A new ranking by the site Niche of 100 Bay Area towns and cities nearly all of them that are not San Francisco, San Jose, or Oakland finds that traditionally tony suburbs like Hillsborough, Piedmont, Orinda, and Lafayette all rank very high on criteria important with families, like school quality, safety, and family amenities. And meanwhile, places like Colma, San Pablo, and San Leandro land at the bottom of the list though their overall "Niche grades" are B+, B, and A- respectively, suggesting they're really not all that bad either?
Nearby places to the north and south like Vallejo, Campbell, Petaluma, American Canyon, and Vacaville don't even rank here, perhaps because they're too far or in the case of Vallejo, too weird and unsafe but this could serve as a helpful guide to young families who realize that they need larger living quarters than they can afford in the inner Bay Area. (San Pablo, by the way, comes in at 99, largely for a C+ school grade, and Colma is #100 but barely counts because it is mostly one big cemetery.)
The full methodology can be found here, and it should be noted that the largest piece of the ranking is the quality of public schools, which makes up 20 percent of the grade. Crime and safety make up 10 percent, and so does real estate affordability and rates of homeownership, while diversity makes up just five percent of the grade.
SFGate picked up the ranking today, noting that each place or town gets a "cost of living grade," and for all 100 it's between the D+ and D- minus range, because basically there is nowhere to live around here that isn't fairly pricy. "One might as well toss the cost-of-living findings," SFGate says, "since they are basically uniformly bad across the board."
Also measured are the number of people with college degrees or better, and the number of people aged 35-44, i.e. prime parenting time.
Niche is a new site that rates neighborhoods around the country, allows for residents to submit their own reviews, and offers up for-sale listings in each via Zillow. "We rigorously analyze dozens of public data sets and millions of reviews to produce comprehensive rankings, report cards, and profiles for thousands of K-12 schools, colleges, and places to live," the site says.
In addition to the suburb rankings, the site ranks SF neighborhoods by similar criteria too. The Castro gets a B grade overall, while Nob Hill gets an A, the Inner Sunset gets an A, and the Mission gets a B+.