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Temporarily Relocating to Palo Alto Area - Need Advice

Philadelphia, PA USA
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Temporarily Relocating to Palo Alto Area – Need Advice

Hi all! My boyfriend, our dog and I are relocating to the Palo Alto area for 6 months starting in Jan 2012. We do have some flexibility with where we can live. Some options are Redwood City, San Mateo, and Mountain View. Does anyone have any suggestions as to which area is best? My boyfriend will need to get to work in Palo Alto during the week. I most likely won’t be working during this time, so I would like to live in an area with things to do nearby so I don’t get bored during the day. Also, I would love to have great places to walk with my dog, but I imagine that won’t be a problem in these areas. We did receive advice that it would be better to live as close to San Fran as possible, for obvious reasons, which is why I thought Redwood City or San Mateo might be better fits. Thanks in advance for any advice I receive!

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1. Re: Temporarily Relocating to Palo Alto Area – Need Advice

I moved to this area 14 months ago and like you needed to decide where to live. I am in a similar position to you - my partner is working and I am not so I wanted to be somewhere that wasn't too quiet but not noisy. Downtown Palo Alto (near University Avenue) would be more lively than Mountain View. Redwood City is nice too - not as posh as Palo Alto but a bit more real! Some parts of Redwood City are nicer than others - we looked at one house and the address was Redwood City but it was in Atherton (a really upmarket area). I'm not sure how far your boyfriend is willing to commute but we didn't look any further north than Redwood City. Menlo Park is another nice area you might consider. As regards walking your dog there are loads of areas close by to go walking so that won't be an issue if you chose anywhere near Palo Alto, Menlo Park or Redwood City.

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2. Re: Temporarily Relocating to Palo Alto Area – Need Advice

Yes. Redwood City has its sketchy areas.

Menlo Park and Palo Alto are quite a bit more expensive than other nearby areas. If you like sophisticated places with lawyers everywhere, they're fine. Otherwise, the premiums are hard to justify.

Woodside and Portola Valley are way more expensive and probably down right boring if you don't have a horse or want the downtown cafe scene. Los Altos and Atherton are like Woodside and Portola Valley but turned down a notch a little.

Mountain View is more down to earth like Redwood City, but also has its sketchy areas. Like Redwood City, Mountain View is connected very well to the middle of Palo Alto by public transit. Downtown Mountain View is interesting.

San Mateo can be nice but is farther. So is Sunnyvale on the south side.

If you really want to be closer to SF, the peninsula northwards is the way to go. IMO, it doesn't make much of a difference unless you actually live in SF. The train will always take you there, otherwise the traffic, the commute and parking is all the same.

Edited: 13 November 2010, 05:18
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3. Re: Temporarily Relocating to Palo Alto Area – Need Advice

Palo Alto has a very vibrant downtown. Mtn View and redwood City have renovated part of their downtowns and have lots to do. But PA is the Big Apple. Still nothing compares to San Francisco. If you only have 6 months here and you are not working, no better place to be unemployed than SF. But that means he has to commute. There are frequent fast trains between SF and PA, and as long as you are convenient to the SF station, it should be easy. SF has great public transit. The train has room for bikes, but that has become very popular, so maybe space for bikes is limited. If you don't live in either PA or SF you will feel that you are missing out. The express train commute from SF takes 40 minutes, and he could easily waste that much time if he had to commute into PA on 101 from San Mateo or even RC.

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4. Re: Temporarily Relocating to Palo Alto Area – Need Advice

What I would recommend regardless of the city that you choose is to rent a place close to Cal Train. That way you can easily take Cal Trans into San Francisco during the day. In terms of neighborhoods both Palo Alto and Mountain View have more to do for young people than the staid community of Menlo Park (think 70 and above....for Menlo Park....its because house price is high, and people live there a long time.). Its close to Stanford, but it has an older feel.

For Cal Train see

http://www.caltrain.com/site3.aspx

A good combination of shops, restaurants, and easy access to Cal Train is downtown Mountain View. For information on downtown Mountain View see

http://mountainviewdowntown.com/

Staying in Palo Alto also works well, as close to Stanford (i.e. your boyfriend could take Marguerite Shuttle), its close to Cal Train also, and has a much younger feel than Menlo Park. It can get a bit boring however after a couple of hours...unless you get engaged with activities on the campus. The campus is huge....so a good place to go walking. Restaurants tend to be good, but higher priced than Mountain View. For more information, see

yelp.com/list/downtown-palo-alto-restaurants…

(note: I would tend to disagree about Palo Alto downtown being vibrant. Its ok for Palo Alto but in comparison to San Francisco it is a bit dull.) There are a few good places for live music however such as the BBC

http://www.britishbankersclub.com

Edited: 13 November 2010, 18:29
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5. Re: Temporarily Relocating to Palo Alto Area – Need Advice

If you are not going to live in San Francisco, you are better off living in Palo Alto or very close by.

Being 5 or 10 miles closer to San Francisco does not make the city any more accessible. Palo Alto has the best train service to San Francisco and the freeway drive is not much different.

Many Silicon Valley workers live in SF and commute to Palo Alto and the Valley by train or ride company vans.

There are many new condos/apartments near the train station in San Francisco.

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6. Re: Temporarily Relocating to Palo Alto Area – Need Advice

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