When you say "I would like good schools" there are different levels of schools here and the variability can be overwhelming.
The absolute top tier means extremely high test scores and extremely academic focused. These schools will rank 900-1000 on the API score, the standard test measure for academic excellence here in CA.
Schools in the 800 to 900 range tend to have more of a diversity of socio-economics, more of a diversity of academic coupled with more different things the kids do.
Below 800 API and the general "opinion" will be that they don't fit the "good school" reputation although that does not mean you cannot find a nice neighborhood with a caring school community under 800. It's just generally that this is the place where, below it, some of the socioeconomics will show more sluggish results, in my opinion (and a lot of this is opinion).
My children attend a school with about 875 API and I am delighted with the school. Would you be happy in that environment? I don't know!!!
In Cupertino, Palo Alto, and Mission San Jose schools in Fremont, you find these top of the line performiing trios of elementary, middle and high school. Break in costs typically will be in the 750K to 900K for Cupertino and Fremont; more like $1M in Palo Alto.
There is a corridor of 95129 San Jose and 95051 Santa Clara and 94087 Sunnyvale that feed to the top tier Cupertino schools, and will generally (not in every case) fall closer to $700K to $850K for breaking in to a house.
If you are comfortable in the 825 to 900 range for test scores, you open yourself up to a much wider selection of schools. There are homes around $550K to $675K in Ruskin, Sierramont and Piedmont schools in 95132 which will be super, super close to your husband's work. The schools are right around 900 for the elementary, and a slightly high Chinese population, and a safe feeling of area. Also in 95132 (north san jose) you can find homes in the Noble Elementary community, around $550K to $675K pricing for a normal home.
Milpitas (95035) has a wonderful elementary, John Sinnott, and good middle, Rancho, where homes are even more reasonable. In the area called "Parktown" where every home is walking distance to a park, you can find some excellent opportunities in the $500,000 range. With a $100,000 down payment, your monthly mortgage would be around $2,700 if you qualify for a good loan rate. I love this area for your needs, considering it is so close to 95131.
Good luck! I would love to show you homes if you are visiting soon.
Also, http://www.GreatSchools.net has test score and parent reviews on every district and school. It might be helpful.
I also have a parent's Yahoo Group that I can connect you with, about 700 moms compare information, if you want some more mom opinions rather than realtors.
Mom to Paul, Isabel & Madeline (6, 7, 8)
California is a beautiful place to be, great weather, good people and a good area to live in! I have re-located 5 Countries myself, so I know how you feel! I also handle families Re-Locating to the Bay Area/Silicon Valley, as i fully understand the Financial, Physical, Mental and emotional needs of people moving into a new City/Country and not knowing anything!
I have 3 children, so schools were Top Priority for us too...and we did research like you when coming to thhis area from Australia.
The South Bay area, which will also be relatively close for your Husbands Commute to work, has great schools - Cupertino, Saratoga, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Los Altos, Palo Alto, and a few other areas....
Check out the Re-Location link under:
RELOCATION LINK: http://www.californiamoves.com/relocation/communityguides.aspx
Look at Santa Clara COunty Information.
Please do contact me 408-777-3823, i will be happy to take exceptional care of you and your famlies needs, and answer as many questions as you may have.
Be well and travel safe, regards,