San Carlos and the 500 Most Expensive Zip Codes in the Country.

December 6, 2011

Forbes Special Report.

Compiling lists of the biggest, best and most expensive things in the world has become the trademark of Forbes Magazine.  Want to know who the top 400 richest people in the country are?  They have that.  How about a list of the most powerful women in business today?  Got that one covered too.

In keeping with that theme, Forbes recently published a rather interesting list of the 500 most expensive zip codes for residential property in the United States.  It's interesting because some of the results might not be what you'd expect.  But before we dive into some of those details, it's worth noting  a couple of things in this list.  First, Forbes uses median sales price as their metric for ranking the zip codes.   Some statistical purists may argue that average sales price might be a better metric to gauge the relative worth of a neighborhood.  But regardless, they chose to use the median as the yardstick.

Second, when you succumb to the temptation to compare San Carlos to other nearby communities, it's important to bear in mind that many nearby communities have multiple zip codes, so it's difficult to make that comparison.   Redwood City is a great example — 94062 is the zip code that covers Emerald Hills, and it ranked well at 212th place.  But  it was the only one of the 5 zip codes within Redwood City to make the list.

Where's San Carlos?

A number of questions jumped into my head when I first found that this list existed.   Did 94070 even make the list?   If so, where was it?    How did it compare to other communities of similar size such as Belmont or Foster City?   So, what do you think — did the City of Good Living make the list of ALL of the Cities of Good Living?   Here are the results….(drum roll please)

  • Ranking:  San Carlos ranked 411th on the list of the 500 most expensive zip codes in the country with a median sale price of $742,089.
  • Belmont:  Not only did Belmont make the list, but it stomped San Carlos in the ranking by a whopping 144 places, coming in at 267th and a median of $899,000.
  • Other local cities:  Burlingame ranked high at 144 — Menlo Park hit 156.  Foster City came in at 459.

Here's the List.

If you're interested in killing a few hours and perusing the entire list of 500 zip codes, here's the link:  Forbes' List of the 500 Most Expensive Zip Codes.

So, Belmont is more expensive than San Carlos?  Who woulda thunk it….

Posted in:


  1. JJ on December 6, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Something is very off. According to this list, St Helena (which only has one zip code) has a median sales price of nearly 1.5 mil. It just so happens that I was doing a little research the other day re St Helena property & several local sites stated that the 2011 median sales price is about 670k, which is up from 2010!!!!!

  2. Michael on December 6, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    JJ, the list is flawed due to multiple towns with the same zip code (Hillsborough/Burlingame are both 94010, Los Gatos/Monte Sereno both 95030, Woodside/Redwood City 94062).
    St Helena is surrounded by tiny little towns, so it could be a similar situation.

  3. sc on December 6, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Belmont vs. San Carlos – it is logical that Belmont RE is more expensive. Belmont has a good high school and San Carlos shares a high school with those 4 zip codes in Redwood City which did not make it into the list.

  4. Chuck Gillooley on December 6, 2011 at 9:23 pm


    I thought exactly the same thing to when I first looked at the list. But they actually have split out the cities that share a zip code; for example, for 94010 they have both Hillsborough (#4) and Burlingame (#144) listed separately. Same with 94062 — the Redwood City part came in at #212, while Woodside 94062 came in at #31.

    I’m just still surprised the Belmont came in so much higher than San Carlos….

  5. Michael on December 6, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    I have to disagree, since Belmont also shares Carlmont HS with San Carlos, so they don’t have their own high school either (other than it’s in the city limits). They really don’t have a downtown to speak of and most of Belmont’s streets are a labriynth of narrow pathways without sidewalks or adequate lighting. Personally, To me, it’s a mystery why anyone would choose to pay more to live in Belmont than San Carlos (apples to apples).

  6. Michael on December 6, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Chuck, It’s really a poorly titled list since there are zip codes that are listed twice, so there are not really 500 on it. Also, They can’t list cities unless they combine zip codes and clearly that would affect the standings when you combine and average out cities like san mateo, mountain view and redwood city.

    I agree, Belmont makes no sense ahead of San Carlos unless the lack of quality listings is forcing people to buy in Belmont, driving the prices higher.

  7. sc on December 7, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Carlmont HS covers only a small part of San Carlos, 25% or even less. The most expensive flat areas like White Oaks are in Sequoia High School District. If you do not have kids, San Carlos if a great place to live. I rent a house in San Carlos, elementary and middle schools are good here, but when I decide to buy a house I will look at Belmont just because of high school. As for no downtown in Belmont – why would I care? It’s just a street with shops, restaurants and banks – what would you do there and how often do you go there? Nobody prohibits you to live in Belmont and go to San Carlos downtown, if you really need that “downtown experience”.

  8. Michael on December 7, 2011 at 7:53 pm


    Sort of curious why you rent in San Carlos if you prefer Belmont…it can’t be a cost advantage.

    If Belmont’s high school is the only deciding factor you have when you buy, then so be it. As a renter, you may not have experienced the decision-making process involved in choosing a home to buy.

    Our former home was near Hillsdale HS in San Mateo. I can tell you that when we chose our current home, we looked at Belmont, San Mateo, Woodside, Redwood City as well as San Carlos. We don’t have children, but the schools of course played a role in our choice. Additionally, the features and condition of the house itself, commute location, neighbors and the condition of the neighborhood, lighting, sidewalks, parking, accessability, proximity to shopping, view, resale potential, etc all played a part in our decision and should with you as well. During that search, we only made offers on 3 different properties before we made a deal.

    It’s fair to say you want to buy in Belmont, but if that is your only choice, be prepared to wait a long time for your ideal home or make some compromises. You may eventually learn not to limit yourself to the detriment of finding a home that you truly love outside of your target city.

  9. CE on December 13, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    I have two children (one in 6th grade and one in 9th) and have lived in San Carlos for 10 years. There is a lot of chatter on the blogs lately about Carlmont being the only good choice for high schools, and I’d like to dispute that.

    Carlmont is an excellent school, but so is Sequoia High School. Believe me, when my daughter was in Kindergarden we assumed she would go to Carlmont and didn’t think there was a snowballs chance in you–know-where that she would go to Sequoia. I still hear this from parents of younger children, and from people with no children at all. It is also being repeated, in not so many words, on the blogs.

    I feel very fortunate that many parents of Sequoia students challenged my pre-conceived notions about that school, and we decided to take a deeper look. I found a school that offers top-rate academics equal to those at Carlmont, incredibly well-trained and motivated teachers (many of which come from Stanford), fabulous extra-curricular activities (including sports, performing arts, and an extensive free after school program available to all students), an incredibly safe campus, an amazing sense of community, and an opportunity for my child to experience life in much more diverse setting than she has grown up with in San Carlos. She has made friends from all over Sequoia’s catchment area in her first few months there, and she absolutely loves the school. She couldn’t be happier. This sentiment is shared by all her San Carlos friends who chose Sequoia as well. (FYI, there are approximately 90 kids from SC in the freshman class there.)

    As I said before, Carlmont is also an excellent school – I’m not tying to take anything away from the good work they do. I just want to do my part to challenge people, as I was challenged myself, to look beyond their preconceived notions of Sequoia and to not perpetuate a very tired stereotype of Sequoia on the blogs.

  10. Tim on December 17, 2011 at 2:53 am

    “Incredibly safe school”? I don’t think so. Two years ago, Carlmont’s water polo team played their final game at Sequoia. During the game, at least 5 backpacks were dragged out of the fenced pool area and looted of wallets, debit cards, ID’s,cash and cell phones while the game was being played. I’m the parent that had to deal with this. Unfortunately, surveillance cameras could not image the culprit positively. It seems the cameras are of low quality. A complaint was lodged with Sequoia’s principal, Bonnie Hansen. The only incredulous comment came from Sequoia’s coach. His response was ” you should have known better than to leave the backpacks unattended, this happens all the time here”. This year, at the water polo tournament at Sequoia, a police officer was stationed at the pool. Additionaly, Carlmont parents were assigned to monitor the team’s possessions. It’s not very mind comforting.

    So, my only impression of this school is that there are two kinds of student bodies. The stellar IB students live in a “Green Zone” akin to Baghdad, and then you have the the rest of the “students”…

Leave a Comment