The wealth of information available online certainly helps when trying to decide whether to relocate to another area for a job. When I moved to San Jose from Dallas, I had limited information about the cost differences. The salary jump was enough to keep me excited about the move until I began looking at houses. The cost difference was staggering. When I talked to others who had made the move to California, they all nodded knowingly. I was in love with California from the moment I stepped off the plane. After living in Dallas where bushes were called trees and the ocean was too far away, being 30 minutes from the ocean and 4 hours from snow covered mountains and giant redwoods was perfect for me. I calculated how much it cost me to travel from Dallas to the beach for summer vacations and winter trips to snow ski and it didn’t take long to justify the move. Not to mention, the weather. It really was a “no brainer” for me.
I work with many relocation clients from Austin, Seattle, Chicago, and overseas. Most of them have been searching online and understand housing prices are different than most areas. Not only the cost, but also the average age of the home is older and the living space smaller. As Californians we claim we do not need as much interior space because we are often are outside enjoying the many activities the area has to offer. To really evaluate a move to San Jose and surrounding Silicon Valley, consider these three items:
1.) Home Cost and Taxes. Cost of homes average 30-40% more than Austin and Seattle. Only in Manhattan, New York are home prices more expensive than San Jose. BankRate.com has a great tool for comparing cost of moving from one city to the next. The good news, wine and boy’s jeans are cheaper in San Jose than in Austin. Property taxes are also slightly higher than most areas. Even with Proposition 13 keeping tax rates lower over time, re-assessments at sale are calculated at about 1.25% of value. There are only two states I am aware of that do not charge state income tax; Florida and Nevada. California has a state income tax rate as well, between 9-13% dependent on income bracket. Transfer taxes for cities vary but for San Jose calculate about 1% for closing cost.
2.) Commute time and schools impact affordability and resale. The shorter the commute to the technology hubs of North San Jose, Mountain View, and Palo Alto the more expensive the homes. The better the school scores, mostly along the Western corridor of Silicon Valley, the more expensive the home. You can find newer and larger homes when you head more South toward Morgan Hill or East to Fremont and Pleasanton. Most homes in the areas closest to the technology job hub will be on average 1200-1600 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and built between 1950 and 1980. To understand school scores and how they relate to the communities of the Bay Area, see the map on my School Information page.
3.) The Why. The Bay Area is one of the most diverse and exciting places to live in the United States. The people, the food, the choices of entertainment and of course, the weather make the decision easier. Many of my clients will be in shock after buying a home but months later come to truly appreciate all the many things the community offers. We have parks seemingly on every corner of every neighborhood. We have the shopping and food mecca of San Francisco a short drive away. We have the historical surfers cove of Santa Cruz just over the hill. When I first moved here, I went hiking almost every weekend. It took me over two years to even touch on many of the trails available. The micro climates of the mountains on the West verses the East hills offer a variety in temperatures and natural scenic pleasures. If you need more mountains, head to Lake Tahoe in less than 4 hours for incredible skiing. If you need more seclusion head up or down the coast to areas like Point Reyes or Big Sur. Of course, the many vineyards from Napa to local Santa Clara County wine makers will provide endless opportunities for teasing your taste buds with varietals unique to our community’s back yard.
Silicon Valley is a community buzzing with incredibly diverse and intelligent people. The energy and opportunity to grow is limitless. After living here over 20 years, I have a hard time coming up with a better idea for home. There is no other area I can think of that can come close to all I love about the Bay Area. If you are considering moving to San Jose, or surrounding area, contact me and I can help answer questions for you. I am happy to show you around while you are here on interviews to give you an idea of different areas and neighborhoods. I welcome you to California and the Bay Area!