DirtyHarry

  • Local Expert 6,300 points
  • Reviews 34
  • Questions 0
  • Answers 7
  • Discussions 0

Reviews

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
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 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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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 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 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
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
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
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
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
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 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Jan 04, 2012

"Apple, Oracle and Belly Dancers"

In Cupertino you are pretty much deep in the engine of the high tech industry that has infused so much wealth into this region of California. Cupertino is home to Apple, HP and Oracle, so it is definitely not at the periphery of Silicon Valley.

Given this, it should come as no surprise the median home price in the area is around $825K and that you get lots of Silicon Valley hotshots in the area. Of course, if you pulled the ranch homes up and moved them to the East Bay, the exact same houses would drop to about half the price and instead of the newest models of BMW’s outside, you would have economy cars instead. But since people hate wasting their time in the parking lot which is the Silicon Valley commute, they are willing to pay the stratospheric prices being charged for the homes in Cupertino rather than spending more time in their cars than in their homes.

And of course, the prices go up substantially as you get up into the country roads on the western edge of the valley where the vantage points are now taken up with the homes of Silicon Valley engineers and power brokers of various kinds.
The schools don’t disappoint either, being some of the best in the Valley. (This is pretty much true of all the schools along the western end of the county.)

Cupertino is not really known for its restaurants, having a number of the typical suburban fast food places, but there are a few place worthy of note, such as Alexander’s Steakhouse and Gochi Japanese Fusion Tapas. The place that I really like though is Arya Global, a Persian place. It was a real eye-opener for me, having never had Iranian food before. Definitely worth a try, if you have never tried it. Start with the Mediterranean platter and then move on from there. The belly-dancers can be fun too.

Cupertino is not a really great place as far and nightlife goes, unless bowling is your thing. It still does pretty much feel like the ‘burbs at night.

Overall, a great place to live if you work at Apple or in nearby Silicon Valley company and want to avoid the commute, but pretty overpriced and pretty boring for the rest of the universe.
Pros
  • Great Companies
  • Safe
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Overpriced Homes
  • No Nightlife
  • Bland and Boring
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
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 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Dec 27, 2011

"A Quiet Getaway for the Rich"

Monte Sereno is the neighborhood just to the south west of San Jose, right next to Los Gatos. With barely 3500 residents and a very similar feel to the hills of its neighbor’s southern reaches, Monte Sereno is little more than a neighborhood of Los Gatos.

This is basically mcmansion territory with large spacious homes lining the lanes--the median home price being around $2.5 million and home rarely falling beneath the million dollar barrier.

Outside of the large homes, people love this area because of the great location (perfect for Silicon Valley commutes), the outstanding schools that make up the school system to the south of the West Valley Freeway, and the bucolic country feel.

Monte Sereno, by itself, is not really a big draw for people looking for nightlife or restaurants, but it is surrounded by areas with fine restaurants including everything from sushi places to French restaurants. Residents have to go into Campbell for groceries and for any nightlife.

But that is not really the point of Monte Sereno. The point of living here is to have a quiet getaway from life’s hectic requirements. No crime, great schools, and lots of rich folks, basically.
Pros
  • Quiet and Bucolic
  • Big Homes
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • No Nightlife
  • More than a Little Snobby
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • 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 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Dec 27, 2011

"This is the Way"

You might be surprised to learn, as I was, that San Jose is actually the 10th most populous city in the United States and the third most populous (behind LA and San Diego) in California. San Francisco is actually the 4th (13th nationally). It is just shy of 1 million people in population.

Put simply, San Jose is a much larger metropolis than we are used to thinking of it as. Like any city of this size, it is hard to sum it all up in a simple review—there is just too much to it to get it all in one place.

Of course, San Jose is the home of Silicon Valley, so it is really the heart of technology. San Jose State and Santa Clara University are the big colleges here (though Stanford in Palo Alto is actually more associated with the technological progress we find here).

For the third largest city in California, the crime rate is impressively low. It is below the national average. (Whereas SF is twice the national average and Oakland is three times that amount.) It is also lower than both LA’s and San Diego’s.

The median home price in San Jose is about $450K, but this doesn’t really tell you much since a lot depends on what neighborhood you are talking about. Neighborhoods near the Downtown area tend to have higher crime and be a little less livable than neighborhoods on the outskirts.

Like all the other major cities that I have mentioned, San Jose also has restaurants and nightlife. There are steakhouses like the Grill on the Alley and Arcadia, and sushi places like Bluefin. There are even more exotic places like Menara (a Moroccan place) and Gojo (an Ethiopian place). So you definitely will be able to sample cuisines from around the world.

There is also quite a bit in terms of nightlife, including Hookah bars, dives and dance places.

San Jose also has a fairly thriving arts scene with multiple live theaters and museums to boot. This aspect of San Jose is one of the least appreciated aspects of the city.

Overall, this is a pretty great city where to live, especially if you work in the tech industry. Although a lot of people choose to live up in SF and commute here, those who know the area well already, know it makes a lot more sense to live here and go to SF on the weekends for fun rather than live in SF and have to face the unbearable commutes every day.
Pros
  • Moderate Crime
  • Relatively Affordable Homes
  • Financial Engine of the Bay Area
Cons
  • Crowded
  • Lots of Traffic
  • Not as Attractive as SF
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • 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 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Dec 26, 2011

"Pretty Good for a Place that Stinks"

Morgan Hill is known as a popular bedroom community for Silicon Valley execs to live because of its location.

Given what I have just said, you might expect home prices to soar here, but actually they are relatively moderate given the population. The median home price is around $525K right now. Compared to Gilroy to the south (which has nowhere near the reputation of Morgan Hill) this is only about $75K higher. Less than 10% of homes are above the $1 mil range here.

There is a nice mix of homes here, with about a quarter of homes having been built in the last 20 years, with the average home dating from the late 1970’s.

Some people complain about the schools in Morgan Hill, claiming they have a mixed record or saying that they are just okay. However, test scores seem to indicate otherwise, showing schools that are clearly above average, though perhaps not quite as strong as in some other communities farther north in Silicon Valley.

Crime is pretty low as well being about half that of the national average. All of which are consistent with the high end community that this is.

One thing that does stink about Morgan Hill is the smell. There is definitely a manure smell at certain times of the year.
This is farm country and there is simply no avoiding the smells that blow over it in the summer.

That said, there are a lot of positives about living in a country setting like this, one of which is nearby Anderson Lake, a real popular spot in the summer when school is out.

Morgan Hill is also commuter friendly, being connected to San Jose by the Cal Trains line that stretches down to Gilroy.

Now Morgan Hill is not really a great center for bars or nightlife and it is certainly not a singles destination, but it does have some restaurants and a handful of waterholes where you can get a drink if you don’t want to head into San Jose. It also has everything else you would want from your suburban neighborhood, from supermarkets to java joints and some stores.

Nothing spectacular but nothing that forces you to leave town every time you need underwear or the like.

Overall, Morgan Hill is what it is billed as: a solid bedroom community where the well-off can escape city troubles without moving out of state.
Pros
  • Nice Newer Homes
  • Country Feel
  • Safe
Cons
  • Stinks in the Summer
  • Little Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Dec 21, 2011

"Stinks a Bit But Its Affordable"

Nestled right up against the Contra Costas that make up the barrier between the East Bay and the outlying area out to Mt. Diablo and home to the tech giant Cisco, Milpitas is the northeastern end of the Silicon Valley. This is actually one of the more affordable areas of the Silicon Valley. The homes here—mostly Ranch homes dating from the 1960’s up until the present—are relatively affordable with the average home price hovering at around $425K.

On the far western end of Milpitas there is a water treatment area that used to make Milpitas literally stink. What I hear from residents these days, however, is that it isn’t that bad anymore and that only on rare occasions does the wind hit just right that you get some bad odor in some parts of town. Luckily the residential areas tend to be on the eastern end with the Great Mall, freeway and commercial areas providing a sort of buffer.

The Great Mall is exactly what it sounds like—a giant 1980s style mall, with all the usual suspects in terms of stores contained within. There is a giant Cineplex on the northern end as well.

As you may have gathered from my description so far, Milpitas is not the most attractive of places. In fact, a lot of people consider it to be a bit of pit. That said, it is probably one of the most affordable areas in the Silicon Valley and definitely beats spending hours in traffic commuting into San Jose.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Close to San Jose
  • The Great Mall
Cons
  • A Little On the Ugly Side
  • Near By Waste Treatment Plant
  • Little Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Singles
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Dec 21, 2011

"Just Another Silicon Valley City"

With more than 100,000 residents, Santa Clara, CA—like Sunnyvale next door—is in no way a minor city.
If you are not from around the Bay Area, then you are most likely to hear about Santa Clara as the new home of the 49ers when they finally leave 50 year old Candlestick Park.

You should really think of Santa Clara, however, as related to San Jose rather than San Francisco as it not only borders San Jose, but also has a lot more to do with that city in terms of geography, industry and culture. Like bordering Sunnyvale, it is a largely residential area with a heavy tech commercial office building area on its northern end where it borders the very south most edge of the San Francisco Bay.

Intel employs almost 6,000 people here in Santa Clara. Oracle and Agilent also have their HQ’s here. Or to put it another way—just another run-of-the-mill Silicon Valley city.

But it’s not all business here. Santa Clara is also home to the Great America amusement park is here as well. And the fun is not just for teenagers either. If you are into the nightlife, Santa Clara offers everything from Hookah bars (Smoke) to cocktail lounges (Homestead) and karaoke bars (Normandy). You also have a number of nearby restaurants of virtually every variety in the area as well.

What are home prices like in the upper middle class city dominated by the tech industry? The average home in Santa Clara is about $500K. These are not amazingly large homes. In fact they are pretty average for the most part, but the location and the opportunity to avoid hour long commutes makes them fairly attractive to those who work in the Silicon Valley.
Though not as strong as in Mountain View or Cupertino, the schools in Santa Clara are very solid.

Overall, this—like the other surrounding cities is a pretty great place to live.
Pros
  • Good Schools
  • Good Restaurants
  • Great Techie Location
Cons
  • Terrible Traffic
  • Sligthly Overpriced Homes
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • 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 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Dec 20, 2011

"Newer Homes, Same Old Suburban Boredom"

Sunnyvale, just to the south of Mountain View and to the north of Santa Clara, is deep within the Silicon Valley. Although Sunnyvale is right at the heart of the Silicon Valley, home prices these days have become relatively moderate by Peninsula standards. The average home price is only about $425K and very few homes (maybe 5%) break the 1 million dollar barrier.

This actually seems like about where you would expect for this neighborhood whose homes are pretty standard Ranch style homes. Almost half the homes in the area seem to have been built since 1990. (And a good portion of the rest were built during the 1960s. The homes are not spectacularly large, for the most part, but they are mostly solid homes on flat streets in fairly well kept neighborhoods.

This is a safe neighborhood with about half the levels of crime of the US overall and solid schools across the board. In addition, the flat neighborhoods with sidewalks also make this an ideal neighborhood for kids as well (they can ride bicycles without getting run over and that sort of thing).

Although this looks like a pretty typical suburban city, you do get a number of high end restaurants like Alexander’s Steakhouse, Sawa sushi, and Le Papillon. There are also some bars like Bogart’s and the Peacock Lounge which are for the most part nothing to write home about.

Overall, since the housing crisis has brought prices down somewhat in terms of housing, Sunnyvale has become the kind of place that upper middle class folks can afford to live.
Pros
  • Strong Schools
  • Good Newer Homes
  • Safe and Sound
Cons
  • Some Good Restuarants
  • A Bit Boring
  • Lots of Traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids