Residents Deeply Satisfied With Life in Palo Alto

Annual report by City Auditor details wide range of city efforts, accomplishments.

Palo Altans are largely satisfied with the quality of life here, according to a report released Monday by the City Auditor.

The tenth annual “Service Efforts and Accomplishments Report” offers a detailed and expansive look at how residents feel about living in Palo Alto, as well as their attitudes toward city efforts, including police services, utilities, emergency preparedness, and environmental sustainability.

A full 92 percent of residents rated the overall quality of life in Palo Alto as “good” or “excellent” in 2011.

The study reveals a population here that is highly educated, affluent, and that loves to live and work in Palo Alto.

Of residents over the age of 25, 80 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 50 percent have a graduate or professional degree. A 2009 Forbes report named Palo Alto as one of “America’s Most Educated Small Towns,” ranking first in California, according to the report.

Compared to 500 other cities surveyed by the National Research Center, Palo Alto ranks in the 100th percentile as a place to work, 90th percentile for overall quality of life, and in the 88th percentile as a place to live.

89 percent of residents rated Palo Alto as a “good” or “excellent” place to work, and 94 percent said it was a “good” or “excellent” place to live. 93 percent gave those same marks for Palo Alto being a “place to raise children,” and 80 percent for the services offered seniors here.

Only 51 percent of respondents rated services to low-income people as “good” or “excellent,” however.

The results also showed that residents have a very strong sense of community here, with 92 percent of respondents rating Palo Alto’s overall reputation as “good” or “excellent” and 78 percent feeling that the city was open and accepting towards people of diverse backgrounds.

Also, , residents here seem to be very neighborly toward one another. 90 percent of people said they provided help to a friend or neighbor within the last 12 months, although only 49 percent said they had talked or visited with immediate neighbors at least several times per week.

The city was incorporated in 1894, and is today largely built out, with 64,400 residents covering 26 square miles.

Sixty-five percent of the population here is in the labor force, and people spend on average 22 minutes commuting to work, up one minute from the 2010 average. The median household income is $126,740, and the average price of a single-family home is $1,514,900.

Only 21 percent of residents here earn less than $49,999, and 41 percent earn more than $150,000.

Palo Alto is a predominantly White and Asian town, with African American or Black resident comprising only two percent of the population. Whites make up 64 percent and Asians 27 percent of the population here.

Overall, residents here also rated community amenities very highly. Compared to other cities, Palo Alto ranks in the 98th percentile for educational opportunities, and 56 percent of locals said employment opportunities here are “good” or “excellent,” placing the city in the 96th percentile. But the city is near the bottom of the list for affordable housing—ranking in the 6th percentile—and is in the 23rd percentile for availability of affordable quality childcare.

In short, Palo Alto is a fantastic place to live, if you have a decent amount of money.

randy albin March 20, 2012 at 08:29 PM
i grew up in palo alto. the Gunn Alumni Association is very active. do you also reveal that the extraordinarily high cost of living makes it prohibitive for native palo altans to actually live in palo alto?
Aaron Selverston March 20, 2012 at 08:58 PM
That's a really good question, Randy. I haven't seen a survey of native Palo Altans, but it would be fascinating to see how many are still living here in the city, and how difficult it is for them to do so. What have you noticed?


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