Update (7/26): We ended up taking a place in Santa Clara, CA, a minute or two away from Santana Row. We may be looking again in a year, once we've gotten a sense for the lay of the land. Thanks for all the wonderful advice, everyone!

So, as I revealed in the previous post, we're moving to California so I can take a job at Yahoo! in Santa Clara. I'm excited as hell, but I'm also pulling all my hair out and losing sleep. Luckily, I have a lot of hair and I drink a lot of coffee, but we have a lot of details to work out. I'm hoping that I might get some advice from you out there, dear readers. Also, I think I'd like to get the chance to meet you at some point.

We're getting relocation assistance, which will help greatly. However, it looks like we'll need to do some rush apartment shopping ourselves, and in short order. We've never done anything like this before, and don't want to end up in a crap place that looked good on the interweb, only to move again in 6 months.

We went on honeymoon to San Francisco, and briefly visited Mountain View in the course of our travels. We liked the downtown area, had good sushi and bubble tea. So at the moment, Mountain View is our dart-in-the-map choice for apartment search. Office is in Santa Clara, so the maps tell me that Sunnyvale and Santa Clara might be good spots too.

Any ideas out there? Horror stories of places to avoid? Hints as to what's good and where?

Archived Comments

  • Everybody who relocates here seems to land in Mountain View/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara first, since that's where all the companies are located. I don't know too many people who stay more more than a year or two. These towns have no personality. They're like one gigantic dorm for silicon valley transplants.

    The general rule is, the closer you get to the hills, the more interesting things get. Check out Los Gatos, Menlo Park, Almaden, Saratoga, or Boulder Creek.

  • Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, and Mountain View are all nice enough. I'd advise against living and working in the same town -- you get mighty sick of having lunch and dinner in the same place!

    I work in MV, and I couldn't imagine looking for a place to live there compared to the others, though. Sunnyvale is nice, and has awesome events in the streets most weeks in the summer. PA has a few too many students, and is a little pretentious, but it's also very pretty. They're all on Caltrain, of course.

  • IMHO don't get your hopes up for Santa Clara and Sunnyvale, they're bedroom communities and are dreadfully dull. If you enjoy eating out and spending time outside be prepared to spent most of your time elsewhere.

    After living here for a few years, there are only two towns on the Peninsula where I would even consider living. Mountain View and Palo Alto. Both towns have nice a downtown area, pleasant weather, are close enough to the city for those times when you really need a city rather than town, and the commute to work is very acceptable from either.

    How do the two stack up against each other? One plus for Palo alto, I slightly prefer University Ave. to Castro. One very big minus for Palo Alto, and the reason I chose Mountain View - is the housing situation. Reasonably priced housing in Palo Alto is meant for Stanford students living off campus and are genuine hell holes, the nicer housing starts at ~$2k/mo for a smallish 1BD, last I looked.

    My .02. Congrats on your move.

  • I agree with Eric--Palo Alto and Mountain View are both good places to live. Palo Alto is terribly expensive and is a bit full of itself. Mountain View is ideally located between jobs in San Jose/Santa Clara/Sunnyvale and fun/culture in San Francisco. Rick and I lived in both Mountain View and Palo Alto. I preferred Palo Alto because it had more personality and, I'll admit it, I liked the cachet. When we lived there, Menlo Park, Saratoga, Los Altos, and Los Gatos attracted more older people... and I'm older than you so I don't know if those would be a great fit. Could have changed in the six years since I moved away though.

    Congratulations on your new job. How exciting! I hope Alexandra likes it in California too.

  • Ouch, Mountain View is expensive. Before I decided to leave Microsoft, I looked at Microsoft's operations/campus there but the job didn't work out. I'm glad at this point.

    There are a lot of tech companies in Emeryville in the East Bay. In my building we have MobiTV (where I work), Sendmail, Orb, and a couple of others. There seem to be more moving in as well.

  • I think I mentioned that downtown MV was recommended to me. Also you could check with the Upcoming kids who've relocated through out the valley.

    Or bite the bullet, move to the Mission with the rest of us, take the shuttle, and hand over that 10% of your life.

  • I moved to the Bay Area via the Mission, and dealt with Muni as long as I was working in San Francisco. Once I started a job in Palo Alto, though, I bit the bullet and accepted a serious increase in rent in order to move there -- the 10 hours or so a week spent on the train was just too much on top of 45-50 hours at the office.

    Back in '00-01, when I was apartment hunting, studios and 1BD apartments were running in the $1200-1500 range, if you weren't too picky about the part of town and color of the carpet and counters. From what I've heard, housing prices have been steady or on the decline since then.

    Personally, I never found much to do outside of eating and hiking/biking in Palo Alto proper, though -- there are a handful of movie theaters, bars, etc., but Stanford is insular enough as a community that there didn't seem to be much nightlife.

  • I used to run a music store on Castro Street, so could tell you a lot about Mountain View, but that's not the point here. Basically you're looking at a price pyramid going north with Palo Alto at the top and San Jose at the bottom (there are lots of exceptions but this is the high level overview). Palo Alto is the home of the million dollar 2-br bungalow. Mountain View is right on the edge with million dollar Eichlers. You'll get the most house for the money in Sunnyvale (where I live), and somewhat cheaper, but often smaller houses in Santa Clara. I'd live in Mountain View without hesitation, but I wouldn't buy a house there.

  • Holy crap!

    I miseed the announcement. This rocks.

    Which group will you be working in?

    Let me know what I can do to help.

  • Congrats, man! And welcome to the Bay Area.

    Live in SF and take a shuttle (said the guy who works at home).

    Good luck with the transition, and rock on with the new gig.

  • Congratulations, as I also relocated to work for Y recently, I also recommend Mountain View or Sunnyvale as good places to get your bearings. If you want to take public transport/free shuttle to work, MV has that.

    Do ping me when you start.

  • Congratulations and welcome to the fun! I've been at Y! since January, and work down the hall from Dave.

    I'd plug Burlingame (where I live) or nearby San Mateo: I can walk to the Caltrain station, and it takes less than an hour, front door to my desk. It's a 20 minute drive to the city and a four minute walk to lots of restaurants, shopping, parks and a very good library.

    Maybe a better way to start: what are you looking for? What kind of environment do you currently live in?

    Whatever you do, don't delude yourself that you can drive any appreciable distance on the 101 on a daily basis; it's not worth it.

  • To those that decry the lack of good food south of SF , I protest :-) There's a ton of great places to eat in the South Bay (if you like Vietnamese, Mexican, Indian, Japanese), but I admit it's not exactly the hub of nightlife and activity.

    One question to ask yourself is:

    Would you rather (1) have the option to drive on the weekends to find the fun stuff, --or-- (2) have a mandatory drive every morning to work?

    The 45-minute drive to SF on the weekends is not bad, and it even feels like a mini-vacation sometimes. I can't imagine SF denizens feel the same way about San Jose, for example. Certainly not on a Monday morning...

  • First of all congratulations, Yahoo! is a good company to work for and has some cool Yahoos like Bradley Horowitz, Joshua Schachter, my ex-colleagues Melissa, Aaron and Kathryn in Search PR (tell'em Ged said hi) and Team Flickr.

    Sunnyvale is considered to be industrialised in comparison to the other towns, they are quiet and anonymous like the town in ET. As a European I found them bland areas, however I have friends who have lived there all their lives and wouldn't live anywhere else.

    Don't worry too much about local amenities like dry cleaners etc as these services are provided on campus. I was amazed (or maybe it was the sugar-high of the free root bear) by the facilities offered almost like a small-town: it doesn't happen in Europe.

    San Jose is trying to drag itself out of mediocrity by the boot straps with new apartment blocks and cultural stuff going up in the downtown area.

  • Do ya know which Yahoo! Campus you'll be at? Not knowing where you're coming from, I'd think your biggest concern when you land will be traffic. (Unless you're used to 8 miles taking 30 minutes.)

    You might try checking out South San Jose (Campbell) - it's a pretty straight shot to the Yahoo! campus by Moffet Field or the one on Great America Pkwy. Not as close as Mountain View, but not nearly as expensive.

    I'd avoid East San Jose as the commute will be miserable, despite the proximity - most of the roads from East SJ to the Yahoo! campuses are feeders for highways 680 and 880, which are the main arteries for probably half of the folks who work in San Jose (and can't afford to live there).

    http://www.housingmaps.com/ is an EXCELLENT tool for remote apartment hunting. Someone's feeding the residential listings from Craigslist into Google Maps, so you can enter your search parameters and filtered results are overlaid on the Google Map with links to the Craigslist listing. Craigslist is far and away the best tool for apartment hunting here besides just plain driving around looking for signs.

  • As a Yahoo! formerly from SNV office I recommend downtown Sunnyvale area around Mathilda and El Camino. It's close to the MC office, and this is the big plus. The downtown area is being revamped by summer of '07 where there will be a new mall with open air walking areas. Even now it's a pretty cute area with summer concerts and a Saturday morning farmer's market. Walking distance to many things such as Trader Joe's, Best Buy, Sportsmart, and Baja Fresh. Find me on backyard if you want to hear more.

  • I recently had a contract job at Apple, and I picked an apartment in Cupertino near Apple campus near DeAnza College along Stevens Creek Boulevard. Although Cupertino was a nice enough place to work, there are ABSOLUTELY no cultural amenities in Cupertino. No movie theaters, no bookstores, nothing but chain stores. The rental apartments and houses are fine, but you'll have to drive quite a way to get somewhere interesting. 

    My advice - check out the northern end of the Valley. San Mateo, Palo Alto, Mountain View -- all of these have something that passes for a liveable environment outside working hours. If you can stand a longer commute and your salary permits, consider living in San Francisco and commuting down to Santa Clara via CalTrain.

    Congratulations on your wedding and your new job!

  • Mike: I do believe I bought a guitar from you last year! I used a £20 note as collateral :) Pity you closed down, you were a good feature on the street.

    Les: I was going to say "Ask Dave Beckett", and lo! He appears :)

  • I would just find someplace close to work for now. The Bay area is such a diverse place it can make it hard to pick a place to live. I tell everyone to rent for a year, and travel locally alot for that year. It will give you a good idea which location suits your taste. BTW grat's on the job.

  • Congrats on the new location and your marriage! Lets definently meet up and grab a beer or coffee when you get into town. Feel free to call me: 1-510-938-3263. We can chat about web stuff, OPML, the Engelbart project, etc. I'm working remotely from Paris during July, but will be back in San Francisco in August. What will you be doing for Yahoo?

    Best, Brad

  • congratulations on your move to the BAY... quoting this comment "Would you rather (1) have the option to drive on the weekends to find the fun stuff, –or– (2) have a mandatory drive every morning to work?" HE IS SOOO RIGHT... I grew up in SF & DC and temporarily moved the East Bay to finish my nursing degree and I will tell you now I don't recommend living there, its not quite safe, and I live in a really sweet place called El Cerrito Hills.. besides the point.. I love San Mateo Count and Beyond.. I always wanted to live in Burlingame/Milbrae, get away from the city, safer, better to raise children in... and that's what I still plan, I know that you are in Mountain View but the drive isn't that far to SF! I can totally recommend restaurants when you rendevous to SF! If you aren't vegetarian, I totally recommend ESPETUS ... =)

  • I'll put my vote in for Palo Alto. The University Ave. area has plenty of decent restaurants, and the proximity to the Stanford campus means plenty of stuff to do when school is in.

  • Sunnyvale has too many vampires and is situated on a HellMouth, isn't it? Avoid.