Living in the Silicon Valley
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Living in the Silicon Valley
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
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.
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
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....
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!
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
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
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
Not a fan of Silicon Valley
Fremont and San Jose
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. Email me, if you have questions.
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?
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
this page was last updated: Jul 22, 2012
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