ROCKVILLE – Rockville and Bethesda are in the limelight this week after being ranked as two of the “10 Snobbiest Small Cities in the US” according to real estate website Movoto.com’s July 24 viral blog post.
In a list of cities with populations between 45,000 and 65,000, Bethesda snagged second place behind Palo Alto, Calif. and Rockville tied with Encinitas, Calif. for eighth place.
The real estate experts at Movoto collected data from the 2010 U.S. Census and organized 309 small cities by “snobby” criteria, including median home price, median household income, percentage of population with a college degree, private schools per capita, performing arts per capita, and art galleries per capita. The number of fast food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better) balances the snob factor.
Movoto blogger Laura Allan wrote, “’Snobby’ doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Most of these are wealthier communities with many opportunities for work, education, and culture. Heck, we’d probably be pleased as punch to live in any one of these. However, with all that culture, wealth, and exclusivity comes people who have simply the most rigid of standards that must always be met.”
At 83 percent, Bethesda was noted as having the highest percentage on the list of those with at least a college degree. Bethesda also has the third highest household income and the highest median home prices. Despite the listing pointing out the high frequency of fast food restaurants, they also were quick to highlight Bethesda’s participation in cultivating the arts; Bethesda ranked in the top 15 for private schools, performing arts, and art galleries according to Movoto’s Big Deal List.
Further down the list is Rockville with some “seriously snooty stats.” Ranking fifth in most elite private schools per capita, with 61 percent of locals having a college degree or more and an average household income of about $90,000, Rockville was dubbed a perfect example of “hometowns for the highbrow.”
According to 2010 U.S. Census data the population of Bethesda is 83.2 percent white, while Encinitas is 85.8 percent white. Hoboken, N.J., which ranked fifth on the list, is 82.2 percent white. Rockville’s population is 60 percent white, more than 20 percent Asian, nearly 15 percent Hispanic and more than nine percent African American.
Gaithersburg and Bowie are not as high on the snob list as the other cities, but they are more diverse communities. According to the 2010 Census, Gaithersburg is about 50 percent white and there is a near equal population of black and Asian residents (more than 16 percent each). 24.2 percent of the Gaithersburg population is Hispanic. Bowie has one of the highest percentages of African Americans on the list at 48.7 percent and a white population of more than 41 percent. The percentages of Asian and Hispanic people in Bowie are more than 4 percent and 3 percent respectively.
Local Rockville government officials are puzzled by their place on the list. Rockville City Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr admitted that when she thinks of “snobby” cities, “Rockville does not come to mind.”
“The ranking fails to take into account people’s viewpoints,” Palakovich Carr said. “Household income and the number of fast food restaurants are simply not a good proxy for how people think or behave.”
While none of the factors that contributed to Movoto’s list came from locals, Palakovich Carr said if the authors had spoken to residents they would have seen the “very diverse community that welcomes people from all walks of life,” and not snobs.