A few times a month I get phone calls from people considering a relocation to Silicon Valley. In most cases, a trip out to Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, San Jose, Menlo Park or somewhere else in the South Bay or Peninsula is planned. These questions always arise:
What should we see when visiting Silicon Valley?
What neighborhoods should we consider or tour while there?
First: know which part of Silicon Valley where the possible employer is located
Silicon Valley covers a lot of ground – most of 2 counties (Santa Clara County and San Mateo County) and snippets of a couple more, which the Silicon Valley sprawl now inching north toward San Francisco. The first thing to know is where the potential job is located. There’s a huge difference between Oracle in Redwood Shores, Apple in Cupertino or Cisco in North San Jose, let alone some of the more far reaching Silicon Valley areas like Scotts Valley, South San Jose (at the intersection of Hwy 85 and 101), over in Los Gatos (Netflix) or inching up the east Bay in Fremont or Hayward.
Second: know your commute tolerance and have your priorities organized
Everyone would like to live close to work (under a half hour commute) but if you are juggling multiple priorities such as having a house & yard for kids, needing good public schools, and bringing it in at less than $2 million, you may have to sort out which of the important priorities is the very most important and go from there. For many, the commute gets longer in order to provide the other things (a house not a condo or apartment, better schools, lower price). Most people say that they would like a commute of 30 minutes or less. Often they end up with a longer one after seeing a few areas and properties.
Interviewing in multiple locations?
If you are going to be interviewing with multiple companies in a wide, diverse area, it’s probably premature to get too set on any particular neighborhood. However, it would be good to learn the broad, sweeping differences in location (weather, proximity to things you want to enjoy, schools, real estate prices for rentals or purchases). You may find that you love everything about the Peninsula: the cooler, breezier weather in summer, the proximity to San Francisco, the views of the bay. Or you might strongly prefer the South Bay and the San Jose area, which is drier, less windy, warmer, and offers loads of things for kids (Children’s Discovery Museum, the Children’s Musical Theater, Great America, the new Levi’s Stadium, proximity to the beach at Santa Cruz). The home prices may impact your decision as well.
How can a real estate agent help? Will a Realtor offer tours of the area?
Most Silicon Valley Realtors will not tour you around if you are here and may or may not move here. Offering tours takes a lot of time, and many of the folks who visit to consider a job never come, either because the position wasn’t offered or because the one being interviewed didn’t care for our housing prices (or something else with the area – but usually it’s the cost of real estate). In the past, I have toured folks around but for me it was extremely time-costly and did not make sense for me as a business person to do it since most of those people never moved here (or if they did, rented forever and did not buy).
What I will do, and what many other real estate agents will do, is give you a lot of info by phone and email, and meet you in person for an hour or so to answer your questions and help you get your bearings. By communicating prior to your trip here, you can get enough info to narrow what you view and it will make your tour far, far easier.
(If your job offer comes through and the move is certain and you’re ready to buy, of course that’s different. We would get you pre-approved and then get you out to see neighborhoods and homes.)
Can a Realtor help me to find a rental or to check on rental prices in case I do get a job offer?
Rentals in Silicon Valley are not offered through the real estate multiple listing service, or MLS. That means that they are not coming to the public through realty professionals but instead are “for rent by owner”. Here’s a link to an article I wrote with rental resources: