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, two charts give you average sales prices in Palo Alto, Menlo Park and neighboring areas as of 2012.  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 Santa Clara County as of 2012:


Next, let’s go further north and look at the SFR markets in San Mateo County:


If you’re looking for affordable, you’ll probably want to cross Atherton off your list.

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 and the school district web site.

Interested in getting bang for your buck?  Please contact me at


Affordable “walk to downtown” neighborhoods.


Bang-for-the-buck schools. 

Redwood City (Roy Cloud)

Redwood City (Clifford)

Mountain View (Los Altos schools)

Mountain View west of El Camino

San Carlos

Sunnyvale (Sunnyvale schools)

Sunnyvale (Cupertino schools)

Sunnyvale (Santa Clara schools)


affordable Cupertino

midrange Cupertino

San Mateo (Parkside)

San Mateo (Laurel)

San Mateo (Highlands)

Santa Clara (Cupertino schools)

Santa Clara alternative schools

West San Jose (Cupertino schools)

West San Jose (Moreland schools)

West San Jose (Campbell schools)

West San Jose (Willow Glen)

West San Jose (Cambrian)

West San Jose (Almaden)

Campbell (Campbell schools)

Campbell (Moreland schools)


 Affordable old-fashioned neighborhoods. 

Redwood City between El Camino and Hudson

Mount Carmel, Redwood City

Downtown (“Old”) Mountain View

Downtown San Carlos

White Oaks, San Carlos

Lyon & Hoag, San Carlos

Downtown Sunnyvale


Old Quad, Santa Clara

Hayward Park, San Mateo

Glazenwood, San Mateo

Downtown San Mateo

Bowie Estate, San Mateo

East San Mateo

Homestead, San Mateo

Beresford Manor, San Mateo

Downtown Campbell

Downtown San Jose

Willow Glen, West San Jose

Rose Garden, Central San Jose

Hanchett Park, Central San Jose

Naglee Park, Central San Jose

Vendome Park, Central San Jose

St. Leo’s, Central San Jose


 Nice affordable housing tracts. 

Woodside Plaza, Redwood City

Cuesta Park, Mountain View

 Oak Park, San Carlos

Howard Park, San Carlos

Sunset Highlands, San Carlos

Sunnyvale west of Central


affordable Cupertino

midrange Cupertino

19th Ave. Park, San Mateo

Fiesta Gardens, San Mateo

Parkside, San Mateo

Sunnybrae, San Mateo

Park Western, San Mateo

San Mateo Village

San Mateo Terrace

Westwood Knolls, San Mateo

most of Santa Clara


Cambrian, West San Jose

Willow Glen, West San Jose

Bascom Gardens (Cory), West San Jose

Moreland schools, West San Jose

Campbell schools, West San Jose


Something a little more upscale. 

Farm Hill Estates, Redwood City

Emerald Hills, Redwood City

Redwood Shores, Redwood City

Edgewood Park, Redwood City

Wellesley Park, Redwood City

Waverley Park, Mountain View

San Carlos west of Alameda

newer homes in Sunnyvale

Hallmark, Belmont

upper midrange Cupertino

San Mateo Park

Baywood, San Mateo

Aragon, San Mateo

Rose Garden, Central San Jose

Willow Glen, West San Jose

Almaden Valley, West San Jose


And something a little different. 

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