Sunset magazine ranks Nevada City #1 in its 2017 “Best Value Towns” list

cov0217a_coverNevada City has been named in a number of “best of” lists, including one in Outside magazine, as we’ve regularly reported (examples are herehere and here).

Now Sunset magazine has named Nevada City No. 1 on its 2017 “Best Value Towns” list.

The February cover of Sunset also features Nevada City: local resident-artist Tehya Shea is standing in front of the National Hotel on Broad Street. It was part of a photo shoot of the town (which mentioned a few other businesses) by Sunset photographer Tom Story.

“With housing costs rising, the great cities of the West — San Francisco, Denver, even L.A. — are creating an existential challenge,” it reads. “We’ve come up with 20 compelling options … We’d be happy to call any of these places home.” Nevada City is listed #1 of the 20. Others, in order, include Ventura (#2), Boise (#3), Prescott, Az. (#4), and Vancouver, Wa. (#5). Runners-up for Northern California and Northern Nevada were Reno, Santa Rosa and Fremont.

You can read the PDF HERE, which we received from Sunset. Here’s an excerpt: “(An) artsy sensibility (is) what’s luring big-city escapees … to Nevada City. It also doesn’t hurt that the alt-folk musician Joanna Newsom hails, famously, from here. That counterculture dates back to the 1960s, when young back-to-the-landers drifted away from the Bay Area to colonize a half-empty logging town.”

Sunset listed Nevada City’s population at 3,145; its median family income at $55,000; and its medium home price at $377,000.

How was Nevada City chosen?

I emailed some questions to Sunset, and this was their response:

How was Nevada City chosen to be #1 on the list?
“We talked to people living all over the West and asked them what they love about their hometown. We also spent a lot time crunching the numbers to find towns that offered the most bang for your buck. Nevada City ranked quite high in Northern California, thanks to its affordable home prices and healthy average family income. It has a long history of being a haven for makers, artists, and musicians because of its affordability and a community that, to this day, welcomes creative types. Those progressive, artistic roots are very much alive today, making it a popular move for people coming from the Bay Area who always dreamed of renovating a classic Victorian near a quaint Main Street.”

What is some of the criteria?
“We took into account cost of living, quality of schools, the rental and homeowner market, as well as the number of new businesses and events coming in with fresh ideas. We were surprised, for example, to learn that  even with a small population of 3,145, Nevada City hosts 65 concerts every year.”

How do you plan to publicize this list?
“In addition to our over 6 million readers across digital and print, Sunset will be promoting the best value towns story through a PR campaign and ongoing social media engagement.”

The comments on Facebook — which are generating much discussion — are mixed.

Many people are expressing pride and pointing to the increased visibility the coverage is bringing to local businesses.

Others, however, are expressing concern that being ranked No. 1 on a “Best Value Towns” list will just add more pressure on housing costs. The lack of affordable housing for many residents continues to be a concern.

I’m not too concerned that a cover on Sunset, a monthly magazine, will suddenly lead to an influx of newcomers that will destroy the local lifestyle. The way I see it we are an aging, declining population, with declining enrollment in our schools. We could use a little boost.

Here are the PDFs focusing on Nevada City:


Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

10 thoughts on “Sunset magazine ranks Nevada City #1 in its 2017 “Best Value Towns” list”

  1. “Nevada City has become an economically failed tourist town overrun by druggies, trimmers and growers. That POS boardwalk? well it has been the demise of a number of businesses, including Senum’s own failed taco joint.” Guess the right wing sluggos over at Todd’s joint don’t know how to read.

  2. Jon Smith please feel free to contact me if you would like to help collect actual data from Nevada City to either confirm/dis-confirm the assessment of “an economically failed tourist town.” I’m all about data in the land of opinions! Thanks. 530-205-5751.

  3. Lex- My quote was from an anon poster at Todd’s blog. I hold said poster in rather low esteem. He doesn’t know how to read nor see beyond his own right wing lenses. To make a statement such as he did in light of a glowing cover article in Sunset says it all.

  4. As a comment about what I have seen during past years of Wild and Scenic showings, that this is anything but an “economically failed tourist town’ as Juvinall’s blog might have some believe. There are “butts in every seat” at every eatery in Grass Valley or Nevada City during Wild and Scenic. Day and night. The town is filled with folks who look at this as a yearly destination— happily.

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