Deciding where to live in Silicon Valley is not easy. There are many towns and neighborhoods to choose from and many factors to take into consideration such as schools, commuting distance, house prices etc. Following is a summary of some of the cities in Silicon Valley where you will probably find your home.

Campbell

Campbell has become one of Silicon Valley's more desirable neighborhoods to live in during recent years.

Famous for its prunes in former times, it became a big suburb of San Jose with no real identity of its own. However, in the last decade a major overhaul to the town centre took place, diverting traffic and creating a cute high street with great restaurants and shops, changing Campbell into an attractive proposition for a place to live. Consequently houses and apartments have increased in value, and schools are improving.

Most houses are ranch style - single storey 3 bed, 2 bath, but as people move into the neighborhood, house upgrades and remodeling are becoming more common. A quick trip on the Light Rail gives you access to downtown San Jose to the north. Along with its fantastic recreational facilities ranging from the popular bike trail along the creek to the annual Highland Games, Campbell's affordability and quaintness for families make it an attractive place to check out on your tour of Silicon Valley.

Cupertino

Apple's headquarters in Cupertino has attracted a large high-tech population which has brought wealth and top scoring schools into the neighborhood.

The town borders some very rural areas, affording some great hiking and mountain bike trails on your doorstep. And, if you're fortunate to be able to afford it, there are some houses with magnificent views.

Cupertino does not have a high street or downtown area, so if that is one of your criteria for choosing your town, this one is not for you. However, what this town lacks in a downtown area, it makes up for in its variety of house styles and sizes, which the advent of higher income families over recent years has created.

And commuters - your trip will be short but slow! But shoppers, never fear - it does, however, have a fairly decent shopping mall, Vallco, which has just recently added a huge movie complex to add to its many shops and restaurants.

Fremont

Nestled next to some very expansive scenery of undulating hills, Fremont is situated in the area known as the East Bay, across the San Francisco Bay from the high-tech cities of Palo Alto, Mountain View and Sunnyvale.

Many commuters who live in Fremont cross the Dumbarton Bridge to come to work, adding to their commute time as well as subjecting them to the toll fees of the bridge.

In return for the longer commute, house prices tend to be lower, and the extra land availability in Fremont allows for larger lots and bigger houses.

The downside is, like Cupertino, there is no town centre to Fremont, shopping is done by way of large open malls. However, one of its major attractions is Lake Elizabeth, a wonderful family area for picnics, sailing and other watersports.

Gilroy

Known as ?The Garlic Capital of the World?, Gilroy is situated at the southern end of Silicon Valley.

As well as its flourishing garlic crop, the combination of availability of large fairly affordable housing, a well appointed high street in the old town, spectacular scenery and a certain distance from the hubbub of the high-tech world has been an attraction for many people relocating to Silicon Valley.

The latter can be a disadvantage for the commuter, with an up to 60 minute commute to San Jose, though the widening of Highway 101 in recent times has alleviated some of the traffic congestion.

Good news for shoppers - one of the largest and most famous retail outlets in the South Bay is located just outside Gilroy, the Gilroy Premium Outlets, attracts millions of shoppers from other parts of Silicon Valley.

As far as schools are concerned, the combination of low-income farm and middle-class white collar and professional kids have created test scores from low to middling, though an injection of $69 million in 2002 helped renovate existing and build new schools.

In the 2000 census, 33 percent of the residents came in under age 18 so a very youthful city!

Los Altos

Moving back up to the centre of Silicon Valley, we find a small wooded community which seems to have it all - gorgeous main street, quaint downtown with bakeries, coffee shops, sidewalk cafes and art galleries, beautiful houses, tree lined streets, highly-rated restaurants and excellent schools - hence the exorbitant house prices!

Nothing comes without a price in Silicon Valley and Los Altos and its neighboring town, Los Altos Hills, are some of the most sought after and expensive properties in the valley. Those in Los Altos Hills are beautifully situated, spread out in acres of land, most with gorgeous views of the valley, accompanied by some of the highest prices in Silicon Valley!

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Los Gatos

Between San Jose and Santa Cruz, nestled at the base of the mountains between Silicon Valley and the Pacific Ocean, is the town of Los Gatos, one of Silicon Valley's oldest communities.

With a gorgeous historic downtown full of modern stores tastefully fronted in the Los Gatos old style because of the ordinance preserving historic buildings (the first of its kind in the county), top restaurants and tree lined streets, Los Gatos is a favorite among Silicon Valley residents for wining, dining and if you're lucky, living!

Los Gatos schools rank amongst the top in the state, with 85 percent of high school seniors going on to college.

Los Gatos is home to Oak Meadows-Vasona Park, one of the most beautiful parks in the county with its own reservoir, miniature train, playground, lake and miles of trails for hiking and biking.

Slightly further away from the heart of Silicon Valley, Los Gatos is a longer commute than other towns from most high-tech companies, but the trade off is worthwhile for many lucky residents.

Menlo Park

The town of Menlo Park is further up the Peninsula towards San Francisco. Tree-lined streets with wide avenues, well-known restaurants, good schools and oversized houses are the trademark of this majestic town, situated just north of Palo Alto.

With the creeping of high-tech industries further north into the Peninsula, extending the boundaries of Silicon Valley nearer San Francisco, Menlo Park has become a convenient place for high-tech professionals to find their home. It can lay claim to fine restaurants, excellent schools and a very enticing tree-lined main street for interested shoppers.

Milpitas

Located at the far southern end of the San Francisco Bay, Milpitas is a community of diverse cultures introducing a wide variety of ethnic restaurants to its growing population.

Housing is still affordable for commuters to Silicon Valley to which it is well connected by the light rail system.

Milpitas is crossed by two freeways, 680 and 880, with 267 splitting them and going east through North San Jose, so many routes for commuters going to work in Silicon Valley.

Its famous Roller Rink is a big attraction to young families from the rest of the Bay Area.

The old Ford assembly plant, closed in 1983, is now home to ?The Great Mall?, one of the largest outlet malls in California, with Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Borders, and a movie complex to attract thousands of visitors.

Morgan Hill

Morgan Hill is located 10 miles north of its nearest town, Gilroy, still 12 miles south of San Jose. It has a village-like atmosphere, main street with quaint shops and small town feel, similar to Gilroy.

The 101 freeway connects Morgan Hill to Silicon Valley and, coupled with larger properties and lots, parks and open spaces, has become a very attractive alternative to those looking to live in Silicon Valley.

School test scores have improved greatly over the past decade, due in part to the increase in numbers of pr. fessionals and high-tech commuters moving into the city. Because the modern Morgan Hill was not built until the 1980's, much planning went into its construction, and if you buy a home here, you can be sure you will be moving into a well-planned controlled-growth community.

Mountain View

With a bustling downtown and a plethora of ethnic restaurants to visit day and night, Mountain View, the home of Google, is a popular venue.

Coupled with its famous Performing Arts downtown and the Amphitheatre at Shoreline which attracts major bands and artists, the town is a thriving entertainment center, particularly for the young folk.

Shoreline is, as its name suggests, an area of shore on San Francisco Bay, full of wildlife, birds, bike and walking trails.

Commuting presents few problems as Mountain View is so central to most of the high-tech companies, and is close to several freeways, the 85, 237 and 101. Caltrain takes passengers to the City (San Francisco) and south to Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and San Jose and the Light Rail provides access to many of the Silicon Valley cities.

Houses are expensive, and, being in the midst of Silicon Valley, space is sparse so you won't find large houses here. This is a city where apartments outnumber single homes. But if you want to be in the middle of it all, Mountain View is definitely worth a look!

Palo Alto

Palo Alto is perhaps the most well known of the Silicon Valley towns, being the place where Hewlett and Packard invented the audio oscillator, in an Addison Avenue garage, now known as the "Birthplace of Silicon Valley".

Palo Alto's central location and its proximity to Stanford University are just two of the criteria which have made Palo Alto one of the most desirous residential area for newcomers relocating to Silicon Valley.

But you all know the old adage ?Supply and Demand? and nowhere is it more true of Palo Alto house prices. Gorgeous homes, many remodeled, with beautifully landscaped gardens border the tree-lined streets.

High-achieving schools and great shopping streets as well as the modern and stylish Stanford Shopping Centre factor into the very high house prices here; no decent home is available for under $1 million.

Stanford University is on the doorstep so the coffee shops and restaurants in the main street are frequented by its students. Home to big-time college football and basketball, Stanford has a huge stadium and in the past has hosted a Super Bowl and World Cup soccer games.

Every year the two high schools, Gunn and Palo Alto, score among the highest in the state in the math SAT. With an almost 100 percent graduation rate, Palo Alto schools send their students to some of the most prestigious universities in the country. It's a very green city with 30 parks including one in the Santa Cruz Mountains only open to Palo Alto residents. Palo Alto is all about location, education and gorgeous homes but lot size is limited, so if you can afford it and are looking for space and bigger lot size, try looking over at Los Altos Hills or Saratoga.

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San Jose

An hour's drive south of San Francisco, San Jose is the largest city in the Bay Area and the 3rd largest in California (San Diego being the 2nd and Los Angeles the largest).

With the advent of the high-tech industry, San Jose has revamped its style and is now home to a modern downtown metropolitan area, with many museums and theatres attracting a population which formerly would have had to go north to San Francisco for its entertainment.

Houses in most areas are still mid-range in quality, but it's only a matter of time before the influx of money has an effect on the house prices. San Jose prides itself on its many and varied neighborhoods, each with their own ?center? and park.

Crime rate is still among the lowest in the country. Check out the schools before investing in San Jose as these differ enormously from area to area.

San Jose State University, one of the largest in the state, is located in the downtown.

San Jose is also home to the Mineta International Airport and to the San Jose Arena, where the professional hockey team, the Sharks play, having created a huge fan base in San Jose and the rest of Silicon Valley. Its Tech Museum and Children's Discovery Museum also attract a large number of visitors to San Jose.

Santa Clara

Lying between Sunnyvale and San Jose, Santa Clara is a typical suburb; having grown up in response to Silicon Valley's housing demand.

With no high street, Santa Clara has little to attract outsiders except for the Santa Clara University which was formerly a famous mission and its swim center which is a training ground for some of our future and past Olympic swimmers.

School scores are middling to good. Pockets of excellent ethnic restaurants have sprouted up bringing a wide variety of dishes to suit any palette.

The majority of Santa Clara homes were built between 1950 and 1980, mainly tract homes, one story with three bedrooms.

It is home to many high-tech companies, including Sun Microsystems who made an excellent trade with Santa Clara for its complex, maintaining 14 acres for a public park, funding a homeless shelter, a child-care facility and housing for the homeless.

The town is well-kept and is naturally in an excellent location for the commuter.

Saratoga

Saratoga is a beautiful old town nestled against the Silicon Valley side of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Its high street is home to some excellent restaurants and upscale shops. Its gorgeous houses and its proximity to the freeway makes it the first choice of many families relocating to the Bay Area. Houses are consequently expensive and schools produce top scorers.

Close to highway 85 which links to the other freeways in Silicon Valley, Saratoga's commute is not great, but not bad, depending on where you're going to work.

There are no high-tech industries here, just small business and stores.

Sunnyvale

Situated between Mountain View and Santa Clara, Sunnyvale is really in the heart of Silicon Valley and home to hundreds of high-tech companies, including Yahoo!, so your commute may be minimal.

Sunnyvale has a wide variety of housing styles and  prices depending on the area you choose, and schools likewise vary depending on the area. Many of the schools have won state and national awards for academic excellence.

Sunnyvale hasa quaint high street and is currently going through a total remodel of its town centre due for completion November 2009. Its central location provides easy access to San Jose, San Francisco and across the mountains to the ocean. On its north side is San Francisco Bay and Baylands Park, a wildlife refuge of marshes and salt ponds with plenty of walking trails.

 

  There are around 20 parks in Sunnyvale  as     well  as a famous tennis center,  two theater groups and a 200-seat theater in the grounds of the Community Center.

 

                                                                                               

With plenty of shops and a great variety of restaurants, Sunnyvale has plenty to recommend itself to newcomers to Silicon Valley.

For all your relocation needs, contact Tricia Lawrence at California Concierges, the Silicon Valley relocation specialists.