The lighter side of real estate

These Are The 10 Nerdiest Small Cities In America

Nerds come in all shapes and sizes, and so do the places where they live. These are the downright geekiest of the bunch on a small scale.

Willie Clark

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If we’re being honest, many of us here at the Movoto Real Estate blog are nerds. And, sure, we’ve already looked at the top 10 nerdiest cities in the country, but why should all the big cities get all the attention? Small cities deserve some love too!

Just because they may be smaller cities doesn’t make them any less nerdy. So, we decided to take a look, using some of the same criteria we used before, and find out which small cities are little nerd paradises, just waiting to be discovered. Here’s which ones came out on top:

1. Marietta, GA
2. Sarasota, FL
3. Pensacola, FL
4. San Marcos, TX
5. La Mesa, CA
6. Bradenton, FL
7. Harrisonburg, VA
7. Ocala, FL
9. Gardena, CA
10. Lancaster, PA

We know what you’re thinking. The Sunshine State? The sun is scary! It reflects off of our glasses! But Florida topped the list with four different cities.

How did we come up with this list? Let’s take a look.

Our Methodology

We didn’t just pick cities based on which ones sounded most like Pokémon names. (Though that would be fun, wouldn’t it?)

Instead, we started out with a list of all of the small cities in the U.S. between 50,000 and 60,000 people, coming up with a total of 139. Then, using Yelp, we looked at the number of each of the following categories:

  • Comic book stores
  • Video game stores
  • Hobby shops
  • Computer stores
  • Bookstores
  • Museums

Some good stuff in there right? Yup. Each one represents a different facet of the multifaceted diamond that is the crown of nerdiness.

We then took how many people each city had per the quantity of location in each category, and ranked them accordingly.

For our last category we wanted to include an important part of nerdom: conventions. Using and Google Maps, we looked at how close each city was to a convention and factored that into the results as well.

Here’s a closer look at the top 10.

1. Marietta, GA

The 10 Nerdiest Small Cities in America

Source: Flickr user atkeison

Marietta, congra-nerdu-lations. If there was an Iron Throne to sit on somewhere in our office, you’d be the city that we would send it to. Actually, we probably keep it for ourselves, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Marietta ranked highest in traditional hobby stores, where it ranked fourth, with 4,863 people for every shop. Marietta also did well in computer stores (fifth place) and comic book stores (seventh place).

Marietta was also 40th for distance to a convention, but was only 16.4 miles away from the nearest con. If you want to get your nerd on, Marietta is where it’s at.

2. Sarasota, FL

The 10 Nerdiest Small Cities in America

Source: Flickr user robj

Florida, with a two-three punch. The Sunshine State strikes back with a number two place (and third place to boot), with good ol’ Sarasota.

Sarasota placed first with its number of bookstores (7,544 people for every store) and second in two categories, computer stores and hobby shops.

It’s a bit of a drive to the nearest convention, but you may run into a pirate walking puppies. PIRATES WALKING PUPPIES. What a great place to place second.

3. Pensacola, FL

The 10 Nerdiest Small Cities in America

Source: Flickr user keoni101

Florida really likes its nerdy stuff, it seems. Never would have guessed, but Pensacola worked hard for its third place.

Pensacola was first in two of our nerd-measuring categories, including hobby shops (3,489 people for every shop) and computer stores (2,094 people for every store).

That wasn’t it though. Pensacola also was second for the number of bookstores and fifth for the number of comic book stores.

Our wizard hats are tipped to you, Pensacola.

4. San Marcos, TX

The 10 Nerdiest Small Cities in America

Source: Flickr user druidic

Well, San Marcos, if we could give you first place based just on Jason Tamez’s awesome photography, we totally would. Look at that patronus! I know I’m jealous.

San Marcos ranked fourth overall on our nerdy scale, with its best showing in comic book stores (fourth place, 16,667 people for every comic book store). Gamers will also be happy, as it ranked sixth for video game stores (50,001 people for every gaming store).

And, just as important, San Marcos is also for the book-nerdy academic types, with a sixth place in the museum rank (7,143 people per each museum).

5. La Mesa, CA

The 10 Nerdiest Small Cities in America

Source: Flickr user scragz/

West Coast represent! La Mesa is one of only two West Coast cities to make our nerdiest cities list, landing the last spot in the top five.

It did so thanks to a strong hobby shop rank, where it ranked 16th overall, with 8,390 people for every hobby shop. The board games are strong with this one.

It also did well on our convention ranking, with the highest score of any of the cities in the top 10. It may have been in 20th out of all 139 cities that we looked at, but that 20th place was a mere 10.6 miles away from the nearest convention. You can manage that hike, I’m sure.

6. Bradenton, FL

The 10 Nerdiest Small Cities in America

Source: Flickr user tehbieber/

Our list returns to Florida (and not for the last time) for our sixth place city, Bradenton.

Bradenton’s best showing was in hobby shops, where it placed third out of all of the cities that we looked at, not just in the top 10. Bradenton had 4,223 people for every hobby shop.

Bradenton also ranked in the top 10 overall for both computer stores and book stores, where it ranked eighth and ninth, respectively.

7. Harrisonburg, VA

The 10 Nerdiest Small Cities in America

Source: Flickr user andrewbain

Harrisonburg ranked seventh in our little Nerd Olympics, in a tie with Ocala, FL.

Its strongest rank was in hobby shops, with 5,665 people for every hobby shop. Lots of places to grab your toys, figurines, board games, or to enter a Yu-Gi-Oh tournament and then have your butt handed to you by little kids who had their parents drive them there. Hypothetically. That never happened to anybody I know…

Harrisonburg also scored two 10s, both in comic book stores and in video game stores. Load up on comics and games, and get playing and reading, folks. Outside is for suckers.

7. Ocala, FL

The 10 Nerdiest Small Cities in America

Source: Flickr user candelabrumdanse

Gamers, you might not know it, but Ocala is actually your gaming paradise away from home. Ocala ranked first out of every other city on this list in terms of video game stores, with 14,236 people per each gaming store in the area.

That’s a lot of gaming. Maybe you’ll actually be able to find some amiibo with all those stores being located so close to one another…

Ocala was also 10th for hobby shops and 13th for museums, so it’s got a nice mix of varying types of nerdom.

9. Gardena, CA

The 10 Nerdiest Small Cities in America

Source: Flickr user nasonurb

Only the second West Coast city to make the list, Gardena broke the top 10, finishing in a close ninth place.

Gardena has its comic-store population to thank for where it ranked: third out of all 139 cities we surveyed. It had only 14,873 people per each comic book store.

Gardena also ranked well in book stores and hobby shops.

10. Lancaster, PA

The 10 Nerdiest Small Cities in America

Source: Flickr user jcapaldi

What has been missing from our list? Oh yeah, the entire Northeast region of the country!

Northeast nerds, you have Lancaster to thank for breaking into the top 10 for you and giving that area of the country some nerdy, nerdy love.

What helped Lancaster make it in? It was first place overall in museums, with 5,369 people per musuem in the city. Lancaster was also third in book stores, with 3,298 people per book story. So go get reading!

Bonus World

So, there you have it. They came. They conquered. They probably wouldn’t have lasted six seasons and a movie.

But that’s not what counts. These small cities are little nerd havens for nerds everywhere and help represent the culture with an abundance of nerd necessities.

If you’re looking for places to play games, buy games, read books, go to conventions, or just find other fellow nerds, these are the small cities in America to look to for guidance.

The 10 Nerdiest Small Cities in America

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posted on: February 2, 2015
39,205 views, 3 comments


  1. Michael Coleman

    Why is Pensacola, Fl ranked 91 in the distance to a con category? We have 2 conventions here every year: The Paracon which is held every August and the Pensacon which is held at the end of every February. Shouldn’t that make us a bit higher in the distance to a con category since we don’t have to leave our city at all for a con?!

  2. Ernesto gordon

    Sarasota and Bradenton are next to each other. If we were to count them as one Metropolitan Area–which they basically are–, then that would be the nerdiest place in Florida. And don’t forget the power of trains. There is a train museum in nearby Parrish. Also, Tampa and St Pete are less than 45 minutes away.

  3. Josh

    Ernesto, if you combined them then they wouldn’t qualify to a part of the list, it would exceed the 50k-60k population range.


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