What kind of cost is associated with the most affordable homes in Silicon Valley?  In Santa Clara County, the median sale price of houses is about $1.7 – $1.8 million (fall 2023) and the average sale price is just about $2 million.  So you know it can’t be easy – these are for the whole county, not the areas with the best commutes, best schools, most charm, etc.

Quick summary:

  • the least expensive areas are often more remote, or have less well regarded schools, or other undesirable factors (higher crime, too close to a negative location)
  • the most expensive  Silicon Valley areas tend to have shorter commutes, better school scores, less crime, more wealth, generally
  • within Santa Clara County,  lower prices are found in the city of Gilroy, in the Los Gatos Mountains (or other remote areas), and these areas of San Jose: South San Jose, Alum Rock, and Downtown or Central San Jose
  • San Mateo County is generally less affordable than Santa Clara County, but there are some less costly areas, like East Palo Alto
  • Santa Cruz County is often much more affordable than Santa Clara County (the commute may be a bear, though)

 

Santa Clara County’s most affordable homes

Here’s a view of home prices and market conditions by city. Gilroy is usually the least expensive city, as it is in this month’s data set. As a general rule, Silicon Valley’s most affordable homes are often the most remote.

 

Santa Clara County single family home stats by city.

 

San Jose makes up about half of the county in terms of population, and every few months we update a post about San Jose Districts and their Values.

Within the city of San Jose, the 3 districts with the most affordable homes are (in order with links to the RE Report for each section):

  1. South San Jose
  2. Alum Rock
  3. Downtown

The next two areas of San Jose on the “more affordable” end of the spectrum are Santa Teresa and Blossom Valley.

Also not represented in the table above are the areas within the Santa Cruz Mountains, also known as the Los Gatos Mountains. This can be among the most affordable areas (nothing is cheap!), but there are commute and other issues that come with living in the mountains.  Please see this article on that topic: What about living in the Los Gatos Mountains (or Santa Cruz Mountains)?

Rural areas in the east foothills, or in more distant parts of South County will also give more home for the buck, but the tradeoffs will include much longer commutes.

More expensive: San Mateo County

And it’s worse if you go north, and into San Mateo County, where the median sale price is $1.8 – $2 million and the average sale price is $2.6 million  (Please visit my RE REPORT for information on Silicon Valley real estate statistics. It is automatically updated each month.)

 

San Mateo County single family home prices by county

 

Less expensive, but longer commute: Santa Cruz County

 

It’s more affordable if you’re willing to go further out to Santa Cruz County.

 

 

Santa Cruz County SFH stats by city - the most affordable homes in or near Silicon Valley may often be found here, "over the hill"

 

Alternatives

For many people, even the best prices aren’t affordable alternatives. Need more space for less cost? A few ideas:

  • consider a townhouse (some of them are single story, attached only at the garage to other units) – don’t rule it out without seeing some
  • perhaps look into a duplex purchase and rent out the other side – this at least will provide a backyard
  • a mobile home may be the ticket (I don’t sell these myself)
    • in Santa Clara County, I have not found any where you also buy the land under it, but that means no property taxes
    • in Santa Cruz County, there are places where you can also buy the land underneath
  • this isn’t for everyone, but possibly living on a houseboat at the Port of Redwood City would be more financially viable

Do you have creative ideas with lower cost of housing alternatives that we haven’t covered here? Please drop me a note with any suggestions and I’ll update this list.

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