Guest Writer February 26, 2021
Theresa Wellman is the owner of Home Owner Experience and is a member of the California.com Recommended Business Program, which highlights only the best businesses in the Golden State. To be featured, each business must be highly regarded, have a unique California story, and make a positive impact in their community.
San Jose covers 180 square miles in the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area and is home to over 1 million people. With such a large population, the Northern California city offers a wide variety of housing options—making it difficult to determine the absolute best neighborhoods in San Jose.
Nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose is home to many international companies, including Apple, Google, eBay, LinkedIn, Cisco, Adobe, PayPal, and Zoom (to name a few). Like the businesses it welcomes, San Jose’s neighborhoods can vary greatly. From the foothills of Evergreen and flat suburban streets of Willow Glen to the big downtown high-rises in Central San Jose and off-the-beaten-path countryside locales in Almaden, San Jose has it all.
So, if you’re considering a move to—or around—this area, where do you begin your home search?
A San Jose Neighborhood Guide
San Jose consists of several regions that are all made up of pocket neighborhoods. The major areas of San Jose (clockwise) are:
- West San Jose
- North San Jose/Berryessa
- Alum Rock
- East San Jose
- South San Jose/Edenvale
- Blossom Valley
- Almaden Valley
- Cambrian Park
- Willow Glen
- Central San Jose
Each area of San Jose’s real estate has a unique feel and price point. Read on to discover the various types of real estate San Jose, California has to offer and which neighborhood might be best for you—make sure to contact your San Jose realtor if you need help finding the right match.
West San Jose
As its name suggests, West San Jose is the westernmost region of the city. Recognized for its great public schools and many tree-lined streets, the majority of this area was built in the 1950s and ‘60s. West San Jose is characterized by single-story homes that are between 1,100 and 1,700 square feet.
West San Jose is very close to Campbell, Saratoga, and Cupertino—making it a great place to live if you have to commute to these nearby towns. Indeed, many tech employees like this area because of its proximity to international companies and its more affordable real estate compared to Cupertino or Saratoga.
Alviso is located at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay and at the mouths of both the Guadalupe River and Coyote Creek. Since Alviso is close to the water and sits at 13 feet below sea level, flooding and soft soils are a challenge here. But because this small community is only accessible by a couple of roads, it makes for a small-town feel not far from Silicon Valley.
The homes in this area are mostly historic and smaller in size, as many of its previous residents were employed by the local cannery throughout the 1900s and worked in boat construction during the ‘60s and ‘70s.
North San Jose and Berryessa
Both North San Jose and Berryessa are centrally located and easily accessible by several major freeways. This area has a large variety of homes, so it’s a great place to begin your search if you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for. The Berryessa region was built up in the 1960s and ‘70s; now, it is a fully established residential area with many highly rated schools, making it a good place for families to explore.
Tucked near and in the East Foothills, many homes in the Alum Rock neighborhood have nice views of the valley. Homes were built in the 1950s and 1960s and are typically under 1,700 square feet, though there are some areas with newer developments. This region borders the Reid-Hillview Airport—the local aviation airport for private pilots—but it’s important to note that commercial flights only depart out of San Jose international Airport.
East San Jose
East San Jose is a larger area composed of several pocket areas. This region is home to Little Portugal—which was originally developed in the 1850s—along with many other ethnic enclaves, including a historical Latino community.
Nestled among the foothills, Evergreen is the perfect place to search for new homes in San Jose. As one of the area’s more recently developed neighborhoods, Evergreen has experienced rapid growth, including the completion of the Silver Creek neighborhood and country club.
Thanks to the wide variety of homes in Evergreen, you can find large properties with more than 3,000 square feet. If the real estate wasn’t enough to convince you, this region also enjoys access to Joseph D. Grant County Park, the biggest regional park in Santa Clara County.
South San Jose
South San Jose encompasses the very southern part of the Santa Clara Valley and includes Edenvale, Seven Trees, and Santa Teresa. Located near Hellyer and Martial Cottle Parks, this area is largely responsible for the Santa Clara Valley’s historic name, “Valley of the Heart’s Delight.” The soil in South San Jose is known to be very fertile; it was mostly comprised of orchards and farms in the early 1900s. Thanks to its agricultural roots, homes weren’t built in this area until the 1960s and later.
Blossom Valley is situated south of Almaden Valley, over the Capitancillos Ridge, and is known for its good public schools. While this area is still nestled along the foothills, it offers more affordable home prices than most of San Jose. This neighborhood has many smaller homes that are typically between 1,000 and 1,800 square feet, though larger homes between 2,000 and 2,500 square feet are common up against the hillside.
Set in the southern San Jose hills, with Almaden Expressway running through the middle of the community, Almaden Valley is known for having larger homes built in the late 1960s. Those looking to buy a house in San Jose with anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 square feet ought to check out this part of town, particularly if they have children—when it comes to highly desirable public schools, it doesn’t get much better than Almaden Valley. This area also offers convenient access to Quicksilver and Calero County Parks, so it’s easy to get out and appreciate nature.
Cambrian Park is located next to Campbell and is known for its smaller (1,200- to 2,000-square-foot) homes built in the 1960s and good public school options. Some newer homes do exist in this region, especially near Houge Park or in the unincorporated area near Union and Camden Avenues.
Unlike many other regions of San Jose whose homes are known for their specific eras, Willow Glen’s real estate is known for its character-filled houses constructed over many years, with some built as early as 1910. As such, homes range from two-bedroom bungalows to large rebuilds. The most valuable properties are located within walking distance to Lincoln Avenue, the attractive downtown area.
Central San Jose
This area has been extensively developed in recent years. Since Central San Jose combines new construction with older, more established neighborhoods, it’s easy to find what suits you. Here, you can find townhome communities, newer high-rise condo buildings, and older single-family homes in the Burbank, Rose Garden, and Japantown sections.
What to do After You’ve Found The Best Neighborhoods in San Jose
1. Narrow your home search by preferences and budget
There are many factors to consider when choosing the right neighborhood for you, so you should first determine which characteristics are most important to you. Some things to consider and rank in order of personal importance are:
- The distance you’ll have to commute to work
- Public school ratings
- Distance to local stores and restaurants
- Neighborhood feel (do you prefer a downtown, suburbia, or more country feel?)
- Lot and home size
- Type of dwelling (do you prefer a condo, townhome, or single-family house with a yard?)
To start your home search, identify and prioritize your preferences. It’s also critical to set your budget in the early stages of your home search. Get pre-qualified with a local lender or use an online mortgage calculator to estimate your home purchase range.
2. Focus your target area with a realtor
Once you’ve identified what you want in your next home and set a budget, reach out to a San Jose realtor who specializes in your area of focus. A local realtor can guide you to the best neighborhood that meets your parameters, so don’t be afraid to schedule a buyer consultation when you’re ready to dive into your home search.
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