San Jose

Which Silicon Valley areas are the most European feeling?

Beckwith Building in downtown Los Gatos, California

The beautiful Beckwith Building in downtown Los Gatos, California

I have been fortunate to have made 5 trips to Europe, one of them lasting 9 months, and will be returning again before the end of 2013 (this time to Belgium).  It is so diverse, beautiful and compelling! Having experienced a little culture shock myself (when living in Florence, Italy, for one year of university), I’m very sympathetic about how hard an international move can be, and I understand that for Europeans moving to Silicon Valley, there can be an acute culture shock, particularly for those coming from more rural areas.

The bulk of Silicon Valley is located in Santa Clara County, which is at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay.  In this county, there are approximately 1.8 million people, almost a million of them in the city of San Jose.  Some areas, or districts, of San Jose have a distinctive character and are almost like towns or small cities themselves.  So in this article I’ll mention both cities and towns, but also areas or districts of San Jose, which might appeal to our European transplants.   Most of my comments will reference Santa Clara County or “south bay” locations, but I will also mention others on the San Francisco Peninsula and SF Bay Area too.

Architecture, Urban Centers and Charm

It is an unfortunate negative in Silicon Valley that much of our housing consists of ranch style tract homes, and truthfully, they are not exactly a work of art.  New or newer homes tend to be on very tiny parcels of land (or “lots”) and for many people may simply feel too congested or crowded. But there are beautiful residential neighborhoods – you just need to know where to look!  In many ways, the areas with higher charm can make our global home buyers feel more comfortable than if they were faced with only track, ranch neighborhoods.

Do you value unique, older architecture with Victorian, Craftsman, Tudor or other home styles? Then check out these areas:

  • Within San Jose: the Japantown, Vendome, and Naglee Park areas of downtown San Jose. Also in central San Jose are the Rosegarden, Shasta Hanchett and Burbank neighborhoods which all boast some lovely older homes.  Or, if you love classic Spanish Revival style homes with views, consider the old Alum Rock area of San Jose near the country club (golf course).  The Willow Glen area of SJ (zip code 95120) is full of lovely old established neighborhoods with historic homes and tree lined streets.  If your job takes you to downtown San Jose, all of these areas will be fairly close.
  • If you want a rural, eclectic atmosphere, check out the “New Almaden” area of San Jose.  This is actually a county pocket with a San Jose mailing address.
  • Other towns or cities with older, more interesting architecture include the “downtown” ares of Los Altos, Palo Alto, Los Gatos, Campbell, Mountain View, Saratoga and Menlo Park (in San Mateo County, just north of Palo Alto).
  • If work will be on The Peninsula, there are many areas nearby that may work.  San Mateo has some fantastic neighborhoods!  Also San Francisco, which is tiny but full of beautiful areas, may be a strong draw (I do not sell there – it’s too far for me).   Warning: the weather in San Francisco is very often COLD in summer!
  • Across the bay, Berkeley has some great Victorian and other homes and several really interesting pockets, as does parts of Oakland.  (I do not work these areas either as they are too far for me, but I did live in Berkeley in graduate school and can connect you with a great agent there.)
If what you want is a “walk to town“, urban experience, many of the areas above will work for you.  Additionally, there are a couple of more recently built areas that might appeal to you – Santana Row in San Jose (along the Santa Clara border) or the Rivermark area of Santa Clara off of highway 237, close to the bay.

Waterfront homes in Silicon Valley: are there any concerns?

Beach view from Sunny Cove in Santa Cruz, CASometimes people relocating to Silicon Valley tell me that they’d like to move to an area with a view of the Pacific Ocean. Most of Silicon Valley is inland, though, separated from the ocean by the coastal mountains.

For those truly set on having a view of the Pacific, home can be found in the Santa Cruz area with lovely ocean and Monterey Bay views.  The compromise will likely be a long commute over Highway 17.  Or similarly, ocean lovers may settle close to Half Moon Bay or Pescadero, but will have to slog over the coastal hills on Hwy 35 each day to get to the Peninsula.  (Some lucky souls may find employment in Scotts Valley or along the coast, but most of the jobs are not in these places.)  If a faraway ocean view will work, perhaps making the Santa Cruz Mountains home may be the ideal fit.

If you want to live along the waterfront within Silicon Valley, there really are not a lot of neighborhoods from which to choose.  Most of the water views involve being near the San Francisco Bay.  There are a few rivers, creeks, ponds and lakes to be found as well, but enjoying lovely water views up close is not the easiest criteria to fill. Along the bay, though, it often comes down to Foster City and Redwood Shores, which we’ll discuss next. Continue reading

Where to find historic homes in the San Jose and Silicon Valley area?

Mediterranean style home from the 1920s in Naglee Park (downtown San Jose)Sometimes newcomers to Silicon Valley strongly prefer older homes, such as Victorians, Craftsman, or other distinctive architectural styles, preferably surrounded by homes of the same vintage.  Most of the valley is filled with ranch style housing, but there are quite a few neighborhoods which enjoy historic home which exude tons of charm.  Where to find them?

San Jose’s historic homes

San Jose is a large city (10th largest in the United States, almost 1 million residents) and very spread out with a wide diversity of neighborhoods.  Here are a few to consider for classic, older properties:

In central San Jose there are quite a few areas to check out:

(1) Downtown San Jose generally, but within that area
Naglee Park
Japantown
Vendome areas
(2) the Shasta-Hanchett neighborhood
(3) the Rosegarden area (close to Shasta Hanchett, both in “central San Jose”)
(4) Alum Rock in east San Jose – up into the foothills there are lovely, older Spanish style homes
(5) Willow Glen – close to downtown SJ, features all sorts of architectural styes, from mid-century modern to Spanish, Victorian, Tudor – you name it. Within Willow Glen, The Palm Haven neighborhood has the added charm of so many palm trees (very visible when flying into the San Jose airport)

There are many more scattered throughout San Jose and nearby suburbs, even in places like Cambrian Park or Almaden (away from the old mercury mining area), where it seems all the houses were built from the 1950s to the 1980s.  When we see a hundred year old house in this area, it’s very likely that it used to be the house on a large ranch, orchard or farm.

Los Gatos

Waterman house on Broadway in Los GatosThe town of Los Gatos is far smaller than neighboring San Jose, but has a great assortment of historic districts that are beautifully maintained and tastefully updated, most of them right in downtown.  I’ve written about these on my Live in Los Gatos blog, so here are a few links to those neighborhood posts:

Edelen District

Almond Grove District

Broadway – first subdivision in Los Gatos

Overlook Road

Fairview Plaza

 

Palo Alto

Palo Alto enjoys some of the most beautiful, gracious older houses in Silicon Valley, particularly the Professorville and Old Palo Alto areas, but others too.  Drive the neighborhoods between Stanford University (El Camino Real) and 101 and you’ll find lots of historic homes to love!  The challenge is affordability, as these are the most expensive historic homes in the region.

There are many more lovely older homes throughout Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties and nearby.  If you enjoy these classic beauties, watch for a series of spring home tours which become available beginning in around March each year.  Most of them will cost a few dollars, with proceeds going to a worthy local charity.  If you’re interested in purchasing an historic property, visit my “search by map” page and enter a “built before” year and then scroll around the valley to see what is available.

Incredible Price on 5114 Nerissa Way in Cambrian Park

Cambrian Park, Santa Clara County

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Announcing newly on MLS and at low price for Alta Vista School, quiet street, updated/remodeled condition and oversized lot! 5114 Nerissa Way, a 1,233 sq. ft., 2 bath, 3 bdrm single story “Room to add on!”. Now

MLS®

$579,000

– Fabulous price!.

Property information not available

Open House in Almaden Winery on Sunday

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Almaden Winery, Cambrian Park  –  We invite everyone to visit our open house at 5641 Le Fevre Dr. on October 17 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

Property information no longer available.

Mary Pope-Handy
Realtor,
CIPS, CRS, ABR, SRES
Sereno Group
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd.
Los Gatos CA 95030
[Silicon Valley, California, USA]
1-408-204-7673
mary (at) popehandy.com
CA BRE # 01153805

CIPS - Certified International Property Specialist
CRS - Certified Residential Specialist
ABR - Accredited Buyer Representative
SRES - Seniors Real Estate Specialist

Helping nice folks to buy and sell homes in Silicon Valley since 1993. Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor, Silicon Valley
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