where to get bang for your buck
Does the mid-Peninsula or the South Bay have any "bang-for-the-buck" cities?
Have you ever looked at Palo Alto or Menlo Park prices and wondered how much more house that kind of money would get you in another city?
Or how much less you’d have to spend for the same house in another city?
Ever wondered if you could get highly-regarded schools elsewhere for less? How about a great downtown…or a neighborhood with offbeat charm…or just a solid home in a pleasant neighborhood, but for the price of a Menlo Park condo?
Your questions are answered here.
First, four charts give you average sales prices in Palo Alto, Menlo Park and neighboring areas as of Quarter 4 2004. (Prices have gone up since then, but the relative positions of these cities haven't changed.) You'll see something you probably already knew: Palo Alto and Menlo Park are expensive compared to other cities.
You'll also see that prices go down as you get further from Stanford University. Stanford's presence over the past 100-plus years has created an extremely appealing environment around it. Add the weather, a great blend of Peninsula coolness and South Bay sunshine, and you pay a substantial premium to live in what I call "The Zone of Gracious Living".
After the sales price charts are five popular ambiences or lifestyles, and where you can find them for less money than you'd pay in Palo Alto or Menlo Park. Usually each area can be found on one of the charts below but if not, just extrapolate to the closest area. Almost all these cities or sub-markets are described elsewhere on this site. If they are, click on the name of the area to go to that page. I'm more than happy to discuss any of these areas with you as well, and to show them to you if you'd like.
Let's take a look at some of your alternatives.
First, average sales prices of single-family homes in the mid-Peninsula's entry-level and midrange markets, as of Q4 2004:
Pretty expensive. Next, let's go further south and look at the markets in the "upper 408" area code, south of Mountain View and north of San Jose:
Then, let's go even further south into the West San Jose sub-markets, where prices are usually even cheaper:
Finally, prices of single-family markets north of "The Zone", from Redwood City north to Millbrae, just below the fog belt:
Qualification: these charts are based on MLS data carefully adjusted to eliminate the anomalies that skew results. But remember, these are just generalizations. Prices for individual properties depend on many factors including neighborhood, home and lot size, condition and location within the neighborhood.
With that out of the way, I’ll give some general answers to the questions raised above. By “affordable” I mean “equal to, or less expensive than, entry-level Menlo Park or Palo Alto”. Most of these choices are subjective, and a quick drive through an area will tell you if we're on the same page. If you’re looking for good schools, verify that the schools listed below meet your standards. Start by going to greatschools.net and the school district web site.
Interested in getting bang for your buck? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
affordable “walk to downtown” neighborhoods
affordable old-fashioned neighborhoods
nice affordable housing tracts
something a little more upscale
and something a little different
Los Trancos, Portola Valley
Woodside Heights, Portola Valley
Woodside Glens, Woodside
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