With real estate prices in the Bay Area much higher than the rest of the US, we often hear buyers mention maybe their money is better spent in the Santa Cruz Mountains. While yes, mountain homes are relatively cheaper than Palo Alto, Mountain View etc, and seem like they offer more “bang for your buck”, there are many factors of mountain living one must first take into account.
Mountains Aren’t For Everyone
Living on the other side of the “hill” comes with some drastic lifestyle changes. Here’s what you can expect when taking up this move:
It might seem like you’re just a few miles from bigger cities (San Jose is about 25 miles from Boulder Creek), but the reality is that even when the roads & weather are great, its not a short trip. Mountain roads have twists and turns, they go around the topography of the mountain. Generally speaking, you’re rarely going to be able to drive above 45mph on most roads. No to mention during rainy winter seasons, mudslides and downed trees can also block off roads (sometimes for more than a day). This is a make or break situation for most people, so ask yourself: are you okay with a ~60min commute on mountain roads vs Hwy 101?
Utilities are also different compared to what you’ll find in the Bay, and very location dependent. While you’ll likely still get electric service from PG&E, water, sewage, and internet service will all likely be different than what you are used to. Internet service is very location-specific, and you can wave goodbye to Fiber fast speeds. Comcast has spotty coverage in the mountains, or you may need to purchase satellite internet, which is admittedly slower speeds, high latencies and has potential for outages whenever the weather isn’t perfect. Cell phone coverage is also a huge variable, it can change every few feet due to the terrain. Make sure the area you are interested in has the internet connection and cell service you need.
If you think you’ve got above covered, then maybe the mountains are for you!
The beauty of ocean fog creeping over the mountain tops in the afternoon is unmatched, and the tiny communities are truly a joy to be a part of. Being in the mountains also offers you the ease of getting to the Santa Cruz beaches on weekends and during the summer, which could take almost half a day depending where in the Bay you live. Not to mention you’ll be away from the hustle and bustle of city-dwelling.
There are also endless miles of hiking and biking trails, redwood state parks and community parks up and down the Santa Cruz Mountains. If you are an avid outdoor adventurer, you may find it hard to get bored hehe 🙂