7.1 out of 10

Menlo Park

Ranked 46th best city in California
37.4542053932836 -122.172303237418
Great for
  • Clean & Green
  • Schools
  • Neighborly Spirit
  • Safe & Sound
  • Peace & Quiet
Not great for
  • Cost of Living
  • Childcare
  • Pest Free
  • Nightlife
  • Public Transport
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students
  • Singles

Reviews

4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
2yrs+

"Beautiful residential quarters and startup business hub"

One of the most vibrant and affluent cities along the San Francisco peninsula, Menlo Park is your best bet. It’s one of those communities that oozes upper middle-class aesthetics and beautiful bayside views. Locals know it for its great family-friendly environment, safe quarters and big charming homes. Travel into the city’s small commercial hub, and you’ll be met with buzzing foot traffic, window shoppers and newly constructed financial buildings. The city’s neighbors share many of the same qualities. While bounded by San Francisco Bay to the north, Palo Alto and Stanford to the east and south and Redwood City to the west, it is part of the admired San Mateo County.

Menlo Park’s residential quarters are a varied assortment of affluent homes. For the most part, the location is almost unbeatable, with awe-inspiring bayside views and its proximity to both San Francisco and San Jose. It spans 17 square miles of land, about half of which is water. Demographically speaking, the city is rather a white homogenous population, with the rest mixed between hispanic, asian and African American residents. For perspective home buyers, the bulk of the housing prices range anywhere from $500,000 to over $2 million. While median income is well above $100,000 per household ($108,000/year according tot eh 2010 US Census). If you’re looking to rent in the area, expect prices to soar as high as 1,700/month.

The moment you drive through the community, you’ll instantly fall in love with it. Most homes have this new, crisp look about them while front yards have a bit of a shine to them as well. While driving along the streets, you’ll notice the pleasant, tree-lined sidewalks and quiet community aesthetic. Some neighborhoods, like Lindenwood and the Willows, are very secluded. But for the most part, they give way to beautiful properties and plenty of open space. Around here, you can even find a couple mansions, or maybe just homes big enough to look like mansions. But don’t go too far. If you cross US Route 101 you’ll enter dangerous quarters in East Palo Alto. In fact, many locals consider this gangland.

The city’s economy centers mostly around San Hill Road and Santa Cruz Avenue, which consists of various financial services, law firms, investment firms and venture capital companies. The city’s most viable business is Oracle, which employs over 3,000 residents as of 2010. Moreover, the social media giant Facebook just moved into the community. If you head to Menlo Center situated on El Camino Real, the spot provides various recreational facilities. However, one of the city’s small downsides (and maybe only downsides) is its congested traffic. This is partly due to its proximity to Stanford University and the ample amount of commuters passing through Interstate 280 and US Route 101.
Pros
  • Great downtown
  • Good Schools
  • Great Commuting Location
Cons
  • Traffic
  • Very expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
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 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 5/5
2yrs+

"A Nice Spot for Palo Alto Wannabees"

Menlo Park is the nearest affordable option for those on a middle class income that work or study in Palo Alto. It is a fairly big area where there is a lot of diversity between neighborhoods. On the far eastern half where it borders East Palo Alto, it has a bit of the problems associated with that area.
Home prices vary throughout Menlo Park with some neighborhoods being almost as expensive as Palo Alto while others fall about as far as you ever see them on the Peninsula. You can find 3 bedroom homes here for around $2400 and studios for under $1000 which is about half the going rate for the same in Palo Alto. So it is much more reasonable in Menlo Park than just a few miles south.

Crime, though a bit higher than in Palo Alto, is still below the national average and violent crime, if not rare, is mild. (Menlo only gets 1 or 2 murders a year as compared to three times that much in neighboring East Palo Alto.)

The schools, from what I hear, in most of the city are solid (with a few exceptions in the poorer eastern end.) The proximity to Palo Alto also means that you get some private schools that you can use as an alternative.

And this is not just a bedroom community where people live but get out when they want to go to a good restaurant or have some kind of entertainment. Menlo Park is also home to Mitsunobu (a Japanese place) and to Iberia a pretty good tapas bar—among other kinds of restaurants.

Actually that whole area right by the Menlo Park Cal Trains station (the best way of commuting on the Peninsula and up to SF) is a great little spot to grab a bite to eat. It is among other things, the home of Kepler’s Books (made famous because it was the hang out of the Wizards before they became the Grateful Dead—I think Jerry Garcia’s first wife worked there).

So it really is a pretty good spot for those of moderate income or for couples where one person works in SF while the other works in the South Bay or Santa Cruz. I certainly like living here.
Pros
  • Good Schools
  • Great Commuting Location
  • Relatively Affordable
  • Great downtown
  • Great medical facilities
Cons
  • Traffic
  • Some run-down neighborhoods
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
2yrs+

"Both sides of the tracks"

Few towns can boast to be among the wealthiest in Silicon Valley and still offer a huge amount of diversity, but then again, few towns are Menlo Park. Historically, Menlo Park’s Sand Hill Road was once the wealthiest street in the country, and home to many of the major companies during the dot-com boom. Menlo Park’s affluence still stands in many neighborhoods, between the bustling downtown area and the mansions in the foothills.

However, there is another side to Menlo Park – the developing, working-class areas of North Fair Oaks and Belle Haven, which are home to first and second-generation immigrants from Mexico and the Pacific Islands. Given the close proximity of everything here, the populations mix in town and in schools, but stay segregated when they go home at the end of the day. Belle Haven schools historically perform much more poorly than other schools in the area. There is also a history of gang activity, though nowhere near what one would find in the neighboring East Palo Alto.

There is no shortage of activity or amenities here – in addition to your basic shopping, convenience store and grocery needs, Menlo Park is home to a vibrant, bustling downtown area with some great shops and restaurants. Though smaller in both size and breadth than neighboring downtown Palo Alto, downtown Menlo Park is clean, well-maintained and a great place to walk around. Nearby El Camino Real serves most other shopping needs, although traffic never seems to lighten up here.

Bottom line: the rich are still rich, and the poor are still poor, but they seem to coexist rather well.
Pros
  • Diverse
  • Great downtown
  • Great medical facilities
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Segregated
  • Some run-down neighborhoods
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students

Best Neighborhoods in Menlo Park

"The affluent suburban neighborhood of Stanford University"
37.4377230305453 -122.190304886313
2

Sharon Heights

3.5/5
"One of Menlo Park's Most Exclusive Enclaves"
37.4262499389495 -122.209549481065
"A Good Bar or Two Away from Greatness"
37.4495047634079 -122.184809615446
"Meh...."
37.4745018880246 -122.17029670785
5

Belle Haven

3.5/5
"Now is the time to move to Belle Haven, Menlo Park !!!"
37.4751994610625 -122.159016037277

Unranked Neighborhoods in Menlo Park

"Walk to Everything You Need"
37.4451437767985 -122.177357031754
"Storybook Homes"
37.4624101776361 -122.188699424973
"Affluent community well-connected to Stanford"
37.4522779437747 -122.167966229663

Menlo Oaks

3.5/5
"Money, money, money"
37.4667553887673 -122.167596661373
"Shrubs, Pines and Trains"
37.4585841133773 -122.190512781506

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