8.9 out of 10

Saratoga

Ranked 4th best city in California
37.2673530365392 -122.020539139708
Great for
  • Resale or Rental Value
  • Schools
  • Safe & Sound
  • Clean & Green
  • Parks & Recreation
Not great for
  • Cost of Living
  • Public Transport
  •  
  •  
  •  
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish

Reviews

5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
2yrs+

"Forbes ranked it one of Americas most educated towns"

Saratoga is a wealthy, safe and family-friendly community located in the greater Santa Clara County. It has a bit of a suburban, small town feel with a population that just recently reached 30,000. Most of Saratoga’s racial makeup is made up of a 55% white and a 38% asian population. The two biggest and maybe most esteemed accomplishments is its number four ranking in CNN/Money’s top-earning towns of 2008 and top-20 ranking in America’s most educated towns, according to Forbes magazine. The city garners such a prized reputation because it sits on the western edge of Silicon Valley, home to the largest technology corporations.

The area boasts almost a dozen neighborhoods within the city. Aesthetically speaking, the town is saturated with polished suburban properties, including nicely trimmed lawns, leafy sidewalks and quaint, orderly streets. In some neighborhoods, you’ll feel almost as if you were in a gated community. If you head into city’s westerly foothills, you’ll venture up steep and narrow streets, where you’ll find large two to three story homes with enormous properties. Sometimes you’ll even see a small vineyard behind wealthy properties. Its most affluent neighborhood is that of Parker Ranch, which has a lot space minimum of one acre. Cost of the average home is relatively high. In fact, median house prices are estimated at around $910,000 (some houses seep into the $3 million range).. For the average household, they take home an estimated $140,000/year, a lofty annual income.

The town has plenty of attractions for residents, including Villa Montalvo, Hakone Gardens and the Mountain Winery (a popular spot for weddings, wine tastings and mass-appeal concerts). Saratoga’s small-town commercial area is filled to the brim with fine dining restaurants, popular neighborhood boutiques and eclectic shops. It seems more than not that the city prides itself on its locally owned shops rather than big name chain-restaurants.

For young families, you’ll be interested to know that the city has an excellent school system. It’s primary school district, Saratoga Union School District overlooks three elementary schools an one middle school. Older students have the option of attending Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District, Fremont Union High School District and Campbell Union High School District, all of which have superb accreditations. For commuters, most travel by car because of the city’s limited bus and/or rail system.
Pros
  • Easy to get to other major locations
  • Great state parks
  • Quaint downtown scene
  • Beautiful Homes
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Poor Public Transportation
  • Very expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
2yrs+

"Salmon, Koy and the Big Fish of Silicon Valley"

At first, Saratoga would seem to be the kind of hodgepodge city where there are so many different styles to the homes that it doesn’t have any consistency. Saratoga has, for example, neighborhoods where you will find a red brick house with dormer windows across the street from a one story stucco house with red tile roof in the Mission style--while the very next home will be a one of those places with a white picket fence and perfectly manicured front yard.

Yet, every home here seems to be the perfectly idealized representative of its type. It is as if Plato thought up this neighborhood to be a model of the essential version of some three dozen home types. If you are a lover of residential neighborhoods this is the kind of place you could spend your time just walking around admiring the little details.

This is definitely one of those enclaves designed specifically for the super-rich. The average household in this city makes well into the six figures. And, as always, the real money is up in the hills where you see the sprawling McMansions. These though are not like those hastily constructed places you see along the hills up in Contra Costa County or down in Morgan Hill, these actually seem perfectly suited to their locale with a somewhat ranchy feel at times—a compliment to the western setting.

Of course, prices are about as you would expect. The median home price in Saratoga is $1.65 million at this point, with about ten percent of homes rising to above $5 million (mostly large homes with sprawling properties up in the hills).

The hills are also home to Hakone Gardens, a Japanese style garden estate that can be rented for weddings, meetings or events. If you were a fan of Shogun, then this place will really transport you.

This is the kind of neighborhood where you see people walking around at dusk or during the day just for the enjoyment of the walk. Although there have been 3 murders here in the last ten years, the crime rate is about as low as you ever see it get otherwise. You are about as safe here as you are anywhere. The shady streets also make this the perfectly walkable suburban neighborhood.

The schools are also outstanding—as you would expect in a super-affluent neighborhood like this.

Saratoga also has a nice little downtown area with shops and restaurants, the vanguard of which is Sent Sovi, a pretty amazing French place. Though my favorite restaurant in downtown Saratoga is La Mere Michele (their smoked salmon is a thing of beauty).

Put simply, if you happen to be really well-off, you should definitely check in to getting a place here.
Pros
  • Beautiful Homes
  • Great Schools
  • Hakane Gardens
  • Easy to get to other major locations
  • Great state parks
  • Quaint downtown scene
Cons
  • Poor Public Transportation
  • Poor Public Transportation
  • Can be construed as snobby
  • Very expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Schools 5/5
2yrs+

"Posh country town"

Saratoga is one of the nicest, most desirable places to live in the Bay Area. Close enough to San Jose to get a city feel, but far enough from the main drag do feel like its own town, Saratoga really sits at the crossroads of the best of MANY worlds. Its western foothill location gives it some of the sunniest, warmest weather in the Bay Area, and Castle Rock State Park, on the summit of Skyline, offers an array of rock climbing and hiking, with scenery that would please any outdoor enthusiast.

But it's not just the surroundings that make it great; the town itself has its own charm and character. The streets are green, leafy, and well-manicured, rivaled only by nearby Palo Alto. The downtown drag is one main stretch of road, and while it is not massive, it comprises dive bars and wine bars alike. Speaking of wine, this town is like its own mini-Sonoma, with great wineries. Mountain Winery offers one of the nicest settings and views in the Bay Area and could easily rival those in Napa.

Homes can be small or large, condo or detached, close to downtown or nestled in the mountains. One thing that they are not, however, is cheap - which should come as no surprise, given how idyllic Saratoga is in practically every way. For those who can afford it and who value quality of life over quantity of real estate, it is worth every penny.
Pros
  • Great state parks
  • Quaint downtown scene
  • Easy to get to other major locations
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Can be construed as snobby
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish

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