For ease of commute Rivermark stands out for me. Plus with the Superbowl 2016 coming to "Levi's Stadium" the excitement next year in this area of Santa Clara should give real estate a lot of public relations buzz and PR may generate more people interested in an area -- then high demand normally causes prices to go up.
The homes in Rivermark are newer.
Cambrian as the other respondents noted has some exceptional schools. The homes are older (in general).
You can work in Mountain View or Palo Alto and get to work from Rivermark on 237 to El Camino in a heartbeat.
I would say school quality as a stand alone value points to Cambrian. Not that the Rivermark schools aren't wonderful, it's just that if you are seeking to weigh and compare, these are the #s. Greatschools.net is a great place to check out the schools that a particular home might feed into, although then you need to go to the district locator to determine exact feeder schools.
Now picture yourself driving home to either place and ask yourself which feels better. Because you do need to live there -- not just "invest" there -- if you are seeking a home for you and/or your family. So how you feel about your own home would carry a value as well. Be sure to drive at the times of day you would normally drive -- not just lunch times or weekends. Because the daily amount of traffic time (for me) is an indicator of quality of life too.
The Rivermark area is serviced by 3 elem schools; Don Callejon api 868, Katherine Hughs api 828, and Montegue api 804. Middle schools are Buchser api 804 and Don Callejon (K-8) api 868. High school is Santa Clara api 782.
Cambrian is a big area but most of the elem school apis are high 8xx or low 9xx. Middle schools are Union api 938, Dartmount api 917 and Price Charter api 883 and maybe John Muir api 787. Highs are Leigh api 833, Branham api 810, Pioneer api 822 and maybe Willow Glen api 747.
To accurately find the schools that a home is assigned to see:
Q: Which is a better buy (either as an investment or for living)?
A: There is no way of knowing at this point in time which will be a better investment. No one knows the future. As for living, no one answering this question knows you and your lifestyle. Do you want a rear yard? Do you want pets? Do you like older or newer? How about your commute? These are decisions you will have to make yourself.
Q: Rivermark has a very good elementary school while Cambrian park has decent elementary and not-so-great middle/high schools.
A: Life is not just about schools. Quality of life includes SO many other factors. Keep in mind that as more money flows into Silicon Valley, the quality of schools will go up. As house prices rise, the education level of residents and income levels rise as well, which in turn affects local school scores.
Only you can answer which is better for you. The reality is that both are very desirable and which ever you write an offer on there will be high competition, the market may just dictate which direction you end up.
Have an amazing day!
Cambrian offers great schools, a suburban feel and a home with which you can do what you please inside and out. The town home offers an easy commute and accessibility to shops and entertainment (Mercado, Great America, new stadium, etc.) One is low key, the other much more 'lively'. I'd suggest figuring out what is most important to you and what fits best in your lifestyle.
Cambrian home values http://julianalee.com/san-jose/cambrian-statistics.htm
Zip 95054 home values http://julianalee.com/zip-code/95054-statistics.htm
This decision is one which a buyer agent can help you with. While you look at properties your buyer agent learns to see what you value and can point out how different areas and homes match your goals. Surely you've previously found it advantageous to talk over difficult choices with another person. Different people have different needs and goals. There is not one single answer to your question.
What seems to be particularly strong recently is a desire by buyers to live near work. As employment and population increase commutes will probably become worse. Another factor to consider is that yards are becoming smaller and smaller. Trying to find a larger yard in the future could be very difficult.
Top 3 agent for 3 years nationwide at Keller Williams Realty, the nations largest
Over 20 years experience
Over 1,000 homes sold in Santa Clara County and San Mateo County
If you want to kick around some other ideas, feel free to give me a call.
Mario Pinedo, CCIM
Real Estate Broker & Lender
Keller Williams & CS Financial
BRE Broker 01118365