Living in Silicon Valley
Archived Q&A and Reviews
- Move from East Bay closer to job at Stanford?
- Moving to the Bay Area for a job in Palo Alto
- Living in Mountain View or Menlo Park
- Family friendly neighbourhoods in South Bay
- Life in Silicon Valley?
- Moving to Silicon Valley to avoid the commute
- Moving to the Silicon Valley from the East Bay
I love the East Bay, and I've been living in the East Bay commuting to Stanford.... but the commute is becoming unworkable, so I'm thinking about moving. However, rents in Palo Alto are almost certainly beyond my means, so I'm trying to figure out where I could live. Are there places within 1/2 hour of Palo Alto that are not crazy expensive? Good school options are important to me. Rent would probably need to be not more than about 3500/month for a two-bedroom -- would strongly prefer a single-family residence. Is this pie in the sky, or are there places where this is doable? -California dreaming
As far as I know you will have to move to Fremont/Newark/Union City to be within 1/2 hour of Stanford and have reasonable-priced housing and decent schools.. As you no doubt know the traffic across the Dumbarton bridge will be bad. Union City schools were quite good when we lived there up to ten years ago. I think that Fremont school quality depends on the neighborhood. No idea about Newark. $3k per month rents a nice house in a good neighborhood. went back to Oakland
Just curious, but for that rent you could buy a condo in Mountain View or Sunnyvale - have you considered that?
Not sure about single family homes but in case you are also considering apartments, you certainly can get a 2 bedroom apartment in Palo Alto. We just went through this search and moved into a place 2 months ago.
It's actually rather nice way to live if you can get past the 1960s look. Most buildings have pools, gyms, and other stuff, some have a lot of tech families so friends for your kid(s).
The advertised rent varies a lot, they can adjust it daily or weekly depending on supply and demand but in general it is about 15-25% more expensive to sign the lease in the summer than the winter. A few places warned us about this when we flew out in January but weren't planning to sign the lease til July and sure enough it was true, they jack up their prices. But maybe they are starting to drop again.
Craig's list and Trulia were the sites I liked - trulia lets you see what schools are associated with the complex and where cafes and stores are. Some we looked at and liked are Springwood in Los Altos http://www.springwood.com/ - 2br/2ba with Cupertino Schools (top schools but also very competitive) a trader joes, peets coffee and starbucks right next door and about $3000 per month, shoot down foothill Exwy to Stanford. The Americana in Mountain View http://prometheusreg.com/san-francisco-properties/americana decent schools - sometimes Palo Alto and Cupertino districts are best to be avoided as they can be too stressful, half olympic size pool, gym, etc take El Camino to Stanford $3000-3500 per month for a 2br/2ba. Both started at $2700 back in Jan. Another one that is closer is Palo Alto Plaza http://www.paloaltoplaza.com/p/apartments/floorplans_8375/mountain-view-ca-94040/palo-alto-plaza-apartments-8375, actually in Mountain View but right at the border, in the PA school district I believe and next to San Antonio Center, this has one pool and a putting green, you could bike to Stanford from here but this one was more expensive. There were others in PA in midtown and downtown PA that also looked okay and affordable.
If you haven't lived in the south bay/peninsula, it's got more of a sprawling 1950s feel than Berkeley/Oakland but with the emergence of the 'mid century' craze, lots of these buildings almost seem cute again. It's also safer and less crowded than Berkeley and Oakland.
Re cheaper homes to rent, I would look into Redwood City - the neighborhoods that closer to Alameda De Las Pulgas which takes you to Stanford - I have no idea how crowded that gets during commute hours but RWC tends to be less expensive than PA or MP. anon
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 Greatschools.org for more research. Good luck!
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.
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.
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
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
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