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Moving to San Francisco area - where to start?

(13 Posts)
adaloveslace Fri 23-May-14 13:10:53

DH has just been offered a really exciting opportunity in Mountain View, and we'll most likely be relocating from Sydney in August. I've never been (though he has) and hardly know where to start researching where to locate ourselves. We have two DC aged 8 and 6, and DC 3 is due any day now.

As far as I can tell, we either compromise on climate or the buzz of living in a city. Good schools are obviously a huge priority. I work from home and like to work in cafes and libraries, so somewhere with a bit of a community feel, with shops and cafes etc, is important to me. We've got used to Sydney rents (just!) and think we can afford either the city, or Palo Alto/Los Gatos/Menlo Park especially as we would hope to avail of free schooling.

So where should we live? In the city, or somewhere in the valley? Any advice at all would be hugely appreciated.

pupsiecola Fri 23-May-14 15:27:27

Wow - am very jealous!

We have been a couple of times. We were there at Easter. Friends moved there 18 months ago. They live in San Carlos - they bought a project house and it has amazing views with the Golden Gate bridge and Bay area in the distance. Their kids (11 and 9) are very happy and chilled out at state schools there (the schools are excellent apparently). We spent an afternoon in Palo Alto. It's lovely with loads of hip cafes and restaurants etc. It's expensive though (San Carlos more affordable).

I think you are right with the weather. Our friends have much better weather than the Bay area generally.

Our friends often get the train into the city from San Carlos - I think it's about 20 minutes or so.

carigennarelli Fri 23-May-14 18:12:40

SF is an absolutely amazing place to live. Have been here for almost 25 years, raised my son (now 17), and live in a great walkable area. But...the weather in the summer is not good if you like to be outdoors and warm and the public school system is broken and frustrating.

I agree that San Carlos, Burlingame or Palo Alto will give you the good public schools, cafes to hang in and warm summer weather. SF is easy to get to for night life and culture and San Jose also offers a lot of that as well.

I am partial to Marin but the commute to the South Bay is long from Marin.

Keep in mind that the rental market everywhere in the Bay Area is competitive with low inventory/high demand. Does the company offer any relo services? If not, you need to stalk Craigs list (wednesday is the best day) and possibly enlist a local realtor to help you navigate the area and find the right city/neighborhood.

Best of luck!

HolidayCriminal Fri 23-May-14 18:38:00

It's not Frisco, it's bay area/Santa Clara Valley/Silicon Valley.

*actually you should never call it Frisco, I only do that out of pure disrespect. But Mountain View isn't "The city" any more than San Bernardino is Los Angeles.

If moving from Sydney at least you won't find the prices of things insane.
It's a very affluent high achieving clever/beautiful people area.

Commute times in the Bay area are insane so live as close to your DH's workplace is possible, is my advice. Mtn View is good for cafes, etc. I don't know Sydney well enough to compare, but probably even the most urban places in Mtn View are fairly suburban by standards of rest of the world.

Yes we looked seriously at moving there about 5 yrs ago.

adaloveslace Fri 23-May-14 23:00:17

Thanks so much for all the tips. Great to hear such positive views about our move. I've loved Sydney so much that I am slightly nervous about it but the more I read, the more excited I am.

Sorry HolidayCriminal my op wasn't very was too late at night and I am way too pregnant to explain myself properly! By "the city" I meant San Francisco, not Mountain View. His company offers transport from SF so living there is an option. We've kind of ruled out MTV on the basis that he has always found it a bit soulless though he says its changed a lot in the last 10 years. That said, he currently cycles to work and loves it, so Palo Alto or somewhere that close is appealing.

On the list of areas to consider:
Palo Alto
Los Altos
Los Gatos
San Carlos
Menlo Park

Any other thoughts on any of the above?

Or if SF or San Jose, are there particular areas you would recommend for families? I've looked briefly at Marin but I think the commute would just be too long.

Carig, thanks for the Craigslist-on-a-Wednesday tip. We will have a relocation agent but I didn't find them great when we moved here and did most of the research on schools/houses myself first.

Thanks all.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Sat 24-May-14 02:44:01

I can't think of a better posting to wean you off Sydney
Very envy
Hoping my kids will go to university in North california so we can retire there.
Marin county is stunning but its also the most expensive county in the US for property and a treck to get to work south of the Bay.
I'd probably chose south of town on account of the climate.
The schools in silicon valley sound absolutely amazing.

DalekInAFestiveJumper Sat 24-May-14 07:37:11

I live in San Francisco as well. It's an amazing and exciting place! But SF proper has more dogs than it does kids. The exorbitant housing costs drive many families out into the East Bay or the Penninsula in search of more bedrooms. The school system in SF is very hit or miss.

Palo Alto schools are quite good, and Burlingame's aren't bad either.

Artichokes Sat 24-May-14 07:45:16

Palo Alto is v close to MV, has amazing schools and a nice high street which is rare in US. It is a little soulless especially when compared to SF itself but SF schools are off putting. I think the proximity of Standford helps give PA a younger and more cultyres vibe compafed to sone suburbs. I would probably go for Palo Altobut only if you are going to have lots of money, all but the very rich have been priced out of that area.

pupsiecola Sat 24-May-14 08:21:57

Have a look here

And also look at Zillow for property etc.

I heard that SF schools have been mixed up in terms of catchment/intake to give the less fortunate kids a chance of going to the better schools. I don't think it's working too well? I also heard that re dog owners. I would definitely look at the areas to the south.

Good luck! I might be picking your brain at some point down the line...

BikeRunSki Sat 24-May-14 08:27:52

I'd just like to say "Well jeal!" envy
<looks at Yorkshire rain sad>
<remembers Peak District behind the mist wink>

adaloveslace Sat 24-May-14 11:21:56

This is all so useful..thank you so much. It's definitely worth knowing that about SF schools before I get carried away with the No Going Back inspired daydreams.

Looks like Palo Alto is climbing up the charts. We don't know what DH's package will be yet and have to do a bit of tax planning etc., but we've looked at rents and they're on a par with we'd budgeted for here (hard to believe, I know). San Carlos seems to be more affordable and Mtn V is a little cheaper, so we do have options if PA is too expensive.

I've been googling stuff to do with kids in SF and the little people are now very much on board with the move, at least in theory.

How worried about the big earthquake should I be? I'm hoping it's like the sharks, spiders and snakes in Sydney in that you worry a lot about them before you get here, and then hardly give them a second thought...

pupsiecola Sat 24-May-14 12:26:18

My friend just came across a 5 ft rattle snake whilst walking his dog!

DalekInAFestiveJumper Sat 24-May-14 14:31:55

I think you've already got the right idea about earthquakes. They're much less of an issue than they seem. The trick is just to make sure you have an emergency stash. We keep bottled water on hand, always buy more dog food when we're at about a couple week's left, and make sure to have canned food on hand. We also own a shake-to-power flashlight and a crank radio.

The odds are very slim indeed that you'll ever experience a quake powerful enough to need any of that, but it's still a good idea to have it. But at that, most people I know don't even bother with that much preparation!

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