The commute will be long. Just make sure you prepare yourself for that. It's good that you are trying to take public transportation but please be aware that it might take over 1.5 hours to get to work (one way). I hope this helps!
Maybe an hour each way.
A good friend and client of mine who lives in Palo Alto just started working in SF so I will let you know what she thinks.
Another friend lives in San Carlos and worked in SF financial district.
He loved taking the train to and from.
Several of my clients have purchased in San Francisco and work in Palo Alto & Mountain View. They probably know many people who take the train. If you send me a private email, I will forward it to them and ask if they will respond.
So after what you all said about the bart -> Caltrain it seems like I could basically live anywhere near a Bart station... Does any of your logic/reasoning break down if I got a place in the mission near the 16th street station?
I also used to ride my bike to Redwood city form SF 3 times a week and Caltrain back up. But that was before BART went to Millbrae. If you can get to the station in SOMA there would be no problem. If you can get to BART and then to Millbrae again no problem.
Google has a bus that picks up in Noe Valley and the Mission on 24th street and runs to the Mountain View campus if you were working there.
Either, Baby Bullet Caltrain or a combination of BART with a "bullet" Caltrain with a change of trains in Millbrae are definitely good options. Dependent where in Palo Alto, you can either bike or take a bus.