Santa Clara

Santa Clara is a city with a rich blend of tradition and innovation that sits at the heart of the Silicon Valley. Situated in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area, Santa Clara that boasts a dynamic mix of industries, communities and neighborhoods, and recreational activities. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what makes this city a wonderful place to live.

Something unique to Silicon Valley: residents living in this city enjoy public utilities that are owned by the city, not a private for-profit company (I won’t name names). Prices for power and water are often reported to be less.

Santa Clara’s Thriving Businesses

Levi's Stadium (photo by John Handy, used by permission)Santa Clara’s economic landscape includes a wide range of businesses, ranging from tech giants to small, locally-owned shops. Top employers are predominantly in the tech industry, and include Intel, Applied Materials, AMD, Nvidia, and Dell. It’s also a popular home for tech commuters, as part of the greater Silicon Valley. And the Santa Clara Convention Center is a bustling hub for conferences and events, drawing professionals from all over the world.

Known as “The Mission City,” Santa Clara is also home to the beautiful historic Mission Santa Clara, found on the campus of another major employer: prestigious Santa Clara University (SCU). This private univeristy provides undergraduate and graduate education, as well as courses and events for local seniors through its Osher Lifelong Learning Center. The campus provides ongoing public events throughout the year, including art exhibits, sporting events, and musical and theatrical performances. The university fosters an atmosphere of academic exploration and cultural diversity that enriches the greater community.

Additionally, the city is home to the San Francisco 49ers whose home turf is the recently built Levi’s Stadium. This state-of-the-art stadium also hosts concerts, interactive shows, and other major events, making it a vibrant center of entertainment.

On the San Jose border, O’Connor Hospital is another employer and community resource. There are plenty of workplaces close by!

Neighborhoods in Santa Clara

University Square in Santa Clara - Hilmar Street in mid February with the blossomsSanta Clara offers a number of distinct neighborhoods. One of the most sought-after neighborhoods is Santa Clara’s historic Old Quad, characterized by charming Victorian and Craftsman-style homes that harken back to the city’s early days. Tree-lined streets, well-preserved architecture, and a strong sense of community make this area a favorite for those who appreciate a touch of nostalgia. It’s also extremely convenient for anyone employed at SCU.

The nearby neighborhood of University Square is an excellent choice for those not preferring homes from 100 years ago and who want the convenience from a close in location and tons of shopping, dining, and public transit opportunities nearby. Houses are on good sized lots and from here it’s a breeze to get to either SCU to the north or downtown San Jose to the south via Park Avenue or The Alameda. The Santa Clara station is a transit center connecting the community through Caltrain and VTA rapid and local bus lines.

Another popular area is the Rivermark neighborhood, a younger community known for its modern housing developments and vibrant shopping centers. Rivermark Village, with its array of restaurants and shops, offers an urban living experience that appeals to young professionals and families alike.

Townhouses line the Pruneridge Golf Course on the west end of town, and they enjoy some gorgeous and serene views.

Many Santa Clara neighborhoods are in membership areas of swim clubs and swim teams and that makes for some tight knit communities.

Santa Clara’s Real Estate Market

The real estate market in Santa Clara reflects the city’s high demand and desirability. Check out our Santa Clara real estate market update, which is revised monthly, to see all the most recent numbers, data, statistics, and trends.

This competitive market can present challenges for prospective homebuyers, which is why it’s so important to work with an experienced real estate agent who understands the local market trends and can guide you through the home buying process. Be prepared for multiple offers and swift decision-making, as properties in Santa Clara often sell quickly.

Santa Clara’s real estate market is also influenced by the city’s strong rental market, driven by a large university student population and demand from the nearby tech workforce (some of which include recent grads). Rental properties offer a viable option for individuals and families who may not be ready for home ownership or prefer the flexibility that renting provides.

Home prices are expensive, as they are throughout Silicon Valley. Priciest areas include homes in the part of the city which enjoys Cupertino Schools, or those which are especially large or extensively remodeled.

Green Spaces and Recreation

One of the appealing aspects of life in Santa Clara is its commitment to providing community green spaces. The city offers an array of well-maintained parks and recreational facilities for residents to enjoy.

Central Park, for instance, is a favorite destination for locals. This expansive 52-acre park features playgrounds, picnic areas, lighted sports fields and courts, a swim center, bowling green, an amphitheater, memorial, and more as well as being home to the Central Park Library. It’s an excellent spot for family gatherings, pick-up games, and casual strolls.

Just beyond this city there are even more opportunities for outdoor adventures. The Alviso Marina County Park and Sunnyvale Baylands Park, both located just north of Santa Clara, are great spots for bird watching with stunning views of the bay from the trails surrounded by acres of nature preserve.

Activities and Entertainment

Santa Clara offers an abundance of activities and entertainment options for residents and visitors of all ages. Families can spend a day at California’s Great America amusement park, where thrilling rides and water attractions promise a fun-filled experience. For those seeking cultural experiences, the Triton Museum of Art is a gem showcasing local and international artists.

There are seasonal events, too, such as the fall wine festival.

Sports fans have a lot to cheer about, with Levi’s Stadium hosting everything from NFL games to concerts featuring world-famous artists. The stadium also houses the 49ers Museum, providing an immersive experience into the team’s history.

Keep an eye on the scheduled events at Santa Clara University, too – they sometimes fly a little under the radar, but many festivals, performances, and events are open to the public.

If you have a passion for shopping, the Westfield Valley Fair mall is a must-visit destination, as is Santana Row just across the street. (Side note: half of Valley Fair is in Santa Clara, and the other half is in San Jose. Sales tax may vary accordingly!) These upscale shopping centers feature high-end boutiques, department stores, and a plethora of dining options. Whether you’re looking for designer fashion or a quick bite to eat, you’ll find it in or just on the edge of Santa Clara.

Concerns in Santa Clara?

 

Santa Clara liquefaction and flood zones - click to check the online map

 

Every community has pros and cons, things that make it shine and issues that newcomers should be made aware of. This is true here, too, in the City of Santa Clara.

Things to factor in, research, and make informed decisions on include these (you may find others):

  • Part of this city is in a flood plain, protected from rising bay waters through a series of levees. Other areas may be prone to inundation from creeks during times of heavy rainfall. The city’s website states “While less than 10% of the City of Santa Clara is within the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), many properties, in or out of the SFHA are at risk of flooding because 35% of the City is protected by levees1. City is at risk to both riverine flooding and localized storm water flooding.”
  • The majority of this city is in a liquefaction zone, which means more shaking in earthquakes as the ground can potentially liquify with violent temblors. You can check that out at the Cal My Hazards Awareness site. There’s a screenshot of it above. The brownish green areas are liquefaction, and blue areas are flood zones.
  • Several Silicon Valley communities have environmental hazards, including Superfund sites, nearby. This includes Santa Clara. You can view the data and map online at the Envirostor site.
    • There’s a new home community at Lawrence Station that is on top of a Superfund site. The townhomes directly over it have fans with a battery backup, and their HOA dues are more to cover it than similar townhouses in the complex that do not require that mitigation.

There may be other concerns, too. If schools are important to you, do the research, as they are not uniformly excellent here.

Conclusion

Santa Clara’s charm lies in its ability to harmonize tradition and innovation. It’s a city that preserves its history in neighborhoods like the Old Quad while embracing the future through its ties to Silicon Valley and the ever-evolving university influence. The real estate market may present challenges, but the city’s commitment to green spaces and a wide array of activities ensures a high quality of life for its residents.

Whether you’re looking for a place to call home or a city to explore, Santa Clara has something to offer you.

 

 

Related reading

City of Santa Clara (government website)

City of Santa Clara real estate report (our monthly update)

 

Homes for sale in Santa Clara

 

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(all data current as of 5/19/2024)

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