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Why The Snobbiest Cities In America List Is So Wildly Wrong

A recent report by Movoto on the Snobbiest Cities in America is the perfect example of how good information can be used badly.  Having lived in some of the most expensive towns in America, I know what makes a snob.  What you don't know and the report didn't share, is that the criteria they used isn't what it appears to be.  Were I a resident of many of these places, I'd be insulted, very insulted, and here's why.

 

Sunnyvale California Is NOT Snobby

This town, which is #8 on the Movoto list, is so decidedly middle-class it's not funny.  The neighborhoods do not contain mansions, world-class country clubs, or 3-star Michelin restaurants.  The truth - not easily determined by the data - is that most homes are modest, there is some art, and several private schools.  Home prices are high relative to everywhere else but it's California.  A million dollar home here is not going to impress anyone, anywhere, as snobby.  Let's put it this way, the town next door, where the average selling price is over $2,000,000 - those homes are not going to impress snobs either.  Real estate here is REALLY expensive but you don't get as much for your dollar as you do in most of the country.

There are a lot of private schools, but not the kind you'd think of.  There is a lot of art but not the glitzy galleries associated with snobs.

In short, the Movoto report is an example of how data might be used to create an image that isn't real.  This is important because someone relocated from elsewhere in the country might read this report and look elsewhere.  That's a shame because Sunnyvale is really a nice place and I've never met a snob there.

 

Why The Private Schools Data Is A Sham

In California, particularly around the SF Bay Area, there are several "private schools" that are set up to support advancing skills in math, science, reading, music, and other areas.  There are also a few schools that cater to ex-pats from other countries especially those from Europe and Asia.  None of these schools fits the bill of what anyone would consider snobby.  It's just about kids getting the education they need to succeed in this highly competitive area.

That said, there are several private schools in other nearby cities that would have a much better chance at being called snobby.  They have wealthy parents, expensive tuition, wear uniforms, etc.  The reality is that for this area, the statistics are not telling an accurate story.

 

Santa Rosa Is NOT The Wine Snob Capital

I've been to Santa Rosa, several times, and there is absolutely NOTHING snobby about the residents.  You might use that for some tourists but not the residents.  This town ranked high because of the number of art galleries but the assertion is that because it's a big town in the wine country, they're all drinking chardonnay.  There is art here but then there are galleries all over Napa and Sonoma counties.

There are a few places nearby that could qualify as a base for snobs, this is not one of them.  Ask a local, someone who lives in Northern California, where the snobs are and most will say Napa.  Why?  It's purely based on reputation and perception.  I've been to Napa many times as well and while you do run into snobs, you can find them anywhere.  I have yet to meet a snobby resident or winery owner.

 

Smart People With Money Who Like Art = Snobs?

I like Movoto, I really do but the insinuation that smart people (college education was a criteria) who have money (household income was a factor) are not snobs by default.  What I'd recommend is altering their criteria to where it really shows - conspicous spending.  I've lived in or visited most of the highest priced places in the country where most people have high-end cars, expensive houses, and college educations.  Almost none of the people I knew or know are snobs.

The private schools factor might be more meaningful if they focused on schools were student tuition was high, parents were really rich, and kids arrived in limos instead of a Honda Accord.

The lack of fast-food is kind of a joke but I'm laughing.  Some of the richest people I know love In-and-Out burger more than a $500 steak dinner.  Yeah, I'm sure they're closeted snobs.  Not.

Focusing this report on areas where people spend money on art (think Carmel and not Santa Rosa), have truly high incomes (think Atherton and not Sunnyvale), and spend money on cars or other luxuries (think Beverly Hills and not Pasadena) would make it a bit more realistic.  In the meantime, the folks at Movoto are right about one thing - we're all snobs about something so just revel in it and don't take these online reports too seriously.

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 Bryan Robertson, CEO | T: 650.799.9951 | Email: bryan@catarra-re.com | Website: http://www.BryanRobertsonHomes.com |CA BRE# 01191946 | Catarra Real Estate, Inc  | 171 Main St #220 | Los Altos, CA 94022

 

 

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Comment balloon 24 commentsBryan Robertson • June 27 2014 12:41PM
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