DirtyHarry

  • Local Expert 6,300 points
  • Reviews 118
  • Questions 0
  • Answers 10
  • Discussions 0

Reviews

4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jun 13, 2012

"Great for Commuters"

Skirting the Bayshore Freeway, Burlingame Gardens has a fair number of apartments and older homes. My favorite street here is leafy Winchester, where there is a stretch of cottage style bungalows. It is a really beautiful stretch of stately looking houses with high pitched roofs and often church castle style windows.

The median home price in Burlingame Gardens is around $875K—relatively affordable for Burlingame. The usual caveats for Burlingame apply: these are usually very old homes (pre-1950) of smaller sizes than most of us have become accustomed to, and the schools are great.

There are a lot of renters in the neighborhood as well. A one-bedroom goes for about $1800 on the really nice apartment complexes you will find on the northern end of the neighborhood.

The spot is also a great place for commuters, with the Broadway CalTrain station on its northwestern point.

Overall a pretty good neighborhood to spend a few years in but I don’t know if I would want to stay here forever.
Pros
  • Great For Commuters
  • Good Schools
  • Close to Things
Cons
  • Expensive
  • A Touch of Crime
  • Old Home Problems
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jun 13, 2012

"Old Neighborhood, Young Renters"

With the Broadway CalTrain on the southeastern edge, Burlingame Gate is yet another Burlingame neighborhood with expensive older homes with great schools.

The median home price here is around $875K, which is relatively low for Burlingame. Prices range from from $700K to $1.4 million. Homes are smaller and older, with homes typically having between 1500 and 2000 ft of floor space and having been built before WWII.

There is also a sizable contingent of renters in this neighborhood, as you can tell from the number of boxy apartment complexes here. The average going rate for a one bedroom is around $1500 (you’ll find a number for $1450 though not much below that). Most of these apartments tend to be concentrated on El Camino and Broadway, the two bordering arteries of Burlingame Gate.

Because of the CalTrain station and all of the stores and activity on Broadway, Burlingame Gate does have slightly higher crime rates than other Burlingame neighborhoods. Mostly you will find thefts here—about one or two per week. In the last six months there have been a couple of assaults—but really nothing to worry much about.

The afore-mentioned stores along Broadway make this a good area for singles and young couples, as well. Not only are there two dozen plus restaurants, but you will also find art galleries, a good Irish pub (Behan’s) and even a dance studio for those preparing for weddings or who just want to learn how to get their groove on.

Overall, a pretty good neighborhood for renters, I think, though buying a house here might not quite be worth it for the value, imo.
Pros
  • Relatively Affordable Apartments
  • Great for Commuters
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • High Home Prices
  • Old Home Problems
  • A Touch of Crime
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Jun 12, 2012

"Hillsborough Hills Lite"

Nestled right up against Hillsborough Hills, Burlingame Hills is like the less popular twin to its ritzy neighbor. Which is not to say that it isn’t nice in itself—only compared to Hillsborough would this neighborhood come up wanting.

It is, however, a pretty nice spot, nestled way up in the hills in a leafy area that makes you feel as if you are miles from anywhere. The homes here have a sort of 1960’s feel to them. As with other parts of Hillsborough, Hillsborough Hills is definitely million dollar home territory. In fact, homes here tend to climb closer to $1.5 million territory. This neighborhood is so stable, however, that few houses come on the market even in the volatile market we are currently experiencing.

Homes here tend to be on the larger side, 2000 ft and above, and to have more bedrooms, 4+. It is a fairly typical hillside neighborhood in that sense.

Of course, hillside living does come with its drawbacks such as nighttime visits from forest critters with penchant for destructive behavior such as shredding curbside garbage bags. Also, this is definitely car culture. You will have to drive to everything.

It is a nice spot for families and childrearing, except that the sidewalks are not really walkable or bike-able.
Pros
  • Nice Homes
  • Secluded
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • Hillside Problems
  • Far From Everything
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jun 11, 2012

"Par for the Burlingame Course"

Burlingame Park is a slice of a neighborhood at whose center is Pershing Park. On the interior streets there are a lot of bungalows and older homes. Some of them are quite attractive and well-kept and some are a touch less so and show signs of age. Some of my favorite homes here are in the Spanish Revival style—the stucco and red-tiled roofs can be really attractive when well-kept.

As with other parts of Burlingame, the homes here way overpriced simply because they are in Burlingame. The median home here goes for about $1.25 million (although you can find some deals on foreclosures that sell for less than a million a make for great investment opportunities since they virtually automatically double or triple in value).

There are a number of boxy apartment buildings along El Camino—which, as you probably know, is the main avenue that cutting north south all the way down the Peninsula. It turns into a real mess during rush hour, pretty much becoming packed with commuters going to and from work.

There are a fair number of mediocre stores around here—supermarkets and drugstores and the like. Overall, however, this is pretty much your average Burlingame neighborhood, old overpriced homes with great schools and virtually no crime.

You might call it par for the course.
Pros
  • Good Schools
  • Quiet Streets
  • Nice Homes
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • Old Home Problems
  • Traffic During Rush Hour
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Jun 11, 2012

"Something For Everyone But Priced for the 1 Percent"

Burlingame Terrace is yet another Burlingame neighborhood packed with homes from pre-WWII. Some of them date back to the WWI, actually.

These are not the large stately homes that you encounter in Easton Addition. These are smaller homes—a lot more in the Bungalow vein than in the Tudor manor vein. There are exceptions to this general rule. In the narrow lane of Willborough Road at Willborough Place, there are some really attractive cottage style homes with thatched roofs and French style windows with decorative wood shutters. They don’t have much by way of yards and the lane separating them from their across the street neighbors is barely wide enough for one car—but this does give the location a certain cozy feel.

Now, if this neighborhood were in Berkeley or Oakland across the Bay you could probably slice property prices in half, but because this is Burlingame, the median home price here is $1 million. This definitely seems excessive, even by Peninsula standards, but that is what it is.

Of course, there are huge differences between the East Bay and the Peninsula. One big difference is the schools. McKinley Elementary, Crocker Middle School and Burlingame High have API’s in the 7 to 10 range. This is an outstanding educational system that ranks amongst the best in the country.

The other difference, of course, is crime. In the last six months this neighborhood has only experienced about a dozen thefts and 3 assaults (mostly along Broadway where the restaurants and the CalTrain station are located). That is closer to what certain places in the East Bay experience in one week.

That said, this is not just a residential neighborhood. Along the five blocks that make up Broadway you will find a number of restaurants and stores.

There are about 3 Mediterranean places (the best of which is probably Mivan in my opinion); there are also 3 places you can get a good “American” meal (Broadway Grill being the best—it double as a nightspot where you can take in some live jazz on certain nights); a pair of Italian places (Café Figaro and Rocca); and about a dozen East Asian places (the best and most expensive being Coucou Japanese Cuisine).

Many of those restaurants make for good date spots, but if you just want to hang out with friends and have a beer, Behan’s Irish Pub should certainly be your destination.

You can also find your usual assortment of peripheral stores here from a clothing boutique, to a hair stylist (Supercuts) and a nail salon to a coin store and liquor store. It’s one of those very walkable old fashion lanes that is pleasant to visit, on one’s day off.

Overall, this is pretty nice area that has something for everyone—from commuting professionals to singles who like to have a neighborhood bar to frequent to families looking for great schools.

Unfortunately the prices will make sure only the very well-off can manage to settle here permanently.
Pros
  • Great School
  • Good Restaurants
  • Great For Commuters
Cons
  • Very Expensive Home Prices
  • Old Home Problems
  • A Touch of Crime
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jun 11, 2012

"Small Millbrae Adjacent Neighborhood"

Burlingame Village, at the edge of Millbrae, is a small slice of a neighborhood made up mostly of smaller older homes. It is a flat neighborhood with streets that are slightly narrower than most you would see in neighborhoods these days.

On the northern end of the neighborhood along the final 2 blocks you get a combination of apartment buildings and office buildings. The office building include a mix of medical and governmental institutions such as the Peninsula Chiropractic Center, San Mateo Rape Trauma Services, Burlingame Police Department and Quest Diagnostics.

A one bedroom apartment around this area will run you about $1700 from what I’ve seen offered.

The Millbrae CalTrain is just three long blocks up so residents can, in theory walk, or even more easily bike and then commute to work in the city.

Most of the residential homes are on the southern end of the neighborhood, where the median prices seems to be about $875K. As throughout Burlingame, the higher prices are largely due to location. Burlingame’s great schools, low crime, and ease of access to both San Francisco and Silicon Valley make it a favorite for commuting power couples.

Overall a pretty nice spot.
Pros
  • Good Schools
  • Close To Public Transportation
  • Nicely Kept Homes
Cons
  • Ugly in Spots (Especially Commercial Areas)
  • Overpriced
  • Small Older Homes
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jun 11, 2012

"Burlingame's Best Old Neighborhood"

With its big old homes, Easton is definitely one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Burlingame. The median home price here is around $1.2 million. More than half the homes here date to the Roaring Twenties, each with its own unique architecture. You can sense the wealth as you drive through the streets here.

There are classic manors, with their square build and the overhanging flat roofs with attractive trim. Many of the homes here have Tudor accents such as half timbering. Others are more of the Mediterranean style with red tiled roofs and stucco walls.
The homes here also range in sizes with some small bungalow style homes offering barely more than 1000 feet, while some of the larger manors range up to 4000 feet. (These are also the more expensive homes.)

The front lawns often are decorated with interesting topiary—often incorporating English style hedges or rose bushes.

You will also find some 60’s style boxy apartment buildings along El Camino—the kind of apartment buildings that have the name to the building written sideways in fancy script.

Easton Drive, the main artery, is perhaps one of the most compelling of the lanes as well, having towering trees lining the narrow lane—there large bases taking up huge portions of the sidewalks.

As you might expect, this is also a very safe neighborhood (nothing to report accept petty thefts in the last six months) and the schools are fantastic, as throughout Burlingame.

The other nice thing about this neighborhood is that with Broadway just beyond El Camino sporting a half dozen restaurants and a pleasant walk, you are right by the action. You can get a beer Behan’s and a bite at the Broadway Grill.

Also, with the Broadway CalTrain just a few blocks down Broadway, you could actually avoid using a car from most homes in Easton.

Overall, I would say that this is probably the best residential neighborhood in all of Burlingame. Though, of course, you will definitely pay for the privilege of living here.
Pros
  • Beautiful Older Homes
  • Gret Schools
  • Close to Caltrain and Restuarants
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • Old Home Problems
  • Upkeep
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Jun 11, 2012

"Hotelville"

Stretching out just to the south of SFO, the Ingold/Milldale “neighborhood”—I have to put quotation marks around it since I don’t think anyone actually lives here—is known for being home to a ton of hotels. Doubletree, Red Roof Inn, Embassy Suites, Hilton, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and the Vagabond Inn all look to take advantage of SFO’s proximity.

You can roughly divide the Ingold/Milldale neighborhood into 2 sections. There is the long watery stretch which has very little other than airport parking and hotels, except for a Kincaid’s, a classic steak joint right by the side of the bay. It’s the pricey sort of place that people of a certain generation used to go to celebrate anniversaries.

The other section is farther to the north and surrounds the Bayshore Freeway. It too has a more significant proportion of hotels. Here, too, there are a number of restaurants here too. Many of them are popular chain restaurants that travelers are likely to recognize, such as Benihana, El Torito, Max’s Opera Café (if you go for the singing waiter thing) and the Elephant Bar.

Others are more unique to this area: Fandorin is a Russian influenced continental restaurant that sits right at the edge of the bay, giving you an excellent view of the airplanes and landing and taking off. Gulliver’s is another restaurant that I think is unique to Burlingame—it is basically a steakhouse similar to Kincaid’s.

For those of a more active mindset, there is also Caribbean Gardens, a salsa place where you can get lessons or just go to get your Latin groove on. And if you prefer sports, there is the Badminton Center—which deals in all things badminton.

There are a number of commercial businesses here, too. For example: Simply Perfect, a catering place; ABC Supply, a roofing and window’s supplier; and Vector Labs, a medical supplier that specializes in detection and labeling products.

Now, like a lot of places like this it is not that attractive—lots of squat commercial offices south and west of the freeway, and hotels dominating the skyline on the eastern side.

Overall, however, it is not a bad place to go if you want to grab a bite to eat.
Pros
  • Good Choice of Hotels
  • Close to SFO
  • Good Restuarants and Nightlife
Cons
  • Some Crime
  • No Residential Area
  • Kind of Ugly
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Jun 10, 2012

"Older Middle Class Neighborhood"

Lyon Hoag is definitely one of the oldest parts of Burlingame. About half of the homes here date back to first quarter of the 20th Century. So these are smaller homes (lots of bungalows and similar style homes), which in your average East Bay neighborhood would not go for more than $500K. But since we are in the Penninsula, prices start at around $700K, with the median price hovering around $850K.

Lyon Hoag is more of a middle class neighborhood, and as such, you do find a bit of an uptick in crime. It is not a huge problem, but still one worth noting. In the last six months, there have been a handful of assaults and more than dozen thefts.

One very nice thing about his neighborhood is its location. The proximity to the downtown means that just about everything that you need to live in this neighborhood is right at hand. You can do everything from go out for a meal to take the Caltrain up to work.

Overall, however, this is one of the more affordable neighborhoods in Burlingame, at just the right price point for smaller families trying to make in the Peninsula, I think.
Pros
  • Relatively Affordable
  • Good For Commuters
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Older Home Problems
  • A Touch of Crime
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • 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 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jun 10, 2012

"Nice Homes, Great Views"

The main artery at the center of Mills Estates is Trousdale Drive. It is a long, relatively straight lane that climbs up the hills towards Highway 280. Mills Estates is mostly made up of homes from the late 50’s and early 60’s on wide, slightly curving streets. On the western end of the neighborhood, you get some pretty great views of the flatlands leading to the Bay. The homes are nice—very slick and stylish in a 60’s modish style. (You get some fairly stylish Eichlers mixed in up here that conjure America during the Kennedy Era neatly.) They are also larger than homes in a lot of neighborhoods in Burlingame, averaging about 2,250 street—which sounds average but is pretty good when compared to some of the smaller older houses in other neighborhoods.

The median home price is about $1.25 Million.

The area is super safe with only the occasional vehicle break-in or petty theft. Schools are also great—as you would expect for Burlingame.

You definitely need a car up here in order to make it to the freeway. Overall, I would highly recommend it for families and professionals, although it is definitely on the expensive side.
Pros
  • Great Views
  • Nice 60's Era Homes
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Expensive Home Prices
  • Cars a Must
  • A Bit Far From It All
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Jun 10, 2012

"Tiny Neighborhood, Small Houses, Big High School"

Oak Grove Manor/Burlingables is a small brick shaped neighborhood, squeezed between California Drive and the Bayshore Freeway.

Judging from the age of the homes, this neighborhood dates from around WWII when most of these homes were built. As with many homes dating to this period, the homes are a bit on the smallish side with the typical home being about 1200 feet.

Despite this somewhat small size, the homes here go for close to $1 million. Of course, it re-affirms that old chestnut about real estate being all about “location, location, location.”

One of the great benefits of most of Burlingame—and this neighborhood is no exception—are the amazing schools. Washington Elementary, Crocker Middle School and Burlingame High certainly don’t disappoint in this regard. And even if they did, there are a number of excellent private schools in the area as well.

The streets are clean and have that older feel to them, which can be nice—especially if you have kids.

Burlingame High School is a part of this neighborhood so if you have high school age kids they can walk right to school. Burlingame High is regularly ranked in the top 250 high U.S. high schools for academic excellence. And if you’re a Glee fan, you may also be excited to note that Diana Agron is also an alum.

The neighborhood borders Downtown Burlingame, as well, so you can basically walk over to where all the action is.

Overall, a nice neighborhood, though perhaps a bit too close to the Bayshore Freeway on the eastern end.
Pros
  • Great Schools
  • Good For Commuters
  • Close To Downtown
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Smaller, Older Homes
  • Perhaps a Bit Too Close to Downtown and High School
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Jun 09, 2012

"Overpriced Modest Homes"

Ray Park in Burlingame, California is home to Mills Peninsula Health Center on its northern end, Burlingame intermediate
school on its western end, and Lincoln Elementary on its southern in (by Ray Park proper).

This is a neighborhood that popped up in the post WWII period. The homes here all date back to the late 40’s or very early 50’s and they are quite modern by our modern days standards with none of them that I could find exceeding 2000 sq. ft.
Despite these modest offerings, however, these homes regularly sell for about $1 million.

Why the high prices?

As always, the key is location. Ray Park and Burlingame in general is a great spot for SF commuters looking to get just far enough away to escape the problems of the city. The neighborhood has virtually no crime (only a pair of assaults near the hospital in the past 6 months). You are only about a mile from two separate CalTrains stations, as well.

The schools are also excellent with both Lincoln and Franklin elementaries having the highest API’s possible while Burlingame Middle School and Mills High are also close to perfect. (And that is not to mention the outstanding choices in private schools as well.)

As far as entertainment and similar matters, you are also pretty close to some restaurants and not far from the downtown areas of both Burlingame and Millbrae. If you are in the mood for a sandwich you might try the Little Lucca Sandwich Shop or the American Bull Bar and Grill which is right by Little Lucca.

As to the medical center that lies on its northern end?

I don’t exactly how I should judge such a facility except to say that it looks like they are a full service hospital that includes most every service from surgery to and ER, but that what perhaps sets it apart is perhaps its inclusion of psychiatric services as part of its offerings.

Overall a pretty nice, though way overpriced upper middle class neighborhood.
Pros
  • Great Schools
  • Perfect For SF Commuters
  • Good Local Hospital
Cons
  • Overpriced Homes
  • A Bit Dull
  • Small, Modest Sized Homes
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Jun 03, 2012

"Good Restaurants and Stores"

Though not as large as San Mateo’s Downtown, Downtown Burlingame has quite a bit to offer its upper middleclass residents.

You will find a number of restaurants worth visiting here. Here are my favorites:

--Ecco: Great Classy American Joint. Try the Salmon with a good California Wine.
--Stella Alpina Osteria: Pricey Italian place, but well worth it.
--Straits: An Asian Fusion restaurant. Rendang Beef and the Butter Chicken.
And here are a few less pricey choices:

--Kabul Afghanistan: Great for a change of pace and exploring new things.
--Trapeze European Cuisine: Try the linguine and clams and a good wine.
--Coconut Bay Caribbean: Yeah, man!
--Barracuda Sushi: Good sushi with no frills.

So those are some of the restaurants. For nightspots, try these:

--Barrelhouse
--the Alibi
--Vinyl Room

Most of these have dancing. Vinyl Room is my favorite.

There are also the usual assortment of boutiques, etc.

For women there are the usual Therapy and Anthropologie; and there are also Francesca’s, Les Deux Compines, and Picasso’s Closet. And all the usual chain stores and similar places.

Put simply, you don’t have to leave Burlingame to fulfill your consumerist urges.

This is also, by the way, an amazingly safe downtown with very little crime of any kind.
Pros
  • Good Restaurants
  • Good Public Transportation
  • Safe
Cons
  • Smallish
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
May 25, 2012

"Typical Portola Valley: Rich and Remote"

Brookside Park is yet another of these woody Portola Valley neighborhoods where homes pop up in the middle of winding woody lanes.

Homes here run between about $1 million and $2.5 million for the most part. These are not huge homes and they would certainly cost a lot less if they were not in Portola Valley. You will find a mix of homes here dating from the 50’s to the 90’s, with older homes tending to be smaller (around 2250 ft.) and newer homes tending to be bigger (~3500 ft.) and prices following a similar pattern.

The area feels very secluded and remote, though you are within a half hour’s drive (maybe less?) of Palo Alto, so although Portola Valley does not have much of anything to offer in terms of entertainment or nightlife, you are close enough to Palo Alto, San Jose and San Francisco where you can go and come back even on a busy weekend.

The schools are good. The neighbors are wealthy, or at least fairly well off. Over all, fairly typical Portola Valley.
Pros
  • Nice Homes
  • Great Schools
  • Secluded
Cons
  • Overpriced Homes
  • A Bit Out of the Way
  • Wild Life Problems
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 2/5
May 24, 2012

"Nice Country Spot"

If you like feeling as if you are out at the edge of the city in a semirural area, you will probably like Central Portola Valley.

Many of the street names here are themed around Native American tribe names: Iroquois Trail, Cherokee Way, Cheyenne
Point, and Shawnee Pass to just name a few. Homes here are on the larger side and range from around $1 million to $5 million. Most of the homes for $2 million and less are for sale in the more densely packed on the southern end of the neighborhood while the homes that go for $4 and $5 million are in the rest of the neighborhood where homes are more spread apart.

Most of the homes in this area are contemporary style homes and are very luxurious inside.

Overall this is a good spot but a bit on the remote side.
Pros
  • Quiet and Secluded
  • Nice Homes
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • Out of the Way
  • Kind of Boring
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
May 24, 2012

"Good Suburban Spot"

The Ladera neighborhood is yet another leafy Portola Valley neighborhood. This is basically just a hillside so the farther west you go, the higher the elevation and the better the views.

Of course, as you get farther up into the hills prices go up along with the elevation. Near the top where the views are the best, home prices average $2 million. These are largely remodeled 1960’s era homes which though not terribly attractive from the outside tend to have magnificent interiors.

On the far eastern end of the neighborhood is Alpine Road (and then Highway 280). Alpine Road is where you will find the Ladera Shopping Center, which is basically just a sort of strip mall anchored by Bianchini’s Market, the local supermarket.
There are a couple of rather mediocre restaurants here—Mike’s Café and the The Ladera Lobster Shack—but this is mostly just the same old same old in terms of supermarket strip malls. You can get the basics, and maybe grab a bite if you don’t feel like heading into Stanford, but that is about it.

(The best place to get a bite is the Amigos Grill, imo.)

The schools here are pretty great and the proximity to Palo Alto makes it a prime location for Silicon Valley types. If you can afford it, it is a great location. For most people though it is simply beyond their means.
Pros
  • Nice Homes
  • Great Schools
  • Close to Silicon Valley
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • No Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 1/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 1/5
May 20, 2012

"Nestled In the Woods"

Los Trancos Woods and Vista Verde are the farthest south that you can go in Portola Valley. Much of this area is actual forest (open preserve) and is filled with trails. If you love being outdoors, this is a great place for it. You can go hiking virtually any time that you are home and the wild life is all around. At night time you are no doubt to see the deer and hear other animals as they rummage about. (Be sure to keep your garbage cans well sealed.)

But there are also a number of homes nestled into the trees along these seemingly remote country roads. I do not have enough of a sampling of how much these homes cost, but I sense they are comparatively modest in terms of Portola Valley and the Peninsula. One that is on sale here is currently going for $1.2 million. That is for a home that has 3 bedroom and only has 1700 ft.

There is not much else here, of course. So if you are into living close to anything, this is not the place where you want to set down your stakes.
Pros
  • Country Quiet
  • Nice Homes
  • Safe
Cons
  • Remote
  • Expensive
  • Kind of Dull
Recommended for
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 1/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 1/5
May 20, 2012

"Pinot Noir and Turnabout Cul-de-Sacs"

Portola Valley Ranch is one of the neighborhoods on the far south western reaches of Portola Valley, which basically means that in a city which is already about as remote as it gets, this is one of the remotest areas of it. Put simply, if you want to live here, it is because you really, really want to get away from it all when you go home at night from work.

The homes in the Portola Valley Ranch neighborhood are not, for the most part, the large homes on extensive properties that characterize some of the other Portola Valley neighborhoods. These are more average sized homes. What makes the neighborhood distinct, however, are the turnabout cul-de-sacs; there are a bunch of them and they give a certain consistency to the neighborhood.

In fact, Portola Valley Ranch is a planned community run by a home-owners association that helps in the upkeep. They have a number of facilities that they share as part of living in this community, including a big event facility, swimming pools, tennis courts and even a working vineyard which produces a very competent Pinot Noir (one of my favorites).

There are also some great trails that wind around the valley.

Homes here run about $3 million for a 5600 ft. home with 6 bedrooms. Anywhere else that might be a bit on the high side, but given the astronomical prices you come across in other sections of Portola Valley, this sounds like par for the course.

Corte Madera School is also here. It handles grades 4 to 8 (which is a little weird since most middle schools only do grades 6 to 8 in California) and it is very highly rated with an API of 10 (the highest possible) and standardized test scores that routinely place their students near or over the 90% percentile. (Very amazing!)

So, if like living in community that is more than a little bit off the beaten track, you will probably love it here in the Portola Valley Ranch neighborhood.
Pros
  • Nice Homes
  • Great School
  • Secluded
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • Far From Basic Needs
  • Upkeep Issues
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
May 20, 2012

"Elbow Room for the Rich"

The Westridge neighborhood is a long arcing stretch of a neighborhood that stretches from Portola Road all the way to Alpine Road (nearly to Highway 280), all along the northern side of Westridge Drive. There are homes spread throughout the neighborhood, but virtually every lot has quite a bit of land so that no homes are right against each other. It is the sort of place where your neighbors will probably not know your business.

There are a few outright mansions in this area. For example, right now there is an 8,000 ft. 4-bedroom on the western end of Westridge that is going for $25 million. It sits on an 11.5+ acre lot and has a pool, tennis court and what looks like a vineyard. (By the way, in case you are wondering, your estimated monthly payment on a $25 million house is $121,000 PER MONTH—now that’s what I call a mortgage payment.)

Of course, most homes here in Westridge are not $25 million mansions, but none is inexpensive. For example right now, the least expensive home for sale here is on the market at $1.8 million. That is no where near $25 million, but it is not exactly cheap. The home, which is located on the far eastern end of the neighborhood near the freeway, is basically an elongated Ranch home on a big lot.

In the middle, the median priced home is just below $5 million. For that price you can get a pretty good home here, with nice views, a pool and a relatively manageable 2 and a half acre property.

On the far eastern end of the Westridge neighborhood you find yourself right by the Ladera marketplace where you can do things like get groceries and pick up a pizza. None of this is fantastic in itself, but given the remoteness of things here, it is always good for you to know that you can get the basics of life without having to drive too far.

Alpine is also the road that you follow to get to Highway 280 to head to work. (I’m not sure there is really anything by way of public transportation here.)

The nearest schools are Ormandale Elementary, La Entrada Middle School and Woodside High—all of which are above average schools.

Put simply, if you are loaded and like your privacy—you will probably love the Westridge neighborhood.
Pros
  • Very Nice Homes
  • Quiet and Secluded
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • Remote
  • Super Expensive
  • Too Car Dependent
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
May 20, 2012

"Nice, Quiet Little Nook"

Woodside Highlands—not to be confused with either Woodside Hills or Woodside Heights which are actually in neighboring Woodside, is actually a tiny Portola Valley neighborhood. It is basically made up of a half dozen or so woody lanes nestled up in the hills in northwest Portola Valley.

Homes here are, of course, expensive. Portola Valley is the number 6 most expensive location in California (in terms of home prices, I believe). Currently there is only one home for sale here currently. It is a 3000 ft. 3 bedroom home with pretty nice view and a wooden deck. It is going for $2.5 million.

This is a very leafy area with narrow roads (some unpaved) winding up to very nice homes. You definitely do feel that you are away from it all. And this is about as un-walkable as it gets, narrow winding roads with no sidewalks basically force you to get into your car for just about everything—even if you just need to go into to town for the paper or cup of Jo.

You are actually not that far from Palo Alto and other centers; which is good because there isn’t much in Portola Valley itself.

Overall, a nice neighborhood, but I’m not sure it is worth the ridiculously high home prices.
Pros
  • Nice Homes
  • Quiet and Secluded
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • Over Priced
  • Unwalkable
  • Far from Everything
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 2/5
May 19, 2012

"A Mansion and Million Dollar Homes"

Woodside Hills, located just to the south of Canada College (the local two year college) and just to the north of Woodside High, is about what it sounds like, a hilly neighborhood with large, overpriced homes in a very affluent community.

The most expensive home currently on sale in this neighborhood is Le Soleil (the “sun”), which is an actual mansion (in a French Chateau style). It is currently listed for just shy of $13 million. It was built in 1929 and looks like the sort of place where they could have set scenes from The Great Gatsby. It has 7 bedrooms and 7 baths, a front driveway fountain, a pool, symmetrically shaped topiary gardens and a tennis court.

It will be going on sale on June 14 of this year, with bids starting at $8 million. (The home was originally listed at $21 million.)
So we will have to keep an eye on how that turns out.)

The vast majority of homes in this area however are not in the mansion category. The median home in this area runs $2.5 million, which is hardly chump change, but is nowhere in the same galaxy as Le Soleil. These other homes also get a special bump because of being in affluent Woodside. For one of these mid-level homes you get perhaps 4000 ft., pool and koi pond and 4 bedrooms. Pretty nice, I suppose and worth it if you work in Silicon Valley and would like to shorten your commute.
Pros
  • Attractive Homes
  • Very Leafy
  • Strong Schools
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • A Bit Out of the Way
  • Kind of Snooty
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 2/5
May 19, 2012

"Great Homes Though Expensive"

Unlike a lot of Woodside, most of the homes here come right up near the streets they are on so that you can get a good look at them. Many of the homes here have U-shaped driveways in front and tennis courts in the back.
Home styles vary, ranging from large, luxuriously kept Ranch Style homes to Mediterranean villas to imposing manors. On the far eastern end of the neighborhood you will find the Buck Estate. It is a basically an English style mansion of the kind where you could film Pride and Prejudice without too much strain of credibility.
It happens to currently be on sale for just shy of $11 million. Homes here tend not to rise to this level for the most part, however, with a fair number of homes for around $2.5 million. These prices tend to be for large 50’s style Ranch homes which, anywhere else, would probably not break $1 million. As they say in real estate, however, location is everything.
On the far eastern end by the Buck Estate, you also find Woodside High, Woodside’s main high school. Woodside is an above average school with an API of 7. This is good but not as good as many other nearby Peninsula high schools whose APIs are 9s and 10s.
I am not sure why Woodside should be slightly below its neighboring high schools. Parents seem fairly involved and administrators and teachers are praised for their involvement with and commitment to students. It may simply be one of those stats that is true for a year or two and then will disappear again. (And, of course, above average is not failure.)
Overall, this is one of the highly coveted neighborhoods in all of the Peninsula. I would certainly not have minded having the wherewithal to move here.
Pros
  • Strong schools
  • Beautiful houses
  • Very pretty and leafy
Cons
  • A Bit Dull
  • High prices
  • Could hit some traffic at peak hours
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
May 19, 2012

"Attractive and Well Located"

Leaning up against the western side of Highway 280, Woodside Glens is one of those neighborhoods where narrow roads creep off into dead ends. The main artery through this neighborhood is Canada Road, which is long and straight and has several surface streets that slide off it to the homes in Woodside Glens.

Homes here run from just over $1 million to $4.25 million, with the median being around $3 million. The desirability of this location is reflected in the meticulous upkeep of the homes here. You can find everything from a classic Mediterranean style home here to an East Coast style manner. Most homes here take full advantage of the location to high light cottage like elements of their architectural styles. That means lots of exposed timbering, wood porches, and stonework.

You are not quite as isolated here in Woodside Glens as you are in other parts of Woodside. With the freeway on one side and the “downtown” Woodside area on the other, Woodside Glens just generally feels more populated and more active than other locations in Woodside. The “downtown” area has a supermarket and few restaurants and all the basics that you need to live. So if you live here it is possible, in theory, to go weeks without leaving Woodside.

There isn’t much more to it than this however, and if given the affluence of Woodside residents, I doubt many of them go long without heading out for some entertainment.

It is a very nice spot, though prices definitely make it out of the reach of most of us.
Pros
  • Beautiful Homes
  • Close to Town and Highway
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • A Little Dull Side
  • Country-Side Concerns (pest, etc.)
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 1/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 1/5
May 19, 2012

"Alice Lives Here"

If you like that woodsy timber town feel like you are on the edge of some old western mining town, perhaps, you will love this neighborhood in Woodside. Though right here, it feels less like it should be called “woodside” than just “woods”.

Right at the junction of Highway 35 and La Honda Road (Highway 84), you have a little trading post sort of area where you will find some restaurants and other kinds of stores you would expect in a place like Big Bear. This is a popular area with outdoorsy types and bikers.

The main restaurant here is Alice’s—a burger and sandwich sort of place with simple fair and laid back attitude; more Santa Cruz than Woodside really. They sometimes have live music on Thursdays, featuring the kind of folksy performers no one has ever heard of. It’s the kind of place that is perfect as a pit stop on your way somewhere else, but not a destination in itself.

Across the street from Alice’s is Mountain Terrace, a favorite location for weddings and corporate events. (They also have dance lessons for those brides and grooms who unfortunately have a pair of left feet.)

Though hidden behind tree cover there are a number of hillside homes mostly dating from the 1960’s. These homes have a sort of ski resort sort of a feel to them—often with a bit of modish modernist sleekness (straight lines and lots of glass for greater clarity of sight). They have high ceilings and exposed timbering and kitchens that connect right onto the dining room and look out over decks, usually onto lush greenery. Redwoods abound providing large patches of shading grooves and magnificent light shows from the tree tops.

I haven’t been here enough to know for sure, but it also seems like an area that doesn’t get that much fog--being just far enough from the coast.

Of course, whenever you live in the middle of woods like this, forest fires, critters and hillside erosion (to a lesser extent given the dryness) are a concern. Also, you will definitely be spending a lot more time getting groceries and that kind of thing in this area.

In a nutshell, if you are an earthy crunchy sort of a guy or gal, and want to live right in nature, this is the sort of place that you will love. If you want big city action—this place will bore you to tears.
Pros
  • Very Woodsy
  • Nice Homes
  • Quiet and Peaceful
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • Far From Necessities
  • Fire and Critter Problems
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
May 19, 2012

"Middle Class Woodside"

If there is a relatively affordable area in Woodside it is around here. These are no longer the woodsy mansions that you get farther up into the hills—these are far more modest homes in comparison. The neighborhood mostly looks like many others in the Peninsula—perhaps just a touch more upscale than some of the others in the area, but certainly nothing in comparison to say Hillsborough or even neighboring Atherton.

Home prices in the Selby neighborhood are much more affordable—still over $500 K but not in the multi-million dollar range like in much of the rest of Woodside. The streets are mostly flat and laid out in a grid, with homes built one next to another.

On one end of the neighborhood is Selby Elementary, while on the other you find Woodside High. Selby is unfortunately not a very well performing school, with an API of 3. Woodside High is quite a bit better, with an API of 7.

This is also not quite as safe a neighborhood as many others in Woodside, with many of the surrounding areas having problems with burglaries and even a couple of assaults in nearby Redwood City.

That said, this is still a pretty good area, though still a bit overpriced, in my opinion.
Pros
  • Okay Homes
  • Affordable Compared to the Rest of Woodside
  • Above Average High Schools
Cons
  • Still Fairly Expensive
  • Close to Higher Crime Areas
  • Kind of Boring
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
May 18, 2012

"The Most Expensive Farmland Around"

You might mistakenly believe that you are way out in the country when you come into Woodside. This neighborhood is fairly typical in that—from the roads it seems like you are way out at the edge of forrest (which you sort of are, given the Wunderlich Park makes up the western border of this neighborhood)—you know the feel, lots of wood posts for fences and private roads winding up to what you might believe are farmhouses and that sort of thing.

With a median household income of nearly $200k, Woodside is one of the wealthiest cities in all of California. And that is represented in this neighborhood as well.

What does the median priced home cost in this neighborhood?

$6.25 million.

On the high end homes rise to $19 million (or you can buy uncultivated land for $29 million if you are an ambitious real estate developer).

What do you get for say $16 million? For $16 million you can get a 6000 ft. English manor house with 3 bedrooms. It is the kind of place where the bedroom is bigger than most peoples entire homes. Very luxurious and not afraid to show it.

But don’t worry about only having 3 bedrooms—there are 2 separate guest houses and your own private vineyard.

What about on the low end?

You can get a 4 bedroom home nestled in the trees. It is smaller at 3500 feet but still very attractive.

What about schools?

Woodside Elementary and La Entrada Middle School are both outstanding schools with API’s of 10 each, while Woodside High School is only somewhat above average.

And, of course, it goes without saying that the area is virtually crime free.

Overall, this is the kind of place you go to live if you sold your start-up for enough money that you will never have to work again. Otherwise, you might as well just keep on dreaming—only the 1% can afford to live here.
Pros
  • Quiet
  • Magnificent Homes
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Secluded
  • Astronomically Expensive
  • Countryside Problems
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
May 14, 2012

"A Bit Removed from It All"

This is one of those areas of the Peninsula where nature becomes a real inspiration. You can find some really beautiful redwood trees here and beautiful homes.

The homes here are built with their wild surroundings in mind. Many of them have wild front lawns and gardens that go well with the green surroundings.

This is a pretty small area, but because it is so quiet it can be quite a draw. Unfortunately it is way out of the reach financially for most. A 6000 ft. home up here, goes for $7.5 million.

The schools around here are pretty strong as you might expect, with the local elementary school getting the highest possible score on its API.

Overall, this definitely a great place to live , if you can afford it.
Pros
  • Beautiful Woody Area
  • Beautifl Homes
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive!
  • A Bit Remote
  • Hillside Problems
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
May 14, 2012

"Nice Hilly Place to Live"

These large hillside homes can fetch over $1 million when they are not on the market for foreclosure. You can find some real beauties up here, with hardwood decks, large Jacuzzi like bath tubs, and wine cellars. It’s that kind of a neighborhood. When you are driving up here you are often not quite aware of just how big some of these homes actually are. That is because the roads up here are very windy, narrow and blocked by tree cover. This offers the residents a bit of cover for their luxurious life styles.

Now the roads up here are narrow and there are not any sidewalks so this is in no way a walkable neighborhood if you are into that.

There is a little town area here where you can do things like get gas, or put someone up for the night at the local “inn”. There is a taco place and a strip mall at this location as well. It isn’t super fancy but it does have the air of authenticity about it.
Schools, of course, are great and crime is low. Overall this is really nice neighborhood, well worth it if you have the means.
Pros
  • Big Homes
  • Great Views
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • Expensive
  • A Bit Removed from the Action
  • No Sidewalks
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
May 13, 2012

"Costly But Worth It"

Located deep in the hills to the north west of Woodside and west of Redwood City, Emerald Lake Hills is one of the two neighborhood that make up Emerald Hills. As you might guess from the fact that this neighborhood is far up in the hills on the Peninsula, this is an expensive location.

So what do these hillside homes with great views of the bay cost?

Well let’s start with renting. To rent a home up here, a 2-bedroom will run you about $4000 and a 4-bedroom for $6000.

As you might expect, if you want to own a home, you are looking at multi-million dollars to settle down here. These are largely newer homes, often built in the 90’s or 00’s and they offer a lot of space—often on the order of 6000 feet. Though not as expensive as the homes you will find in Hillsborough, these homes are pretty magnificent by virtually any other comparison.

Even an 1800 foot home built in the 1950’s will still run you a good $800 K.

In terms of schools, this is, as you might expect, a really good neighborhood with Roy Cloud Elementary and Woodside High having very high API’s. And it is a very safe neighborhood as well, with only the rare crime of note.

Overall this is a fantastic place to live, if you are very, very rich.
Pros
  • Great Houses
  • Great Views
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • Hillside Problems
  • A Bit Removed
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
May 06, 2012

"Nice Family Neighborhood"

Cipriani is the neighborhood at the very heart of Belmont. It is a somewhat hilly neighborhood, with somewhat narrow streets that curve along gentle sloops. The homes here are older and not very flashy but nice, and the neighborhood gives you a feeling of shelter from the outside world.

Just past the eastern end of the neighborhood is Twin Pines Park (perhaps Belmont’s best park) and on the western end is Laurelwood Park (perhaps the largest Belmont park). Ralston, the main east-west artery for Belmont, marks its southern border.

The median home price here is about $800K but don’t let this fool you into thinking this is the kind of neighborhood where you will find a multimillion dollar mansion at the end of your block. The ceiling for homes in Cipriani seems to be around $1.25 million (right now there is one home going for $1.27 million, but that is just the asking price).

As with most fairly affluent areas, the foreclosure rate is much lower here than in other neighborhoods, with only about 1 in 3 homes on sale due to foreclosure. Homes here are nice, largely dating from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s as far as I can tell and the more expensive ones tend to be on the larger side (about 3000 sq. ft.).

One of the nice things about this area is that there is a fairly wide variety of homes for sale, so you are likely to find something that you like (so long as you aren’t looking for a brand new construction or one built in the last generation).

The schools are very strong as well, with Cipriani Elementary and Ralston Middle School being the local public options. (There are also a number of private options.)

This is about as safe a neighborhood as you will come across as well, with barely a domestic dispute to report for the last six months.

Overall, I would say that is a perfect little neighborhood for families where one of the parents has a relatively high paying Silicon Valley tech job.
Pros
  • Strong Schools
  • Quiet and Safe
  • Leafy and Pleasant
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Hillside Problems
  • A Bit on the Dull Side
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
May 06, 2012

"Ugly Old Houses But Good Schools"

Homeview is a bit of an ugly strip of a residential neighborhood that straddles the southern end of Ralston between El
Camino and the Bayshore Freeway. The homes here day way back to the post WWII era and a fair number of the residents here are still the original owners. This was clearly the kind of middle class neighborhood that the GI Bill helped to build. The homes are small, barely 1200 sq. ft. many of them and they are a bit cramped in any way that you view them. Also because they are built on a fat grid, they feel more than a little bit generic.

Of course, this combination also means that prices drop lower than in other neighborhoods, with the median home here going for about $500K. These are the kind of homes where half the driveway I is taken by asphalt.

Overall, however, this is a nice neighborhood with very low crime and good schools. I’m still not sure the high sticker price is justifiable in the neighborhood like this, but I can understand why some would go with it anyway.
Pros
  • Great Schools
  • Safe Neigbhorhood
  • Close To CalTrains
Cons
  • Old Home Problems
  • Homes are Too Small
  • Kind of an Ugly Neighborhood
Recommended for
  • Singles
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
May 06, 2012

"Very Nice Family Neighborhood"

The majority of this McDougal is taken up by Twin Pines Park, whose shady trails and nice play area make it a favorite for locals. The neighborhood stretches along the southern edge of Ralston just to the west of El Camino Real.

Ironically, I suppose, the neighborhood is named after the park on the western end of the neighborhood where kids go to play baseball, but which is nowhere near as expansive a park as Twin Pines Park.

The neighborhood is hilly and woody, which gives the nicely kept Ranch homes a nicer feel than they might otherwise have.

This is one of those fairly nice neighborhoods that people moved out to in the 1970’s and 1980’s in order to raise their kids.

If you like quaint little Depression Era homes (some of them Mission style, some Tudors), then it is likely you will like McDougal to the east of the park as it approaches El Camino Real. The homes here are mostly nicely kept, but you can tell they were built nearly a century ago.

As you get farther up into the hills the homes get newer and bigger.
Prices throughout the neighborhood vary. You will find some million dollar homes and above, but most near but do not reach this amount.

Schools are great, and crime is virtually non-existent. It is clearly a good neighborhood for families.
Pros
  • Very Nice Woody Area
  • Great Local Schools
  • Quaint Older Homes in Eastern Neighborhood
Cons
  • Homes are Overpriced
  • A Touch on the Dull Side
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
May 06, 2012

"Very Servicable Middle Class Neighorhood"

Sliced between El Camino Real and the Bayshore Freeway, the Sterling Downs neighborhood is a flat relatively nice middle class neighborhood. There are a fair number of homes on the eastern end of Sterling Flats that would be considered tract homes, I suppose. These are Ranch style homes with red tiled roofs and stucco walls (although that makes it sound worse than it actually is). The streets in these sections are wide and the front lawns are well kept often with well-maintained topiary.
Basically Sterling Downs is quiet though fairly average neighborhood.

Other sections of the eastern end of the neighborhood also have similarly nicely kept Ranch homes. The homes on the southern end of the neighborhood tend to be a little bit shabbier than those on the northern end.

About 90% of the homes for sale in this neighborhood right now are on sale due to foreclosure. The median price for a home here is around $550K.

There are also some apartment buildings on the western end of this neighborhood. I believe they go for about $2200 for a 2-bedroom.

This is, however, a very safe neighborhood with little more than the occasional theft from a vehicle and the schools are strong, from Union Elementary through Carlmont High School.

The main drag in this section of Belmont is El Camino Real, where you can find a number of businesses including a ballet school and a restaurant or two—a sushi place, a creperie and a tavern. It is not a particularly attractive area, but it pretty much gets the job done as far as being a functional neighborhood.
Pros
  • Good Schools
  • Solid Middle Class Feel
  • Close to Belmont Cal Trains
Cons
  • Bland
  • Lots of Foreclosures
  • Kind of Flat and Unappealing
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Apr 30, 2012

"Good Leafy Neighborhood Close to Some Action"

The Central Belmont neighborhood wraps around the northern end of Notre Dame de Namur University.

This is a big hilly neighborhood filled with a variety of home types, from Eichler houses to Tudor variations. Many of the homes here run well over $1 million dollars, although the median price is closer to $750K. Generally in this neighborhood, the higher up in the hills you go, the more expensive the homes.

On the far eastern end of the neighborhood, is El Camino Real, the major avenue that runs north south across most of San Mateo County and the Peninsula. You will find quite a few businesses along, and just off, El Camino Real Blvd. including the Bel Monte Bowl up on the north of the neighborhood and Workplace Innovations—a business that helps companies set up their offices for maximum efficiency.

There are also a number of restaurants on El Camino Real as well. (Some right around the bend on Ralston.) These include places like Jack Prime (a burger place), the Sushi Monster, Shalazar (a Persian joint) and M.E.N.U.

Because the Belmont Caltrain station is on the eastern end of this neighborhood, you might expect that this is an environmentally strong neighborhood, where people could lower their emissions by walking to the Caltrains’ station.
Unfortunately, because there are no sidewalks, this neighborhood is simply not conducive to pedestrian traffic of any kind.

Trying to walk to the Caltrains Station is possible and you could probably get there safely if you kept your wits about you, but

I doubt many residents of Central want to walk in this defensive fashion day after day.

Overall this is a pretty nice place to live.
Pros
  • Close to Okay Restaurants
  • Beautiful Homes
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • Hillside Problems
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Apr 29, 2012

"Location, Location, Location"

What determines whether you like this neighborhood is whether you put a high premium on the look of the place where you are. The homes here are far from spectacular; they are mostly Ranch homes of the kind you can find throughout the Western US. Many of these homes are more nicely kept than Ranch homes usually are, but they are still basically just Ranch homes.

What sets this place apart is that you are up in the hills in a fairly woodsy area—though there is not quite enough wood cover to really make this as attractive as it might otherwise be. You are, however, fairly removed from society at large and do feel somewhat secluded. If you like this, then you might like living here in Plateau Skymont.

Homes run around $750 K in this area. A bit on the expensive side when it comes to just getting a Ranch home, but as they say in Real Estate, it’s all about “location, location, location.”
Pros
  • Secluded
  • Good Ranch Homes
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • A Little Bland
  • Somewhat Overpriced
  • No Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Apr 29, 2012

"Nice Hillside Apartment and Homes"

Appropriately named, the Western Hills neighborhood of Belmont stretches out on the far western section of Belmont. This area is largely made up of hilly streets, many of which have apartment buildings.

You could roughly divide the Western Hills neighborhood into three sections. On the lowest section you find the main artery in the area, Alameda de las Pulgas, which forms the eastern border of the neighborhood and has a number of stores including the local supermarket, Lunardi’s. (There is also a Safeway just north of Ralston.)

There are also a good half dozen restaurants right off Avenida de las Pulgas. You have an Italian restaurant named Vivace, a Subway, a pizza place, and a Mexican food place. These are nothing to write home about but they will do the job as far as local suburban eats go.

Close to Avenida de las Pulgas, there are a number of apartment buildings and creeping up the hill are a number of apartment buildings dating largely from the 1970’s. These are run of the mill apartments that happen to be located in a pretty good spot. They are a bit too boxy to really be too attractive, but given the nice wide streets and the hillside feel, they seem a lot nicer to me than might otherwise be the case.

In terms of Peninsula prices, rents are really affordable, running between $800 on the low end for a studio and $2500 for a two-bedroom.

A bit farther up from the apartments, you find a number of Ranch homes. Homes here run in the $800 to $900 K range—largely because of the location’s appearance and great schools.

Overall, a pretty good spot for both renters and homeowners—pretty unusual in that sense.
Pros
  • Nice Elevated Location
  • Relatively Affordable Apartments
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Expensive Homes
  • Mediocre Restaurants
  • No Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Apr 29, 2012

"All About the Hotels"

The Farallon neighborhood in Belmont, stretching from just north of the Oracle HQ down to Twin Dolphins Drive along the Bayshore Freeway, is mostly known for its hotels. In and around this neighborhood, you will find hotels from the likes of the Radisson, to the Holiday Inn to Motel 6. Largely it is about the positioning here—right by the San Carlos Airport and located seemingly equidistant from SF, Oakland and San Jose –it is the perfect crossroads for hotels.

By far, however, the best of these joints, however, is the Sofitel, one of the really great hotels in the Peninsula (possibly in the Bay Area). It is a beautiful sprawling international hotel of the kind you expect in SF or in Europe more than at this spot. Rooms, in case you’re wondering, start at $265 per night. Many choose it for their weddings—it is definitely the place for getting back in tune with your significant other.

There are also a handful of companies here. Asera, Inc., for example, is a tech company that consults with companies to offer them internet service solutions; and Actiance, another Farallon tech company helps financial companies use the web for marketing and communications.

On the far northern end of the neighborhood, you will also find a couple of townhome neighborhoods where all the homes have the same homogenous look—giving these neighborhoods a very clean uniformity that is both their strength and their great drawback, since everything just seems a little too premeditated.
Pros
  • Great Hotels
  • Good Business Area
Cons
  • Very Busy
  • Not Much of a Residential Area
  • Not Much Outside of Hotels
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Apr 28, 2012

"Quiet, Sheltered Neighborhood for Families"

I had a business partner who lived up here so I would occasionally come up into this neighborhood and hang out—mix with each other’s families, plot how we were going to take over the world, that sort of thing.

I really love this little neighborhood and would not have minded living here myself. The houses here are not eye-popping or spectacular by normal standards, but they are definitely distinctive. The homes here largely date from the 1950’s and 60’s.
These are really nice, large homes

There is one house there that is sort of like a Cape Cod, with a gambrel roof over the front facing garage, wood thatch roof, with white trimmed casement windows and a gnarled old tree highlighted by the perfectly green lawn that surrounds it.

Many of the homes here are in this sort of style—kind of an upper class Eisenhower era sort of a feel to them.

So what is the price tag for a home here?

These beautiful houses average about a million bucks, which is about what you expect for the Peninsula.

If it were not for the eye-popping price tag, you might even consider this perfect neighborhood for families, given its outstanding schools and the nice sheltered feel it has. The local elementary, Fox; middle school, Ralston; and high school, Carlmont; are all outstanding. And those are just the public school choices. There are a number of private schools—both religious and secular—in the area as well.

The other nice thing about this part of Belmont is Water Dog Park whose mountain biking and hiking trails are pretty great.

If one had to pick one qualm for this area, it is that it is a bit out of the way from nightlife and that sort of thing. Overall though, if you are raising a family this is a great spot—if you can afford it.
Pros
  • Cool 50's Houses
  • Sheltered Community
  • Very Safe
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • Out of the Way
  • No Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • 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 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Apr 08, 2012

"Nice Older Hillsborough Neighborhood"

Ryan Tract is a little nook of a neighborhood just to the northeast of the Burlingame Golf Course. It is a pretty old neighborhood and you can find a number of homes that date back at least as far back as the Swinging 20’s. A lot of these are in the English Country Cottage style with the kind of Tudor timbering that makes it seem so old worldly.

These older homes are really well maintained and usually go for around $5 million—which seems to be the going rate for homes in Ryan Tract.

Overall this is pretty nice little Hillsborough neighborhood—if you can afford it, but of course, that goes without saying in Hillsborough.
Pros
  • Attractie Older Homes
  • Close to Downtown
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Very Very Expensive
  • Old Home Maintenance
  • A Bit Snooty
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Apr 08, 2012

"What Does $44 Miilion Buy?"

As the name indicates, there is a park in Hillsborough Park—Vista Park. It is a pretty good park with a soccer field, basketball court and pretty extensive play area which is fenced in to make sure the little guys and gals don’t run out into the street.

Of course you are in Hillsborough so there is hardly a great need for a play area given that most people who live here have their own swimming pools, large yards and often even their own tennis courts.

The other reason Vista Park is notable is because I really can’t think of too many other parks in Hillsborough. I know there is Pershing Park, but I can’t remember if that is still Hillsborough or not.

As to the rest of the neighborhood, it is a pretty typical Hillsborough neighborhood. You get lots of large homes and some outright mansions. It is hilly enough where you get a bit of a view.

The best view in the area, however, can currently be found from the roof of Chiltern—the most expensive home currently on sale in Hillsborough. It is basically a castle on a hill and it is going for $44 million. It basically looks like the set of Eyes Wide Shut, both inside and out. It is really massive and includes a garden and hot house and all the rest of it. You could house an army there.

Most homes in Hillsborough are not quite as massive as this however. Typically, homes in this area seem to run around $2 million for a contemporary style house. There is a fair amount of newer construction here.

The area is generally one of the woodsier areas in Hillsborough, so it appeals to those who like a bit of a more natural setting. And with the typically great schools that you get here, it is a good spot for families too.
Pros
  • Nice Homes
  • Good Park
  • Great School
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • Hillside, Forresty Problems
  • Kind of Remote
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Apr 07, 2012

"Great Historic Neighborhood"

The Hillsborough Heights neighborhood, located just to the north of the Brewer Subdivision neighborhood, is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Hillsborough. A large majority of the homes here date back to the 1930’s and some are even older.
You will find a fair number of homes here in classic styles such as French Provincial and Spanish Villa styles. These are not quite mansions but they are larger homes and quite attractive, both inside and out.

You will even find some Depression Era homes here designed by William Wurster, who Cal students will recognize from Wurster Hall—the architecture building on campus which, ironically, also happens to have the distinction of being the ugliest building on campus. (The one I am familiar with is designed in the French Provincial style.)

There are also some larger properties here as well, including a mansion that is currently on the market for $25 million. On average, however, most homes in this neighborhood go for about $3 million as far as I can tell.

With Crystal Springs just to the south this is a pretty good area for raising kids as well. The streets are helpful in this regard, having sidewalks. (A lot of neighborhoods in California no longer have this convenience.) Though, I suspect if you live here, you certainly don’t lack for space in your home.

Overall, a great historic neighborhood, well suited to raising kids—as most of Hillsborough is.
Pros
  • Great Old Homes
  • Great Schools
  • Attractive Streets
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • No Nightlife
  • Home Maintenance Costs
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Apr 07, 2012

"For the Birds"

The Parrot Drive Area is mostly an undeveloped forest area. There are a couple of streets that creep up into it, and you do have a big mansion deep in this forested area, up on a hill. (I don’t know who lives there. But pretty much that is it for this neighborhood.)
Pros
  • Nice Homes
  • Good Schools
  • Quiet Street
Cons
  • Not Much Here
  • Very Expensive
  • A Bit Remote
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Apr 07, 2012

"Beautiful Homes"

The Hillsborough Oaks (a.k.a., Hillsborough Oakbridge) neighborhood is one of the leafier and more sheltering of Hillsborough neighborhoods. Many of the curving lanes of this neighborhood provide a shady canopy of branches above so that you get that tunnel like feeling as you drive through. It really does make you feel protected from the troubles of the outside world. (Of course, if you live in Hillsborough there is high probability that you have sizeable enough ban account where you are protected from the vast majority of outside problems.)

Behind the branches and decoratively choreographed ivy patterns along the walls you catch glimpses of large homes beyond. The mansions are mostly confined to the northern end of the neighborhood where you can find your share of Tudor styles and classical revival style homes (think little White Houses and you get the idea).

The effect is really quite pleasing.

If you love looking at residential architecture this is really a great neighborhood in which to take a walk (though there aren’t really any sidewalks and luxury vehicles swoosh by as if driven by maniacs so watch out). One of my favorite spots is on the Eden Way cul-de-sac where there is this one home whose gate is ensconced between two thick grooved redwoods—its stone steps slipping between to faded stone wall with a wooden curved door of the kind you find in storybooks. This is the kind of door you expect Snow White to answer should you knock on it.

This door doesn’t actually lead into the house however, whose second story French Colonial style balcony you can see peeking out from over the top of the ivy carpeted wall that stretches roadside. In fact, it seems as if the main entrance to the house is through a doorway to the right of the three garage doors just beyond--above which you see a hint of the European style windows and the home’s red-tiled roof. (The window that you do see is pretty attractive being an inset square with a column in the center and two pairs of casements windows behind those.) Beyond the open arch of the doorway—which is attractively set in between two large stone flower pots with tall rose bushes growing from them—you just make out tiled steps rising up to what I assume is the front entrance to the home.

It is definitely one of the most intriguing set-ups I have ever seen for a home, tantalizing the imagination in anticipation of the home that awaits beyond.

What does it cost to live in Hillsborough Oaks?

There aren’t very many homes on the market here. From the ones which are on sale the prices seem to run between $2 million and $7 million, though I am sure that once you get into the larger mansions they run more than this. On the high end right now, there is a New England Colonial style home dating from 1914 going for just under $7 million. So that gives you a sense of prices.
Pros
  • Beautiful Homes
  • Shady Roads
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Very, very expensive
  • Home Upkeep
  • Kind of Snobby
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • 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 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Apr 07, 2012

"Four!"

The Country Club Manor neighborhood is mostly taken up by the Hillsborough Country Club and its sprawling golf course.
Not being a member of this club (they are a private country club) I can’t tell you much about this facility other than it looks pretty nice from the outside.

There are some homes in this neighborhood. They are mostly on the eastern end of the golf course though some of them encroach onto the range dividing it into two promontories. I suppose if you live here you should be ready for the occasional golf ball through the window.

There are some really attractive homes here, including Eichlers and Mediterranean style homes. Very well kept and beautiful.

What’s the price tag?

I don’t know because no homes are for sale in the neighborhood right now, but given this is Hillsborough, you are probably talking in the millions for even the smallest of homes here.
Pros
  • Nice Golf Course
  • Nice Homes
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensve
  • Golf Course Problems
  • No Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • 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 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Apr 07, 2012

"Nice Classic Hillsborough Neighborhood"

Straddling San Mateo College on the northern end, Tobin Clark Estate offers hillside homes with great bay views. This is one of those long east to west neighborhoods that slowly creeps up the hillside the farther that it goes, stretching from Aragon High School to the western end of San Mateo College.

On its eastern end, Tobin Clark is made up largely of long squat homes with perfectly manicured lawns. Though this sounds like your typical Ranch home neighborhood from that description, these are not really Ranch homes. You are aware that you are in an unusual neighborhood throughout this area, partly because the homes are larger than normal, partly because each has its own style, and mostly just because every brick and grass blade seems perfectly placed.

As you get farther up the hill, you get the hillside homes with the best views. This is the area where you get some of the most attractive McMansions in the area, most of them made in imitation of classic styles some actually dating for the 1930’s.
Many sprawl out along the hillside facing out over the Peninsula and Bay.

On the western end of Tobin Clark, you don’t get the spectacular bay views, but you still do get some really attractive—well manicured homes with attractively maintained lawns and just a general feeling of wealth.

Tobin Clark is a mix of contemporary style homes (the squat homes I described earlier) and 1930’s style mansions, with a few English country cottages thrown in for good measure as well.

So what does it cost to live here?

On the low end you can find one of those squat contemporaries for around $2 million. On the high end, one of those giant classic mansions with the views could run you close to $29 million. The median price however is closer to $3.75 million.

The schools here are—as you would expect—pretty outstanding as well. Aragon is a pretty strong high school, maybe just slightly worse than the really outstanding high schools that make up the Penninsula schools.

Overall, I would say that if you are the sort of family for which cost is not much of a consideration (that is, you are filthy rich), that this would definitely be a popular destination for you.

And in case you are wondering where the name Tobin Clark comes from, the area was named after Celia Tobin Clark. The Clarks were a prominent though now pretty much forgotten, Bay Area family. The original estate was designed by famous Chicago architect David Adler.
Pros
  • Great Bay Views
  • Beautiful Mansions
  • Great School
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • No Nightlife
  • Home Maintenance Costs
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Apr 01, 2012

"Pretty Average but Still Expensive"

Of Hillsborough neighborhoods, Lakeview is the one that looks the most average. You get lots of large Ranch homes here of the kind that are not that unusual in many neighborhoods.

In addition, the hilly streets really do look as if they are a part of the surrounding forest rather than having the immaculate look of many of the manicured streets of Hillsborough. In part, perhaps this difference is due to this neighborhood being so far away from the heart of Hillsborough.

So does this mean that prices will be significantly lower than the usual $2-$3 million you would expect in other Hillsborough neighborhoods?

No such luck. The cheapest home you will currently find in Lakeview is going for $1.5 million. It is just a Ranch home dating from 1950. (It is actually below the usual Hillsborough requirement that homes be at least 2500 feet—probably managed to escape this because of its age.)

On the high end, you can find a 5000 foot Mediterranean style home for about $4.25 million—that is relatively low as a cap for Hillsborough, but most homes are in the mid $2 million range, so this is not really much of deal.
Pros
  • Big Homes
  • Good Schools
  • Quiet and Safe
Cons
  • Very, very Expensive
  • Average Homes
  • Remote
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Apr 01, 2012

"Tiny Hills Borough"

Hillsborough Knolls is a tiny neighborhood just to the south of the neighborhoods of Carolands and Homeplace. The homes here are on the large side, though only slightly above average perhaps for Hillsborough.

As usual there is a mix of home styles—from Tudors to Mediterranean styles. The roads are narrow and windy, and it is very secluded.

What does it cost to live here?

You can get a lot here for about $1.2 million, while a 6000 ft. Spanish style home will go for around $5 million. Pretty typical Hillsborough.
Pros
  • Beautiful Homes
  • Great Schools
  • Quiet and Safe
Cons
  • Very, very expensive
  • Hillside Problems (eg, erosion)
  • A Touch Remote
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 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Apr 01, 2012

"A Haunted House, Mansions, and a Hangar"

Carolands is the neighborhood just to the south of the Skyfarm neighborhood. Unlike Skyfarm it is a much more densely populated area with many more homes in closer proximity to each other and fewer forested areas.

Like Skyfarms, however, the Carolands neighborhood is also named after an old mansion. Carolands—the mansion not the neighborhood—was built in 1914 for the daughter of George Pullman, the famous Chicago rail coach tycoon. The mansion itself however is a bit cursed. Pullman’s daughter barely lived there, fighting with her husband over it. The property changed hands several times, was vandalized and for a while was treated as the local haunted house. (In one of the worst incidents a pair of teenage girls were kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a security guard at the estate—one of them dying in the ordeal.)

It is quite a beautiful property, however, and was once considered as a possible site for a West Coast White House.
Unfortunately it is not kept as a museum and remains in private hands bought by a group of wealthy investors.

Much of the surrounding land has since been developed. There are other smaller, more modern mansions in this section of Hillsborough. Most of the larger homes are on the eastern end of the neighborhood. There is, for example, an arced roof postmodern sort of deal on Robin Drive which looks a little bit like a mix between a garage and airplane hangar to me, but to each his own. (It’s got a great view by the way, and the unusual architecture includes a long thin pool that stretches under the street level driveway so that the pool is always partly shaded.)

Carolands is also home to West Hillsborough Elementary—the neighborhood school which, like every other school in Hillsborough as far as I know—is outstanding. (I always hear those on the Right saying that “throwing money” at education won’t help the problem, but it sure doesn’t seem to hurt.)

There are some other features of Carolands that make it a bit different than many other neighborhoods in Hillsborough.
Carolands, for example, connects with Highway 280. This may seem like no big deal but, if you live in a neighborhood like
Hillsborough Hills, having the make the extra trek to get on the freeway everyday can be a bit of pain.

Being a fan of European style traffic circles, one of the features of Carolands that I really appreciate is the circle right of the Highway 280 on Hayne Road.

These are just little things, but it makes this neighborhood feel a lot more homey and regular than a lot of other Hillsborough neighborhoods that just feel way too hoity-toity for a lot of us folks.

So what does it cost to live here?

On the low end you can find a 3000 foot home for about $1.8 million. These are about as small as homes get here in Hillsborough. On the high end you can buy one of those east side mansions I mentioned before for about $16 million. There is a Tudor style mansion right now going for $16.5 million.

Over all, this is possibly my favorite Hillsborough neighborhood. Though I don’t know if I could ever justify footing the bill for living here. You really would have to be fabulously rich to even consider it.
Pros
  • Great Old Mansion
  • Beautiful Homes
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Very, very, very Expensive
  • Remote
  • No Nightlife
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Apr 01, 2012

"Old Mansion and New School"

Skyfarm is a largely wooded neighborhood just to the west of the Burlingame Country Club. For those who dig a bit of history, this is the location of the old Crocker Mansion, which is now the Nueva Day School (I am told). Crocker was one of the big four magnates that pretty much made their money in SF (Hearst and Stanford were two of the others—the fourth is not coming to me right now other than to remember that he has a hotel in Nob Hill named after him).

Anyway Crocker built his Shangri-La here at what he dubbed Sky-Farm. They say the Mediterranean style buildings that make up Nueva Day School are the old Crocker Mansion buildings, but I think that more likely the old abandoned mansion up in the middle of the water district area is more likely the mansion. It looks like an old style mansion that has been abandoned. If you look at it in Google maps you can see that it meets up perfectly with where the Old Crocker mansion is supposed to be.

The mansion was supposed to be at 2270 Reddington Road and if you look at where that is, the abandoned mansion is fits perfectly. Nueva School is a lot farther up. (Perhaps there were two mansions? I understand that there was a fire in the old mansion and maybe this precipitated the Crocker family erecting a new mansion? I don’t know really.)

Anyway, Nueva School is a compelling reason to move here anyway. Nueva School is an alternative co-educational day school. It is kind like a Montessori style school that is completely student centered, helping to teach students how to think critically and creatively. Basically preparing them to become the same kinds of titans of industry as their parents are. Of course, it will cost you to send you kid here--$36K in tuition per year is about as much as it will cost you to send your kid to Stanford. On the other hand, if you live in Hillsborough, cost might not be your central concern.
Pros
  • Old Mysterious Mansion
  • Great Alternative School
  • Great Houses
Cons
  • Very, very, very expensive!
  • Far from all the basics!
  • Woodsy, hillside problems.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • 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 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Apr 01, 2012

"Lots of Manors Here"

My daughter’s best friend from CSUS lived here in Homeplace, so I got to know this neighborhood relatively well from dropping her off and exploring a bit afterwards on a couple of occasions. This neighborhood is deep into Hillsborough, located just to the south of Crocker Middle School and the Burlingame Country Club.

As throughout the rest of Hillsborough, the homes here are (as mandated by city ordinance) large—usually around 3500 ft.

One of the nice the nice things about this neighborhood is the sprinkling of French chateau style homes, with Tudor accents like faux half-timbering, bow windows, weathered brickwork and thatch tiled roof. The look is elegant and makes you feel like you are in the south of France more than in California. The narrow streets and high hedges also add somewhat to this continental feel.

For the most part this area is hooked on classically symmetrical styles with a fair number of Corinthian columns, square paned windows, and walls of various kinds. It’s a nice clean look.

What’s the price tag?

On the low end, for a 3-bedroom, 3000 ft. house dating from the around 1950, you are looking at $2 million. On the high end, for a 1920s Mediterranean style mansion on a 1.25 acre lot, you are looking at $15 million. On average you are looking at around $5 million in this area.
Pros
  • Beautiful Homes
  • Great Schools
  • Quiet and Safe
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • No Nightlife
  • Car Culture
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Apr 01, 2012

"The Hills"

In another neighborhood review I spoke of the Hillsborough Hills generically. There is, as you have no doubt noticed by now, also a Hillsborough Hills that is an actual designated neighborhood in Hillsborough. It is way up near Highway 280 about as far west as you can get and still be in Hillsborough, although the nearest on ramp for the freeway is up by Trousdale Dr. I believe. So you will definitely have a bit of trek when you want to head out to work or anything else of this nature.

If you like being in a neighborhood where you will only see those who live or work there (ie, gardeners and housecleaners), this is definitely the place. No one really comes up here on their way anywhere else.

The homes that crop up here are of a fairly unusual species. Although you have your fairly classic looking contemporary style homes, you will also find larger mansions in varying styles. There is one, for example, that looks like some kind of institute from the outside with a large wrought iron gate leading to a glass paneled square-ish building that looks as if it could house a laboratory. Yet it is, as you can tell from aerial views a personal residence with a pool and the whole shebang.

Other homes up here have more of a European feel with thatched roof and French windows, framed by elaborate stonework and wrought iron fences. Outside you find large lawns and fairly expansive grounds.

When you are not nestled into leafy hills, you will find some spots here where you will get some fairly magnificent views out over the bay towards Hayward and Fremont. It is really a pretty amazing spot.

So what will it cost you to live up here?

On the low end, you can find a 3700 ft. Mediterranean style home with pretty good views for around $2.5 million.

On the high end (currently anyway), you can get about 4 acres and a home for about $8 million.

So, as with everything else in Hillsborough, it ain’t cheap or even moderately reasonable in terms of price.

And, of course, for any kind of basics, such as groceries, you will have to make the drive down to San Mateo.

I believe the elementary that serves this area is Roosevelt and the Middle School is Crocker Middle School. Both outstanding.

Overall, a good area if you want to live slightly away from it all and have the kind of money most people only dream of.
Pros
  • Great Views
  • Beautiful Homes
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • A Bit Isolated from Daily Conveniences
  • No Public Transportation
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 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Apr 01, 2012

"Crystal Springs Unified Rocks!"

For me, this neighborhood is all about Crystal Springs Upland High School, which is the school my daughter attended back when we lived in this area. Not to be confused with the Sacramento State college with the same acronym, CSUS is one of those amazing prep schools that makes its students feel as if they are already halfway in college.

Partly this has to do with the mansion in which the college is located—it feels like Mills College or a similar sort of college.
he white Corinthian columns that shoulder the entryway and the neo-classical building can feel a bit intimidating when students first arrive. (My daughter was certainly a little intimidated at first.) But the small student body (just 350 students) and the 6 to 1 student teacher ratio make this the kind of ideal learning environment ideally suited for drawing the most from your child and preparing him or her for the challenges of our highly competitive world.

My daughter certainly thrived at CSUS. Largely this is because they not only focus on academics but also emphasize the arts (dancing and music in my daughter’s case).

You are also surrounded by students who have for the most part had all the benefits of the best that education has to offer. So the environment itself is outstanding for learning.

Crystal Springs is definitely the main feature of this neighborhood, the campus and mansion being the largest structures in the Brewer Subdivision.

CSUS is not, however, the only school in Brewer Subdivision. South Hillsborough Elementary is also an outstanding school—as you would expect in such a wealthy community as Hillsborough.

Nor is the CSUS mansion, the only mansion in the Brewer Subdivision of Hillsborough. You can see the top of another mansion right by South Hillsborough Elementary—its top floor popping up above the high hedges that keep the long pool and rows of manicured trees private from probing eyes. If you are such a big fan of Downton Abbey that you want to live in what feels like a replica of the manor, you have found the location to do just that.

Of course, they aren’t all just mansions here. There some relatively regular sized homes by Hillsborough standards. These are not tiny hovels of course. These are large homes with multiple rooms. (As you probably know you won’t find any apartment buildings in Hillsborough because of city ordinance that all homes must be larger than 2500 feet. One of the ways they keep the riff-raff like us out.)

And in case you are wondering, on the low end a 3500 ft. Ranch style home here with 4 bedrooms and baths will run you just shy of $3 mil.

On the high end, you can find a 9000 ft. Italian Palladian style home with 6 bedrooms, pool, screening room, tennis court and all the usual amenities you would expect for close to $7 million.

Of course, those mansions I mention would considerably raise the high end if they ever went on sale.

One of the other draws of the neighborhood, is its proximity to Downtown San Mateo, which helps both for commuting purposes and for shopping. The more you get up into the Hillsborough hills the more of drag it becomes getting things done, I imagine.

Though, of course, if you are rich enough to live high up in the Hillsborough hills then it is doubtful that you worry too much about how much time it takes to drive down (or for your chauffeur to drive you down) to the supermarket.

Overall, one of my favorite neighborhoods in Hillsborough. I suppose, I wouldn’t mind living here with all the other snooty Hillsborough residents.
Pros
  • Great Privae School
  • Beautiful Homes
  • Close to Downtown San Mateo
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • Snooty
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Mar 25, 2012

"Cal Trains and Condos"

The Crossings is home to the San Antonio Cal Trains station which makes it a major Mountain View hub for commuters.

The rest of this neighborhood is one of those monochromatic condo complexes that I usually can’t stand but that like in other spots in Mountain View, I am making an exception for. In this case, what I like about their set up is that they have designed their condos in the style of New York style brownstones, except without the brown stone if this makes any sense. You get the quaint walk-up stairs and streets designed to keep traffic relatively slow and green spaces in between the complexes to encourage walks and exercise.

What does it cost to live in one of these commuter friendly dwellings within walking distance of the Cal Train station?
Currently there is a small crop of them in foreclosure going for between $350K to $500K. They probably go for twice that when not in foreclosure. Definitely worth a look.

And unlike other condos this one is right by a Safeway, so you really don’t need an automobile here.
Pros
  • Right By the Cal Trains Station
  • Nice Condos
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • Condo Living
  • A Bit Dull
  • Traffic from the Cal Trains
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Mar 25, 2012

"And Over View of Word Cuisine"

Old Mountain View is definitely where it is at in Mountain View. The main drag in Old Mountain View is Castro Street. That’s where you will find all of the restaurants and cool spots. Here are my favorites:

--Chez TJ: Of course, you have to start with Chez TJ—the place to go for classy French food that will cost you almost as much as your monthly mortgage payment. And I don’t mean just an average person’s mortgage payment—I am talking a Mountain View size mortgage payment. Outstanding place. I’ve only been there once and don’t expect I will go again. Just don’t have that kind of money to burn these days.

--Scratch: Classy American cuisine. A really cool date spot for a first date. Dim lights, good food. What else could you ask for?

--Cascal: Another great date spot, this Tapas joint has high ceilings and cool blue candle sconces. Really cool.

--Sakoon: My favorite Indian place in Mountain View.

--Xahn: An Asian fusion place specializing in Vietnamese food. It’s one of a number of East Asian places in Mountain View but it is the best for my money.

--Vaso Azzuro—My favorite Italian place in Mountain View. Great service and live music as well. Can’t beat that.

--Shezan—Okay so I already have an Indian place on the list, but Shezan is technically a Pakistani place and is just about as good as Sakoon.

Ephesus—the best place for Mediterranean food.

There are also a handful of pretty good watering holes here:

--Mervyn’s Lounge-Which bills itself as dive bar but is really more of a cozy neighborhood bar.

--Molly MaGees and St. Stephen’s Green—2 Irish Pubs.

--Zen Lounge—with Japanese décor straight out of a Kurasawa movie, dancing and theme nights like Wayback Wednesdays and Reverse Happy Hour Thursdays, this is heart of cool. This is the kind of place that me and George Constanza can’t get into because of those hip musicians with their complicated shoes. (Not to worry, Alberto’s also has dancing.)

So, put simply, Old Mountain View is the center of the action in Mountain View. (And north of Mountain View too. I think of it as the last outpost of real fun for young people until you hit South San Francisco, probably. Certainly better than comparatively sleepy Palo Alto.)
Pros
  • Great Restaurants
  • Cool Bars
  • Good Houses
Cons
  • Overpriced
  • Crowded
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Mar 25, 2012

"The High Cost of Average"

Gemello is one of those comfortingly average neighborhoods. Think Ranch Homes, pick-up trucks, bird feeders and flags. The kind of neighborhood that a lot of us grew up in in the 70’s, say. Very pleasant. Nothing spectacular.

Home prices? You can find a condo for around $300 K while a pretty average Ranch style home is in the $1 million range.

It’s nice spot with all the usual benefits and economic drawbacks of Mountain View: great schools, soaring cost of living, right at the heart of Silicon Valley.

Average neighborhood but not for average incomes.
Pros
  • Quiet
  • Nice Ranch Homes
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • Kind of Boring
  • Not That Great for Commuting
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • 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 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Mar 24, 2012

"Townhomes, Apartments an Trailer Parks"

Right on the border with Sunnyvale, Sylvan Park is a mix of newer upscale homes, well-kept Ranch houses, condos, apartments and trailer parks. Or, to put it another way: a little bit of everything in terms of housing.

There are tons of apartments in this area. This accumulation of apartments has a positive effect on rents, with 1-3 bedroom apartments going from between $1250 and $2500 roughly. This is very moderate for Mountain View.

Variations in actual home prices are much more extreme with a fairly typical Ranch home going for close to $1 Million dollars, while a motor home in one of the trailer parks going for as little as $150K.

The homes on the western end of this neighborhood are pretty nice as well. Lot’s of bigger newer contemporary styled townhomes, some two storied and most with tall extremely sloped roofs. Although the plethora of apartments makes this the sort of neighborhood you would usually recommend for singles and young couples—the quiet streets suggest a neighborhood that might also be suitable to families.

The neighborhood also benefits from having El Camino Real and its many restaurants on its southern end. You can get everything from Sushi (at Satsumi) to pizza (at Slice of New York). There are Thai places, Mexican joints, and fast food places. There is no Chez Panisse here but you definitely won’t go hungry.

Overall, I would recommend for those who may not yet be sure they want to set down long term roots here.
Pros
  • Relatively Affordable
  • Okay Restaurants
  • Pleasant Streets
Cons
  • A Bit Bland
  • Poor Public Transportation
  • Traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Mar 18, 2012

"The Best Mountain View Has to Offer"

Cuesta Park is really the heart of Mountain View for me. This is where you will find everything from El Camino Hospital to some of the classic older homes of Mountain View.

Let’s start with the hospital. With more than 2000 workers, El Camino Hospital is Mountain View’s third top employer behind internet giants, Symantec and Google. From its renowned Cancer Center and Heart and Vascular Institute to its nurse training program and its full complement of health care services, El Camino is certainly one of the best hospitals in the Bay Area. But its influence in Mountain View and the surrounding area extends beyond the hospital grounds. El Camino does a fair amount of community outreach offering programs like free lectures, new mother mentoring programs and its fairly well-known “Day of Dance”. These programs help integrate parts of the surrounding community with the hospital’s mission, and contribute to the general health and well-being of the Mountain View populace.

Just to the north of El Camino Hospital is Cuesta Park and its offering of recreational areas. Cuesta Park is probably the best park at the heart of Mountain View. It is a fairly large area with lots of grass for laying around reading or perhaps having a nice picnic (though I haven’t seen much of this), and there is a nice play area for kids, trails for nice walks and a soccer field.

Adjacent to Cuesta Field are the tennis courts of Mountain View Tennis—whose half dozen courts are the location for the beginning and intermediate classes that help foster the sport in Mountain View.

But the location is not just about health of the body. The Cuesta Park neighborhood is also about the health of the mind and spirit. With St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church on Cuesta Drive (my brother’s church) and St. Francis High School just to the west of El Camino Hospital you will find a fair amount of spiritual guidance here as well. When it comes to St. Francis High School, it is one of the best Catholic high schools in the Bay Area, offering a college-like atmosphere that focuses on academic rigor, character education, and also has strong athletics programs (go Lancers!). Though Mountain View hardly needs an alternative to their public schools, St. Francis is definitely the private alternative for those that want to avoid sending their kids to public schools.

North of Cuesta Drive, the Cuesta Park neighborhood is largely a residential neighborhood made up of older nicely kept Ranch homes, with some newer nicely kept condominiums on the far northern end by El Camino Real.

What does it cost to live in Cuesta Park?

This is one of those hyper stable neighborhoods where few houses come on the market at one time, but from what I’ve noticed it is a lot like many of the other highly desirable neighborhoods in Mountain View. Currently, for example there is a small 1200 foot Ranch home dating, of course, to the 50’s which will run you just shy of $1 million.

Not the most of affordable of neighborhoods, but my favorite in Mountain View.
Pros
  • Great Hospital
  • Nice Park
  • Great Catholic High School
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • Smallish, Overpriced Homes
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Mar 17, 2012

"Mountain Views Eichlers"

Unlike Palo Alto, Mountain View is not as well known for Eichlers. In fact, in most Mountain View neighborhoods you are unlikely to find these homes named after that iconic Bay Area architect. Not Monte Loma, however. This big neighborhood is filled with those low flat roofed creations, based on a modernist sensibility and a feeling openness on the inside.

Eichler homes, for all there seeming conformity allow for an amazing amount of individuality in everything from the colors these homes allow one to choose to the types of front lawns these types of homes allow. In a sense these really are throwbacks to an earlier time, when there was less emphasis on work and more time spent at home entertaining.

I was recently listening to an interview with John Updike—the American author known for his domestic tales of middle class suburban life. In it he mentioned how the 60s was a time when people focused on the domestic and not as much on their jobs (like we do now). If we might perhaps think of the Ranch home as the house of the 50’s and the Town Home as the iconic dwelling of the 1980s, then the Eichler is probably the house of the 60’s.

This is the home of life after the Bomb, during the period when house parties and the cultivating of your personal life was in vogue. It is all about expressing your individuality rather than conforming to societal expectations. But perhaps I am reading too much into it.

When it comes to this specific neighborhood, these are really nicely kept Eichlers for the most part. They aren’t as colorful as in some neighborhoods in Palo Alto, but you definitely do get the sense that you are in the same vicinity as those neighborhoods.

There are also some apartment complexes in this neighborhood (on the western end mostly).

So what does it cost to live here?

Most of these Eichlers go for around $850K or so. But there are a number of foreclosures in this area right now and they go for around $600K. Obviously a pretty big difference.

Either way, you will have to focus on your career to afford them.
Pros
  • Nice Eichlers
  • San Antonio Cal Train
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • A Bit Over Priced
  • Kind of Dull
Recommended for
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Mar 17, 2012

"Another Overpriced Mountain View Neighborhood"

On the northern end of Saint Francis Acres is one of those prototypical suburban strip malls with a CVS Pharmacy as the anchor and a bagel store, Blockbuster Video rental (does anyone still rent from these?), a Jamba Juice, and an eye care center. Nothing terribly exciting.
Just to east along the streets that feed off El Camino Real are a number of boxy apartment buildings with dark tightly packed apartments staring at each other over a narrow walkway (which is largely unused, since residents park in the spaces behind the apartment and use stairs to get up to their apartments).

As you head south into Saint Francis, you find the kind of typical suburban neighborhood with which anyone who lives in California is pretty familiar. Although there are some older homes, you will mostly find Ranch homes in this neck of the woods.

Think that because this happens to be a pretty middle of the road neighborhood that you will get middle of the road prices to go along with it?

Think again. A fairly typical 1500 ft. Ranch house in this neighborhood will run you over $1 million. That is over $667/foot.
Okay, so are there things that make this neighborhood worth the price of two houses in other neighborhoods in the Bay Area (three in some lower end neighborhoods)?

Well, some of the nice things about this neighborhood are that since it is one of these older neighborhoods, it is actually fairly walkable with sidewalks and shady trees. This may seem like a small thing, but you would be surprised by how many Bay Area neighborhoods are no longer walkable at all.

The second thing, of course, are schools. Since most people that move into this neighborhood will be families looking to raise kids, the quality of the schools is a major consideration.

So long as you end up at Almond Elementary and not Mariano Castro Elementary in Shoreline West to the north you are okay. The first is one of the many outstanding schools in Mountain View—the latter is middling at best.

So overall, I would say this is a nice neighborhood, but I just can’t see paying more than $1 million dollars for home here.
Pros
  • Nice Ranch Homes
  • Good Schools to the South
  • Quiet and Walkable
Cons
  • Way Overpriced
  • Fairly Typical Neighborhood
  • Bland Strip Mall and Apartments on North
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Mar 17, 2012

"Really Nice Mediterrean Style Homes"

Although a touch on the homogenous side, the Cuernavaca neighborhood, on the far eastern end of Mountain View, is pretty attractive. It feels a little like Florida to me, with palms and manicured lawns. The homes are in that Mediterranean style that
is so popular right now. I am not a huge fan of homogeneity but it is okay here.

Oh yeah and the price tag?

Most of these 80’s townhomes will run you about $1 million—though you can get them for about half that if you get one that has been foreclosed.
Pros
  • Beautiful Town Homes
  • Great Schools
  • Great Recreation Areas
Cons
  • Overly Homogenous
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • Poor Access to Public Transportation/Commuting
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
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 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Mar 17, 2012

"Walkable Condos"

I should start off by saying that I generally am not a fan of homogeneity in neighborhood design. I usually hate those neighborhoods where every house is built to look like the one next to it and only the number of your home lets you distinguish your house from the one next to it. Communities like these feel like they have all the conformity of the 1950’s without any of the community involvement that made those 1950’s ethos so successful.

Whisman Station is a patchwork of condominium complexes. I am not sure if the developers here worked in coordination or if one developer decided to create these half dozen slightly varying communities that encircle the Whisman VTA station. In my favorite of these complexes on the southe end of Magnolia park, homes are two stories high, with large sunny windows and thick front piers providing shelter at the front door (very reminiscent of early 20th Century California bungalows but without the walk up stairs). Bushy front yards (obviously community maintained), are trimmed to precision and give way to leafy streets with classic looking faux early century wrought iron lamps and young trees that offer tell-tale signs that this is a community still in its infancy.

Yet Whisman station feels less oppressive than it does quaint to me. I think that much of this pleasing effect has to dimensions of the streets here. They are narrow and have plentiful sidewalks. (Garages are in back alleys where each home has its own garage or along cut-out bays along the front of homes.) By narrowing the streets, the developers have help encourage walking within the neighborhood and discouraged vehicles from driving quickly.

So often when you get a planned community, the whole space in between homes just feel like a large alley. Often the front of homes are made for vehicles and with an emphasis on the garage as the true entry way to the home. Sidewalks, if existent, are placed behind the homes and lead to pools or recreation areas, but they largely remain little used except on hot summer days. By reversing this equation the planners of the south of Magnolia community have harkened back to a bygone period when planners tried to create a sense of shelter within the community and to emphasize the pedestrian as the central unit of the community.

I don’t know if this type of community works in 21st Century, car centered Mountain View. Many may feel as if they are living in a retirement community and indeed, many of the residents that I have seen here are of the gray haired and oversized glasses variety (though not all, as the mom’s and toddlers at the park play areas prove). However, I welcome the attempt to remove the focus of our neighborhoods away from emission producing vehicles and towards a means of living based more on the use of shoe leather than fossil fuels.

In fact, I could see someone living here without an automobile—a seeming impossibility in the Peninsula. At the center of Whisman Station you have—well—Whisman Station, the VTA light rail station that connects you with the rest of Silicon Valley, making it possible for you use light rail for your work commute rather than an automobile. With the planned extension of BART, it may soon be possible to relatively easily get from anywhere in the greater Bay Area to anywhere else with relative ease. In addition, commuting via rail is a much more productive way of getting to work, allowing you to prepare for the day or catch up on reading on your way. Certainly much safer than checking texts while negotiating the horrendous bumper to bumper parking lot that are the Silicon Valley freeways during any weekday commute. As it stands, this is definitely a commuter friendly, environmentally friendly community.

The complex of homes also has all of the amenities you expect from a condo complex like this. Magnolia Park and Chatwood Park are both kid friendly areas, isolated from traffic, and having a mix of open space, a fountain in the case of the first and play structures. Each of the complexes also has a pool, a real boon given the hot summers and September Indian summers in this area of the Peninsula.

Of course, there are some problems with trying to live here without car. One is the distance and walkability of grocery stores. Unless you intend to have your groceries delivered—not always the most efficient way of getting what you actually want—you will have a little bit of a hard time trying to make a carless existence work in this section of Mountain View.

If they had a Lucky or Safeway in Whisman proper, that would make it much more conducive to walkability. Without that, however, it remains a sort of keep from which you must drive out to get what you need, thus diminishing what I think is one of its central strengths

So what does it cost to live in one of these condos?

Usually, these condos go for over $650K, but the foreclosure crisis has done its number here with more than 80% of the condos on the market being on the market due to foreclosures. Those which are being sold due to foreclosure run for sometimes as little as $350K—almost like the average price for a condo in other parts of the Bay Area.

You can also rent a condo here at typically high Mountain View prices: $5000 for a 3-bedroom, $3200 for a 2-bedroom.

At those rents, it is probably easier to buy, however.
Pros
  • Walkable Complexes
  • Great For Commuters
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • No Local Supermarket
  • Expensive for Renters
  • Too Close to Highway on Southern End
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • 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 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Mar 17, 2012

"People Boxes, Sushi and Alibis"

Shoreline West is the neighborhood just to the west of Old Mountain View. If you are looking for a relatively affordable neighborhood in Mountain View, this is where you are likely to find it. Now, let me make this clear: this is not affordable by normal standards, only by Mountain View standards. Your average one-bedroom here will run you about $1300 on the low end, while a 2-bedroom starts about $1700. But that is the low end, for an apartment in one of the many 1970’s style shoe box apartment buildings that are fairly common place here. As the apartments get nicer, the rents get higher.

You will find apartments here with pools and a few with tennis courts, but as I mentioned before, many have all the character of a shipping container and are merely people boxes. You have no doubt been in these kinds of apartments at one point in your life—you know, bare white walls, a semi-detached kitchen (often with a bar that lets you see out into the main room) and a corner of the box for the bedroom.

This is not the whole neighborhood, however. Shoreline West is a pretty big area. On the northern end, you have a pretty nice apartment complex, in sort of a faux Mediterranean style (red tiled roofs and tan walls). It looks really nice, as far as that sort of thing goes.

And it is not just apartments in this area either. You will also find a number of early Twentieth Century California bungalows on streets like Palo Alto Ave. These are those really cute low-roofed houses with thick piers and tiny verandas that were once all the rage. They are still pretty attractive in my opinion, though the neighborhood does seem to have a little bit of a crime worry—if the prevalence of barred doors and windows are any indication.

If you are thinking of perhaps buying a home here, you will find a number of those newer homes that are popping up in the
Mountain View area. The ones that look to me a little bit like 21st Century versions of Queen Anne Victorians. Something about these house seems a little small on the outside and cramped on the inside. I’ve only been inside of one of them when visiting a friend who had recently purchased one of these and I think it is their attempt to make too small a space hold everything that a normal sized house holds. Perhaps it is because they are converting the lot of a California bungalow into the a space for a modern home.

Anyway, whatever the reason, these sorts of newer homes just end up feeling pretty cramped. The kitchen is one of the places you feel it most. You feel like you are in the hallway of a locomotive with the counters and appliances jutting out at you. You get the same feeling in the bedrooms which feel too oblong, while the living room ends up feeling more like a den.
It’s not horrible, but I am not sure it is worth the prices they charge which in this neighborhood is around $1.1 million. Pretty steep for a cramped little house in my opinion.

This is not to say that you can’t find some deals here as well. It seems like about half the homes currently on the market are there due to foreclosure in Shoreline West and some of these—mostly condos from the 80’s—are asking less than $500K.
And there are some larger homes on the southern end of Shoreline (1700 sq. ft.) that are going for $1.25 million.

Okay, so other than the homes what other conveniences are there for this neighborhood?

Well, unfortunately one of the drawbacks of this neighborhood is that the local elementary (Mariano Castro) and middle school (Graham) are some of the worst schools in Mountain View with below State average API’s and some of the sorts of school problems that you usually don’t find in Mountain View. Mediocrity in Mountain View schools is the equivalent of failure, so these are pretty bad on that count.

Because of the schools and slightly higher crime rates, I can’t really recommend this area for families with young children.
One of the main draws of this neighborhood, however, is its proximity to the restaurants and nightlife of Old Mountain View. But you need not traipse east in order to get some restaurant and bar action. Here are some of the highlights of this area:

Restaurants:

Le Petit Bistro: This is definitely the priciest restaurant in Shoreline West. As the name indicates it is a French place that serves traditional French food, created by Chef Jean Michel. It has the gaudy feel of an actual French place, complete with corny Romantic music. The lobster bisque, the duck and pate are what make it worth it for me.

Best Bite: This is a Persian place that basically does the whole Middle-Eastern menu from gyros to falafel. The décor is not outstanding but the food is pretty good. My favorites are the kebabs and the meerza ghesemi (just try it!) and the zazaki cucumber dip. I love the Persian twist on food, and let’s face it, given the state of world politics these days, we could definitely use some things that bring our two cultures closer rather than further apart.

Hacchi Sushi Lounge: I’m not much of a sushi guy, but my ex loved this place. She said it was the best sushi place in Mountain View and she was totally into the sushi, so I’ll take her word for it. As to me, my favorite here was the mussels—which they thankfully cooked.

Bars:

Old Mountain View doesn’t have the monopoly on bars either. Alibi on El Camino is just the right mix of a slightly divey joint (almost scary from the outside) and a neighborhood sports bar. Sangria Mondays are the best time to go during Football Season.

In a nut shell then, this is pretty good spot for singles or young couples—close to action. If you are an old fogey like me, you probably should take advice from the birds and migrate south.
Pros
  • Close to the Action
  • Relatively Affordable Apartments
  • Good Restaurants
Cons
  • Bad Schools
  • A Touch of Crime
  • Too Many Boxy Apartments
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Mar 17, 2012

"Mobile Homes and a Mix of New and Old"

This is the neighborhood right at the point where the Steven’s Creek Freeway meets El Camino Real. At the far northeastern end where this intersection happens, there is Sahara Homes, a trailer park right there within earshot of the freeway noise.

Right next to it is a fairly typical strip mall with a Grain d’Or and a Chaat Café and a gas station. This is fairly typical suburban stuff.

Just to the south of this area is one of those newer residential areas where all the homes were built by the same company, giving the neighborhood a certain consistency of appearance that is either admirable or oppressively homogenous depending on your point of view. In this particular case, whoever put together the homes at Sussex Square has managed to create enough differentiation where the homes have a certain level of uniqueness. (In other words, this is not one of those neighborhoods where if you changed the numbers on the homes some people might walk into their neighbors’ homes.) It does however, still have the ever so slight hint of a condo complex feel to it.

The rest of this smallish neighborhood to the south of this area is made up of a mix of newer construction and older homes, often jarringly adjacent to one another. Some of the newer homes are really quite nice and you can tell how pricy they are by the luxury vehicles parked just outside; others, feel a bit pre-fab, or a bit cheapish, as if they were rushed to market.

It’s a bit of a hodgepodge really, without a definable character. As a whole, it doesn’t really make for an attractive neighborhood, feeling more like a neighborhood whose character is in transition.
Pros
  • Some Nice Newer Homes
  • Great Schools
  • Some Affordable Spots
Cons
  • Doesn't have a Consistent Character
  • Bland Strip Mall
  • Traffic Noise
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Mar 16, 2012

"Tiny Cookie Cutter City"

Castro City is, ironically I suppose, barely even big enough to be considered a neighborhood—much less a “city.” It is just 4 square blocks from Rengstorff to College Ave. and is made up of fairly unattractive homes—many on the older, boxier side.
It is in that section of Mountain View by the Central Expressways where you get a number of older, not quite as attractive neighborhoods (like Rex Manor, for example).

There are a fair number of newer homes mixed in here, but they do not look very attractive. They definitely have a cookie cutter feel to them. They are two story little things and very narrow. I don’t really get what is going on with this.

I guess you get a bit of a break on price. The average rent around here for a 3-bedroom is $3000—not too bad for Mountain View.

And if you are looking to buy here, you can get one of these homes for about $400 K.

You are also really close to the San Antonio Caltrain, so it is ideal if you are commuter, I suppose.

It would not be my first choice though.
Pros
  • Relatively Inexpensive
  • Close to Public Transportation
  • Close to Mall
Cons
  • Ugly Cookie Cutter Homes
  • Not Really a Neighborhood
  • Freeway Noise
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • 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 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Mar 16, 2012

"Historic Homes and New Homes on the Way"

Waverly is the neighborhood just two blocks over from my brother’s neighborhood. It is just north of Mountain View High School which is really outstanding (consistently holds an API of 10—the highest rating possible).

I love a neighborhood named after a Sir Walter Scott novel, even if they did misspell it, but that’s not what I really like most about this neighborhood. Actually what I like most are the historic homes located here. If you are a bit of an architecture buff like I am, you will probably enjoy visiting Waverly and taking a gander at some of the older homes here. For example, right by the corner of Biericx and Kern there is a 1925 Mission Colonial manor that is just beautiful. It feels like the kind of house you would usually find in Beverly Hills and that dates back to the Golden Age of Hollywood. But it stands out even more for being surrounded by fairly typical modern homes.

There is also a really well kept 1913 American Craftsman at the bottom of the Saint Giles Lane cul-de-sac. The front porch is really attractive and gives you a good sense of the style, known for its feeling of protective comfort. Saint Giles Lane, by the way, is beautiful in and of itself with its palm trees and attractive newer homes.

But even without the historic homes, there are some pretty great houses here. Although many of these are close to what you would call Ranch homes, they have a lot of different variations. Some are two story houses and others just have a rather flat look to them. It is really refreshing actually to see this kind of heterogeneous neighborhood—especially given how often you come across these completely monotone planned neighborhoods these days.

Okay, but what does it cost to live here? Well, there aren’t any current homes for sale in Waverly that I know of, but over by
Grant Avenue where there used to be an open field, there is a whole new section of the neighborhood starting to go up. Homes here are projected to run you around $2 million.

As for what it is actually like living in Waverly, it is actually pretty nice. It is a fairly typical suburban neighborhood, but it was created long enough ago that it is still pedestrian friendly, with flat sidewalk filled surface streets that are great for kids on bikes and walking. Most streets are pretty quiet and relatively safe in terms of traffic.

There is also a good park, Cooper Park, on the northeastern end of the neighborhood where you can find a very nice play area for the little ones. (The park is sort of an extension of the local elementary school.) There are a couple of baseball fields and some good tennis courts as well. But you don’t have to settle for these parks if you live here. Since the Cuesta Park neighborhood is just to west, you can also go to Cuesta Park just to the west. Or if the tennis courts are full here, go to the Mountain View Tennis club.

The other nice thing is that even though you are in a quiet, safe suburban neighborhood you are also pretty close to the restaurants over on El Camino, so that you can practically walk to get a bite to eat. (Although to get there is a little trickier than a walk allows since the Steven’s Creek highway creates a sort of barrier for those trying to get to that part of town. )

And should you need a hospital—El Camino Hospital (one of Mountain Views biggest employers) is just to the west as well.
That is where my brother’s last kid was born as a matter of fact. They also offer a ton of outreach programs from breast feeding to just general health programs.

Overall, this is one of the several really great Mountain View neighborhoods. Though, of course, like most of Mountain View, you will definitely pay for it.
Pros
  • Beautiful Historic Homes
  • Close to Everything without Being Noisy
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Very, Very, Expensive
  • Hard to find a Home
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Mar 11, 2012

"Less Expensive but Not Cheap"

Like a lot of the area north of the Central Expressway in Mountain View, this is an older neighborhood filled with fairly worn down looking homes from the 1950’s and 1960’s. You will find a fair number of apartment buildings here as well.

There are some large homes on the northern end of the neighborhood but they really do not give you a sense of wealth. In fact homes here really don’t break the million dollar barrier. I think there are number of reasons for this. One is that the area really does have a run down, unkept look to it. When you drive through (except up on Middlefield Road, perhaps) the homes just look very weathered and somewhat ramshackle.

The apartments, for example, are of that 1960’s boxy kind of apartment that have completely lost their appeal in the 21st century.

The other thing that is sort of a drag on property prices is the mediocre local schools whose tests scores are about equal with the nationwide average. The local school, for example, right at the heart of Rex Manor, Theuerkauf Elementary has average scores across the board, with an API of 5 and California state tests averaging at about 50%.

That is not horrible, but given the great nearby schools it seems worse by comparison.

Those are the main reasons I think for this ceiling on home prices is here. That said, homes are not exactly cheap here either compared to other locations. These older homes here still fetch at least $500K and sometimes (especially when they have not been foreclosed) even rise as far as $800K.

I suppose, I can see this neighborhood slowly starting to develop into a coveted area. They are after all right at the edge of a commercial area with a number of office parks just to the north. (Though this actually might work as a deterrent for some workers who would not want to live within sight of their bosses. Taking a sick day to just go into town or something might be a little nerve racking.)

Overall, it still seems overpriced to me.
Pros
  • Nice Older Homes
  • Close to Old Mountain View
Cons
  • Worn Down Looking
  • Mediocre Schools
  • Still Overpriced
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Mar 11, 2012

"Great Place for Real Estate Speculators"

Jackson Park just a little nook of a neighborhood covering barely 7 blocks. It is made up of really old homes, the kind where if you cleared away the modern cars you could probably shoot a movie set in the 1930’s, just about. White picket fences and those kinds of droopy trees that seem to have been popular in the pre-War period are prevalent here. Think To Kill a Mockingbird.
Well, almost anyway.

Many of the houses here look the worse for wear as the saying goes. They really do look like they are three quarters of a century old. But don’t let this make you think you will get a break on rent. A house in this neighborhood will still cost you $2000 for a 2-bedroom, which I guess is a deal for Mountain View.

If you are thinking of buying here and taking advantage of the location, you can get one of these older homes—pretty much a box with roof (2000 feet) for about $600K. I suppose anything under a million is a deal for Mountain View. But this is really not much to write home about. You would probably have to raze the place and start over, but you could probably make some money on the resale.

In fact, you will find some just finished homes around here for sale for $1.5 million, so it appears you wouldn’t be the first one to take a home here and turn it into an investment. The other thing that is good about this location is that you are just north of Old Mountain View, so you are in walking distance from all the restaurants and cool bars.

I can see someone with a bit of a Beatnik streak really enjoying living in this area.

Unfortunately I can’t really recommend this location to families with young kids. School test scores for this section of Mountain
View are the worst in the city, have pretty average scores when compared to nationwide standards.

As to Jackson Park itself, from which the neighborhood takes its name? It is a little like the neighborhood itself, kind of small and disappointing.

Overall, I would say this section might be a good place to invest for the future. There are signs that it beginning to undergo a transformation that might make it a great place to have a stake when the real-estate market turns around.
Pros
  • Relatively Affordable Rents
  • Close to Old Mountain View
  • Close to Transportation
Cons
  • Very Old Houses
  • Kind of Shaby Looking
  • Mediocre Schools
Recommended for
  • Hipsters
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Mar 11, 2012

"The Millionaires Next Door"

My younger brother lives here, so I often find myself here visiting him. The Blossom Valley neighborhood is probably best described as a nice, somewhat upscale version of the typical California neighborhood. Put another way, there are Ranch houses galore here. Really nicely kept Ranch houses, but Ranch houses nevertheless.

But don’t be fooled. This is not a middle class neighborhood. Let’s take my brother’s house. It looks like a fairly typical Ranch home from the outside, where it sits right at the soft turn of a quiet residential street. It looks pretty much like a billion other ranch homes in California—you know the look: brown shingled roof, adobe walls (in this particular case, painted a grapish purple that I my brother keeps telling me he is going to paint over but keeps putting off).

It has 4 bedrooms and a 2 car garage and backyard that is mostly cement with a canopy roof to provide shade. It is just over 2000 feet total and does have a nice interior with recessed lighting in the ceiling, a beautiful kitchen and a classic sort of stylish shelving in the living room. The inside really adds a lot of value.

Given the great local schools and the proximity to his work, I could definitely see maybe paying $750K for it. That’s what it would cost say, in Pleasanton or Dublin, I’m guessing.

What did little bro pay for it?

Just shy of $1.5 million.

That’s right. And this was after the Housing Bubble Burst. Little bro is doing pretty well for himself but a million dollar home without a pool? In the middle of the suburbs? A house that 50 miles in any direction would not break a million dollars? I think its nuts.

But it brings me to the point about this neighborhood. It looks like a middle class neighborhood but its not. It’s actually neighborhood for the really well off disguised as a middle class neighborhood. You remember that book The Millionaire Next Door? Well this must have been the neighborhood where that author lived, except that I don’t think most authors can afford to live here.

As they say, real estate is all about LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. So, I guess if you are one of Google’s 10,000 employees (Mountain View’s biggest employer) then you are willing to pay the huge costs to not have to have a long commute.

Now, this is not to say that Mountain View doesn’t definitely have a lot advantages over most neighborhoods in California. The schools here as throughout most of the Peninsula are just fantastic. Even if they weren’t you have several private choices here as well. For Blossom Valley your kids would go from Springer Elementary in Blossom Valley to Blach Intermediate at the southern end of neighboring Cuesta Park to Mountain View High in Waverly Park—all within a mile and all outstanding. Some of the best schools in all of California. (Probably in the country.)

Just to the east you have El Camino Hospital, so I would imagine this would make for a great spot for nurses to live (though I think only the doctors would be able to afford it here).

This is a quiet, very safe neighborhood. (Mountain Views crime rates though they don’t compare favorably to Palo Alto’s or Los
Altos are half the national average year after year with barely one murder per year for its 72,000+ residents.)

At the eastern end of Blossom Valley you have a strip mall and a Safeway Shopping center. You can go to Starbucks there and get some Mountain Mike’s Pizza, but it is otherwise a pretty unremarkable location.

So what am I saying with all this?

I guess I am saying that this is definitely a nice neighborhood, but that I just can see how to justify spending more than a million dollars on a home here when that money can go so much farther just 30 miles from here, even if that means spending an extra hour commuting every day.
Pros
  • Great Schools
  • Quiet and Safe
  • Comforts of Suburban Living
Cons
  • Very, Very, Very Expensive
  • No Nightlife
  • Boredom of Suburban Living
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Feb 19, 2012

"San Joses Most Single Friendly Neighborhood"

Willow Glen, San Jose is, perhaps the oldest residential section of the San Jose. In the northeastern part of this neighborhood you will find homes dating back to the early 1900’s. Basically that means lots of California bungalows as they are known.

Throughout the rest of Willow Glen, however, the most common kind of houses are large luxurious Ranch homes dating to the 1950’s. If you liked the neighborhood in Leave It to Beaver, you will fall in love with the main section of Willow Glen.

Homes from the 1950’s make up more than a quarter of the homes in Willow Glen, with another quarter dating from the 1960’s and 70’s. Less than a quarter of the homes here are from after 1980.

There are some really amazing micro neighborhoods in Willow Glen. The older homes in the northern area are really attractive in a quaint sort of way. They are very reminiscent of Berkeley or West Sacramento, though safer than those areas.

Then there are several idyllic 1950’s style neighborhoods with homes of various types—from large luxurious Ranch style homes to a neighborhood filled with Prairie style homes with sky roofs right in the center of the homes.

There is also a neighborhood that has all red-tiled adobe style homes and several apartment complexes. Basically, if you have a bit of fetish for one kind of home or another, Willow Glen probably has a neighborhood for you.

The median home price in Willow Glen is around $525K.

Willow Glen is also home to San Jose City College—the main community college in San Jose.

Unfortunately, the schools in Willow Glen don’t really match the quality of other schools just to the west or south of here. Del Mar and Willow Glen High School—though not terrible in terms of test scores and other metrics—are only average in terms of the education they offer. This is one of the central drawbacks of the area.

The other good thing about Willow Glen is that with central San Jose just to the north an some spillover into Willow Glen, you have a number of entertainments in terms of nightlife. There is, for example, the Goosetown Lounge and Marmist Cocktail Lounge, just to name a couple.

Overall, this is one of the more enticing areas of San Jose proper for singles and the college aged (especially on the northern end). It also has some cool spots to the south. The main drawback is the high cost of property in Willow Glen.
Pros
  • Variety of Home Styles
  • Close to Downtown
  • Good Night Life and Restaurants
Cons
  • Average Schools
  • Expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Feb 19, 2012

"Close Enough to take a Bite Out of Apple"

West San Jose is a pretty standard residential area. It’s got a ton of Ranch homes from the 50’s and 60’s (the big boom period for San Jose) and all the usual things that you expect from the suburbs—from supermarkets to shopping malls.

Generally speaking, the most expensive section is to the west of the Lawrence Expressway. This is where you will find the handful of the million dollar homes that dot the area. Don’t be misled however. These are only million dollar homes because they are here in West San Jose. Move these same houses out of this primo area where you can commute into Apple and Google in no time at all—and the home price drops. As the old saw goes, real estate is all about “location, location, location!”

As far as the rest of the area goes home prices drop quite a bit as you head east. Homes also tend to be a little bit older. The median home price is probably somewhere around $550 k for a home. On the east end is where you find the most affordable homes. Overall, this is where you are most likely to find the homes that drop below $250K.

The outstanding schools on the western end are also one of the big draws of the area—Lynbrook being one of the several truly outstanding schools that characterize this area along the Peninsula and below. As you head farther east the quality drops a bit, with Campbell High being pretty bad.

As to other qualities of the area, this is pretty much just suburbia. If you imagine it has it, it does. If you are looking for amazing nightlife, you will have to take the short trip to Downtown San Jose.
Pros
  • Great Schools
  • Very Close ot Silicon Valley Firms
  • Good Suburban Living
Cons
  • Overpriced Home Prices
  • Not Much in terms of Nightlife
  • Bland
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Feb 13, 2012

"SJ Style OC"

Nicely tucked away up in the hills, Silver Creek Valley brings a little touch of Orange County right to Silicon Valley. If you are a fan of the O. C. and have always wanted to experience what it is like to live in a gated community built around a golf course, well you should drive right up Silver Creek Road and check out the neighborhoods right up here. (Don’t forget to book an appointment first, they don’t let the riff-raff poke around up here uninvited.)

If you are looking for a single family home up here, however, you should be sure to save up first. Even in this rough market, the median price for a single family home here is $950K. Now the condos are a fair amount less, but they will not get you the amazing Mediterranean style McMansion with the hillside views.

This is one of the areas—again much likes sections of Orange County—where every stone and leaf feels as if it has been planned. Every lawn is perfectly green, ever hedge perfectly trimmed. It is the kind of place that you are afraid to walk with your kid for fear they might run across someone’s lawn and bend some leaves of grass.

It is definitely beautiful, however. And to get to this area you have to go up a road and slip up behind the hills, so you definitely feel as if you are shielded from the rest of San Jose. Just you and all the other members of country club. Paradise?
Pros
  • Nice Views
  • Beautiful Homes
  • Perfectly Maintained Community
Cons
  • Overly Controlled
  • A Bit Out of the Way
  • No Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Feb 13, 2012

"Great Southern Nook"

The Santa Tereza area, the farthest most southern part of San Jose, is one of those enclaves for the upper-middle class that you expect to find in the vicinity of the Silicon Valley.

On the northern end by Highway 85 which forms the area’s northern border, there is a Kaiser Permanente and a commercial office park that includes such businesses as a Western Career College and Northrop Grumand office.

The neighborhoods to the south of the area (which form a U shape from west to east on its southern end), are very nicely kept residential neighborhoods except on the eastern end where you find a fairly forgettable mobile home park.

On the western end, neighborhoods like Rancho Santa Tereza are made up of attractive wide Ranch homes. Very nice really and with the average price at around $450K, they are relatively affordable.

There are also several condos and apartment complexes in the area where the prices are—of course—about a $100K less on average.

The schools in the area are outstanding as well, with Santa Tereza High being significantly above the California average, and Leland High down in Greystone being even better than that.

Overall, a great place to live, nestled up against the hills so that you can go for jogs or hikes or take in a game of golf at the country club. You are also close enough where you will avoid the worst of the traffic.
Pros
  • Great Schools
  • Nice Ranch Style Homes
  • Great Hillside Location
Cons
  • No Nightlife
  • A Tough on the Expensive Side
  • Traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Feb 13, 2012

"Box Stores, Cemetaries, and Condos"

Every major city, I suppose, has an area like this. A place where all the big box stores come together in one spot. This is a major part of what you will find here—from TJ Maxx to Toys-R-Us. Fairgrounds is that kind of a neighborhood for the East San Jose area.

This is where you go if you are looking for any number items.

At the heart of Fairgrounds, however is Oak Hill Memorial—the major cemetery in the area.

Now as far as living in the Fairgrounds area—the neighborhoods that make this place up are really a pretty mixed bag. On the one hand, you have the older rundown tract homes that make up the Seven Trees neighborhood on the southeastern end of the Fairgrounds area. This is a heavily Hispanic area with many immigrant families and it does have kind of a bad reputation.

However, the homes here are much more affordable than in other areas of SJ (median price is $375K) and there are spots where the older Ranch homes are all well-kept. Like anywhere else, really, you should check out your neighbors before you move in so that you do not end up in a neighborhood that is not compatible with your needs.

(I have to mention that Seven Trees does—as many such immigrant neighborhoods—have a negative reputation.)

On the other hand, there are also brand new tract homes, most anyone would be happy with, snaking over the hills on the southwestern end of the Fairgrounds neighborhood. In fact, when the Recession hit, this was one of the latest areas in the housing expansion and one which still stands. These condos are really quite nice and pretty affordable, also running in $300 to $450K range.

On the northern end, the neighborhoods there are decidedly older—lots of pre-WWII bungalows—many made of wood. This is right around Spartan Stadium where the San Jose State football team plays.

Although the rents are relatively affordable in the area, this is not a really good place for families mainly because of the schools, which are invariably below average or worse. Yerba Buena High on the northern end is pretty awful, in terms of test scores one of the worst schools in San Jose. Andrew Hill High serves the southern end is only slightly better—still way below average.

Now, though there is a lot of shopping power in this area, it is not really a great spot if you are looking for a nice restaurant in which to eat. Pretty much a fast food culture. Nor will you find much nightlife in this particular neighborhood.

Overall, I would say this is an okay place to live if you don’t have kids. Otherwise just come here for the box stores and go home somewhere else.
Pros
  • Good Box Stores
  • Nice Condos
  • Affordable Homes
Cons
  • Run Down in Spots
  • Terrible Schools
  • No Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Feb 12, 2012

"The Far Tentacle of Suburban Sprawl"

The Evergreen area just to the south of Reid-Hillview Airport and Lake Cunningham on the far eastern end of San Jose is the far reach of SJ suburban sprawl. The area was in the midst of a housing boom, with tons of new construction going up, just when the Housing Crisis struck. Drive through the brand spanking new neighborhoods and you will still see homes that were not completed sitting, waiting for the return of construction.

Despite this, house prices here are still fairly high, with the median price being around $500 K. (Though some homes in the hills still price over $1 million.) Homes here are those two-story contemporary style homes with adobe walls and red-tiled roofs—a popular 80’s and 90’s style.

One of the big draws in the area for families are the schools. Evergreen Valley High can more than hold its own against any other school in the Bay Area. It has truly amazing test scores. And this standard of excellence permeates all levels of the education system in the Evergreen Valley area.

Now this is not a big nightlife neighborhood. Being near the hills, Evergreen is pretty much a 100% residential suburban area.

There are nearby East Asian restaurants and supermarkets and the whole deal, but this is not the kind of place where singles will enjoy spending their nights out for fun. This is pretty much a place to lay down your head to sleep and where you feel safe letting your kids go to the park without getting shot by gangs.

Overall a nice place to live—perhaps a bit overpriced.
Pros
  • Nice New Homes
  • Great Schools
  • Close to Silicon Valley
Cons
  • Expensive
  • No Nightlife
  • Hillside Problems
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Feb 12, 2012

"Great For Tech Workers with Families"

Bordering Los Gatos on the west, Cambrian Park is one of those transitional areas where you see home prices slowly rise the closer you get to its upper crust neighbor. There are even some million dollar homes on the western end. The median, overall, is around $550K.

The neighborhood mostly dates from the 50’s and 60’s though the homes are so well-kept they hardly seem half a century old. If you know California architecture at all, you know that this means lots of Ranch homes (sometimes referred to as Tract Homes though that could refer to any set of homes built at the same time on a street plan—think Levitt Town). There are a large number of ranch homes here, but something about the width of the streets, the size of the front lawns, and the ample space between the homes on most streets gives it a more open, nicer feel than this usually implies.

This is the kind of neighborhood where you will see American flags waving out front, pick-up trucks and old-school gas guzzlers in the front drive—but it also has a lot of newer residents as well with all that implies.

One of the big draws of this area are the schools all of which are outstanding. Of special note are Leigh and Pioneer High both among the best in not only Northern California, but also throughout the state.

In terms of restaurants and that kind of thing, choices are not amazing, but you can find Indian places, East Asian foods, and Mexican food. And, of course, the usual fast food choices.

In terms of nightlife, this is not really the neighborhood for it unless you consider catching a flick nightlife. There is one sports bar that I know of, and it is nothing to write home about.

So overall, I would say, this is a really nice neighborhood perfectly located for Silicon Valley workers with families. You might even be able to find some relatively affordable deals here in terms of home prices—especially now with foreclosures flooding the market.
Pros
  • Great Schools
  • Nices Looking 60's Style Homes
  • Close to Silicon Valley and Los Gatos
Cons
  • No Nightlife
  • Traffic
  • Just Okay Restaurants
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Feb 12, 2012

"Full-Service Suburban Living"

You are deep into suburban living by the time you get into Blossom Valley. Condos, townhomes, single-family homes and even trailer parks make up the dozen or so micro neighborhoods that you find here.

Average home prices are not too bad—especially compared to those in the Peninsula just to the northwest.

Typically, homes run from about $400K to $600K.

Condos and townhomes are closer to $300K

And mobile homes $60K to $120K.

There are tons and tons of condos and townhomes here—some quite nice, some looking kind of worn. The majority of the condos are located by Almaden Lake, in the McKeon neighborhood and just north of Blossom Hill Road before it is cut off by 85 on.

About three quarters of homes in the area on the market due to foreclosure.

In terms of renting, your typical 2 bedroom apartment runs about $1500 though some can rise much higher.

--In terms of schools, it is a bit of a mixed bag. Gunderson High at the heart of the Blossom Hill area is below average and Oak Grove is only slightly better (average). But Santa Teresa High is definitely above average and the neighboring schools to the south and west (such as Pioneer High) are some of the best in California.

--Shopping—This is suburban living with all of its usual amenities: strip malls, supermarkets, and, of course, a giant mall. The Oakridge Mall, on the western end, is basically one of those Fast Times at Ridgemont High types of mega-plexes. You know the scene—trolling teens, families, and the usual churning of the wheels of fluorescent lit commerce.

--Restaurants—In terms of dining, this is not a gourmet smorgasbord. There are however quite a few okay dining locales—especially if you are into sushi or East Asian cuisine in general. Overall, however, you will have to head to other places for really cool dining.

--Nightlife—In terms of nightlife, this is mostly a movie, sushi and bowling kind of place. Nothing too spectacular.

In other words, this is your full-service, middle-class suburban neighborhood.
Pros
  • Suburban Conveniences
  • Close to Silicon Valley
  • Relatively Affordable
Cons
  • Some Bad Schools
  • No Great Restaurants
  • Kind of Boring
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Feb 12, 2012

"A Mix of Good and Not So Good Neighborhoods"

The southeast neighborhood of Edenvale—just a hop, skip and jump from Morgan Hill—is actually better thought of as a grouping of about a dozen suburban residential neighborhoods: Century-Pebbletree, Coyote-Fontanelle, Great Oaks, Riverview, Serenade, Melody, Hellyer, Sylvandale, Locke, Ramblewood, Donna Rocks, San Ramon and Edenvale proper. Of these, Great Oaks, Hellyer and Edenvale could definitely have their own posts.

Here is a quick rundown of the highlights of these neighborhoods:

Edenvale proper (where Monterey Road and 101 practically meet at Blossom Hill Rd.—Edenvale proper has a relatively nice trailer park on its southern end where income levels drop though overall it is a middle to slightly upper-middle class neighborhood. The mobile homes in the park run around $60 K while the homes in regular homes in Edenvale run around $350K—mostly 60’s era Ranch homes. Edenvale Elementary, the neighborhood school is solid but not spectacular.

Century (Pebbletree)—To the east of 101 and Edenvale proper is the wealthy neighborhood of Century-Pebbletree withs it 1970’s era homes and wide lanes—lots of new style Ranch homes here and homes averaging around $450K. (Most homes for sale here are foreclosures—few homeowners with the means want to enter the market right at the moment.)

Coyote-Fontanelle—Just to the north of Century-Pebbletree on the east of 101 and along the hills, is Coyote-Fontanelle, the 80’s version of Century-Pabbletree. Basically, the same kind of neighborhood in virtually every respect except for the slightly newer early 80’s style homes. Unfortunately, Stipe Elementary located here is just average in terms of ratings.

Great Oaks—Great Oaks is basically the northern twin of Edenvale in the same way Coyote-Fontanelle is the northern twin of Century-Pebbletree. You will basically find a mix of middle-class homes here (virtually all on the market due to foreclosure). The average home here runs around $350K.

Riverview—Basically an upper-middle class neighborhood with a variety of homes from as far back as the 1960’s and as recent as the 2000’s. Basically this is a hodgepodge of residential architectural styles. There is even a townhouse section with red-tiled roofs.

Serenade and Melody—Just to the north of Riverview are the solidly middle class neighborhoods of Serenade and Melody. Lot’s or 60s and 70’s Ranch homes—both neighborhoods are slightly rundown. $375K homes probably. (This also happens to be the location of the Saint Gabriel Ethiopian Church, though this is a majority Hispanic neighborhood, not Ethiopian. So I am not sure what to do with that.) Both neighborhoods straddle Hellyer Park on its western end. Unfortunately, the neighborhood school—Christopher Elementary, is not a very good school.

Hellyer—Just to the north of Melody and Serenade, Hellyer is a touch nicer than those two neighborhoods, but not by much. Homes are slightly newer, but a ton of foreclosures bring prices down to the levels just to the south. Hellyer Elementary is probably the second strongest school in Edenvale, if you go strictly by test scores.

Sylvandale (East and West) are just to the northwest of Hellyer. They are firmly middle class and are home to Sylvandale Middle
School—which is somewhat below average, in terms of test scores.

Ramblewood—on the far northeastern end of the Edenvale area and one of my favorites. This upper middle class neighborhood has these homes (more red-tiled roofs) with a really nice look to them—kind of class upperclass 1980’s look to it that I find rather comforting. Ramblewood Elementary is also the strongest elementary school in Edenvale—above average test scores, good school atmosphere as far as I can tell.

Locke and Los Arboles on the northwestern end of the Edenvale—Another middle class neighborhood, pretty dingy and definitely my least favorite section of these neighborhoods. It is also home to Andrew Hill High School, whose below average test scores are one of the major drawbacks of the area. Los Arboles and Seven Trees Elementary actually have even lower scores—dismally low. Definitely an argument for sending your kids to private school if you are going to live here.

San Ramon and Donna Rocks—On the far western end, these upper middle class neighborhoods by the Christian School are some of the best values in the area.

Overall an okay place to live.
Pros
  • Nice Eastern Hill Communities
  • Good Parks
  • Relatively Affordable Homes
Cons
  • Not Very Good Schools
  • Lot's of Foreclosures
  • No Real Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Retirees
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Feb 05, 2012

"Its All Roses"

The Rose Garden Neighborhood in San Jose is just north of the Burbank neighborhood. It is named for being the home of the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden. The homes right around the Rose Garden itself are actually the most expensive in the area.
These classic historic homes are often in the million dollar range, many being crafted with amazing stonework. These are the kinds of homes that have high roofed eves over the entrance, long Roman columns, and stonework fountains or tennis courts in the back yards--really attractive in an old-school moneyed sort of way.

The Bascom-Forrest area/neighborhood just to the north of O’Conner Hospital is similarly attractive though not quite so gaudily rich—smaller, modernist style homes with sleek lines and immaculately kept front yards.

Nowhere near as stunning but still very impressive is the Cory section of the neighborhood to the west of the freeway. Nice low homes with white picket fences or elaborately planned stone gardens or topiary--beautiful and amazingly well-kept. This is clearly a neighborhood where people care for the aesthetics of their lived experience.

To the south of Cory is the West Field Valley mall, one of those large late 80’s style complexes that teenagers love to troll and that gets packed to the gills during the lead up to Christmas.

Just to the south of that is one of those Town House mini neighborhoods where all the homes are constructed in the same style (in this case a modernized version of the Mediterranean style) and where hired crews keep everything clean and green. Very nice as well, in its way.

Now this is not a neighborhood with exciting nightlife in and of itself, but given its proximity to Downtown that is not much of a worry. You are also right by major lines of public transportation so it is definitely possible to not sit in your car for a couple of
hours a day.

Lincoln High is also pretty strong. So overall, this is a very nice spot.
Pros
  • Beautiful Homes
  • Good Mall
  • Well Located Public Transportation
Cons
  • Traffic
  • Expensive
  • Close to Not so Good Areas
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Feb 05, 2012

"Boarded Windows, Hospital Beds, Red-Tiled Roofs, and Boxy Apartments"

Not to be confused with the large San Fernando Valley city near Los Angeles, the Burbank neighborhood just to the west of Downtown, where 880 and 280 meet, is a pretty varied residential neighborhood having a mix of single family homes, apartments and condominiums. The big draw of the area for a lot of people is Lincoln High School which is academically solid and much stronger than the high school options in Downtown.

You can roughly break Burbank down into four sections.

The southwest corner of Burbank is the most run down with older homes and beat-up looking apartments. Some of the apartments by the freeway, for example, have boarded up windows and cracked adobe walls—not a pretty site. The surrounding residential neighborhood is largely made up of older Ranch homes and vary from block to block—some looking pretty dreadful while others remind me of the kind of relatively well-kept older homes where you might expect to find retirees.

The northwest area of Burbank is dominated by O’Conner Medical Center. The neighborhood that surrounds it looks much like a much better kept version of southwest corner. Much better kept ranch homes, often with pristine lawns and attractive thatched roofs are the norm in this area.

Just south of the Municipal Rose Garden is the northeast section of Burbank. It is made up of very attractive older homes (much like the Rose Garden neighborhood north of the Garden). Shasta Ave. is especially attractive, with its leafy canopy and line of mint condition Mission style bungalows. It is definitely the most attractive section of Burbank. There is also a pretty nice similarly styled condo community just off San Carlos.

The southeastern section of Burbank is basically an apartment city, filled with those boxy 60’s style apartment complexes. Not all that attractive but not horrible either.

Put simply then, this neighborhood has a variety of living options. Its proximity to Downtown and the Peninsula, plus the fact that Lincoln High School is an above average school in terms of academics, make this a great spot for a variety of residents.
Pros
  • Some Really Attractive Homes on Shasta
  • Strong High School
  • Close to Downtown and Silicon Valley Companies
Cons
  • Dilapidated Apartments on Southern End
  • Traffic
  • Freeway Noise
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Feb 05, 2012

"Nice Hilly Homes"

The Berryessa area of San Jose is located in the far northeastern corner of the city, nestled up against the Contra Costa hills. This is a fairly middle class to upper middle class neighborhood, not too different than much of Milpitas just to north, in my opinion (maybe just one slight step up). The neighborhood is filled mostly with Ranch homes, though there are also a number of newer style homes here.

The median home price in the area is around $450K. As with most hillside communities, it is generally true that the homes become both nicer and more expensive as they rise up towards the hills. On the far eastern end, in the hills you do get homes that climb up above $750K, while the majority of the homes under $400K are on the western end.

That said, it is not the case that all of the homes on the western end are older Ranch styles homes while the majority of the nicer homes are on the eastern end. Actually it is somewhat the opposite. The majority of the homes from the 1960’s and 1970’s were built on the eastern end as actual ranches gave way to hillside homes for the community growing around the burgeoning Silicon Valley industries. Most of the construction since 1985 has been west of 680 and also happens to be some of the most affordable areas in the Berryessa area.

West of 680, in fact, is where you will find mobile homes and apartments. Most people consider this area to still be in the Berryessa area, though on the map represented here it cuts off at 680, so I will not mention that western area of Berryessa extensively.

What about schools?

Piedmont Hills High and the surrounding feeder schools are reflective of the strong sense of community that exists here and the relative affluence. Piedmont Hills is just as strong as any high school you can find on the Peninsula and is definitely one of the
draws for those coming to the Berryessa area of San Jose.

As far as restaurants and shopping and that whole bag, your best bet is up by the border with Milpitas or actually going over to the mall. There is plenty of that kind of thing around there.

Now this is a residential neighborhood, so if you are looking an exciting nightlife within walking distance, you have come to the wrong place. You are so close to San Jose however, that you could just hop in the car and be to a nice nightspot in minutes.

Overall, a pretty good spot for married types like moi.
Pros
  • Great Schools
  • Nice Hillside Homes
  • Close to San Jose Action
Cons
  • No Nightlife
  • Hillside Problems
  • Poor Public Transportation
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Feb 04, 2012

"San Joses mean streets"

East San Jose consists of tightly packed ranch homes dating from around 1960 on average. The neighborhood has the feel of a 1970’s style neighborhood, complete with beaten up older cars.

Generally speaking San Jose is a relatively safe city with crime rates only slightly above the national average but nowhere near as dangerous as anywhere in Oakland. There is, however, some gang activity in this area. It is not out of control, and so long as you or a family member do not become involved in these gangs, you are, for the most part, safe from the dangers associated with their presence.

These concerns are largely reflected in the home prices in East San Jose which seem anchored at ~$300K. This is perhaps the epi-center of the Foreclosure Crisis in San Jose with over 80% (perhaps even closer to 90%) of the homes here on the market due to foreclosure. With so many homes being hit by the current downturn, you can imagine the effect this must have on the neighborhoods.

The central feature of East San Jose is Reid-Hillview County Airport—a small private airport with nowhere near the capacity of San Jose International (or even Oakland). Many people in San Jose don’t even know it is there.

There are two high schools that serve the area: Overfelt High whose test scores and other indicators are pretty awful; and Eastside Union, which is comparatively better with solidly average scores overall.

As far as restaurants and nightlife go, this is pretty much like Alum Rock just to the north. There are some okay restaurant in the area—especially if you like East Asian cuisine, but you will pretty much have to head deeper into San Jose for anything more compelling.
Pros
  • Affordable Rents
  • Close to San Jose
  • Okay Restaurants
Cons
  • Run Down Looking
  • Some Gang Activity
  • Poor Schools
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Feb 04, 2012

"San Joses Arm Pit"

Alum Rock, San Jose—both considered a neighborhood and a separate city onto itself—is yet another of these locations that has been hit hard by the Foreclosure Crisis. 80% of homes that are currently on the market here—and there are hundreds of them—are on the market due to foreclosure.

The median home price in Alum Rock is ~$325K—quite low for the Bay Area. So it is the typical mix of ranch homes here (except for in the hill where the homes become increasingly more expensive). Unfortunately many of these homes really do show some fairly extreme signs of age. Yards are rundown and homes are simply not well cared for—with lots of property damage and that sort of thing. The area simply does not feel like it is part of the affluence we associate with San Jose and Silicon Valley in general.

One of the problems with Alum Rock is that the schools are simply not as strong as in other areas of San Jose and especially the Peninsula; James Lick High, for example, is a below average school.

There are a fair number of restaurants in the area including lots of East Asian places like BoDa (a mix of Chinese and Vietnamese food). For nightlife you will mostly have to go into San Jose—the only bar in the immediate vicinity that I know of is Heaven Lounge.

Overall, this is not the best place to live. There are certainly much better places in nearby San Jose.
Pros
  • Close to San Jose
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Poor Schools
  • Run Down Houses
  • Little Nightlife
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Jan 29, 2012

"A Ciy Onto Itself"

Squeezed between Highways 880, 680 and 101 on the west, east and south respectively is the North Valley area of San Jose—a location so diverse that in most regions it would probably simply be considered a city onto itself rather than just a section of a larger whole. Here in San Jose, however, this is just one of many parts—“neighborhoods” doesn’t seem adequate to the task here—that make the whole of the third largest city in California (Los Angeles, San Diego are 1 and 2).
It is perhaps easiest to further subdivide the area into individual parts to see the full expanse of this area which contains within it several residential groupings, office parks, and industrial zones. So let’s start in the northwestern end of North Valley:

The northwestern mobile park: Shouldering the rumbling Nimitz Freeway on it western end, this is an expansive mobile home community of the kind that comes to mind when you think of the mobile home communities you expect in Florida. This is one of those communities where the streets are permanent and the mobile homes actually have street addresses. At the center of the park is a tiny lagoon and a one hole golf green made from Astroturf. There is also a smallish pool area and a sandy playground on the northern end of the playground so that the community kids can enjoy themselves. With prices ranging from $20K to $100K there is certainly no beating the prices for one of the homes in this community.

One of the drawbacks of the area is the elementary school Orchard Elementary, whose test scores are consistently mediocre.

Northern Office Park: Just to the east of the mobile home community is a large office park section filled with lesser known companies that no doubt are part of the extensive support network for better known tech titans. You will not find any Google’s or Cisco’s here. But you will find smaller companies like Bearing Engineering, Infinite Machining, Genuine Machine Tech and Rapid Precision Manufacturing—the kind of companies that don’t make the headlines for their contributions to the well-oiled machine which is Silicon Valley, but which employ thousands and keep the economy humming.

The area is well served by bus lines along north/south arteries at Oakland Rd and Lundy Ave. and east/west along Montague Expressway on the northern end. (There are also VTA lines east/west up by the Great Mall Pkwy just to the north in stinky Milpitas.) So, commuters who want to do their part for the environment and save themselves the dead time sitting in their cars, can definitely do so. In addition, there are plans to expand BART to the San Jose Airport just to the west which will once and for all connect SF and San Jose in one system.

Brooktree: On the northeastern end of North Valley is the Brooktree residential neighborhood, named after the park and elementary school resting at its heart. On Brooktree’s northern end is a micro-neighborhood called Country Brook lagoon—which distinguishes itself from the Brooktree neighborhood only in having dark tiled roves and small artificial ponds scattered about. (Streets are also perhaps a bit cozier.)

The rest of Brooktree distinguishes itself for its pleasant, professionally kept streets (there is clearly an well-funded effort by the neighborhood organization to maintain a pristine appearance throughout). Homes here invariably have light pastel colored adobe walls and red-tiled roves—though it doesn’t really have the feel of Mediterranean architecture as you might expect from this description. The homes are not identical beyond this each having a slightly different set-up. The front lawns also vary with various homes having uniquely sculpted topiary and varying tree species (from palm to bushy vines).

This high level oversight gives way to a classic 1970’s style Ranch home neighborhood—though not of the dingy rundown kind. These homes look much like they did in the 70’s—that is, they look new still.

What do home prices run Country Brook/Brooktree? In Country Brook you find prices ranging from $250K to $500K, with over half of homes being on the market due to foreclosure.

In the red-tiled section of Brooktree, where homes are larger and slightly newer, prices jump into the $500K to $700K range, and virtually every home seems to be on sale due to foreclosure.

In the Ranch home section of Brooktree, homes drop to ~$450k with more than 80% being foreclosures.
Despite this volatility, Brooktree Elementary at the heart of the neighborhood remains strong consistently testing in the above average range.

North Flickinger: Just to the south of Brooktree is another planned community area: the North Flickinger neighborhood. The Spanish red-tiled roves and adobe style facades of Brooktree give way to dark, smaller tile roves and paler pastel colored facades of the North Flickinger neighborhood. The feeling here is older than in Brooktree and less well-controlled in terms of community management. Lawns are tinier (more to fulfill the requirement of having a front lawn than for any use) and front trees are more mature than in its newer northern neighbor).

The North Flickinger neighborhood also hosts a leafy apartment complex—Fair Oaks. It is one of those apartment complexes where parking spaces have canopy covering for shelter but which require you to run to your building on rainy days because the walks are open air.

Home prices in North Flickinger run in the $400 to $600K range, with over 80% being foreclosures. (Although the Townhomes in the Fair Oaks area are considerably less expensive at ~$250K.)
The division between North and South Flickinger is marked by Flickinger Park, a green space devoted to athletic pursuits such as baseball and tennis, though also including a play area for younger children as well.

South Flickinger: South Flickinger, in sharp contrast to the planned regularity of the north, is all Ranch homes of various styles and periods. Yards vary, with unkept lawns next to immaculately trimmed greens, and dead blotches next to carefully shaped shrubbery. Overall it is your basic middle class neighborhood, similar to a 1000’s of others in California alone.
Homes in South Flickinger run mostly in the $400Ks with similar foreclosure rates as its northern neighbor.

Vinci, North and South: To the west of Flickinger is yet another residential neighborhood filled with Ranch style homes. In terms of home prices, there is a considerable difference between North Vinci and South Vinci with the homes in north going for ~$500K while homes in the south go for ~$350K. I am not sure what accounts for this difference other than the homes in the north being slightly newer than the homes in the south (1980’s v. 1970’s).

The local elementary that serves both the Flickingers and the Vinci’s is Vinci Elementary in southern Vinci. It is solid—maybe even slightly above average according to recent test scores.

Golf Course and Environs: At the center of North Valley is the San Jose Municipal Golf Course and its surrounding neighborhood’s: McKay Ringwood, Carmine Parkmont, Townsend, Notting Hill-Royal Crest, and Gordy.
Each deserves a brief summary.

McKay Ringwood: This is basically a grouping of apartment and condominiums—some quite nice with pools and attractive artificial lagoon area. Prices here run the gamut from $200k to $600K, with foreclosures accounting for ¾ of all offerings.

Carmine-Parkmont: Townhomes galore—dating from the 1980’s. Virtually all foreclosures. ~$500K.

Townsend: East of the Golf Course. More townhomes/condos/apartments surrounding Townsend Park. Tennis courts, pools and leafy walks. 100% Foreclosures: $200K to $600K

Notting Hill—Royal Crest: On the south of the golf course. More townhomes—very nicely maintained and organized. (Kind of like Orange County gated communities without the gates.) Same price range as Townsend—mostly foreclosures.

Southwestern North Valley: Things are decidedly different on the southwestern end of North Valley. Here you find economy motels, trailer parks, and storage complexes. You will also find lots of peripheral businesses here such as event planning agencies, medical equipment companies and machinists.

On the far southwestern end, you hit North Valley’s rust belt, where you will find container yards, refuse heaps, proof that “rust never sleeps” as Neil Young pointed out. Flooring, tires, autobody, auto mechanics, and a men’s shelter round out the kinds of businesses that make their homes here.

Put simply, this is a city onto itself with a little bit of everything from townhomes and houses to commercial offices and heavy manufacturing. The only thing missing is serious entertainment options, but given the proximity of San Jose’s many offerings this should not be a major concern.
Pros
  • Nice Neighborhoods
  • Good Schools
  • Affordable Trailer Parks
Cons
  • No Nightlife
  • Ugly in Spots
  • Busy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jan 28, 2012

"Cisco, Southwest and Apache"

The central feature of North San Jose is the Mineta San Jose Airport. Once an international hub, the San Jose Airport has not had links outside of the United States since 2005, I believe—though it does have regular flights to Hawaii. Following the fortunes of this airport is like reading a history of Silicon Valley. When the Valley is doing well, the airport sees increases in traffic as businessmen from all over the world travels in to meet with Silicon execs. After declines like the crash of the Tech Bubble in the late 90’s, the airport suffers as well.

Recently the airport finally opened its hypermodern Terminal B (to add to terminals A and C). It has done so just in time for the current tech boom. As anyone who has been around Silicon Valley can tell you, the Great Recession is over for tech firms and has been for over a year.

Apropos of this, North San Jose is not just about the airport. In fact, north of the landing strips you will find a number of office parks filled with high tech firms. Chief amongst these is Cisco Microsystems, whose sprawling campus here in North San Jose (in what is technically a micro-neighborhood called River Oaks) houses the largest private workforce in San Jose (Cisco employs over 11,500 workers here). But Cisco is just one of many firms in the area with Qualcomm, Apache and several lesser known tech companies such as Lattice Semiconductor also choosing North San Jose for their headquarters.


It is this congregation of technology minded companies all in one location that makes Silicon Valley the throbbing heart of tech innovation and the engine of California’s economy. When a company like Cisco sets itself up here not only can it keep an eye on its competitors (and poach talent from nearby companies) but also they can forge partnerships with congruous companies so that their individual strengths are multiplied. In fact, companies will often toggle from being competitors to partners and back to competitors over the course of years—collaborating on some products, aggressively challenging each other (sometimes even engaging in patent wars) at other times.

This is Silicon Valley—the Florence of High Tech. Thus is appropriate that a northern micro-neighborhood here should be named “Renaissance.”

Of course, there are also residential sections of North San Jose. There are older homes, condos and some apartments. Typical rent prices run around $2200 for a two bedroom and it is not uncommon to see 1 bedroom for around $1800. As always, it is about the great location. A Cisco worker who puts in a lot of hours at work might be more than happy to pay the extra cost so as to save on commute times.
Pros
  • Tech Dynamo
  • Good Airport
  • Less traffic
Cons
  • Airport Noise
  • Smell From Northern Landfill
  • Average Schools
Recommended for
  • Professionals
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jan 28, 2012

"Great Mall, Okay Neighborhood"

Pines is basically known as the residential neighborhood just to the southwest of the Great Mall. So if you love 1980’s style megamalls and want to live within walking distance of one you may very well have found home.

The neighborhood is built around Pinewood Park (which is by the way very nice for a smaller park, having a sand-filled play area for the kids and tennis courts for the adults).

Overall this is a pretty solid neighborhood with lots of well-kept ranch homes (perhaps a bit on the smaller side as far as ranch homes go).

The Great Mall also means good things for public transportation with several buses serving the area and the VTA light rail station being right by northeast end. If you are a commuter and want to get some work done on your way to work, the VTA is a great option.

Perhaps because of this, homes here tend to be pricier than in other parts of Milpitas (with the median price even of foreclosed homes being in the $550K range).

Overall, a pretty nice little neighborhood, though perhaps a little bit on the expensive side.
Pros
  • Close to Great Mall
  • Close to Commuter Lines
  • Nice Park
Cons
  • Mall Traffic
  • Slightly Overpriced
  • A Bit on the Dull Side
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jan 28, 2012

"Pleasant But Not Exceptional"

The Parktown neighborhood is far enough away from the south and east of Milpitas that it just about escapes the stench of the landfills on the northwestern end of the city. This neighborhood is also home to the rather bland strip mall complex known as the Parktown Plaza Shopping “Mall,” which is basically just a number of stores built around the anchor supermarket, Lucky’s (Rite Aide and a Bally Fitness being the main stores.) This is definitely not one of those supermalls that people come from miles around to visit.

The 680 freeway is also on the western end of this neighborhood—which is arguably the main feature and draw of the area since the main reason people live here is so they can commute into Silicon Valley. Although the ranch house is still the dominant kind of home in Parktown, you will also find a few fairly nice planned communities where the newer homes all follow a similar architectural style—such as the red-tiled, Mediterranean style roves just to the south of Shasta. Even the neighborhoods that are dominated by Ranch Homes are generally a little bit nicer than you might normally expect, with various styles of bushes and trees decorating the front yards (palms being a popular choice) and a fair number of 1980’s style bi-level homes.

As with the rest of Milpitas, foreclosures are the rule of the day in the real estate market here. Despite this, the quality of the homes here, keep home prices somewhat higher than just to the north in Milford Village, for example, with the median home price in Parktown being around $475K (as opposed to $425 just to the north).

The difference may have something to do with the better ranked schools here, the slightly better home choices, the farther distance from the landfill to the northwest and closer proximity to San Jose. There are also—as the neighborhood name indicates—a handful of small to medium parks in the neighborhood—a nice touch of a family-oriented family neighborhood like this.

I suppose these extra improvements are worth an extra $1000/year over the course a 30 year mortgage. Overall, however, this is another pretty average, uninteresting neighborhood.
Pros
  • Close to Silicon Valley
  • Good Schools
  • A Welcoming Suburban Feel
Cons
  • Kind of Bland
  • Still Occasionally Stinky
  • No Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Jan 28, 2012

"Pretty Unexceptional"

Nestled up against the rolling green cow pastures of Contra Costas, Milford Village is yet another Milpitas ranch house haven hearkening back to the 50’s and 60’s when these homes were all the rage. Milford Village itself is mostly flat and homes block out the view of hills to the east enough where you are likely to barely make out the rolling hills on street level.

One nice feature of the Milford Village neighborhood is that it is far enough on the eastern end of Milpitas that the stink that comes off the salt flats/landfill on the western end is diluted enough that you don’t get the worst of its bite. (Except perhaps in the summer time, when no area in Milpitas is safe.)

The foreclosure crisis has really hit this neighborhood hard with 4 of 5 homes here being for sale due to foreclosure. This also means that the homes here are being sold for below normal market rates (at about $425 K on average.) These are not amazing homes, being simple ranch homes but the proximity of Milpitas to Silicon Valley usually raises prices on homes in the area.

Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of Milford Village is the schools which get mediocre ratings in terms of test scores.
Alexander Rose fares a little better than Robert Randall Elementary, but neither does exceptionally well. This is surprising given the fact that schools are generally pretty strong in Milpitas with both the local high schools—Piedmont Hills and Milpitas High scoring exceptionally well on their test scores.

Overall, this is a pretty average suburban neighborhood of the kind you can find thousands of across the American west. If it were not for the olfactory drawbacks of Milpitas and sub-par educational options of this particular neighborhood, it would no doubt fair better in my assessment overall.
Pros
  • Close to Silicon Valley
  • Safe
  • Not Too Stinky
Cons
  • Mediocre Schools
  • Average Homes
  • No Real Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Jan 23, 2012

"Strip Malls and Apartments"

Midtown is a long stretch surrounding South Main Street that is mostly made up of strip malls. There are a variety of restaurants here, from Baja Cactus to Red Chillies (an Indian joint). You also get hotels like Best Western and St. John the Baptist—a Catholic school.

Like most such strip malls, it is not particularly attractive. It is fairly flat and unappealing in most spots and there is a ton of traffic in the area—much of it drawn here by the neighboring Great Mall that is just to the east. Put simply, this place is just about always packed with shoppers.

Midtown also has a several apartment complexes and condos on its southern end. I’m not sure how much these cost but they certainly are a good spot for singles who are okay with being close to the action the Great Mall brings in. The area on the southern end where this is located is actually fairly nice with a cute little park with kid friendly play equipment and with less of a commercial feel.

Of course, as in other neighborhoods in Milpitas, the smell is an issue that has to be brought up. The Midtown residents and their noses, thus have to either habituate to it or move.

Overall, a great spot for singles to live while commuting into San Jose.
Pros
  • Attractive Apartments
  • Good for Shopping
Cons
  • The Smell
  • Ugly Strip Malls
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Jan 23, 2012

"A Red Tile Neighborhood"

The neighborhood surrounding Hillcrest Park, is one of those planned communities where a developer builds a number of homes in the same style so that the neighborhood has certain level of consistency. In this case, the style is a neo-Mediterranean or neo-Spanish style. The motif of red-tiled roofs and pastel stucco walls works quite well in creating a clean overall look to the neighborhood.

Despite this consistency of motif, however, the homes do a good job of differentiating themselves by playing with a series of variables, such as the shape of the windows. These distinguishing characteristics are helpful, because they allow you to individuate your home and give you a sense of uniqueness to the place where you live so that you don’t just feel like a tiny cog in the wheel of your neighborhood.

On the far eastern end of the neighborhood, there is a sort of strange gated community with large homes inside of it (large enough to house troops for example). These homes resemble barracks or hotels. I’m not sure what is going on with this area.

The location of Hillcrest is also nice because it is just far enough away from the western landfills that you rarely get much of a whiff of the scents that other residents of Milpitas often complain, and because it is nestled up against the Contra Costa Mtn. and there are a few trails there.

Overall, this is a good neighborhood.
Pros
  • Very Well Kept
  • Far From the Stink
  • Nice Park
Cons
  • No Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • 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 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Jan 23, 2012

"Kind of Stinky But Goo"

If you like Ranch style homes, you will love the Manor neighborhood of Milpitas. There are a ton of these kinds of homes here and despite being more than half a century old (most of these date to the 1950’s when these kind of homes were in fashion) these are very well kept. Virtually anyone who grew up in a middle class suburb in the 1970’s will instantly recognize and feel comforted by the neighborhood.

Located right at the crossroads of two freeways, and within a short drive of the Fremont BART station to the north, the Manor neighborhood is perfectly situated to get commuters where they are going.

Of course, as with everywhere else in Milpitas, there is an issue having to do with the stench that comes from a nearby dump. Residents say you get used to it and it is only really bad in the summer, but people’s tolerances to smell vary greatly so you should definitely check it out before moving here. (The smell is actually bad enough that Google has a preset keyword phrase for : “why does Milpitas smell?” If that many people are asking on Google, it is clearly an issue.)
Pros
  • Nice Ranch Homes
  • Good Schools
  • Well Located for Commuting
Cons
  • The Smell
  • No Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Jan 23, 2012

"Milpitas Before Silivon Valley"

Summitpointe in Milpitas is simply a golf course up in the hills. You are basically in the country up here and you get a vision of what Milipitas and these areas used to be like before Silicon Valley became the main industry in town. I have never been to this particular golf course nor could I judge whether it is a good course or not, even if I had been there before.

The main thing that brings me to the area is the hiking trails: Spring Valley and Calaveras.

Other than that, other than a few ra there really isn’t much else here.
Pros
  • Nice Country Feel
  • Good if you Like the Country
  • Nice Views
Cons
  • Remote
  • No Nightlife
  • Not Many House Available
Recommended for
  • Country Lovers
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jan 21, 2012

"Good Schools But It Stinks"

This is a slightly older looking middleclass neighborhood. This is pretty much one of those neighborhoods that looks like it could be anywhere in one of the suburbs of California—lots of smallish 1960’s style ranch homes, and lots mid-range cars that look like they have some miles on them. This is not to say that this is a poor area—it certainly is not that—but rather that this is a fairly middleclass place.

The median price of a home in this Sunnyhills is around $425K, with few rising above $600K. You should also note that currently about 3 out of 4 homes are on the market due to foreclosure, which suggests to me home prices might rise as the housing crisis fades.

There are a number of East Asian restaurants in this area of Milpitas. They are not super fancy for the most part, but you will get some choices when it comes eating out.

The nearby schools are pretty good, especially the high school.

In terms of commuting, there is the light rail into San Jose, and the BART station in Fremont if you are heading anywhere else in the Bay Area. (There are plans underway to extend BART down into San Jose, but given the current state of things, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting.)

One of the main problems throughout Milpitas, however, is the stink from the landfills nearby. You will definitely get a good whiff living around here and it is fairly persistent. Some days, I am told from residents, it is fairly unbearable. (Though others tell me that you get used to it after a bit and don’t even notice it.) So, unless you are okay living somewhere that literally stinks, Milpitas may not be the place for you.
Pros
  • Good Schools
  • Close to San Jose
  • Relatively Affordable Homes
Cons
  • The Stink
  • No Nightlife
  • Run Down Looking in Spots
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jan 21, 2012

"There’s a Trailer Park, But It’s not what You Think"

The California Landings “neighborhood” on the far north end of Milpitas—just to the south of Dixon Landing Road and Fremont—is basically a townhouse/apartment/condominium city. It is all very nicely manicured with pools and green walks up to your dwelling. Of course, you need to pay special attention to the numbers of your home otherwise you will not be able to find any distinctive marks to point out your place from any one else’s.

Rents here runt in the $2100 range for a 3-bedroom. As to buying a condo here, they will currently run you between $275K and $550K—with just about every home in the neighborhood being on the market due to foreclosure.
Basically, this is a relatively affordable area within striking distance of Silicon Valley.

And yes, as my title indicated there is a Trailer Park in California Landings. But you won’t find any mobile homes or that sort of thing there. Actually, it is a park named “Trailer.” I don’t know if there is actually someone named “Trailer” or if this is just a kind of joke on someone’s part. It’s actually a pretty good park with tennis courts and baseball fields—a real jock park.

Milipitas High School (a pretty solid school) is just to the east as well, so this is definitely a family friendly location.

In this neighborhood there is a little strip mall with a 7/11, but you have to head down to E. Calaveras for supermarkets and that sort of thing. There is not really much by way of restaurants in this neighborhood, so that is something that you need to drive to as well.

That said, you can of course make your way to the mall or into San Jose proper for any number of entertainments and food establishments.
Pros
  • Good School
  • Clean
  • Close to Silicon Valley
Cons
  • No Nightlife
  • Still Lots of Traffic
  • Public Transportation is Virtually non-Existent
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
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
Jan 16, 2012

"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 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jan 16, 2012

"The Real Redwood City"

Portola Valley is even more woodsy than Woodside, and definitely has a higher percentage of redwoods than Redwood City. The feel of the area is a lot more like places near Santa Cruz than places near San Jose.

As with most of these hillside areas at the edge of Silicon Valley, home prices are in the millions. Right now, for example, two thirds of homes in Portola Valley cost over one million dollars, while one third are over $4 million. Some of the homes here are outright mansions complete with tennis courts, long drives, fountains, and an English style architecture you could use as a setting for movie adaptations of a 19th century novel.

On the lower end of the market you can find some slightly older homes for around $500K and these are actually pretty good deals given the area. Most people would be more than happy with the lower end of the market.

This is definitely, however, an amazingly wealthy city. When Portola Valley is measured relative to individual income, it comes out second in California only to neighboring Woodside (among cities with at least 1000 households). It is 7th in the country along the same measure.

As you might expect this rich area offers a number of excellent private and public school choices.

Portola Valley overall is pretty much a residential neighborhood. There are a couple of restaurants, but really, for entertainment you need to head out of Portola Valley to nearby Palo Alto or down to the San Jose area. As far as the basics, like groceries, there is a Bianchini’s Market, but most people head over to Palo Alto, or to Menlo Park where there is a Safeway.

So if like having your home feel like it is in a campground, Portola Valley is the place for you.
Pros
  • Very Woodsy
  • Amazing Homes
  • Quiet and Safe
Cons
  • Hillside Living
  • A Bit Remote
  • Very, Very Expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Jan 15, 2012

"Heaven Can Wait If You Live Here"

Woodsy Woodside is basically the bucolic version of Hillsborough. If you are a Ronald Reagan style cowboy—you know, the kind who likes to ride horses and play cowboy, but definitely does not pay taxes in anywhere near the same tax bracket as a ranch hand, then Woodside is the city for you.

Driving through the narrow country style lanes you might, in many parts of Woodside, be fooled into thinking you are out in the boonies—but if you were to follow the long driveways up past the impenetrable tree cover, you might be surprised to come upon not a simple farmhouse or ranch, but a spacious Italian style villa or sprawling mansion.

In fact, Woodside is actually the 4th wealthiest city (with at least 1000 households) in all the United States when measured by per capita income. And as you might expect the home prices here reflect that with the median home in Woodside going for $2.5 million and about a quarter of the homes here going for more than $10 million (only about 1 in 5 fall below the million dollar mark). How rich is it? Filoli Gardens one of the mansions in the hills was used as the Carrington Mansion on Dynasty (and as the mansion on Heaven Can Wait) for those of you who are old enough to remember those.

Homes here are on large sprawling properties in the hills, which are also part of the draw here, and the area is zoned for horseback riding so it is not uncommon to see your postmodern cowboy clip-clopping through town and down the country roads. (The area, I believe, is also home to Neil Young.)

Woodside also has a quaint little downtown in a faux western cowboy town style (with wood colonnades offer shade from the sun and shelter from the elements) and a half dozen pretty good restaurants, the most popular of which is Buck’s, a fairly traditional breakfast joint locals swear by. There is also a French/Italian place (Bella Vista), a steak house, and a diner (Alice’s).

The little downtown area is also where you find all the everyday stores that you need: the Post Office, bank, supermarket (Robert’s Market), and hardware store (also Roberts).

One drawback of the area, however, is the only slightly above average local high school. Don’t get me wrong, Woodside High is a very strong high school with above average scores, but when you compare it to neighboring Palo Alto High with its astronomical rankings for test scores, Woodside’s above average scores look rather pedestrian—especially given the resources the local tax brackets must bring in.

Overall, however, I still would not pass up the chance to live here. In fact if you live here, heaven might be a downgrade.
Pros
  • Quiant Western Town Feel
  • Close to Silicon Valley
  • Great for Weekend Ranchers
  • Beautiful houses
  • Great parks
Cons
  • Schools Aren't as Strong as Neighbors
  • No Nightlife
  • Some parts are VERY remote
  • Very expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jan 15, 2012

"Lakes, Hills, Canadas and Montanas"

Emerald Lake Hills is a super-wealthy hillside community just to the southwest of Redwood City. Like many of the hillside communities near Silicon Valley it is coveted by all those who want to avoid the terrible traffic that turns the freeways at rush hour into a parking lot.

The homes here are large and beautiful, the narrow lanes that snake over the hills make you feel sheltered from the hustle and bustle of the city below. The homes of Emerald Lake Hills are constructed in wide variety of architectural styles from modified Ranch style homes to the red tiled roves characterizing the Mediterranean style. They are consistent in that they are uniformly well kept and almost invariable have the latest model luxury cars parked in their driveways.

The one non-residential facility in Emerald Lake Hills—as far as I can tell—is Canada College, a very small community college that rests on the southern end of the city. The area also has quite a few parks—a couple of lakes—and an eponymous golf course.

The area is best known as having been the location of Joe Montana’s home in the late 80s, which is also when there was a big housing boom rung in by the addition of a sewage system. (Septic tanks had been the order of the day before this.)

One drawback of the area is that the public schools are just slightly above average (low considering how strong many of the nearby schools are). This is a bit of drawback that can be addressed by local private schools of course.

As far as nightlife and entertainment—you will have to drop down into Redwood City for that that sort of thing.

Overall, a fantastic location for those who work in Silicon Valley and want to have an abbreviated commute.
Pros
  • Beautiful Homes
  • Great For Silicon Valley Workers
  • Great Views
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • Hillside Living
  • Average Schools
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Jan 10, 2012

"Something for Everyone"

Hilly San Carlos—pop. 27.4 K—is an upper middle class to wealthy city (by Bay Area standards, not California or national standards where people would just drop middle out that phrase) just south of San Mateo (next to Foster City). On the western end---where the neighborhoods climb up the hillside toward the sea-side mountains, the curvy streets provide lots of nooks and cul-de-sacs sheltering quaint homes.

San Carlos is an older neighborhood with lots of homes dating back to the 60’s and 50’s and before. The average home price currently is around $600K. Almost half the homes currently are for sale due to foreclosure, so the home prices may still be below their actual average at this point. (If you exclude the foreclosures, the prices are closer to $775 as the median).

One nice thing about San Carlos is that it does have some apartments that are relatively affordable ($1200+ for a one bedroom). These are also some apartments in the downtown area near the San Carlos Cal Train station, so they are well-situated for single-parents looking to take advantage of the strong local schools. The area is also about as safe as it gets in the Peninsula.

The Downtown area is nothing to write home about but it does have one or two very nice streets—like Laurel and El Camino, where the stores and restaurants are mostly located. This area is very walkable and nice for a Sunday morning I would think.
There you can find restaurants like Town (a steakhouse), Saffron (an Indian place) and 888 (an Italian place). There is actually a pretty great selection of restaurants serving the affluent local residents.

There is also a pretty good selection of bars, including a couple of wine bars (Spasso and Flight Lounge) and one that is under the false impression that it is a dive bar (Orchid Room is really just a neighborhood bar). You can even go dancing at the Carlos Club—though I wouldn’t.

So overall this is a pretty good little town, with a bit of everything: nice homes, good schools, and even some restaurants and a touch of nightlife. Not bad!
Pros
  • Good Restaurants
  • Great Schools
  • Relatively Affordable Apartments
Cons
  • Small Downtown
  • Expensive
  • Rush Hour Traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Jan 10, 2012

"Very Nice Upper Middle-Class City"

Belmont is the upper middle class community just to the southwest of Foster City.

At Belmont’s heart there is a fairly vibrant commercial area where stores like Sandal World mix in with old bunker style warehouses with curved roofs. If you are an REI type, you might enjoy Planet Granite in Belmont—great for climbers. There is also a pretty good selection of bars and nightspots here—especially if you are into sports bars. The best choices, in my opinion, are Aussiello’s Tavern and the Lariat Tavern. You will also find lots of restaurants here, from Koriander (an Indian place) to Shalizar (an Iranian place). There are also lots of Italian and French places like Iron Gate.

Notre Dame De Namur University, an independent Catholic college with an emphasis on Masters programs, is also in Belmont, so you get a fair number students in the area as well though they mostly commute into Belmont. The schools for younger folks are also excellent—a big draw for families.

Up in the hills surrounding this area, are a number of quaint older homes dating back to the 50s and 60s. As you creep up into the hills, the homes tend to get newer and more expensive, with a fair number around the $1 million range. The median home price in Belmont is probably around $700K with the majority of the lower cost homes being near the freeway and the majority of those above being on the higher elevations.

Sadly, about half the homes are currently on sale due to foreclosure, which means that home prices are probably below the average they would otherwise be.
Pros
  • Good Restaurants
  • Great Schools
  • Nice Homes
  • Great for families
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Home Prices are High
  • Not Great for Clothes Shopping
  • Not really for singles
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Jan 09, 2012

"Million Dollar Eichlers Galore"

Located southwest of San Mateo, Highlands-Baywood Park is yet another millionaire haven, where rarely does a home dip into six digit territory. Now the homes here are not stunners—these aren’t the spacious mansions of Hillsborough. These are mostly squat Eichler style homes—very well kept, and attractive—but still just Eichler homes. The majority of the neighborhood dates to the 50’s when this kind of architecture was coming into dominance.

Why are these homes so expensive? As always it is about location. First, you are up in the hills, so you get some pretty good views from the backyards, where you will often find hardwood decks. Second, you are perfectly situated for commuting to Silicon Valley or up into San Francisco. This, in combination with the beautiful interiors of these homes, make them really quite popular among the wealthy.

In addition, the schools in Highlands Baywood Park are outstanding—both Aragon High and Hillsdale are have the highest ratings in terms of test scores.

Now this is not the place where you go for exciting restaurants or a vibrant nightlife. You will find some food joints in the nearby strip malls like Laurelwood Shopping Center—but these are nothing that people would come to if they didn’t live here already. When you drive down out of the hills you can find the usual set of stores and shopping options you might expect from suburbia.

Even though you are close to both San Francisco and the heart of Silicon Valley, you also get a fair amount of traffic. Highway 92 to the San Mateo Bridge is right here, so you get a lot of commuters in the area and will get rush hour traffic well past 9 am and often at 7 pm.

That said, it is a very good spot if you can afford it, though not many can.
Pros
  • Nice Views
  • Great Schools
  • Well-Maintained Homes
Cons
  • Commuter Traffic
  • No Nightlife
  • Over-Priced
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • 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 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Jan 04, 2012

"Miliion Dollar Homes are the Bottom of the Market"

Hillsborough is not a home to the super rich. They can’t really afford it. It is home the mega-super-rich. This is the place that multi-millionaires drool over and the reason why those that are pretty much set for life still get up in the morning and try to increase their wealth.

The median home price in Hillsborough is $3 million. The bottom of the market is $1 million dollar homes. Right now for example, if you look on the real estate boards you will find only one home dipping under $1 million in Hillsborough. (In case, you are curious as I was, it is a foreclosure of a home built in 1950’s. It’s a real shack—just 5 bedrooms, 4 bath and only 3000 square feet. How do those poor devils live like that?)

How rich are the residents of Hillsborough? Well, according to a recent poll, Hillsborough is the 9th among cities of at least 1000 households in terms of income level. (They are only the 4th highest among cities in California, with Belvedere, CA leading the way.) So the 10,000 residents of Hillsborough are definitely among the elites of this or any other area.

This is really mansion territory, with one home that is currently for sale having an asking price of $43 million. What do you get for $43 million? Your own personal movie theater, an indoor pool similar to the one at Hearst Castle and just amazingly ornate detailing of virtually every nook of your mansion. (Hearst, by the way, built a home here as well, and many of his heirs have at one time or another lived here—including Patty Hearst.)

Other notables to live or have lived here? About a starting line-ups worth of major league players, including Barry Bonds; actress Alicia Silverstone; and Shirley Temple, to name a few.

Schools are, of course, fantastic and you have a number of private academies as well, that if you can get into will give your children access to the sons and daughters of the superrich—a very useful network to have in the future.

This is, however, a purely residential neighborhood, so to grab a bite to eat you will have to go slumming down in Burlingame. (If your live-in chef is beginning to bore you, of course.)

So, if you are currently nearing your first billion, you might want to check this place out. If you only have one or two million to your name, you might just have to stick to Sea Cliff or Pacific Heights with the other riff-raff.
Pros
  • Amazing Mansions
  • Great Schools
  • Famous Neighbors
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Very Expensive
  • No Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools