NorCal kid, you know, I grew up with the Niners as my team and to watch Joe Montana and Steve Young and just see how they brought the success of that organization, brought this community together, that community still loves the game of football.
Tom Brady, San Mateo Native
The Best Thing About San Mateo
Coyote Point or Downtown (we can't decide)
San Mateo has a lot to love and our two favorite things are in a virtual dead heat. Coyote Point Recreation Area is a haven for outdoor lovers. It sits on the Bay and has picnicking, swimming, windsurfing, bicycling, running, fishing, boating and sailing. It also has a Magic Mountain Playground and a hands-on science center. It’s hard to believe when you’re this close to the Pacific but having a body of water where doing all these activities in a safe, beautiful space is an incredible benefit to families and young professionals.
We’d say the same thing about having a legitimate downtown for going out to eat, drink, karaoke, consuming coffee and pastries, and doing some walkable boutique shopping. Suburban towns that have downtowns as fun as this are just different, and generally better places, and the combo of a downtown and amazing water-based outdoor recreation makes San Mateo tough to beat.
The Worst Thing About San Mateo?
It’s ridiculous to complain about housing prices when you’re a city in between two cities with the most expensive housing prices on the planet (San Jose and San Francisco) but we can’t help it. San Mateo is supposed to be the more humble and affordable neighbor of the fancier towns of Hillsborough and Atherton but the popularity of the downtown and the upgrades to housing over the years have put San Mateo in the upper echelon for housing prices.
One thing San Mateo does have going for it though is plenty of apartment and condo options that put young professionals and couples in the mix. That means the area has a lot more energy and younger residents than the nearby bedroom communities.
Lifestyle of San Mateo
San Mateo is a suburb but the variety of things to do here make it feel much more like a legit city than most ‘burbs. It’s not for nothing that Tom Brady came up through the San Mateo sports scene. This is a sports town with the schools and leagues hugely popular with families in the area. The sports culture extends to an overall sense that the city lives in the outdoors, either enjoying the water in the Bay to the east at Coyote Point or in the hills, trails and golf courses to the west. When you combine this outdoor culture with the bar/restaurant/cafe and boutique shopping available downtown you get a pretty magical mix of opportunities for recreation for such a small city.
Schools in San Mateo
San Mateo is right up at the top of the school rankings in the area and state with an A+ score on niche.com. In keeping with that sense of San Mateo of having it all the school district gets A’s across the board for: Academics, Teachers, Diversity, College Prep and Clubs & Activities. Seriously, if your kiddos are into it they’ll find a way to participate in these schools. They offer both tons of AP but also IB and Gifted student programs for the go-getters in the community. You can hardly go wrong in the neighborhoods for great schools but the highest rated schools, including Aragon High, an exceptional high school, tend to be towards the southern end of the city.
Why You Should Move Here Now?
City-ish Life in the ‘Burbs
Look, if you’re moving from New York then even San Francisco is going to seem boring to you. If however you’re coming from another suburban area or smaller city then San Mateo is going to be wonderful due to the extensive mix of downtown and outdoor things to do. Add to that the fact your are smack dab in the middle of the peninsula between San Francisco/Oakland and San Jose means you have easy access to plenty else to do. That easy access is greatly enhanced by the fact that the Caltrain system runs right through Downtown San Mateo. Meaning you can walk to the station and train up to SF or down to San Jose.