Each workday, the population of Palo Alto doubles as commuters come to the city to work. It's not because people in California love to drive; Palo Alto is one of the most expensive cities in the United States.
What it will cost you The average median rental price is approximately - well, HIGH - per month and competition for any apartment rental is high. Even if you're prepared to squeeze into a studio at an apartment complex, you should be prepared to fork out around well over $,1000 for the privilege.
What you'll need Be ready to plunk down a deposit once you've found an apartment for rent that you can afford. Landlords will expect that your annual salary is at least three times the amount of your yearly rent, so be ready with proof of income. For a successful apartment search, you'll also need rental references and good credit.
When to start looking Once you have a job offer or acceptance letter, start your apartment search. Everyone's looking for a deal on an apartment for rent in Palo Alto, including those commuters itching to move into the city limits. If you have limited time to do an apartment search, try an apartment complex for hassle-free rentals. Most complexes welcome residents who are new to the city.
There's no shortage of small, family-friendly neighborhoods in Palo Alto. Most community members prize their ability to walk their kids to school and bike to work. Just like a small town, you'll also be expected to know your neighbors, so choose your community wisely. If you're single, you may want to consider renting a house with roommates instead of looking for an apartment for rent. Being flexible during your apartment search is essential when moving to Palo Alto.
Adobe Meadow/Meadow Park: If you're looking for the reincarnation of Mayberry, consider an apartment rental in the Adobe Meadow and Meadow Park area. You can send your little nippers to school riding their bicycles, but you better brush up on your baking skills. Rumor has it that residents greet new neighbors with cookies, so you better be ready to return the favor once you settle in. $$$
Barron Park: Developed as a 62-lot subdivision in 1925, Barron Park has the variety of homes and architectural styles that you'll find are common in older neighborhoods. You're also close enough to Stanford or downtown to bike over. Be honest though -- you're probably considering Barron Park to be near the Bol Park donkeys. If you do decide to look for an apartment for rent in the area, it's best to make friends with Niner and Perry, who are the neighborhood's real stars.$$$$
Charleston Gardens: Wedged between the busy streets of Middlefield, East Charleston and San Antonio, Charleston Gardens is a tiny island of small town living within the bustling city. Even if you can't tell I.M. Pei from Frank Lloyd Wright, you'll still appreciate the immaculate condition of many of these mid-century modern homes. Don't care about architecture? Charleston Gardens is also close to Highway 101, which makes travel a breeze. $$
Charleston Meadows: Have trouble meeting the neighbors? Charleston Meadows' neighborhood association hosts block parties and ice cream socials to keep its small town atmosphere. Its relatively inexpensive housing also attracts young families. $$
College Terrace: New Stanford grad students and their families often end their apartment search at the appropriately named College Terrace. However, if you're looking for a place to party, try another neighborhood. College Terrace is known for its proximity to public schools and child care, not bars and nightclubs. $$$
Community Center: Sick of trying to entertain your kids? Community Center attracts parents who love that their children can bike to community swimming pools, the library, the children's museum and Eleanor Park without adult supervision. $$$$$
Crescent Park: Stately homes and large trees are the defining characteristics of this pricey neighborhood near Eleanor Pardee Park. If you're a birdwatcher, you may also be drawn to the neighborhood and its many feathered inhabitants. $$$$$
Downtown North: Downtown North used to be the place for young professionals and students living the single lifestyle. Close to Caltrain station and the supermarket, it was perfect if you didn't want to own a car. Recently, traffic-restriction through the neighborhood has made this place a little quieter and has attracted more families. $$$$
Greenmeadow/Greendell/Walnut Grove: Ranch homes may make this neighborhood look more midwestern than Californian, but the average home price is downright reasonable for the area. $$$
Mayfield: Home to the Palo Alto Baking Company, Mayfield was once its own town. Palo Alto annexed it years ago, but Mayfield has managed to keep its mix of diverse backgrounds, income levels and ages. If you need a budget-friendly place within Palo Alto, an apartment complex may be the solution.$
Midtown: During the dot-com boom, residents struggled to keep retail spaces from being priced out of the neighborhood. Their dedication paid off, and the shopping district of this neighborhood still has plenty of places for you to buy a book or a coffee. $$$
Old Palo Alto: Residents say that Old Palo Alto is the crown jewel of the city. Encompassing historic buildings and the Gamble Garden, this neighborhood boasts significant prestige. $$$$$
Professorville: Hundred-year-old Victorians mark this area as Palo Alto's oldest residential neighborhood. It's easy to walk to downtown from Professorville, but don't park here. Due to rude commuters, city streets are often filled with cars. $$$$$
University South: Ready to stroll the eight blocks from your apartment complex to your class at Stanford? If you can afford it, you'll be in one of the most vibrant areas of the city. $$$$$
If you can get a job and an apartment rental in Palo Alto, you already have the envy of your peers. However, if you'd like to enjoy your time here, it's important to know the basics of Silicon Valley living.
Getting Around Did you get that great apartment rental near work? Great. Now all you need is a bicycle for your daily commute. Even if you have the cash to spend on a great car, you're living with a bunch of people who prize the environment. Not convinced? Just consider that Silicon Valley employers will expect you to pull some all-nighters -- so a bike ride to work may be the only exercise you'll get during the week.
Dating Around Many men have complained about the lack of single women in Palo Alto. If you're striking out in the dating department, broaden your search to the nearby city of San Francisco. Even if you're not interested in finding someone new, San Francisco has a vibrant culture that's worth exploring.
Working Life Don't assume everyone's a tech geek. Palo Alto used to be a commuter town and creative haven, and you can still find plenty of artists, writers and musicians who are drawn to the city's progressive values.
If you want to live near some of the richest and smartest people in the country, it's time to move to Palo Alto. You'll pay for the privilege of living in this tech mecca, but the energy of the city may inspire you to greatness.