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Silicon Valley
Old 02-12-2007, 10:06 PM   #1
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Silicon Valley

Looks like my son and family will be relocating to San Mateo - Redwood city area in a few months. I don't know this area (aside from SF a little) but do know that the housing prices are staggering (and his salary is doubling). Right on top of the fault, looks like .

What's the scoop there? Lifestyle what it's cracked up to be? Any safe, pleasant places to buy that are more sensible (maybe less glamorous)?

Looks like a budget buster for FIRE. The map confuses me a bit as to true travel times, but can one lead a normal life at earthly prices within an hour or so of that area? All tips welcomed.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-12-2007, 10:30 PM   #2
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Re: Silicon Valley

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
Looks like my son and family will be relocating to San Mateo - Redwood city area in a few months. I don't know this area (aside from SF a little) but do know that the housing prices are staggering (and his salary is doubling). Right on top of the fault, looks like .

What's the scoop there? Lifestyle what it's cracked up to be? Any safe, pleasant places to buy that are more sensible (maybe less glamorous)?

Looks like a budget buster for FIRE. The map confuses me a bit as to true travel times, but can one lead a normal life at earthly prices within an hour or so of that area? All tips welcomed.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-12-2007, 10:37 PM   #3
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Re: Silicon Valley

I can't give you info about San Mateo except that it is probably pricey. However, I have lived in Southern California most of my life and lived through some interesting earthquakes. My guess is that he is making a good move. The earthquakes are not really a problem for the most part (at least in my 54 years).

If I could afford it, I would move north also. I think it is a better quality of life, at least better than So Cal. I went to school up north at UC Davis. So I know a little about it up there. Like I said better quality of life.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-12-2007, 11:31 PM   #4
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Re: Silicon Valley

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
Looks like my son and family will be relocating to San Mateo - Redwood city area in a few months. I don't know this area (aside from SF a little) but do know that the housing prices are staggering (and his salary is doubling). Right on top of the fault, looks like .

What's the scoop there? Lifestyle what it's cracked up to be? Any safe, pleasant places to buy that are more sensible (maybe less glamorous)?

Looks like a budget buster for FIRE. The map confuses me a bit as to true travel times, but can one lead a normal life at earthly prices within an hour or so of that area? All tips welcomed.
I'm sure you'll get more recent experiences from current Bay Area residents on the board but I did live up there in the 80s and still have friends in the area you're talking about. It's tough from a cost-of-living perspective. Just about anyplace on "the peninsula",as San Mateo County is referred to, is going to be pricey. As I remember it, Redwood City, Foster City, Daly City, Half Moon Bay and Pacifica were relative bargains. Don't know if that's still the case after the bull run of recent years.

Many in Silicon Valley, which is a little south of San Mateo/Redwood City, choose to commute from southern Santa Clara County (Gilroy and Morgan Hill primarily IIRC). Even those areas have gotten pricey and the commute through Silicon Valley up to San Mateo County would be a pain.

Another option for less expensive housing, although the boom may have driven these areas out of the reasonable cost category as well, would be across the San Mateo Bridge in the East Bay communities of Newark, Fremont, San Leandro and Castro Valley.

On the positive side, a lot of good dining and cultural options have migrated down from SF to the peninsula. Easy access to beautiful coastline, big city ammenities in SF and great weekend jaunts (Napa, Monterey, Sierra skiing, etc) make it a high quality of life locale.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-12-2007, 11:44 PM   #5
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Re: Silicon Valley

Quote:
Originally Posted by mountaintosea
I can't give you info about San Mateo except that it is probably pricey. However, I have lived in Southern California most of my life and lived through some interesting earthquakes. My guess is that he is making a good move. The earthquakes are not really a problem for the most part (at least in my 54 years).

If I could afford it, I would move north also. I think it is a better quality of life, at least better than So Cal. I went to school up north at UC Davis. So I know a little about it up there. Like I said better quality of life.
of course a lot of this is "to each his own" but i've lived in the both the san mateo area and thousand oaks / southern calfornia area. I prefer southern california.

i guess it depends on which "north" and "south" you are takling about. each part of the state
has a wide range of environs.

for example davis is really very different than san mateo and redwood city.
as far as prices go san mateo and redwood city are going to be pretty pricey.
personally , i would not buy anything there unless i was there for the long haul,
but it'd say the same for thousand oaks (in so cal ) also.

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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-13-2007, 12:16 AM   #6
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Re: Silicon Valley

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
Right on top of the fault, looks like .
Don't worry too much about him living on the San Andreas fault.
Everyone near the coast from SF to San Diego lives right on top
of a fault, most of which have produced significant earthquakes.
The detailed faults maps that the papers used to print show the
whole area is criss-crossed with them (I live on the Newport-
Inglewood fault, which produced the deadly 1933 Long Beach quake).
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-13-2007, 12:28 AM   #7
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Re: Silicon Valley

Quote:
Originally Posted by mh
of course a lot of this is "to each his own" but i've lived in the both the san mateo area and thousand oaks / southern calfornia area. I prefer southern california.
It really is "to each his own" isn't it? I'm glad I lived in the Bay Area and took in the nice parts about living there. But I much prefer living in So Cal. Just me.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-13-2007, 01:02 AM   #8
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Re: Silicon Valley

I have retired friends in Pacifica, their house is nice but no mansion and it's north of a million dollars. All said and done that's about 30 minutes from downtown San Francisco (drive to BART station and ride in). Pacifica is soooo pretty, fog rolls in from the coast and envelops the old growth trees surrounding their house. You can move east from there over the Bridges ( Bay Bridge?) and find more affordable housing. Problem is, the neighborhood might not be the safest.

Are you thinking of following them so you can be near grandkids? I seem to remember Daley City still being cheaper. Reading the posts again, I see califdreamer has you pretty well covered on this, though.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-13-2007, 01:57 AM   #9
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Re: Silicon Valley

I've been living in Redwood City for 17 years now, and overall it's a thumbs-up. Califdreamer gave a good summary.

By the way, many people don't realize that the SF peninsula is not all wall-to-wall housing; west of interstate 280 there are wide open spaces, see here for a sample:

http://www.petercripps.com/SF_Peninsula_sampler/

The biggest single problem is cost of living. Even in the lower cost areas, you can easily get into 7 figures for a house that would be considered quite modest in most parts of the country. On the rental side, think $2k per month minimum, more like $4k if you want a 4BR 2BA with double garage. And, it's not just housing, but almost everything you buy will cost more than you would expect. 2x salary sounds good, but look at the budget carefully!

All that said, there are many advantages. In my view the biggest plus of all is that you're living in one of the most creative and energetic places anywhere in the world.

The climate is pretty nice as well!

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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-13-2007, 07:11 AM   #10
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Re: Silicon Valley

I really enjoy the Bay Area. The weather is mild in the winter and warm (not hot) in the summer. The humidity is low. I like walking on the beaches and trails on the mountain side. There are many shopping plazas and great restaurants (American, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Greek, Vietnamese, Indian, Japanese, Korean, French, Russian, ... etc). It's really a melting pot of diverse cultures. People come from all over the world and within the U.S. If you like working for a high-tech company, Silicon Valley has the most number of high-tech companies. There are some great universities: U of California (Berkeley and San Francisco), and Stanford.

Here are some cons: traffic and cost of housing--about 2.5x of that of national average. Less expensive areas are:

Santa Rosa (50 miles north of San Francisco)
Vallejo (30 miles northeast)
Richmond (East Bay)
Stockton (70 miles east)
Tracy (60 miles east)
South San Jose

Basically anywhere that is close to (or about 25 miles) the heart of Silicon Valley is expensive. Renting is not bad in Redwood City. My brother pays $1500 a month for a one-bedroom (600 sq. ft) apartment there.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-13-2007, 08:07 AM   #11
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Re: Silicon Valley

Rich - you can't really get away from the fault line in the bay area. I was born and raised here and made it through numerous tremors, including the big one in 89. It's just something you live with and pretty much don't think about after a while.

The bay area is a great place to live. There are beautiful trails, scenic routes, beaches surrounding the bay area. It's an area of wonderful diversity that I think rivals other areas in this country.


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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-13-2007, 08:22 AM   #12
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Re: Silicon Valley

Quote:
Originally Posted by cube_rat


The bay area is a great place to live. There are beautiful trails, scenic routes, beaches surrounding the bay area. It's an area of wonderful diversity that I think rivals other areas in this country.


Cube: My guess is that your post is what Rich was looking for.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-13-2007, 09:25 AM   #13
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Re: Silicon Valley

There is definitely a reason people pay the money, if you can afford to live there, you will not regret it. It was on my short list for getting out of L.A. (San Diego worked out o.k., though).
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-13-2007, 09:46 AM   #14
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Re: Silicon Valley

Hi Rich. My current husband lived in San Mateo for a number of years in the 90's. San Mateo and Redwood City are delightful. 'Skyline' hills, trees and hiking immediately to the west and lovely bayfront access to the east. Very close to SFO airport and easy access to CalTrain public transit to San Francisco. Pacific Ocean / California coast just a short hop away. Wine country a couple hours north. Lots of great ethnic restaurants and cultural events in the area. For people who are active and engaged in life, it is a great area to live in. I could go on and on

I'll bet that housing costs are still out of this world. But I wouldn't worry about earthquake hazards any more in these 2 cities than anywhere else in California. San Mateo has made it through some pretty big shakers already.

I lived in the Fremont area (east bay) and the commute to the west bay was ugly. That commute structured my entire life. Housing in Fremont was cheaper but . . . commuting took its toll over the years. Its a tradeoff to think long and hard about. Maybe for 5 or 10 years it would be okay . . . .

In my case, living in the Bay Area was conducive to FIRE. High wages = more money to save. High real estate appreciation = faster increase to net worth. Some of it is luck to be in the right place at the right time, and some of it has to do with taking advantage of the situation that presents itself to you.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-13-2007, 10:00 AM   #15
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Re: Silicon Valley

I used to commute through San Mateo. For one consulting job, I drove from Berkeley to Sunnyvale every day. I don't think I can convey the horror of that in words.

So, my advice for him would be to try to find a house that will minimize the commuting. Suggest that he avoid this kind of thinking:

"Oh, this is a wonderful house. Living here will mean a longer commute, but it will be worth it."

There's great windsurfing at Coyote point, in the shadow of SFO.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-13-2007, 12:27 PM   #16
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Re: Silicon Valley

When I lived in Silicon Valley, renting wasn't a bad deal. Does he plan to live there long term? If not, he might consider renting and keeping most of the big salary.

FWIW, I rented because the places I would have considered buying had terrible commutes. I decided a short daily commute trumped a nice house for quality of life.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-13-2007, 12:38 PM   #17
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Re: Silicon Valley

Quote:
Originally Posted by wab
When I lived in Silicon Valley, renting wasn't a bad deal.
Still isn't bad deal! Our rent runs ~2,000 a month (inc prop taxes & ins) less than what we were putting out for the home we sold last year. Plus the rental home we live in is twice the size and newer We bought our home during the absolute real estate peak in 2004. Prices have come down, but not enough for me to jump in yet.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-13-2007, 01:24 PM   #18
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Re: Silicon Valley

Maybe the son should talk the the guy who is selling the condo.....

My daughter & family live in the south bay. The have paid stunning sums for housing. When I probed she said that they plan to live there for the rest of their lives and she has a job that enables them to pay the mortgage. Her hours can be long, she wants a nice place close to work to come home to...

So, where ever you live the issue of buying a house or renting can turn on stability of residence and bottom line personal values about money.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-13-2007, 06:51 PM   #19
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Re: Silicon Valley

Quote:
Santa Rosa (50 miles north of San Francisco)
Vallejo (30 miles northeast)
Richmond (East Bay)
Stockton (70 miles east)
Tracy (60 miles east)
South San Jose
I live in one of these less glamorous places, but I work from home. I go into the office maybe twice a year to let IT work on my laptop. If I had to commute into the City or to the Peninsula to keep my job, I'd quit in a heartbeat.

Quote:
For one consulting job, I drove from Berkeley to Sunnyvale every day. I don't think I can convey the horror of that in words.
I did this one for about a month myself. "Horror" doesn't come close to describing it. Toward the end I was driving smaller and smaller side roads trying to get away from the gridlock and the pressure, and leaving earlier and earlier in the morning. When I found myself dodging cows on a dirt track at 4:00 am, I knew it was time to stop! ;-D

Seriously, my heartfelt advice is to rent something as close to work as is possible. Even then, I'd try to sell my boss on a schedule that included telecommuting at least a couple of times a week. Another possibility is a flexible schedule, whereby you go in at 10:00 am and stay late.
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Re: Silicon Valley
Old 02-13-2007, 07:56 PM   #20
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Re: Silicon Valley

I was lucky -- I lived in a rental apartment that was one block from work in Mountain View.
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