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The Smartest City in America: Seattle or Raleigh?

Updated on July 30, 2019
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish is a successful Employment & Training pro, setting Midwest regional records with tens of thousands placed in gainful employment.

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 rankings furnished by in the 2010s.

The Forbes rankings were performed about a year and a half more recently than Money's as well, and the definitions of "smart" continue to evolve each year.. 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.

Livability, Workability, Sustainability is the Outcome. Smart is the Accelerator.

— Smart Cities Council; 2019

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
San Francisco CA 
Raleigh NC 
Washington DC
Austin TX

Data gathered from the US Census Bureau.

Intelligence? | Source

Top 5 Smartest Cities

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

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
(Average Money Magazine "Smart Score" = 48.6%)

You Decide -

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

See results

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%

Additional American Smart Cities, by Region.

Midwest: Average Smart Score 37%

Minneapolis NM 43.2%

St. Paul MN 36.5%

Columbus OH 31.4%

  • Interestingly, Columbus is the #1 High-Tech US City for the 2010s, but annually, 34% of its kids receive Public Assistance.

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%

Smart City Expo Atlanta is redefining what it means for a city to be “smart” with equity, prosperity, humanity, inclusion, and justice serving on par with blockchain, A.I., IoT, big data, and automation.

— Smart City Atlanta Expo, 9.11–13.2019

West Coast: Average Smart Score 36%

San Diego CA 40.4%

Portland OR 38.8%

Honolulu HI 34.7%

Oakland CA 33.8%

Anchorage AK 32.2%

East Coast and Northeast: Average Smart Score = 35.1%

Boston MA 40.9%

Pittsburgh PA 32.3%

  • 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%

Southwest and Central West: Average Smart Score 34.8%

Denver CO 39%

San Jose NM 36.1%

Colorado Springs CO 34.9%

Albuquerque 32.2%

Omaha NE 31.9%

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Patty Inglish MS

Views and Comments

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    • profile image

      Jason Deans 

      11 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.

    • Jhalok profile image


      11 years ago

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

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Thank, RedElf! North Carolina is beautiful as well.

    • RedElf profile image


      11 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 imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

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

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

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

    • profile image


      11 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!

    • dusanotes profile image


      11 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

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      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.

    • Hanna Bambina profile image

      Hanna Bambina 

      11 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 imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      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!

    • GeneralHowitzer profile image

      Gener Geminiano 

      11 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 imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Hahahaha :)

    • brydn profile image


      11 years ago from SW Washington

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

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

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

    • sabrebIade profile image


      11 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 imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @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 :)

    • maven101 profile image

      Larry Conners 

      11 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 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


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