this week, emily and i wanted to stray a little from food and hop on over to the best neighborhoods to live in silicon valley and dc. so for those of you looking to move to either area, this post will give you a little insight as to where to dwell. also note, that i am focusing more heavily on the peninsula and south bay when making these recommendations. i am sure east bay has some lovely neighborhoods to settle in but, that is not my expertise.
what makes a great neighborhood to you? for me it is location, restaurant/shopping access, parks, school districts (even though we are not in that stage it is always nice to know), and proximity to beautiful cities to explore.
Palo Alto (peninsula) – i have worked in downtown palo alto since april and fall more in love with it everyday. palo alto is home to stanford, venture capital firms and a bustling yet relaxed downtown. the public schools in the area are rated a perfect 10. are you now understanding why this is one of the most expensive places to live in the country? the neighborhoods along Embarcadero Rd are completely swoon worthy. Each house is unique and has a perfectly well kept garden. i can’t get over how many gorgeous trees line the streets of practically every sub neighborhood in palo alto.
i always tell b this is where i need to live when we settle down. every corner is another stunning home/view. you will be paying high prices to live in this picture perfect city. according to the sf business times, average rent for an apartment in palo alto is $3,000+. b and i are pinching our pennies to one day live in a dream land like this.
Marina (San Francisco) – i have not lived in the city (b is not much of a city person), but i do have many friends that live there and call the marina their home. I thought SF gate described the marina district perfectly by saying “the apartment buildings, shops and restaurants seem to be bursting at their seams with beautiful, young and fit 20- and 30-somethings. The singles scene is hopping on Friday and Saturday nights, with lots of fresh-faced postgrads with cocktails in one hand and cell phones in the other. Union is arguably the best street in the city to window-shop the hours away on a sunny Saturday afternoon, and, a few blocks down, Chestnut has an incredible variety of high-quality restaurants catering to every palate.”
Sunnyvale (south bay) – this is where we have lived for the past year and a half. we originally picked this location because it a little less pricey and is in great proximity to san jose, mountain view and palo alto where we have worked. the more north you live on the peninsula, the less traffic you usually face when commuting to your job. b works in san jose so he is driving a reverse commute and can get to work in less than 10 min. score! i used to have the same reverse commute when working in santa clara, but now head north to palo alto where i am in the thick of it. thank goodness i am only 10 miles away.
living in sunnyvale has also made it easy to go on day trips in the city and santa cruz / monterey (we are less than a hour away from both). i love how easy it is to explore all that is around me. i love the quaint downtown area that host farmer’s markets on Saturdays and live music on Wednesdays. i love the local restaurants and family oriented atmosphere. sunnyvale schools on average are rated a 7/10, which is pretty good in the school districts around here. i love how it always seems to be a little sunnier than the neighboring cites (hence the name maybe). we love this city and think it is a perfect place to begin your bay area adventure whether you are newly married or have a large family.
Woodside (peninsula) – woodside is located less than 10 miles north of palo alto. it is technically a sub area of redwood city. this is a great neighborhood to live in if you feel like you need just a little more space in this jam packed bay area. woodside residents consist mostly of established professionals with large, plantation like homes. this is where larry ellison has come to dwell so you know it must be something good and with property taxes that big of course the schools are top notch. b and i enjoy walking around this neighborhood and taking in the plush scenery. you would have to travel a bit more for restaurants and shopping because it is a tad secluded. but, by travel i mean 15 min and driving through the rolling hills is the prettiest drive to town i have ever seen. this woodsy area is also just a hop, skip and a jump away from beautiful half moon bay. oh a girl can dream.
Willow Glen (south bay) – i have had friends and coworkers live in the willow glen area and swear that it is the place to be. i would have to agree that is indeed one of the places to be. their charming downtown with an array of boutiques and restaurants make you want to roam the streets aimlessly. i love the small town and friendly feel of willow glen. yet, you are only 5 miles away from downtown san jose. willow glen also knows how to celebrate the holidays and come together as a community. during the holidays it is known for its yearly christmas tree lights decoration tradition. many residents participate by decorating christmas trees in their front yards, decorating them in multicolored lights which, when done completely, can be a fun place to drive through. my coworkers actually told me about this tradition and i couldn’t help but day dream about living in this perfect town. there are also other annual street festivals and farmers markets which draw hundreds if not thousands to the neighborhoods streets. It is far more affordable than palo alto, woodside and the marina. score! the one downfall for me is that it may be located too far south for my liking. it is not as accessible to the peninsula and the city. in the end it may be worth it.
What do you think makes a great neighborhood?
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