June 3, 2012

The Best Place to Raise Kids in the Whole Bay Area!

Kiplinger’s chooses ten cities across the US that are the best places to raise kids.  The criteria are:

120530-kiplinger-familyWe took a two-step approach to come up with our list of the best cities to raise kids. First, we looked for metropolitan areas with high household incomes relative to living costs, a large percentage of families with children under 18, and low crime rates. We weren’t seeking the cheapest places to live, but rather places where earnings potential is more than adequate to cover a family’s expenses.
Then, we honed in on a specific city within each of our top 10 metro areas that’s well-suited to raising kids based on educational factors (spending per student and the quality of local school districts) as well as fun factors (availability of public parks, playgrounds and libraries). We also looked at each city’s average income for families — as opposed to median income for all households — to give a realistic sense of how much it can cost a family to live in a place with so many kid-centric benefits.

So, high incomes, lots of kids, low crime rates.  Sounds like just about anywhere in the RBA, doesn’t it?  And they said they would pick one representative place for each of their “top 10 metros” based on school funding and quality, as well as kid-friendly public services.  The latter might disqualify a number of high-income RBA towns, since they assume everyone has their own 10 acre private park in the backyard.

Yes, the Bay Area got a city on the Top Ten list, and they picked… Sunnyvale?


120530-kiplinger-sunnyvaleCity population: 140,081
Average family income:$123,647
Percentage of families with children: 32.6%
Metro-area spending per student: $7,345
Public playgrounds: 25
Silicon Valley may not be the most intuitive place to raise kids, but the area has more going for it than shiny condos and trendy tech jobs. The average family income is well above the national average, as are living costs. But when it comes to raising families, those costs can be worth it: Sunnyvale has one of the lowest crime rates in the nation.
Two of the city’s elementary schools were named “Distinguished Schools” for 2012 by the California Department of Education, and the neighboring Cupertino Union and Fremont public school districts boast some of the best test scores in the state. When they’re not studying, kids in Sunnyvale enjoy 476 acres of neighborhood parks and playgrounds, and one of the country’s largest children’s museums is in nearby San Jose. San Francisco is less than an hour away by car.

Excuse me.  That’s “World-Famous Cupertino Union School District.”  Here’s the complete list of Kiplinger’s top family-friendly cities.  Watch them toss away one of their own rules:

10. Stamford, CT (NYC)
9. Corona, CA (LA/Riverside)
8. Middletown, NY (1.5 hrs to NYC)
7. Sunnyvale (San Jose/San Francisco)
6. Appleton, WI (no metro mentioned, assume Chicago/Milwaukee)
5. East Grand Rapids, MI (no metro mentioned, assume Detroit)
4. Thousand Oaks, CA (LA)
3. Suwanee, GA (Atlanta)
2. Richland, WA (Tri-Cities)
1. Omaha, NE (boredom)

120530-kiplinger-la-palmsTop ten metro areas, eh?  Why is LA in there twice but no San Diego?  On what planet are the Tri-Cities, in Southeast Washington, a “major metro”?  Where’s Philadelphia?  Where’s Boston?  Where’s Washington DC?  Seattle?  Portland?  Houston or Dallas?

Here are the top 10 metro areas in the US, per the Census Bureau, using 2011 population.

1. NY/Northern NJ/Long Island (NY/NJ/PA)
2. Los Angeles/Long Beach/Santa Ana
3. Chicago/Joliet/Naperville (IL/IN/WI)
4. Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington, TX
5. Houston/Sugar Land/Baytown, TX
6. Philadelphia/Camden/Wilmington (PA/NJ/DE/MD)
7. Washington/Arlington/Alexandria (DC/MD/VA)
8. Miami/Ft Lauderdale/Pompano Beach, FL
9. Atlanta/Sandy Springs/Marietta, GA
10. Boston/Cambridge/Quincy MA/NH

Note who is missing from the Top Ten.

11. San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont, CA
31. San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, CA

Adding the population of the two together would move that more obvious metro into 4th place, after Dallas and ahead of Houston.  And the Census recognizes this.  The “Combined Statistical Area” is called San Jose/San Francisco/Oakland.  Many of the MSAs are also CSAs, but most of the larger ones are part of bigger CSAs. 

120530-kiplinger-omahaIf we use CSAs, the Bay Area moves to #6, behind NYC, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, and Boston CSAs.  Rounding out the top 10 are Dallas, Philly, Houston, and Atlanta.

None of this explains Kiplinger’s bizarre picks for this list.  Some of the cities have 10,000 people and some are even bigger than Sunnyvale.  And any list that ranks Omaha, Nebraska first and isn’t called Places Warren Buffett Lives shows they’re just trolling us.

Sunnyvale was also seventh on the CNN/Money’s 2010 list of Best Places for the Rich & Single.

Comments (44) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:10 am

44 Responses to “The Best Place to Raise Kids in the Whole Bay Area!”

  1. SEA Says:

    No open thread this weekend?

    “5. East Grand Rapids, MI (no metro mentioned, assume Detroit)”

    The west side of Michigan does not associate itself with SE Michigan. East Grand Rapids is part of Grand Rapids metro.

  2. madhaus Says:

    You can use this as an honorary Open Thread. I’m not even in the Bay Area (let alone the RBA) this weekend, so I wrote up several pieces well in advance, and, well, I forgot.

  3. Ownerer Says:

    Don’t see how Sunnyvale beat out Cupertino and PA unless they only considered towns with > 100k population. Also half of Sunnyvale isn’t so nice, wouldn’t want to raise my kid in Superfundvale around central / 101.

  4. SV Shopper Says:

    Sunnyvale is a nice in certain parts, away from 101 and Santa Clara. Otherwise school is not up to our standards.

  5. Faux Estater Says:

    Don’t see how Sunnyvale beat out Cupertino and PA

    Colorful socks are back, with all kind different brand names. 🙂

    Someone needs to read original article about the criteria. Cupertino and PA both fail there.

  6. South Bayer Says:

    I know of 2 people who had their homes burglarized in Sunnyvale.

  7. Petsmart groomer Says:

    Corona, Thousand Oaks and Sunnyvale are considered large cities. Palo Alto and Cupertino aren’t.

    Palo Alto has more burglaries per capita than Sunnyvale (2009 data). Car thefts are higher in Sunnyvale though.

  8. Faux Estater Says:

    Thanks for the “useful” information, South Socker. Until we got the breaking news from you, we were under illusion that Sunnyvale is burglar-free zone.

  9. Faux Estater Says:

    Palo Alto has more burglaries per capita than Sunnyvale

    That’s old 2009 stat. You haven’t seen the latest news.
    Burglaries Skyrocket in Palo Alto

  10. Petsmart groomer Says:

    I have, and I also saw the Real™ latest: http://paloalto.patch.com/articles/residential-burglaries-on-the-decline 😉

  11. South Bayer Says:

    #8, You must have mistaken me for someone else. I’m not here for a fight. What I posted is my experience only. Do you live in Sunnyvale? Sorry if you are offended.

  12. madhaus Says:

    All of you seem to have missed the article saying that the cities were of wildly different character. Some of the cities had 10,000 residents; some bigger than Sunnyvale (Omaha is over 400,000). Some are the metros, some are ten minutes from the center, some an hour and a half away.

    That is, Kiplingers’ criteria make no sense and they don’t even follow their own stupid rules.

  13. SEA Says:

    Maybe burbed should have a list of the best cities to raise a wild child. Now I would expect cities of wildly different character for that.

  14. Mole Man Says:

    Best place lists land in flyover country so that people won’t have to?

  15. Real Estater Says:

    South Bayer,

    Please be careful. The guy is not that stable.

  16. Real Estater Says:


    I’m uncomfortable with your copyright violations. Kiplinger may be right or wrong, but their content shouldn’t be copied without proper consent.

  17. SEA Says:

    It’s been two years since Owner explained what a great place he purchased, yet it remains unsold, at least according to information at Redfin. Clearly he’s way out of bounds when it comes to RBA land, but for a guy who initially invited us over to show us how grand his trailer is, er, manufactured home, we have not heard much from him in the last year. He’s probably enjoying paying his “space rent.”

    With all the “Facebook Effect,” when might he sell, and for how much?

  18. SEA Says:

    We must all bow down to our Supreme Dictator:

    The moderator of all.
    The white knight saving and warning other away from harm’s way.
    The copyright enforcer, Judge and Jury.

    We all have nothing to fear.

  19. madhaus Says:

    #15, why should your discomfort concern me?

  20. SEA Says:

    Do you not understand? You should bow down to our Supreme Dictator. Do everything to alleviate his discomfort. You know, with our Führer’s guidance, we all agreed not to discuss P*** A***, and given the “agreement,” be sure and note who wrote the last comment and what was discussed in that thread.

  21. Real Estater Says:

    The burglary stats don’t tell the full story. Sunnyvale has low crime rate in general because there is a big police department. In a place like Oakland or East San Jose, burglaries happen because the communities are troubled. In Palo Alto there’s a very different root cause, because majority of the burglaries are committed by outsiders.

  22. Real Estater Says:


    If you can have an open mind, that would be a great start.

  23. SEA Says:

    #21- Tell me about it.

  24. SEA Says:

    “In Palo Alto there’s a very different root cause, because majority of the burglaries are committed by outsiders.”

    Not Ok: Burglaries committed by insiders
    Ok: Burglaries committed by outsiders

  25. SEA Says:

    San Mateo Cat Burglar

  26. Bystander Says:

    Peace out, everyone.

  27. Petsmart groomer Says:

    > Ok: Burglaries committed by outsiders

    If you’re looking for the best place to raise kids, yes. I’d rather live where burglars don’t live.

  28. Desai Says:

    Don’t raise kids. Problem solved.

  29. sprezzatura Says:

    holy crap, I had completely forgotten about that trailer park thread. The summary link (#16) had me actually LOLing. Good times.

  30. Faux Estater Says:

    #11, what makes you believe that I have mistaken you for someone else? I just thanked you for your “useful” information.

    #14, I must be dying for a stability certificate from a proven pathological liar. BTW, how is your rental incomes working out?

  31. Faux Estater Says:

    I’m uncomfortable with your copyright violations. Kiplinger may be right or wrong, but their content shouldn’t be copied without proper consent.

    Ha ha, Mr Idealistic. 🙂
    If someone needs to act like an honest man, he is not an honest man.

  32. SEA Says:

    #29- “BTW, how is your rental incomes working out?”

    Remember the “smart” player seeks to be “cash flow neutral.”

  33. Banker East Says:

    Any good museums for kids in the Bay Area?

  34. SEA Says:

    Time to buy on “weakness:” Facebook stock falls to low of $26.57

  35. nomadic Says:

    In other words, it’s ALWAYS a good time to buy FB stock!

  36. Faux Estater Says:

    My buy-trigger at $8.88 is not far way then.

  37. Charles Says:

    Their criteria don’t make any sense at all. First of all, why limit it to “metro areas” and leave out the quaint small towns like Mayberry and Bedford Falls that are universally acknowledged to be the best places to raise kids. I mean, good luck finding a fishin’ hole in Sunnyvale.

    And what good is living in a metro area with a high average family income if your family makes below average income? Below average neighborhoods in those metro areas are just as shitty as anywhere. I guess it’s possible your poor kids will benefit from beating up rich kids that occasionally wander into the wrong side of the metro area.

  38. nomadic Says:

    A pall has been cast over the IPO market.


  39. The Gilroy Alex Says:

    #11 don’t sweat it, it’s humor and we play a little rough in here at times.

    The only bad eggs in here is Real Estator (excretor) and back in the good old days we had a rating system and had great fun bombing his posts with negative ratings until they’d drop out of sight. For a while, he even did.

    Now he’s back and Surfer-X isn’t. The world’s not a fair place. Hence the brand of humor you see around here sometimes.

  40. madhaus Says:

    I just rescued Mole Man‘s comment (#14) from the spam queue, which means if x>13 x++. That is, any numbered comment #14 or higher now needs to be incremented by one. So the comment above (#39) refers to #11 and it’s still 11, but #32 above refers to #29, which is now #30. #30 in turn refers to #11 and #14, which means #11 and #15.

    Isn’t math fun?

  41. SEA Says:

    #35- Does the light bulb ever need to be changed?

    The moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. I hereby declare the green light to buy stocks in bulk.”

  42. Crissa Says:

    I’m confused why they mixed Fremont into the name list. Why Fremont? Why not Vacaville, at that point?

    Putting the edge at Fremont removes like half or more of the people who work in San Jose.


  43. nomadic Says:

    #41, did you buy on the freshest weakness? Down 32% from IPO price. That sure is going to put a damper on all of the exuberant spending local merchants have been waiting for. Not to mention the down payment for RBA properties when the lock-out period expires in 5-1/2 months.

    Can a Ferrari be returned for a refund?

  44. Pinnacle of Contemporary Indoor-Outdoor Living [Burbed.com] Says:

    […] this superb Sunnyvale shelter to our attention!  That’s right, Sunnyvale, one of the ten best places in the entire country to raise kids! 884 BROOKLINE DrSunnyvale, CA 94087Listed for $1,198,000; Sold for […]

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