Welcome to Silicon Valley! Sunnyvale, California, is one of the most sought-after cities in the San Francisco Bay Area because of its ideal climate, low crime rates, and fantastic public schools. If that’s not enough to turn your head, moving to Sunnyvale will give you access to both established and up-and-coming tech companies. Even if you’re not interested in pursuing a job in the technology industry, there are countless opportunities for all types of work in and around Sunnyvale.
In addition to the employment and lifestyle opportunities available in Sunnyvale, the area itself has a deep history. Whether you’re taking a walk through Heritage Park and wind up at the Heritage Park Museum to explore the 1850s replica home of Sunnyvale founders, the Martin Murphy family; or you order up a classic cherry pie from Olson’s, a local company that’s been harvesting California cherries and apricots since 1899; Sunnyvale offers modern workforce opportunities along with the nostalgia of California history. Now it’s time to leave your mark!
Living in Sunnyvale, CA: What to Know Before Moving to Sunnyvale
Over 150,000 residents call Sunnyvale home, according to city-data.com. Sunnyvale, part of Silicon Valley, is located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay and offers residents convenient access to nearby major metropolitan areas such as San Jose and San Francisco. Whether you’re looking to experience the tech boom and advance your career, or raise a family, if you have the means to make Sunnyvale your next hometown, you won’t be disappointed.
Pros and Cons of Living in Sunnyvale
- Lifestyle – Sunnyvale has options that allow you to take advantage of the climate, from parks to the Bay, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities here
- Work Opportunities – Home to Yahoo Global Headquarters and many other tech companies, the job market in Sunnyvale provides great opportunities for all types of careers
- Weather – The Bay Area is known for its microclimates, and Sunnyvale is home to a temperate and sunny one—you’ll have great weather year-round
- Public Schools – The Sunnyvale School District, serving the city’s 6,600 students, has been awarded by the state and country
- Low Crime – Considering its large population, Sunnyvale has a very low crime rate when compared to the rest of the country
- Cost of Living – Like many California cities, especially those in the Bay Area, it’s not cheap to live in Sunnyvale
- Traffic – While it might not be as bad as San Francisco to the north, with the influx of new residents, traffic is often bad in Sunnyvale and the surrounding areas
- Weather – It might be ideal to find yourself in moderate temperatures and sunshine throughout the year, but those seeking distinct seasons won’t have any luck here
- Limited Nightlife – Sunnyvale’s suburban feel may be too quiet for those looking for the hustle and bustle of city life
- Property Tax: The average property tax in Sunnyvale is .745%, which is just over half of the national average of 1.211%, according to smartassest.com.
- Sales Tax: While Sunnyvale doesn’t enforce a city tax, the combined sales tax is 9%, which is above the US average of 7.3%, according to avalara.com.
- State Income Tax: Income tax in California is a variable percentage of your income, ranging from just 1% to 13.3%, according to taxfoundation.org.
As of November 2019, zillow.com reports the median home value in Sunnyvale is $1,509,300, and homes are forecast to rise another 1.7% in 2020.
According to bestplaces.net, 50.8% of Sunnyvale residents rent their homes. Rentcafe.com reports an average monthly rent of $3,057. Much like other cities in the Bay Area, affordable housing is difficult to find in Sunnyvale. For less expensive housing, check out neighborhoods near the freeways, like Lowlanders or San Miguel.
Cost of Living
It’s no secret that the cost of living in the Bay Area is among the highest in the country. Sunnyvale’s astronomical cost of living index is reported at 300.1, compared to the US average of 100, by bestplaces.net. The highest expenses here are Housing at 721.2, Grocery at 105.2, Transportation at 117.4, Miscellaneous (repairs, childcare, eating out, etc.) at 104.7, and Health at 100.5. A lower than average expense is Utilities at 84.5.
According to epi.org, a family of four will require a yearly income of $129,092 to meet expenses in the Sunnyvale/San Jose/Santa Clara metropolitan areas. Not surprisingly, the median household income in Sunnyvale is quite high at $103,257.
Weather & Natural Disasters
If you like living in a climate with moderate to cool temperatures, Sunnyvale is the place for you. The area’s highest temperatures are in July and August, with highs of 79 degrees and lows of 57 degrees, as reported by weather-us.com. January and December are the coolest months with average highs of 58 degrees and lows of 39 and 40 degrees, respectively. You won’t see snow in Sunnyvale or true seasons, though December through February are the rainiest months, and the average annual rainfall is 16 inches.
While most of the time, the weather is ideal, there’s always the chance of natural disaster threats. Earthquakes are much more likely to occur in Sunnyvale than elsewhere in the US, plus drought, wildfire, and flooding are rare but additional threats. Review the sunnvyvale.ca.gov preparedness page so you can have a disaster plan in place.
Economy & Job Market
Growing employment opportunity resulted in a 2.5% growth in the city’s economy last year, according to bestplaces.net. As you might expect from lucrative technology industry jobs in Silicon Valley, the per capita income of $48,203 in Sunnyvale is nearly double the national annual average of $28,555. The median household income is also very high, at $103,257 annually.
The top industries in Sunnyvale are technology, manufacturing, and health care. Prominent employers include Microsoft, Apple, NetApp, Yahoo!, Bloom Energy, and many more. If you need to find a new job in Sunnyvale, check out websites like indeed.com, linkedin.com, and glassdoor.com.
Traffic and Transportation
Sunnyvale has access to the Valley Transportation Authority public transportation system, which consists of 69 bus routes as well as a light rail throughout San Jose and Santa Clara Valley. The light rail line provides direct access to Mountain View to the west, and downtown San Jose to the southeast, while local bus routes service much of Sunnyvale proper. According to walkscore.com, the transit score in Sunnyvale is 41.
Sunnyvale has great access to regional freeways. On either side of town, the Lawrence Expressway on the east side and the Stevens Creek Freeway on the west side, run north-south. Highway 101 and El Camino Real run east-west through the city. Local thoroughfares include Sunnyvale Saratoga Road, S Mathilda Avenue, and S Mary Avenue, running north and south, and the Central Expressway, running east and west.
While there are plenty of freeways in and around Sunnyvale, you won’t want to find yourself on one, especially not the 101, during rush hour. The commute from Sunnyvale to San Jose and vice versa is among the worst in the Bay Area. There are other options, though, like public transportation and biking. Sunnyvale has an average walk score of 55, but a fairly high bike score of 76, according to walkscore.com.
What to Do
Sunnyvale can be shadowed by attractions that are close by in San Francisco or San Jose, but you’ll find plenty to do in your new hometown. Every Saturday, you can head over to the Sunnyvale Farmers’ Market to check out quality locally sourced produce. The city is home to a variety of parks, like Las Palmas, which has basketball courts, baseball fields, playgrounds, and a dog park. On your way to the park, keep an eye out for one of Sunnyvale’s public art installations—the city is home to over 100 pieces! For some spectator sports with family or friends, Sunnyvale also provides great access to some of the Bay Area’s sports teams, like the San Jose Sharks and the San Francisco 49ers.
Schools and Universities
The Sunnyvale School District offers elementary and middle school education, and the Fremont Union High School District offers high school education. According to greatschools.org, many of the schools in Sunnyvale are highly rated, with Louis E Stockmeyer Elementary, West Valley Elementary, Cherry Chase Elementary, and Cumberland Elementary all receive ratings of nine out of ten.
Sunnyvale has great access to regional higher education opportunities, including Stanford University, just 15 miles north, and San Jose State University, 12 miles south. There are also a few community colleges close by, including Foothill College, San Jose State City College, and De Anza College.
Sunnyvale is known for its low crime levels. According to bestplaces.net, the city has a violent crime rating of 11.8 compared to the US average of 22.7. The property crime rate is 25.3, while the national average is 35.4.
- Gas and Electric service: Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) – Head to their website to schedule service.
- Water service: The City of Sunnyvale Utilities – Head to their website for instructions on starting service.
- Trash pick-up/recycling service: Specialty Solid Waste & Recycling – For more information on services available and pick-up services, check out their website.
- Internet/Cable service: There are a few options for cable and internet in Sunnyvale. Enter your new zip code at highspeedinternet.com to find available services and rates.
Best Neighborhoods in Sunnyvale, CA
Located along the Lawrence Expressway, just north of Apple Park, Birdland Neighbors is the southeastern-most neighborhood in Sunnyvale. This largely residential area is bordered to the north by Dunford Way, to the south by Homestead Road, the west by S Wolfe Road, and the east by the Lawrence Expressway.
Depending on where you find work, Birdland could be a great location to find your new home. Because of its location, the neighborhood has great access to neighboring cities, like Cupertino, Santa Clara, and San Jose, so you can skip the freeway and avoid some traffic. Main thoroughfares in the area are Homestead Rd running east and west, and S Wolfe Rd and the Lawrence Expressway running north and south.
If a quiet neighborhood sounds ideal to you, this might be the best area to call home. Birdland Neighbors residents don’t have much in the way of bars and restaurants, but it is home to Raynor Park and Calabazas Creek, offering peaceful walks through greenspace. Housing options here tend to be single-family homes, though there are also some apartment complexes.
While there’s not much in the way dining out opportunities, two ethnic spots are popular. New Delhi Chaat is a food cart serving up authentic Indian cuisine along Homestead Road, and New Port Dim Sum and Chinese Food, located on the western edge of the neighborhood along Homestead Road, has a variety of options, from small plates to a long list of specials.
- Population – 3,863
- Home Price – Average home value of $1,142,768
- Rent Prices – Median rent is $3,531
- Employers – Apple, Kaiser Permanente
- Schools – Laurelwood Preschool, Laurelwood Elementary, Stratford School – Sunnyvale Raynor Middle School, Peterson Middle School, Fremont High School, Santa Clara High School
One of Sunnyvale’s largest neighborhoods, Cherry Chase, stretches north to El Camino Real and south to Fremont Ave along the western edge of the city. This community is one of the most self-sustained neighborhoods in the city, offering a mixture of single-family homes and apartment housing, plus a variety of shopping and dining options.
Because of its location, Cherry Chase offers good access to northern Bay Area cities, like Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Menlo Park. The neighborhood’s main thoroughfares include El Camino Real, Remington Dr, and Fremont Ave, running east and west, and the Stevens Creek Freeway and S Mary Ave running north and south.
The neighborhood is home to two shopping centers, Cherry Chase Shopping center to the north, and Westmoor Village Shopping center to the south. Conveniently situated, they both feature grocery, shopping, and dining options.
Much like other areas throughout Sunnyvale, Cherry Chase is no stranger to greenspace. The neighborhood is home to two parks: Mango Park, with access to a public tennis facility, and De Anza Park, with basketball courts, picnic areas, and playgrounds. When you’re not outside enjoying the California sun, check out Casa Lupe, a local spot for authentic Mexican cuisine, or Pista House, a casual spot serving up Indian delicacies.
- Population – 32,565
- Home Price – Average home value of $1,220,678
- Rent Prices – Median rent of $2,044
- Employers – Sutter Health Palo Alto Medical Foundation – Mountain View Center, various retail and hospitality opportunities
- Schools – Cherry Chase Elementary, Cumberland Elementary, Stratford School – Sunnyvale De Anza Elementary, Sunnyvale Middle School, Fremont High School, Mountain View High School
The Heritage District encompasses downtown Sunnyvale. Stretching from Old San Francisco Rd to the south, California Ave to the north, Mathilda Ave to the west, to Fair Oaks Ave to the east, this neighborhood offers a variety of housing options including single-family homes and attached units.
The Heritage District is centrally located in Sunnyvale. Its main thoroughfares are Sunnyvale Ave, Mathilda Ave, and Fair Oaks Ave running north and south, and Old San Francisco Rd and Evelyn Ave running east and west. If you find your new home in the Heritage District, you’ll have great access to all areas throughout the city.
Due to an ongoing project to revamp Sunnyvale Town Center, the Heritage District has seen recent revitalization. It’s main strip, Murphy St, is where you’ll find some of Sunnyvale’s top bars, restaurants, and coffee shops.
From shopping to nightlife, the Heritage District is a prime location for those who enjoy close-by entertainment. You’ll have to check out Redwood Square with events throughout the year, including an ice skating rink during the winter months. After you’ve built up an appetite from exploring the downtown scene, stop in at Dishdash, a local favorite serving up hearty Middle Eastern cuisine, or Ramen Seas, for modern Japanese dishes.
- Population – 6,178
- Home Price – Average home value of $998,132
- Rent Prices – Median rent of $1,852
- Employers – Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Northrop Grumman
- Schools – Ellis Elementary, Helios Middle School, Sunnyvale Middle School, Fremont High School
Ortega Park is a southern neighborhood in Sunnyvale, consisting of the area located around Ortega Park—home to basketball and tennis courts, a cricket pitch, and a playground. The neighborhood is bordered to the north by Dunholme Way, to the south by Homestead Rd, to the west by Sunnyvale Saratoga Rd, and the east by Wolfe Rd.
The main thoroughfares in Ortega Park are Homestead Rd running east and west, and Sunnyvale Saratoga Rd and S Wolfe Rd running north and south. The neighborhood is not far from the Junipero Serra Freeway—Route 280—which provides good access to neighboring cities.
This neighborhood is largely residential, offering a quiet reprieve from the hustle and bustle of city life, while still providing good access to a variety of entertainment nearby. You’ll find mainly single-family homes here, with a few attached unit options as well.
Similar to Birdland Neighbors, there won’t be much in the way of nightlife in Ortega Park, but there are endless options just north in the Heritage District, as well as bordering cities, like Cupertino and San Jose. When you’re not enjoying the sun in Ortega Park, or kicking around the soccer pitch with your family and friends, head just across Homestead Rd to Gochi Cupertino, a local favorite for Japanese Fusion small plates.
- Population – 4,101
- Home Price – Average home value of $1,226,035
- Rent Prices – Median rent of $1,822
- Employers – Apple, Kaiser Permanente
- Schools – Louis E Stocklmeir Elementary, Stratford School – Sunnyvale Raynor Middle School, Peterson Middle School, Fremont High School, Homestead High School
This small neighborhood, located just off Highway 101, is where you’ll find some of the more affordable housing options in Sunnyvale. San Miguel is bordered to the north by the 101, the east by the Lawrence Expressway, the south by Duane Ave, and the west by Fair Oaks Ave.
The main thoroughfares in San Miguel are Duane Ave running east and west, and Fair Oaks Ave running north and south. Because of its location, San Miguel also has good access to the 101 and the Lawrence Expressway, for travel to other Bay Area cities.
More so than in other neighborhoods, you can expect to find attached units and condos in San Miguel, which accounts for the lower property value. Though there are some single-family homes here, you won’t experience the same residential, suburban feel many other areas in Sunnyvale have.
Just because housing might be more affordable here, doesn’t mean the area suffers from things to do. With great access to local employers, your commute time can be shorter. You’ll want to check out Planet Granite, a local rock climbing gym where you can work up a sweat after a long day at work. Afterward, head on over to Faultline Brewing Company for a well-deserved pint, or Rene Rose Island Cuisine, a local favorite serving up Filipino fare.
- Population – 4,507
- Home Price – Average home value of $587,977
- Rent Prices – Median rent of $1,851
- Employers – Plug and Play, Illumio, Trimble Inc, Pharmacyclics
- Schools – San Miguel Elementary, Colombia Middle School, The King’s Academy, Fremont High School
SNAIL, short for Sunnyvale Neighbors of Arbor, including La Linda, is a neighborhood located between Highway 101 to the north, Maude Ave to the south, Mathilda Ave to the west, and Fair Oaks Ave to the east. Just south of the main office park in Sunnyvale, SNAIL offers relatively affordable housing and a great location.
The main thoroughfares in SNAIL are Mathilda Ave, Fair Oaks Ave, and Morse Ave running north and south, and Maude Ave running east and west. With the 101 bordering the north of the neighborhood, you’ll have great access to other Bay Area cities.
Like San Miguel, you can expect to find varied housing options in SNAIL, which helps control the average property value in the area. For those who might not be able to afford the going rate for a single-family home in Sunnyvale, this could be a good landing spot.
For things to do in SNAIL, look no further than the community website, posting monthly newsletters and upcoming events. Just like other neighborhoods, SNAIL is home to its own Colombia Park and Community Center, offering swimming, tennis, and of course, plenty of outdoor picnic space. When you’re up for a bite, head over to Pho Lovers for authentic Vietnamese cuisine, or to Gombei Bento for no-frills, hearty Japanese fare.
- Population – 8,397
- Home Price – Average home value of $874,299
- Rent Prices – Median rent of $1,557
- Schools – San Miguel Elementary, Colombia Middle School, The King’s Academy, Fremont High School
Located between the Heritage District and SNAIL, Lowlanders offers great access to downtown activities and office parks near the San Francisco Bay. The neighborhood is bordered to the north by Maude Ave, the south by the Central Expressway, the east by Fair Oaks Ave, and the west by Mathilda Ave.
The main north-south thoroughfares in Lowlanders are Sunnyvale Ave and Maude Ave. The Central Expressway runs east and west. This neighborhood has great access to Sunnyvale’s rapid bus line, which runs along Mathilda Ave.
Much like other neighborhoods when it comes to housing options, homes in Lowlanders tend to be mid-sized single-family homes. While there may only be a few apartment buildings in the area, the average rent is lower than in other neighborhoods.
Lowlanders is a largely residential neighborhood, which means there won’t be too many options when it comes to restaurants or bars. The area is close to the Heritage District, where you’ll find late-night spots to dine. If you’re after a kid-friendly neighborhood, with work and entertainment options close by, this is a great neighborhood choice.
- Population – 3,198
- Home Price – Average home value of $916,027
- Rent Prices – Median rent of $1,705
- Employers – Prudential, Northrop Grumman
- Schools – Bishop Elementary, Colombia Middle School, Fremont High School
Ponderosa sits on the east side of Sunnyvale, bordered by the Lawrence Expressway to the east, S Wolfe Rd to the west, Reed Ave to the north, and El Camino Real to the south. With Ponderosa Park at this neighborhood’s center, you’ll find no shortage of nearby greenspace if you choose to make your new home here.
The main thoroughfares in Ponderosa are Reed Ave, running east and west, and S Wolfe St running north and south. With El Camino Real bordering the neighborhood to the south, Santa Clara, San Jose, and other Bay Area cities will be easily accessible by car.
In addition to typical access to greenspace, Ponderosa offers more variety for housing opportunities when compared to other neighborhoods. While single-family homes comprise the majority of the neighborhood, there’s a larger number of apartment complexes for those looking to rent.
Ponderosa makes a great landing spot for those who enjoy spending time outdoors. In addition to the neighborhood’s centrally-located Ponderosa Park, you’ll also have access to Sunken Gardens Golf Course, a nine-hole course and driving range that’s open 364 days a year. After you’ve hit the links, step out to the clubhouse restaurant, the Gold Rush Eatery, for a bite.
- Population – 10,470
- Home Price – Average home value of $900,893
- Rent Prices – Median rent of $2,271
- Schools –Ponderosa Elementary, Peterson Middle School, Fremont High School
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