The 10 Worst San Jose Suburbs For 2022

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..

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.

Here are the 10 worst suburbs around San Jose for 2022:

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

What's the worst suburb of San Jose? Watsonville ranks as the worst suburb of San Jose for 2022 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 2022

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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 52,398
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Income: $61,496 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.0% (highest)
Median Home Value: $500,300 (lowest)
More on Watsonville:  Data | Photos

Watsonville, CA

Source: Public domain

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 $107,729 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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 55,227
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Income: $107,729 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $717,800 (4th lowest)
More on Gilroy:  Data | Photos

Gilroy, CA

Source: Public domain

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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 158,817
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $91,490 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.2% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $622,700 (2nd lowest)
More on Hayward:  Data | Photos

Hayward, CA

If you live in Santa Cruz, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 4th lowest San Jose suburb when it comes to residents making money.

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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 65,011
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Income: $86,618 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.9% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $895,800 (9th lowest)
More on Santa Cruz:  Data | Photos

Santa Cruz, CA

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 12th lowest home values in the metro San Jose area, where the median price is $941,300. To put that into perspective, in Los Altos, the median income is $250,001, which is the best in the area.

East Palo Alto has an unemployment rate of 4.14% which ranks 10th worst.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 29,448
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Median Income: $83,511 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $941,300 (12th lowest)
More on East Palo Alto:  Data | Photos

East Palo Alto, CA

Scotts Valley has 12,055 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 5.523793509332436%.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 12,055
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 6)
Median Income: $103,783 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (7th highest)
Median Home Value: $811,900 (6th lowest)
More on Scotts Valley:  Data | Photos

Scotts Valley, CA

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

It's the place with the 9th most out of work residents in the San Jose metro area (4.25%).

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 44,789
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Income: $128,373 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (9th highest)
Median Home Value: $886,300 (8th lowest)
More on Morgan Hill:  Data | Photos

Morgan Hill, CA

Capitola is a city about 23.4 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. Capitola has the 6th most uninsured people, 2nd worst incomes, and has the 30th highest unemployment rate (1.55%) in the entire San Jose metro area.

Homes only cost $712,000 for a reason. That's cheap for San Jose standards.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,090
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Income: $81,617 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 1.6% (30th highest)
Median Home Value: $712,000 (3rd lowest)
More on Capitola:  Data | Photos

Capitola, CA

Source: Public domain

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

About 4.26% of residents are out of work.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 48,148
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 3)
Median Income: $127,619 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $816,100 (7th lowest)
More on Newark:  Data | Photos

Newark, CA

Source: Public domain

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

Located 10.2 miles outside the city, Milpitass is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 17th highest unemployment rate (3.66%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 75,182
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Median Income: $137,000 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.7% (17th highest)
Median Home Value: $927,200 (10th lowest)
More on Milpitas:  Data | Photos

Milpitas, CA

Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around San Jose for 2022

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 2016-2020, 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.

Summary: The areas around San Jose where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2022

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 52,398 $61,496 $500,300
2 Gilroy 55,227 $107,729 $717,800
3 Hayward 158,817 $91,490 $622,700
4 Santa Cruz 65,011 $86,618 $895,800
5 East Palo Alto 29,448 $83,511 $941,300
6 Scotts Valley 12,055 $103,783 $811,900
7 Morgan Hill 44,789 $128,373 $886,300
8 Capitola 10,090 $81,617 $712,000
9 Newark 48,148 $127,619 $816,100
10 Milpitas 75,182 $137,000 $927,200
11 Santa Clara 126,723 $136,870 $1,120,400
12 Livermore 91,763 $131,664 $806,100
13 Fremont 234,829 $142,374 $999,500
14 Campbell 42,891 $122,644 $1,156,000
15 Mountain View 80,104 $144,116 $1,560,600
16 Sunnyvale 152,569 $150,464 $1,397,200
17 Pleasanton 79,975 $160,689 $1,056,100
18 Dublin 63,856 $152,745 $934,500
19 Menlo Park 35,211 $167,567 $2,000,001
20 Palo Alto 67,973 $174,003 $2,000,001
21 Los Gatos 31,943 $156,270 $1,775,500
22 Saratoga 31,084 $201,046 $2,000,001
23 Cupertino 59,799 $182,857 $1,866,200
24 Portola Valley 4,568 $235,469 $2,000,001
25 San Carlos 29,647 $189,739 $1,756,800
26 Woodside 5,593 $250,001 $2,000,001
27 Atherton 7,060 $250,001 $2,000,001
28 Monte Sereno 3,511 $250,001 $2,000,001
29 Los Altos Hills 8,496 $250,001 $2,000,001
30 Los Altos 30,878 $240,094 $2,000,001

How Is Your Town In ?

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 2022. This is our ninth time ranking the worst suburbs around San Jose.