This large metro area covers the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area and is otherwise known as Santa Clara County, or more informally, as the “Silicon Valley.” Once a quiet agricultural valley of orchards and small towns and anchored by the indistinct processing and shipping point of San Jose, the area has completely transformed over a period of forty years into an economic and technology powerhouse and cultural crossroads between America and Asia.
The small towns, which include the likes of Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, have completely grown together into a vast sprawl of residential and commercial spaces. Major high-tech manufacturers, research facilities and an enormous array of supporting small- and medium-size businesses fill the valley. Several defense technology suppliers are also present. The area has a distinct high-tech culture with its own lingo and architectural style of endless long, low, glass-fronted buildings in some way mimicking the circuit boards they produce.
Many settle in the area because of career opportunity and the excellent climate, and are rewarded so long as they are tolerant of crowding and high prices. Entertainment assets and cultural activities are abundant and varied, but some of the better activities fill quickly and hard to get into. Like many recent-growth places in California, San Jose suffers from overcrowding and sprawl. In fact, neighborhoods cover buildable land in all directions and traffic along main commute corridors is very bad.
Neighborhoods such as Los Gatos, Los Altos, and Palo Alto at the western edges adjacent to Coastal Range foothills feature exceptional housing and appealing, small downtowns, but homes under $1 million are rare.
The broad, flat valley narrows considerably but continues south toward Gilroy. The sheltered, coastal, Mediterranean climate is ideal. Summers are clear, dry, and sunny, with normal daytime highs in the low 80’s. In the evening, marine air often delivers low, stratus clouds, known locally as “fog,” which typically burns off by mid-morning the next day. Light jackets are usually required in summer. The valley location and stable, summer air produce some hazy or smoggy days. Hot, desert winds sometimes blow in late summer and fall, but temperatures seldom reach 100. Winter is typically mild with days in the 60’s and nights in the 40’s, with occasional lows in the 30’s or upper 20’s. Winter is the rainy season; most precipitation falls when steady Pacific storms enter the area, but the coastal mountains reduce the impact.