Living in Santa Clara: What Home Buyers Need to Know

Living in Santa Clara what home buyers need to know

Whether your heart’s set on living in Santa Clara, CA or you’re still on the fence, there’s a lot to learn about the city. 

This guide is about Santa Clara City, which is inside Santa Clara County, California. It is one of the oldest European settlements in California. 

Agnews Development Center

Sun Microsystems/Agnews Development Center - via Wayne Hsieh

Where is Santa Clara, CA?

All ~19 square miles of Santa Clara city is in the state of California, within Santa Clara County. 

You can find Santa Clara, CA by looking at the southernmost part of the San Francisco Bay. It’s there, directly west of Downtown San Jose and east of Sunnyvale. From the salty shores of the Bay, Santa Clara stretches south to Burbank and West San Jose.

Many cities and neighborhoods around the Bay Area claim to be at the heart of Silicon Valley - but Santa Clara really is. While Palo Alto is the intellectual capital of Silicon Valley, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara are more central. 

  • It takes about 45 minutes to reach San Francisco, ~45 miles north of Santa Clara.
  • It takes about 35 minutes to reach Santa Cruz, ~32 miles south of Santa Clara.
  • It takes about 5.5 hours to reach Los Angeles, ~345 miles southeast of Santa Clara.

Santa Clara City Map

Just south of the colorful salt ponds in the bay is Santa Clara city - via NASA

What is Santa Clara, CA Known For?

The agricultural industry used to be a huge part of Santa Clara’s identity, but times have changed. Exports of fruits, seeds, and lumber, have been replaced by electronics, software, and intellectual property. Still, it’s not all shiny tech; Santa Clara is mostly residential.   

The city is known as diverse and multicultural and locals love the ~260 sunny days each year, 

Santa Clara home buyers can pick from many contrasting neighborhoods. The southern parts of the city are covered in single-family homes, while the north has more apartments and commercial properties. That’s also where you’ll find a variety of dining, retail, and entertainment. 

Santa Clara had around 127,000 residents in July 2022

Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University on a beautiful sunny day - via Ed Beirman

Here are some other points of pride for Santa Clara:

  • Santa Clara was recognized as a Smart Energy Provider by Silicon Valley Power.
  • Santa Clara Finance Dept. received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.
  • Santa Clara won the 2021 Award for Excellence in Information Technology Practices.
  • Santa Clara won the All-America City Award in 2001.
  • The San Francisco 49ers practice in Santa Clara, right next to Levi Stadium.
  • The Santa Clara Swim Club has inducted more athletes into the Hall of Fame than any club worldwide.

Many people don’t know that Santa Clara is very proud of its Olympic contributions (51 gold medals), specifically in swimming events. There’s an impressive list of athletes with Olympic finishes on the city’s website. You’ll also find world-class facilities in Santa Clara, like the George F. Haines Center, where Michael Phelps has broken several records.

What Kind of Homes Does Santa Clara Have?

There are around 25,000 privately owned homes in Santa Clara and around 18,000 of those are single-family dwellings. The rest are condos or townhomes.

Santa Clara’s single-family homes are usually ranch-style, built in the 50s or 60s. 10% of the homes were built within the last decade and only 15% were built before the 50s.

The number of apartments and condos in Santa Clara is rising and there are plenty of new or recently built properties to choose from.

We show a median Santa Clara listing price of $1,500,000 in February, 2024, with dozens of properties on the market.

Santa Clara home buyers should search in February and the following months if they want a wider selection to choose from.

What Are the Zip Codes in Santa Clara, CA?

Santa Clara, CA has three zip codes within its borders. We’ll explain each one, starting with the largest and finishing with the smallest.

The Charles Copeland and Residence

The Charles Copeland Residence - via David Sawyer

  • 95051

This zip code contains about 13,000 homes in the southwestern part of Santa Clara, bordered by Cupertino and Sunnyvale. It’s known as one of the pricier areas to start living in Santa Clara. It is near to Apple, Google, and Tesla locations and has some of the city’s best education options, including Santa Clara’s library. 

  • 95050

This zip code is known as the historical and cultural center of Santa Clara and is also home to ‌Santa Clara University. 95050 borders San Jose City to the east and south, containing about 9,500 homes. 

It’s not as expensive to live in this zip code compared to 95051, plus, there is a significant revamping of the downtown area on the horizon. Many historical homes remain in this zip code, plus monasteries and missions from early history.

  • 95054

The Santa Clara 95054 zip code is the smallest of the three, with about 4,500 homes. This area is in the north, up against the bay, with Sunnyvale to the west and San Jose to the east. Lots of homes are newer constructions, and there are around 1,800 townhomes and condos. 

Throughout history, this area has been the commercial center of Santa Clara, with its convenient access to the waters of the San Francisco Bay. Intel and Nvidia have offices here, along with a slew of other tech companies. 

What is the Cost of Living in Santa Clara?

When you want to find the best place buy home in Santa Clara, cost-effective options  are not always easy to find. Some of the northern properties are more expensive, while more affordable homes can be found in the south, further from San Jose.

But then, there’s the cost of living. Santa Clara is expensive when you compare it to America, but also, to California. 

  • Santa Clara cost of living is 112% higher than the national average. 
  • Santa Clara cost of living is 42% higher than San Jose’s average.

What is the Santa Clara Job Market Like?

The California labor market is in an interesting place as we continue through the year. The tech industries in Silicon Valley made some large moves throughout 2023 and into 2024, specifically with layoffs. It’s unclear how much AI influenced the changes, but it's been heavily implied.

In general, the US is adding jobs, with a huge 353,000 employment jump in January 2024

What kind of industries can you expect in Santa Clara?

  • ~22.3% Computer and electronic products 
  • ~13.5% Professional, scientific, technical services  
  • ~6.6% Educational services
  • ~5.3% Health care 
  • ~4.4% Accommodation & food services 
  • ~3.5% Construction 
  • ~3.4% Administrative & support & waste management services  

Santa Clara is known for major industry players like Intel, Nvidia, AMD, and Upwork. General Motors and Nissan are both working on automated driving in the area. The list of AI and tech businesses is too long to fit here. A search shows dozens of AI and cloud computing companies. 

Santa Clara is definitely a forward-thinking and entrepreneurial section of the Bay Area. The city even has its own convention center, just down the road from Levi’s Stadium.  

Levis Stadium

Levi’s Stadium - via Travel Wise

Attractions and Amenities in Santa Clara

Santa Clara has plenty of attractions and things to do, so residents have lots of ways to enjoy their time in the city. 

There are green spaces and parks, which are scattered around the city, but also in surrounding areas. 

The parks, like Agnews Historical, Central Park, and the 40-acre Ulistac Natural Area are just three, but you’ll lose count of how many there are here. Santa Clara won the 2021 Project of the Year Award for the Reed & Grant Sports Park. It has five artificial fields and one natural one, plus a 3,500-square-foot building for other activities. It’s also a short drive into the Santa Cruz Mountains, where you’ll find exercise and wine tasting.  

The city has plenty of entertainment like theaters, galleries, and everything you’d expect from a modern American city. San Jose is also nearby, with an entirely fresh list of choices.

Great America Amusement Park in Santa Clara

The Great America amusement park, Santa Clara - via Bryce Edwards

The Summarized History of Santa Clara

Before any American settlements were built on Santa Clara, indigenous tribes of the Ohlone Nation lived in the area. The people densely populated the coastal areas, with around 300,000 Indigenous Californians before ‌‌Spanish colonization in 1769.

The Mission Santa Clara de Asis was founded in 1777, named for Saint Clare. It was one of 21 the Spanish scattered around California, in attempts to spread Christianity. 

The Mexicans got independence from Spain in 1821, but control over the Santa Clara mission was lost a few years later. Around 1839, the land was being granted and used for ranchos and cattle grazing. Their hides and tallow eventually became the first commercial export in Santa Clara and the first major industry. 

As the American frontier land grew, it eventually encompassed California and made it an official state in 1850. Parts of Santa Clara were given away in 100 square yard sections, as long as the new owner could build a home within a few months. The fertile lands and ample accommodation gave many failed Gold Rush prospectors a fresh start.

Santa Clara supplied leather, seeds, and fruit to many areas around America and the world. The area created many successful industries, many of which were still in business long into the 1900s. 

The surge of electronic industries began around the 1950s with semiconductor breakthroughs, and the rest is Silicon Valley history. By the 90s, the population was over 90,000 and the orchards had completely given way to industry and residential land.

We Can Answer Specific Questions About Santa Clara

This article covered what you need to know before buying a home, but you’ve probably got specific questions. 

If you’re a Santa Clara first time home buyer, you’ve chosen a great place to live, but the market is competitive. The summer months offer you more choices, but the market will be hot and fast-moving. Closer to the the start of the year, you’ll find a short selection, but committed sellers. 

More Questions? Follow-up With Us!

If you have more questions about what to expect from the markets around the Bay Area, don’t be afraid to reach out to us today. Our experts are experienced in all property types and the entire San Francisco Bay Area, and we can help you to find what you need to know today.

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