Higher Education for those who want to continue to a US college, but this stage is entirely optional.

The thriving technology sector in Silicon Valley

The thriving technology sector of Silicon Valley needs no introduction. The Valley was founded on tech businesses. Frederick Terman, Dean of Stanford University’s School of Engineering, encouraged students and graduates to start their own companies rather than leaving to work for existing companies. Intel was one such company. Terman himself later helped source capital to create Hewlett Packard, and a multitude of other companies followed rapidly, laying their roots in Silicon Valley. As such, the area is steeped in tech history. But it isn’t all about the history books. Almost every global tech company imaginable has some kind of presence in San Jose or the wider Silicon Valley. It’s estimated that around 40,000 tech start-ups and 1,000 Venture Capital firms call the area ‘home’. Just a few of these who have set up HQ in Silicon Valley include: Apple, Meta, Google, Wells Fargo, Visa, Chevron, eBay, Intel, HP Inc, Cisco Systems, Broadcom and so many more.

Things to do in Silicon Valley, outside of work

For tech lovers, there are plenty of things to do and see outside of work too. There’s the Intel Museum, Apple’s company store and Headquarters, and Nasa Ames Research Center – a research park that contains equipment worth more than $3billion.

For those who want to escape tech, there are plenty of other things to do. You can visit the Winchester Mystery House – here you can take a tour around a haunted 160-room mansion owned by Sarah Winchester, bought with the $20 million inheritance she received from her late husband, the gun manufacturer, William Wirt Winchester.

There are a several parks such as Mount Umunhum, once part of the early warning network during the Cold War, and the Castle Rock State Park, which covers 5,242 acres offering hikes to suit all energy levels from 20 minutes to ten hours long.  You can soak up the great outdoors with Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, or learn more about the history of the area with the Stanford Memorial Church or New Almaden Quicksilver Mine Museum where you can learn some fascinating nuggets of history related to the Gold Rush (excuse the pun). With so much to see and do, some of those flexi-working packages on offer in Silicon Valley will come in handy!

To find out more about our Silicon Valley and San Jose job opportunities you can search here or drop me a line at

Additional sources 

Pros & Cons of Silicon Valley | Marcotte Properties The ultimate guide to housing in Silicon Valley (
Cost of Living in San Francisco, CA 2022 (
Average Engineer Salary in Silicon Valley (
25 Must-See Attractions in Silicon Valley, California (
Silicon Valley - Wikipedia



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