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Monte Sereno
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At Home in Monte Sereno

Monte Sereno, a serene mountain city in California, is a unique place to live. The city is nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, offering a tranquil and beautiful environment for its residents. Despite being one of the wealthiest cities in Santa Clara County and the entire United States, Monte Sereno maintains a low profile, often mistaken as a part of its neighboring towns, Los Gatos and Saratoga.

A Distinct Community

Unlike most cities, Monte Sereno is strictly residential, with no commercial buildings within its borders. While this may seem challenging, residents appreciate the absence of commercial hustle and find their retail and dining needs adequately met by options in neighboring Los Gatos and Saratoga. The city’s commitment to preserving its semi-rural atmosphere is reflected in the absence of sidewalks, street lights, and shopping centers. The homes are mostly hidden behind trees, maintaining the city’s bucolic setting.

The city is approximately 50 miles southeast of San Francisco and just minutes from the heart of Silicon Valley. The city’s beauty, location, and superior schools have made it the chosen home for many Silicon Valley executives. Monte Sereno is defined almost as much by what you won’t see as by what you will. What you won’t see are parking lots and shopping malls or identical houses crowded next to each other on treeless subdivision streets.

A Peek into Monte Sereno’s Past

Monte Sereno was established in the early 1900s as a rural agricultural community. The area was dotted with ranch houses, orchards, dairies, and livestock, and the mountain slopes of the southern portion of the city contained summer homes, recreational properties, and a few large estates. The beauty and tranquility of the area attracted artists and writers looking for a peaceful and inspirational place to pursue their craft.

Steinbeck’s Influence on Monte Sereno

The city is known for being the home of the famous American author John Steinbeck, who wrote The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men in a wooden house in what is now Monte Sereno. This artistic legacy adds to the city’s charm and allure.

“A few of the City points of interest are the home in which American author John Steinbeck wrote the Grapes of Wrath and the site of the Billy Jones Rail Road.”

Governance and Services

Monte Sereno is a general law City, comprised of a Council Manager form of government. The voters elect five City Councilmembers to serve four-year terms on the City Council. The City Council appoints a professional City Manager to serve as the Chief Administrative Officer. Under the direction of the City Council, the City Manager is responsible for the day-to-day functions of the city and the administration of City Services.

The City directly provides administrative services, building permits/inspections, planning/design review, engineering/public works, city clerk/election services, and finance. It is through these partnerships that Monte Sereno is able to provide high-quality services that are economically efficient.

Monte Sereno Demographics

The racial makeup of Monte Sereno is diverse, with a large majority of White residents, followed by a significant Asian population. Hispanic or Latino of any race constitute a small percentage of the population. The city has a high percentage of residents with a Master’s degree or higher, reflecting the educated nature of the community.

Monte Sereno Real Estate

The real estate market in Monte Sereno is one of the priciest in the Bay Area, with property values in line with Atherton, Woodside, Hillsborough, and its closest neighbors, Los Gatos and Saratoga. The city offers a range of housing options, from luxurious homes to charming cottages, all set amidst beautiful trees and winding streets.

Public Services of Monte Sereno

Public services for Monte Sereno are served by those of the town of Los Gatos. These include the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department, the Los Gatos Parks and Recreation Department, and Los Gatos youth sports leagues.

Schools in Monte Sereno

Most of Monte Sereno’s residents are served by the Los Gatos Union Elementary School or Saratoga Elementary School districts (for elementary and middle schools) and Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School Districts (for high school). A small portion of residents, primarily in the Bicknell Road area, are served by the Campbell Union School and the Campbell Union High School districts.

Notable Events and People

Monte Sereno has been home to several notable individuals, including John Steinbeck, Neal Cassady, a figure of the Beat generation, and Thomas Kinkade, an American painter of popular realistic, pastoral, and idyllic subjects.


Monte Sereno is a unique city that offers a peaceful and luxurious lifestyle. With its rich history, artistic heritage, and natural beauty, it is truly a hidden gem in the Bay Area. It’s a haven of serenity for those who’ve made it to the top of the mountain and are hoping it includes a little peace and quiet.

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