How far away does a home need to be from train tracks for it to be generally considered a "non-issue"?

Asked by Douglass Mcneil, Palo Alto, CA Tue Mar 26, 2013

Was looking at these properties:……

I love the neighborhood, but I worry about the proximity to the train tracks.

Got me how far away does a home need to be from train tracks for it to be generally considered a "non-issue"?

I suspect the issue of the train tracks would be a problem for homes on High St., Ramona, Emerson, Bryant as well? If these homes were on, say, Waverly or Cowper, I would guess this wouldn't be a topic for discussion? (Though I bet you can hear the train from there as well)


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Juliana Lee…, Agent, Palo Alto, CA
Mon Apr 1, 2013
I live between Emerson and Bryant, although in the downtown north neighborhood. The train isn't an issue for me even though it blows its horn at a nearby crossing.

Near Washington and Santa Rita the automobile traffic on Alma may create a more annoying noise than the train. Your closest train crossing (and thus horn) would be Churchill. Both of the homes you've referenced are partially sheltered from line of sight noise coming from Alma by the neighboring houses.

The homes are in a very nice neighborhood. As you've surely noticed a home located a block away from Alma commands a very good price. Stand in the backyard during the day and listen to the automobile traffic. If it doesn't bother you, you and others would probably be quite happy with the location.

Newer homes are tending to be larger and better sound proofed. Your neighbors are likely to provide even more shelter from the noise in the future. Long term you will likely find those two addresses even less affected by the nearby train and traffic.

An unknown for the future is the high speed rail. Elevated crossings will probably eliminate the horn but who knows what the HSR authority is going to do.…

I would be glad to chat with you. Give me a call or send me an email.

Juliana Lee
cell: 650-857-1000 email:
Top 2 agent nationwide at Keller Williams Realty

Over 30 years experience
Over 1,000 homes sold in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties
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1 vote
Spike, Home Buyer, Palo Alto, CA
Sat Jun 8, 2013
Depends where it falls along the tracks more than blocks from the tracks. I've lived on Seale between Alma and Emerson for 20+ years and noise is not an issue (inside and outside).
0 votes
John Souerbry, Agent, Fairfield, CA
Tue Mar 26, 2013
I used to live on the corner of Curtner and Park in Palo Alto, about 200 feet from the CalTrain tracks. We had dual pane windows and didn't notice the noise and ground shudder when inside. When outside, however, the noise was loud enough to keep you from napping in a hammock. I'd stay at least a full block from those tracks.
0 votes
John Arendsen, Agent, Leucadia, CA
Tue Mar 26, 2013
Ask the folks that live along dotted along the coast San Diego to San Luis Obispo if they care how close the tracks are. But then as you've sorta stated already there's neighborhoods in Los Angeles and Bakersfield that would not be very desireable much less a good investment. Once again it all about Location X's 3.
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Tina Lam, Agent, San Jose, CA
Tue Mar 26, 2013
For those areas, you should look for homes roughly 500 feet away from the train tracks for the noise to be attenuated enough that people don't mention it.

As you mentioned, there are plenty of homes quite close to the train tracks, and for those, you try to look for those that don't have direct views of the train tracks. You'll still get a train track proximity discount for those who can live with it. There are also ways to mitigate the noise, with triple-pane windows for example. That allows some townhomes to be built right next to train tracks and still sell for $1M+.
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