Palo Alto apparently isn’t as likeable as it used to be. According to new survey results, 58 percent of residents surveyed didn’t give Palo Alto a rating of “excellent” or “good” when asked about the “overall direction that the city is taking,” an 11 percent decrease in satisfaction since 2017. The results of the 2018 National Citizen Survey, sent to 4,500 Palo Alto residents and completed by 889, were released in January.
According to the survey, among the reasons Palo Alto has become less attractive to residents are the limited access to affordable and quality healthcare, as well as limited public transportation. According to Carol Carnevale, a long-time realtor, the high cost of living is another reason people may be dissatisfied with living in the area, especially senior citizens.
“We have had several seniors relocate to other states because they do not feel the need to stay in California and their retirement savings go further in other states.”
Carol Carnevale, a long-time realtor
Carnevale also said that with the high cost of living, seniors may be looking for a place with property taxes that are lower or have little to no state tax. The state tax in California is the highest in the nation that ranges from 7.25 to 12.3 percent based on income.
On the other hand, there are many positives aspects to living in the heart of Silicon Valley that make people want to retire in Palo Alto, according to Carnevale. These include the wonderful community, a nearby university, diversity, proximity to the city and to two international airports and the fact that Palo Alto is equipped with outstanding medical facilities. Therefore, many seniors look for retirement home facilities in Palo Alto like The Moldaw and the Vi. But, as Carnevale explains, even though many seniors or older members of the community are looking for places to live outside of Palo Alto, there are still many great opportunities within the city.
”One couple, in particular, wanted to make the move before age 70.5 when they are required to start withdrawing from their IRA (individual retirement account) accounts.”
Carol Carnevale, a long-time realtor
Juan Carlos Rey, a parent of two Paly graduates, moved from Argentina to Palo Alto 30 years ago. The main reason Rey moved to Palo Alto was so that he could complete his Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Stanford University. Thirty years later, Rey still lives in Palo Alto, and plans to stay around even after retirement.
For Rey, who’s planning to retire, the four main reasons for staying were the great community, diversity, amenities and the weather.
Even with all of these factors are keeping him here, Rey thinks there are still some things that could be improved. One of these is traffic, as it is becoming worse mainly during rush hour due to the increase in population. The value of healthcare is also decreasing in Palo Alto mainly because of the cost. Rey said he does not only see this as a problem in Palo Alto, but also nationwide. Both reasons are among those listed the National Citizen Survey.
However, a receptionist who preferred to stay anonymous and works at Channing House, an independent living community in Palo Alto, stated that the facility is full with residents. “We have a waiting list for certain apartment rooms, since we are in the middle of renovating,” she said.
Due to the renovation, the number of people interested in registering and calling has gone up recently. In terms of expenses, she said that renting a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment costs around $5,000 a month, though cost also depends on what floor residents live on.
She also explained that most of the people in the community are from or grew up in Palo Alto, and moved to the East Coast when they grew up. When they were ready to retire, they moved back to Palo Alto mainly due to family or friends who live in the area.
Although there may be dissatisfaction with the direction the city of Palo Alto is taking in some areas, the number of people interested in Palo Alto, based on the scarcity of existing homes for sale, has increased due to what many say is the positive family atmosphere and the vibrant community with many resources.