YouGov CityBus: How do you feel about your city?

Jake GammonHead of Omnibus, US
April 29, 2016, 1:37 AM UTC

YouGov CityBus surveys representative samples of major cities across the US, giving a snapshot of attitudes and behaviors across the nation. 

This CityBus survey looks at how the natives of the ten largest cities describe themselves, what they feel are their core values, and how safe and liveable they find their home cities.

Cities surveyed include: New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles and San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose.


How Do They Describe Themselves?

Survey responders were asked to describe the people in their own city.

Washingtonians are the first to admit that with their self-professed keen intelligence (45%) comes cold hard ambition (43%) – significantly higher than next rated New York and San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose where 32% in both areas think that their fellow locals are ambitious.  Washingtonians also consider other Washingtonians to be more unhelpful (12%) and unethical (12%) than any other cities.

New Yorkers describe themselves as Smart (34%), but honest (24%).  More than any of the other cities surveyed they see themselves as stylish (27%), aggressive (24%), and funny (15%). New Yorkers do recognize, however, that they may not be the most welcoming with the lowest friendliness rating in the group (37%).   

Los Angelinos by comparison don’t see themselves as particularly stylish (16%) but they do recognize themselves as vain (16%) and sometimes stupid (11%).  But then they are also the most honest (25%).

San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose natives are most likely to recognize themselves as rich (21%) above next rated Dallas/Fort Worth and Washington DC with 17%.  A Bloomberg analysis of U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data for 2014 does rate San Jose as having the highest output per resident, but Dallas is rated 11th and with a gross metropolitan product lower than Boston, DC, NYC and Houston.  The California city residents also see themselves as smart (43%) and just as vain as Los Angelinos (16%).

Dallas locals are the most likely to see themselves as friendly (55%), and like those from  Atlanta more likely to see themselves as generous (24%).

Philadelphians are their own harshest critics.  The city sees itself as more dangerous (11%) than the other cities surveyed, as well as having the fewest people say they’re stylish (8%) or ambitious (20%). 

How City Locals Describe their Local Citizens 

(Columns are sortable - check the top cities for each attribute)

City Core Values

Dallas locals (and to a lesser extent those from Houston) recognize their own traits or core values as being socially conservative (37% in Dallas, 31% in Houston), fiscally conservative (40% in Dallas, 31% in Houston), anti gun control (40% in Dallas, 33% in Houston) and family focused (40% in Dallas, 36% in Houston).

At the other extreme San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose residents are intent on living healthy lives (54%), nearly half think they are socially liberal (49%) are they are most invested in the environment (47%) (compared to only 9% in Dallas and Houston).  They are most likely to be pro gun control (38%) and pro gay marriage (44%)

Boston and Washington are the cities which consider themselves next most socially liberal (Boston 42%, Washington 38%), and pro-environment (Boston 34%, Washington 35%) as well as being most likely to believe gay marriage rights are one of the core values of their city (Boston 31%, Washington 33%).   Both cities are somewhat fiscally conservative (Boston 24%, Washington 23%) compared to New York at only 19%, despite New York being the city that most associates itself with being focused on money (23%).

Quality of Life – How Livable is your City? 

Price wise more than half (59%) of San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose residents think that their city has much higher housing costs than other cities.   Washington DC (55%) and New York (53%) come close behind.  Only 7% of those surveyed in Houston thought that their city was much more expensive than those in other cities, 39% thinking prices were somewhat lower.

New York and Chicago residents think that their city is very easy to get around (New York 30%, Chicago 29%).  Texans think their cities are somewhat difficult to get around (Houston 26%, Dallas/Fort Worth 25%).

For dining, 30% of New Yorkers think that their dining options are much better than other cities, a quarter (25%) of San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose residents also rate their options highly.  Only 7% of Bostonians rate their local restaurant scene above other cities and 16% think it is somewhat worse.

In terms of safety Washingtonians are most likely to rate their city as very safe at 25% followed by Boston (24%), New York (23%) and Dallas Fort Worth (23%).  Only 11% of Houston locals feel their city to be very safe with 16% feeling it to be somewhat unsafe. 

Overall San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose and Dallas/Fort Worth locals are most likely to rate their quality of life as very good, both at 28%.  Philadelphia (17%) and Chicago (18%) locals are least likely to give a very good rating.

What do they yearn for?

Most Americans (29%) from America’s top 10 DMAs say that their ideal home would be in the countryside or the suburbs (25%).  New York has the highest number of people who really want to live in a modern high rise apartment at 15%. 

New Yorkers and Washingtonians are the outliers when it comes to preferred transportation for their daily commute.  Although 50% of all those surveyed preferred to drive themselves to work, only just over one third (37%) want to drive to work while 15% would like to walk.  In DC 13% prefer to walk while 11% prefer to take the metro.