When someone mentions Santa Clara County, it's nearly universally implied that they're referring to the region's northern communities, which serve as the core of Silicon Valley. These notable tech hubs, including Cupertino, Mountain View, and Palo Alto, generate most of the headlines for the Santa Clara Valley, with San Jose, the largest city in the county and 10th largest city in the nation, filling in the gaps.
Head south of San Jose and Silicon Valley, and you'll happen across what is arguably one of California's best-kept secrets — Santa Clara Valley’s southern region.
Equal parts charming and rustic, the area south of Silicon Valley is an absolute gem of a region. Most aptly described as a rural-suburban escape from the rigors of the high-pressure tech industry, the collection of communities provides residents a far more relaxed lifestyle than the urbanized locales to the north.
Six communities, in particular, have helped spur the South Region's status as one of California's most desirable places to live. Campbell, Los Gatos, and Almaden Valley are considered part of Silicon Valley's southern reach. The following three locales — Morgan Hill, San Martin, and Gilroy — are the southernmost communities in the Bay Area, each with its distinct lifestyle.
Read on to explore this picturesque, low-key counterpart to Silicon Valley and its six principal cities with a relocation guide to the South Bay and Santa Clara Valley.
Incorporated in 1952, the city of Campbell sits at the heart of San Jose's western suburbs. Part of Silicon Valley's southern expanse, the region offers a glimpse of the treasures that await those who venture away from the bustle of Silicon Valley's more heavily-trafficked neighborhoods. There is a charming, small-town quality in Campbell, which is a common theme across most of the Santa Clara Valley.
Many people are drawn to Campbell's central location and non-traditional suburban neighborhoods. The architecture throughout the city is a mix of styles, including the eclectic Central Park district. You can find Colonial, Contemporary, Craftsman, Mediterranean, Ranch, and Tudor-inspired homes here.
Besides its attractive residential options, Campbell is a popular shopping destination. The city's two primary retail centers include Downtown Campbell, with over 100 shops and restaurants, and the open-air, 250,000-square-foot Pruneyard Shopping Center.
Campbell relocation stats:
Median household income: $124,525
Schools: Campbell is served by the Campbell Union School and Campbell Union High School Districts
Parks: 12 local parks, including the 32-acre John D. Morgan Park, and access to the nearly 12-mile long Los Gatos Creek Trail
Distance to: San Jose - 7 miles; Palo Alto - 20 miles; San Francisco - 50 miles
Los Gatos is one of the most affluent areas in the Bay Area and features real estate befitting the distinction. Homes throughout the city are anything but modest. Two-plus acre lots are commonplace, featuring grand residences across many architectural styles. From historical Spanish Haciendas to Dutch Colonials, classic Victorians, and French Country estates, if there's a home style you love, you'll find it here.
Along with its popularity as an outdoor lover's dreamscape, Los Gatos is an acclaimed destination for food and wine connoisseurs. The upscale downtown shopping and dining district showcases the Michelin three-starred restaurant Manresa. Adding to the elegance are 12 wineries and vineyards within the city limits.
Los Gatos relocation stats:
Median household income: $155,863
Parks: 18 local parks and open spaces, two county parks totaling over 1,200 acres, extensive paved and unpaved bike paths
Distance to: San Jose - 12 miles; Palo Alto - 23 miles; San Francisco - 53 miles
Known locally as Almaden, the Almaden Valley connects Santa Clara County's northern urban-suburban sprawl and its southern countryside valleys. Located 30 minutes southwest of San Jose, Almaden is in the shadow of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west. The rolling topography of the Santa Teresa Hills frames the valley's eastern border.
Though still considered a San Jose neighborhood, Almaden is the gateway into Santa Clara County's sweeping rural landscape. Much of the area's housing features large, single-family homes on generous-sized lots with tranquil views of the surrounding mountain ranges and hillsides.
The area's advantageous location provides residents with the best of both worlds in Santa Clara County. There's no shortage of big-city conveniences, and the city is home to many businesses that serve as an extension of Silicon Valley. With abundant outdoor recreational opportunities and a distinct, family-friendly vibe, Almaden is the perfect getaway spot — that doesn’t require getting too far away!
Almaden Valley relocation stats:
Median household income: $184,610
Parks: 15 local parks totaling over 150 acres, the 4,163-acre Quicksilver County Park, and a trail system stretching over 75 miles, including direct access to the 550-mile long
Bay Area Ridge Trail
Distance to: San Jose - 12 miles; Palo Alto - 28 miles; San Francisco - 59 miles
Often recognized as one of the loftiest real estate markets in the U.S., the city restricts specific building types to ensure the area maintains its tranquil, rural aesthetics. Vineyards, parks, and open spaces are prominently featured.
Don't let the pastoral zoning management fool you. Morgan Hill is home to one of the most vibrant downtowns in the Santa Clara Valley. The area hosts popular dining and entertainment destinations with high-end restaurants and low-key eateries. Coupled with its natural surroundings and access to many outdoor pursuits, this affluent burg is one of the region's fastest-growing cities.
Morgan Hill relocation stats:
- Population: 44,686
- Median household income: $124,419
- Schools: Morgan Hill is served by the Morgan Hill Unified School District
- Parks: 29 local parks and recreational facilities totaling more than 125 acres, the 232-acre Chesbro Reservoir County Park, and the 4,275-acre Anderson Lake County Park
- Distance to: San Jose - 23 miles; Palo Alto - 43 miles; San Francisco - 71 miles
This tiny village sits between the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west and the Diablo Range to the east. Vineyards, ranches, and majestic estates dot the landscape, and the serene 1,700-acre CordeValle luxury golf and wellness resort serves as the community's signature landmark.
Though the modern comforts of Morgan Hill (five miles to the north) and Gilroy (six miles to the south) are close by, San Martin is one of the few places in the region where one truly feels secluded. The fast-paced, big tech culture of Silicon Valley genuinely feels a world away. Fortunately for those commuters who call San Martin home, this charming enclave is still less than a 45-minute drive from the world's foremost innovation hub.
San Martin relocation stats:
- Population: 6,803
- Median household income: $116,172
- Schools: San Martin is served by the Morgan Hill Unified School District
- Parks: the 6,695-acre Coyote Lake Harvey Bear Ranch County Park sits adjacent to the community
- Distance to: San Jose - 26 miles; Palo Alto - 43 miles; San Francisco - 74 miles
Like other cities throughout the South Bay region, Gilroy hosts numerous vineyards and easy access to recreational parks, Coyote Lake and preserves. Unlike a few of its neighbors, luxury real estate is more accessible, with the city featuring a more traditional, family-friendly vibe. Gilroy offers plenty of stunning Santa Clara Valley estates the further you venture from the town center.
Photo courtesy of Premium Outlets
As the self-proclaimed Garlic Capital of the World, Gilroy's dining scene features a bevy of establishments that delightfully play up this moniker. The 150-plus stores at the Gilroy Premium Outlets are a popular draw for people across the region. For golf enthusiasts, it's worth noting that Gilroy is closer to the Monterey Peninsula and the Pebble Beach Golf Links than to Palo Alto or San Francisco.
Gilroy relocation stats:
Median household income: $101,616
Schools: Gilroy is served by the Gilroy Unified School District
Parks: 21 city parks and the 6,695-acre Coyote Lake Harvey Bear Ranch County Park
Distance to: San Jose - 30 miles; Palo Alto - 50 miles; San Francisco - 80 miles
*Header photo courtesy of Morgan Hill