The Best Neighborhoods In The Bay Area To Buy A Home

The Bay Area, located in northern California, is known for its rich culture, diverse culinary scene, top-notch nature, and unparalleled views. According to Visit California, the Bay Area includes San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and their surrounding cities, suburbs, and towns, making it a pretty large and expansive area in the state. While the centerpiece city of San Francisco is known for the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and the famous Painted Ladies houses, the Bay Area is home to much more. From Silicon Valley to Marin County, the Bay Area stretches far and wide, creating a large and diverse community of quaint suburbs and charming cities. Though there are many benefits to living in the Bay Area, having a broad range of places and terrains to travel to is at the top of the list. For example, the renowned wineries of Napa and Sonoma are only a short drive north, while the breathtaking coastline of Big Sur is nearly just as close in the opposite direction. 

That said, those looking to buy a home might be overwhelmed by the numerous neighborhoods located in the Bay Area. Whether you're a young professional getting ready to start a family, or a retired individual looking to settle down, there are several amazing places to consider buying a home in the Bay Area — just be warned, nothing comes cheap. From affluent tech towns to woodsy suburbs, here is our list of the best neighborhoods in the Bay Area to buy a home.

Los Altos Hills

Los Altos Hills is located 35 miles south of San Francisco, 17 miles north of San Jose, and just five miles from the world-renowned Stanford University. Los Altos Hills boasts some of the most beautiful, spacious homes in all of the San Francisco Bay. With a population of just under 8,500, Los Altos Hills provides a traditional northern California suburban feel, with safe, low population neighborhoods, expansive properties, and a strong sense of neighborhood community. Though, as explained by realtor Hadar Guibara, Los Altos Hills is a strictly residential neighborhood — it has no zoning for commercial or industrial space. That's right, you won't even find a library or post office. That being said, it's in very close proximity to a wealth of coffee shops, parks, and restaurants in Los Altos and Cupertino, and remains a hub for many Silicon Valley-based techies. 

With highly-rated public schools, Los Altos Hills is ranked at number six out of 816 places with the best public schools in California, making it a great location to raise a family (via Niche). Like most of the Bay Area, owning a home in this desirable neighborhood comes with a steep price tag — the median sale price in Los Altos Hills lands around $5.5 million (via Redfin).


The town of Belvedere is perhaps one of the most underrated neighborhoods in the Bay Area. Surrounded by the waters of the San Francisco Bay on three sides, the city is less than one square mile of stunning natural beauty. According to the City of Belvedere, the population is just over 2,000 people, instilling a strong sense of small town culture, while also providing easy access to the urban hustle and bustle of San Francisco, which is only 15 miles away. Because of its incredible coastal location, Belvedere has become known for its sailing community and harbor. It is also home to the San Francisco Yacht Club and Corinthian Yacht Club, as well as two tennis and swim clubs (via Golden Gate Sotheby's). These open-air groups allow residents to enjoy a feeling of kinship while soaking up all the beauty and Mediterranean-esque weather the town has to offer. 

Belvedere has a history of catering to older residents, and in years past has been dominated by a population of people ages 55 and above. However, with a handful of esteemed public schools, gorgeous surroundings, and median home prices of $2.61 million — which, while still expensive, is competitive pricing for the Bay Area — the neighborhood has a rapidly growing population of young professionals and families with children (via Redfin).


Also located in Marin County is the peaceful suburb of Kentfield. Nestled in the hills, the neighborhood is quiet and boasts winding tree-lined streets, views of Mt. Tamalpais and the San Francisco Bay, high-end homes, and a safe residential community perfect for those looking to settle down and raise a family. According to Compass, the neighborhood offers a secluded, natural feel that is often hard to come by in the rapidly popularized Bay Area, yet still hosts a selection of restaurants, cafes, theaters, and galleries. Kentfield is also home to many of California's famous redwood trees, a wealth of hiking trails, and some of the most idyllic, temperate weather year-round.

Prices of owning a home in Kentfield remain fairly standard in comparison to the rest of the Bay Area, with the median home price falling at just about $3 million (via Realtor). However, considering the high quality of education, natural amenities, and the feeling of seclusion along with the presence of amazing culinary experiences and cultural activities, owning a home in Kentfield is well worth the initial investment.

Sleepy Hollow

The neighborhood of Sleepy Hollow is just as peaceful as it sounds. Located in Marin County, it offers quiet seclusion and a nature-filled environment. According to Madeline Schaider Real Estate, the development of Sleepy Hollow began in the '50s, and many of the properties today still boast the same general layout. A typical Sleepy Hollow home lies on a third to half acre of land (if not more), and the homes are often constructed in a single-story California ranch-style. Because of its secluded surroundings, the neighborhood is perfect for horseback riding, so many properties also include their own stables. Trails suitable for hikers and riders alike split off from many of the beautiful winding streets. 

Per Best Places, the median home price in Sleepy Hollow is just short of $2.2 million. For those looking for a quiet, serene, yet not too remote place to settle down, the charming neighborhood of Sleepy Hollow is a great option. And if the name of the town makes you think of Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow," you're not wrong. Many of the streets are named after characters and places from the story. Don't worry though, you won't see a headless horseman riding around (at least, we don't think).


Ross is another community in Marin County. According to Golden Gate Sotheby's, what was once an enclave for the wealthiest socialites of San Francisco to build their summer mansions, is now a robust community of full-time residents. While no longer reserved for only the urban elite, many of the spacious properties still exist, filling the town with architectural history and impressive, stately homes. Ross takes great pride in its extraordinary homes and low-density space, as well as its rich nature — in fact, when the town was first incorporated in the mid-1800s, they made it illegal to cut down trees without the town's permission (via Town of Ross).  

As Ross boasts some of the highest ranked schools in the nation and impressive luxury homes spread across a woodsy environment, the prices of the homes are notably high. With a median home cost of over $4.5 million, purchasing in Ross is an expensive, yet worthy, investment for those house hunters with a larger budget (via Realtor).


Looking to buy into a life of luxury? Known as one of the most expensive neighborhoods in all of the United States, Hillsborough offers an array of high-end homes with ample outdoor space in the Bay Area. According to Neighborhood Scout, residents of Hillsborough are overwhelmingly white-collar workers, with over 96% of working adults in Hillsborough employed in a white-collar job. This leads to significant rates of home ownership, high-quality, massive properties, and of course, high prices, with the median home cost landing at around $5.3 million (via Redfin).

Although the cost of home ownership is undeniably expensive in Hillsborough, the high prices do come with high rewards. Located just about thirty minutes outside of San Francisco with relatively close access to various forms of public transportation, living in Hillsborough gives a sense of serene suburban safety and seclusion, along with easy daily commutes to jobs either in San Francisco or Silicon Valley. Additionally, Hillsborough boasts acclaimed public schools for children of all ages, as well as expansive parks, playgrounds, and other outdoor spaces, making it an ideal location to raise a child (via Niche). With a population of almost 12,000, Hillsborough provides plenty of space and anonymity, while still not being too off-the-grid

Menlo Park

Located in San Mateo County, Menlo Park is a highly sought-after suburb located conveniently between San Francisco and San Jose. This city is most widely recognized for hosting the Facebook headquarters. In fact, Menlo Park is home to many of the Silicon Valley tech giants that have contributed to the boom in Bay Area real estate in the last decade. With this rapid population growth, Menlo Park has taken care to make sure the public schools and community centers are in the best possible conditions for its residents. According to Golden Gate Sotheby's, all facilities and schools have received upgrades within the past five years, and they've also added a elaborate performing arts center at the town's high school.

While Menlo Park still offers the safety and spaciousness of a suburban area, the city is home to a population of over 30,000 residents, making it one of the larger locations on our Bay Area list (via AMS Bekins). Because Menlo Park is a slightly larger suburban city, those looking to move somewhere with access to a wealth of shopping, entertainment, and restaurants will find themselves with plenty to do in the area. Residents can stroll Santa Cruz Avenue in the downtown district, or travel to the nearby Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto for some retail therapy. And if you're in need of a quick (and luxurious) staycation, Menlo Park is also home to the renowned 5-star Rosewood Sand Hill hotel.

Palo Alto

According to the City of Palo Alto, the neighborhood is home to 36 parks, 39 playgrounds, five community and youth centers, five libraries, and 41 miles of walking and biking trails. Located in what is considered the South Bay of the Bay Area, the bustling town of Palo Alto offers idyllic living for all stages of life. Known as the home of world-renowned Stanford University, as well the home base for some of the largest, most powerful tech companies in the world, Palo Alto is a hub of intelligence, discovery, and natural beauty, drawing a rapidly growing population. Palo Alto has a population of 69,000, and though that's significantly larger than other towns on this list, the city hardly feels crowded considering its land size clocks in at 24 square miles (via Census Reporter). 

This impressive spread of public community spaces is also matched with a wealth of shopping, restaurants, galleries, and coffee shops that come together to create the vibrant mix of suburban and somewhat-urban living that residents love. Even if you or your loved one do not attend Stanford, the elegant campus is a must-visit for a daytime stroll. Though it's 30 miles south of San Francisco, ample public transportation and close access to the highway make for an easy trip up to the City by the Bay. 


Located 45 miles east of San Francisco, the city of Pleasanton has become a high-end hub of the East Bay, and according to Niche, has about 80,000 residents. What makes this town great is that Pleasanton offers all the convenience and accessibility of a small city, yet still is a majority suburban neighborhood. With a Bay Area Rapid Transit station, it's easy to commute to all corners of the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose. It is also home to a charming and historic downtown district with over 550 diverse businesses including restaurants, bars, boutiques, coffee shops, galleries, and a variety of other local gems, according to Pleasanton Downtown Association.

Pleasanton is nationally recognized and has been ranked on a variety of lists including 24/7 Wall Street's "America's 50 Best Cities to Live" and Money Magazine's "Best Places to Live" (via City of Pleasanton). With all that Pleasanton has to offer in terms of outdoor space, public education, and a busting downtown district, along with its continued growth, owning a home in the city provides significant value. The median home sale price is around $1.6 million, making purchasing a home in Pleasanton slightly cheaper than many other distinguished Bay Area suburbs (via Redfin).


Tiburon is situated on a small peninsula just north of San Francisco in Marin County. Tiburon is most known for its incredible views of the San Francisco Bay and city skyline, Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, Alcatraz, and more. It also has easy San Francisco access by way of a short 30-minute ferry ride. Surrounded on three sides by water, Tiburon exemplifies luxurious coastal livings. Though most homes are quite large, as Golden Gate Sotheby's points out, Tiburon's quaint downtown still carries the charm of small fishing village. The main street area in Tiburon hosts various restaurants, ranging from fine-dining establishments to casual waterside burger joints, small clothing boutiques, and other local businesses selling an array of artisanal goods.

In addition to its stunning location and idyllic main street, Tiburon has some of the most beautiful real estate in all of the Bay Area. Homes throughout the neighborhood are varied in style, ranging from cottage-style homes reminiscent of the original town constructions in the late 1800s, to modern architectural masterpieces nestled in the hills with breathtaking and unmatched views. Owning a home in Tiburon costs an average of $2.6 million, which is fairly standard in comparison to real estate pricing across the greater Bay Area (via Redfin).

San Ramon

The city of San Ramon is located 35 miles east of San Francisco with a population of around 81,000 spanning across 18 square miles. San Ramon offer residents a sense of classic American suburbia with safe, spacious homes on low-traffic streets, and a town center featuring a variety of stores and restaurants. San Ramon also hosts a collection of public parks and playgrounds including Central Park, which has amenities for all ages and interests, including a skate park and multiple sports fields, as well as a play structure and seasonal water park area for children (via Benkins). To add another selling point, San Ramon is home to a highly rated school district with an A+ rating on Niche.

Considering the classic suburban appeal, beautiful outdoor spaces, and incredible school system, the cost of living in San Ramon is a relatively welcomed one compared to other Bay Area neighborhoods. The vast majority of residents are home owners, and the median home cost in San Ramon lies around $1.4 million (via Realtor). 


Located 16 miles northwest of San Jose, the small suburb of Loyola is nestled against the hills between the cities of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. According to Niche, this small neighborhood is home to a population of under 3,500 and is under two square miles. This tiny neighborhood offers residents a suburban (and exclusive) sense of community, yet its location on the southern end of the Bay Area still allows easy access the larger neighboring areas like San Jose and Palo Alto. Further, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco are all are within an hour drive of Loyola.

The cost of living in Loyola remains fairly standard with owning a home in most Bay Area suburbs, which, as we've learned, is not cheap. According to Best Places, the median home cost in Loyola comes out to around $3.6 million. While Loyola doesn't have a bustling downtown, there are certainly plenty of coffee shops and parks for people to visit. If you're looking for woodsy, small town with a luxurious twist, Loyola is the place for you.