There are certain parts of the country where residents and snootiness go together like a snob and a superiority complex. Of course there’s the West Coast snob – a newer creature who perhaps made his or her money in tech or a startup.
There’s the southern snob, who takes pride in family money and goes to events like cotillions and coming out parties (yes, really.)
And then there’s the snob of the Northeast – a wealthy, high-class, individual, who, don’t even bother asking, is much smarter, more sophisticated, and way more learned than you.
But where are the snobbiest people in the entire country located? Using data scraped from the internet, it’s not too hard to tell. You just have to know where to look.
We’re the snob hounds, and we’re on the case.
After analyzing the 250 largest cities in the nation, we’ve firmly decided that these are the 10 snobbiest cities in the snobbiest country of them all:
- San Francisco
- Washington, D.C.
- Costa Mesa
- Santa Clara
- San Diego
It looks like it’s just about a California sweep, doesn’t it?
First off, we’re not saying there’s anything wrong with the people in these cities. If we had the money and knowledge a lot of the people in these cities do, we’d probably be a little snobby, too.
And to be clear, we didn’t form this list based on our own biases — we relied on the cold hard data.
How we determined the snobbiest places in America
We started by making a list of every place in America with more than 100,000 people based on the 2013 American Community Survey. That left us with more than 250 cities to rank.
We then looked at the following snob-tastic criteria for each of the places on the list:
- Median home price (Higher is snobbier)
- Median household income (Higher is snobbier)
- Percent of population with a college degree (Higher is snobbier)
- Private schools per capita (Higher is snobbier)
- Theaters per capita (Higher is snobbier)
- Art galleries per capita (Higher is snobbier)
- Number of Whole Foods per capita
Time to put on your monocle and go through these snooty places.
1. San Francisco
Median household income: $73,802
Median home price: $750,000
There are snooty places, there are snobby places, and then there’s San Francisco. If you haven’t spent much time there, know this: They probably think they’re better than you.
When you look at the data it’s hard to disagree. San Franciscans live in the most expensive homes in the country (albeit they are very much overpriced). And San Francisco folks are really smart: 52% of its residents have a college degree.
But they’re not just money snobs in the bay area. They’re culture snobs, too. San Francisco has more theaters and art galleries per capita than anywhere else in the nation.
So don’t try to get into an argument with someone in San Francisco about post-modern art. They’ll win every time.
Median household income: $63,505
Median home price: $707,000
Right across the bay from San Francisco is Berkeley, which is also right up there with apparent snobbery.
Whose kids are the most pampered in all the land? Berkeley’s kids, that’s who. There are more private schools in Berkeley than any other city in the nation.
And they’re culture snobs here, too. Berkeley has the 2nd most art-related venues and theaters in America (right behind San Francisco.)
So, if you send your kids to Cal Berkeley, they might turn from hippies into snobs in 4 years.
Median household income: $68,310
Median home price: $620,600
Pasadena (aka “Crown City”) isn’t too far behind the cities above when it comes to the number of private schools in the area (3rd in the nation), and theaters per capita (4th). It’s also one of the wealthiest cities in the country, too.
Have you ever watched the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day? That’s in Pasadena. So is Caltech, the Jet Propulsion Lab and the Norton Simon Museum.
Does that make you snobby? Only when you brag about it.
Median household income: $72,613
Median home price: $396,700
Scottsdale is called, “A desert version of Miami’s South Beach,” by the New York Times. It’s a huge tourist draw with over 70 resorts and hotels, which caters to the higher-end, white-collar crowd.
And they don’t call it ‘Snottsdale’ for nothing.
When you have the highest number of destination spas per capita, that’s also a sign that you’re slightly above the rest of us when it comes to snobbery.
Scottsdale ranks 3rd in the number of art galleries (there are 125 professional art galleries and studios). It’s home to several prestigious art festivals each year as well.
Plus, Scottsdale residents make a pretty penny and they’re really smart. Like, ‘5th smartest in the nation’ smart.
Median household income: $63,470
Median home price: $441,000
The folks up in the northwest are snobs for sure. Especially in Seattle, home of the snobbiest culinary restaurant on earth, Starbucks. It’s also a huge technology driven city, home to places like Amazon.
And, Nordstrom is headquartered there. That’s so snobtastic.
Seattle has the 5th most theaters in the nation per capita, so there are undoubtedly long lines at the latest Les Miz productions. It also boasts the 8th most art galleries in the country. With places like the Seattle Opera and Pacific Northwest Ballet in town, it’s clear there are some real culture snobs here.
Median household income: $92,663
Median home price: $646,000
There’s one big reason Irvine is on this list. It starts with an M and ends in ONEY. These folks are just loaded. And they’re smart, too. Not only do families in Irvine command the 6th biggest salaries in the U.S., they’re the 5th smartest. Two-thirds of the residents in Irvine have a college degree.
In fact, Irvine is the smartest city in the nation. Only 4% of residents don’t have a high school diploma.
What Irvine lacks is culture. While the theater scene has a big following, the art crowd is lacking.
That’s okay. They can just afford to buy the paintings and look at them in the comfort of their large homes.
7. Washington, D.C.
Median household income: $64,267
Median home price: $443,000
If you know anyone who lives in D.C., you’d definitely agree with this list. While there is a large percent of the population that’s struggling here, the wealthy, connected portion of the population more than makes up for it.
D.C. is a culture snobs dream; there are hundreds of galleries, theaters and other snooty type venues here. There are lots of private art museums here, which house major collections from some of the world’s leading figures.
And they have a world famous opera, ballet and symphony house.
Does being from D.C. automatically make you a snob? Only when you act like it.
8. Costa Mesa
Median household income: $65,373
Median home price: $592,000
It’s not surprising that Orange County has two cities on this list. Irvine is much wealthier, but Costa Mesa has more culture. You could make a case that every city in Orange County should be on this list, actually.
There are art galleries up the wazoo in Costa Mesa. In fact, it’s called “The City of The Arts.”
Though we didn’t measure shopping venues, you could make a case that Costa Mesa has one of the highest concentrations of snobby retail in the nation, featuring places like The Camp, The Lab, Metro Point and South Coast Plaza
9. Santa Clara
Median household income: $92,198
Median home price: $618,000
Santa Clara is a very affluent city a short drive south of San Francisco. While $92k a year might not go very far in the bay area, it’s certainly one of the highest earning communities in the U.S.
And, like some of the other snobby bay area cities, there are lots of private schools in Santa Clara.
Santa Clara is home to several huge technology companies, the private and very uppity Santa Clara University, and Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers.
If you live in Santa Clara, you brag about the fact that you live in Santa Clara. Plain and simple.
10. San Diego
Median household income: $63,990
Median home price: $451,000
So here’s the thing about San Diego: Sure, there are a lot of ‘kick back’ people who live here, and the people who live here are friendlier than those in the bay area.
But many are snobs nonetheless. They’re just passively aggressive about it. They know San Diego might be the ‘best’ city in the nation, and they think they’re better than you and I because they live there.
It’s got perfect weather, there are lots of art openings all the time and lots of people there are smart and successful.
Are we jealous? Yes we are. We’d be snobby if we lived there, too.
Summing Up The Humble Pie
Well there you have it, the places in America that needed a piece of humble pie, with San Francisco in particular being called out as the snobbiest city in the nation.
So sure, we may call you guys a little ‘snobby’. But it’s only because we’re jealous.
If you’re curious, here are the least snobby (or most laid back) cities in America:
- Brownsville, TX
- Kansas City, KS
- Pasadena, TX
- Laredo, TX
- Warren, MI
And in case you missed it, we ranked the worst cities to live in America. Click here to read that one.
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