Cambrian & Cambrian Park Neighborhoods: How to Choose Where to Live?
Cambrian Park is a highly desirable district of San Jose. With close proximity to Los Gatos, Campbell, Willow Glen and Blossom Valley, there’s lots to do within Cambrian itself or very nearby. Cambrian also enjoys good schools, low crime, two new libraries, two Farmer’s Markets, and a fabulous rec center, the Camden Community Center.
Where is Cambrian Park and how big is it? The 2000 census reported Cambrian Park as having less than 4000 people. In contemporary useage, though, Cambrian consists of much more than the area known as “Cambrian Village” (which has this small population), and now includes about 75,000 residents in all. The area includes most of the 95124 zip code plus the 95118 zip code (and a little sliver of 95008). (To see a very approximate map of Cambrian Park boundaries, click on this link.) The local Realtor association had something to do with this shift in perception as it mapped out boundaries for Cambrian Park, roughly known in the industry as “area 14″ that expanded the original area. Historically, though, Cambrian was really a very vast area including much of Campbell and many areas now falling under different district names. The area is alternately known as Cambrian, Cambrian Park, and Cambrian Village – the latter referring to the area near Union & Camden Avenues.
Related post on Cambrian’s history, areas and map: please also see
Cambrian Park: Good Schools, Low Crime, Close to Los Gatos and Campbell
How do you decide where in Cambrian to live? Many aspects of home buying will likely come into play, from schools desired and budget available to the ambiance and practical things you desire such as RV parking, an extra large garage, family room, guest suite, ommute issues (proximity to freeways), etc.
I. School Districts of Cambrian Park
Your decision might be influenced by the school district you want; Cambrian Park has three elementary school districts. All are good – Cambrian Park truly has no bad schools – but some are exceptionally high. Some districts may have more offerings for special needs kids or gifted kids – if you have children and are looking at placing them in the local public schools, do your research before you househunt!
- The north side of Cambrian Park (going into Campbell and Willow Glen) has schools belonging to the Cambrian School District (see map).
- The east side of Cambrian Park (going toward Blossom Valley) is part of the territory of the San Jose Unified School District. Schools for all of San Jose are beautifully mapped out by the district – you have to zoom in to see the boundaries around Cambrian but it includes all three local districts so is worth the extra steps!
- The southwest side of Cambrian (and east Los Gatos) is within the boundaries of the Union School District, which also has a helpful map of the borders. The map is a pdf you’ll download and it is very detailed.
Need good schools on a smaller budget? Cambrian School District is very highly acclaimed. If you’re on a tight budget but want incredible schools, you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck along the Cambrian-Willow Glen border with the Hacienda Gardens tract. The homes there, though, are not of high quality construction (slab foundations, often 3 bed, 1 bath, 1 car garage on a 5000 SF lot), they are on small lots and many people don’t keep their homes up as much as the neighbors would hope.
Today I showed a buyer of mine a home on the Willow Glen side of Hacienda Gardens (north of Foxworthy) and saw many yards which were “let go”. This one was so bad it was humorous – lawn chairs which were being overtaken by weeds and sourgrass! Although my buyer really liked the home we saw, he didn’t like the fact that neighbors were parking trucks in the lawn area and that weeds were considered landscaping in perhaps 20% of the homes.
II. Budget: What Does It Cost to Buy a Home in Cambrian Park?
What do Cambrian Park homes cost? It depends. Houses range from a low of about $400,000 (small, 2-3 bedroom, needs work/not great construction, distressed sale, busy road or other “issue” – possibly in high 3′s if multiple problems) to a high of about $2,000,000 (big home, big lot, newly remodeled or built, elegant or with a view. Typically, a 1250 – 1500 SF home in good shape and with no huge negative issues might sell for between $500,000 and $750,000 depending on a number of factors.
- Within Cambrian, often prices are higher the closer you get to the foothills and the Los Gatos border
- For instance, you’ll see a noticeable 3% or more jump in prices from one side of Los Gatos-Almaden Road to the next, even if the zip code is the same
- Prices will rise when entire neighborhoods are well kept, and prices will fall when homes are neglected or appear overcrowded (people park in the front lawn area, there are too many vehicles, etc. )
- Land is still king – homes with larger lots are generally worth much more than homes on small lots.
- Home buyers want nearby parks, shops, and other places to visit – but not too close. Amenities help – there are a couple, but not many, communities with cabanas (pools, swim teams, a community focal point).
Condos are more affordable, with the range being about $150,000 (1 bed/1bath) to about $900,000 for a spacious townhome in a great area.
Neighborhoods in Cambrian Park are mostly “conforming” (all homes fairly similar to each other in size and age and style). By and large, you’re most likely to find a tract ranch style home on a lot of 5000 to 7000 square feet. Larger lot, as in the original Cambrian Village area near Cambrian Park Plaza? Expect to pay more – especially if the home is expanded, remodeled or rebuilt.
III. Ambiance and Views in Cambrian Park Neighborhoods
Some home buyers are seeking a scenic place to live, either close to the foothills or in a neighborhood of tree-lined streets or large lots with large, old trees. There are several areas that make visitors feel like they’re out in the country, others with great trees, a few close to the hills and one neighborhood of Cambrian perched atop a knoll with great views.
Looking for ambiance? Consider these spots:
- Close to foothils: Alta Vista School neighborhood – it’s close to the hills and many streets have good trees (builder in the “Blossom” streets: Garcia). I’ve sold several homes in this area. While it’s a tract neighborhood, there is a lot of “pride of ownership” and almost no neglected homes. Issues to watch out for: water runoff from Blossom Hill (the name of the hill, not the road) can mess with foundations. Make sure to have good drainage around your home! (Link above is to a post on that neighborhood in this blog.)
- Tree lined streets: Near Carlton Elementary, check out the “King Streets” neighborhood – Kingbrook, Kingdale, Kinghurst, Kingfield and so on off of Carlton – beautiful tree lined streets, and you should see them during the holidays! (Builder: Garcia) (Link is to my post on this neighborhood)
- More Tree lined streets: The 2000 block of Rosswood Drive and adjacent streets Bel Estos, Bel Escou, Bel Canto) also enjoy a gorgeous canopy of trees
- Even more Tree lined streets: Also see the “Willow” streets (Willowbrook, Willowgate, Willowdale, Willowmont) off Meridian for more tree-lined areas (and more affordable than the three mentioned above)
- Want views? Check out the Vista Loop area (near Camden and Coleman, on the edge of Cambrian near both Los Gatos and Almaden Valley). Possible issues? Drainage/water issues from the hill and runoff (true for any hilly area).
- Looking for land? Heather Drive and Warwick (near “We And Our Neighbors” at Union & Los Gatos-Almaden) have really large lots and a country feel. Ross Creek used to run through here and there are many, many lovely old trees.Other sections of Cambrian with big parcels of land include Stratford Ave., Charmeran, Herring, and Chelsea, and ther other side of Union (Cole, Wyrick, Standish).What to be aware of? Often these homes were built long ago and although they are now connected to the sewer system, they may have buried septic tanks in the rear yard. This could be an issue if you wanted to build a pool.
There are other areas nice enough to mention – this is not an exclusive list, of course, but a few spots you might want to keep an eye on:
- Near Parks: Hogue Park is a delightful place and many fine homes have close access to it (near Bascom and Woodard). There’s a tract of nicely built Ponderosa homes in that area too – off White Oaks and Cranford Cirle. Although the homes here are more than 20 years old, the floorplans are excellent with good proportionality and rooms with very decent sizes. (Possible concern: “popcorn ceilings” were the norm when these were built.)
- All-around nice area, good ambiance: There’s a lovely area of Leep-built homes near Los Gatos-Almaden and Harwood Road near Leigh High School in which the homes just always seem to be well maintained. Check out the streets that come off Elrose: Cardel, Michon, Cordoy, and nearby Roxanne and Romford etc. Super “clean”!
- Another all-around nie area: Near Branham and Meridian there are a number of really lovely homes, many of them on streets beginning with “Calle”, but also Hallbrook and several others. Big trees, well-kept homes.
Things to avoid, if possible:
I would suggest not buying a home on a busy road, up against or too close to high voltage power lines, within a block of a shopping center, adjacent to a school or park (you want to be close, but not TOO close), at a T intersection. It is also best to buy in a conforming area where all the homes are similar or better than the home you wish to buy.
For instance, if you’re buying a single family home, a house, avoid buying near condos and apartments. Better to be in an all-house area. Similarly, if you’re in a condo, it’s good to be near more expensive houses. The principle is easy: other property values pull your home’s value up or down. Better to be pulled up than down!
It’s best, if at all possible, to buy in an area where there are fewer vehicles visible. Most of all that means not too many cars on the street. But seeing RVs and trucks in large numbers is not helpful to your value either. Most home buyers do NOT want to see a boat, trailer, or truck – the more there are, the worse it is for property values.
Things to seek, if possible:
Most ideal: buy a home similar in size to other homes in the area (you do not want to buy the biggest, most improved or most expensive home in the area). Buy a 3 bed, 2 bath home or better if possible. A 3/1 or 2/1 or 2/2 are simply harder to sell later. If you buy a 3/2 home in a 4/3 neighborhood, those larger homes will pull yours up in value. But if you buy a 5 bed, 3 bath home in an area where homes are far smaller and less expensive, those other homes will pull your home’s value down. They will also make it harder to sell your home later.
Posts on specific neighborhoods in San Jose’s Cambrian Area
Almaden Winery neighborhood (border of Almaden and Cambrian)