While $12,500 for 4,800 acres of prime Silicon Valley real estate seems unthinkable, it’s exactly what Sunnyvale, California’s founder, Martin J. Murphy paid in 1849. On this land he grew crops, eventually selling rights to the railroad which, in turn, created a municipality. Known as “Beautiful Murphy” and later “the City of Destiny,” Sunnyvale’s real estate sales began in earnest in 1897.
Today, Sunnyvale is a thriving tech center in Silicon Valley and, yes, real estate is still of primary interest here. When one-bedroom homes double in price over the course of five years, you bet real estate is a hot topic.
Sunnyvale quick facts
- According to the City of Sunnyvale, the city’s population is nearly 150,000.
- The city has a total area of 24 square miles.
- Sunnyvale is the second largest city in Santa Clara County.
- Famous Sunnyvalians include Olympic gold medalist Brian Boitano, actress Teri Hatcher, former Major League Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth and Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak.
- Sunnyvale’s sister city is Iizuka, Japan.
- Sunnyvale’s first responders are all trained to perform police, fire and paramedic services.
- Sunnyvale is located 12 miles northwest of San Jose, 41 miles southeast of San Francisco and nearly 43 miles southeast of Oakland.
Twenty-seven public and private elementary, middle and high schools serve Sunnyvale students. Public school elementary and middle school students largely attend schools administered by the Sunnyvale School District but Cupertino Union School District and Santa Clara Unified serve some areas within Sunnyvale.
High school students attend either Fremont High School or Homestead High School. Of the two, the latter has higher rankings. In fact, Homestead High is ranked 60th of 2,044 California public high schools, according to SchoolDigger.com, while Fremont High sits at number 416. Between 2013 and 2016, Homestead students raised the average standard score on standardized tests more than 23 points.
Getting around in Sunnyvale
Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) serves the mass transit needs of Sunnyvale residents. In addition to the light rail system, VTA offers 69 bus routes with service to the Fremont BART Station, Menlo Park, Saratoga and Gilroy.
VTA also provides paratransit service to residents with disabilities which preclude them from using conventional public transportation.
Caltrain has two commuter stations in Sunnyvale, one downtown and one in eastern Sunnyvale.
Several major roads and freeways go through Sunnyvale:
- Central Expressway
- Lawrence Expressway
- State Route 237
- State Route 82
- State Route 85
- S. Route 101
If you prefer commuting by bicycle, you’ll be glad to know that Sunnyvale is an official Bicycle-Friendly Community, according to the League of American Bicyclists. You’ll find many bike lanes, special traffic signals and bike racks on the light rail and busses.
Business and industry in Sunnyvale
Sunnyvale is home to approximately 9,000 businesses and is headquarters to Yahoo!, Advanced Micro Devices and other tech giants.
Aerospace and defense companies choose the city as home base as well. In fact, Lockheed Martin Space Systems is Sunnyvale’s largest employer, with more than 5,000 employees. Apple, Inc. is the second largest and Yahoo! is third.
If you’re thinking of starting a business in the city, the Sunnyvale Chamber of Commerce is the best place to start.
Sunnyvale arts, entertainment and events
The City of Sunnyvale prides itself on its arts-friendly general plan. The city sponsors many arts activities, such as performances at Sunnyvale Theatre, the yearly Hands on the Arts festival and places for artists to work.
Residents and visitors enjoy the annual Summer Music Series & Market, Jazz & Beyond, downtown’s Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration, the Beer Walk, Wine Stroll and other events.
Sunnyvale has the arts covered with Nova Vista Symphony, the California Theatre Center, Valley Chorale and more.
Nightlife is alive and well in Sunnyvale with lots of different venues, catering to different tastes. You’ll find everything from venues offering bottle service and DJ-spun music to sports bars and those catering to the area’s salsa dancers.
Shopping and dining in Sunnyvale
Sunnyvale is home to nearly 50 neighborhood shopping centers. Cherry Orchard Shopping Center offers a Trader Joe’s, Starbucks and the über-popular C.J. Olson Cherries stand.
Downtown Sunnyvale is a bit of a one-stop shop where you can get all of your errands out of the way, shop and dine. Here you’ll find accountants, optometrists, hair stylists, acupuncturists, tailors, mechanics, banks and even psychics.
According to the City of Sunnyvale, 350 restaurants cater to Sunnyvale residents. From gastropubs to California and just about every type of ethnic cuisine, you won’t have to go far to dine out in Sunnyvale.
Getting outdoors in Sunnyvale
With two municipal golf courses, 24 parks comprising 476 acres, 132 sports fields, four public swimming pools and the Sunnyvale Tennis Center, it’s safe to say there are a variety of ways to remain active in Sunnyvale.
Sunnyvale Golf Course, a par-70 18-hole track and the facility offers a pro shop, putting green and a restaurant. The City of Sunnyvale also offers an executive course, Sunken Gardens Golf Course, with practice facilities.
Sunnyvale’s many parks are scattered throughout the city. The 24-acre, tropical-themed Las Palmas Park is one of the area’s most popular and offers a kids’ play area, tennis courts, multi-use field, water play area, volleyball, picnic facilities and a dog park. Las Palmas is located in Sunnyvale’s Cherry Orchard and Old Orchard neighborhoods.
Baylands Park, on the city’s northern border with the San Francisco Bay, offers more than 70 acres of fun. Sunnyvale residents enjoy the paths for walkers, picnic areas, wetlands, playgrounds, wildlife to watch and trails for hikers
Homes in Sunnyvale
If an Eichler home is on your Sunnyvale home-buying wish list, you’ve come to the right place. The city is home to more than 1,000 Eichlers, built between 1949 and 1972, according to the Mercury News.
There are nearly 56,000 housing units in Sunnyvale, half built prior to 1976 and half were built since then. When one considers that nearly 40 percent of the area’s homes are valued at more than $1 million, it should come as no surprise that fewer than half of the homes here are owner-occupied.
Unfortunately, the days of 38-cents-per-acre real estate deals in Sunnyvale are long gone. In fact, Sunnyvale home values have appreciated 43 percent just over the last decade.
The least expensive homes for sale in Sunnyvale are mobile homes, typically priced from $100,000. Condos priced in the low $400,000s are sometimes for sale but single-family home prices typically start at around $800,000 for fixer-uppers and small, older, move-in ready homes at $900,000.
At the high end of Sunnyvale’s price range, you’ll find spacious homes that sit on large lots, typically listed at more than $2 million.
We invite you to learn more about Sunnyvale by exploring its various neighborhoods and communities. Click on the name and you’ll be taken to the neighborhood’s page.