14 Reasons I Love Living In San Mateo County

Raziel Ungar

Raziel Ungar

March 6th, 2024 - 11 min read

In this video

#1 Outdoors
#2 The Coast
#3 SFO
#4 Culture, Music, Museums
#5 Innovation
#6 Diversity
#7 Community Feel
#8 Sports
#9 Food
#10 Proximity to San Francisco
#11 Healthcare
#12 Dog Friendly
#13 Weather

These are 14 reasons why I love living in San Mateo County. Let's dive in!

#1 Outdoors

The first thing I love about living in San Mateo County is the outdoors. 72% of San Mateo County is protected land. There are so many places if you're into hiking or walking that you can go throughout the county. Some of my favorites would be Sawyer Camp Trail at Crystal Springs next to the reservoir and I love going down by the Bay Trail, starting in Burlingame. I also love going hiking at Sweeney Ridge in San Bruno, or going to Coyote Point, which is in San Mateo, just right by the bay. There's a Marina and the Popular Creek golf course right next to it. There's also a children's museum...it's just a really cool spot.

One of my favorite places to go hiking near most of the towns in San Mateo County is Waterdog Lake in Belmont. Here in Huddart Park in Woodside, as you can see, there are tons of redwoods around me. It's one of my favorite places to come and relax.

Now, if you're into camping, there are a few really good spots that you're not going to want to miss. One is Memorial Park. That is my favorite place to go camping in the Bay Area. And that says a lot because I've been camping probably hundreds of times in my life. It's only about an hour from home and you're about 20 minutes from the coast. I love going to get the famous artichoke bread out by Pescadero, as well as going to Harley Goat Farms to buy some of their goat cheese.

If you're into windsurfing, you can go down by Seal Point in the bay. If you're into biking, we have so many good options. Last year I got super into road biking and I started training for an event called the Death Ride, which is just south of Lake Tahoe. It was a hundred-mile endurance event with about 14,000 feet of climbing. I did almost all of it. I trained for all of that around here. My longest training ride was 90 miles and it was fantastic. If you're into mountain biking, we have world-class mountain biking here. One of the hardest trails around here is Skaggs, where it's a crazy descent that you then have to come back up. If you're into e-biking, there are some good options for that too. 

If you're into surfing, there are many good spots where you can go on the coast. Mavericks is world-class. There you'll find one of the hardest waves that you can ride in the whole world. If you're into paddle boarding like me, there are some really good options. I personally really like going to Foster City in the lagoon right near Boat Park. 

#2 Coast

The second thing I love about living in San Mateo County is how close we are to the coast. Let's start with some of my favorite towns out there. We have Half Moon Bay, Pacifica, and Moss Beach. One cool spot is Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, where there are tide pools and kids just love it. You can go out there, walk around, and check out the hermit crabs. Getting to the coast is super easy. You just hop in your car, take 92 West and you're on the coast within about 15 minutes with no traffic. If you like going to the beach (it's certainly not like going to Hawaii or Southern California) but great to just go hang out and enjoy all the sun. In the nicer times of the year, it is nice to relax at to San Gregorio or Half Moon Bay State Beach. There are really nice camping spots there too. 

#3 San Francisco Airport

The third reason why I love living in San Mateo County is SFO, San Francisco International Airport. We are so lucky to have this major airport right in our backyard. It's just five to 20 minutes away from wherever you live in the county. You might not know this, but in 2022, San Francisco was rated by the Wall Street Journal, as the best airport in the United States. SFO is actually the 14th busiest airport in the United States with over 20 million passengers a year. I have been to dozens of airports around the world and, maybe I'm biased because I fly here a lot, SFO is a really easy place to fly into and out of. If you ever have family coming to visit you, of course, they can stay at your house, but we also have tons of airport hotels. All the major brands are within a five or 10-minute drive. 

#4 Culture, Music Museums

The fourth thing I love about living in San Mateo County is our culture and our museums. If you're into music and you're into learning, we have so many good options here. Let's start in San Francisco. We have the Exploratorium, which used to be by the Palace of Fine Arts and is now out by the water. And that's a good place to let your inner child loose, interacting with cool science exhibits. And it's just a great family place to go. We also have the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, which has an aquarium and an albino crocodile. It's just a great place to be and right near Golden Gate Park. We also have the Hillard Aviation Museum in San Carlos, which has a really fun air show in the summertime and they also have a great kid's summer camp.

When we think about music, we have Chase Center, which is where the Warriors play. They just opened in the last couple of years and there are a lot of world-class acts coming to Chase Center. In the South Bay, we have Mountain Winery, which is as you would expect, it's a winery on the side of a mountain. They attract a lot of good people. I remember going, can't believe I'm saying this, to see Boys to Men there a few years ago. There's also Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, which is near the Google campus. That's been here for a really long time, too. So for culture and the arts, there's so much to do in San Mateo County. 

#5 Innovation

The fifth reason why I love living in San Mateo County is our innovation and the culture around that. We have so many amazing companies that you're probably familiar with in the hi-tech space, biotech, healthcare, and finance. What I love about the Bay Area and, particularly living in San Mateo County is we tend to attract the best and the brightest people from around the world and that just makes this a lot more of an enriching place. It's not like you go to a party and say, "OK, what do you do?" Guaranteed people are going to have interesting stories. And, for me, living here and growing up here, I just love interacting with people who have fun stories and they're really fulfilled personally and professionally for what they're doing in their lives. That's something that makes this a really special place to live in and call home. 

#6 Diversity

The sixth thing that I love about living in San Mateo County is our diversity. We have people coming here from all over the world, and it's very rare that I'll represent someone who actually grew up around here. Most of my clients are people like you perhaps who have come from all different parts of the world to live here. And I find it just makes it so much more enriching. You have so many more backgrounds. You have people who celebrate all different types of holidays in the schools. You have Diwali, Hanukkah, of course, Christmas, Kwanzaa. There are so many different ways that we celebrate who we are. I feel the Bay Area, in particular, San Mateo County, that we are open to everyone's different types of backgrounds and respect where people come from and their different viewpoints that it is just a very safe place. I think that's what attracts so many people to live here. 

Additionally, when we talk about diversity, you might be familiar with the H-1B visa program, which brings people from all around the world to fill jobs that we might not be able to fill otherwise with people who have very specific expertise. We have so many companies that you might be familiar with Google, Apple, Meta, Amazon, and Microsoft have a large presence here. It's really fantastic from a job center perspective and that also impacts the diversity that we have here in San Mateo County. 

#7 Community Feel

The seventh thing I love about living in San Mateo County is the small-town community feel that we have up and down the peninsula. Let's start with Burlingame and Milbrae. Milbrae has Broadway, which has a ton of shops, a ton of good Asian restaurants, and a really nice farmers market. And in Burlingame we have a fantastic community feel with Washington Park, downtown Burlingame, and Broadway. There are always tons of people out and about and it's just a really good vibe. San Mateo is fantastic. It has about 25 different neighborhoods and about 100,000 people, contrasting to 30,000 people in Burlingame with 12 neighborhoods...just to give you an idea, San Mateo is a huge city. You have all these different types of people from all different types of backgrounds. Even the food scene is super diverse. There's a lot going on and it's just a really fun place to hang out. 

Foster City and Redwood Shores are on the water so it's a little bit more of a water-based living. You can have motorcraft, some motorized, some are not and you see a lot of people paddle boarding out there. You have Leo J. Ryan Park in Foster City, which is fantastic. They have an annual fireworks show, which is the best in the peninsula. Redwood Shores has tons of different waterways that you can move around in and I just love that lifestyle. If you love being near the water, Redwood Shores and Foster City can absolutely check that box and you still have great weather. 

San Carlos also has a fantastic small-town feel. Laurel Avenue downtown is actually the only place that you can park in downtown in San Mateo County where you don't pay for parking, which I think is fantastic. I don't know why all the other towns can't do it...well, I do know it's tax revenue and it's all about the money sometimes. You also have Burton Park, which is the main park in the flats of San Carlos. It has a lot of different activities and fields. And way up in the hills in San Carlos, we have Arguelo Park, which is a huge wide open space.

Redwood City is kind of like San Mateo, which has a lot of different neighborhoods, and a very large population, which is about the same size as San Mateo. There's been a ton of money going into Redwood City recently, all in downtown with a ton of new apartment and condo buildings, office buildings, and biotech lab. It's just really robust. They have the San Mateo County History Museum and across the street is Fox Theater. There's just a lot happening in Redwood City. Let's not forget San Bruno, South San Francisco, Daly City. These are also fantastic towns that have a really small community feel. 

#8 Sports

The eighth thing I love about living in San Mateo County is our sports scene. Of course, we're in a major metro area and we have world-class sports teams. Let's start with basketball. We have the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center in San Francisco, a $1.4 billion mecca to basketball. And depending on where you live in the county it's only a 20 to 40-minute drive. Or you can take Caltrain very easily right up to Chase Center. We also have the San Francisco 49ers, which used to be in San Francisco. Now they're in Santa Clara at Levi Stadium, which is a beautiful place to enjoy a football game. We, of course, have the San Francisco Giants at the Oracle Park, which is our local baseball team. And it's one of the most beautiful places to enjoy a ballgame.

In terms of our college sports scene, that's pretty robust too. We have Cal Berkeley in the East Bay and that's about a 45-minute drive. And even closer to home, we have Stanford University in Palo Alto. We've gone there as a family for Stanford soccer games. And, of course, baseball, basketball, and football are really fun. 

We also have the San Jose Earthquakes, which is our professional soccer team in the South Bay. And, let's not forget our minor league baseball team, the San Jose Giants. 

#9 Food

The ninth thing I love about living in San Mateo County is our amazing food scene. We are so lucky that we live here being so close to the Central Valley where 40% of our nation's produce is produced. Sure, San Francisco has fantastic food, but it's so rare that we'll ever go up to the city for a restaurant, even though there are some great ones because it's so phenomenal down here. I'm not sure where to start, but let me talk about the farmers' market scene. College of San Mateo has the best farmers' market in the North Peninsula. It's every Saturday morning and you have tons of people selling different produce. There are food trucks and it's just a really lively, vibrant scene. There are also good farmers' markets in downtown Burlingame, San Mateo, San Carlos, and Redwood City.

When you think about grocery stores, there are so many phenomenal grocery stores that you can go to; Dean's Produce, Whole Foods, Molly Stones, and Safeway. We love ordering from Good Eggs, which is online to grocery, but they're unique just in the Bay area. If you go across the bridge to Berkeley Bowl, they're phenomenal. 

The other nice thing about the food scene here on the peninsula is because everything's so close together, you could get a little bit of everything from each town. For example, Burlingame has a fantastic bakery scene; San Mateo has nine phenomenal ramen shops; San Carlos has a really deep variety of different types of cuisine. If you want Mediterranean, Mexican, Italian, Japanese, or Chinese, there's really everything and there's going to be a good spot within a five or 10-minute drive of wherever you live. And that's something that I love about living in San Mateo County.

#10 Proximity to San Francisco

The 10th thing I love about living in San Mateo County is how close we are to San Francisco. It's pretty cool. You can escape the hustle and bustle and live about 30 to 40 minutes south of San Francisco but still pop up there really easily for date night. Or, if you just want to go hang out in the city, or if you work in San Francisco, it's very easy to get up there, which I'm super grateful for. Some of my favorite places to go in San Francisco would be Golden Gate Park, which is actually bigger than New York Central Park, Crissy Field, where you can get beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay, and the Golden Gate Bridge. And on a gorgeous day, you're going to see a lot of people out sailing. I also really like going to the Presidio and Baker Beach. There's just so much to explore.

Of course, we have world-class dining in San Francisco. Many people who live on the peninsula will work in San Francisco, and it's very easy to pop up there by driving. It's a little bit of a commute and that can be a hassle sometimes, or you can take Caltrain or BART. Most people who work in San Francisco will work in the financial district in the Mission Bay area, or just in the general vicinity of Market Street. One of my favorite places to go in San Francisco is the Ferry Building. They have a fantastic farmer's market, which is open every Saturday right on the backside of the Ferry Building. There are so many great places to go there. 

#11 Healthcare

The 11th thing I love about living in San Mateo County is our amazing access to world-class healthcare. We have Stanford University, the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), Palo Alto Medical Foundation, and Sutter Healthcare System. Fortunately, we have so much right here in our backyard that if you ever need to pop into a hospital or see an expert, you can easily do that.

#12 Dog Friendly

The 12th thing I love about living in San Mateo County is super dog-friendly. Regardless of what type of dog you have (you might not even have a dog) you are going to see them everywhere. There are always people walking around in the neighborhoods with their dogs and there are so many dog parks that you can go to. Each town, I would say, has two or three different dog parks where you can bring your dog and they can run around off-leash. And there are certain other parks where you can't really bend the rules, but you can bring your dog and there are other dogs that they can play with at the same time.

#13 Weather

Number 13, our weather. Now, I wouldn't say we have the perfect weather. There are other places in the world like San Diego, for example, that you could say have perfect weather. But we come pretty close to it. Many people would say our climate is Mediterranean. In the afternoon, sometimes the wind does pick up, which is not as fun. But what I'm wearing now and we're filming this in January, this is about as cold as it ever gets. It's really moderate year-round. We're pretty much in the wintertime, and in the spring, temperatures are in the 50s and 60s. The summer, it's 70s and 80s. Unfortunately, it's getting a little bit warmer, and more people are getting air conditioning but it's certainly not miserable from any stretch of the imagination. I should also mention Redwood City has a claim to fame, which has a sign at the entrance to the city called "Climate Best by Government Test," and it's been there for many decades. We're very proud that Redwood City has this unofficial designation.

#14 Proximity

Last, but not least, the 14th thing that I love the most about San Mateo County is how close we are to so much. California is a fantastic state, of course. But just within a few hours' drive of living in San Mateo County, you have Marin and the Marin Headlands, which is gorgeous. There's Mendocino National Forest, which is one of my favorite places to go to. Point Reyes National Seashore, is gorgeous, and right near Stinson Beach and Bolinas. I've gone backpacking and bike packing dozens of times up in Point Reyes because it's just so relaxing.

And then south of San Francisco, one of my favorite places to go in the whole world is Carmel and Monterey. That's about a two-hour drive at the most if there's a little traffic. I love going to Carmel Beach, just to walk around downtown Carmel and see all the beautiful oak trees and all these cute little quaint houses. I always dream of having a little place in Carmel. It is just so beautiful and so picturesque. I should say Carmel Beach is dog-friendly and it's one of the only beaches around where you can bring a dog off-leash.

About a three-and-a-half to four-hour drive from San Mateo County is Lake Tahoe. You can get into debates with everyone about whether Tahoe is better in the winter or whether it's better in the summer. I've been up there so many times and I really like going snowshoeing in Tahoe, and of course, there's world-class skiing and snowboarding. In the summer, I love going hiking up there and spending time on the lake. Wine country is only about an hour and a half to two hours from here, so we can easily get up to Napa, Sonoma, and Healdsburg. One of my favorite wineries in the Dry Creek area of Healdsburg is called Kokomo —make sure to check it out.

I feel so grateful that we have so much nature and the outdoors at our fingertips. There are so many places that you can experience that are amazing within a few hours of driving from San Mateo County.

If you're considering a move to or within San Mateo County reach out to us and we'd love to help you relocate.

This article is copyrighted by Raziel Ungar and may not be reproduced or copied without express written permission.

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