The suburbs of San Jose call to all types of people looking to escape city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround San Jose to avoid all the hustle and bustle.
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 Saturday Night Science 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 only expect some of the suburbs to live up to San Jose proper, although Los Altos Hills 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.
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.
Now don’t freak out.
What’s the worst suburb of San Jose? Watsonville ranks as the worst suburb of San Jose for 2023 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.
And remember, there are some good places to live around San Jose too.
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The 10 Worst San Jose Suburbs To Live For 2023
Median Income: $67,007 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.1% (highest)
Median Home Value: $542,900 (lowest)
More on Watsonville:
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 worst in the San Jose area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 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.
Median Income: $116,206 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $778,300 (4th lowest)
More on Gilroy:
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 7th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $116,206 a year, which only goes so far even on a shoestring budget.
But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.
Median Income: $98,837 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $653,500 (2nd lowest)
More on Hayward:
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 dropout rate is poor compared to other San Jose suburbs.
But at least there are lovely parks to bring the kids during the day.
Median Income: $96,217 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $933,000 (9th lowest)
More on Santa Cruz:
If you live in Santa Cruz, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 3rd lowest San Jose suburb for median household incomes.
Not only that, but this is the 2nd worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near San Jose. Remember, we looked at 30 cities for this study.
Santa Cruz is about 25.2 miles to downtown.
Median Income: $96,349 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.7% (9th highest)
Median Home Value: $955,300 (10th lowest)
More on East Palo Alto:
East Palo Alto has the distinction of being a San Jose suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, East Palo Alto has the 10th lowest home values in the metro San Jose area, where the median price is $955,300. The median income is $250,001.
East Palo Alto has an unemployment rate of 4.69% which ranks 9th worst.
Median Income: $144,011 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $870,200 (6th lowest)
More on Newark:
Newark has 47,815 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 4.2788924726678665%.
Median Income: $83,726 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.2% (26th highest)
Median Home Value: $706,600 (3rd lowest)
More on Capitola:
Ah, Capitola. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around San Jose.
It’s the place with the 26th most out of work residents in the San Jose metro area (3.16%).
Median Income: $139,161 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.9% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $930,200 (8th lowest)
More on Morgan Hill:
Morgan Hill is a city about 15.0 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. Morgan Hill has the 14th most uninsured people, 9th worst incomes, and has the 8th highest unemployment rate (4.88%) in the entire San Jose metro area.
Homes only cost $930,200 for a reason. That’s cheap for San Jose standards.
Median Income: $149,312 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $994,200 (12th lowest)
More on Milpitas:
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 4.45% of residents are out of work.
Median Income: $153,475 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (12th highest)
Median Home Value: $1,069,700 (13th lowest)
More on Fremont:
Rounding out the ten worst San Jose suburbs to call home is Fremont.
Located 15.2 miles outside the city, Fremonts is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 12th highest unemployment rate (4.07%), and poverty is far above the area average.
Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around San Jose for 2023
To figure out how bad a San Jose suburb is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what suburbs have the least amount of those things.
It’s Saturday Night Science.
We threw a lot of criteria at this one to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2017-2021, 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 dropouts
- High poverty
- High rate of uninsured families
We defined a suburb as any town within 30 miles of San Jose.
We also limited the analysis to places with 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 looking at you, Watsonville.
We updated this article for 2023, which reflects our tenth time ranking the worst suburbs around San Jose.
Summary: The areas around San Jose where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2023
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 Hills takes the cake as the best place to live around San Jose.
- Los Altos Hills
- Los Altos
- Monte Sereno
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Detailed List Of The Worst San Jose Suburbs
|5||East Palo Alto||29,888|
|30||Los Altos Hills||8,520|