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Located in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Saratoga is a small city known as one of California's most expensive and well-educated suburbs. It's nestled along the western side of Silicon Valley and provides a small-town lifestyle to many commuters in the tech industry. You'll enjoy a variety of high-end restaurants and wineries in the area, as well as large parks and cultural institutions.
The History of Saratoga
Like much of California, Saratoga started as a frontier town, offering agricultural opportunities to early settlers. The first inhabitants raised cattle, sheep and other livestock, and farmed the land for a variety of crops. The town has always produced an abundance of citrus trees, which provided food and a source of income for early residents.
The first sawmill erected in Saratoga served as the start of the town's industrial heritage. William Campbell built it in 1848 and leased it to a resident named Martin McCarty. The gold rush interrupted Saratoga's rise in the industrial sector, increasing the city's population and earning it national attention. After the gold rush, new businesses, from tanneries and flour mills to furniture factories, found a home in Saratoga.
In the mid-1800s, a mineral spring, with a chemical content that closely matched that of a similar spring in Saratoga, New York, was discovered. From then on, the town became known as Saratoga, and after the railroad connected it with other cities and towns in California, it began to attract seasonal traffic as a beautiful resort destination.
As was common for many turn-of-the-century resort towns, Saratoga's residents returned to their roots as the 20th century dawned. Industry gave way to agriculture once again, with local professionals purchasing land and planting fruit trees and other crops. Today, it remains a largely residential town, with both commercial and industrial districts, surrounded by plenty of farm-land.
Living in Saratoga
Despite its small size, Saratoga offers an abundance of public green spaces, entertainment venues, shops and restaurants. You'll also find libraries, gyms, gardens and coffee shops dotted throughout the city. The city is popular with families, thanks to its extremely low crime rate and top-rated schools.
One of Saratoga's most popular local establishments is Montalvo Arts Center. Here, you'll find Villa Montalvo, a historic mansion that housed businessman James Duval Phelan in the early 1900s. His 175-acre estate, including several large buildings and preserved natural areas,was donated to the city upon his death. The center has a handful of walking and hiking trails, extensive gardens, and several outdoor sculptures. You can also visit an on-site art gallery, two theaters and an artists' residency complex.
Local vineyards and wineries are another important part of Saratoga's identity. A local pioneer founded The Mountain Winery in the early 1900s, and it's been a local landmark for over a century. If you're interested in local shopping and restaurants, you can spend a day at Saratoga Village, the city's downtown district. The area contains a high number of locally-owned businesses, which provide plenty of unique shops to browse.
A number of different school districts serve the city's collection of highly-rated public schools. There are a handful of private schools in Saratoga as well, including parochial and secular campuses.
If you're looking for higher education in the city, you'll find it at West Valley College. Here, you can pursue a variety of two-year degrees and certificate programs.
Resources for Moving to Saratoga
Here are a few handy resources for planning your transition to Saratoga:
- Utilities: The Santa Clara Water District and San Jose Water Co. facilitate residential water and sewer services. Pacific Gas and Electric and Silicon Valley Clean Energy are two of the major energy providers in the area.
- Garbage and Recycling: In most single-family homes in Saratoga, you'll receive three separate disposal cans for curbside collection of trash, recyclables and green waste. You'll choose the size of your cans, with larger cans costing a higher monthly fee.
- Transportation: Public transportation in Saratoga is very minimal, with just a few bus routes throughout the area.
Housing costs in Saratoga are drastically higher than in other California cities, with a median home price rising well above $2 million. It's known as one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the country, and the home and rent prices reflect this status. Prices have been rising very quickly over the past few years, so you may be able to make a good investment for the future now.