Opinions differ on the pros and cons of living in Los Altos Hills vs. Los Altos. If you prefer privacy and a town dedicated to preserving a residential agricultural lifestyle, without sacrificing convenient access to a downtown shopping district, then Los Altos Hills should be high on your list of places to live.
Geographically, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills border each other in the general epicenter of Silicon Valley. The two towns share downtown Main Street in Los Altos as the focal point of activity. Main Street has recently been revitalized to attract younger families, but has managed to keep many of the charming shops and restaurants that imbue the area with character and history. A stroll down Main Street and across Foothill Expressway brings one to a coveted section of Los Altos Hills nicknamed the Redwoods.
Roughly bordered by Foothill Expressway, Burke Road, Fremont Road, and Arastradero Road on the northern edge, this neighborhood sits on a flatter section of Los Altos Hills. The homes are a mix of custom new constructions and original Ranch-style homes on one-acre lots tucked behind majestic redwood trees. The neighborhood is easy to navigate by the main roads, and is a stone’s throw away from Interstate 280. Additionally, residents have easy accessibility to excellent schools like Gardner Bullis Elementary and Pinewood, a prestigious private school. Town Hall and Fremont Hills Golf and Country Club are also situated within the area. The location and layout of the neighborhood offer the perfect balance between seclusion and practicality for those seeking a blend of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.
• Absence of commercial activities
• Residential agricultural lifestyle
• Close proximity to Main Street and Interstate 280
• Large, relatively flat lots, usually of one acre or more
• Safe and quiet with minimal traffic
Los Altos Hills in Numbers
Both Los Altos and Los Altos Hills have seen rapid appreciation in the median sales price for single-family residences in the past 10 years. The Los Altos median sales price has risen a remarkable 40 percent from $1.62M to $2.71M. Los Altos Hills has seen an increase of 37 percent from $2.4M to $3.86M (all stats per the MLS).
Although the median sales price in Los Altos Hills is almost $1 million more than that of Los Altos, the rapid appreciation of Los Altos has made Los Altos Hills a relative bargain in more recent years. Of course, Los Altos Hills has always been a better bargain in terms of lot size. Lots in Los Altos are typically around ¼ acre, whereas lots in Los Altos Hills are usually a minimum of one acre. In 2016, the average price per square foot of land was $210 in Los Altos, but $62 in Los Altos Hills.
Recent trends are also showing that the price per square foot for buildings in Los Altos is becoming increasingly higher than Los Altos Hills. For example, in 2006, the cost per square foot for Los Altos was lower than that of Los Altos Hills ($753 vs. $815.) However, since 2012 the cost per square foot for Los Altos has equaled or exceeded that of Los Altos Hills. In 2016, the price per square foot in Los Altos was $1,221 vs. $1,139 in Los Altos Hills. This change is most likely due to the increased demand for Los Altos homes as there continues to be stiff competition for buyers in neighboring cities like Palo Alto.
Los Altos Hills, particularly the Redwoods, continues to be very desirable for homebuyers due to its convenient location, access to top schools, and large, private lots. More importantly, as the price per square foot in Los Altos reaches and exceeds that of Los Altos Hills, the relative value of buying in the Redwoods becomes more and more pronounced. For those seeking the practicality and convenience of Los Altos while maintaining the prestige and seclusion of Los Altos Hills, the Redwoods neighborhood provides the best of both areas.