What You Need To Know Before Moving to Burlingame

Raziel Ungar

Raziel Ungar

March 28th, 2024 - 9 min read

In this video

Home prices in Burlingame
Who are the home buyers in Burlingame
Median Household Income
What does it take to buy a home in Burlingame
4 main industries people work in who buy homes in Burlingame
Home prices
Most expensive cities to live on the Peninsula
Most homes in Burlingame will be older versus new construction
Typical homeowner issues with older homes
Lot sizes in Burlingame
Condos in Burlingame
Construction costs in the Bay Area
Remodeling and upgrade costs
Home inventory
Reasons why Burlingame is a fantastic place to live
Commuting and transportation options from Burlingame
Tech shuttles
San Franciso Airport positives and negatives
Weather in and near Burlingame
Parking in Burlingame
Burlingame schools vs San Mateo schools and private school options
Nightlife in Burlingame
Check out my other YT videos

Expensive Place to Live

Burlingame is an expensive place to live, so we'll talk about housing prices in a second, but when you think about food costs going to restaurants, it's hard to get away at less than $20 or $30 per person unless you're going to grab a burrito. Child care is expensive. Just going to the grocery store is pricey. So when we think about all these things as it relates to housing costs, and we compare it to the rest of the Bay Area and California. California's median price in the last year was $822,000. And when we look at the nine counties in the Bay Area, the median home price in the last year was $1,225,000. So it's really expensive, just buying real estate around here, but also living here. 

Who's Buying Homes in Burlingame

So as you can imagine, Burlingame is a super expensive place to live. Who's buying homes in Burlingame though? In 2021, the median household income was over $140,000, and when you compare that to a national perspective, making six figures is a huge dollar amount. It's really insane, but when you think about what it takes to buy a home in Burlingame, you typically need to be making an income of three, four, five hundred thousand, or significantly more. Sure, you could buy a one-bedroom condo if your income is that, but most people are looking for something like that. little bit larger than that. 

4 Major Industries

So there are four main industries that people who buy homes in Burlingame are working in. Of course, there's high tech. So we have headquarters here for all the big companies. You can think of Google, Facebook, Apple, you name it. We have it. Salesforce. We have a whole ecosystem of smaller companies, too. And then, of course, there's biotech. So in South San Francisco, we have hundreds of small biotech companies, plus there's Genentech, and we also have Gilead. Gilead, not to mention a bunch of others. We also have healthcare, so we have Stanford, we have UCSF, we have Sutter Health, so we have these big ecosystems there. Lastly, there's finance. We have major finance companies who are headquartered here too, with some that have crossover into the tech space. So let's talk about pricing. 

Home Prices

Burlingame, the median home price over the last year was $2.7 million, and the average price was $2.8 million. Nice to see that they're very similar. As I mentioned before, Burlingame is the sixth most expensive city for pricing in San Mateo County, but rarely when you look in the north peninsula, it's number two behind Hillsborough. More south of Redwood City, I wouldn't call the north peninsula, which would be Atherton, Portola Valley, and Menlo Park. The other thing about buying a home around here is it's going to be an older house. Yes, can you buy new construction for five or six million dollars? Absolutely. Can you buy a three-bedroom two-bath home that's completely remodeled in the mid-twos to low threes. Absolutely! But most homes in Burlingame are going to be older. I grew up in a home that was built in 1911 in Burlingame. It's still there. Single-pane windows, but that's not what everyone wants, right? If you want something a little bit newer, you're still, most likely, going to have the original foundation. Maybe the home has had some voluntary seismic upgrades, but it's not like you spend three, four, five million dollars and you're necessarily getting something that is in mint condition. 

In a lot of the older homes in Burlingame, you're likely to encounter some type of issue, whether it's drainage, which unfortunately we see a lot of because when it rains water goes from the top of 280 down to the bay. Wherever you are, no matter how expensive your home is, there's the water you'll have to consider. Not saying it's a problem but just something to be aware of. The other thing I see a lot of around here on my transactions are issues with termites. Drywood termites, subterranean termites, and there could be fungus damage. We see this frequently. One home that we bought in Burlingame several years ago, we had to remove the whole outside of the house, the stucco. Now we did know that there were a lot of issues going into it, but that was certainly a headache that, you know, we wish we could have avoided, but it's okay. Life happens. 

The other thing to think about in Burlingame when you're spending the big dollars is the lot size. These are not palatial lots of land. Most homes in Burlingame are on lot sizes of five to 6,000 square feet. We do have about 10 % of the homes that are in substantially larger lots but if you want something that's 7,500 square feet or more you can expect to pay a substantial premium It's not something that you can get though, if you're looking up in the hills you're more likely to get a larger lot up there. If you want a larger lot in a flat location, you're going to pay a significant premium for that. By significant premium, I mean you could need to spend in the six million plus range just to get an oversized lot. Now if you're interested in buying a condo in Burlingame you should know that there's not a lot of new construction because many people if they're spending a million or a million five on a condo they do want something pretty new. Most condos in Burlingame are going to be 25 to 40 years old. We don't have a robust supply of condos in Burlingame and the ones that we do have they're just on the older side. 

Construction Costs

Now you might not be surprised to learn that the Bay Area had the highest construction cost of anywhere in the world in 2019 and in 2021 we're number three behind Hong Kong and Tokyo this is per hour when you factor in wages, when you factor in overhead,  and construction materials all together. In fact, in 2021 the average wage for a construction worker in the Bay Area was $105 per person, per hour and then you think about housing costs even when you're getting paid that much it is just so expensive to live around here. So we do see people who commute in from the East Bay, who work in the trades on the peninsula. We do see that and it’s hard to staff restaurants sometimes, even with the minimum wage being where it is, because it's so expensive to live around here. And this is not unique to Burlingame, this is something that we see across the board in San Mateo County. So you're not surprised how expensive things are, but I want you to know, if you're buying an older home in Burlingame and you're going to remodel it, if you want to do a kitchen, for example, that's going to cost you from $70,000 to $150,000. Even if you're doing a beautiful Ikea kitchen, which I had a client do, and a beautiful Eichler in Burlingame, you can't get away and do these things for 30 or 40 grand when you factor in the labor, it's just expensive. For example, a bathroom could be $25,000 to $40,000. A new roof could be $25,000 to $40,000. If you're thinking about adding air conditioning or a heat pump, that could be $10,000 or $15,000 without touching the ductwork. If you want to do solar that's also expensive. We have solar at our house and I'm thrilled that we do. We have Tesla Powerwalls but you could easily be spending $25,000, $30,000 sometimes up to $40,000 or $50,000. I had one client who spent $100,000 to put solar on a property in Hillsborough so these things are expensive and you want to consider them not only just in the purchase price but also what you could be spending, over the life of ownership of the house. 


Let's say you're fine paying the big bucks to buy an expensive home and Burlingame game, you're like let me write a check. It's not even that easy to do that because there's so few homes that pop up for sale. When we look back on 2023, there were only 159 homes sold last year which was a historic low for the last couple of decades. Typically we average about 175 to 225 homes that sell per year. When we look back in the last 10 years there was only one year where homes peaked at 250 sales so basically it's hard to get what you want in the sense that you just need to be a little bit patient to get you one and if that's something that you're open to having a conversation with me about I'd love to be able to set your expectation on how likely is it to get what you want by really looking at the data rather than me just saying hey I'm the expert here's how it is no that's not cool I want to be able to sit down with you and share with you and help you feel empowered and educated that you can get exactly what you want in Burlingame. 

Small-Town feel

On the positive though, Burlingame is a fantastic place to live. We have a wonderful small-town feel that would rival any in the United States. We have tons of green space, we have parks, we have hiking trails, we have the bait trail, and you have beautiful views if you live up at the top of the hill. We have two vibrant downtown areas, Burlingame Avenue and Broadway. We have fabulous schools. It's a great place to live for all these reasons. 


So when we think about commuting from Burlingame, it is good and not good. It depends on how you're commuting. So many of you probably don't know what it is. know that commuting in the Bay Area, it's not that great because there's just so much traffic and we do have that here in Burlingame too. So if you're hopping up to go to the city, Burlingame is ideal if you're driving up 101. You can also easily take Caltrain from downtown Burlingame or you can take Caltrain from the Milbrae, Bart, and Caltrain Station. But if you work down the valley, if you're doing that drive during rush hour, that is super miserable and it's not something that you want to aspire to do. If you can hop on Caltrain, that's super nice because you can hop on the baby bullet train, which doesn't necessarily stop here, but it does stop in Millbrae and in San Mateo. 


Depending on where you live in Burlingame, you might hear some noise. Now we all like to think that Burlingame is an oasis of calm and relaxation and yes it is. However, if you live within a couple of blocks of the one-on-one freeway, you could hear someone revving their motorcycle, you could hear someone revving their motorcycle. If you live within a couple blocks of the one-on-one freeway, within a couple blocks of El Camino, more like a block, you're likely to hear some road noise during peak times. Or if you live within several blocks of either Caltrain Station in downtown or Broadway, you can hear the horn. I grew up near the fire station on California Drive and I could hear the Caltrain I kind of got used to it, but I know many people wouldn't want that. And if you live in a newer house with dual-pane windows and insulation, it's probably a non -issue The first home that we bought had single-pane windows and no insulation and we could hear the airplanes, but after we did a remodel, it went away. Not a big deal, but just something to keep in mind. 


Many local companies have tech shuttles that's not unique to Burlingame, but where they'll come, they'll pick you up at a certain spot, and then they'll drive you to the office so you can work while you're commuting. San Francisco is not that far away, so going from Burlingame to the financial district, for example, with no traffic, that's about 25 minutes, with traffic, it could be 45 minutes. But if you were to live in San Mateo, closer to 92 or Belmont, that would be a non-starter for commuting up to the city, which I would not be excited about. So Burlingame really is nice and in between there.


Lastly, I'll just mention that because we're so close to San Francisco International Airport SFO, which is a huge positive in my opinion when it does rain, the airplanes take off and they go over Burlingame and Hillsborough. So even if you have a five or 10-million-dollar house, you're still gonna hear the airplanes, but it's not year-round. It's just when there's heavy rain. And I should mention the positive, because we're so close to SFO, it's only one freeway exit. So you can take an Uber or Lyft for like 25 or $30 and you're there. So that's a huge strength. 


So the weather in Burlingame is fantastic year-round, however, I don't know if it's the best in the whole peninsula. Starting north like South San Francisco, Daly City, northern part of San Bruno, it's a little bit chillier. And then as you move south, Burlingame to San Mateo, down through Redwood City, Palo Alto, San Jose. If it's like 72 degrees here in Palo Alto, it might be high 70s or low 80s. San Jose could be mid-80s to 90 degrees and the East Bay could be 90 degrees. We have all these different micro-climates here in the peninsula in the afternoon. The winds tend to pick up in Burlingame which is fine. It's not a huge deal but just something to be aware of where in other parts of the peninsula maybe have a little bit less wind. 


Parking in downtown Burlingame as you can probably imagine it's not like San Francisco okay but if you've lived here for a while you might complain a little bit like 10 -15 years ago maybe you'd have to spend a minute or there'd be a parking spot right away. Now if you're like on the weekend or at peak times you're gonna have to spend four or five minutes. This is a first-world issue it's not a big deal it's not like San Francisco where you get stressed you throw 40 bucks at it and you're in the valet parking. Here though you know you could have to spend a few minutes. We do have a parking garage that opened about a year ago. The Highland garage has several hundred spots. It's $3 for all-day parking which is not unreasonable so again is that a negative about Burlingame and it's not unique to Burlingame. San Mateo is similar. San Carlos, I should mention, is the only town in the peninsula that doesn't have metered parking downtown. San Carlos is very similar to Burlingame and it's a great spot as well.


One limited thing at Burlingame from a school perspective is we have one public middle school BIS. And we have one public high school, Burlingame High School. So if you live in Burlingame, those are the schools you’re gonna go to regardless of where you live. Now, it’s not necessarily a negative, however, if you’re looking for a choice we just don’t have that in Burlingame whereas in San Mateo where we have three times the population: 100,000 people in San Mateo, 30,000 in Burlingame. In San Mateo, you have 3 public high schools to choose from: Aragon, San Mateo, and Hillsdale. In Burlingame, we have a little bit less. But all these schools are great. I went to BIS and BHS. However, it’s just something to think about. On a serious note, it’s a melting pot and everyone comes into the same spot. There are some private school options in Burlingame, but it’s not as much of a robust ecosystem for private options as there are in San Fransisco, however, the private school options we do have are still really, really good. 


You probably already know if you’re looking for the nightlife scene, you do not wanna be at “boringame” late at night. You probably want to be in San Fransisco. But there are some really good options for nightlife. There’s Velvet 48, and there’s Barrelhouse, which are wine bars. We also have Behan’s on Broadway which has been around forever and is very popular. There are things you can do and most restaurants are open until 9 or 10 at night. But you know most people that move to Burlingame, they’re not looking for that type of scene. They’re looking to be a little bit more relaxed and slower pace of life and just not be out late. That's what the culture is like in Burlingame. I hope you found this video helpful and informative. Feel free to check out my video on reasons why Burlingame is super awesome. Or check out any of my walking tours about Downtown Burlingame, Washington Park, and our new community center. 

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