What's the best Bay Area town / neighborhood for a family with small children & dogs?

Asked by Karey Stoltz, Sunnyvale, CA Sun Mar 7, 2010

We're an active family that likes to be part of a "village" or community, where we can walk for most amenities and a good cup of coffee and run into neighbors at the farmer's market. A good school district is a must. Ideally we would like to have a 2000 sf home with 4 bedrooms, and an 8000 sf lot. Is that still attainable for less than $1.3M?

I've looked at lots of towns from Mountain View to Willow Glen, but am not really sure yet. I would appreciate people's opinions.

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CJ Brasiel, Agent, San Jose, CA
Mon Mar 8, 2010
Karey -

All great answers below. Additional thoughts/details

From the "village" walk-able area I would recommend Willow Glen (95125). If you choose a home in the Booksin school area, you are covered with a good school up until 5th grade. Willow Glen offers ranch or newer custom homes in your price range all within walking distance to downtown. Great sense of community. Events throughout the year. . The other advantages of Willow Glen, quick to the highway, CAL TRAIN, light rail and airport.

Check out the local web sites of to get a feel for the local goings on

Cambrian Park great area but not as walkable. Tends to have larger lots, but the main draw is the Union School District. K-12 - great schools. Architecture is more ranch/suburbia, not quite as unique as Willow Glen. No "hub" of shopping/restaurants other than strip malls/chains. Quick access to 85/17. The main pull is schools.


Campbell - great downtown, best market on Sundays (imho). Restaurants, nightlife, near the Los Gatos Creek trail that you can ride/walk to Willow Glen or Los Gatos. Schools, not so good, and Campbell struggles with having good street "pockets" surrounded by rentals. This is fast becoming the most desirable place for young couples that do not yet have school aged kids.


Los Gatos certainly can offer the downtown walkable attributes. Great market, more choices for dining, great schools. Less house for your money. One way in and out - HWY 17. You still have access to Los Gatos Creek Trail and much more shopping/dining than the smaller communities.


Mountain View - All of the above simply more pricey. Depending on the commute desire Mountain View may be more desirable than more South Bay neighborhoods. Mountain View is known for good schools. Check out the boundaries carefully.


Another ares to mention is West San Jose (95117) Near Santana Row. Look for Moreland school district and you can find good schools. Santana Row is the draw. Not extremely walk-able otherwise. Advantage, easy on/off to 280. Quick to Sunnyvale/Santa Clara/Mountain View for high tech commute.

Cambrian is most likely going to offer you the largest lots, but Willow Glen has some as well.
Mountain View and Los Gatos, less lot, less house for the money.

Check out http://www.schoolperformancemaps.com to get a better feel for where good schools are and how they relate to the neighborhood. I have a soft spot for Willow Glen as it is my own neighborhood. I chose it for a some of the same reasons you mention in your question. It will be important to go over all of your priorities to really fine tune the criteria so your agent can help you find the best neighborhood.

Web Reference:  http://www.TalkToCJ.com
1 vote
Travis Jacks…, Agent, Campbell, CA
Tue Oct 11, 2011
Sounds like Campbell CA would be a great place for you to call home. The downtown has monthly activities and farmers markets. There is a beautiful park near downtown and the Campbell creek trail has a dog park.

Travis Jackson
Realtor ®
Century 21 M & M Associates
(408) 316-5954
DRE# 01879566
1 vote
Terri Vellios, Agent, Campbell, CA
Sun Mar 7, 2010
For walking neighborhoods try Cambrian 95124 between Union and Leigh - between 85 and Camden. There is a little shopping center with a great Wednesday farmers market. Nice neighborhood with mature trees and larger lots. Near parks, near Los Gatos and the schools score very well.

Willow Glen has a great downtown area although the schools don't score as high as Cambrian it is a desirable community with a lot of downtown activity.

Campbell. Nice downtown, lots of activities and one of the best farmer's market on Sundays.

Los Gatos may not get you the size for your budget. Mtn View as well.

Santa Clara near Santana Row. Schools don't score as high but you can walk to the shops.
Web Reference:  http://www.terrivellios.com
1 vote
Sara Greenwo…, Agent, San Jose, CA
Sun Mar 7, 2010
HI Karey,

I would recommend Willow Glen, Campbell or Cambrian; these are all very community-friendly neighborhoods that are pet-tolerable and very family oriented. $1.3M will get you a nice home with good schools. I would search for 95125, 95124, 95008 to start.

Karey, these are my specialty markets/neighborhoods, so if you want to work with an experienced agent that knows the area, I would be delighted to help you with your home search. I am very tech savvy, high energy, have great references and grew up in the area ... hope to hear from you!

Thank you,

Sara Greenwood
Web Reference:  http://www.saragreenwood.com
1 vote
Julie Wyss, Agent, Los Gatos, CA
Tue May 27, 2014
We have so many wonderful cities to choose from but some will price most people out of the market.

Of them all, Campbell is a great and fairly place to live. Great schools*, centrally located, low crime, and a small town, community feel. As with most towns, there are areas that are more desirable than others. The neighborhood in between Leigh, Campbell Ave, Meridian and Curtner is very nice and gives you access to the distinguished Cambrian School District*.
0 votes
Erica Glessi…, Agent, San Jose, CA
Wed Jun 29, 2011
Did you find your new home? If you are still looking, I'm going to highly recommend Los Gatos. I just love the community feeling, the walk to everything downtown, the bicycle riding on the trails, the shopping and the schools!

If you are open to a small commute, you can quite literally own a palace in the foothills and base of Santa Cruz mountains.

One of my clients found a lovely home on a half acre, walk to town and excellent schools in Scotts Valley, just over the hill from Los Gatos, in the $775K price range.

Good luck!

Erica Nelson
DRE 01425475
0 votes
Lynsie Gridl…, Agent, Los Gatos, CA
Wed Jun 16, 2010
You have been given some great resources here.
I agree that you can get a lot more home for your money in Cambrian. They home some great schools. You may find some homes that are walking district to a coffee shop, but Cambrian does not have the "village" community you have described.
Willow Glen definitely has some nice home withing walking distance to their village, but they schools leave much to be desired. There are many families that move to Willow Glen for the community, and then move on to Los Gatos for the combination of community and schools.
I think now is the BEST time to buy into Los Gatos. 2 years ago you would have had to buy a major fixer upper to get in to this great community for under 1.3, now you have many options!
For example, I just sold a very charming home on 16320 Rdigecrest Ave in Monte Sereno that was walking distance to down town Los Gatos with amazing schools! All this for only 1,165,000!
There are quite a few options right now in "The Manor" neighborhood that is walking distance to shops, park, and elementary school. And in your price range.
So, don't be discouraged. There are some great options and this is such a great time to make the jump.

I would love to say to you "Welcome to the neighborhood! I love it here too!"
Web Reference:  http://www.LynsieGridley.com
0 votes
Alan Gregg, , 95008
Tue Jun 8, 2010
I would recommend Campbell which opens its downtown to Farmer's Market and other attractions and is close to the Los Gatos trail and Vasona Park and I believe I could find you something you describe close to your price.
Cambrian is a little less expensive and Los Gatos a little more but then I'm a little biased living in Campbell myself.
0 votes
Sara Greenwo…, Agent, San Jose, CA
Thu Apr 29, 2010

Cambrian, or Willow Glen. Cambrian schools are really great. Willow Glen has that village feel you are looking for but you need to be in the right area because not all schools in SJUSD are the best.

If you're looking for a neighborhood expert, my niche market is Willow Glen, Cambrian. I would love to help you out with your property search.


Sara Greenwood
Web Reference:  http://www.saragreenwood.com
0 votes
Ruth and Per…, Agent, Los Gatos, CA
Thu Apr 29, 2010
Hi Karey:

Some fine areas are Los Gatos, Campbell, Willow Glen, Rose Garden.
Go to our web site http://www.ruthandperry.com

Plug in your criteria and you should get a list of homes.

0 votes
Trang Beusch…, Agent, Campbell, CA
Sun Mar 7, 2010
Hi Karey,

What you are looking for is still attainable. If you are currently not working with an agent, I'd be happy to show you homes that fit your criteria. If you are currently working with an agent, she/he should be able to help you. Good luck in your search!

BKR Realty
Web Reference:  http://www.bkrrealty.net
0 votes
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