San Jose: The #16 Coolest City To Live According To Forbes

Forbes magazine releases "The Coolest Cities to Live In" and San Jose and Los Angeles are tied at #16. Writer Hector Gonzalez, a longtime San Jose resident now living in Los Angeles, spits game about the real reasons the cities are cool and why Forbes got it wrong.

San Jose is really cool, but not for the reasons that Forbes says it is. 

Forbes fortune magazine annually releases a list of the ‘coolest’ places to live. This year’s list has created a buzz online.  

For starters Washington DC was ranked number 1 while New York City was ranked number 11, needless to say that the list had many people puzzled. Among other things, one thing that specifically
made Californians a little confused is how San Jose and Los Angeles were both tied for 16
th place for coolest places to live. On the surface, this list is about friendly rivalry amongst different regions throughout the U.S, giving folks something to talk about, but the reality of it is that for San Jose this list might be a clear indication of gentrification happening in the city. Yes, San Jose is cool but not for the reasons that Forbes says it is.

I saw the Forbes list last month, but the Examiner recently posted an article explaining how San Jose and Los Angeles are tied for 16th place. Apparently Forbes teamed up with a research firm called Sperlings Best Places. According to the article Sperlings Best Places concluded that San Jose had a superior ‘foodie’ scene than L.A., including better independently owned bars, but more importantly, the study also looked at migration patterns specifically amongst 20-30 year olds saying that San Jose has more people moving in while L.A. has more people moving out.

If I didn’t know any better I would think that some San Jose developer paid money to have San Jose be on that list. Someone must have said, “if we put San Jose in the top 10 ‘coolest’ places in American it would be to obvious, how about we make it number 16 and tie it with L.A. and that would give it some attention”... hmmm, this has me wondering.

I’ve been living in L.A. for the past 4 years, but I grew up in San Jose.  Here is some perspective; I currently live in South L.A. formerly known as South Central. North of that is Korea Town, to the west of Korea Town is Pico Union which is the largest concentration of Salvadorians outside of El Salvador, North of Korea town is Thai Town, to the North East is Silver lake, Echo Park, Eagle Rock and Highland park- all really cool neighborhoods. To the west is the Fairfax Arts District and to the east is Downtown L.A.- my point is that every neighborhood in L.A. is awesome. San Jose in the other hand has a small downtown section, some cool spots in the west side, and some cool spots in the Japantown area. Having said this, my question is, what is the ‘Sperlings Best Places’ finding referring to? Could it be that the entire list is bizarre and arbitrary.. or maybe there is something more to it. Maybe there is a ‘cool’ scene in San Jose comparable to L.A., but amongst who and what exactly makes it ‘cool’.

Maybe it’s referring to the tech world and new transplants who are trending an emerging culture in San Jose that’s out pacing L.A.. That’s fine and dandy but this also coincides with the fact that San Jose is also a very expensive place to live and becoming even more expensive, even financially unobtainable to people who were born and grew up there.

I hope to move back to San Jose because it’s a ‘cool’ to live. It’s cool because during the 70’s and 80’s many immigrants from all over the world moved to San Jose to build semiconductors, motherboards, keyboards, etc.,. The jobs were plentiful and it created a culture of immigrant kids from diverse backgrounds to grow up in suburban environments. We grew up getting along with one another. San Jose is cool because it has all four seasons without snow, hurricanes or tornado's. San Jose gets summer, fall, winter and spring. San Jose is also cool because it is a very good place to raise children.

What Forbes might be referring to as cool might be a different San Jose than the one that I just described. In L.A. an array of diverse characters at a bar including an inspiring actor, hardcore gang member, hipster, an some random international from a random country is cool but a bar full of techies venture capitalist, and star-up CEO’s in San Jose is cooler. It doesn’t matter that the bar in L.A. has an MSK graffiti piece on the wall outside, that tonight is Reggae night, or that the bar is serving 10 exclusive selections of seasonal micro brewed beers.  San Jose is cooler because Silicon Valley venture capitalist are making it an elitist place to live.

I have it in my semi long term plans to move back to San Jose. I think it’s a great place for my kids. However, my worry is that in a few years San Jose might be too expensive for me to move back.  

About Hector Gonzalez

Hector Gonzalez is a writer, hip hop artist and proud father originally from San Jose, and now is based out of Southern California. He has been published in numerous books and publications and also has performed across the U.S as an emcee by the name of "Hegotistic".

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