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Old 09-03-2007, 11:04 AM   #1
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Silcon Valley Suggestions

We are here in San Mateo visiting our kids and grandkids. Beautiful out here, weather has been perfect.

Looks like we'll be on our own Thursday, and we thought we'd rent a car and do an eagles' eye tour of this peninsula and environs, say Berkeley down to San Jose. We only have the one day, so we don't want to get too ambitious.

Our goals are two-fold: publicly, just to visit and see the area. Privately, to poke around a little so we can see what it might be like living around here some day in FIRE. I can see already that we are out of our price range most decent areas here on the peninsula.

Any suggestions for communities to look at (eventually, if not this week)? We can handle anywhere within, say, 90 minutes of San Mateo but sure like the cool breezes... I guess basically we're wondering if there is any possibility in the region for reasonable living. Don't have a specific price in mind, but $1m is a nonstarter for us.

Thanks for any tips.
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Old 09-03-2007, 11:39 AM   #2
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Looks like we'll be on our own Thursday, and we thought we'd rent a car and do an eagles' eye tour of this peninsula and environs, say Berkeley down to San Jose. We only have the one day, so we don't want to get too ambitious.
Any suggestions for communities to look at (eventually, if not this week)? We can handle anywhere within, say, 90 minutes of San Mateo but sure like the cool breezes... I guess basically we're wondering if there is any possibility in the region for reasonable living. Don't have a specific price in mind, but $1m is a nonstarter for us.
Eh, bummer, could you cast your net down to the Monterey Peninsula?

Pacific Grove up near the Defense Language Institute (specifically the Glen Lake condos), Seaside, Salinas... the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a nice social center, too.
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Old 09-03-2007, 11:53 AM   #3
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Oh geez Rich...the bay area is full of $1 million dollar, 1915 built 1400 sq ft (or less) homes!!!

i think it depends on how "small" you're willing to go if you want to live in the area.

There are a LOT of condos that go from $300k-$1 mill too...Oakland just built a gazillion of them and SF too...

i know a lot of families w/ kids live in san mateo etc...and it's pricey...

i agree w/ nords that monterey would be a dreamy place to retire, although prob just as costly!

or further up north like Mill Valley, near sausilito or tiburon...i've heard you can find some housing that is a little less inflated (although it might also be a condo/townhouse type thing...that area is absolutely gorgeous as well.

also, what are you looking for? close to urban SF or closer to nature?
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Old 09-03-2007, 12:12 PM   #4
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I like Palo Alto and Los Gatos. Nice walkable areas with plenty of good amenities. Just ignore the prices and enjoy the stroll.
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Old 09-03-2007, 12:19 PM   #5
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Hopefully the traffic will be as bad as usual, preventing you from making the mistake of moving there.

If you haven't already done the touristy things in San Fran, I'd recommend walking on the GG bridge, checking out fisherman's wharf, and a trip to Alcatraz.

If in Berkeley, you could go up to the science place above the Berkeley campus (forget what it's called) if only for the view.
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Old 09-03-2007, 12:26 PM   #6
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"Reasonable living" can be a relative term. It partially depends on how far out you're willing to be and how much home you plan to have. You might be able to get a modest condo in the $300-400K range in some areas, mostly in San Jose and parts of the East Bay.

I'm from the Bay Area. Lived there just about all my life until we sold our home in San Jose in 2003. We sold two years too early!
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Old 09-03-2007, 12:28 PM   #7
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Youch, not the place for budget minded people to FIRE...unless maybe your frame of reference is New York City...

But its a great place to visit for a few days...don't remember the freeway numbers but try going on the road that runs from Hwy 280 through La Honda to Half Moon Bay. From there head South to Monterey & Carmel. If you can get into Point Lobos State Preserve (there is often a line on a holiday weekend), well worth it!

As for retirement, I'd considered areas a couple hours North of the B.A. along the coast, and a couple of areas around Mt Lassen. Problem is you're still in CA with their silly taxation system - but at least you get away from the high real estate prices and traffic.
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Old 09-03-2007, 02:03 PM   #8
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Rich - wanna buy my condo in Santa Clara? Great location and I'd sell below market!

On other tangents, a drive from Half Moon Bay down to Santa Cruz along Highway 1 would probably be very enjoyable. Half Moon Bay is really close to you, and somewhere along the drive is a little restaurant on the left side which has great clam chowder.

Not much to see in San Jose or Silicon Valley as far as tourism goes, but it will give you an idea of 'living.'

Agree with Nords - Monterey is nice... the aquarium is cool, and Fisherman's Wharf is touristy but not *too* touristy. I also got married on the beach next to the Wharf and it was wonderful, so I may be biased.

So my recommendation for a day would be:
- Drive down Highway 1 from HMB to Santa Cruz.
- Get some lunch at Saturn Cafe (Santa Cruz).
- Drive down Hwy 1 to Monterey and visit Fisherman's Wharf
- Drive down Hwy 1 to Carmel and go along 17 Mile Drive
- Walk around Carmel and get dinner at a local restaurant
- Take Hwy 101 back home

That'll be a good enjoyable day, great scenery, excellent food....
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Old 09-03-2007, 02:46 PM   #9
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RichIf you're in Berkeley look nearby at Albany and El Cerrito. Both nice communities near the Bay and Bart but sunnier than SF. Across from San Mateo (San Mateo Bridge or Dumbarton Bridge) you'll find Hayward, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Union City and Fremont which are reasonably priced for the area. Expect to pay $500 to $1,000 per sq ft.
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Old 09-03-2007, 03:46 PM   #10
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We are here in San Mateo visiting our kids and grandkids. Beautiful out here, weather has been perfect.
Geez Rich, this is CA not FL. This is the worst weather that we have had all summer. I had to turn on my air conditioner yesterday.

If you had a little more time I would suggest either a drive down 1 to Santa Cruz and Monterey or a drive north across the Golden Gate and into Marin.

For 90 minutes I would suggest a drive down 280. It has been called "The World's Most Beautiful Freeway." I think that is an exaggeration but it is a nice drive. Continue on 101 to Gilroy. That is where housing starts to get a little more reasonable.

With regard to housing, I suspect that your FL house would be well over a million in the Bay Area. Some pretty pricey communities were mentioned below. Mill Valley for example. Haven't looked there in a long time but I suspect that a 1200 sq ft "cottage" with a tiny lot will cost you a million $ in Mill Valley. About the same situatation in Palo Alto and Los Gatos.

I you want "cheap" housing you have to go out to places like Santa Rosa, Vacaville, Tracy, Hollister and Los Banos. e.g. Places with 2 hour commutes.

I view housing as a trade between the house (how nice it is), the location (the commute) and the cost. You can't get all three. You have to sacrifice somewhere. Since you will be REed maybe the location/commute doesn't matter as much. In that situation I would look north (in T-Al's direction) or south along the coast. I don't like the central valley because it is to hot. They have to run their air conditioners every day in the summer - just like FL,

The way I look at it is I'm paying for the weather not the house. And because the out of doors are so nice I'm going to spend less time inside anyway. For example I have about 330 days a year of nice biking weather, e.g. temperatures between 60 and 85F, no rain, low humidity, etc. I can run in shorts and t-shirt in the middle of winter and summer temperatures/humidity are very mild compared to the other coast - no 90F/90% humidity days.

Have fun,

MB
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Old 09-03-2007, 04:24 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa View Post
We are here in San Mateo visiting our kids and grandkids. Beautiful out here, weather has been perfect.

Looks like we'll be on our own Thursday, and we thought we'd rent a car and do an eagles' eye tour of this peninsula and environs, say Berkeley down to San Jose. We only have the one day, so we don't want to get too ambitious.

Our goals are two-fold: publicly, just to visit and see the area. Privately, to poke around a little so we can see what it might be like living around here some day in FIRE. I can see already that we are out of our price range most decent areas here on the peninsula.

Any suggestions for communities to look at (eventually, if not this week)? We can handle anywhere within, say, 90 minutes of San Mateo but sure like the cool breezes... I guess basically we're wondering if there is any possibility in the region for reasonable living. Don't have a specific price in mind, but $1m is a nonstarter for us.

Thanks for any tips.
you might want to look in the santa cruz area. i was in the felton/
bonny doone area on the outskirts of santa cruz recently and it was pretty nice.
not cheap, but not not crazy expensive like most of silicon valley
and it's a much nicer atmosphere (redwoods etc...)

and it's not too far of a drive to san mateo (within your 90 min req.)
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Old 09-03-2007, 08:40 PM   #12
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unless you like cooler weather - i agree w/ mb that it's usually very cool in the bay area...as a southern california girl i was always FREEZING up there, you always have to have a jacket or sweater most days of the year... it gets warm for maybe one month in aug, thru october sometime...as a floridian it would be an adjustment...if your on the SF side too there's a lot of marine layer to contend w/ and wind...east bay is a little sunnier...but El Cerrito (someone mentioned) lives in a strange patch of fog that floats over the bay.
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Old 09-03-2007, 10:06 PM   #13
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unless you like cooler weather - i agree w/ mb that it's usually very cool in the bay area...as a southern california girl i was always FREEZING up there, you always have to have a jacket or sweater most days of the year... it gets warm for maybe one month in aug, thru october sometime...as a floridian it would be an adjustment...if your on the SF side too there's a lot of marine layer to contend w/ and wind...east bay is a little sunnier...but El Cerrito (someone mentioned) lives in a strange patch of fog that floats over the bay.
I lived in Silicon Valley (San Jose specifically) for over 2 decades, and most days of the year shorts and a t-shirt were fine. The south bay is considerably warmer than the rest of the bay area, though.
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Old 09-03-2007, 11:44 PM   #14
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For a one day tour I'd head west on Hwy 92 from San Mateo to Half Moon Bay and then proceed south toward Santa Cruz. If you are willing to do a full day perhaps as far as Monterey south on Hwy 1. Or do the SF thing.

Restaurant suggestion for San Mateo: Viognier (vee-ohn-yay). Very good food and atmosphere but not cheap. Try it for a nice lunch. It's on the second floor above the beautiful Drager's Market. It's worth the trip just to look at the food at the Market.

Hmm. As far as permanently relocating I'd look north to Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. Housing prices get lower as you get further north. But since you won't be commuting that would be no problem.
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Old 09-04-2007, 02:02 AM   #15
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You might want to take a look at Halfmoon Bay. Although this area can be quite foggy at times, you could probably find a decent home there for under $1 mil. Halfmoon Bay is on the coast, has a quaint downtown and makes for a great day trip.

If you decide to drive down to the San Jose area, you should check out Santana Row (a cool outdoor mall with a European feel, high end shops, and restaurants).

Enjoy your trip!
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Old 09-09-2007, 08:30 PM   #16
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Back from my trip, loved it. I did only two things: toured around and played Leggos with the g-kids.

Aside from the SF sites, we did Big Basin and gawked at redwoods. We saw Santa Cruz and weren't impressed. We saw Half Moon Bay and were very impressed. There were sea lions swimming parallel to shore and 30 minutes later half a sea lion washed up down the beach. We did a full circle tour of Berkeley (fun and intriguing, edgy); Walnut Creek - looked very nice if a bit hoity toity, San Jose from the freeway only - city in a valley like my former abode Tucson. Prowled San Mateo with the kids and liked it - close, urban enough, but small-town elements. Weather was perfect, as usual.

Everything was crazy housing wise (didn't check out San Jose, but suspect it's the same). We'll explore more next visit. I really don't think we can afford to retire there in anywhere near the "manner to which we are accustomed" (which isn't all that exorbitant though we do like to travel.

Thanks for the invaluable tips.
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Old 09-10-2007, 12:41 PM   #17
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Back from my trip, loved it. I did only two things: toured around and played Leggos with the g-kids.

Aside from the SF sites, we did Big Basin and gawked at redwoods. We saw Santa Cruz and weren't impressed. We saw Half Moon Bay and were very impressed. There were sea lions swimming parallel to shore and 30 minutes later half a sea lion washed up down the beach. We did a full circle tour of Berkeley (fun and intriguing, edgy); Walnut Creek - looked very nice if a bit hoity toity, San Jose from the freeway only - city in a valley like my former abode Tucson. Prowled San Mateo with the kids and liked it - close, urban enough, but small-town elements. Weather was perfect, as usual.

Everything was crazy housing wise (didn't check out San Jose, but suspect it's the same). We'll explore more next visit. I really don't think we can afford to retire there in anywhere near the "manner to which we are accustomed" (which isn't all that exorbitant though we do like to travel.

Thanks for the invaluable tips.
Hi Rich, Did you use the motorhome to get out there or did you fly in? With so many places to call home, I don't know how any one can choose a place.I'm moving within my neighborhood and can't decide. . Enjoy the rest of your trip, Jerry
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Old 09-10-2007, 02:07 PM   #18
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Hi Rich, Did you use the motorhome to get out there or did you fly in?
No, took United Airlines. I'd need to be retired to take the Trailmanor that far .
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Old 09-10-2007, 07:15 PM   #19
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Rich, we are in the same situation as you grandkid wise. Both of our children attended Bay area higher ed, one settled there.

The foggy towns (Pacific Grove and the like) have unique issues. If you leave your shoes in the closet they tend to act like petri dishes, for example.

My daughter's in-laws live in Walnut Creek, she lives in Los Altos. The roadways between are not what I would want to drive when I am in my 70s. Were we to consider moving to be near the kids I would first consider transportation to the places I would frequent - like the grandkids home. The weather is almost always nice so to be near a park, library or community center would offset a smaller home. Sunnyvale has a lot of parks, for example.

Consider what community your son's family is likely to settle in and work from there. Housing wise it won't be an increase in lifestyle, but will pay huge dividends as you watch your grandchildren grow.
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Old 09-10-2007, 08:14 PM   #20
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Rich, we are in the same situation as you grandkid wise. Both of our children attended Bay area higher ed, one settled there...

My daughter's in-laws live in Walnut Creek, she lives in Los Altos. The roadways between are not what I would want to drive when I am in my 70s. Were we to consider moving to be near the kids I would first consider transportation to the places I would frequent - like the grandkids home. The weather is almost always nice so to be near a park, library or community center would offset a smaller home. Sunnyvale has a lot of parks, for example.

Consider what community your son's family is likely to settle in and work from there. Housing wise it won't be an increase in lifestyle, but will pay huge dividends as you watch your grandchildren grow.
Sage advice. Nothing is happening in the immediate future at any rate (I'll let him buy a house and make "partner" at his firm before considering a move, maybe 3 years away, and a lot can change).

If it were tomorrow, I'd be exploring Walnut Creek, the San Jose area (any less expensive?), and haven't even looked at Sonoma. Fun area to explore - we'll try to hit one or two areas each visit.
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