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Location and priceNewcomers to Los Gatos often wonder why there are some houses for sale at low, low prices in the Los Gatos hills. Given how expensive most of the town is, why are some so affordable (or evencheapby local standards)?

The mountain areas of Los Gatos:

Los Gatos is nestled into the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains. “In town” refers to incorporated areas with the 95030 and 95032 zip codes. “In the mountains” means unincorporated, usually accessed only by highway 17 as the main road, and using the 95033 zip code. These mountain areas are more affordable (there are several communities within the mountains, including Redwood Estates – often distinguishing Upper and Lower, Chemeketa Park, Holy City, Aldercroft Heights on the Santa Clara County side of the summit).

The foothills of Los Gatos:

Additonally, though, Los Gatos has quite a few foothills and homes in those areas often do not have the telltale 95033 zip code; depending on how far into the hills these houses are, they can also be less expensive. (Please read more about Los Gatos zip codes here.) Homes “close in” but on foothills will not be less expensive, though – often they are more!

What can make both the mountain community homes and the foothill location homes more reasonably priced is often a combination of the following elements, which are usually viewed as negatives by most consumers:

  • the more challenging it is to reach the property (difficulty of drive as well as time)
  • private roads (as opposed to publicly maintained roads), esp if they are long
  • unpaved driveways, particularly if they are long (makes driving in winter a unpredictable)
  • being too far “out” or distant for the regular utilities (septic vs sewer, well water vs public water, propane tanks vs gas from P, G & E)
  • a lot with too much slope, too steep
  • proximity to something negative, such as a gun club (where you’ll hear shooting several days each week – it can be loud)
  • sitting on the San Andreas earthquake fault or any other place with natural hazard concerns (having an active landslide on the property, for instance)
  • if the area is heavily forested, there may not be enough sunlight on the property in winter
  • as with any location, if there are funky, non-permitted additions, that will pull the value lower, as will “bad neighbors”, junky cars, unkept homes nearby etc.

All of that said, there are some real plusses to properties with these more remote & more rustic locations. The schools are great, there’s more land (in most cases) so usually uncrowded feeling. The air is nice. There’s less traffic and more privacy. Often there’s a good sense of local community. The views are usually lovely, too – either views of a greenbelt, the hills or the valley. Perhaps best of all, it truly is more affordable.

If you don’t mind a bit more of a commute or living a little less on the grid, maybe finding a place in the foothills or mountains just over Los Gatos is for you!

For more information, please also see:

What’s it like to live in Los Gatos?

Posts on Los Gatos neighborhoods

Relocating to Silicon Valley? Consider Los Gatos!