The city’s origins lie in Rancho Milpitas, granted to Californio ranchero José María Alviso in 1835. Milpitas incorporated in 1954 and has since become home to numerous high tech companies, as part of Silicon Valley.

Compared to rural parts of California, living in Milpitas is more expensive, as it is throughout Silicon Valley. Compared to other South Bay bedroom communities Milpitas is considered affordable. For example, a regular one-story, detached single-family home with a 1,300-square-foot (140 m2) size sells for between $600,000 to $700,000 in the city. These prices are slightly more affordable than the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area, as a similar sized house may cost well over a million dollars in more affluent cities such as Palo Alto, Cupertino or Saratoga.