This is the blog for Silicon Valley Relocation, which provides personalized destination services for people moving to the Silicon Valley.

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Rental Madness in the Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley—It’s THE HOT MARKET in California, headlined by every publication in the area from the Silicon Valley Business Journal to The Mercury News and touted on websites like Google and Facebook.  Everyone wants to live in the comfortable and affluent suburbs of Menlo Park, Mountain View and Palo Alto, where the schools turn out top students and amenities abound.

Sadly, reality sets in: immediate and major housing sticker shock for newcomers from other parts of the country and abroad who move here to attend famed Stanford University or work for famous companies like Apple, Google or Facebook.  They prefer to first find temporary, rental housing until they’re accustomed to the area—and the prices—and eventually deciding to buy.

New or potential employees, even more than other home seekers, need the professional expertise of an experienced agent to deal with the difficulties and distractions of house hunting so they can concentrate on their new jobs and deal with family relocation.  And they need the right realtor who understands—and follows—the limited temporary housing market.

Many relocation experts don’t fully understand how difficult the rental market is, because they focus on buyers. The rental market offers few choices and little flexibility for people who want to stay for only one or two months.  Often, homes aren’t large enough for families with several children; they’re almost always unfriendly to pets.  These niche opportunities wind up on either end of the housing spectrum: either very expensive, high end places or poorly maintained, yet still costly properties.  Rental properties are rarely offered for more than a year, and the competition among potential renters to secure these properties can be intense.  Most rental listings are only posted on Craigslist, making it especially hard for real estate agents to help people seeking interim housing.  Owners prefer to deal directly with renters unfamiliar with the unique aspects of Silicon Valley, in order to avoid costs and fees on short-term transactions, and to lock in terms favorable to themselves.  A specialist-realtor who knows how to work with renters can help smooth the way.

Deciding to buy immediately or in the near-term is even more of a reason to engage a reliable realtor who can explain both the process and the market—an important subject for future discussion.

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Navigating the School Maze, Part 2

Getting your child off on the right foot at his new school

school_houseIn an ideal world, you get settled into your new home before the school year starts.  Your child has made friends in the neighborhood, has visited the school with you to get acquainted, and has a backpack full of school supplies ready to go.

In the real world, job transfers come in the middle of the school year, your home search takes awhile, and you and your child are overwhelmed trying to adapt to a new home, a new workplace, and a new school all at the same time.

Whether your move is perfectly timed or not, there are a few things you can do to ease your child’s entry into a new school.

1. Control what you can.

Most people fear change, and that goes double for little people.  Your child may be frightened by the completely new environment he finds himself in.  It’s your job to help him adjust.  If you can keep the routine the same as before, do it.

Try to keep your regular meal times.  A normally perky child can have a meltdown on an empty stomach.  Let the kids choose what they want.  You may be anxious to explore restaurants and new cuisine in your new locale, but if your child wants the same old mac-and-cheese from a box, don’t make an issue of it right now.

Be sure to keep “comfort” items accessible.  You may be living out of boxes for a while, but make sure your child’s favorite toys, books, CDs, and videos are unpacked and ready to go as soon as you arrive.

2. Get your Ducks in a row.

Organization is the key to a smooth transition.  Do arrange a tour before your child starts his new school.  (See previous post.)  Offer quiet reassurance (not a rah-rah pep talk) if he expresses fear.

Before the first day, you should know the following:

  • How will your child get to school and what is the best route?
  • What is the lunch procedure?  Discuss with your child whether he wants to bring his own lunch and make sure you have his favorites in the fridge.
  • What school supplies are needed?  Shopping for brand new pencils, pens, paper, and notebooks supplies gets a child excited about starting school.
  • What are the school rules about discipline, going off-campus, cell phones?  What is the dress code?

Getting these answers ahead of time eases the anxiety of not knowing what to expect.

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Does this happen in your house?  You drag yourself home from the office, your mind still on your to-do list.  You hug your child and ask him, “How was school today?”  He mumbles, “Fine,” and goes back to his video game.

Make a special effort to show your interest by asking specific questions like, “What was the most fun thing you did today?” or “Did anybody get in trouble in math class today?”  Then, really listen.  You can finish unpacking those boxes later.

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Navigating the School Maze, Part 1

Getting Started in the Right Direction

school_stuffWhen choosing a new home, parents of young children are keenly interested in the area’s school system.  What is the class size?  Do the test scores measure up?  Will it serve the needs of my children?  Are public or private schools the best option for my children?

It’s a good idea to find out exactly which school your child will be attending before making your buying decision.  A good place to find comprehensive information on California schools is the California Department of Education website, which offers a search by city and/or county.

Individual school web sites often have maps of their districts and some allow you to enter the address of your potential home to find out which school your child will be going to.

Some important criteria to check out:

  • Student-teacher ratio (this tells you the average class size)
  • Enrollment by race-ethnicity
  • Performance on STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting) tests

Test scores, while providing some indication of the quality of the school, are not the only thing to consider when evaluating a school for your child.  A school with top scores may have a highly competitive atmosphere that won’t be comfortable for your child.  Smaller class size might be more important, or a focus on a particular academic interest.

Now that you have gathered all the stats on potential schools, you are ready for the litmus test: visiting the school.

There is no substitute for a personal site visit.  If at all possible, take your children to their potential school and check it out.  Be sure to call ahead.  Identify yourself as a potential enrollee and ask for a tour.  As you are being shown around, make note of the atmosphere – friendly and positive or rushed and chaotic?  You can tell a lot about a school by the way your children are welcomed on the tour.

Next: Navigating the School Maze, Part 2

Getting your child off on the right foot at their new school.

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