The Best Places to Live in Silicon Valley

Best Places to Live in Silicon Valley

If there’s any question that Silicon Valley is a hotbed of high tech, here’s a persuasive Fun Fact: One-third of all venture capital invested in U.S. firms comes here. Nowhere else in America — or the world, for that matter — will you find such a high concentration of business – and brain-power. From stalwarts to start-ups, Silicon Valley is where the future is being made today.

If you’re a 21st century prospector moving to the South Bay/Santa Clara Valley area to seek your fortune, you’re probably asking yourself, “Where’s the best place to live?” The answer to that question depends on your needs, your budget and your priorities. Different neighborhoods offer different amenities. And they all come at  price. Usually a pretty hefty one. According to, the price of basic necessities here exceeds the national average by 62 percent.

Here’s a quick look at the best places to live in Silicon Valley:

Best Schools

Of the top 100 high schools in California, seven are in Silicon Valley, according to the 2012 survey by U.S. News and World report magazine. Silicon Valley schools included in the Top 100 list are:

  • Monta Vista High School (Cupertino)
  • Cupertino High School
  • Saratoga High School
  • Mountain View High School
  • Los Gatos High School
  • Los Altos High School

Any elementary or middle school feeding into these top-rated high schools are likely to provide your children with a first-class education.

Lowest Crime

Sunnyvale consistently rates as one of the area’s safest cities. According to FBI statistics, the chances of becoming a crime victim in Sunnyvale is 1 in 845 compared to 1 in 274 for San Jose, and 1 in 236 for California as a whole.

Best Shopping  

As befits one of the top high-rent districts in America, Silicon Valley offers plenty of shopping opportunities. If it’s traditional mall shopping you’re after, San Jose offers the Westfield Valley Fair as well as the trendy Santana Row. In Palo Alto, the Stanford Shopping Center offers an impressive collection of more than 200 top-name fashion stores in a beautiful outdoor setting. At the area’s far southern tip you’ll find the Gilroy Premium Outlet Mall offering deep discounts on designer merchandise, as well as traditional retailers like Costco, Best Buy and Home Depot.

Best Dining

As the center of Silicon Valley — as well as the 10th largest city in the United States — San Jose naturally offers some of the best culinary selections in the entire Bay Area. Styles range from traditional dinner-and-cocktail destinations like Dry Creek Grill and Grill on the Alley, to Mexican (Tu Mero Mole), Italian (Original Joe’s) and Ethiopian (Zeni). Other cities offering top-drawer eats include Cupertino, Palo Alto and Mountain View.

Best Access to Transportation

Traffic is admittedly awful wherever you live in Silicon Valley. And travel times necessarily depend on where you’re going and when you go as well as where you start from. That said, living in San Jose gives you quick access to most of the area’s major freeways as well as the transportation systems provided by Caltrain, ACE, VTA light rail, and Amtrak. It is also fairy convenient to most major area employers. The city also has its own airport if you just want to get out of town.

Most Exclusivity

If it’s status you’re after, you can’t get much more exclusive than the city of Atherton (94207). In the summer of 2013, the median price of the 50 houses listed for sale was $6.67 million, which made it the most expensive ZIP code in the nation. The cheapest house? A two-bedroom bungalow listed at $1.2 million. The most expensive? Hey, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. (Okay, it was a mere $33 million.)

Best In-City Living

The Evergreen area of south San Jose offers a family-friendly combination of reasonable rents, good schools and reasonable commuting times (about 30 minutes to downtown).

Best Rents

Everything in Silicon Valley is expensive. According to Zillow, the average month rent for a two-bedroom apartment is about $2,200 per month throughout the area, the highest in the nation. This compares to $1,600 for California as a whole and $1,050 nationally. Vacancy rates are low, too, averaging just 2.7 percent, according to the U.S. Census. To get any kind of price break, you’ll need to either move up into the mountain communities of Felton, Boulder Creek, Lopico and La Honda, or far south to Gilroy and Morgan Hill.

Apartments in San Jose