Living in San Jose

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions Related Pages

2008 - 2012 Reviews

Moving near San Jose

Sept 2012

I've been looking everywhere for advice about moving to the San Jose area, but a lot of the BPN postings are old, so I'll ask again (in the hopes that the area has changed a bit). We currently live near Grand/Lake, and LOVE being able to walk to all the little shops / restaurants / grocery / post office / parks. I'm considering a job in downtown San Jose, but I can't find anywhere walkable like this, with decent schools, and good for little kids, in reasonable commuting distance - is there any hope for me? Any place anyone can recommend? Strip Mall Averse

It sounds like you should look into Willow Glen. It has a walkable downtown with restaurants and bookshops, we're happy with the school our kids attend - River Glen - and the commute to downtown San Jose is minutes. Dan McS
I would suggest checking out the Willow Glen section of San Jose. It has a cute shopping district. Otherwise, you could look in Mtn. View close to Castro Street or in Palo Alto if you can afford it. Peninsula Girl

San Jose neighborhood with good schools

April 2012

We are considering a move to the San Jose area for work and trying to decide between Campbell, Willow Glen/Cambrian or South San Jose neighborhoods. Our priorities are a great public school and access to 85/17. A neighborhood that has less noise and is walkable to shops would be nice, too. Any recommendations? cj

we moved to SoSJ (Rancho Santa Teresa neighborhood) 8 years ago and are quite happy. We are in the OakGrove School district which has good K-8 schools and due to selling some realesate at the peak, has funding. One bonus of where we live - we have access to a pool. It gets hot down here and pool membership is lovely. Some pools down here have years long waiting lists, some have required neighborhood membership, and others have resellable memberships. Access to a pool is a part of homeownership that is worth valuing. I am walking distance from the SantaTeresa branch library, a Rite Aid, a local coffeeshop, and a number of indie and chain restaurants (McD's, round table, BBQ, sushi, hawaiian). All my grocery stores are 2 miles away though. It's less than a mile to the local county open space. at the pool all weekend
I live close to 85 and 17, and there is a house on the market on our street. We are in the Los Gatos school district. You can email me at vhkeys AT yahoo DOT com.

As for other neighborhoods, it would really depend on what you'd consider 'great' public schools, and more importantly, your housing budget. Campbell, Cambrain have very good schools and reasonable home price. Willow Glen is a very nice neighborhood, but schools can be iffy. South San Jose, really depend on how it's defined. Almaden is very nice, big houses, great schools, but a trek to everywhere. Vivian

2004 - 2007 Reviews

Moving to Silicon Valley to avoid the commute

Oct 2007

My husband recently took a job in San Jose and the commute from Berkeley (driving or on Amtrak is just too long) so we are thinking of relocating. However, I don't want to be stuck in the suburbs where we will need to drive every time we leave the house. I've heard about a area in Fremont called Niles canyon (any feed back on this area would be helpful).Can anyone suggest other neighborhoods in the south bay or peninsula that are family friendly, walking friendly and close to public transportation? Don't really want to leave Berkeley

My husband and I lived in San Jose for almost six years, and like you, we couldn\x92t stand the suburbs. We found a lovely area in downtown San Jose that was actually much prettier and closer to public transportation than our current residence in Oakland. Both fortunately and unfortunately, it was very near the airport and next to loud - but not ugly - train tracks. Our toddler loved these aspects of living there; we learned to live with them. Check out the following neighborhoods:

1. We lived on the corner of North First St. and Hawthorne Way (95110). The neighborhood there is economically mixed, with some million dollar houses and some thousand dollar rentals. It\x92s nice to walk around there, with trees and pleasant homes. Walking distance to downtown, including two city parks, and a bike ride from Trader\x92s. You can also hop on the local train (the VTA) right there and ride downtown for decent groceries or restaurants or museums; to the airport; or, you can ride it to the various corporate parks (where one or both of you may be employed).

2. Another pretty area near downtown (but closer to a little strip of mom & pop shops and restaurants) is called The Rose Garden. Where The Alameda and Race Streets meet, with Naglee Ave to the northwest and Park Ave to the southwest, you\x92ll find some pretty (but probably more expensive) residential streets like Shasta, Hanchette, or Martin Ave.

3. Similarly, and also part of the Rose Garden (I believe) is the area on the other side of The Alameda, with Naglee (which actually becomes Taylor here) on the south east side, The Alameda on the southwest side, and W. Hedding on the northwest. Streets like Emory, Myrtle, and Elm. These are really fancy, but old-style. Nice.

4. The actual rose garden, for which the area is named, is on Naglee between Park and N. Bascom. It\x92s a good place to get oriented and from which to launch nearby neighborhood searches.

We never loved the South Bay, but if you have to live there, there are ways to make a good go of it. Please feel free to contact me for lots more suggestions. I could tell you where to get the best Ethiopian food (maybe in the entire Bay Area), for example, or where to find good sandwiches, interesting art galleries, and good routes to the ocean, etc.

Also recommended: Fremont and San Jose

Parents Network in San Jose?

Nov 2005

My friend in San Jose knew about BPN through me, and very interested to find out any parents network in South Bay area...does anyone know of a resource that is like BPN, but covers the San Jose/Santa Clara/Sunnyvale area? thanks in advance for any leads that you might be able to offer. sophia

try for playgroups, for buying selling kids stuff, and good sam hospital for a mom support group (0-6 months) which forms yahoo groups about every 3 months for playdates, walks, advice, support. Not quite BPN, but helpful! cynthia

2003 & Earlier

Moving to San Jose from Berkeley

Dec 2003

I have accepted a job in San Jose, and although I've lived in Berkeley for a long time, know little about the area where I'll soon be living. I'd love recommendations on neighborhoods (anything Berkeley-like?), good activities for families and kids, preschools, good restaurants, etc. I've checked the website, any only found one listing, so I'd love more information. Thanks! --San Jose bound

I am from San Jose and live on the South Side currently, but I grew up mainly in Willow Glen where we do spend a lot of time (my husband's mom and sister and my mom and dad and sister live within blocks of each other) so maybe I'm biased when I say that I think Willow Glen is one of the best places I've ever lived in.

EVERYTHING is within walking distance. If you like big supermarkets there is Albertson's or Safeway if you like the Farmer's Market, then Willow Glen Elmentary on a Saturday is your best bet. There is also El Rancho Market, specializing in the Mexican goodies you can't find elsewhere (carnitas on Sundays!) AND a Jewish Kosher Market. Lincoln Avenue (Willow Glen's downtown) is lined with all sorts of shops, from Hicklebee's Children's Bookstore to Petroglyph (you know, where you paint pottery?). There is also Willow Glen Books and three antique shops, consignment furniture places, one consignment women's clothing store (plus some higher priced boutiques for adults and children), a new Italian Gourmet restaurant, Willow Glen Roasting Co., Starbucks, Peet's Coffee and Tea, Pizza My Heart, Taiwan, Emperor's Garden, La Villa Deli, Jake's Pizza and Sports Bar, Chile Peppers, Jamba Juice, John's Excellent Foods (one of my favorites when I was pregnant), Kazoo Sushi, Willow Street Pizza (kids eat free Tuesdays and on certain days they have fund raisers for local schools of which there are MANY!!), Taqueria El Abuelo and Taqueria Tlaquepaque (both really authentic Mexican food, take it from a Mexican!).

There are several events throughout the year that make it really special too. Dancing on the Avenue is once a year event where the business association closes the street for, you guessed it, dancing on the avenue.

Halloween the schools and the businesses all coordinate when they give out candy for all the kids in the neighborhood. So once for the a.m. kindergardners and again for all the rest of the kids beginning about 4 until they're out. It's a family tradition. My cousins 15 and 17 still go.

Christmas time is lovely with all the houses decorating their houses in lights. I believe the streets all compete to see which street is best decorated.

The library is just around the corner from Lincoln on Minnesota, post office is accross from the sushi place. Bramhall Park is not too far on Willow from Lincoln.

I personally didn't think it was too far from downtown San Jose. Most folks can walk to the lightrail and ride to downtown or even Great America. Or you can go in the opposite direction and head towards Oak Ridge Mall and that area is huge now. Tons of stores and movie theaters.

Anyway, I know some people don't care for it because of the high prices. However the area I lived in was fairly diverse economically and racially.

There are also two magnet elementary schools in the area. Hacienda Science Magnet and River Glen Elmentary. CHECK THEM OUT!!! Both are excellent schools. My son is enrolled at Hacienda and I'm really impressed with the results. My aunt works at River Glen and my cousins all went there and they've also had a first rate educations.

Hope you find something you really like! I love it in San Jose

If you're looking for kid friendly everything head to Campbell, a small community nestled within the San Jose area. We just moved from there and loved it so much I had to take back all the mean things I'd ever said about the suburbs. The farmer's market on Sunday mornings is wonderful, there are at least 3 fun parks (with water play areas open in the hotter months), a great children's library (we still miss Karen the librarian who does story hour)and all sorts of block parties/concerts/festivals held downtown that are free and open to all. We were living on one (very low) paycheck there and yet got to hear live music weekly thanks to all the events sponsored by the city. Best of all though is the community center which sponsors a huge variety of kids (and adult)classes. My son and I attended a twice weekly ''intro to preschool'' class for half the cost I'm paying here. Although Campbell residents get preferential enrollment the center is open to everyone. A low income family can find more than enough free/low cost entertainment and educational opportunities for kids in Campbell. Best of luck to you Still missing Campbell

Moving to San Jose from the East Bay

July 2002

I will move soon to San Jose, my husband got a new job in Morgan Hill. I'm living in East Bay in the last almost 3 years and would like some recommendation about the city, good places, bad places, good colleges, good web sites like UCB parents, good places to visit...How is to live in San Jose after living in Berkeley/ Albany? Thanks Patricia

We just moved to Berkeley from San Jose. I grew up there but moved up here after high school, then went down with my family to try a start-up. It failed, so we moved back :) We moved AWAY from San Jose because we didn't like it. With that in mind, here are my observations of living in San Jose.

Unfortunately there is not a resource like the Parents Network there. There are two main parent groups: Las Madres ( and Bay Area Attachment Parenting (Contact: Marina 408-736-8126). Las Madres organizes playgroups by area and child's age. BAAP is smaller, and has playgroups and more casual get-togethers.

I met other stay-at-home-moms by going to the park and checking the moms out :) If you're going to work it will probably be more difficult to meet other parents. I was lucky in that my neighborhood had lots of little kids so I usually had people to hang out with. I also met lots of good parents from my son's preschool (Mulberry Preschool -- it is a co-op and is really excellent -- I am an alumna!). But connecting can be pretty difficult.

Fun things to do with kids: Happy Hollow, Children's Discovery Museum, Public Library Storytimes, San Antonio Regional Park.

My husband and I really like the downtown San Jose restaurants. Some of them cn be quite expensive but others are quite good. Campbell, a small town near San Jose, has a very cute downtown area and reminds me of Berkeley a little bit. Willow Glen and Los Gatos are also very small-towny but more upscale. My husband and I were looking to buy a house in downtown Campbell or Santa Clara until we decided to move back to Berkeley.

A big problem with San Jose is that it is difficult to get around without a car. Everything is very spread apart. Public transit stinks and riding a bike on busy San Jose streets is not recommended if you value your life. Pace of life is veryveryvery fast. People are always in a hurry and you are in their way.

It gets HOT in the summer. Not like Texas hot, but at least 20 degrees hotter than Berkeley. Not only that, but there is no fog layer in the evenings so the nights are hot too. Therefore the mornings are hot. Last summer it often got to 80F by 10am. Morgan Hill is even hotter, so if you're moving down there, keep that in mind.

In terms of natural foods, there are farmer's markets. Campbell has one on Sunday mornings (9-12) and Sunnyvale has one too but I don't know when. Whole Foods is in Los Gatos, Campbell, and Cupertino. Trader Joe's is in Campbell, in the Pruneyard shopping center not too far from Whole Foods (so you can pick up stuff at the other store if one doesn't have what you need).

There is not as much good food to be had. Good restaurants are expensive and the non-expensive stuff is run by chains. Peet's is around, in San Jose (Camden Park), Los Gatos, and Willow Glen. Starbuck's are everywhere, of course.

Traffic is just as bad in San Jose as it is here. Northbound 85 (from Morgan Hill to San Jose) is bad in the mornings from about 7am to 10am. 17/880 North is bad from Santa Cruz up to Dixon-Landing Road for the same time period. Evening rush hour is the same problem, but in the other direction. 101 is usually bad, too.

San Jose State Univeristy is the biggest college in San Jose. There is also Santa Clara Univeristy, which is smaller and private. There are good community colleges -- De Anza in Cupertino and West Valley in Saratoga are the biggest.

Is this too much information? I hope this helps. I think the best thing to do is to try and get involved in something like the YMCA (there are branches in Saratoga and near Santa Clara/Downtown) and hook up with other parents thorugh there. Also, taking classes at community colleges is a good way to meet interestign people. Best of luck to you, Laurel