Palo Alto, California

Tall Stick

Downtown Palo Alto
Downtown Palo Alto



Sunny Days: 261
67100 Affordability
100100 Schools
57100 Diversity
84100 Safety

I often have said to people that there are really two cities in the country where the outlook is always forward-looking - there is never really a backward-looking tendency. My banking work has taken me out to Palo Alto, what is commonly called Silicon Valley. And you sense out there is always a forward-looking outlook. And New York City.

— Harold Ford, Jr.

The Best Thing About Palo Alto


The number one reason you hear families say drove their decision to move to Palo Alto is the schools. The public school system is the highest rated in California via, and in particular the high schools, Henry M. Gunn and Palo Alto High rate among the best in California and the country. The education vibe like in many college towns extends beyond excellent public schools. Stanford and a highly educated work force makes it feel like the whole place is cranking out the Saturday NYT's crossword puzzle without a sweat. If you can afford the area you’re going to appreciate the quality of the schools and the value the locals place on education.

The Worst Thing About Palo Alto?


The entire Bay Area is ridiculously expensive but Palo Alto takes it to an even higher level of insanity with a median home price in the mid $3m’s. The reasons for these absurd prices include the following: 1) The historic homes in the area are stunning and the streets maybe are even more impressive than the homes -- with massive Redwoods, and huge Maples and Live Oak trees lining the roads and shading the otherwise toasty streets. 2) Palo Alto has the most developed downtown on the peninsula and for anyone craving beautiful homes and a walkable social scene this is your best bet. 3) It has the best public schools in the state. 4) Palo Alto's proximity to Stanford/Sand Hill Road make it the spiritual and literal center of the tech community. Put all this together and you have ground central for pricey living.

Lifestyle of Palo Alto

Palo Alto, while extremely wealthy has a slightly more subdued vibe than some of the other super-elite cities in the area (see Hillsborough/Atherton). It’s family-focused with education and success in all the ways -- school, sports, careers, etc., driving the populace. Families are very involved in school and local sports leagues and overall healthy living. Parents are way into fitness and you can expect to see everyone in town in some form of fitness/yoga gear as they pick up their coffee or grab a very healthy meal in town. Palo Also is one of the most advanced in the state for bike-friendly infrastructure and it is a wonderful place for experiencing the great outdoors with the city literally surrounding by great hiking and biking trails.

You’re also just two miles from the Bay and the beautiful Baylands Nature Preserve and just 30 mins from Half Moon Bay and the Pacific Ocean. If you live here expect living with families on the go, pretty much all the time. This is a city that is in a high-performance gear and you will feel that energy in the daily lifestyle.

Schools in Palo Alto

We’ve probably spent enough time talking about the schools in Palo Alto, and how highly they rate on,, etc. What is amazing about the city though is how diverse the school options are given that it isn’t that big a city. There are 63 preschools and 50 elementary schools to choose from, with some offering alternative education including four Montessori schools (even one bilingual Montessori option), a quaker school, many multi-language and immersion options, and the entire range of groovy to hard-core traditional schools. If you want a particular education experience for your kids you’re likely to find it here.

Why You Should Move Here Now?

Beautiful Suburb Meets "Downtown" Lifestyle

A youngster wouldn’t find Palo Alto as exciting as San Francisco or Oakland, but a couple or a family ready to get out of a bigger city will find it more fun to live in a beautiful suburb with a real downtown. There are bars, great pan-culture restaurants, cool cafes and smarty-pants college students milling around. It's a great place to feel like you’re still living in a “city” while getting the housing and education benefits of a stunning suburb.

Neighborhoods in Palo Alto

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Downtown (University South/Downtown North)

Young Professionals/DINKs/Families

While Palo Alto pulls in families more than any other demographic, it has built up housing in the commercial district with lots of condos, apartments and divided homes for singles, couples and well-to-do retirees who want to live amidst the energy of the city and be a walk to nightlife and the Caltrans train line for commuting to SF or San Jose. There are beautiful old-school buildings like The Marc, with small one-bedrooms starting at $4,600 and $8.3m 2-bedroom condos for those with more means. There’s nothing inexpensive “downtown” in the neighborhoods knows as University South and Downtown North, but you can rent and experience the fun of living downtown without putting yourself in hock for the rest of your life. There are also plenty of single family homes in the neighborhood, some smaller Craftsman and bungalows and some large enough for big families who want to live right off of University Ave.

Old Palo Alto


This is the neighborhood most people think of when they romanticize how beautiful the architecture of the homes and layout of the streets are in Palo Alto. The average home in Old Palo Alto is over 9,000 square feet and they are among the most expensive in the area with homes typically for sale above $10m. The neighborhood runs alongside the University South area, a short walk to the downtown commercial district, so you get the stunning homes and easy access to day and night walks to the restaurants/bars and cafes of University Ave. You also get walkable access to several parks including Jerry Bowden and Peers Park, so kids play structures and sports fields are right in your area. Needless to say, the schools in the neighborhood are all excellent so if you can make the finances work and a home is available this is a great choice.

Duveneck/St. Francis


The Duveneck-St Francis neighborhood starts at the Bayshore Fwy (101) and stretches west towards downtown and has a mix of traditional and newer construction homes. Homes are often in the $3m range, which is reasonable by Palo Alto standards. This combination of proximity to 101 and the lower price points relative to neighborhoods like Old Palo Alto, make it appealing to younger families and tech workers who crave a quicker commute to area companies. Locals also like they are less than a mile from the Baylands Golf Links and the Baylands Nature Preserve. While you can live in Duveneck/St. Francis and spend most of your time in Palo Alto, its position at the entrance of the city from 101 makes it more appealing to those who crave spending time throughout the Bay Area in addition to enjoying all PA has to offer.



Professorville is a cool little pocket-neighborhood that is a registered historic district. It's filled with homes built by Stanford University professors throughout the years who built here because it was the closest place to campus where they could own the homes AND land on their own. Since much of Palo Alto was owned by Stanford they wouldn’t allow professors to own the land on which they could build houses. Much of the homes in the neighborhood are brown-shingled Colonial Revivals/Dutch Colonials and Craftsman and prices are typically in the mid-$4m’s. It’s a beautiful neighborhood, a short walk to University Ave and the protection the historic designation offers means locals feel safe that the charm of the neighborhood will be preserved.