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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-14-2007, 03:12 AM   #21
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Re: Silicon Valley

Overall the peninsula is a pleasant place to live with mild winters and awesome summers. The water is too cold to go to the beach like you do in Southern California. When I lived in San Diego, I went to the beach all the time. Here, I never go because it is usually cold and windy. It is a much different experience.

There is decent public transportation if that interests you.

Everything around Redwood City/San Mateo (and pretty much anything reasonably commutable) is outrageously expensive if you want to buy. There is lots of open space on the peninsula as other posters have stated, and this is because home building is effectively banned on most of the peninsula -- although banned goes by other names like open space initiative, 1 house per 6 acres with hundreds of stipulations, etc., so it is really only banned for non-rich people. This, in addition to the myriad of burdensome California and local housing regulations, is what causes the multiple of housing prices over other areas of the country to be so high, it is not just because of the income difference or else the difference would be not nearly so large.

Remember to compute the extra state and federal income taxes. Doubling your salary from a no income tax state requires you to pay state taxes on the whole salary (~7% after state tax deduction) plus your full marginal federal rate on the second half, plus AMT, possibly. This is independent of other increased expenses like property taxes, etc.

Private school fees are outrageous here, too. Most goods like groceries, cars, walmart stuff, etc. are really about the same price as elsewhere in the country. 7 million people in one place (we are the second largest concentration of people west of the Mississippi) and being the home a huge port has some advantages in this area.

Overall, I tend to discourage families from moving to the Bay Area. Even if it is good for the parents, the kids will have fewer opportunities to stay unless they are high achievers. I have seen this in lots of families here. The number of children has been decreasing in the Bay Area for several years as families leave for the Central Valley. For instance, San Jose and San Francisco (among many other cities here) continue to close schools each year. In fact, San francisco's school closings have been massive whereas last I checked it was about 3 schools per year closed in San Jose.

I have done well here. The jobs pay well, and I am single and live in a nice 1 Br apartment for $1000/month near many public transport options. When my job moves, as it has three times in my 11 years working here, I just move into a nearby apartment to avoid a commute. But for families that spend most of their income, it can be tough to make it. And sometimes a spouse has to work where in another part of the country they could be home with the kids part time. I see many co-workers locked into long commutes. They bought a house and then they got another job far away. But they don't want to move because of the school district or because their property taxes are locked in low due to prop 13. Because of prop 13, the new arrivals pay the highest property taxes.

BTW, a study was done, and commute times averaged less in 2005 than in 1995. No one had records back to 1955, but they suspected it was not much different. If your commute is not bad, traffic is not horrible here -- it is not really like L.A. in that respect, for instance.

Kramer
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-14-2007, 09:00 AM   #22
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Re: Silicon Valley

Lovely place to live, great weather, enormous crowds, several fault lines.

Do note that a "one hour radius" could be 50 miles or 5, depending on the time of day and day of the week.

Kramer - makes perfect sense that the commute times are lower. Everyone in the bay area sold their home for $2M and moved to Sacramento for the $500k equivalent homes, then proceed to bitch about the heat We've all been standing around up here wondering "where the hell are all these people coming from, and did the last person out of San Jose turn the lights off, check the stove and lock the door before they left?"

Seriously though...thats a great area. I really loved the bay area weather, culture, food and places to go/things to do. Its a vacation destination that also makes a fine work locale with lots of opportunities.

What I didnt like was the traffic, multiple hour waits at the good restaurants on prime-time evenings, the hideous real estate prices and the oddball building practices of filling in the bay with unconsolidated soil and then slapping subdivisions on it, or building in the foothills over the hayward fault on top of northridge-like microfaults. Yet people are lined up to pass the front doors of these homes festooned with federal government mandated warnings about inability to insure, mortgage or assure these homes viability for any length of time. But they're only ONE million dollars instead of TWO! :

Renting is a very good idea, especially until you get the lay of the land. Its a fairly peculiar region where one city block houses millionaires and the next is boarded up, features a variety of prostitutes and your risk of carjacking jumps 150%. Have a look at Palo Alto and East Palo Alto crime stats...may be different these days but 10 years ago a highway separated the most high end areas from one of the highest per capita murder areas.

You do get used to the earthquake situation...I finally got into the routine of keeping a very full pantry of canned and dry goods and filling my old bleach bottles with water, and swapping through the food and replacing the dozens of bleach bottles of water periodically. Note that there are several faults in the area, although the region you're looking at is nestled close to the san andreas, the expected-soon-to-go hayward fault lies just up the eastern side of the bay from san jose up through oakland...and a few miles doesnt buy you a whole lot in an earthquake. Hell, people a 3+ hour drive up in Sacramento felt the Santa Cruz based earthquake in '89 a little bit.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 03-11-2007, 06:11 PM   #23
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Re: Silicon Valley

Well, it's official. Gabe is moving to Silicon Valley, probably before the end of April. Thanks for all the advice -- I forwarded the thread to him. He is focusing on rentals since the fast pace of the move makes home buying impractical for now. Craig's list seems to be the resource of choice.

This means visits once he's settled so I'll be seeing some of you I hope.

Meantime, if you have any leads on rentals near Redwood City or within a nonlethal commute, drop me a PM and I'll pass it along to him.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 03-12-2007, 09:45 PM   #24
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Re: Silicon Valley

My brother lives in Redwood City. His rent for a one-BR apartment is about $1,000. Check out this link: http://www.apartmentratings.com/rate...wood-City.html.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 03-12-2007, 11:14 PM   #25
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Re: Silicon Valley

Rich, Spanky and I are of one mind. I checked out this website against my own old neighborhood and found the commentators to be consistent with my knowledge of the community. Gabe shouldn't limit his options to Redwood City if schools are at all a concern.

Does anyone know of a good criminal activity website for this area?

We all want to live in a safe, clean, affordable and convenient place. Let's try to give Gabe the tools to do that.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 03-13-2007, 04:12 AM   #26
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Re: Silicon Valley

For demographics, crime, education, climate and economic data about a city, Sperling's Best Places is quite good.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 03-13-2007, 05:14 AM   #27
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Re: Silicon Valley

We lived in Mountain View/LosAltos for several years but our rent was paid by the company. We also lived in Southern California but I preferred No Cal more. Too much sprawl in the south. Horrible traffic in both places.

pros: Beautiful weather, loved San Francisco, the Redwoods, Mountains and Ocean. You could ski one day and go surfing the next. Great tolerance to diversity of race, sexual orientation, religion and gender. Outstanding ethnic restaurants everywhere. Biking, skating, hiking, windsurfing and a multitude of other sports and activities there. Got to see Elton John, Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Eric Clapton etc. right at the arena in Mountain View. Tremendous work opportunities for both of us.

cons: cost of housing and any service. Traffic. Schools had great difficulty keeping up with the many languages they had to deal with. Our neighbors would have lost their houses if they missed a couple of paychecks. We opted to not stay in the area due to the housing prices- we never would have reached FI there. I just could not stomach having to work forever just to afford housing.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 03-13-2007, 07:34 AM   #28
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Re: Silicon Valley

Quote:
Originally Posted by savedapile
We lived in Mountain View/LosAltos for several years but our rent was paid by the company. We also lived in Southern California but I preferred No Cal more. Too much sprawl in the south. Horrible traffic in both places.

pros: Beautiful weather, loved San Francisco, the Redwoods, Mountains and Ocean. You could ski one day and go surfing the next. Great tolerance to diversity of race, sexual orientation, religion and gender. Outstanding ethnic restaurants everywhere. Biking, skating, hiking, windsurfing and a multitude of other sports and activities there. Got to see Elton John, Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Eric Clapton etc. right at the arena in Mountain View. Tremendous work opportunities for both of us.

cons: cost of housing and any service. Traffic. Schools had great difficulty keeping up with the many languages they had to deal with. Our neighbors would have lost their houses if they missed a couple of paychecks. We opted to not stay in the area due to the housing prices- we never would have reached FI there. I just could not stomach having to work forever just to afford housing.
It seems the pros out-weight the cons.
Where do you live now? How is it in comparison to living in CA?
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 03-13-2007, 12:16 PM   #29
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Re: Silicon Valley

Quote:
Originally Posted by savedapile
We lived in Mountain View/LosAltos for several years but our rent was paid by the company. We also lived in Southern California but I preferred No Cal more. Too much sprawl in the south. Horrible traffic in both places.

pros: Beautiful weather, loved San Francisco, the Redwoods, Mountains and Ocean. You could ski one day and go surfing the next. Great tolerance to diversity of race, sexual orientation, religion and gender. Outstanding ethnic restaurants everywhere. Biking, skating, hiking, windsurfing and a multitude of other sports and activities there. Got to see Elton John, Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Eric Clapton etc. right at the arena in Mountain View. Tremendous work opportunities for both of us.

cons: cost of housing and any service. Traffic. Schools had great difficulty keeping up with the many languages they had to deal with. Our neighbors would have lost their houses if they missed a couple of paychecks. We opted to not stay in the area due to the housing prices- we never would have reached FI there. I just could not stomach having to work forever just to afford housing.
Just about sums it up. The "cons" are about the same as NYC.

This is the Wall Street of the west as well as the area out of which comes much invention. There are some professions where proximity to the action is important, you must be on the field to play the game.

Housing is expensive because few of the towns have opted for high density housing. Services are expensive because service workers need a place to live too.

Languages: My DD lives in the Valley, grandson is 2.5 yo and speaks English and French (his playschool has used him as a toddler translator), attending a Spanish class. Because one of his sitters is Romanian, he understands that too. The community is a babble of languages.

Yes, it is a challenge for a student who doesn't know the language spoken by the teacher, as it is for a teacher who must communicate with students who speak a variety of non-English languages.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 03-13-2007, 01:15 PM   #30
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Re: Silicon Valley

Quote:
Yes, it is a challenge for a student who doesn't know the language spoken by the teacher, as it is for a teacher who must communicate with students who speak a variety of non-English languages.
This reminds me of graduate engineering schools.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 03-13-2007, 03:28 PM   #31
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Re: Silicon Valley

Spanky,
upstate NY close to Adirondack park. Live in a beautiful house worth about $250 (ould be several million in silicon valley) and paid for. Lots of yard for the dog. If you like to ski, hike and canoe, this is the place. Population density much less, traffic much less. We can afford to go to Europe or other big vacation yearly. Schools seemed to be very good when my kids went through. Not nearly as much diversity in the population.

The drawback here is the several hundred inches of snow you get. But then again much less likely to have an earthquake bother you.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 03-13-2007, 09:59 PM   #32
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Re: Silicon Valley

Savedapile,

Upstate NY sounds pretty good as you described. I would like it there since I enjoy the outdoor and quietness. However, it probably does not sit well for DW. She likes the life of big cities and warm climate.

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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 03-14-2007, 02:59 PM   #33
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Re: Silicon Valley

The San Mateo/Redwood City area is coming alive. It's where I live. Downtown Redwood City recently had a huge makeover with a new square and theaters... whereas it used to be one of the sleepiest places in the area it's now starting to become a nightlife zone (at least by suburban standards). San Mateo has always had lots of good restaurants, ethnic and otherwise.

The best thing about living here is the access to outdoor activities... the ocean beaches of Half Moon Bay are a 20 minute drive away, and any town has lots of hiking trails within a few miles drive. Yesterday I went on an hour hike through the hills starting just a couple of blocks from my condo. The weather is quite good. Redwood City used to have the slogan "Climate best by government test" because some study long ago determined that it had one of the the best climates in the world. I don't need air conditioning, and the heater is only really necessary a few months out of the year.

But the craziness of this all is that most people out here don't get to enjoy much of these great outdoors. They're working long hours at tech companies to afford their 1-2 million dollar tract homes, and never really get to use much of these opportunities.

Silicon Valley can work somewhat well economically for single people because you get a big salary and can rent somewhat affordably. Costs for goods at big box stores or grocery stores are comparable to any other area or even cheaper sometimes. There are lots of opportunities to buy luxury high-markup items at boutiquish stores, but you can always pass those opportunities by.

The one thing that frustrates me about the area is that there's no cheap good men's haircuts. While working I had been paying $30something for a haircut at a boutiquish place because I trusted the hairdresser. When I FIRE'd about a year ago here I spent a lot of time trying to find a barber who could cut my hair for cheap, and they all charged almost $20 and gave schlocky haircuts. All the traditional barbers in the area seem to be very old and teetering on the edge of retirement. The one decent barber I found was out of business when I tried to come by for my second haircut with him. Of course there are "Supercuts" assembly-line places that will do it for $15 or so, but they often give me bad haircuts. Now that I've committed to moving out of the area to San Francisco, I decided I'm giving up the search and I'm going to just pay $30something for my next haircut at the boutique place I trust.

This is the nature of the area... there's effectively no middle class; there's the upper class of people who can afford million plus dollar homes, and the lower class of service workers that cram 15 people into a rental home to survive. The people in between those extremes have all left for Sacramento :-)

Traffic is bad at rush hour... I too have had times when I've driven up to Berkeley on a weekly basis and that has been a nightmare. It's about 1.5 hours at rush hour whereas the return trip with no traffic is 45 minutes.

I've always lived close to work and highly recommend that, despite the price. In some sense you just have to suck it up and pay the high housing prices; there are no deals unless you're willing to drive more than an hour each way to work.

Renting is comparatively a much better deal out here than most places... you can usually rent for less than half the PITI payment on an equivalent place.

Crime is very low almost everywhere here on the midpeninsula (except East Palo Alto and even they are improving). This is another benefit to living out here... not worrying about burglar alarms, burglar bars, and neighborhood watches. Yes cars get broken into overnight, but you never hear about violent crimes or see shady characters on the street.
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