Pros and Cons of San Carlos?

Asked by Craig, 94110 Fri Mar 28, 2008

Right now, it looks like I'm starting to narrow my search a bit to Redwood City / San Mateo and San Carlos popped up.. Is there anything interesting in particular that I should know about this town in comparison to the aforementioned? Also, has the area had much of a discount priced in already due to current market conditions?


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Dan Robinson, Agent, San Carlos, CA
Sat Mar 29, 2008
Kraig, I have lived in San Carlos for 14 years and Ed has pretty much hit the nail on the head on this one. It is a great family friendly town with a lot of character. Redwood City and San Mateo are much bigger cities than San Carlos and will definitely give you quite a different living experience than San Carlos.

San Carlos is often referred to as Mayberry, USA because of its small town feel. Resident involvement in the city is very high making it easy to get to know others in town. It has new youth center, new library, senior center, excellent schools, nice parks and a very nice downtown main street. If you are looking for small town feel that is a great place to raise a family, San Carlos is a great choice. An updated 3/2 in the center of town will run you around $1.3, but you can get something similar on the east side of El Camino for around $850. Unlike many other cities along the peninsula, the east side of San Carlos contains some very nice neighborhoods. The

You can definitely get more for your money in RWC and San Mateo. Both of these cities of about 90K residents have larger more vibrant downtowns, but you sacrifice the small town feel and,in many instances, school quality.

You might also want to consider weather patterns. If you like the windy SF springs and summers, San Mateo is the place for you. Once you go south of Belmont, the weather tends to get a bit warmer and less windy.

Check out the following link for a nice write up on all the cities in San Mateo County.

You might also want to review the following city statistics pages:

I would recommend that you drive down some Saturday and drive through the respective cities to get a better feel for each. I have driven around two clients in the last couple months and they were able to narrow down their choices to a few specific neighborhood pretty quickly. If you would like some information on a good route to take that will give you a good feel for each city, let me know.

Good Luck with your decision.
2 votes
Ed Gory, Agent, San Carlos, CA
Fri Mar 28, 2008
San Carlos has many pros to it, depending on what's important in your search criteria. Great elementary & middle schools, definitely. A vibrant downtown with good restaurants and shops, yes. Nice parks, safe streets, yes, San Carlos is well known for these, and is an incredibly desirable city to live in. If there were any cons to it, and just generalizing, maybe sometimes you get more "house" for your money in similar price ranges in Redwood City, or San Mateo, or Belmont. As a general example, with what $1M buys in San Carlos, versus the other cities, you might find smaller lots and less square footage in a house in SC. Just my experience from having lived in this area 43 years (grew up in Belmont, high school in San Mateo, work now in San Carlos, and live in Redwood City).

In terms of prices being discounted, it's kind of hard to generalize, because the most popular selling segment in San Carlos is between maybe $900K to $1.2M, and we've rarely seen homes get discounted much there. In the "lower" price points in San Carlos, like under $700K, sometimes you do see them sell for 92-96% of their asking price. But, for homes that have been on the market a long time (i.e. over 30 days) in any price range, whether in San Carlos, or San Mateo, or Redwood City, many times they will go for under asking, but only slightly. San Carlos, much like other desirable cities like Palo Alto, or Los Altos, or parts of Menlo Park, have been on the whole fairly immune to the massive discounting you see in the more hard-hit real estate markets of the Bay Area (like the East Bay, Contra Costa County, and neighborhoods like east San Mateo, or east Menlo). There's plenty of good resources on the cities you're considering, and many of the agents who contribute on Trulia have some great, city-specific websites & blogs.
1 vote
Chuck Gilloo…, Agent, San Carlos, CA
Mon Nov 9, 2009
Hello Jiaming,

You're correct -- traffic on Brittan in the stretch between Alameda and Crestview can get quite busy, even on the weekend. If you look at a map of that area, you'll see that there are basically two main roads that lead down from the hills toward downtown San Carlos -- Brittan Ave and Melendy Drive. (Crestview will direct you to Edgewood Road, and Club Drive puts you more toward the Belmont direction)

So you can see how quite a few residents in that area use these two roads to get to and from work, downtown, etc.. You can expect that the busiest times of the day will be during the morning and evening commute hours during the week. On weekends, Brittan can still be busy because there is an athletic field at the top of the hill (Crestview Park) that gets quite busy during the soccer season. And again, those two roads serve quite a few residents.

The noise level of the home depends largely on where you're at on that section of Brittan. You'll notice that on the lower stretch, the road is flatter. As you get closer to Crestview, the road steepens significantly. Much of what dictates the noise level is how well the home is insulated, and where it's located respective to the street.

Safety -- again, it depends on where you're located. For kids crossing the street, a straight visible section is probably safer than a blind turn. I don't have any stats on traffic related issues, but the San Carlos Police Department can provide you with some useful info.

Values -- Homes on Brittan hold their value quite well. You'll notice that in San Carlos, the further west you go the homes are generally newer. So there are some nice large homes up in that area that were built in the 60's and 70's (as opposed to the 40's and 50's when the flatlands were built out.)

I hope this helps.. Please feel free to email me directly at if you have any additional questions.

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0 votes
Mikexue, Home Buyer, Fremont, CA
Sun Nov 8, 2009
Hi Chuck, Arn,
My wife and I were looking at some houses along Brittan Ave between Crestview Dr and Alameda De Las Pulgas. I thought the street is not busy on weekend. But to our surprise it seems to be quite busy. So my question is
a) what's the traffic pattern on this section of the road on Brittan Ave? Is it always busy through out the week? Or more traffic on weekends?
b) is it safe street? We got some young kids that may occasionally cross the street.
c) what's the general level of noise on that section of the stree? If it is quite much that might affect the perception of the property value.

If you could offer some reliable information along these lines I would much appreciate. Thank you, two.
0 votes
Libby McPher…, Agent, Tahoe City, CA
Sun Apr 20, 2008
San Carlos has so many pros going for it. Great weather, prices have not been affected by the economical trends we are seeing else where. Great place to raise a family, and a close knit community.
Some of the best restaurants in the area, along with great schools, and the convenience of shopping. San Carlos has it all and more! I really cannot think of anything I would condider a to be a deterent to being in San Carlos. You have a lot less crime, great weather and not as windy as some of the other northern communities.
0 votes
Chuck Gilloo…, Agent, San Carlos, CA
Sun Apr 20, 2008
As Arn correctly states, the home values in San Carlos have weathered the recent economic storm very well. In fact, the average and median sales prices have actually increased slightly over the past couple of years, and many homes are still selling with multiple offers. That's the sign of a desirable community.

Cons? There are a few -- San Carlos has many lots that are 5,000 square feet or smaller, especially as you get closer to El Camino. This is a by-product of how the area was subdivided after WWII. If you want 1/4 acre, it's going to be tougher to find in San Carlos than perhaps in Emerald Hills. Also, there are some folks who view the lack of a high school in San Carlos as a negative. I believe that Carlmont and Sequoia are both excellent options, so I'm not convinced it's an issue at all. Just something to keep in mind.

Best of luck with your search!
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0 votes
Arn Cenedella, Agent, Greenville, SC
Tue Apr 15, 2008

San Carlos is a fabulous town - maybe a little quiet - but a super place to raise a family and become part of a community. I moved to San Carlos in 1986 and raised both my sons here.

San Carlos is smaller than Redwood City and San Mateo.
The downtown is getting more vibrant every year.

Prices have remained flat for the most part in San Carlos which reflects the desirability of the community.

You cna purchase a decent 3 bedroom 2 bath in a nice neighborhood starting at about $950,000.

Let me know if I can be of any further help.
0 votes
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