San Jose, Calif.
Unless the Sharks finally make the NHL's Stanley Cup final, there's no huge event planned for San Jose this year. Still, the city has a lot to celebrate in the coming year.
"That's my hometown, and knowing what's happened to Kodak and other pillars of the local economy, I was surprised when Rochester scored on the Top 5 list. I applied the same formula to all cities and did not have my thumb on the scale," Trulia's Kolko says. "Prices -- which fell little during the boom -- are stable, and the economy has weathered blow after blow and is expanding."
While California coped with near 11% unemployment (and as high as 27% in some areas) in 2011, San Jose breezed into the new year around the national average and saw consistent improvement and growth. Despite a 5% drop in existing home prices, the housing market remains remarkably stable as well.
"Even though prices plummeted and foreclosures skyrocketed in inland California, the coast is another world," said Trulia Chief Economist Jed Kolko in a statement about cities to watch in 2012. "San Jose's perennially tight housing market makes it faster to bounce back. The San Jose market -- which includes most of Silicon Valley -- has rapid job growth and the lowest vacancy rate in the country."
That picture gets even prettier if baseball commissioner Bud Selig calls up San Jose for a spot in the major leagues this year. The city's been trying to pry the Oakland A's from their oversized Coliseum home for a few years now and Selig is expected to hand down a decision sometime before the 2012 season.