Approximately 40 million Americans move homes every year, whether they’re upgrading, downsizing, or simply want to be closer to a job or family. Those who have been through the house hunting process know that it can be intense. The stress level is often even higher for people living in markets where there’s a shortage of affordable housing, like Silicon Valley.
One way that people cope with affordable housing shortages is by commuting. The number of ‘super commuters’ -- those who have a daily commute time of more than 90 minutes -- continues to rise at shocking rates in the Valley and surrounding areas including San Francisco, where more than 100,000 individuals meet the criteria. From 2016 to 2017 alone, the number of San Jose super commuters jumped 96.8%.
In one attempt to ameliorate the housing crisis in Silicon Valley, Google announced its plan to build 20,000 homes on property the company already owns. The proposed project promises a $1 billion investment and is the company’s attempt to “be a good neighbor.” In the meantime, no matter what company you work for, if you’re looking to buy, you should prepare yourself for a lengthy process. The average house hunt takes 10 weeks, not including the time after an offer is accepted leading up to settlement.
What to consider during house hunting
Whether you are new to Silicon Valley or looking to move in soon, there are several things to consider before starting your house hunt.
While your heart may be set on living in the center of everything, buying a home in San Jose typically requires an annual salary of at least $254,836. This salary is based on the median home price of $1.25 million. Nearby in San Francisco, the necessary salary is only slightly lower at $198,978 with house prices averaging $925,200.
That’s why it pays to be flexible. Keeping your options open to include a variety of locations and styles of home may broaden your options and make it easier to find something that fits your needs and your budget.
If you do find yourself searching for homes outside of the city, keep in mind where your family, friends, and coworkers live. The last thing you want to do after spending 15 hours commuting to and from work every week is to drive long distances to visit family and friends. Look in neighborhoods close to your networks, so it is easy to spend evenings and weekends with those important to you.
Protect your car.
Living outside of Silicon Valley will put plenty of miles and wear and tear on your vehicle. Look for a house that has a garage or carport, so you don’t have to worry about it being damaged by storms or other unexpected events at home. The longer commute also increases the chances of being involved in an auto accident, which makes a move a great time to re-evaluate existing insurance plans, including your auto insurance.
Drivers in San Jose can expect to pay $1,731 annually on auto insurance premiums, yet by putting so many miles on your car and having so much opportunity for an accident -- you want to make sure you have appropriate protections in place.
Consider a fixer-upper.
Another alternative to buying your dream home is to look for a foreclosure or house that needs some work but is still able to be lived in now. Since these homes cost less up front, you can invest money over time in remodeling and creating your dream home.
Find an active community.
Another thing to consider is finding a community that matches your personality. If you appreciate nightlife and community culture, look for a neighborhood that offers restaurants, shops, and activities nearby or even within walking distance.
Look for nearby public transportation.
If spending 90 minutes each morning and afternoon alone in a car doesn’t sound appealing, it might be wise to check out the public transportation options before buying a home. As examples, there are bus, light rail, and rail service options that run through San Jose and as well as Santa Clara County and connect to neighboring cities.
Before buying a house in Silicon Valley, review these considerations, so you are better prepared for the process.