These Are The 10 Worst Bay Area Suburbs


We used science and data to determine which San Francisco suburbs are the real pits.

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The Bay Area conjures up images of tons of things to do, quality people, and a bustling economy. The region consistently ranks as one of the best places to live across the country.

But not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround the Bay Area.

So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?

Today, we’ll use science and data to determine which Bay Area ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the region if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the suburbs to live up to San Francisco proper, although Piedmont certainly tries.

We examined the 73 biggest suburbs of the region to find out the worst places to live. And while you won’t find them on the worst places to live in California, these ten places are a little too far downwind of the best cities in terms of quality of life:

  1. North Richmond
  2. Richmond
  3. Hayward
  4. Tara Hills
  5. San Pablo
  6. Rollingwood
  7. Cherryland
  8. Marin City
  9. San Lorenzo
  10. Ashland

Read on to see how we determined the places around the Bay Area that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger. And once you’re done, you can look at the bottom of the story for a complete chart of worst to best.

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How we determined the worst Bay Area ‘burbs

To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things. We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the Census’s most recent 2010-2014 American Community Survey, this is the criteria we used:

  • Low unemployment (Less jobs)
  • Low median income (Less pay)
  • Low population density (No things to do)
  • Low home values (No one’s willing to pay to live here)
  • High number of high school drop outs

Then, we ranked each place that have over 5,000 people around the Bay Area for each of these criteria from worst to best.

The place with the lowest average rankings for these criteria ranks as the worst suburb of the Bay Area.

Read on below to learn more about these terrible places around the region to live. Or skip to the end to see the list of all 73 suburbs ranked from worst to best.

This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased. Snarkiness incorporated for entertainment purposes only. Hold on to your pants.

1. North Richmond

North Richmond, CA

Source: Google Maps

Population: 3,926
Median Income: $35,288
Median Home Value: $232,000

2. Richmond

Richmond, CA

Source: Richmond CA

Population: 106,469
Median Income: $54,857
Median Home Value: $271,300

3. Hayward

Hayward, CA

Source: wikipedia

Population: 149,596
Median Income: $62,691
Median Home Value: $339,700

4. Tara Hills

Tara Hills, CA

Source: Google Maps

Population: 4,767
Median Income: $57,708
Median Home Value: $286,500

5. San Pablo

San Pablo, CA

Source: wikipedia

Population: 29,516
Median Income: $42,746
Median Home Value: $183,300

6. Rollingwood

Rollingwood, CA

Source: Google Maps

Population: 2,832
Median Income: $48,974
Median Home Value: $166,400

7. Cherryland

Cherryland, CA

Source: Google Maps

Population: 15,244
Median Income: $50,374
Median Home Value: $287,300

8. Marin City

Marin City, CA

Source: Google Maps

Population: 2,958
Median Income: $39,872
Median Home Value: $475,000

9. San Lorenzo

San Lorenzo, CA

Source: Google Maps

Population: 24,563
Median Income: $74,283
Median Home Value: $350,700

10. Ashland

Oakland, CA

Source: Oakland CA

Population: 402,339
Median Income: $52,962
Median Home Value: $435,000

The areas around the Bay Area that you probably don’t want to live in

Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding the Bay Area with North Richmond landing ahead of the pack.

As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around the Bay Area aren’t all bad. Piedmont takes the cake as the best place to live around the region.

For the chart below, these are ranked from worst to best.
For more California reading, check out:

Detailed List Of San Francisco Suburbs

Place Rank Population Median Income Median Home Value
North Richmond 1 3,926 $35,288 $232,000
Richmond 2 106,469 $54,857 $271,300
Hayward 3 149,596 $62,691 $339,700
Tara Hills 4 4,767 $57,708 $286,500
San Pablo 5 29,516 $42,746 $183,300
Rollingwood 6 2,832 $48,974 $166,400
Cherryland 7 15,244 $50,374 $287,300
Marin City 8 2,958 $39,872 $475,000
San Lorenzo 9 24,563 $74,283 $350,700
Ashland 10 23,360 $45,074 $286,300
San Leandro 12 87,159 $64,279 $372,600
Crockett 13 3,151 $81,667 $357,900
East Palo Alto 14 28,920 $52,716 $386,100
Pinole 15 18,754 $74,379 $346,800
Rodeo 16 9,648 $68,701 $308,800
Novato 17 53,451 $76,609 $554,400
Union City 18 71,675 $82,564 $484,300
Brisbane 19 4,421 $80,233 $609,700
El Sobrante CDP (Contra Costa County) 20 13,122 $60,732 $291,800
El Cerrito 21 24,136 $88,380 $589,100
North Fair Oaks 22 15,181 $63,343 $558,700
Castro Valley 23 62,363 $83,442 $539,200
Newark 24 43,635 $86,521 $455,500
San Rafael 25 58,588 $75,668 $691,400
Alameda 26 75,763 $76,439 $628,500
Highlands-Baywood Park 27 4,298 $135,345 $1,000,001
Santa Venetia 28 5,017 $81,583 $523,800
Fremont 29 221,654 $103,591 $614,500
Fairview 30 9,852 $90,365 $428,300
San Bruno 31 42,090 $81,420 $602,300
South San Francisco 32 65,537 $78,101 $589,100
Montalvin Manor 33 3,055 $64,778 $146,300
Fairfax 34 7,546 $93,354 $681,000
Daly City 35 103,897 $74,489 $564,000
Emeryville 36 10,497 $69,329 $317,200
Redwood City 37 79,736 $81,955 $795,000
Berkeley 38 115,688 $65,283 $719,500
East Richmond Heights 39 3,501 $68,185 $379,000
Portola Valley 40 4,478 $182,381 $1,000,001
Broadmoor 41 4,734 $100,109 $581,400
San Mateo 42 100,114 $90,087 $736,600
Bayview CDP (Contra Costa County) 43 2,025 $82,431 $274,300
Hercules 44 24,596 $100,267 $372,900
San Anselmo 45 12,527 $100,681 $837,900
San Carlos 46 29,166 $125,747 $939,600
Albany 47 19,020 $78,769 $639,500
Menlo Park 48 32,792 $115,650 $1,000,001
Pacifica 49 38,283 $96,875 $613,700
Strawberry CDP (Marin County) 50 5,684 $87,870 $1,000,001
Larkspur 51 12,131 $82,568 $1,000,001
Tamalpais-Homestead Valley 52 10,331 $138,598 $976,200
Millbrae 53 22,177 $91,846 $915,400
Palo Alto 54 65,998 $126,771 $1,000,001
Atherton 55 7,034 $250,001 $1,000,001
Lucas Valley-Marinwood 56 6,168 $129,389 $770,200
Belmont 57 26,503 $106,287 $910,600
Sausalito 58 7,043 $111,702 $1,000,001
Hillsborough 59 11,148 $250,001 $1,000,001
Tiburon 60 9,100 $130,661 $1,000,001
Kentfield 61 6,667 $175,573 $1,000,001
Corte Madera 62 9,478 $113,279 $912,800
Mill Valley 63 14,178 $132,192 $1,000,001
Woodside 64 5,427 $206,528 $1,000,001
Burlingame 65 29,618 $90,890 $1,000,001
Belvedere 66 2,036 $166,250 $1,000,001
Foster City 67 31,809 $114,651 $850,800
Sleepy Hollow 68 2,584 $189,688 $1,000,001
Ross 69 2,227 $186,477 $1,000,001
Emerald Lake Hills 70 4,519 $166,063 $1,000,001
Kensington 71 5,351 $136,625 $736,000
West Menlo Park 72 3,743 $169,798 $1,000,001
Piedmont 73 10,957 $212,222 $1,000,001

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