Palo Alto means “tall tree” and the town has over 36,000 trees lining its roads. It sits in sunny Silicon Valley and is home to many tech companies, including Google and Hewlett Packard. It used to be Facebook’s headquarters until their move to Menlo Park. It’s also home to Stanford University.
If you are considering moving to Palo Alto, the various costs listed below will help you make an informed decision on what costs are involved when moving and living in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Quick Palo Alto Facts:
- Population: 63,820 (2017 estimate).
- Official Language: English (de facto) with many other languages spoken including Spanish, German, French, Vietnamese and Korean.
- GDP Per Capita: $75,257 USD (2017 estimate)
- Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook): Mark Zuckerberg lives in Palo Alto. He bought all four houses surrounding his property to maintain his privacy. It cost him $30 million.
- Currency: US Dollar (US$). As of early 2017, £1 = $1.25, €1 = $1.08, $1 CAD = $0.75, $1 AUD = $0.77
1. Moving and Shipping Costs to Palo Alto
- New York City – $525+
- Los Angeles – $159+
- Canada (Vancouver) – $565+
- UK (London) – $1,508+
- Australia (Sydney) – $1,156+
- Ireland (Dublin) – $1,742+
- New Zealand (Auckland) – $1,823+
- Hong Kong – $1,195+
- Dubai – $3,030+
- Singapore – $2,003+
2. Palo Alto Housing Costs
Palo Alto contains some of the most expensive real estate in the United States.
Monthly Rental Prices in Palo Alto
- 1 bedroom apartment in City Centre: $2,300++
- 1 bedroom apartment outside the City Centre: $1,800++
- 3 bedroom apartment in City Centre: $4,000++
- 3 bedroom apartment outside the City Centre: $3,500++
Palo Alto Home Purchase Prices
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy in City Centre: $17,000+
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy outside City: $12,000+
Palo Alto Housing Cost Comparison
This is how rents in Palo Alto compare with other cities around the globe.
London is 34.23% cheaper
New York is 5.66% cheaper
Los Angeles is 37.32% cheaper
Toronto is 62.24% cheaper
Sydney is 38.97% cheaper
Paris is 60.58% cheaper
Dubai is 32.53% cheaper
How to Save on Housing Costs
- Share an apartment or house: Sharing a house or an apartment is a way to save on living expenses. You will probably have to share a bathroom but you will save at the end of the day. A cheaper option is to share a room. Have a look at the following sites to find your perfect room or flat mate: Easyroommate, Kangaroom, Trulia and Metro Roommates.
- Different areas – different prices. Palo Alto has 18 different neighbourhoods, none of which are cheap. The best neighbourhood, according to Livability Score, is Professorville and the largest one is Midtown. Other top neighbourhoods include Charleston Meadow, Duveneck-Saint Francis and University South. Baron Park and Mid Town are cheaper areas to live in and within walking distance of all amenities.
3. Palo Alto Food, Grocery and Restaurant Costs
Palo Alto has some excellent restaurants and grocery store to serve its tech and academic population.
- Inexpensive Restaurant: $8 – $12
- Takeout Coffee: $4 – $5
- Bottle of Coke: $1.50 – $3.00
- 1L of milk: $1.00 – $1.32
- Loaf of Bread: $1.00 – $4.11
- 12 Eggs: $2.25 – $3.00
- 1kg Chicken: $4.40 – $17.64
- 1kg Beef: $19.84 – $26.46
- 1kg Apples: $3.00 – $6.61
- 1kg White Rice: $2.50 – $3.50
This is how restaurants and food prices compare with other major cities in the world.
- London restaurants are 26.78% more expensive and groceries are 36.52% cheaper than Palo Alto.
- New York restaurants are 36.42% more expensive and groceries are 1.83% more expensive than Palo Alto.
- Los Angeles restaurants are 14.74% more expensive and groceries are 20.42% lower than Pal Alto.
- Toronto restaurants are 7.17% cheaper and groceries are 33.73% cheaper than Palo Alto.
- Sydney restaurants are 2.78% more expensive and groceries are 14.59% cheaper than Palo Alto.
- Paris restaurants are 12.70% more expensive and groceries are 21.57% cheaper than Palo Alto.
- Dubai restaurants are 9.87% cheaper and groceries are 38.39% cheaper than Palo Alto.
Bonus Tips for Cheaper Food, Restaurants and Groceries
- Know your supermarkets: Palo Alto has a good selection of independently owned grocery stores and ethnic stores as well as the usual supermarket chains. There are also excellent farmers’ markets and shops which sell health foods and organic foods. Popular supermarkets are Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, Country Sun Natural Foods, Sigona’s Farmers Market and Piazza’s Fine Foods.
- Find Cheap Eats: Have a look at the following sites to find places which offer excellent food at affordable prices – TripAdvisor, Yelp, Zomato, The Infatuation and Travel Tips.
4. Palo Alto Alcohol Costs
Being a university town, Palo Alto has a good selection of bars and clubs.
- Pint (0.5L) domestic beer at a restaurant/bar: $5.00 – $7.00
- Bottle of imported beer at a restaurant/bar: $4.50 – $5.00
- Pint (0.5L) domestic beer at a supermarket: $2.00 – $2.23
- Bottle of imported beer at a supermarket: $1.83 – $2.00
- Mid-range bottle of wine at a supermarket: $12.00 – $25.00
How to drink for less in Palo Alto
- Keep an eye on the local papers and websites for specials over weekends and public holidays.
- Try Tacolicious from 3-7pm on Monday to Wednesday and from 3-6pm on Thursday and Friday. They serve house wine, beer, bartender’s cocktail, sangria and margaritas for $5.50. Antonio’s Nut House on California Avenue has some amazing deals all the time: well drinks are $3.50, domestic beer is $3.25, imported beer is $4. Margaritas are only $3 every day between 11am and 3pm. They are so strong, no one is allowed more than two. Have a look at the following sites to more inspiration – Palo Alto, The Happy Hour Finder, Yelp and Happy Hour Palo Alto.
5.Palo Alto Transportation Fares
Palo Alto is like a lot of towns in California, it generally relies on cars to get around. Caltrain takes you into San Francisco in 40 minutes on the Baby Bullet. Slower trains stop along the way at towns such as San Jose and Gilroy.
VTA runs the local buses in the area which can take you as far as San Jose. Marguerite Shuttle offers a free service which goes from Stanford University, the Caltrain station, Stanford Shopping Centre, Town and Country Shopping Centre and Stanford Medical Centre.
Here are some example ticket costs.
- Adult Single – $3.00
- One day ticket – $6.00
- Monthly season ticket, unlimited – $70
How to save money on public transport
- Buy a 30 day student pass
- Buy a Clipper Card and get various discounted rates
- Buy a bike. Palo Alto is a bike friendly city so depending on where you live and work, cycling around the city may be an option.
- If you live relatively close to where you work, you can walk to work.
6. Cost of Internet in Palo Alto
Internet prices in the States are expensive compared with many other countries in the world. Here are some sample broadband internet prices from early 2017 for unlimited downloads, based on a 12-month contract:
7. Cost of Clothing, Personal Items, Gym and Leisure
Palo Alto’s hottest month is in April where the temperature reaches an average high of 77°F (25°C). Its coldest month is in January, where the average temperature plummets to 72°F (22°C)! September is the wettest month with an average rainfall of 9 inches (240mm).
Palo Alto enjoys around 300 days of sunshine a year.
Here are some clothing prices, together with other useful prices.
- Pair of Jeans: $30 – $70
- Summer Dress: $35 – $45
- Running Shoes (Trainers): $65 – $90
- Business Shoes: $120 – $125
- Short Doctor’s visit (15 mins): $107
- Deodorant: $4.25
- Shampoo: $5.53
- Toilet Paper (4 rolls): $3.55
- Gym membership: $65-$100 per month
- Movie (cinema) ticket: $12-$15
8. Cost of Owning a Car and Driving a Car in Palo Alto
Many residents of Pal Alto use a car to get to and from work, the shops etc. The rush hour may be a little frustrating but generally driving is fine and there’s lots of free parking around the town.
If you’re moving to Palo Alto from within the US, you’ll be able to keep your license but need to update your address to your new one.
You can drive on a foreign license for up to 12 months as a tourist but after that you will need to get an American license. If you are working or studying in the US, you can drive on your foreign license for 30 days. If you want to exchange your foreign driver’s license you have to follow the process here.
Here are some other sample costs of owning and operating a car in Palo Alto:
- Volkswagen Golf: $22,000
- 1 litre (¼ gallon) of gas (petrol): $0.78
- Other fees (if any): The average cost of state and local taxes, license, title and registration fees is $665 per annum
Ways to save money driving in Palo Alto
- Car sharing or pooling is one way to save money. Try Car Pool World, eRideshare, Palo Alto, and Waze.
- Taxis can sometimes be a cheaper option, especially if you are going to have to park all day. Try Uber or Lyft.
Need your car/vehicle moved to Palo Alto? Then read our guide to: Car Transport & Vehicle Shipping
9. Taxes in Palo Alto
Sales Tax in Palo Alto is 8.75% and is added to most goods and services. Generally, the price you see on an item does not include sales tax.
If you own your home, you will be subject to property tax based on the area in which you live and the size of the property you live in. Learn more about property tax in Palo Alto at Property Tax.
Finally, if you decide to buy an apartment or house in Palo Alto you’ll have to pay real estate transfer tax.
10. Flight Costs from Palo Alto
If you do make the move to Palo Alto, here’s approximately how much it will cost to fly to other major world cities based on lowest, one-way fares from Skyscanner as of early 2017:
- London: $346
- Los Angeles: $59
- New York: $125
- Toronto: $163
- Vancouver: $89
- Dubai: $626
- Sydney: $590
- Melbourne: $582
- Cape Town: $942
- Hong Kong: $389
Other Palo Alto Relocation Tips
The costs and pricing above should give you a good idea of the cost of living in Palo Alto but perhaps the following extra tips will make your move go smoothly.
11. Moving to Palo Alto Alone
Relocating anywhere can be a lonely experience, but moving to a new town can be rather daunting. Here are a few tips about settling in Palo Alto.
- Meetups: There are many Meetup groups to choose from – ballroom dancing, venture capital, hiking, vegan cooking and so many more. You will definitely find something to join which will help you to settle in.
- Attend local events:There’s always something going on in Palo Alto, have a look at the following sites to find something you’d enjoy – TripAdvisor, Palo Alto Online, EventBrite and Hidden SF.
12. Moving to Palo Alto with a Family
Palo Alto is a great town to live in as a family. It is safe and has lots of parks and green spaces and some of the best schools in the country, plus, of course, Stanford University.
- New parents (or parents to be):There are free and paid antenatal classes and courses. Have a look at PAMF and CPMC.
- Live in a family friendly area: Duveneck-Saint Francis is a family friendly area with large, older style homes with good sized gardens. Charleston Meadow is another area which is full of families. It is close to good schools, shopping malls and cinemas.
- Find things to do with the kids: There is so much to do in the Palo Alto area. Have a look at the following sites to see what activities your kids would enjoy – Four Seasons, Mom Aboard, Travel Tips, Trekaroo and Trip Buzz.
13. Moving to Palo Alto for Work
Most people move to Palo Alto for work or to study. Stanford University and the high tech industry are the main employers in town.
Here are a few things to consider when moving for work:
- Salary: Salaries are high in Palo Alto and unemployment is low. The costs we outlined above should give you a rough idea, how much more you’ll want to be making to make the move worthwhile. You can also check salary ranges on sites such as Glassdoor and Payscale.
- How to find work: If you want to have a job lined up before you move to Palo Alto, but aren’t sure where to begin, the following sites are good places to start: Monster, Indeed, Snagajob and Craigslist. You may also want to google recruiters in your industry, as they can often help land you some initial interviews as well.
14. Moving to Palo Alto from Australia
There’s a large group of Australians living in Silicon Valley. It is estimated that there are 20,000 software engineers before you begin on other skills, so if you are thinking of joining them, here are a few things to consider.
- Size comparison: If you compare the population size of Palo Alto with a town in Australia, then the closest would be Coffs Harbour, NSW. If you compare the population size of the whole Silicon Valley with a city in Australia, then the closest would be a slightly larger version of Brisbane.
- Join expat groups: There are a number of expat groups enabling you to meet fellow Aussies. Try Internations and Meetup.
15. Moving to Palo Alto from Canada
There are over 350,000 Canadians living and working in Silicon Valley so if you’re considering making the move from Canada to Palo Alto, here are a few things to consider.
- Size: If you compare the population size of Palo Alto with a town in Canada, the nearest in size would be Medicine Hat, Alberta. If you look at the population size of the whole of Silicon Valley, the nearest sized city in Canada would be somewhere between Vancouver and Montreal.
- Expat groups: Meeting up with fellow Canadians helps the moving process. Link up through sites such as Internations and Meetup.
16. Moving to Palo Alto from the United Kingdom
Palo Alto and Silicon Valley attract a lot of people from the UK.
- Size: If you compare the population size of Palo Alto with a town in the UK, you would be looking at Maidenhead. If you compare the population size of the whole of Silicon Valley with the size of a city in the UK, then think of a city three times the size of Birmingham.
- Expat groups: If you want to get together with others from the UK who are experiencing the sun and surf, then go to Internations and Meetup.
Hopefully, the tips and costs above are helpful. If want to get started pricing out how much it will cost you to move to Palo Alto you can start by comparing moving quotes here.
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