The lighter side of real estate

These Are The 10 Snobbiest Mid-Sized Cities In America

Do you turn your nose up at anything unrefined? Then you might feel right at home in these supremely snobby cities.

Laura Allan

112 articles, 1 comments

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Everyone’s a snob about something. Wine, video games, books, clothing, food…you probably have your own particular thing you’re snobby about. Still, there are some places where people are just a little more stuck up than others, and you might be surprised where those are.

Here at the Movoto Real Estate Blog, we’re kind of snobs about our top 10 lists, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to indulge our passion. We put on our boat shoes, canceled our reservations at Chez Fancy, and used our new state-of-the-art totally chic computers to make a list of the most persnickety places.

After some math and research, we came up with this refined and high-society list of the snobbiest mid-sized cities in America:

1. Pasadena, CA
2. Thousand Oaks, CA
3. Alexandria, VA
4. Naperville, IL
5. Santa Rosa, CA
6. Fort Lauderdale, FL
7. Glendale, CA
8. Sunnyvale, CA
9. Fullerton, CA
10. Eugene, OR

Shocked to see California leading the way? We weren’t either. If you’re curious where your hometown ranked, you can see a list of the 50 snobbiest midsized cities at the bottom of this article. But how does one define snobbery on a nationwide scale? It’s not difficult, darling, if one has the right background.

How We Created This Ranking

To start, we had to determine what sorts of things snobs would like, and then looked at those factors for 100 mid-sized cities. Those snobby statistics were:

  • 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)
  • Country clubs per capita (the more the better)

We gathered this data from the 2010 U.S. Census and business listings. We then ranked each city in each category from one to 100, with one being the best. From there, we averaged each place’s scores into one Big Deal Score, with lower scores being better. The locations with the lowest Big Deal Scores became our top 10 smug and snooty cities.

1. Pasadena, CA

Pasadena, CA

Source: Flickr user Rex Gray

By a landslide, Pasadena was our snobbiest place to call home. This city had a ton of performing arts venues, art galleries, nearby country clubs, and private schools for the more selective sort to choose from. It also had the fifth highest median home price, so you bet your next château will have the garden tub and breakfast nook you always dreamed of.

We should also mention that this rosy little town is home of the Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl, where only the best teams and best floats get to strut their stuff. However, snobs in search of something more cultural and less touristy might rather take in a show from the Pasadena Symphony Orchestra at the Ambassador Auditorium. We hear anyone who’s anyone will be there.

2. Thousand Oaks, CA

Thousand Oaks, CA

Source: Flickr user Allan Bromberg

Keeping the Southern California theme going, Thousand Oaks offers la crème de la crème in the way of refined eating on our list. This place had the lowest number of fast food restaurants per capita in our top 10, plus some very decadent high-class eateries to choose from. I mean, you simply cannot get more decadent than lobster mashed potatoes at Mastro’s Steakhouse.

That wasn’t the only snobby stat that Thousand Oaks had, however. This city held third place in both median home price and household income. High society definitely thrives here, as there are plenty of private schools, performing arts, and country clubs to go around. Anyone up for a game of tennis or golf after high tea?

3. Alexandria, VA

Alexandria, VA

Source: Flickr user m01229

There’s a bit of a stereotype in Virginia that the northern part of the state is kind of snobby, and for this city that generalization is pretty true. For starters, this city had the third highest number of college grads, at over 60 percent, so the brightest and best like to call this area home.The locals definitely have a more cultured and artistic eye, which is why they were second place for art galleries per capita.

Maybe you’re looking to make sure that little Joey is raised right in the Mother of States. That’s not a problem here either, as Alexandria had the sixth most private schools per capita. If you’re worried about paying for that school, never fear, this place had the seventh highest household income as well. Nothing but the best for these fancy folks.

4. Naperville, IL

Naperville, IL

Source: Flickr user TEDxNaperville

If this place seems like a bit of an odd man out on our list, don’t be fooled. Naperville had the second highest household income, and over 66 percent of locals had a college degree, so these are some world-wise and wealthy people. Plus, they’re able to congregate together in their seventh place country clubs, probably to sample wine and discuss recent stock market trends.

This city may not have the highest ranking in refined restaurants, but it does have a somewhat refined palate. If you don’t believe me, you can try the cuisine at Morton’s The Steakhouse and you’ll know for sure you’re in a place all about class. Just be sure to bring a well packed wallet, these savory steaks do not come cheap. Who ever said the best things in life are free? It definitely wasn’t Naperville.

5. Santa Rosa, CA

Santa Rosa, CA

Source: Flickr user Wally Gobetz

If you were wondering when the first wine-snob friendly place would appear on our list, congratulations, you’ve found it. Known as the biggest city in Wine Country, this place is also one of the biggest centers for snobs in the nation. With a high median home price and high household income, locals here are used to living the highlife, likely while sipping a nice Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon.

What you might not know is that Santa Rosa is also a great place for art. With the seventh best performing arts rank and a very high score for its art galleries, creative snobs will easily find something suitable for their entertainment interests. Well, at least they’ll find something they won’t turn their nose up at.

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6. Fort Lauderdale, FL

Fort Lauderdale, FL

Source: Flickr user Daniel Piraino

We didn’t forget about all you snobby Floridians out there, and the numbers certainly say that you have your own snooty Mecca to go to. Fort Lauderdale had a high performing arts rank, quite a few nearby country clubs, and the fourth best arts galleries per capita. Not to mention all those chic fashions you lovely people sport out there, you really do look divine.

This place didn’t really score poorly across the board as far as snobby stats went, which seems fitting. After all, no one in Fort Lauderdale could stand for anything being poorly done. Just take a visit to Valentino’s Cucina Italiana and you’ll know exactly what we mean, even if you have the most picky tastes.

7. Glendale, CA

Glendale, CA

Source: Flickr user Chris

A lot of celebrities call this California city home, and who’s more snobby than a celebrity? All the beautiful people are just dying to live in this upscale city, as demonstrated by its sixth highest median home price. And can you really blame them? Lots of performing arts, few deplorable fast food restaurants, and plenty of art galleries all make this a snob paradise.

Those in the mood for performing art can always take in a show at the Glendale Centre Theatre. Those in the mood for something a little more stationary can head to Trimona Cafe and Art Gallery. Just make sure you take someone who knows their stuff, or the depth and relevance of some of those paintings might go completely over their head.

8. Sunnyvale, CA

Sunnyvale, CA

Source: Flickr user Meg Lauber

If you want a place where the rich can live, love, and play, then Sunnyvale is probably the spot for you. With the highest median home prices on our list and the fourth highest household income, this city showed it knew how to cater to high society as well as the highbrow. This place also had the fifth highest percent of college grads, so these privileged people have had professional teaching on how to be prim and proper (but still manage to be pretty friendly).

The elite socialites here are able to enjoy performing arts at many different venues. There are also many upscale eateries for foodies and wine snobs, so grabbing some sashimi at Sawa Sushi can easily be a regular thing or just something for when you’re trying to show off your chopstick etiquette to a few friends.

9. Fullerton, CA

Fullerton, CA

Source: Flickr user Nathan Gibbs

We did say that California was represented in a big way on this list, and this makes six snobby spots in the Golden State. Snobs who love culture, museums, and creation will adore this mid-sized city, as it had very high marks in performing art, art galleries, and is home to the STAGEStheatre. For guitar purists, this was also the birthplace of Fender Guitars, which are simply the best in the way of instrumental elegance…in the rock and roll world anyway.

If you’re not so much into guitars and and instead prefer fine dining, you can find that here too. Summit House can give your sweet tooth that refined flavor it craves, and allow you some decadence in the way of prime rib or cocktails. It’s got a high price tag, but this city had the eighth highest median home price on our list as well, so we expect snobs here to be at least fairly well off.

10. Eugene, OR

Eugene, OR

Source: Flickr user Trey Ratcliff

Last up is our only Oregon representative, Eugene. The city had decent scores across the board, with standouts in the way of performing arts and art galleries. This is also a very green place, and people will turn their noses up at you if you dare to put that aluminum can in the garbage.

While this truly lovely locale is certainly ripe for the arts sorts, local snobs should also be ready to test their taste buds. With eateries like Marché, the elite can enjoy ambiance as well as quality, and with places like the Ninkasi Brewing Company even beer snobs can flex their IPA palates.

Only The Best Will Do

Before you go insulting any of these fine locales, remember that we’re all snobs in some way. Besides, who doesn’t love a little red wine, filet mignon, and opera? …Well, we do at least, and we’re pretty sure these top 10 snooty cities would agree. Now if you’ll excuse us, there’s an orchestra performance we really must make an appearance at.

Do you have pride in your city? Submit an article to the Movoto City Pride contest for a chance to win a $1,000 scholarship.

Snobbiest Mid-Sized Cities In America

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posted on: June 19, 2014
382,899 views, 36 comments


  1. TEDxNaperville

    Shout out for crediting the photo. Cheers.

  2. DP

    Naperville? Pshh. It’s a cookie-cutter suburb surrounded by other cookie-cutter suburbs. Not much sophistication when everybody lives in a McMansion and drives a beige Lexus RX. They may have a Morton’s and a Catch 35, but most of the dining options are corporate chains with crap food.

  3. grace

    As for Fort Lauderdale being snooty, its spelled “Mecca.”

  4. Laura Allan

    Fixed, and thanks very much for the correction. :)

  5. Naperville

    Naperville…snooty…it’s pretty obvious you have not visited. Once you visit and talk to people on the street, then write all you want. It is a vibrant community that’s safe, affordable, and has great schools. Who wouldn’t want that in their community? I can think of at least two other suburbs north of Chicago that deserve to be on this list. This article is exactly what you get when you run the ‘numbers’ game through a database.

  6. Co

    How was Boulder CO not on this list?? The only place where peoples Patagonia jacket has a Patagonia jacket and the passtime is seeing how many $5k road bikes you can stack on a Audi in your $500 spandex while talking junk about eveyone in a 500ft radius that does not have the same style and opinion as you

  7. Sara

    I can’t argue with the facts listed yes it is true that we have nice restaurants, schools, bars, the arts and so on. You can’t always judge a book by its cover. There are common every day people who do the very same things that a family from the Midwest might do. We celebrate our kids, family, faith, nature, sports, and community, we have a diversity in culture and a rich heritage. If you are looking for snobby you’ll find it anywhere you go. However, I choose to look for and hang with loving, kind, down to earth people. There are strict rules by the city to ensure that our city doesn’t become a high rise, polluted, trash place of numbness, have I mentioned the crime rate? One of the lowest around. If you go into a local market your bound to bump into and converses with your neighbors, past teachers, parishioners, pastors, rabbi’s, priests and old school friends. It’s easy to list a bunch of facts about a place but never really dwell there. When our boys have gone to war and come home (or not) there’s been a celebration or grieving by the community as a whole. We may be over 100,000 people but we still care. There are places through out Thousand Oaks that reach out to the homeless and those in need of food, there are families and communities who join for the cause of cancer, autism, the deaf and the love of life there’s a developing awareness of sex trafficking and more hands ready to help stop the beast. On the downside and more to my passion with the wealthy comes drugs, where there’s demand, there’s a supply. We have broken families, lost jobs, bankruptcy and heartache like any other, maybe more so. Consequently, people are seeking change and healthy relations, people are seeking new life and transformation. Bottom line, our poop doesn’t stink any worse than any other community. If you’re looking for ugly, you will find ugly. If you look for beauty you will find beauty.. As a man thinks, so is he. Just saying.

  8. Jeff

    How did you come up with the initial 100 cities to rank?

  9. Philip Wilkey

    How exactly does a lack of fast food equal “snobby” or “snooty”? Your blog post gave me cancer.

    Don’t feed the trolls and go on about your lives citizens.

    Naperville, IL

  10. Colleen Kelly

    Wow. I thought you guys were awesome when you came through my winery, but if you’re going to slam my town…then sheesh. Maybe I’m not a fan of Movato after all. 😉

  11. Colleen Kelly

    By the way.. I’m sure you’re sharp enough to see the winky face. Sorry you guys got that impression of Santa Rosa. But then….I live here and wouldn’t argue with you. That’s why all the cool residents hole up in their homes looking on your awesome website – dreaming of living elsewhere.

  12. John Baines

    Not one in North Carolina (thank goodness!!!)

  13. John Baines

    Wrong again! Cary, NC made it at number 24…

  14. Naperville Res

    I would rather live in my beautiful city of Naperville than anywhere else in the world. Best reason is we don’t allow “two-bit Blog Writers” to inhabit our lovely city. Please return to under the rock you crawled out from under. No one cares what you have to say.

  15. Data Analyst

    From the histrionic heading, one would think this was a HuffPo article. But no, it’s from a real estate site. Now I know where NOT to look for accurate, high-quality real estate information.

  16. Mrl Lucas Brice

    Fullerton? Snooty? What a joke. The city has a median household income of $65,648. It’s a college town. It’s about 1/3 white, 1/3 Latiino, and 1/3 Asian. It’s also a college town. Give me a break.

  17. Bruce

    Sunnyvale ranks closer to Alviso than a truly snobby city. It doesn’t even rank in the top 10 of the SF Bay Area: Atherton, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Saratoga, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Los Gatos, Woodside, Portola Valley, Hillsbourgh, any city in Marin County.

  18. Tess

    There’s snobbery here, alright…. snobbery from the author and staff who came up with this article through junk deduction.

    I happen to live in one of these cities, on very little income. Yes, a large percentage of our residents have a lot of money – but they are also generous, kind and caring people. I’ve lived here for 30 years and never encounter this “snobbery” you proclaim exist. Evidently, you haven’t spent much time here. Arts, education and restaurants do not make a snobs. A snob is someone who thinks they are better than someone else for superficial reasons. I don’t see people like that here, but reading this article makes me suspect Laura Allan may be one.

  19. LEMAM

    Wow, Pasadena is the snootiest town in America? Really? Has the author ever BEEN to Pasadena? Let me rephrase that, is the author aware that Pasadena extends east of Lake Ave and north of Colorado Blvd? This story weaves a skewed view of the population, but ultimately I guess it achieved it’s goal of getting eyeballs on the page even if most of them disagree with the content.

  20. Kira

    Wait… Fullerton is snobbier than Newport Beach? How did Newport not even make this list? How about Coto de Caza? Evidence – Real Housewives of OC
    This list makes no sense.

  21. Eponymous

    Completely agree, what a load of predetermined junk. This person knows nothing of any of these cities, and has arbitrarily decided what “snobby” means. Do you realize that 12.9% of Pasadena’s population lives below the poverty rate? I guess the super poor are snobs too. Combined with the fact that your article says little about how many people FROM PASADENA or any of these cities actually attend these institutions, or what percentage of the city participates in anything stated above, your article stinks of pathetic reporting. Can I make up definitions for stuff, throw some numbers behind it, and make a rankings list too?

  22. b

    Um… only two of these are “real cities”, the rest are burbs or extensions of much much larger (and generally snobbier) cities. In fact most of the list is just the Greater Los Angeles region. Only Ft. Lauderdale and Eugene are the only two “free standing” cities on here.

  23. rcn

    This article is supremely snooty. Snobbishness is not about statistics but about attitude. The author needs to actually interview or talk to residents if she wants to better assess a city’s level of snobbishness.

  24. Pasadena

    We are the champions and you’re not.

    Pasadena, California – best place to live in America

  25. Naperville Guard Dog

    It would have been great to include a screen grab from Naperville’s Mayor and his antics during a council meeting. Thank you youtube

  26. Yo

    Let me guess, the author lives in Newport Beach?

  27. Carl

    OK, this is just silly. I lived in Glendale, and the people there stand in stark contrast to most people in the L.A. basin. The people of Glendale are some of the kindest, most selfless people in the whole area. They were a breath of fresh air. In fact, putting Glendale, Pasadena, and Thousand Oaks on this list while leaving off Beverly Hills, Bel Air, San Marino and Newport Beach shows what an incredible joke this list is.

  28. Genma

    Sunnyvale? You’ve got to be kidding! Compared to several adjacent cities Sunnyvale is a dog house — a nice doghouse but by comparison still a dog house.

    The problem has to be in the criteria… why use private schools when standardized testing can tell you what you need to know about public schools? Art Galleries? Really? A fluff item if ever there was one.

  29. Lori

    I hear people saying what’s wrong with being educated ?being educated and being a snob are totally two different can still be kind to someone but that’s going out the window these days.i would rather help and be kind to the less fortunate than act like I’m better than you! Money does not make you who you are

  30. Napervillain

    So having a higher income area represents snobbery? Methinks you need to look up the definition of the word. This is pure sensationalist journalism. I would hazard a guess that your next article will include the words “X reasons you shouldn’t…” or “…and you’ll never believe what happened next”. To the person who suggested Naperville is all chain food… You need to stop looking for the BIG signs and get out a little bit. Catch35 is not all that. There are a lot of small fantastic places that rival many major city eateries… …but us “snobs” don’t share them with you…

  31. Sean Connery

    I love how all the Napervillians get their snooty feathers in a bunch. Get out of your elitist bubble and see how the rest of the world lives. Naperville is 99% rich, caucasian, trustfunded suburbanites. Naperville is synonymous with driving a BMW or Landrover, and wearing Northface apparel in the winter. I have lived in and around Naperville my entire life, but thankfully am well travelled and realize Naperville IS a snobby bubble of suburbia. Great place to live and raise a family? Sure if you fit the criteria above.

  32. Naper snooty kabooty

    Having lived in Naperville for most of my 40+ years, I’ve observed that the town has grown much more liberal and thus snobby since the ’90s. When they built the “English Rows” it became a ridiculous joke.

  33. Rich K******

    Naperville is certainly snooty, but nowhere close to Lake Forest, the ultimate in sheer snobbery. Go visit there, and see the “elitist” capital of Illinois!

  34. JenniferW

    There are many other zip codes that are more expensive to live in the U.S. and Naperville does not even make top 50 but they act and treat people like it. They use words like popular, best place, and wealthy to over value themselves. In reality they know that their surplus of houses are cheaply made, the dt area looks like a fast food court yard blew up on it, and they do not live in a healthy state of reality. One example is that just because one is educated does not mean they can get a job or use their head but many people on here believe that education and the snob correlation in the article is a positive thing. Smart people know better.

  35. TimE

    I’m astonished that nothing about New Jersey is even mentioned here.

  36. CiviclyObliged

    I’ve lived in Boulder, CO for 6 years, Boulder is Denver’s wealthiest suburb (to clarify). Appearances are everything here…. as a member of the community who doesn’t appear wealthy, educated or dignified, I and many others (the other 99%, actually about 7%) have been subject of ridicule, discrimination & hatred.
    Homeless play a lottery game for a warm place to sleep in the winter, only a handful win.
    I came here wanting to donate my time to poverty stricken folks, but honestly…when a segment of the community is outcasted in this way, most of the decent poor folks leave in search of greener pastures. The result is…. Vindication. The worst of the poor remain to demand a handout. Not all, there are still good poor folks here working for a better tomorrow.

    In the last few years, a major influx of people have left these communities on this list for the greenest pasture, a place so homogenized and fascist that only the creme of the “rotting” crop feels safe.

    Boulder, CO ~ easily the most snooty, bourgeois, entitled place in America.

    Thanks for your time, I’ve spent time in every place on this list, except this Naperville place.


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