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Old 05-28-2016, 06:21 PM
 
5 posts, read 6,370 times
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I've been reading this forum for a few weeks now and have yet another post asking for advice on where to live. My husband just accepted a job offer in Sunnyvale and we will be moving from the Boston area sometime in spring 2017. I am excited about the move, mostly because it is a great opportunity for him.

My concerns are figuring out what neighborhood will work for us, and beyond that, how hard will it be to find a place in that neighborhood. Here are my constraints/wish list. I realize they are tight parameters and I probably won't get them all, but curious if any of you have thoughts or suggestions.

-- I have a daughter who will be entering 6th grade. I want to find a school that is academically sound, but she is more an athlete than an academic superstar. I am wary of what I've read about the intensity of Palo Alto, Mountain View etc schools but still want a solid education in a nurturing environment. She is coming from one of the top suburban districts in the Boston area.

-- I am willing to think about private schools but have no idea where to start.

-- Would love somewhere with some character, a walkable downtownish area, not just malls and suburban cul de sacs.

-- Neighborhoods I think appeal to me are Willow Glen, but I have read that the schools are mediocre. Anyone have any thoughts? Los Gatos because it has a downtown, but may be out of my price range. Maybe some areas of Redwood City?

-- would like to keep commute to Sunnyvale less than 40 minutes.

-- I'm not sure yet if we will rent or try to buy. The issues with renting are that we have 3 dogs, one of them quite big, and I think it will be impossible to find a place. The recruiter working with us thinks it's doable, but I have doubts. If we do find a place to rent, I would hate to then have to move again and make my daughter change schools again. We could swing 5K for rent, maybe 1.4 to buy. I would prefer a single family home, but willing to look at a townhouse if there was outside space and dogs were allowed.

-- Finally, and unrelated to real estate, does anyone know anything about the youth hockey scene in the South Bay, specifically girls hockey? I know it will be a very different scene from here in Boston, but my daughter is a serious player and I want to try to keep her in the sport. (Go Sharks!)

-- Also welcome any general advice about relocating from the East Coast, things you wish you'd known or done differently?

Thanks for any thoughts!
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Old 05-28-2016, 06:43 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
3,685 posts, read 8,822,415 times
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1.4M doesn't get you a decent SFH in Sunnyvale.
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Old 05-28-2016, 06:45 PM
 
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Good to know, thanks.

Edited to add, just saw this sold for 1.38 on May 26, looks lovely to me!
375 S Fair Oaks Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086 - Recently Sold Homes & Sold Properties - realtor.comĀ®
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Old 05-28-2016, 08:39 PM
 
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S Fair Oaks is extremely busy street. 2 lane traffic in both directions. And that is not a good area. But if you send your kids to private and don't care about public school, then it can work.

For high school, it's a small list for top academics performing schools.

Top tier: Monta Vista in Cupertino, Lynbrook in West San Jose, Mission San Jose in Fremont, Saratoga in Saratoga/Los Gatos, Gunn and Palo Alto in Palo Alto, Cupertino in Cupertino.

Next tier (still excellent): Homestead in Cupertino/Sunnyvale, Los Altos & Mountain View, Leland High in Almaden (SJ), Evergreen in Evergreen (SJ), Los Gatos in Saratoga/Los Gatos, Carlmont in Belmont/San Carlos.

There are good schools further up the peninsula in San Mateo county and Plesanton area, but that is pushing 40 min commute.

You can look into real estate or rentals in those school areas.
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Old 05-29-2016, 12:42 PM
 
862 posts, read 1,578,429 times
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You are right about the dogs. We just had one large dog who doesn't shed and it was near impossible to find a rental and what you will find are the dregs of the rental market...gross houses with terrible property managers who don't update or care about how it looks, scant shoddy repairs. And you will maybe even pay more for it. Sorry to be so blunt, but I wish I'd have known.

Since you have a LONG time to look around, that is to your advantage. And since you are able to buy, that may be your best bet. I really thought we'd just be renters here and not buy but I just couldn't stand living in gross or really far away houses (to get something nicer) where I had no control over how much our biggest living expense would be at the end of the lease (when they can raise it). So we rented for 2 1/2 years and then bought.

Places with walkable downtowns will cost more, but in increasing price: Campbell, Willow Glen, Redwood City, Mountain View, Los Gatos, Los Altos, Palo Alto. Did I miss any?

Now add to it top tier schools and it's astronomical. Since you said you are perhaps not wanting that top tier academically intense kind of district, though, that can be to your benefit. I know it's so hard, when you just don't know until you get there and talk to parents. Have you reviewed greatschools.net? Since your child will be in 6th grade, you may wish to start and narrowing your high schools and work your way down to the feeder middle schools. I have no idea why, but I've not heard good things about Sunnyvale schools in passing, which is kind of baffling to me given the cost of housing there.
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Old 05-29-2016, 03:56 PM
 
Location: Downtown SJ
176 posts, read 197,085 times
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Regarding youth Hockey, there is an excellent program here, largest west of the Mississippi.

Girls
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Old 05-29-2016, 05:00 PM
 
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Thanks, everyone, this is all very useful. We were already looking at the Jr Sharks program, good to know it is well regarded. Do you know if girls play on the boys teams? Is there a girls' league or do girls teams play in the same league as boys?

In terms of schools, I have looked at greatschools.com, it's very useful but still limited since I am more interested in intangibles than scores. Parent comments tend to be all over the map. How do I go about figuring out which middle schools feed to which high schools? I find the districts baffling! Is there anywhere to compare private schools in the area?

I was lookign today on Trulia and found a few (very few!) nice looking houses available to rent that said they were willing to take big dogs. Is that just a pipe dream? I would really prefer to rent for a while if we can to get the lay of the land...
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Old 05-30-2016, 09:13 PM
 
Location: Palo Alto, CA
901 posts, read 949,165 times
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I don't think it's impossible to find a place that will take dogs, just very hard. So jump on something if you can. You will need to move very fast to get anything, whether it's buying or renting. Have all your information together. 3 years ago a friend found a rental SFH and she had 1 dog and 2 cats, and it turned out well for them. Was brutal for a long while, though.

Note that most homes in the region - and all of nice quality, lot size, and location w/ good or great sch. districts - have multiple bids when put up for sale, and prices that go for 5 to 10 to even more % over asking is the norm. Therefore, your 1.4m budget is really a 1.1 to 1.3m house - approximately. 1.4 means you need to pay 1.5 to 1.8, etc. You can look on Redfin for town data re: homes sold in last 3 month period, with typical percentages over asking.

Note that regional traffic here ranges from bad to horrible, and a great tool to estimate commute times is at maps.google.com, where you then use the 'directions' feature, and then you can plug in locations and commute times.

Use google street view also to see when a seemingly well priced house is on a bad street, or has a bad neighboring structure, etc.
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Old 05-31-2016, 02:00 PM
 
Location: Downtown SJ
176 posts, read 197,085 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skawjw View Post
Do you know if girls play on the boys teams? Is there a girls' league or do girls teams play in the same league as boys?
I don't know a lot about it, just peripherally through friends that have kids playing in that system. Yes, the Girls have their own league. I think some girls who are really good play on boys teams. You should contact them directly.

Re: schools, I think you are taking the right approach, test scores only tell part of the story. There is way too much fixation on test scores IMHO. My kids were in Cupertino schools for 4-6 years in the early 2000's, and I was not a fan at all. They are really good at teaching kids how to take tests. My kids did much better after we took them out of there.

this is relevant:
http://http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_29746570/schools-target-asian-parental-expectations

Tiger Mom syndrome was rampant at the time, I'm sure it still is.
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