These Are The 10 Worst San Jose Suburbs For 2018


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

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Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround San Jose.

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 San Jose ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the San Jose area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the suburbs to live up to San Jose proper, although Los Altos certainly tries.

Of course, not all suburbs of San Jose are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado…

We examined the 28 biggest suburbs of San Jose to find out the worst places to live. And while you won’t necessarily find them on the worst places to live in California lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of San Jose in terms of quality of life.

Here are the 10 worst suburbs around San Jose for 2018:

  1. Watsonville (Photos)
  2. Hayward (Photos)
  3. Gilroy (Photos)
  4. East Palo Alto (Photos)
  5. Santa Cruz (Photos)
  6. Newark (Photos)
  7. Morgan Hill (Photos)
  8. Milpitas (Photos)
  9. Capitola (Photos)
  10. Livermore (Photos)

Read on to see how we determined the places around San Jose that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.

Or, if you’re thinking of moving to elsewhere in California check out the best places in California overall or the worst.

And remember, there are some good places to live around San Jose too.

Editor’s Note: If you see a slight difference between the worst in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it’s because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.

For more California reading, check out:

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around San Jose for 2018

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 most recent American Community Survey data, this is the criteria we used:

  • High unemployment rate
  • Low median household incomes
  • Low population density (no things to do)
  • Low home values
  • A lot of high school drop outs
  • High poverty
  • High rate of uninsured families

FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of San Jose.

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 5,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 28 suburbs to evaluate around San Jose.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 28 in each category, where 1 was the “worst”.

Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.

And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index the “Worst Suburb near San Jose.” We’re lookin’ at you, Watsonville.

Read on below to learn more about what it’s like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.

1. Watsonville

Watsonville, California

Source: Public domain

Population: 52,915
Unemployment Rate: 8.7%
Median Home Price: $361,000
Median Income: $49,487
More on Watsonville: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

We’ll get the ball rolling with Watsonville, the absolute worst place to live around San Jose according to the data.

And in the world of worst rankings, Watsonville beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 1st worst in the San Jose area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 1st worst when it comes to home values.

But hey, at least it’s cheap to live there. But there’s a reason for that… it’s Watsonville.

You won’t feel bad about not having a great income for the area, there aren’t a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.

2. Hayward

Hayward, California

Population: 154,507
Unemployment Rate: 8.0%
Median Home Price: $404,500
Median Income: $68,138
More on Hayward: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Welcome to Hayward. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.

This city is 27.8 miles to San Jose. Income levels here are the 4th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $68,138 a year, which doesn’t go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.

But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.

3. Gilroy

Gilroy, California

Source: Public domain

Population: 52,576
Unemployment Rate: 7.5%
Median Home Price: $528,700
Median Income: $84,351
More on Gilroy: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Back up the highway we go for the third worst San Jose suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Gilroy on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that’s an understatement.

In terms of numbers, it’s in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school drop out rate is poor compared to other San Jose suburbs.

But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.

4. East Palo Alto

East Palo Alto, California

Population: 29,353
Unemployment Rate: 8.1%
Median Home Price: $515,900
Median Income: $55,170
More on East Palo Alto: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

If you live in East Palo Alto, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 2nd lowest San Jose suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the 3rd worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near San Jose. Remember, we looked at 28 cities for this study.

East Palo Alto is about 20.9 miles to downtown.

5. Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, California

Population: 63,310
Unemployment Rate: 8.5%
Median Home Price: $707,600
Median Income: $62,471
More on Santa Cruz: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Santa Cruz has the distinction of being a San Jose suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.

All snarkiness aside, Santa Cruz has the 13th lowest home values in the metro San Jose area, where the median price is $707,600. To put that into perspective, in Los Altos, the median income is $250,000, which is the best in the area.

Santa Cruz has an unemployment rate of 8.5% which ranks 2nd worst.

6. Newark

Newark, California

Source: Public domain

Population: 44,677
Unemployment Rate: 5.7%
Median Home Price: $547,800
Median Income: $91,965
More on Newark: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Newark has 44,677 residents that probably know it’s a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you’ve ever been there, you don’t need to look at the data.)

Incomes are towards the bottom and the poverty rate sits at 6.9%.

7. Morgan Hill

Morgan Hill, California

Population: 41,839
Unemployment Rate: 6.4%
Median Home Price: $678,900
Median Income: $100,900
More on Morgan Hill: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Ah, Morgan Hill. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around San Jose.

It’s the place with the 8th most out of work residents in the San Jose metro area (6.4%).

8. Milpitas

Milpitas, California

Population: 73,447
Unemployment Rate: 7.3%
Median Home Price: $635,300
Median Income: $103,623
More on Milpitas: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Milpitas is a city about 10.2 miles from San Jose, but San Jose probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.

You’d be hard pressed to find a worse place to live. Milpitas has the 12th most uninsured people, 10th worst incomes, and has the 6th highest unemployment rate (7.3%) in the entire San Jose metro area.

Homes only cost $635,300 for a reason. That’s cheap for San Jose standards.

9. Capitola

Capitola, California

Source: Public domain

Population: 10,109
Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
Median Home Price: $560,500
Median Income: $73,935
More on Capitola: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

If you absolutely have to live near San Jose, then Capitola might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst San Jose suburb.

About 4.3% of residents are out of work.

10. Livermore

Livermore, California

Population: 86,493
Unemployment Rate: 4.6%
Median Home Price: $595,500
Median Income: $104,223
More on Livermore: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Rounding out the ten worst San Jose suburbs to call home is Livermore.

Located 27.0 miles outside the city, Livermores is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 20th highest unemployment rate (4.6%), and poverty is far above the area average.

The areas around San Jose where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2018

Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding San Jose with Watsonville casting itself ahead of the pack.

As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around San Jose aren’t all bad. Los Altos takes the cake as the best place to live around San Jose.

For more California reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst San Jose Suburbs

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Median Home Price Median Income
1 Watsonville 52,915 8.7% $361,000 $49,487
2 Hayward 154,507 8.0% $404,500 $68,138
3 Gilroy 52,576 7.5% $528,700 $84,351
4 East Palo Alto 29,353 8.1% $515,900 $55,170
5 Santa Cruz 63,310 8.5% $707,600 $62,471
6 Newark 44,677 5.7% $547,800 $91,965
7 Morgan Hill 41,839 6.4% $678,900 $100,900
8 Milpitas 73,447 7.3% $635,300 $103,623
9 Capitola 10,109 4.3% $560,500 $73,935
10 Livermore 86,493 4.6% $595,500 $104,223
11 Santa Clara 122,725 5.2% $734,500 $102,533
12 Fremont 227,934 5.3% $702,800 $111,613
13 Scotts Valley 11,824 5.9% $654,600 $104,150
14 Mountain View 78,827 4.7% $973,000 $109,249
15 Sunnyvale 149,596 6.0% $859,100 $109,799
16 Los Gatos 30,491 5.0% $1,338,400 $127,278
17 Campbell 40,788 3.9% $804,500 $103,704
18 Menlo Park 33,319 3.6% $1,581,700 $126,045
19 Dublin 54,523 4.0% $693,900 $128,403
20 Pleasanton 77,046 4.3% $828,900 $130,170
21 Palo Alto 66,649 4.8% $1,702,100 $137,043
22 Cupertino 60,297 6.8% $1,214,300 $147,929
23 San Carlos 29,596 5.8% $1,107,600 $135,220
24 Saratoga 30,830 5.5% $1,742,900 $169,579
25 Atherton 7,127 6.1% $2,000,000 $250,000
26 Woodside 5,496 3.4% $2,000,000 $223,934
27 Los Altos Hills 8,376 3.5% $2,000,000 $243,701
28 Los Altos 30,238 3.2% $2,000,000 $187,656

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