Originally Posted by moonInLion
definitely moving there for Jan 1, 2014.
Will be renting for half a year or so while our house here in Canada sells.
We are public schoolers, so we need to choose our location based on schools. Trying to understand how this will work. I notice most of the schools are K-5 or K-6 (with "K" starting at what age? mandatory at what age? ). How does this work with foreign languages??? My children do French Immersion here, I guess there is no hope they can continue that? Do all schools offer French as first foreign language, or just some, or none? If no French, I guess my children would have to learn Spanish?? From what grade is Spanish taught? Does this vary by the school district, or is this something uniform for the area?? How can I most effectively learn the local school systems?
Also, if we take residence in a school's catchment area, I guess they have to take our children, right? What if we settle outside the catchment area, initially, any chance to get in there?
Thanks for any insights! There is a lot to consider and decide right now......
Hello - Welcome! We relocated to SV a few years ago as well, though just from SoCal, not Canada. You may find schools with immersion, most often Spanish, but it's not universal - depends upon the school. Maybe a Charter school might offer more? There are two private German schools though, or at least two. This is the other I have heard of: http://www.gais.org/ (though I know nothing about the two of them other than their existence). We also have a Waldorf School (no German classes, but you might be familiar with the philosophy).
The public school system here seems difficult to navigate to me. The districts don't line up with the cities, but are often named after the cities - though not all parts of that city will lie within it. Sometimes the High Schools are in a different district that the rest of the schools and also don't line up with city boundaries. I think you have a good chance of getting into a school if oyu are within the area, but if it's a very popular area, I'm not sure what happens if they are full. Where we used to live, that could happen and you'd then have to go to another school in the district. You can request to get into other schools, maybe even districts, but of course residents get first crack and some areas are very competitive. When we first lived here we rented in Cupertino (highly sought-after district by the high-academic-achieving test taking set) and someone told me he'd heard of people renting anything they could there, just for the address to get into the schools and living elsewhere!
The age to start public Kindergarten is (I think...they're slowly moving it each year so don't take my word for it) is age 5 by September 1st. It used to be, insanely, December 1st and finally someone figured out that wasn't helping anyone. I think school isn't mandatory until age 6, but if you're going the public school route I wouldn't wait until First grade. People often have their children in preschool (which are almost always private unless you are low income or your child is "disadvantaged" in some other way) and they start learning numbers and letters there, then beginning math and reading in Kindergarten...again talking mainstream schools.
Anyway, I have found the following sites extraordinarily helpful in the pursuit of housing:
www.city-data.com (forums for discussion)
www.crime-reports.com (be sure to play around with the filters)
www.greatschools.net (I'd take the ratings and reviews with a grain of salt but it also gives test scores, "grades," teacher/student ratios and other facts)
sfbay.craigslist.org (essentially how most rentals are found...it's a tough market, don't rush into anything and take that corporate housing so you have time to find the right place. I speak from experience on this...we've lived in three houses in 4 years and the cost to rent keeps rising. If I'd taken my time the first time around and found the "right" place it would have saved us a lot of money. For some reason I was just really afraid we wouldn't find anything and took the first thing that I thought would remotely work and we were miserable)
www.yelp.com (review site heavily used by people for anything and everything..including property managers...I SO wish I would have know THAT before we signed our first lease!)
Working in Redwood City, I would look at living in Redwood City (it's the cheapest of the surround areas except East Palo Alto and you do not want to live there), Menlo Park, San Mateo, Foster City...I tend to think of points north as slight cheaper than points south, until you get to San Jose. Moutain View, Palo Alto and Los Altos are obvious choices for commuting and public schools but really pricey. Like way over a million dollars for a bigger house, probably over 2 mil. Sunnyvale is a little less, but still very pricey, same with Cupertino. I even found Santa Clara to be pricey. As far as I can tell the cost of housing is centered around Google and goes outward. LOL (but partly serious!) I like parts of San Jose and Campbell, but I really wouldn't want to live so far if your husband words in Redwood City. Commuting in rush hour traffic can be really miserable, I'd try to stay as close to his work as you can. I commute with the benefit of the carpool lane and it still can be slow and go in the mornings, forget about in the regular lanes.
Edited by Melaniee - 11/19/13 at 12:03am