In Depth: America’s Top 25 Towns To Live Well – Forbes.com
12. Hillsborough, Calif.
Location: In San Mateo County, south of San Francisco and north of San Jose.
Median income: $320,715
Strongest categories: Like many of its peninsula neighbors, Hillsborough’s proximity to San Francisco and Silicon Valley means there are plenty of high-paying jobs in emerging fields.
Drawbacks: There aren’t many small businesses or start-ups in Hillsborough itself. It has one of the top five most-educated labor pools based on our analysis, but little in-town business activity.
11. Belmont, Calif.
Location: South of Hillsborough, and in between San Francisco and San Jose.
Median income: $102,466
Strongest categories: Belmont residents may not have as much cash on hand as their northern neighbors in Hillsborough, but there are far more businesses emerging there. Local firms have attracted $878 per capita in venture funding, and the city scores in the top quarter for its number of restaurants and bars.
Drawbacks: While its scores for BLS-defined professionals and business start-ups are stronger than most, they simply aren’t high enough to place Belmont in the top 10.
10. Foster City, Calif.
Location: South of San Francisco and north of Redwood City
Median income: $119,780
Strongest categories: Home to many top companies, big and small, including Visa International, Sony Computer Entertainment America and Sling Media, Foster City ranks first on our list for its share of highly skilled workers, particularly with a background in tech, and in the top five for its per capita number of patents.
Drawbacks: There isn’t much happening in Foster City. There are plenty of office parks, but it offers few cultural institutions and restaurants.
5. Cupertino, Calif.
Location: South of San Francisco and west of San Jose.
Median income: $128,149
Strongest categories: A great start-up environment in the heart of the Silicon Valley and home to a number of semiconductor and technology companies, most notably Apple, Cupertino succeeds as a mix of a place for established businesses and small shops. It ranks in the top 10 for sole proprietors and small businesses per capita.
Drawbacks: While you certainly can’t complain about the warm climate, Cupertino simply didn’t do as well as the top cities on our list even in the categories considered its strengths.
4. Mountain View, Calif.
Location: South of Palo Alto on the Bay Area peninsula.
Median income: $88,736
Strongest categories: While there’s plenty more to Mountain View, the average commute time of 20 minutes is a rarely found pleasure of Bay Area living. Credit Mountain View’s standing as our most active venture capital markets, for an abundance of entrepreneurs running their own businesses, which in turn means they don’t have to commute to bigger cities like San Jose and San Francisco.
Drawbacks:There aren’t a lot of restaurants, music venues, museums or cultural attractions in Mountain View, though it isn’t too far for residents to trek 15 miles into San Jose.
Congratulations to all the Bay Area cities that made the cut. Wowsers! Wowsers! Thank you for keeping the Real Bay Area real, and justifying the high housing prices in the area. Who cares that these cities didn’t have the highest incomes of the top 25… it’s the high prices that matter.
Here’s the methodology for those of you who care:
To determine the best towns in which to live well, Forbes teamed with ZoomProspector.com, a San Francisco-based consulting firm specializing in corporate relocation. Because geographical definitions range widely, we used the term “town” to describe every city, town, borough or Census-designated-place under 100,000 people. To rank each town, we looked at median income; average commute; distance to highways and airports; per capita venture capital funding; per capita number of small businesses, sole-proprietorships and start-ups; the percentage of the population with bachelor’s degrees or higher; the share of professional-level workers as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); the percentage of young and educated people, or those 25-34 with a bachelor’s degree or higher; and the percentage of foreign-born residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher. We also measured the per capita number of restaurants, bars, museums and cultural institutions.
Go figure. Who knew that making “per capita venture capital funding” a criteria would help boost all these Bay Area cities to the top of the list! Go figure!
To celebrate, this week I’m going to feature a house from each of the cities!
And in case you were curious… this is who was number 1:
1. Boulder, Colo.
Location: Northwest of Denver, in the mountains.
Median income: $54,243
Strongest categories: Boulder is a consistent high performer in all our measures. The city’s businesses bring in $1,165 in per capita venture capital funding; it ranks fourth for its young and educated population of those 25-34 years old, in the top 5% for its patents per capita, second for its number of sole proprietors, fourth for its number of museums and cultural institutions and has an average commute of 17 minutes.
Drawbacks: If you don’t like snow, this might not be the place for you.