The lighter side of real estate

These Are The 10 Snobbiest Cities In America

Before you look down your nose at this post, you might want to see if it’s about you. Spoiler alert: if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, it most certainly is.

Natalie Grigson

Staff Writer

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When you look up the word “snobby,” you basically get a whole lot of other words that boil down to one primary sentiment: Snobby people think they’re better than you.

Here at the Movoto Real Estate Blog, we’re breaking that down a bit further. See, we’re numbers people. We like to be able to take a concept, break it up into measurable, studiable facts, and come up with a nice, neat solution.

In this case, that solution was this list of the top places for the snootiest, snottiest, and downright snobbiest folks in the country. San Francisco came out on top, but it wasn’t without some stiff competition.

Here are the 10 snobbiest big cities in America:

1. San Francisco, CA
2. Washington, D.C.
3. Seattle, WA
4. Scottsdale, AZ
5. Oakland, CA
6. Portland, OR
7. Irvine, CA (tie)
7. Honolulu, HI (tie)
9. Madison, WI
10. Atlanta, GA

If you’re a blog snob and you’ve been watching ours, you’ll know that we’ve already covered the Snobbiest Small Cities and the Snobbiest Mid-Sized Cities in America. You’ll also probably realize that, in all three lists, California comes up more often than any other state. What can we say? California is an ideal environment for snobs.

To find out just why each of these places—California cities included—have graced our list with their presence, just keep reading (or have Jeeves read the rest to you).

Our Methodology

We started by compiling a list of the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

Then, using the Census (2010) and business listings, we procured the appropriate information that we deemed necessary, whilst sipping tea with our pinkies up. (Translation: we researched each city according to the following criteria… while drinking tea with our pinkies up.)

  • Median home price (the higher the better)
  • Median household income (the higher the better)
  • Percent of population with a college degree (the higher the better)
  • Private schools per capita (the more the better)
  • Performing arts per capita (the more the better)
  • Art galleries per capita (the more the better)
  • Fast food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better)

From there, we ranked each place in each category from one to 100, with the lower scores being the snobbier places. We then averaged each place’s ranking into one Big Deal Score, where the place with the lowest score was our snobbiest place.

Now before we let this snob fest begin, it must be said that this list is all in good fun. Being one of these best cities for snobs isn’t a bad thing. Look at you: You’ve got culture! You’ve got money! You’ve got houses the size of hotels—or, in the case of San Francisco, houses the size of closets that cost the price of hotels! It’s nothing to be ashamed of… you’re just far superior to the rest of us, right? (Wink)

Right. Now let’s take a look at our top 10 snobbiest places, starting with the land of snobs itself, San Francisco.

1. San Francisco, CA

10 Snobbiest Big Cities In America

Source: Flickr user Max Braun

Ah, San Francisco, the City by the Bay. The city once famous for free love, revolutionary thinking, and artistic expression.

Now it’s perhaps better known for love (though it’ll cost you at least $500), revolutionary programming, and artists who can no longer afford their houses.

That’s because out of all of the places in the U.S., San Francisco had the highest
median home price at $785,200. It also came in No. 1 for its number of art galleries per capita, No. 6 for the nearly 52 percent of the population who have graduated from college, and No. 7 for a median household income of $71,304.

Fancy a frosty to make yourself feel better about spending your life’s savings on an apartment? Not in this fast food-unfriendly city.

2. Washington, D.C.

10 Snobbiest Big Cities In America

Source: Flickr user Italian Embassy

With all of the politicians running around Washington, D.C., it may come as no surprise that this city had the seventh highest percentage of college graduates in the nation.

In addition to being well educated, our nation’s capital was also well cultured.

With theaters like Ford’s Theatre and the JFK Center for the Performing Arts, plus countless galleries and museums, D.C. ranked 10th and 12th for its number of performing arts centers and art galleries, respectively.

3. Seattle, WA

10 Snobbiest Big Cities In America

Source: Flickr user Jonas Maaloe Jespersen

What’s this? The land of cozy coffee shops, grunge music, and where flannel goes to live forever—snobby? Really?

If that’s your attitude, you clearly don’t live in Seattle.

Residents are probably not surprised in the least to find it here. In fact, they’ve probably calculated the odds already in their spare time, this being the second-best-educated big city in the nation and all.

Seattle also ranked high on the snob meter for its high number of art galleries per capita and a median home price of $456,200—expensive, sure, but still not as expensive as our next city.

4. Scottsdale, AZ

10 Snobbiest Big Cities In America

Source: Flickr user Phil Sexton

There’s a reason Scottsdale is (affectionately?) referred to as Snotsdale—this is where Beverly Hills meets the Old West… minus the whole dirt and grime thing.

What makes it such a nice place? The people, really. Of the nearly 220,000 residents, 52.69 percent of them have graduated from college.

This has apparently worked out pretty well for them, seeing as the median household income in Scottsdale was the sixth highest in the country at $71,564 and the median home price was the 12th highest at $457,700.

5. Oakland, CA

10 Snobbiest Big Cities In America

Source: Flickr user Vivian Chen

Alright, Oaklanders, you may have been too busy pointing and laughing at San Francisco’s No. 1 ranking on this list to have noticed, but you made the list too.

Sure, Oakland may be the “more affordable” city in the Bay, but with a median home price of $528,600, it’s still the seventh most expensive big city in the country in terms of real estate prices.

On the bright side, with places like Loakal Art Gallery and Boutique, Creative Growth Art Center, and Vessel Gallery, just to name a few, Oakland also had the 15th most art galleries per capita.

6. Portland, OR

10 Snobbiest Big Cities In America

Source: Flickr user P.H. Fitzgerald

Portland may do a good job masking its snobbiness with things like ironic mustaches, thrift store T-shirts, and a number of young people who could either be homeless or hipsters, but don’t let that fool you.

Why? Because a high percentage of these trendy recyclers are bikers and are college grads (43.07 percent), or may even attend one of the nearly 100 private schools in the city.

On top of being well educated, Portlanders are also total culture snobs. They had some of the most art galleries and theaters (sorry, theatres) per capita, and they certainly aren’t afraid to tell you why theirs are better than yours.

7. Irvine, CA

10 Snobbiest Big Cities In America


Irvine may not offer the most culturally stimulating of amenities, it may not have as many private schools as, say, Miami, and it actually had more fast food than a majority of the cities we looked at.

Even so, it managed to be one of the snobbiest cities in the U.S. We’re not even mad; we’re impressed.

That’s because Irvine not only had the highest percentage of college grads in the nation (65.72 percent), it also had the second most expensive real estate and second highest household income, with a median home price of $677,100, and a median household income of $90,939.

7. Honolulu, HI

10 Snobbiest Big Cities In America

Source: Flickr user Kyle Nishioka

What’s this? A place on our list dared to tie with Irvine, clearly the best place in the universe?

Well, residents of Honolulu might tend to disagree. With its white, sandy beaches, perfect weather, and, of course, crazy expensive real estate, Honolulu is clearly the best place in the universe (according to locals).

Just how much is crazy expensive, exactly? How about $539,500—and that’s just the median home price.

But if you’re into art or, you know, giving your children a good education, this hefty price tag might just be worth it to you, as Honolulu ranked 19th for both its galleries and private schools per capita.

Oh, and there’s that whole perk of living on an island paradise, too.

9. Madison, WI

10 Snobbiest Big Cities In America

Source: Robb & Jessie Stankey

Wisconsin may be known as America’s Dairyland, but don’t let the all-American, salt of the earth, midwest thing fool you. These guys are total snobs… at least in Madison.

That’s because this city was made up of 53.31 percent college graduates, most of whom probably make more money than you (the median household income was $52,550).

Madison also came in near the top for its number of theaters and art galleries per capita, and for its lack of fast food restaurants (it ranked 35th).

C’mon, what kind of city in the Midwest doesn’t have a Dairy Queen on every corner? Like we said: total snobs.

10. Atlanta, GA

10 Snobbiest Big Cities In America

Source: Flickr user Robert Williams

If you don’t live in Atlanta and your knowledge of the city is based on shows like “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” this may come as something of a surprise to you. But for residents, this is probably old news.

That’s because this snob capital of the South is not only filled with highly educated individuals (46.22 percent of the population have college degrees), but also with culture. It had the fourth most art galleries per capita in the country, and in fact, has the most theatres per capita in America.

Perhaps NeNe just failed to mention it.

You Can Be A Snob, Too

No matter how you define it, the word “snobby” often gives a bad impression, especially when it comes to describing places. But when you think about it, these 10 cities are actually some of the most desirable in the nation.

If after reading this post, you’re thinking you might like to get in on some of this snobbery—perhaps give San Francisco or D.C. a try—well, we can help. In addition to creating simply ingenious lists like this one, Movoto sells houses. And not that we’re snobs or anything, but we’re pretty good at it.

Okay, yeah, we’re snobs.

Snobbiest Big Cities In America

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posted on: August 29, 2014
158,698 views, 12 comments


  1. Octavia Dammond

    DC didn’t become “snobby” until all the gengerfiers moved here!!!

  2. Janet Butler

    Oakland? I live in the Bay Area and Oakland? Well, maybe Rockridge (borders Berkeley), but Oakland is a place to generally avoid, especially the downtown area. I speak from experience.

    As a transplanted Easterner (and 20 years in Italy – wow, guess I have a right to be a “snob” too!) I do think San Francisco has seen it’s hey-day, and now, I feel the atmosphere is more like a big small town. I don’t think the art scene is all it’s cracked up to be, personally speaking. For me, the beauty of San Francisco is location location location. Beautiful view, coming across the Bay Bridge with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. That, I admit, can’t be beat. The weather in the East Bay is rather nice too, more Mediterranean than central Italy where I was, that’s for sure! Of course, we are also in the midst of a big bad drought, which contributes to the warm weather.

  3. Mark

    Re: #4 Scottsdale

    In 1990 when I moved there, there was only 70,000 population. The Wests most Western Town, turned Ritzy.

    In my neighborhood average incomes were over $500,000.00 per year. Just driving to Starbucks I’d see a dozen Range Rovers like mine. BMW’s are everyday cars. Rolls-Royce’s, Bentley’s, Maserati’s, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, etc., etc., etc.

    The real cost of a real home in Scottsdale is well over a Million. Lots of money in Scottsdale and many monied come to Scottsdale.

    Scottsdale is a high energy, very progressive city of 220,000.


  4. BadgerBill

    Madison? Naw! The only snobs in Madison are easterners who relocated to the Midwest so they could push around the hicks.

  5. mike

    It’s funny I have lived in the Phoenix area my whole life. And locally scottsdale has been nick named snobsdale ever since I can remember. And u don’t need to look at figures to see that. Really look at the people and there interactions that will show u in its own

  6. Me

    I’m trapped in Madison and I’ve never been able to figure out why there are so many snobs. There’s no good reason to be mean, I don’t care how much money or art galleries you have. This criteria isn’t reason enough to be so bitchy. Please take the round-a-bout and rescue me, I want to find a real pizza.

  7. Miss Ann Thorpe

    I’ve been to eight of the ten cities listed, and with the exception of Atlanta, I’ve always encountered friendly people who always made me feel welcome. Wonder what that means? Well according to the criteria posited in this article…..possessing a college degree (I have two in fact), liking art galleries, attending the performing arts, and detesting fast food….this would also make me a snob. Either that, or the writer of the article is simply a jealous, uneducated, cultureless, burger-eating, beer swilling, declasse member of the great unwashed masses of the hoi polloi with a sour grapes attitude *putting on my reading classes in preparation of looking down my nose* LOL

  8. Keith

    What’s snobbish is the criteria underlying this ranking system. I realize it’s all just in jest, but it is also completely illogical and simply demonstrate’s the author’s own snobbishness toward the variables they chose (apparently educated people are snobs but uneducated people aren’t. Really?) Apparently cites with expensive homes are snobbish…as if to suggest that people try to drive up the price of housing in their own city to brag about it. Are you kidding? We hate the price of housing here.

    Basically the author is a snob about their own version of an ideal society and they have a blog that lets them preach their snobbery to large numbers of readers…an opportunity they happily avail themselves of.

    Give me a break.

  9. Hydie Downard

    I am quite surprised that there was no mention of Balboa Island,Newport Beach,or Laguna Beach many others along the Southern California Coast.

  10. scott

    I’m so suprising Snobsdale isn’t #1. At least on a scale of the largest douchebags per capita. I avoid that city like the plauge. In fact, the valley itself is very douchy. After I finish my PhD, I’m out of the valley.

  11. Windrider

    Well, I live in San Francisco and I’m not a snob.
    Perhaps it is that I’m part of the working poor (well, relatively, anyway). And perhaps I can afford to live here because we have rent control and I’ve been in the same apartment for 37 years.
    Hooray for rent control and Costco, I can still afford to live here.

  12. Real snob

    Real snobs wouldn’t be caught dead in any of these cities (Atlanta perhaps). This is about “new” money much disdained by real snobs (old money). Private schools per capita? Must be the right private schools-preppy schools only in the northeast-where daddy and granddaddy attended. And the garish display of wealth? Verboten by true snobs. There isn’t an Ivy League school in any of these cities. And where do they summer? Real snob mantra: you are only in the paper 3 times, when you’re born, marry and die. No matter how much money you have, can’t buy your way into society…


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