Living in the Peninsula and Silicon Valley

Questions & Responses:
What can you tell me about living in San Mateo?(4 responses)
Household Salary of $140k a year, how far will it go?(13 responses)
Moving from DC for job at Stanford - need advice!(12 responses)
Archived Responses: 

Questions Reviews of Nearby Areas Commuting to the South Bay

2013 - 2014 Discussions

Move to the Peninsula from Berkeley?

Jan 2014

After 20+ years in Berkeley, are we crazy to consider a (career) move to the Peninsula? My partner and I are in our mid-fifites, with 2 high school aged kids. We would move after our eldest son graduates. He is probably headed to a two-year college anyway, and we have heard good things about Foothill, so that could work out well for him. Our younger son is a strong student and makes friends easily, so he would probably do fine in a new high school and might even benefit from the competitive academic atmosphere we expect to find there. We are concerned in general about the culture shock of moving from Berkeley to Palo Alto area (we are interested in Mountain View, perhaps?), not sure we will be comfortable with the level of wealth and striving and ... ? Is there life after Berkeley? The cost of housing is of course daunting, but we think we may be ready for a condo anyway -- tired of taking care of a house and yard, and we will be empty nesters before long. Any suggestions or words of wisdom? Can't Quite Picture It, but ....

I grew up in Redwood City, moved around a lot, have been a homeowner in Richmond CA for 30 years. I work in Oakland. I love my house/community in Richmond, but I love the Peninsula. I go down there frequently to see friends. I don't know statistics, but it seems to be WAY more diverse than when I grew up. The communities appear lovely to me. Palo Alto was always cool & nice & pricey, years ago. But Redwood City & Menlo Park are also nice; so is San Carlos & San Mateo too. Cultural activities abound. Weather there is SO much better than the east bay! warmer, but not super hot like Concord & Walnut Creek. I think the culture is just way more interesting now than years ago. I don't know statistics on crime, but it sure feels safer than the east bay. Former Sequoia High grad
I think you'll like the peninsula a lot. It is hard to think of a move and Berkeley has a lot to offer but so does the peninsula. I grew up in Palo Alto and lived for 4 years in Oakland and 10 years in Mountain View and there are differences as you are well aware of.

I loooooved Mountain View. I moved there after Oakland which I also loved and to be honest I saw moving to Mountain View as moving into a bland boring suburban sprawl with nothing much to offer after the Oakland area but I was wrong. Or maybe somewhat right but there are just so many benefits too. It is safer - I hadn't even realized how much on-guard I constantly was in Oakland and how wonderful it was to lower the guard a few levels, you know it weighs on you in a way that you maybe aren't aware of. And downtown MV is cute and still feels real.

Palo Alto is as you say, there IS a striving feeling there, when one shops in the grocery store there IS a feeling like everyone pushing the cart is a big shot used to others getting out of their way and somewhat a feeling of over-education and wealth and if not wealthy yet, just on the verge. And a little entitlement. It can get a little annoying. But I too found the Oakland-Berkeley area had a vibe of self-conscious cool-alternative and judgment if one wasn't 'cool' enough so I suppose it is a little of leaving one attitude for another. Mountain View seems to me less of that.

You could look into Sunnyvale which is a little blander than MV but has a cute bungalow area near the old downtown (very small - Murphy Street, Macy's, Target and a never finished redevelopment project) or the area near the main library. But I suppose you'd like a place closer to the high schools. There used to be some not too expensive condos in downtown Los Altos (but with somewhat high HO fees) that is close bike ride away from the High School.

Anyway I think you'll love it - the weather is even more perfect than Berkeley, it feels a lot less 'tight', you won't feel like you are battling for a parking spot, people feel more relaxed, it's cleaner, it's culturally diverse (less diverse economically tho), safer, life just feels less stressful. anon

Moving from Berkeley to Peninsula

May 2013

After almost a year of living in Berkeley, we are considering biting the bullet and moving closer to where my husband works (close to the Dumbarton Bridge). The commute is brutal for him, and it is looking like it will probably only get worse, as any future job opportunities are likely to be closer to San Jose and Santa Clara than San Francisco.

My question is this: where should we be looking? We like the diversity and cultural opportunities found in the East Bay, and I'm concerned about moving into a community where we people are consumed by the rat race of making (and spending) money. Maybe this is just a stereotype and I don't need to worry about it. But I would like to move somewhere reasonably 'down to earth' where the neighbors are friendly, our kids can play with other kids on our street, safety isn't a constant concern, and the weather isn't brutally hot. Obviously, it would also be nice if the real estate market wasn't totally ridiculous.

We have a good friend who is convinced Belmont fulfills these requirements. Is this true? Any other suggestions? Love the East Bay, hate the commute

I would move to Redwood City. Belmont is not only expensive but snooty. Hardly diverse. San Carlos more like Belmont but not as many hilly areas. Redwood City has more diversity - much more diversity. I don't think there really is a bad neighborhood there. The downtown is thriving. I grew up there in the 50's and it's just better than ever. There are hills, there are flats, there are distinct neighborhoods from which to decide. I'm not looking at statistics, but I think in general their schools are excellent. former Peninsula dweller
I'm a Stanford affiliate who lived in Palo Alto for two years before moving back to the East Bay, which I love. Here are my impressions, which are limited. The peninsula seems in some ways homogeneous: there are areas with very very rich people, areas with slightly less rich people, and what I would describe as tons of diversity but not in any locally, culturally integrated way -- there is little of the same downtowny, urban culture you find in the East Bay or SF. There are many less affluent areas as well, of course. As far as I can tell, this is true from one end of El Camino Real to the other, and so there's nothing you need to avoid per se. Belmont does seem nice; I've also heard good things about Redwood Shores. Palo Alto is a hyperglossy Voltron of startups and San Francisco-level rent inflation these days, so probably not worth the trouble. If it's still possible to find an affordable part of Menlo Park, though, that might be a tiny bit more East Bay-like than the rest of the peninsula, or so it has seemd to me.

You can always go neighborhood-shopping on the weekends for a while: take a few day trips and see how particular places strike you. San Mateo has a particularly nice Japanese garden downtown, and a good used bookstore as of last year; we drove up there once from PA and had fun. Good luck! ex-peninsular

We lived on the Peninsula and in San Jose for 8 years before we moved to Berkeley two years ago. Stay away from Palo Alto. However, we lived in Mountain View and really loved it. There are many diverse neighborhoods; some are less expensive than others. We lived at The Crossings; we liked that it was near the train and the freeways and we could walk to all the shopping across the street (although that was before they built The Villages at San Antonio). We also really loved San Jose itself, although the public schools leave something to be desired. But again, we loved the diversity, being close to downtown and the cultural offerings, and the real estate was definitely much more affordable. The funny thing is, after moving to Berkeley so my husband could be closer to his SF job, a year later he returned to his former employer in San Jose! So we are back to the crazy commute (but only 3 days a week). Maureen
For more than twenty years, now, we've followed ever-more-interesting jobs from Silicon Valley (Mountain View, Cupertino, PaloAlto, etc.) to Berkeley to Seattle WA to Redmond WA to Berkeley and back to Silicon Valley (SanJose).

In general, real estate anywhere on the Peninsula is more expensive and less interesting than the EastBay: most houses are smaller, single-story, on small lots, and built between 1945 and 1970. There are several new developments (both condominiums and rentals) popping up everywhere on the Peninsula that are beautiful and stylish, but seem to be alarmingly expensive.

Weather is just plain dull anywhere on the Peninsula.

But diversity?

Throughout Silicon Valley, there are nerds (like us) from all over the world. In the 2010 census, more than seventy-five percent of the residents of census tract where we live were not born in the US. Local coffee shops are a chatter of languages, varied clothing, and delightful faces. Because Silicon Valley nerds come from all over the world, services have followed: restaurants, groceries, shops, services, doctors, dentists, anything-and-everything can easily be found in just about any language and style.

So, although real property and weather are bland and uninspiring, the people living on the Peninsula come from more different histories and cultures than you can find anywhere in the EastBay.

It is a joy to live in a 'Little United Nations'

Moving to the Bay Area for a job in Palo Alto

Feb 2013

We are moving to the Bay Area from L.A. in a couple of months are are looking for recommendations for what cities/areas to look at. My husband's job is in Palo Alto, but he is willing to commute 45 minutes or so.

Our priorities are:
-Good schools. We would be willing to pay more for housing if the public schools are good K-12. We have a kindergartner and a 4th grader. But if the housing is cheaper and we like the neighborhood but not the public school, we could go the private school route.
-Walkability, proximity to shops, restaurants, parks, family-friendly things to do, etc.
-A place where we can rent a house or something house-like
There are so many parts of the Bay Area to look at that I'm not even sure where to start. East Bay? Peninsula? SF? Any recommendations or opinions? Kate

Palo Alto has some of the best public schools in California, so there's really no need to consider other areas if you can afford to live there and your husband's job is there. It sounds like everything you're looking for. Check out for more research. Good luck!

2010 - 2012 Discussions

Living in Mountain View or Menlo Park

April 2011

We're considering a move to the Peninsula from Berkeley. We want to be as close as possible to work - aka the Stanford campus. Palo Alto seems unaffordable, but there are a couple of areas in Menlo Park and Mountain View that seem more affordable and perfectly nice. Yet, when we mention Mountain View or certain neighborhoods of Menlo Park to people we know who are from the Peninsula, they crinkle their brows. We ask why not, but no one will elaborate on why we shouldn't live there.

We are most interested in Monta Loma in Mountain View, and the Willows in Menlo Park. Other areas we are considering in Mountain View are Rex Manor, Jackson Park, Old Mountain View, and Cuesta Park. In Menlo Park, we are also looking at Stone Pine Lane (Park Forest area), but it makes us a little nervous because of the proximity to the train tracks. Any specific input about why we should or shouldn't live in these areas would be much appreciated. Neighborhood schools are not an issue for us since we want to send our kids to ISTP (bilingual private school). We're open to other suggestions of places to live, but again, we don't want to be more than 20 minutes by bike or car from ISTP or Stanford.

We are looking for a nice, safe, family neighborhood with friendly people of diverse backgrounds, lots of trees and good parks. Thanks in advance for your helpful advice. -flying south

I lived in Palo Alto for 13 years, and just moved over here less than a year ago. I know exactly what you're describing re people's reactions.

If you are looking to buy a home, Palo Alto will be astronomical prices! And IMO, so not worth it! Everyone wants to live in Palo Alto since Steve Jobs and others like one of the Google founders live there, to name a few. There is a LOT of money in the Peninsula, so where you live kinda sends a message about where you fit on the food chain. My conclusion is that some people consider Menlo Park and Mountain View as 'low rent' for the area. Especially Mountain View. (I also used to live in Mountain View for 2 years.)

If you are looking to rent (a GREAT option), you could probably find a home for a decent price in Palo Alto. I truly loved living in Palo Alto and that area in general because of the great weather, close to the ocean, trees, relaxed attitude... I didn't care for Mountain View because there are lots of areas where the streets are 4-6 lanes and I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere. Menlo Park is very pleasant, and you'd be closer to University Ave in Palo Alto where all the cute stores are.

Email me if you have more questions.... Cynthia

Maybe Mountain View is too racially and culturally diverse (mostly different types of Asian/South Asian) for your friends, or maybe the housing is too dense. I find the downtown quite charming, and it has a very large farmer's market on the weekend at the train station. The city government functions reasonably well. I don't know much about Menlo Park. Are you planning to rent or buy? If you rent you can try out Mountain View or Menlo Park before making a long term decision. anon
I loved living in Mtn View (10 years). I grew up in PA and worked in Menlo Park so I am familiar with them. After 12 years living in SF & Oakland I moved back down to the pennisula to MV and LOVED it.

People who have been around the bayarea for a long time have an old out-dated idea of MV as I did from growing up in PA. But I found it a wonderful lovely calm diversified place to live without the attitude of PA (and possibly MP), & wo the crime & crowded feeling of SF & Oakland. I really don't like going into PA now as cute as the downtown is, I always notice this strange vibe like everyone is hyper aware of how great and successful they are and there is a pushy sense entitlement too (sorry if I offended anyone but one visit to downtown Whole Foods & you will see what I mean). It depresses me. I don't notice that attitude in MV.

My favorite neighborhood in MV is old MV of course but since google went public it can be really competitive to get a place but it is ideal nice new library, nice cafes, farmers market etc. I don't like Monta Loma so much - just personal preference, not a big fan of Eichler style homes. Cuesta is nice, it does have a total ranch suburban feeling but there are worse things than trees and safety:-) I personally wouldn't live in Rex Manor or Jackson Park, I just find those areas depressing. I lived near Sylvan Park - benefits are it has superquick access to hwys 85 & 237 and from their you can get everywhere. It also a quick bike ride to downtown (via backroad East Dana which goes over the freeways). Do you want a home on a regular lot or have you considered detached home on a small lot in a development (or townhome) - you could check out The Crossing down near San Antonio Rd - easy walking to lots of shops like trader joes and quick bike ride downtown (btw there is an underpass under Shorline Rd near Villa Street so you don't to cross that busy road.

The Willows is lovely my hesitation was access to freeway I felt trapped by congested Willow (think there is a back access to University Ave in PA but that too is busy) and hard to get to 280. But if this is not a concern I would say it is lovely, not sure of safety, but may be the best area for Stanford & ISTP. You could consider North Fair Oaks MP, it is a real mixed bag of house styles and no sidewalks but does have charm and may be more affordable. And lastly, this may be too far but in Sunnyvale near Washington Park and the Heritage distract - some cute places, close to shops & cafes.

Family friendly neighbourhoods in South Bay

Nov 2010

Hi! This my first post and I would really appreciate some advice. My husband and I are moving with our two young kids (aged 4 and 2) to the South Bay from Ireland in early 2011. My husband will be working in Downtown San Jose but is willing to commute 30 minutes or so. We are looking at areas to settle in, renting at first then hopefully buying a home in the neighborhood. Can anyone recommend a family friendly area? I had been looking (on-line!) at areas such as south San Jose, Morgan Hill, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Los Gatos etc. but is really hard to get a real feel for them. I worry that a 'better' i.e more expensive area will have an older age profile and a less established area may have social problems. We may go the Catholic school route, so being in a good school area is not a deal breaker. Thanks in advance! lorr

We live in SoSJ and are reasonably happy. We live in a cabana club neighborhood so have a community pool to swim in every summer. It is delightful in SJ to have pool access. Some cabana clubs have waiting lists, some have mandatory membership. Our neighborhood, Rancho Santa Teresa, is a wide age-mix. The homes were built in the late 60s and some original owners remain. Some homes are now owned by adults who grew up here. And some are young families like us. We are near a lightrail station so getting downtown without a car is easy. You may do well to join the yahoogroup SBParentschat and post there too. You can also ask the moderator to put you in touch with me. happy in SoSJ
I love our neighborhood in West San Jose (95129 area code); it's called Happy Valley/Country Lane which is close to Cupertino, Saratoga, Campbell and Santa Clara and I also belong to a moms group in Sunnyvale. I think there are many kid-friendly neighborhoods in the South Bay; each city offers many programs for children and there are tons of parks. Since you are not particularly concerned about public schools, there are a lot of options for you -- different parts of San Jose (mine, Willow Glen, Almaden for e.g.), Los Gatos, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Campbell, or Cupertino (and maybe Saratoga). Sorry this doesn't really narrow down your list but this is a pretty big area and your budget and preference for architecture, neighborhood feel, etc. will play a key role in where you settle. southbay mom
Have you considered Mountain View? GREAT weather, close to the bay, excellent parks (Shoreline), close access to Stanford, Palo Alto nearby, fine city services, easy access to freeway. The Monta Loma community, just off San Antonio Road, is a small community of Eichler type ranch homes from the 1950's. (Think Dwell Magazine). Walk to market or Cal Train. It's a small, close knit community and family friendly. Fairly diverse. Higher than normal no. of engineers and Europeans settle here. Generally one of the lowest crime rates in Mountain View, though there have been two recent strong arm robberies. You can pay a lot more to be in other parts of South Bay but likely you will not find a better, closer community. Sssssh. One of the best kept secrets around. My second recommendation would be for Sunnyvale. Bigger homes but not quite as convenient. Why don't you rent until you find a place to buy? Anon.

South San Francisco - San Bruno - Millbrae

Feb 2010

I am seeking advice and information about either commutting between Oakland and San Bruno OR a possible household move from Oakland (Fruitvale) to South San Francisco, San Bruno or Millbrae.

I am a top candidate for a job in San Bruno, and may be offered a position. Currently both my husband and I work FT in San Francisco, and our 4 yo daughter goes to preschool near my husband's work. We are trying to get her into a public kindergarten in SF, because of our work sites and also b/c our options for schools in Oakland are very limited after Kindergarten. We own our home in Oakland, but are deep underwater. I don't think that we can afford to continue paying a mortgage and rent in SF or the South Bay, but would consider walking away from our Oakland house if it made sense to move to SF or the South Bay b/c of commuting and school. Questions: Is it tenable to work FT and commute on public transportation from Oakland/Fruitvale to San Bruno (BART and bike; driving is NOT an option)? Would I ever see my family or my home during daylight hours

Also, about shifting our living situation... we are lefty/granola dark-green type people with a skeptical and scientific sensibility - pretty stereotypically Oaklandish and proud of it, thanks you very much. Would we be totally unmoored by moving to the upper South Bay? What is it like to live in San Bruno, Millbrae, South San Francisco? Are there neighborhoods that people would recommend or avoid (and why)? We are committed to public education because, well, it's free..... and also committed to finding the best school possible for our bright, sensitive, and funny girl. What are the public schools like in SSF, SB and MilB? Any standouts or cautions?

Try Brisbane! The schools are good, the community is great, and it's between SF and San Bruno. I have several friends there, and they love it. Jennifer
I can't remember exactly what the question was now, but having lived in SSF much of my life, and being familiar w/ San Bruno & Millbrae, I can tell you this: the better the weather and community life, the more expensive the homes. Of the 3, Millbrae is best, San Bruno next, SSF next after that. All of them are much safer than Oakland or Berkeley. Commutes to SF are easy. All the shopping you could want to do, particularly at chains (especially in SF) but also some independents (particularly in SB/MIllbrae). You'll be very close to the airport and might want to make sure that he house is noise-insulated--I think that was done for everybody in the noise zone of the airport about 10 yrs ago, and it works pretty well (plus you save on heating). SSF can have decent weather in the flats, closer to the bay, but it can be downright awful in the summer with wind and fog near the crest (eg Skyline Blvd and parts of Junipero Serra). San Bruno is sunnier, but has some of hte same wind/fog issues in the hillier parts. All have relatively easy access to freeways. Millbrae/SB might be more enjoyable if you're planning to spend more time on the peninsula.

Husband working in San Mateo...where to live?

Jan 2010

My friend is moving to the Bay Area soon from Park City, UT (and before that Chicago & Iowa) for her husband's new job. They have never lived in the Bay Area and are trying to figure out where to live. The husband will be starting a job in San Mateo. Their preference is: short commute, live in a place where there is a place and not some endless suburb and good schools. Can anyone give me any suggestions for neighborhoods or towns near San Mateo for them to look at? helping a friend

Since the husband is working in San Mateo, there are a lot of the Peninsula cities that can be great choices. San Mateo, Millbrae, Burlingame, Redwood City, Belmont, San Carlos. These are all cities that will provide a good commute, good location, good schools, and access to other things in the Peninsula. I am a Realtor and will be happy to share more thoughts with them. Peninsula knowledge
What's wrong w/ San MAteo? Actually most of the cities right around there are probably fine, depending on the price of housing v. your budget. But SM has a pretty good downtown PLUS all the mall-type shops you could possibly need, plus good access to SF or SJ or the east bay, plus decent whether and decent community. Burlingame has a great downtown but is a little pricier. San Bruno, a little cheaper, also has a nice downtown. Farther south, RW city may be a little more mixed but has some good areas too. THen you're looking at Menlo Park, Palo Alto-- fabulous but pricey cities.

Life in Silicon Valley?

Jan 2010

We love our East Bay neighborhood, but my husband has a brutal commute down to the South Bay. The public schools in Silicon Valley are apparently very good and I find myself wondering if we should consider a move.

I've read all the posts on BPN about moving to the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, and while none are very recent, not many are extremely positive. Is it really that much different than the East Bay? We have a typical wishlist: a family-friendly, walkable neighborhood, good schools, outdoor activities, & nice people. Can we find all this down there? I would especially love recommendations of neighborhoods to check out.

We moved from Oak/Berk in 2004. We settled in SoSJ, Oak Grove school district. Happily, it is less badly hit by the current school budget woes as they sold some real estate when prices were up. Cupertino, 'the' public school system down here, is hard hit by budget woes. We have hiking hills in walking distance and the rebuilt library will reopen in Feb! But groceries are 2 miles away and there is no cute 'center' to walk to. SJ really is strip-mall central and you drive everywhere. I was overwhelmed by the pizza, fastfood, and baskinrobbins on every corner when we first moved. But now I know where the family run mexican joint is, and the good sushi, ethiopian, and french. But we drive for most everything. we are near the lightrail so take it into SJ downtown to the museums. You could move to Los Gatos for the cute walkable downtown. It's more expensive and has no light rail connection. Saratoga, mountain view, and Palo Alto might also meet your needs, also pricey. campbell. SV is the land of the newly rich and many like to flaunt it. Latest car, all tres-chic accessories for baby, etc. We don't try to keep up with the Jones' and find others like us. I RARELY see a homeless person, though downtown SJ has plenty, we're just not there like we were when in Oak/Berk. We have great outdoor activities nearby. The zoo will reopen in March. It is different than Oak/berk. very suburban living for being 'San Jose.' shorter commute
Boy do I understand - I have the same commute. 2 hrs each way by BART and bus. I 'thought' I wanted to move closer but the only place I would consider is along the 280 corridor that has open space, green hills and is mucho expensive. There is a lot to consider - how long will your husband be at the job? If he's got a secure job until he retires, then start looking at houses. If he's doing this for 2-5 years - stay put. I have a friend I stay with if the morning meetings are too early - I just can't get up at 0400 anymore - too old! She lives in San Carlos and it still takes me 30-45 mins to get to Stanford where I work- because there are so many people in the South Bay. We do not have the kind of traffic they have all the time. It is like Southern California. I didn't realize it until I tried to drive it every day. Another alternative I thought about was to rent a room - not an apt - a room like for visiting professors or students in a nice house in a nice area. That way, your husband doesn't have to buck the traffic every day. Have him talk to his boss about telecommuting at least 2 days/week. My boss agreed to it when I told her I didn't know how much longer I could do this commute. Those two days makes a BIG difference - I feel like I 'breathe' again. And taking BART and the bus lets me keep up with emails (the bus has WiFi) and prepare for morning meetings so it's not wasted, frustrating driving time. Good luck! catgetsdown
I lived in Los Gatos and Palo Alto for many years. Here are the main differences 1) the really nice communities down there (like Los Gatos and Palo Alto) are really expensive but I'm sure you can finds ones (Campbell, Sunnyvale etc) where you can walk to things and still have nice communities. In general I'd say houses are more expensive there than the east bay. 2) its definitely more surburban feeling. 3) weather is nicer - imagine eating your dinner outside most of the summer long! 4) I still had tonnes of great friends down there and of course there's tonnes of great restaurants and great ethnic food. Definitely more affluent people there in general (SV employees) I'd guess you would find more SAHMs there, if that's what you are.
I know what you mean about that commute. My husband commuted from Berkeley/Albany to Santa Clara for 22 years, and the best way he discovered was after we inherited a car and just left it parked near the Amtrak station in Santa Clara. He would take Amtrak from the Berkeley station and then use the extra car to commute back and forth from the Santa Clara station to the job site. That probably saved his life!

Recently, after being laid off in 06, he was invited back on a freelance basis as a consultant. We decided to try Mountain View as a base for the time while he was back at work. We found a rental near Castro Street, which is a great street with lots of shops, restaurants, bookstores, etc. It's a lot like Solano Ave in Berkeley/Albany or the Elmwood or Rockridge district. I don't know about your price range, or whether you would be renting or buying. It's expensive there. Oh, there's a fantastic Farmer's Market at the Cal Train station on Castro Street on Sundays!

Anyway, it's off the Shoreline exit from 101. Really a nice little area. Becky

2007 - 2009 Discussions

Half Moon Bay vs. San Mateo

Oct 2008

We will soon be moving from the east bay to the peninsula for work. My husband and I lived in a small coastal town when we were first married and loved the lifestyle. We are entertaining the possibility of living in Half Moon Bay and having one of us commute over 92. Before we had kids, this would have been an easy decision, but now we are wondering if living by the ocean would be worth it. Does any one have experience living in HMB and working in Redwood City? Is the commute terrible, or is it really the 20 mins google maps claim it is? When we have gone to HMB on weekends, it really was only 20 mins from the bridge. Also, I'm wondering if the schools are better in HMB or in San Mateo/Burlingame/RC/San Carlos, etc. and if there are important things like emergency medical care available in HMB or would I have to fear holding my bleeding child for 30 mins waiting for an ambulance to make it over the hill? Is it inconvenient that any shopping other than groceries has to be done over the hill? Any feedback is welcome. Thanks.
missing the sea

While I enjoyed HMB for the short 18 month duration we were there, we ultimately had to move due to the school situation. I have three boys within close age range and as I started to research out the schools, I found quickly that my choices were very limited. Private school in HMB and pay a very steep price, average-at-best public schools, or trekking over the hill to SM for more affordable private school options. Neither of these choices seemed like a reasonable solution. So we moved.

Yes, the small town bucolic beauty of HMB coupled with the ocean, is quite serene. I grew up and lived in Pacifica for the first 18 years of my life so I DO appreciate the coastside. But if you have to spend a lot of time in your car driving to/from school, sports, etc., then you must ask yourself-is it worth it? That is a choice only you can make. Perhaps you might want to try the commute a few times before making a final decision (be sure to include a Wednesday). Tired of driving

Moving across the Bay, closer to Mountain View

June 2008

We're looking to move to the other side of the bay to shorten my husband's commute from North Oakland to Mt. View. We have lived in SF and Oakland only and know little about that side of the bay. We'd like good public schools, somewhat walkable town center ( like you find in Oakland/Berekely neighborhood) and under 40 min drive to SF. Any recommendations of cities to look at?

Try Burlingame. I'm not sure about the schools, but it has a cute walkable town center. Some of my best friends live in Burlingame. Well, ok, one of them.
Well, I grew up on the Peninsula (Belmont to be exact) and although I really don't like it, it isn't all bad. It isn't the progressive minded, funky, open to diversity,place that the East Bay is and definitely not like SF, but it definitely doesn't have the crime and bad school districts that are akin to much of the East Bay. As for communities that are about a 40 min. drive to SF, the further south you go, the hotter it gets in the summer. Some nice mid-way points would be San Mateo(near downtown), Belmont, San Carlos, & parts of Redwood City(both SC & RWC have up and coming downtowns), but it also depends on your price range and whether you're renting or buying. It might be hard to find a house in these areas for under $700 or $800K, but w/the current market, things might be changing. Whatever you choose, good luck in your journey.... anon

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

If you don't want to leave Berkeley then don't. Make it work somehow. To me, moving to San Jose would be like moving to Omaha. See if you husband can arrange to telecommute one or more days a week. Work 4 long days and have a 3 day weekend in Berkeley. Search for a new job. Anything. Life is too short to commute that long or to live in San Jose! I love Berkeley
After tiring of commuting 1-2 hrs. a day to Silicon Valley, we gave up our No. Berkeley bungalow, with a remodelled kitchen, and a coveted spot at Jefferson School and moved. My husband doesn't miss the crowds, the parking madness, the Rent Board antics, crime, dirtiness and the overall stress of living in Berkeley at all. Schools are diverse, range from good-excellent and kids don't get hassled at school. Our neighborhood is very family oriented. I can get Acme bread at Costco or at the farmers market on Sunday, cause Acme has wholesale site in MV. The local farmers market is not as upscale as the Berkeley Farmer Market, but it's bigger and the prices are more reasonable. We don't have Monterey Market, but Milk Pail Market comes close. I can walk to Cal Train and shopping. There is no shortage of good food here--upscale, ethnic, or cheap eats. Stanford is a few minutes away. The libraries are a fabulous resource with far more availability and more generous lending policies. There is close proximity to many adult schools and Foothill College. We have Deer Hollow Farm and Rancho San Antonio Preserve for hiking--much like Tilden Park. Situated close to the bay means the air is clean, though warmer than Berkeley. Ideal growing conditions, if you like to garden. It is a longer drive/commute to SF but there's no bridge to cross. In short, with the local resources, I do not feel shortchanged for anything in Berkeley, well, except for Cheeseboard Pizza, which I buy and freeze. Mountain View is a hidden gem!
I would rather endure the commute! In fact, we are enduring the commute. We lived in Silicon Valley, where my husband works and just could not make a life for ourselves. We moved to Oakland a few years ago and have never looked back. Yes, the commute is awful and takes time away from the family, but we were miserable living in the south bay and never found like-minded people. We didn't really even have friends let alone a sense of community. It's a high-pressure place to live and values tend to revolve around money, the accumulation of it and what you can buy with it. I'm sure there are exceptions - there always are - but we wanted to live a life where our values (things other than money) were the norm, not an exception. You spend a lot of time in the car, on the freeway, at strip malls. Not a fan of Silicon Valley
Also recommended: Fremont and San Jose

Neighborhoods towns in the peninsula

April 2007

Hello: My husband works in Palo Alto, and his commute is seeming way too long, so we are considering a move to the peninsula. We live in the East Bay and really appreciate its alternative/progressive feel. I know the peninsula is not the East Bay, but would be interested in hearing feedback (esp. positive feedback :))about the area in general as well as specific towns or neighborhoods that might be more alternative or progressive or feel more like ''home.'' We also need to consider price and the quality of the schools. Thanks!

i grew up in palo alto--graduating from high school 25 (gulp) years ago. at the time i felt that PA was probably the most progressive/boho/intellectual of the towns in the area. i still hang out there a bit and feel the same way. you might also check out mountain view, san mateo and redwood city.
We were in the exact same situation about ten years ago and thought we would never find any other town we'd like as much as Berkeley, but we did. Husband did try to commute and after two years, it got old and it became exhausting. We moved to Mountain View as we finally found a house we could afford. We checked out nearly every city in Silicon Valley and looked at over 100 homes over the course of a year. Went through three agents, but we are pickier than most.

Towns to that I would consider: Mountain View (our 1st choice), Palo Alto (fairly progressive, good schools), Sunnyvale (more bang for your buck), Santa Clara (up and coming), Los Altos (great schools, big lots),

There's pros/cons to every town and they are so close in proximity that you may not see the differences at first. Also depends on the location of your husband's job.

Good luck in your search.

2004 - 2006 Discussions

2003 & Earlier

Moving to the Silicon Valley from the East Bay

July 2002

My husband is taking a new job. We will be quickly moving. As we're leaving our friends and the city/area that we love. Any tips/recommendations about city/area which are ideal for young families? Do you now something about Foothill college? Do you have experience living there? Thanks, Camila

We, too, are transplants from the East Bay to Mountain View, and have been here for a little over a year and a half now. We were very reluctant to move here because we loved the East Bay so much, but we have had some very pleasant surprises. There is actually quite a lot for families to do in the area -- from city-sponsored classes and other activities to lots and lots of open space for hiking, kite-flying, bike riding, etc. And you're certainly not limited to Mountain View: we go with our 3-year-old to Los Altos to visit Hidden Villa Farm (animals, organic garden, hiking trails -- very close to Foothill College) and take swimming lessons, to San Jose for the Children's Discovery Museum and Happy Hollow (small theme park and zoo for young children, with free rides and very friendly animals), to Redwood City for ice skating, Palo Alto for various things at Stanford, and to libraries in the area for storytime. And, of course, we still spend time in the East Bay and San Francisco. The weather here is nice, too -- we actually have seasons!

Downsides to life in Silicon Valley include the ridiculous cost of living and limited cultural and ethnic diversity -- with the occasional lack of awareness or tolerance that you might expect in such a setting, unfortunately. It's still the Bay Area, though, so you can pretty much find every type of person and lifestyle, especially around Stanford. It can also be hard to find great restaurants! They are out there, it's just that you have to look around.

We're still relatively new here, and we feel like there is a lot that we haven't discovered yet. It really isn't so bad a place to live! I know it's hard to make the transition, though -- I used to be depressed every time I came back from visiting friends in Berkeley or Oakland. But that hasn't happened for a while, now, and we've started to feel more at home here. Good luck with the move. Lauren

I live in Mountain View (I moved here about two years ago). The questions you posted were rather vague. If you want to contact me directly, I'll be happy to answer as many of your questions as I can. -- Caroline
I grew up in Palo Alto and went to Foothill college. I stayed in Berkeley when I came to Cal and still live here. Foothill is one of the best JC's (we used to call it Harvard on a Hill). The area is mellow and great for young families (all my family is out there). You will be in between San Jose and SF so you have access to fun. More conservative then Berkeley for certain, but still diverse. My husband gets bored when he goes down there with me but I like it that it's less busy then the East Bay and there is so much more out there to keep me busy (Stores and Malls). Please email me for additional info if you wish. Newsha
San Antonio Ranch with Deer Farm is nice place for a family walk in Mountain View. Easy acess from 280: exit Foothill Blv. to the south, then first light right and just follow the signs. Have a nice trip! Gabriela,
After looking for a house for seven months, we moved from the Oakland Hills to Los Altos in November. Like you, we were also reluctant to move and wanted a neighborhood that was very family-oriented. Well, the first weekend we moved into our house, all the neighbors on our street that had kids came to introduce themselves and to offer help and advice! It was great - we immediately found a teenage babysitter for our 2.5 year old daughter and got info on a variety of preschools in the area.

We might just be incredibly lucky with our street, but in eight months of living here, my observation is that in certain ways, it's not much different living here - people here are also very involved in their kids so there are plenty of activities, classes and events and you don't have to go far for them. The community centers offer lots of classes for kids and there's a Parents' Place in Palo Alto that offers some great parenting classes as well as other parenting resources. You're also moving here at the peak of the event season - in the past month and a half, there's been an ice cream social in Mtn View and the Los Altos Wine & Art Festival, and all the seasonal farmers' markets are in full swing.

I feel like we're still in the early stages of discovering all the things to do here but I'd be happy to share what info I've picked up so far. Good luck with your move! Joan