Sunnyvale was voted #7 out of 10 best places to raise your kids. The new research results based on educational factor ( spending per student and quality of local schools) as well as fun factor ( proximity and availability of playgrounds, libraries..). Sunnyvale has lowest crime rates in the nation - safe place for your kids. ( for the full coverage: http://www.kiplinger.com/slideshow/10-great-cities-to-raise- ) Sunnyvale has few school districts: Santa Clara Unified, Cupertino Union and Sunnyvale.
Price-wise you can find many times better deals on the houses with higher rated schools in Sunnyvale than in Mountain View.
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As the others have said this is not a simple answer. Everyone has given some great comparisons. I would just add one thing, and this is just my opinion. I think Sunnyvale will have a greater percentage of appreciation over Mountain View just because over the next few years the Town Center will get finished and I believe this will really increase the values in Sunnyvale.
To be frank, as Terri noted below, the preference for which city is best for your family lies solely with you. To really determine which city to choose, you'll need to examine the following and decide what works best for your lifestyle, your family's needs, and your future housing goals.
1. Schools - If you have school aged children, you may find that Sunnyvale offers schools with higher API scores. Sunnyvale also has schools that are within the coveted Cupertino School System. Mountain View's schools along the Los Altos border are also excellent schools. For sheer number of schools with excellent API scores, Sunnyvale has the slight edge.
2. Housing Prices - Both Sunnyvale and Mountain View (because the areas are still desired by many buyers) have higher home prices. Both cities have housing in the $1 million plus price range especially when those homes are coupled with certain schools and school districts. If you're looking for affordable housing, however, Sunnyvale has the edge on Mountain View. There are still sections of Sunnyvale where new homes are being built and these homes are often within both the price range and configuration of first time or new home buyers.
3. Proximity to Businesses - Sunnyvale and Mountain View both have great locations when it comes to business with Mountain View being slightly closer to business centers in Palo Alto and Mountain View, as well as areas along the peninsula, and Sunnyvale having the edge for high tech in Santa Clara and in Sunnyvale near 101. So this one is a toss up depending on where your jobs are located.
4. Entertainment - Both Mountain View and Sunnyvale have downtown areas that are well populated. Sunnyvale's downtown area has been in transition for many years now, and I'm not quite sure it will ever become as popular as other downtown areas. The mix of shops and offices in such a close proximity may be its one undoing, but we'll see. Right now, there are excellent shops and restaurants in Sunnyvale's downtown area, but that may change the development comes to a close. Mountain View's downtown has always been a great walking destination for both MV and local area residents. With a great nighlife and wonderful food, entertainment, theatre, library and city hall, Mountain View's downtown is always packed with crowds. So edge here to Mountain View.
5. Parks and Family Activities - Sunnyvale may have slightly fewer parks than Mountain View, but all of the parks in the process of renovation and there is both plenty of parking as well as plenty of green space in each of the parks in Sunnyvale. Also, the parks here are larger and more centrally located to neighborhoods and families. The parks in Mountain View are smaller, and while there are more of them, they're not quite as large or as spacious as the parks in Sunnyvale. So edge for parks within the City goes to Sunnyvale. The one park or open space that Mountain View can be very proud of is the Baylands parks along 101 that runs along Shoreline up to San Antonio Road. This is a tremendous section of wetland where residents can hike, bike, and walk established trails and enjoy the beauty of the bay. The famed Rengstorff House is also located in a bay land park, and it's a great place to picnic and enjoy your summer fun. So the edge on the open space park goes to Mountain View.
So there you have it! Both towns are fairly well balanced and will serve any buyer well. For me, the choice was and always will be Sunnyvale as my home town. I grew up in this town, and love it--it was also voted one of the top 10 places to live in the United States by a recent financial magazine poll. Our home is located in the Cupertino School District, and we have the advantage of a wonderful city with a great school system. So look at both cities carefully and choose the one that suits you and your family the very best!
Good luck! And if you need more help or the assistance of Realtor, do let me know!
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Mountain View has a great down town area with food and shopping. It is closer to most commute destinations. Many areas have more mature trees. Prices may be higher for what you can get. Mt. View has a population of about 71,000. Median Household $83,000, Median resident age 37, 55% college graduates and 32 parks.
Sunnyvale the down town area is in transition. Many school score high. It is spread out so you have a a variety of ranch style homes, some older victorian, many 1950's Eichlers, and some newer constructions. Population 134,000, Median Resident Age 34, $80,000 Median Household Income, 51% College Graduates and 20 parks.
( Stats rounded- Information obtained San Jose Mercury News May 2009)
My website also has a link to compare several zip codes to one another. Perhaps this will give you more information to determine which area feels more like home to you.
Sunnyvale has better schools if that is your primary concern. Mountain View may be closer to work if that is your priority. Let me know your search criteria and I will give you a more definitive answer. Email me at email@example.com