Demographics About San Mateo, CA

San Mateo is a city in San Mateo County, California, located in the high-tech heart of Silicon Valley, halfway between San Francisco and San Jose. With a population of over 103,000 as of 2019, San Mateo is the 19th largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area.

San Mateo has undergone significant demographic changes in recent decades, transitioning from a primarily middle-class suburban community to a more socioeconomically diverse locale with a large immigrant population. Here is an in-depth look at the key demographic characteristics of San Mateo today.

Population and Growth

According to the 2019 American Community Survey, the population of San Mateo was 103,959. This represents a 7.5% increase from 2010, when the population was 96,707.

San Mateo is the 3rd largest city in San Mateo County, after Daly City and Redwood City. It accounts for about 9.5% of the county’s total population of 766,573.

The city has a population density of 7,331 people per square mile, which is considered high for cities in the United States. San Mateo is part of the San Francisco-Oakland metro area, which has a population of over 4.7 million.

Age and Gender

According to 2019 ACS data, the median age in San Mateo is 39.8 years old. By gender, 49.1% of the population is male and 50.9% is female.

Here is a breakdown of the population by age group:

  • Under 5 years: 5.3%
  • 5 to 19 years: 15.7%
  • 20 to 34 years: 23.8%
  • 35 to 49 years: 21.6%
  • 50 to 64 years: 20.3%
  • 65 years and over: 13.3%

San Mateo has a slightly smaller proportion of residents under 18 (17.5%) compared to California overall (22.5%). The city has a comparable share of adults ages 18 to 64 (69.2% in San Mateo vs. 62.2% in California).

The percentage of seniors 65+ in San Mateo is 13.3%, which is lower than the state average of 14.3%. However, the city’s senior population has been growing steadily and is projected to increase in the coming decades.

Race and Ethnicity

San Mateo is a majority-minority city, meaning no single racial or ethnic group constitutes a majority. Here is the racial/ethnic breakdown according to 2019 estimates:

  • White: 41.8%
  • Asian: 32.9%
  • Hispanic/Latino (of any race): 24.4%
  • Black or African American: 2.6%
  • Two or more races: 5.1%
  • Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 0.4%
  • American Indian and Alaska Native: 0.3%

The largest ethnic group is Asian, comprising 32.9% of the population. The Asian community in San Mateo consists mainly of immigrants from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, India, and Vietnam. Many work in the technology sector.

Hispanics and Latinos make up 24.4% of residents. The Hispanic population is primarily of Mexican and Central American descent.

The non-Hispanic white population has declined over time as other groups have grown. In 1980, whites constituted 75% of San Mateo residents, compared to 41.8% today.

Foreign-Born Population

A significant portion of San Mateo’s population is foreign-born. According to 2019 ACS data, 34.5% of residents are immigrants, higher than the state average of 27%.

Top countries of origin for immigrants include China, Mexico, the Philippines, India, Canada, and Japan. Over half of foreign-born residents are naturalized U.S. citizens.

41.5% of San Mateans speak a language other than English at home. After English, the most commonly spoken languages are Spanish, Chinese (including Mandarin, and Cantonese), Tagalog, Japanese, and Korean.

Households and Families

There are 39,797 households in San Mateo. 32.3% are family households with children under 18. Non-family households account for 67.7%, including people living alone and unrelated roommates.

Of all households, 41.6% are married couples living together, 9.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 4.1% have a male householder with no wife present. 44.7% are non-families.

The average household size is 2.42 persons, while the average family size is 3.09 persons.


San Mateo residents are highly educated overall. According to 2019 Census data, 57.3% of adults 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 34.5% statewide.

Public primary and secondary schools are operated by the San Mateo-Foster City School District and the San Mateo Union High School District. There are also several private and charter schools.

For higher education, nearby options include the College of San Mateo, Notre Dame de Namur University, and Skyline College. Many residents also take advantage of the abundant colleges and universities located throughout the Bay Area.

Income and Poverty

The median household income in San Mateo is $131,089, significantly higher than the median of $80,440 for California overall. 13.6% have incomes below the federal poverty line, compared to 12.8% of Californians.

However, there are disparities in income based on race and ethnicity. Below are the poverty rates by group according to 2019 Census data:

  • Asian: 7.2%
  • White: 5.9%
  • Hispanic/Latino: 11.1%
  • Black: 15.3%

So while San Mateo is a relatively affluent city on average, pockets of poverty exist, particularly among certain minority groups. Income inequality has become an important policy issue in the community.


According to the 2019 ACS, 57.6% of San Mateo residents 16 and over are employed in the civilian labor force. This is lower than the statewide average of 60.1%. The most common occupations are:

  • Management, business, science, and arts (49.4%)
  • Sales and office (23.7%)
  • Service (15.5%)
  • Production, transportation, material moving (7.6%)
  • Natural resources, construction, maintenance (3.9%)

Major employers in San Mateo include Sony Interactive Entertainment, San Mateo County, San Mateo-Foster City School District, Franklin Templeton, SuccessFactors, and Fisher Investments. Many residents also work for tech companies located in neighboring cities.

The average commute time is 25.7 minutes, with 77.5% driving alone to work. This indicates a high level of car dependency, typical of Bay Area suburban cities.


The housing stock in San Mateo is comprised primarily of single-family homes and mid-rise apartments and condominiums. There are 41,388 housing units with an 89.4% occupancy rate.

58.5% are owner-occupied units, while 41.5% are renter-occupied. The median home value is $1,350,200 and the median gross rent is $2,123 per month.

Housing prices and rents are extremely high relative to national averages due to the constrained housing supply and high demand from the Bay Area job market. This has led to overcrowding, long commutes, and concerns about displacement of lower-income residents.

Addressing the need for more affordable and diverse housing options has become a top policy priority for San Mateo. Recent efforts have focused on allowing accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and increasing density near transportation hubs.


In summary, San Mateo has undergone demographic shifts in recent decades towards a more ethnically diverse population with high levels of immigration.

It remains a well-educated, upper-income professional community but also faces socioeconomic disparities, housing access challenges, and other issues facing many Bay Area cities.

Tracking and understanding demographic data helps identify areas of need and guides policymaking to promote an inclusive, thriving community.



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  • Starting downtown, head north on South B Street then make a left on East 4th Ave followed by a right on South Delaware Street. Turn left on 9th Avenue and arrive shortly on the right.
  • Coming from Highway 101 North, take the CA-92 West exit then turn left on Delaware Street and right on 9th Avenue, arriving soon after on the right side.
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