7.0 out of 10

Atherton

Ranked 52nd best city in California
37.4533237553828 -122.203637610508
Great for
  • Schools
  • Clean & Green
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Safe & Sound
  • Neighborly Spirit
Not great for
  • Nightlife
  • Gym & Fitness
  • Shopping Options
  • Cost of Living
  • Public Transport
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Retirees
  • Students

Reviews

4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
2yrs+

"A Little Grove of Tech Millionaires"

Atherton, just to northwest of Menlo Park, is yet another refuge for the fabulously wealthy. The median home price here is about $4.5 million. Finding a home beneath the $1 million mark is fairly difficult. Even a large Ranch style house will run you about $4 mill in this neighborhood. But if you are in search of large manor, you might give the hilly area to west a try.

Atherton, generally, is fairly flat overall, and many of the lanes are tree-lined with redwoods. It is attractive and designed to seem slightly bucolic—though one never really feels as if you are in something other than an amazingly wealthy area.

The location is one of the big draws of Atherton. Just a hop skip and a jump from Palo Alto and with its own dedicated CalTrains station, Atherton is a great launch point for Peninsula commuters.

As far as schools go, Atherton is a pretty good choice as well. Although Palo Alto High just to the south blows it away with its stratospheric test rankings, Atherton-Menlo High is still significantly above average. You will also find there are a number of private school choices in the area, catering to this high end market.

Atherton really doesn’t have much of a restaurant or nightlife scene at all—it is pretty much an affluent residential community.
In fact, you’ll even have to head into the neighboring community for groceries. Overall, however, if you are one of those Silicon Valley techies who is raking in the dough, Atherton, might actually make sense.

If you’re just an average Joe, then Atherton is probably outside of your price range.
Pros
  • Beautiful Homes
  • Great Spot for Bay Area Commuters
  • Good schools
  • Leafy and clean
  • Great medical facilities
Cons
  • No Nightlife
  • Kind of Snooty
  • Astronomically expensive
  • Near some dangerous neighborhoods
  • Surrounded by traffic on all sides
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
2yrs+

"Large, fancy homes abound"

Part of San Mateo County, Atherton is one of the most affluent and scenic cities on the San Francisco peninsula. The town is rather small in size and currently accommodating about 8,000 residents. Upon first visiting, you’ll realize quickly how thickly-wooded, remote and expensive this area truly is. In fact, Forbes Magazine named Atherton the 2nd Most Expensive Zip Codes in America. With that kind of recognition, it’s no wonder that every perspective home buyer with deep pockets is chomping at the bit to land a home here.

Atherton’s residential quarters, which span about 5 square miles, are saturated with firmly upper middle-class neighborhoods. Aesthetically speaking, the area is a very quiet and family-friendly environment, with beautiful, wide open spaces. Every house looks almost brand new, or recently remodeled. If you travel up the curving streets and into the woodsy areas, you can peak in on some enormous properties and secluded estates (most of which have electronic gates that open up to private driveways). Demographically speaking, the average resident is white and rather old, circling around 45 years of age (mostly due to the city’s expensive accommodations). According to the 2010 US Census, median household incomes are tabbed at $190,000/year, while those homes sell around a pricey $4 million. And if you’re looking to rent out an apartment, you’ll likely pay upwards of $2,000/month.

The city’s public school system is one of the best around. Within the city’s quarters are four elementary schools, which include Selby Lane (both an elementary and a middle school). For older students, you’ll most likely attend Menlo-Atherton High School, which shares high accolades among websites like greatschools.org (4-out-of-5 star average). If you want to know the prestige of Atherton, its most notable residents include young movie star Shirley Temple Black, Hall of Fame baseball player Willie Mays and former San Francisco 49er and future hall-of-famer Jerry Rice.
Pros
  • Good schools
  • Leafy and clean
Cons
  • Astronomically expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
2yrs+

"Gated Town"

Driving through, Atherton feels like a giant gated community - it is no surprise, after passing through, that this town is the #2 wealthiest zip code in the country. There doesn't seem to be much there, other than mansions that you can't see, but I would think twice before purchasing a home here (if I had an extra couple million dollars lying around for a down payment). The biggest red flag with this town is its proximity to some other nearby impoverished areas. It is adjacent to North Fair Oaks, one of the worse parts of Menlo Park, and the Bay Area in general, and Belle Haven, which is essentially an extension of East Palo Alto, is not far either.

The town is also surrounded by traffic-laden areas, making it difficult to leave and go anywhere else. But I suppose if I had a mansion with an Olympic-sized swimming pool, I wouldn't want to leave, either.
Pros
  • Good schools
  • Great medical facilities
  • Leafy and clean
Cons
  • Near some dangerous neighborhoods
  • Astronomically expensive
  • Surrounded by traffic on all sides
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Trendy & Stylish

Unranked Neighborhoods in Atherton

Lindenwood

3.5/5
"Thriving Atherton community"
37.4697775161712 -122.17719053917
"A Beautiful Little Neighborhood"
37.4641524273515 -122.2013389794
"For the rich and extravagant"
37.4531207131497 -122.208441849194
"For the 1.5%"
37.433650827548 -122.224365896346

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