Downtown San Jose or other areas with a downtown? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 35 Old 09-08-2005, 10:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Could someone tell me what living in downtown San Jose is like and/or if there are some downtown like areas around there? DH and I are considering moving back to the area but we lived in Santa Cruz. I don’t want anyone in my family commuting anymore so we would live closer to Santa Clara.

I just don’t know the area well at all.

I’m not looking for urban feel necessarily, I just need to not have to drive more than a couple days/week so I want to be able to walk and bike. Ideally, with shops within a couple of blocks.

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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#2 of 35 Old 09-09-2005, 02:01 AM
 
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Personally, I wouldn't want to live in Downtown San Jose. I am not convinced it's really that convenient of a place to live anyway. I live in Mountain View, near the downtown, and so I am walking distance from the library, lots of restaurants, a couple parks, a bookstore and the caltrain/light rail station. Since we're above downtown we are also walking distance from a Safeway, as well as there being a smaller Mexican market at the end of our block.

I have a friend who lives in Los Altos who doesn't use her car much. She is walking distance from the downtown there and has a bike with a trailer that gets her most other places. She moved there from downtown San Jose, actually, because the neighborhood where she lived didn't feel safe to her.

I don't know if Sunnyvale has a similar set up, but Mountain View is fairly convenient to Santa Clara, especially if your DH's job would be near the light rail!

Hope that helps!
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#3 of 35 Old 09-09-2005, 04:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Abigail

I didn’t remember that Mountainview is on the Caltrain (that’s the one that goes from SJ to SF, right?) even though I took it 2x a week for a couple of years. It would definitely be cool to have easy access to SF.

Is downtown Mountainview nice? What about Los Altos?

If you have time, I’d love to just hear a little about what your life is like in the area. What do you like/dislike and things like that.

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#4 of 35 Old 09-09-2005, 05:18 AM
 
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I'm a little further south--in Campbell, and we are able to walk or ride bikes to most anything we need. Downtown is small and quaint, plus there's a larger outdoor type shopping mall (The Pruneyard) with "mainstream" stores--Trader Joe's, Barnes and Nobel, theaters,etc. Light rail is going in here (should be up and running this fall) and will connect with Caltrain, so public transportation should become an actuality. (Yeah!) I like the town because it's relatively diverse, affordable, and friendly. The school district is decent too--though I'm partial to the Los Gatos schools and the town too (if you can afford it).

Good luck deciding! Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
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#5 of 35 Old 09-09-2005, 05:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Regis. I saw some places in Campbell that seemed cool. Do you know what the chances of being in the downtown areas of these towns are? I know that, in Santa Cruz, the downtown places were in high demand and scarce. We lived on the bus line from downtown but the next move I make, I want to be right there.

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#6 of 35 Old 09-09-2005, 10:56 AM
 
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ICM,

When we were visiting my parents in SJ this April, I was shocked to see how lovely some parts of downtown SJ have become. If I were you, I'd look at Campbell, Los Gatos (if you could afford to live there), Los Altos, Palo Alto and San Mateo or anywhere up the Peninsula, because all of these places have more of a 'downtown' and are a bit smaller than sprawled out SJ. They are also relatively well connected to buses and Caltrans. Having said that, Downtown San Jose, near Santa Clara is just lovely. Near the Rose Garden, Rosecrutian Museum and roundabouts is nice. The area around Japantown is also quite nice, with a lot of new housing around there.
SJ is also connected to CalTrans, and when dh, dd and I were visiting we took Light Rail, CalTrans and the buses almost everywhere.
Are you going to be going out for a visit? PM me then!

Single mama to a 5yo and 8yo

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#7 of 35 Old 09-09-2005, 11:00 AM
 
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oooops...Willow Glen, in San Jose, is also very nice with its own downtown.

Single mama to a 5yo and 8yo

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#8 of 35 Old 09-09-2005, 02:54 PM
 
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I personally prefer downtown Mountain View to Los Altos. I think Mountain View is also a bit cheaper and more well-connected transit-wise.

My son and I do a lot of things that we drive to, but we don't have to. In our current house we could walk downtown, as I said, and frequently walk to the library for the day and downtown for lunch or dinner to meet DH when he comes home from work. I've also met a lot of likeminded moms in this area, through La Leche League mostly.

I am probably biased, but I think Mountain View is a great place to live.

I'm not sure how the housing is in walking distance from the downtown for renting. We bought our townhouse last year and it wasn't cheap, but nothing around here is. I think rentals are still a little easier to get, so if you're renting, you might have better luck.
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#9 of 35 Old 09-11-2005, 07:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DH got the job offer…I’m in shock. I’ll be back with a hundred questions as soon as things start to roll.

Holly, I’ll be posting in our tribal section as soon as this thing is 100%. It seems like things could move along really quickly but I’m feeling a little unsure of how this will work at this point.

Thanks for your help, mamas.

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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#10 of 35 Old 09-11-2005, 02:50 PM
 
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Congrats! Good luck with the move.
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#11 of 35 Old 09-13-2005, 11:06 PM
 
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Congrats to your husband on his new job!

Just wanted to speak up for Sunnyvale. We have a cute little downtown on Murphy (perhaps slightly less cute than Mountain View's Castro St or downtown Los Gatos, but cute nonetheless). From our duplex it is a five minute walk to Cal Train, the library, farmer's market, community pool, Target, grocery store, lots of restaurants, Goodwill, two parks, veterinarian, dry cleaners/laundromat, and much more (and our neighborhood is quite residential/pleasant). Plus we're very near several major roads and bus lines for commuting. I'm expecting to walk almost everywhere next spring when the baby is small. It's not particularly more expensive near downtown here because it's not a very built-up downtown. You want to avoid living in the area near Fair Oaks & 101 (I used to live there and did not always feel safe), but otherwise nearly every neighborhood is walkable in the way I described above. Not all are so close to Cal Train but as far as grocery stores, parks, etc., you can hardly go wrong.
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#12 of 35 Old 09-14-2005, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Everything is sinking in and DH has some more definitive dates. It looks like we’ll arrive in the Bay Area in November. We have some stuff to do in mid-November so we’ll probably start looking for housing around Thanksgiving.

I’ve already been checking Craigslist. At first I was freaked out because I didn’t see much and the last time I was looking for a house in the Bay Area it was totally cut-throat. But, I’ve been noticing the same house after over a week so maybe we can pick and choose a little, which would definitely take the edge off.

I guess I’m looking at Mountain View, Palo Alto, Campbell, Willow Glen, Sunnyvale and perhaps others.

Any additional comparisons on these places would be most appreciated. At this point though we’ll probably be going on the quality of the home and the proximity to “town” rather than focusing on one specific area. Does this sound like a good plan?

I’m not sure about Los Gatos even though I like the town. I just worry that it’s a little cut off and we’ll end up driving a lot. Plus, it always seemed a little stiff to me. Oh, and I’d go broke eating at that fantastic deli they have there. San Mateo also seems too far.

Okay, I sound helpless :LOL I’m not. I guess I’m just anxious because I never paid much attention to the area when I lived there.




Other thoughts:

I’ll be waitressing so it would be good to be close to some nice restaurants where I can make good money.

Schools. I saw that there is a Sudbury Valley school in San Jose. I’d be open to that if the schools in our area weren’t a good fit for DC. Does anyone know about this school? Where is it located?

Mold and critters. We had termites, weird carpet bugs and a mold problem in Santa Cruz and I just felt that our house wasn’t healthy. Do you all think this is a common problem? Should I hold out for hardwood floors? Any other tips in this department would be helpful.


Please don’t feel the need cater to my freaky obsession : ) Just answer if you love giving advice about where you live. Thanks, H.

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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#13 of 35 Old 09-14-2005, 03:51 PM
 
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I grew up in Sunnyvale and it has some nice areas, but the downtown needs work. Mountain View is nice and I love the downtown. Welcome back to CA!
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#14 of 35 Old 09-20-2005, 09:09 PM
 
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I like the Campbell area and if you live close to the pruneyard you can bike to the Campbell "downtown"(one long street and the Pruneyard, which has Trader joes(yeah!) and Whole Foods across the street as well as other shops and movie theaters. Also, you mentioned waitressing. My friend owns Mio Vicino restauarant in Campbell and they are always looking for good staff. Look them up if do end up close by. There are also other restaurants on the Campbell strip. Sunnyvale is also a good choice, but I don't like the surrounding houses as much as the Campbell ones.
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#15 of 35 Old 09-20-2005, 09:12 PM
 
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One more thing...you might want to think about the Cambrian area (it is part of the city of San Jose, but it is an area, kind of like SF has its own areas). It is about 3 1/2 miles to Campbell and has their OWN school system for elementary and junior high. Ranked pretty darn high. We have lived there for 2 years and love it. It is also a bit more affordable, though real estate buyers are catching on. It only takes me 15 minutes to drive to downtown San Jose where I work. Another thought is, they are expanding the light rail(take a look at the san jose city web site, I'm sure they will have info), so you might want to live close to a station if you don't want to drive.
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#16 of 35 Old 09-27-2005, 07:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks. I think I’ve got to get to the area and look in person at this point. Mountain View is probably our 1st choice at this point because it’s been recommended so highly by you all as well as by our friends. Plus, I love the idea of being closer to SF. I lived there for 3 years and still have friends there. And, DC is getting more independent and I may have a night life in near future ~ crazy thought :LOL

As I’ve been looking I’ve noticed some distinct differences in the housing styles in different areas. I seems like the South of SJ (Blossom Hill) has quite a few new homes and central San Jose and Santa Clara has some nice older cottages. Then I see so many apartments with pools and workout rooms, which isn’t appealing to me.

I really much prefer an old slightly run down place because I like to paint the walls and do funky stuff and not have to worry about picky landlords or neighbors. Additional thoughts on this would be helpful.

All in all, I’m really excited. DH’s job is being so casual/relaxed yet professional and just generally welcoming. Friends (both IRL and MDC) have been so helpful and thoughtful. I had forgotten some of this good stuff.

Plus, I get to sing this song:

joni mitchell...CALIFORNIA

Sitting in a park in Paris, France
Reading the news and it sure looks bad
They won't give peace a chance
That was just a dream some of us had
Still a lot of lands to see
But I wouldn't want to stay here
It's too old and cold and settled in its ways here
Oh, but California
California I'm coming home
I'm going to see the folks I dig
I'll even kiss a Sunset pig
California I'm coming home

Oh it gets so lonely
When you're walking
And the streets are full of strangers
All the news of home you read
More about the war
And the bloody changes
Oh will you take me as l am?
Will you take me as l am?
Will you?


:LOVE

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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#17 of 35 Old 09-27-2005, 09:07 AM
 
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#18 of 35 Old 10-10-2005, 05:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey,

I’m back for a little more advice. I’ve been looking at Craigslist and I’m leaning towards downtown Mountain View and downtown Willow Glen. It seems like there is some availability for a single family home or town homes in those areas that fit our price range.

If you all have time, I’d love to hear some pros and cons about these two areas. Thanks, H.

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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#19 of 35 Old 10-11-2005, 04:16 AM
 
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I live very near downtown Mountain View, so I might be partial. I like that I can walk to lots of restaurants and the library and such. There aren't many walkable grocery stores that I like, but Trader Joe's is just a couple of miles away at the San Antonio Shopping Center and a Whole Foods is going in down there as well! I don't know much about Willow Glen, but I tend to do a lot of stuff other towns as well and like how central Mountain View is. San Jose feels like it would be far from everything.

As I said, I'm biased.
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#20 of 35 Old 10-13-2005, 02:50 AM
 
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IDCrisis,
You are on the right track, in my view with your prioritized list(s). We live in the area and like the idea of Mountain View a lot and will likely look there in future. Willow Glen is nice, too. There are nice areas of campbell also. I like a place with older homes and charm and Willow Glen and MV both have that. I love Los Gatos also, but I agree with you that it can be stiff and that is true of Palo Alto also as both places have some of highest home prices in Bay Area. Mountain View has very good schools. Los Gatos does too. Willow Glen not as much but I did hear the other day that there is now a public, yes public, Montesorri elementary there. Not sure which school. In San Jose, I think the Rose Garden neighborhood is nice but there is not that much downtown to walk to. San Jose downtown itself totally dies at night when all the business people go away. It is mostly a convention downtown area, plus students milling around near downtown library. But I find it a pretty soul-less downtown. My opinion. San Jose is not great on excellent restaurants to work in, more of those in Palo Alto or Los Gatos for obvious reasons. Understand wanting to be close to SF, having also lived there I miss it so much living in Silicon Valley. I know Santa Cruz well also. I don't think you will have the same mold issue as there. Especially if you stay out of the woods (so no Los Gatos hills for you, but that wouldn't work for your desire to be able to walk to something downtown-ish). What I like about Mountain View is the pleasant but enlightened diversity it seems to have . . . not true of Palo Alto or Los Gatos. But Palo Alto is right next store so you can enjoy all it has to offer without living there. Also Mountain View has an awesome Public Library, big selling point in my book. If I could choose Willow Glen or Mountain View, I would go with Mountain View. You will have access to more things to do and to more diversity of thought, plus be closer to the city. To me, there is more energy in Mountain View than Willow Glen. Just my 2 cents.

Good luck!
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#21 of 35 Old 10-27-2005, 01:02 AM
 
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PA might have the corner on the upscale restaurants, but there is some really good affordable food to be had in downtown Mountain View, especially if you like Chinese or Thai!

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#22 of 35 Old 11-06-2005, 05:22 AM
 
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I work for San Jose Unified School District in the district office and I am out at the sites quite a bit. Downtown SJ is not a place I would want to live or rear my child. Our offices are just off the Alameda and that is a nice area (close to rose garden), but there are no good supermarkets. An iffy Safeway on San Carlos. You have to go down Bascom to get to Whole Foods and Trader Joes. Willow Glen would be my first choice in SJ. Blossom Hill area is not a good area in which to reside...I go to many home visits and this definitely is not an area to consider. If you are looking at south SJ at all then Almaden Valley would be the only place. Los Gatos is fantastic and superb restaurants in which you could find employment. Downtown Campbell is also cute. If you do decide on Willow Glen there are restaurants there, bu the real money to be made is in Santana Row.

I personally, if I had the money, would live in Santa Cruz. That is the best in our area in my opinion. Good restaurants, cleansing weather, AP folks, a college town, good bookstores, wonderful natural food stores (I have been going to the food bin since 1990). If I could find an affordable place I would make the commute daily. I currently live in Morgan Hill and it is easy to get around with nice little shops. No Whole Foods or any other type of natural food stores....just two safeways, a beat up albertons and a beat up nob hill. This is a cute town to reside in though and relatively safe with few gangsters roaming around.
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#23 of 35 Old 11-07-2005, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, all. We're still looking and are arriving in the area on the 21st. Any interest in a little get together? Maybe Emma Prusch ~ that place looks fantastic!?

I think we'll just drive around some areas and get a feel for stuff. Laila, unfortunately, the commute to Santa Cruz is not an option even though I like the town. That commute is actually one of the main reasons we left the area. But, the other thing is that SC was a little small and felt too isolated for my taste. I love the beach (we had a cheap 3 bedroom on E. Cliff in Pleasure Point...I do miss that!) and all the NFL stuff but, at the end of the day, I think I'm more of a city person. I need more variety and I'm not willing to drive that often to get my fix.

This is also why I think I might actually prefer something like Willowglen over Los Gatos but it sounds and looks like Mountainview may still be the best for us. Many of our friends working in the area want to move to Mountainview as well. I also think that we'll get lots of friends from SC and SF to visit/say over during concert season.

Incidentally, I did a city search on San Jose and, in the last few years, it has been ranked top in both low crime and health for cities of its size. And, on paper, it looks like it has a lot of growth potential for more sustainable living.

I'm also really happy to go to SJSU.

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#24 of 35 Old 11-08-2005, 06:11 AM
 
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We lived in Mountain View for years and years, and are *finally* moving back there in a couple of weeks. I cannot say enough good things about this town. Wonderful downtown, fantastic, diverse restaurants, best library in the Bay Area, swimming, parks, independent bookstores and coffeeshops, creekside trails, lakeside trails, Trader Joe's, Target, public transportation in both directions... all right under your nose.

We currently live in the nothing sprawl of Milpitas... strip mall city. I can hardly wait to get back to MV!!!
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#25 of 35 Old 11-08-2005, 05:14 PM
 
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Hi there...
I didn't read all of the responses carefully, but thought I would give you my 2 cents!
I grew up in San Jose and lived in Downtown SJ while in school at SJSU.

There are some beautiful neighborhoods in downtown SJ, in the teen-numbered streets. Old gorgeous houses. Some good family neighborhoods.
HOWEVER, it is not a downtown geared for walking to all of the necessities. There are no natural foods markets, or even a decent grocery store. No central shopping district really at all.

I have also lived in Willow Glen... a very nice community, VERY expensive houses. The nearest "natural foods" market is Whole Foods in Campbell. There is a fairly bad Albertsons market located within semi-walking distance from most of the area. The biggest drawback to Willow Glen in the SCHOOL DISTRICT. If you are planning to have your children in public school, I would really do your research on San Jose Unified School District. Its not the greatest, I have heard not so great things about the elementary schools in the Willow Glen vicinity.

Campbell seems to be a great, centrally located area... as does Mountain View. Both have a nice, but smallish downtown area.

I have also lived in Santa Cruz, and want to tell you honestly that you will be hard pressed to find an atmosphere like the Santa Cruz one anywhere in the places you are looking at. Its just different over here. There are some very nice areas and I think you are on the right track.

Morgan Hill is a nice, growing area. You might want to check that out. A bit of a commute to Santa Clara, but there are surface street routes you could take.

I don't know Mt View all that well, but know SJ, Willow Glen, Los Gatos, etc very well. I do not come to this message board often so if you would like to pick my brain furthur please feel free to email me!

best of luck!!!
Jen Downer
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#26 of 35 Old 11-11-2005, 09:42 PM
 
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I work for San Jose Unified in an advisory position. Any info...I mean real info...you want on any school...do not hesitate to ask.
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#27 of 35 Old 11-24-2005, 01:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm here, tired and looking around. From what we've seen we prefer San Jose. I love the SJSU area and found a cute place in Willow Glen. We'll see. I just wanted to say a quick hello and let you all know that your help has been wonderful. Thanks, H.

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#28 of 35 Old 11-24-2005, 04:07 AM
 
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Welcome, and good luck getting settled!
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#29 of 35 Old 11-24-2005, 01:25 PM
 
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If you need anything let me know. I drive through Willow Glen at least twice a day - right down Lincoln.
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#30 of 35 Old 11-30-2005, 12:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi, mamas

We decided on a rental in Willow Glen. It's cute, a good size (if a little small for the lay out), with a great garden! and walking distance to public transport, food shopping and Lincon Ave.

Now, I'm at work looking for some activities for DC. I want to get her active in the community and both of us out and about meeting people. I found a Willow Glen community center with ballet, theater and gymnastic locally but I also want to branch out a bit into greater San Jose (and surrounding areas).

We'll have a car 1-2 days of the work week because DH will commute by train sometimes.

I'm open and eager for ideas...as well as an MDC get together...






Could it be that we're centrally located for a gathering?!?

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