What to Know About Living in Mountain View, CA

 What to know about living in Mountain View, CA

Photo By Aleh Haiko, CC BY-SA 3.0

We want you to be informed about living in Mountain View, CA. without spending your entire week researching.

If you look at a map of the San Francisco Bay Area, you’ll see Mountain View in the south part of the Bay. It takes up about 12 square miles of land in the heart of Silicon Valley, near San Jose. This city goes from the water, about six miles inland and a few miles wide. 

Cities like Sunnyvale, Los Altos, and Palo Alto make up the borders of Mountain View. Each is quite a pleasant place to spend time, but Mountain View has a few things that its neighbors don’t.

An overhead view of Mountain View - via Craig Howell - CC BY 2.0 DEED

So what is Mountain View known for? We are going to dive deep into that, but if you ask one of the 80,000+ locals, they'll likely mention the thriving tech scene, intermixed with prime residential options. Google may be one of the biggest names attached to Mountain View, but this isn’t just a place to work. The city offers everything residents need, from dining and shopping to exercise and entertainment.

You’ll know all about Mountain View in a few minutes.

Where is Mountain View, CA?

It’s around 11 miles from Downtown Mountain View to Downtown San Jose, where the closest international airport is. 

Mountain View is one of the many cities on the west side of the Bay, including Palo Alto, San Carlos, San Mateo, and many more. Further west of these cities are the Santa Cruz Mountains, one of the impressive ranges that characterize the west coast.

Living in Mountain View, CA, your surroundings might be green and natural, but this is still Silicon Valley. Locals are ideally situated for their careers, but also enhancing their life outside of the office. 

Route 101 and State Route 85 run through the city, providing easy access to the rest of the Bay Area. If you aren’t spending weekends locally, the Norman Y. Mineta International Airport in San Jose can take you further. San Francisco also has an international airport, about 30 miles from Mountain View.

How big is Mountain View, CA?

Mountain View covers a total area of 12.27 square miles. The city is about 3 miles wide from east to west and 5 miles long from north to south.

Is Mountain View Growing?

According to the city, Mountain View has grown from its usual population of 83,601 to around 128,000 during the day. By those estimates, about 45,000 non-residents use the city for various purposes.

But what about the Mountain View, CA population? Is the city growing?

Comparing the 2020 Census to the  2010 figures, Mountain View grew around 11%, from 74,066 to 82,376. 

Then in 2022, an estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau put the population at 81.059. When more accurate and recent census data is released, it will probably show a similar figure. 

So, is Mountain View growing? The data we’ve seen indicates that the city has seen steady population growth over the past decade. However, the rate of growth has reduced in recent years. 

What Should You Know About Mountain View, CA?

Mountain View's history starts in the mid-1800s, long before Google and Silicon Valley. El Camino Real, which still runs through downtown Mountain View, was a major part of local history. As a stagecoach stop between San Jose and San Francisco, this was where a blacksmith and other shops were set up. 

In 1864, the railroad construction moved the center of Mountain View to Castro Street. Later, like most of the cities around this area of the Bay, agriculture grew the local economy. A strategically important shipping point, Mountain View was prominent well into modern history.  

Castro Street in Mountain View - via Runner1928  CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported 

The early 1900s brought the first peek at high-tech days to come. The Moffett Field Naval Air Station and the NASA Ames Research Center were established, guaranteeing Mountain View a seat at the tech table of the future. Nowadays, Google is the most prominent industry leader here, as well as LinkedIn, Microsoft, Intuit, and Synopsys.

But don’t forget that most of Mountain View is residential, not factory or commercial space. The streets mostly follow a grid layout, with more homes to the south and businesses to the north. The city also has several parks and large green spaces, including Shoreline Park, which offers glimpses of the bay and enough dog walking to tire any breed.

What is the Mountain View Cost of Living?

Mountain View, CA is sought after and located within a global economic powerhouse, so the cost of living is elevated. Compared to the national average, the cost of living in Mountain View is higher in many metrics.

According to the Economic Research Institute, Mountain View, CA is the 22nd most expensive city to live in out of U.S. cities. In California, it is ranked as the 15th most expensive city. 

The same data puts Mountain View at about 78% more expensive than the average across the U.S. 

  • Groceries are becoming a larger expense for Mountain View’s residents, who can expect to pay around 14.5% more than the national average. 
  • Healthcare comes in about 22% higher than the national average.
  • Groceries are almost certainly above the national average, but exact figures are difficult to come by. 
  • Transportation costs are roughly the same, with slightly higher taxi fares.

In April 2024, the median listing price for the United States was around $424,900. At the same time, our Mountain View, CA homes had a median listing price of $1,688,000, which is almost exactly four times higher. 

What's the Mountain View Job Market Like?

You’ll hear about Mountain View’s tech scene a lot because so many major players do business here. The city has been home to the headquarters of some of the biggest tech businesses in the world, including Google and Alphabet Inc.

The job market is driven and heavily influenced by tech. Here are some of the largest employers in Mountain View, CA:

  • Google
  • Alphabet Inc
  • LinkedIn
  • Intuit 
  • Synopsys
  • Samsung Electronics
  • Atlassian

Manufacturing companies in Mountain View, CA:

  • Neuro Pace 
  • Simplify Medical
  • Cradle Technologies

These are not all of the tech and manufacturing companies from Mountain View, just a few notable ones

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau says that the top industries in Mountain View are:

  • Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (41.5% of jobs)
  • Manufacturing (10.3% of jobs)
  • Educational Services (9.7% of jobs)
  • Retail Trade (6.3% of jobs)

The unemployment rate in Mountain View is low, at just 3% as of July 2023. This is significantly lower than the state unemployment rate of 4.8% and the national rate of 3.8%.

Such a strong job market increases the appeal and bolsters the local economy, resulting in even more employment opportunities. Even if you aren’t employed by the tech sector, there are many industries and job types in Mountain View and the surrounding area. 

What's the Mountain View Real Estate Market Like?

Mountain View, CA real estate gets a lot of attention and the market is competitive (and expensive). Median home prices are well over the national and state averages. 

For more than 60 properties, we showed a median listing price of $1,698,000 in April 2024. In California, the median sale price is closer to $800,000. Single-family residents are most common, but several condominiums and apartments are on the market too.

This upmarket pricing is driven by the usual factors: outstanding local education, thriving job prospects, and a city that supports a high quality of life. This means that listings move quickly and often sell for above listing price.

A row of recently built properties in Mountain View - Photo from Canva

If you want to snag something more affordable, speak with local realtors who know exactly where to look. We often get to see off-market listings or properties just outside of Mountain View that buyers miss. Connect with us to find a home at the right value, not above market value. 

What Are the Best Places to Live in Mountain View?

Like all cities around San Jose, Mountain View is made up of several communities with different quirks and charms.

Here are some of the communities around Mountain View you should start your search in:

Castro City: In the middle of Mountain View, Castro City has a reputation for an artsy and vibrant cultural scene. The Performing Arts Center is here, along with all kinds of restaurants and eateries for any time of day. 

Blossom Valley: This community is west of Miramonte Avenue and sits between the Permanente and Hale Creeks. There are parks all around the neighborhood, plus the downtown Mountain View area is nearby, providing lots of entertainment and shopping.

Monta Loma: This neighborhood is known for its mid-century modern homes and having Google's headquarters on its doorstep. The nearby Rengstorff Park is another perk of the area, which is perfect for families, and features a dog park, tennis courts, and a community center.

Cuesta Park: Beside Blossom Valley, this community is mostly residential, with schools, parks, a hospital, and a commercial area with several restaurants. The homes are spacious, close to all the amenities locals need, and near the El Camino Real for quicker commutes.

Waverly Park: This community is next to Cuesta Park in the eastern part of Mountain View. This area’s highlights include Cooper Park and Sleeper Park, which is up against Highway 85. It just takes a few minutes to reach central Mountain View from Waverly Park, where the homes are spacious on peaceful streets.

Near the train tracks in Mountain View, CA - via David Wilson - CCAttribution 2.0 Generic

What is There to Do in Mountain View?

Mountain View is full of things to do, as you’d expect from a community where the world’s largest tech employers set up shop. This city caters to families well, with outdoor activities within its limits, in the mountain ranges to the west, and the Bay to the north. 

Here are some highlights we picked out:

Visit the Computer History Museum:  This is a fantastic local spot to find out about modern history. Through self-led or guided tours, you can find out all about computing and technology in Mountain View, on Shoreline Boulevard. Passes for adults cost about $20 and children below seven are free, with several other discounts available. 

Explore Shoreline Park: This is a protected space for wildlife and a multi-purpose recreation space on the shores of the Bay. Visit the amphitheater, fly kites, hit the water on the sailing lake, or bring your dog for a walk before sundown. Here, you’ll find 750 acres of Californian beauty to explore, plus a golf course if you have time.

Shop and dine downtown: Living in Mountain View, CA puts you close to a lot of tasty cuisine. You could check out Garden Fresh or the food trucks downtown, or drive to the hills for the vineyards there. Shoreline Lake Bistro or Michaels restaurants are closer to the Bay and are both exceptional lunch spots. 

Castro Street in Mountain View - via Eric Fredericks - CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED

What is Near Mountain View?

If you’re living in Mountain View, CA, you’ve got access to important locations up and down the Californian coast. For further trips, you’ll need to drive to San Jose to the international airport there (~8 miles away).

  • San Francisco is around 34 miles away, but only takes about 45 minutes to reach under ideal driving conditions. By public transportation, it takes just under one hour.
  • San Jose is around 13.5 miles away and takes roughly 25 minutes to reach by car. It’s about the same travel time using the L1 and L5 busses. 
  • Santa Cruz and its beautiful beaches are just 45 minutes away and might be one of the best spots for a convenient vacation. Even without a vehicle, this trip takes just two hours by public transportation.
  • Los Angeles, further south down the coastline, takes around five-and-a-half hours to reach. For many people taking this route, flying makes more sense, taking just under an hour and a half of airtime.

Living in Mountain View, CA

Buying a home in Mountain View, CA is a big step, as moving to any new city is. We hope that this guide gave you some perspective on living costs, housing prices, the local area, and some of the amenities. 

If you find a property you like in Mountain View, we will guarantee your happiness in it for 18 months. It’s simple; if you fall out of love with your new home, we will sell it for you or purchase it ourselves. With this, we hope to remove a lot of concern for new Mountain View residents.

If you’d like to hear more or ask us specific questions about living in Mountain View, we’d be happy to chat. One of our local realtors will give you firsthand information on the neighborhood and the homes in it.

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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