The Smartest City in America: Seattle or Raleigh?

Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington | Source

Money Magazine's Smart Cities

Money Magazine recently looked at US cities that are home to the highest percentages of Bachelor’s Degree and higher-certificate owners across the nation. The distinction of "Smart City" for Money Magazine differs a bit from the 2008 rankings furnished by Forbes.com. The Forbes rankings were performed about a year and a half more recently than Money's (2008 and 2006, respectively) .

Forbes.com provides data on the Top 25 Cities where we find the highest percentage of postsecondary degrees among people ages 25 and older, based on data from Sperlings Best Places. This data is a step further removed than that of the US Census Bureau, but may be just as accurate.

Another difference from Forbes is that Money Magazine published a Top 26 Cities list, because of ties between cities. A confounding aspect is the jockeying of positions in the two lists annually, depending upon new graduation figures and the human migrations of degree holders in and out of the cities. The job market can influence this movement, but college towns often have more jobs than on-college towns and can attract and keep graduates to a greater extent..

If you consider just the presence of Bachelor’s Degrees as “intelligence”, then Seattle is the smartest city in the whole USA for Money Magazine, based directly on US Census data -- Nearly 53% of Seattle residents possess Bachelor’s Degrees.

Not only this, but Seattle is home to a thriving IT/Computer Industry that requires many degreed professionals in several fields that include IT, Health and Medicine, and Aerospace, as well as others. From the many fine colleges and universities in the region, these degreed workers often stay in the Greater Seattle Area. Well paying careers are to be had in Seattle, the suburbs Mukilteo, Everett, Redmond, and Tacoma, and other nearby suburbs and cities.

Forbes has chosen Boulder, Colorado. It is located near Louisville, which is also named the Best Place to Live in America.

The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast online has determined its own lineup of smartest US cities by determining its own Daily Beast IQ Score for each (featured on CNN).

See the interesting link below, which places Raleigh-Durham Metro Area in North Carolina, associated with the renown Research Triangle, as the Smartest City in America. This may be the most comprehensive and most recent ranking of Smart Cities.

Money Magazine's Smartest Cities

City Name 
Percentage of Residents that posess at least a Bachelor's Degree 
Seattle WA
52.7%  
San Francisco CA 
50.1% 
Raleigh NC 
50.1% 
Washington DC
45.3%
Austin Tx
44.1%
Data gathered from the US Census Bureau.
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Intelligence?Intelligence?
Intelligence?
Intelligence? | Source
Intelligence?
Intelligence? | Source

The Rest of the Best

The remaining Smartest Cities, according to the US Census Bureau and to Money Magazine's criteria, % of residents in posession of a Bachelor's Degree, are:

  • Minneapolis NM 43.2%
  • Atlanta GA 42.4
  • Boston MA 40.9
  • San Diego CA 40.4
  • Lexington-Fayette KY 39.5
  • Denver CO 39
  • Charlotte NC and Portland OR (tied) 38.8
  • St. Paul MN 36.5
  • San Jose NM 36.1
  • Colorado Springs CO 34.9
  • Honolulu HI 34.7
  • Oakland CA 33.8
  • Pittsburgh PA 32.3
  • NYC , Anchorage, and Albuquerque (tied) 32.2
  • Omaha NE 31.9
  • Nashville-Davidson TN 31.7
  • Columbus OH and New Orleans LA (tied) 31.4%

City Reviews for the Top 5 Smartest Cities

  • Seattle WA - Visit Seattle with this link to Money's Smartest City.
  • San Francisco CA - San Fancisco receives coverage at:

Hot Jobs in San Francisco

Top 5 Nursing Schools in the San Francisco Bay Area is also useful, especially looking at degrees and graduation numbers.

  • Raleigh NC - Jobs are increasing in the Research Triangle region. See related links above at the end of the first section of this page
  • Washington DC Stimulus and government jobs have added positions here under the Obama Administration, while other jobs increase as well in Washington DC.
  • Austin TX - Jobs, colleges, tourist attractions and entertainment in AUSTIN.
(Average Money Magazine "Smart Score" = 48.6%)


Additional American Smart Cities, by region.

Midwest: Average Smart Score 37%

Minneapolis NM 43.2%

St. Paul MN 36.5%

Columbus OH 31.4%

South: Average Smart Score 36.8%

Atlanta GA 42.4%

Atlanta and its suburbs have access to top colleges and universities, research centers, business incubators, and world renown products, services, and tourist attractions. Underground Atlanta and other city favorites are so hot in popularity that the name Hotlanta has stuck to the city.

Lexington-Fayette KY 39.5%

Charlotte NC 38.8%

Nashville-Davidson TN 31.7%

New Orleans LA 31.4%

View New Orleans and other regional reviews of Louisiana at A Hub Portal for Louisiana.

West Coast: Average Smart Score 36%

East Coast and Northeast: Average Smart Score = 35.1%

Boston MA 40.9%

Jobs listings in the labor market of Boston and its suburbs are increasing. This links provide the information:

Pittsburgh PA 32.3%

  • Top 15 Hot Healthcare Jobs in Pittsburgh - This city is a too well-kept secret. healthcare is booming in Pittsburgh PA, because of great hospitals and schools, along with the highly focused work of an organization that successfully implements and teaches the Best of the Best Practices of Medicine and Health. Results are jaw-dropping in SW Pennsylvania.

NYC 32.2%

You Decide -

Which of the three No. 1 Smartest US Cities do you think is the Smartest?

  • Money Magazine's leader: Seattle WA
  • Forbes.com's choice: Boulder CO
  • The Daily Beast's pick: Raleigh-Durham NC
See results without voting

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Views and Comments 18 comments

maven101 profile image

maven101 6 years ago from Northern Arizona

Clarkdale, Arizona has 64% of its population ( 2729 )holding a Bachelors or higher degree...most are teaching and science degrees...and most are retired...like me...Thanks for the interesting Hub...who woulda' thunk San Francisco or Oakland...must be all those liberal arts degrees in Women's Studies, African History 101, Urban Studies, or Trans-Gender Art...

Interesting and informative Hub, up to your usual outstanding writing prowess...Thanks, Larry


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

@maven101 - Thanks for that statistic, because I did not know anything about it. Sounds like there is a lot of talent in that community of Clarksdale. Thanks for the nice comments, too; these are interesting to write :)


sabrebIade profile image

sabrebIade 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

It's hard to believe NC could rank up there.

The people in RTP must all be from outta state...LOL


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

sabreblade, you're funny and make me laugh :) Thanks for visiting.


brydn profile image

brydn 6 years ago from SW Washington

Seattle WA? More like Yacolt WA cos that's where Tanya Harding lives.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Hahahaha :)


GeneralHowitzer profile image

GeneralHowitzer 6 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines

Hehehe a great tour on how hubs should be written, you taught me a decent in making a great hubs Patty... Great Articles you have here and great profile too... looking forward reading your hubs in the days or months ahead, for now I am on a reading spree...


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

And I'm reading yours as well. You know, every month or so, I fine new refinemenet to make. Never will be perfect, maybe, but lots of fun in writing...Thanks for the compliments!


Hanna Bambina profile image

Hanna Bambina 6 years ago

Everyone is smart in different ways. You can't paint all people with the same brush. However, it is said the countries nearest the water are the most intelligent; soemthing to do with that sea breeze.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Very interesting, Hanna! I think being near the water is an awesome charachteristic and really does help people to better health - and relaxation. Maybe they will be more prodcutive and brainy if relaxed?

Relevant to that, I've run across some other recent lists of intelligent cities, based on their Internet access, business innovation, and other characteristics. It seems there are many lists and it will be fun to have a look.


dusanotes profile image

dusanotes 6 years ago from Windermere, FL

A totally awesome hub, Patty. I don't think I would want to live in Seattle now with the reduction of jobs due to Bowing wanting to move to a more hospitable place and the endless cloudy skies. Good work, Don White


BookFlame 6 years ago

Whew! Lots of great stats here. If I were thinking about moving, this would be great reference. But right now it great food for thought. I rate it UP!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Thanks, Don. Yes, less see what happens with Boeing! And with privatized aerospace work, ala Paul Allen and others.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Bookflame, thanks so much! There is another list of great cities to look at in future as well. Ii will be here soon.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada

Who knew! I really wanted to vote for Seattle, being a born West-Coaster, but I had to go for Raleigh-Durham NC just ofr their move to Raleigh promo package - awesome, and SMART. ;)


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Thank, RedElf! North Carolina is beautiful as well.


Jhalok profile image

Jhalok 6 years ago

I want to be a good student........................


Jason Deans 6 years ago

Great Hub Patty! Most people have no idea that Raleigh ranks so high. Having RTP, Duke, NCSU and UNC all in one area draw a lot of smart people to the area :)

@sabreblade a lot of people move from the NY/NJ or Philly area because it's cheap to live and there are several large companies in RTP that bring people over.

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