Worst San Jose Suburbs For 2020


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

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the worst suburbs around San Jose.

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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 30 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.

What's the worst suburb of San Jose? Watsonville ranks as the worst suburb of San Jose for 2020 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

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:

The 10 Worst San Jose Suburbs To Live For 2020

Watsonville, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 53,616
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $54,001 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.2% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $434,900 (1st lowest)
More on Watsonville:  Data | Photos

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.

Gilroy, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 55,525
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Income: $94,548 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $636,200 (4th lowest)
More on Gilroy:  Data | Photos

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

This city is 23.8 miles to San Jose. Income levels here are the 6th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $94,548 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.

Hayward, CA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 158,241
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Income: $80,093 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.1% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $519,600 (2nd lowest)
More on Hayward:  Data | Photos

Back up the highway we go for the third worst San Jose suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Hayward 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.

East Palo Alto, CA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 29,633
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $64,794 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $704,500 (7th lowest)
More on East Palo Alto:  Data | Photos

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 6th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near San Jose. Remember, we looked at 30 cities for this study.

East Palo Alto is about 20.9 miles to downtown.

Santa Cruz, CA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 64,273
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $70,102 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.3% (1st highest)
Median Home Value: $803,800 (11th lowest)
More on Santa Cruz:  Data | Photos

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 11th lowest home values in the metro San Jose area, where the median price is $803,800. To put that into perspective, in Los Altos, the median income is $250,001, which is the best in the area.

Santa Cruz has an unemployment rate of 8.33% which ranks 1st worst.

Morgan Hill, CA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 43,876
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Income: $119,753 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (11th highest)
Median Home Value: $799,100 (10th lowest)
More on Morgan Hill:  Data | Photos

Morgan Hill has 43,876 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 6.131306404574366%.

Capitola, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 10,135
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Median Income: $80,090 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 1.8% (30th highest)
Median Home Value: $634,400 (3rd lowest)
More on Capitola:  Data | Photos

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

It's the place with the 30th most out of work residents in the San Jose metro area (1.83%).

Newark, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 46,276
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 2)
Median Income: $108,181 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (16th highest)
Median Home Value: $668,700 (5th lowest)
More on Newark:  Data | Photos

Newark is a city about 18.5 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. Newark has the 14th most uninsured people, 8th worst incomes, and has the 16th highest unemployment rate (3.97%) in the entire San Jose metro area.

Homes only cost $668,700 for a reason. That's cheap for San Jose standards.

Milpitas, CA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 77,457
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Income: $125,161 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.2% (13th highest)
Median Home Value: $782,300 (8th lowest)
More on Milpitas:  Data | Photos

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

About 4.2% of residents are out of work.

Livermore, CA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 89,027
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Median Income: $116,942 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.7% (22nd highest)
Median Home Value: $692,000 (6th lowest)
More on Livermore:  Data | Photos

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 22nd highest unemployment rate (3.71%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around San Jose for 2020

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 from 2014-2018, 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 3,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 30 suburbs to evaluate around San Jose.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 30 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. You can download the data here.

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.

The areas around San Jose where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2020

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.

  • Los Altos
  • Los Altos Hills
  • Monte Sereno

For more California reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst San Jose Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Watsonville 53,616 $54,001 $434,900
2 Gilroy 55,525 $94,548 $636,200
3 Hayward 158,241 $80,093 $519,600
4 East Palo Alto 29,633 $64,794 $704,500
5 Santa Cruz 64,273 $70,102 $803,800
6 Morgan Hill 43,876 $119,753 $799,100
7 Capitola 10,135 $80,090 $634,400
8 Newark 46,276 $108,181 $668,700
9 Milpitas 77,457 $125,161 $782,300
10 Livermore 89,027 $116,942 $692,000
11 Fremont 233,083 $127,374 $863,800
12 Sunnyvale 152,323 $131,791 $1,111,800
13 Santa Clara 126,209 $116,257 $927,200
14 Los Gatos 30,922 $140,395 $1,586,700
15 Mountain View 80,993 $128,252 $1,214,800
16 Campbell 42,470 $119,366 $989,600
17 Scotts Valley 11,900 $106,086 $789,900
18 Dublin 59,172 $144,564 $824,800
19 Menlo Park 33,869 $147,824 $2,000,001
20 Cupertino 60,614 $163,954 $1,584,600
21 Pleasanton 80,847 $148,852 $933,500
22 Saratoga 30,886 $176,641 $2,000,001
23 Palo Alto 67,019 $157,120 $2,000,001
24 Woodside 5,541 $247,250 $2,000,001
25 Portola Valley 4,594 $210,625 $2,000,001
26 Atherton 7,185 $250,001 $2,000,001
27 San Carlos 30,080 $169,640 $1,502,300
28 Monte Sereno 3,492 $250,001 $2,000,001
29 Los Altos Hills 8,517 $250,001 $2,000,001
30 Los Altos 30,588 $215,339 $2,000,001

How Is Your Town In ?

 Worst 

One thought on “Worst San Jose Suburbs, 2020

  1. This is absolute nonsense. Who on earth would consider Santa Cruz a bad place to live. And I would take Watsonville over goddamn Hayward and Fremont any day of the week.

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