We're in Walnut Creek, 5 minutes from Safeway and a couple of blocks from downtown; close enough to the in-laws to visit easily without being in their pockets, and on the BART line into the city; and we'll see how it goes.
It's a good time of year to be apartment-hunting; lots of vacancies. It's more a case of seeing enough of them to determine what exactly it is you're looking for: location, layout, size, facilities.
The bigger problem for us is qualifying to rent; landlords here take up references, check credit, and expect a certain level of income, which for us as not-yet-working immigrants with (in the US, at least) no rental history and little-to-no credit history makes life a little difficult. But it's not impossible; proof of assets, a bigger deposit, or paying some months in advance is usually sufficient.
And apartments here are pretty much invariably unfurnished; the place looks awfully empty right now...