How to choose where to live in Silicon ValleyHow do you choose where you’d like to live in Silicon Valley?  Especially if you’re relocating here from out of the area, this can be a huge question (for more relocation-specific posts, check out my blog  Most Santa Clara County home buyers have strong preferences for low crime, good schools, and pleasant looking, quiet neighborhoods.

My clients often ask me to compare for them areas which are somewhat similar, such as Los Gatos & Los Altos. Off the top of my head, I can give general answers, such as this: Compared to Los Gatos, Los Altos is a  more expensive (perhaps 20 or 25% more?), has a very slightly smaller population, is a little more spread out,  has slightly milder weather and is overall “quieter” in terms of the downtown night life.  Los Altos is more convenient if you want to go to Palo Alto or San Francisco.  Los Gatos is more convenient if you like to visit Santa Cruz, Monterey and the coast.  Los Gatos is more mixed in terms of housing types (it still has many beautiful historic districts with nicely renovated Victorian homes, but also newer construction). Both are “nice looking” but Los Gatos has more varied terrain as it is nestled into the Santa Cruz Mountains. Both enjoy pleasant neighborhoods, good schools, lower than normal crime and community involvement.

That’s the kind of “ballpark” info I can tell people about various areas of the Santa Clara Valley, whether it’s comparing one part of San Jose to another (Cambrian Park vs Almaden Valley vs Willow Glen) or one city to another (Cupertino vs Saratoga).  I can give general info on schools.

What I can’t do (and most agents can’t) is recite from memory school API scores, median household income, housing density, crime statistics, etc.  For that we have the web!  Here are some very helpful links which can assist you in your search to find the part of Santa Clara County that’s the best fit for you, your wants, needs, and budget:

Want to compare areas in and near San Jose?  A great tool for some basic and broad information by zip code is Zip Lookup.  Input a zip code and get an easy to read map of population information like density, age, and income. For more official documentation, census data is easily searchable online through Fact Finder – just search by county, city, town, or zipcode. A good overall source for research is Melissa Data.

Want to get information on crime (I suggest that you do!)? Visit

Public school scores often (but not always) drive real estate prices and values (the Willow Glen area seems to be an exception to the rule).  In our area, the standardized test scores used for this purpose is the API. Testing has been suspended for the last two years, and is supposed to resume again this school year. You can check the API scores of any public school in Santa Clara County online, or check for any California county here.

Although our weather is pretty similar from one part of the valley to the other, it’s a lot warmer and drier in the south county (Morgan Hill & Gilroy) than it is in the Santa Cruz Mountains (mailing address Los Gatos 95033).  That 7 – 10 degree average difference in summer between Los Altos and Almaden Valley or between San Jose and Gilroy might make all the difference to your comfort level, so check out the typical weather numbers on

Some consumers want to know who speaks what language and where. Real estate professionals really cannot talk with you about that but you can research it on your own on the Modern Language Association’s website (MLA language map data center). This information is also available through the census, but it may be trickier to navigate.

What about natural hazards, such as earthquake fault zones, flood plains, liquifaction zones, unstable soils areas and more? Santa Clara County has information on its website with some maps. The US Geological Survey has maps as well. It’s almost impossible to avoid all hazard zones but a basic understanding of what these zones are and where they are might be helpful to you. (If there’s a hill, there’s probably an earthquake fault zone nearby. If the land is super flat, it may be in a liquefaction zone. Close to a river? Might be in a flood plain.) The best info will come from an official Natural Hazard & Environmental Hazard Report specific to the property you’re interested in, though, so don’t let the general information scare you off!

Would you like to search for homes using a “lifestyle finder” in Silicon Valley?  It does require flash, so won’t work on tablets etc., but is a pretty nifty program otherwise. Please have a look – the link will take you to a page on my Valley of Hearts Delight website:

There’s a lot of information you want to track down when moving to Santa Clara County or buying your first home here especially.  Don’t feel like you need to do it alone, though.  Team up with a great Realtor who can help you to narrow your search and get your priorities lined up with you.  Call me for a confidential, non-pushy consultation.

For more reading check out these other posts: Finding Your Next Home Find Silicon Valley Real Estate And Homes For Sale By Map

  1. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,944 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,398 sqft
  2. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,373 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,185 sqft
  3. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,110 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,242 sqft
  4. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,016 sq ft
    Lot size: 9,500 sqft
  5. 3 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,481 sq ft
    Lot size: 910 sqft
  6. 1 bed, 1 bath
    Home size: 704 sq ft
    Lot size: 744 sqft
  7. 3 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,598 sq ft
    Lot size: 823 sqft
  8. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,322 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,041 sqft
  9. 0 beds, 0 bath
    Home size: 3,188 sq ft
    Lot size: 10,232 sqft
  10. 0 beds, 0 bath
    Home size: 3,188 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,777 sqft

See all Real estate in the city of Campbell.
(all data current as of 9/22/2018)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.


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Mary Pope-Handy
Sereno Group Real Estate
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95030
408 204-7673
Mary (at)
License# 01153805

Selling homes in
Silicon Valley:
Santa Clara County,
San Mateo County, and
Santa Cruz County.
Special focus on:
San Jose, Los Gatos,
Saratoga, Campbell,
Almaden Valley,
Cambrian Park.
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Mary’s other sites & blogs
Valley Of Hearts Delight
Santa Clara County Real Estate,
with an interest in history
Silicon Valley relocation info
Silicon Valley real estate,
focus on home selling

Silicon Valley Real Estate Report
Silicon Valley real estate
market trends & statistics
Mary’s Blog Awards
Top 25 real estate blogs of 2018 by RentPrep2018's list of top 25 real estate blogs to follow

Top 25 real estate blogs 2016
2016: Personal Income's list of top 25 real estate blogs.

Best Realtor blog award
2016: Coastal Group OC's list of best Realtor blogs

The 2009 Sellsius list of top 12 women real estate bloggers
2009: Sellsius list of top
12 women real estate bloggers

Mary Pope-Handy's Live in Los Gatos blog won the 2007 Project Blogger contest, sponsored by Inman News and Active Rain

2007: Mary Pope-Handy and Frances Flynn Thorsen win the Project Blogger Contest for Mary's Live in Los Gatos blog. The contest was sponsored by
Active Rain and Inman News.

Non blog award

Best real estate agent in Silicon Valley from the San Jose Mercury News poll of readers in 2011
"Best real estate agent
in Silicon Valley"

2011 readers' poll,
San Jose Mercury News