Move here for the schools. Stay for the small town friendliness and beautiful natural setting. The town of Los Altos can pretty much be summed up in a few words; safe, intelligent and family. The community and the attitude of its occupants are nearly perfect for raising a child. The town boasts the Silicon Valley community with one of the highest percentages of the population having earned at least a Bachelor’s degree (71%). It is only natural then that there is a lot of civic pride in the performance of the schools and sense of responsibility for the children, even among most empty-nesters who live here. Community offerings that focus on children include the Festival of Lights parade, the pet parade, a hang out for teens called The Underground, Redwood Grove and the Junior Olympics.
This is a place where kids can safely roam free on their own. Los Altos boasts one of the lowest crime rates on the Peninsula. The downtown is manageable (both a plus and a minus) for kids on their own from about 10 to 100 years old. If a child is downtown and misbehaving, it is likely that a passerby recognizes that child and lets their parents know accordingly. Los Altos parents understand it takes a small village to raise a child. There is a sort of “Mayberry RFD” sense to the town. That is what people like about it and also what people don’t like about it. This is not the place to go if you are single and looking for action. At any given night around 9:00 p.m. you can go down the main street and count the number of cars parked on the street on your two hands. There are no large shopping centers or movie theatres. There are a couple dozen or so good places to eat in town. But dining out and shopping needs can be met by nearby Mountain View and Palo Alto. The library is vibrant and accommodates a wide range of interests and ages. And there is always some Town drama being debated in earnest in the local paper, The Los Altos Town Crier. When you go visit someone living in Los Altos, be sure to bring your GPS. There are no street lights and no sidewalks except on major traffic areas leading to and from the schools and in the major commercial areas. Finding an address at night can be difficult. But it is all part of the intentional, low key, rural character the town likes to keep.
One nearly universal feature of homes in Los Altos is that they come with larger lots. The average lot size in Los Altos is 10,000 square feet. For the same house and price in Palo Alto, the lot will be around 6,000 square feet. In Mt. View, the lots tend to be smaller around 6,000 to 8,000 square feet. There are many distinguishing characteristics of probably a dozen sub-neighborhoods within Los Altos. But the major neighborhoods in Los Altos are:
- North Los Altos (including Dos Palos)
- South Los Altos (including West of Fremont)
- Country Club Area
- Old Los Altos
- The Highlands and Woodland Acres
The big delineators for me are: In which school district do you reside? Can you walk to the Village? Are you in the ranch style home neighborhoods or not? Los Altos is served by two school districts, Cupertino (Fremont Union High School District and Cupertino Elementary School District) and Los Altos (Mt. View / Los Altos High School District and Los Altos Elementary School Districts). Call me for the pros and cons of each of these districts. The Highlands and Woodland Acres feed to the Cupertino Schools, as does the part of South Los Altos west of Fremont Avenue. It is generally considered better to live walk to the Village and therefore North Los Altos properties, generally, command a higher price than those located in South Los Altos. The Country Club area is more eclectic and less uniform that the north and south areas of Los Altos. Here you can find stately mansions along side run down houses with let’s just say a lot of deferred maintenance. Old Los Altos marks the first part of the town that was developed when the rail road barons who first purchased the land from Sarah Winchester had to buy her entire ranch and were not granted the right of way they sought. This is where the best Craftsman-style and the oldest and most historic of the town’s homes are located. If you want to avoid the uniform Ranch style home, it is best to look in the Country Club and Old Los Altos areas.