Which cities are part of Silicon Valley?

Where is Silicon Valley - map of general areaWhich cities are a a part of Silicon Valley? When people are considering a move to the San Francisco Bay Area, that’s one of the first questions asked.

Silicon Valley is not really a valley, though it did originally harken back to the Santa Clara Valley’s geography. The towns and cities which are included in Silicon Valley are primarily in Santa Clara County (by far the largest Silicon Valley city is San Jose), with San Mateo County also having a number of areas, with little snippets of Santa Cruz County and Alameda County.

While San Jose is the largest city in Silicon Valley, the epicenter of the region is probably Palo Alto – Mountain View – Sunnyvale.

This is an amorphous area. If you asked 10 different real estate agents,  you might get 5 or 6 different answers, but I believe the list below would be agreed upon by most.

It is important to note that San Francisco is NOT in Silicon Valley. Many reporters get this wrong and report on Silicon Valley with stories out of SF. The regions are certainly related, and there are high tech companies in The City but they are distinct.

A list of which cities are part of Silicon Valley

In Santa Clara County (most of the county) – also known as the South Bay

  • Campbell
  • Cupertino
  • Gilroy – possibly
  • Los Altos
  • Los Altos Hills
  • Los Gatos
  • Los Gatos Mountains (not incorporated) – possibly
  • Milpitas
  • Monte Sereno
  • Morgan Hill
  • Mountain View
  • Palo Alto
  • San Jose
  • Santa Clara
  • Saratoga
  • Sunnyvale

In San Mateo County (bayside areas) – on The Peninsula

  • Atherton
  • Belmont
  • East Palo Alto
  • Foster city
  • Hillsborough
  • Menlo Park
  • Portola Valley
  • Redwood City
  • Redwood Shores
  • San Carlos
  • San Mateo
  • Woodside

In Alameda County – in the East Bay

  • Fremont
  • Possibly Newark, Hayward

In Santa Cruz County – not part of the San Francisco Bay Area (9 counties), but part of the Monterey Bay Area and the Central Coast

  • Scotts Valley
  • possibly Santa Cruz & Santa Cruz Mountains

Related Reading:
Where is Silicon Valley?

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 a waterfront home 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, winding commute over Highway 17’s mountain pass. 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, 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 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. (more…)

What does it cost to buy a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home in the West Valley areas of Silicon Valley?

It can be challenging for people moving to Silicon Valley to get a sense of pricing for home buying. So to compare “apples to apples,” let’s take a hypothetical case of a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home of approximately 2,000 SF house (appx 185 square meters) and see how the cost looks in one area versus another.

Today I compared several cities and areas using the formula: single family homes of 1,800 – 2,200 SF, 3-5 bedrooms, 2-3 bathrooms, on lot sizes of 5,000 SF – 10,000 SF that have sold within the last 60 days. The prices listed are the average from sales in this criteria, so areas with a higher volume of sales will have more stable averages than those with less sales to analyze. DOM means “Days on Market”, the number of days a home was listed as available before pending.

Please note that this is a rough sketch of home prices based on averages taken across large, diverse residential communities. There are many factors that will affect market value beyond these boundaries.

Now, on to the charts.

The Cost To Buy A 4 Bedroom 2 Bath Home In…

I have arranged this chart in descending order by Sales Price. This is usually how I organize the data, and you can see certain markets shifting position, moving up or down the order depending on what’s hot. Occasionally one of these markets will have no sales within the timeframe, so those will be left in place from where they were when we last checked, but will show “n/a” in place of any pricing or statistics. Once you’ve reviewed the most recent data, scroll down farther to compare today’s market against past years!

Please use the list below as a way to get your bearings on nearby areas in the South Bay (southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area). This is not an exhaustive list – it’s just most of the areas closest to Highway 85 or the West Valley Freeway. You can study various cities, downs, and districts within the region at my stats site, popehandy.rereport.com. (Free and you do not have to register unless you want email updates.)

Want to do a deep dive on any of these areas? Please visit my Valley of Heart’s Delight Blog to learn about them.

Comparing West Valley House Prices 2021-06-28

There have been a number of changes to the order since the last time we checked in December 2020. Campbell, Sunnyvale, and Mountain View have all moved down the list. Their prices are higher than last time we checked, they just haven’t gone up this spring as much as some of the other markets. Saratoga has climbed much higher on the chart, but with so few sales it’s normal to see broad fluctuations in the charts for this community.

What we see across the entire chart is sky high spring pricing and extremely low days on market – under 2 weeks in all but two areas! Looking more closely, the Cambrian (San Jose) market had one highly unusual sale where the MLS listing shows a whopping 496 days on market. Discounting that sale, the average becomes a lighting fast 10 DOM! So while there are still the occasional slow sales the majority are selling at breakneck speeds! As for pricing, communities are showing increases from roughly 3% all the way up to 31%! Averaging it out, the West Valley average home is selling 16%-18% above where they were early last winter.

In most cases, the most expensive and desirable places have either the best schools or shortest commute location or both. Had I ranked these for school scores, you’d find that Cambrian would be fairly high up as it is a good “bang for the buck” location – though not a super short commute for folks who work in Mountain View (though not so bad for people working in Cupertino). None of these is especially close to North San Jose (Cisco).

Also, it should be noted that one of the main drivers of home values is school districts. In the San Jose / Silicon Valley area, the school district boundaries do NOT follow the city or town boundaries. Los Gatos, for example, has 3 different elementary school districts, with varying scores which impact home values.  So too with Saratoga and many other areas, San Jose especially! All this to say that the figures above are only ROUGH GUIDES. When you break it down to micro-markets, the picture changes more. But as a starter guide, I think you’ll find the above info helpful to give you a general idea of how far your money can go in home buying for areas in Santa Clara County from Palo Alto to Blossom Valley.

Palo Alto is a gorgeous, exciting area with all kinds of wonderful features – beautiful neighborhoods, lower crime, great schools, short commute. It is usually the most expensive area on this list. But unless you found a successful startup company or inherit a couple of million bucks, it can be hard to buy a single family home there. Many people would like to live in the shadow of Stanford University, but the budget just won’t allow it.

Now let’s have a look at that December 2020 chart I’ve been referencing. Los Altos had no sales during this time, although overall it was an active market in the West Valley.

2020-12-10 60D SFH 4B/2B Cost

Historical Comparisons of Home Prices in the Same (or Similar) Areas

We’ll start off with something fairly recent, a report from October 29th, 2019.

October 29th, 2019:

(more…)

Where are the Superfund sites in Santa Clara County?

Santa Clara County is home to a number of Superfund sites. Where are they?

A helpful, free website that anyone can use is EnviroStor. From the home page you can take a tour on how to learn about Superfund and other environmental hazards in California. The image below is showing only the Federal Superfund – please note in the left column that just the first box is  checked. If you are particularly interested in school cleanup or school investigation, you’ll want to check those boxes. (The image is linked to the EnviroStore page fyi.)

 

EnvirStor - screenshot of map of Santa Clara County, showing SuperFund sites

There are quite a few Superfund sites concentrated in Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, and Mountain View, but they can be found in San Jose, East Palo Alto, Scotts Valley, Cupertino, Palo Alto, and more areas in Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley house for under $1 million

The Silicon Valley real estate market is notoriously expensive. It isn’t easy, but you can find a Silicon Valley house for under $1 million – if you are willing to drive a little further to those tech centers.

Tonight I did a quick search and found that it’s not too hard to find a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house with at least 1200 square feet in the south county and very scenic communities of Gilroy, San Martin, and Morgan Hill. Other possibilities are in the Santa Cruz or Los Gatos Mountains, south San Jose, Evergreen, and parts of east San Jose – among others. Here’s a map showing houses recently sold with the above listed criteria.

Most likely areas for finding a Silicon Valley house for under $1 million

 

 Where to find a house for under 1 million

 

When I loosened the criteria (such as showing all bedrooms), more homes and areas opened up, but some were very small, or needed a lot of repairs, or were in a 100 year flood plain, or had other issues.

The bottom line is that if your budget is $1 million or less, there are places that are likely to work – but probably won’t be in Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Palo Alto, or Santa Clara.

Want a shorter commute? You might want to consider looking at condos and townhomes for the more “close in” location.