Monday, April 30, 2007

Best Place to Live in America

Geography@About.com has a story about Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania being ranked the best place to live in America.

The Top 10 according the Places Rated Almanac are
  • Pittsburgh
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Portland
  • Philadelphia
  • Rochester
  • Washington
  • San Jose
  • Boston
  • Madison

In order to believe the results Catholicgauze had to quickly remember the old Rust Belt Pittsburgh is gone and the city has greatly improved. The other rated cities made Catholicgauze pause however. Rating Washington D.C. seventh was shocking. While D.C. has culture and events galore; property values are high, as is crime, and parks are practical no-go areas. Those who can afford the D.C. lifestyle live in the suburbs. Not to mention that every terrorist group in the world wants to blow the city and all those who live in it sky high.

Because the Places Rated Almanac does not give its formula away for free its impossible to know right off hand what logic was driving these decisions.

There also seems to be a biased towards the bigger cities (which can be forgiven) and to places along the coast. "Fly Over country" is overlooked with the exception of Madison, Wisconsin.

CNN has a much more interactive and informative Best Places to Live website. While one can search via state or other variables, the best places to live overall according to this list are
  • Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Naperville, Illinois
  • Sugar Land, Texas
  • Columbia, Maryland
  • Cary, North Carolina
  • Overland Park, Kansas
  • Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Fairfield, Connecticut
  • Eden Prairie, Minnesota

The distribution is much more spread out. The methodology is also clear and reasonable. The primary factors are affordable housing, leisure activities, cultural options, job growth, sunny weather, short commute time, and good health care access.

Trying to decide what is the best place to live is subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So use the lists as guidelines and remember you have your own priorities.

10 comments:

cokaygne said...

I have long been a fan of this book and am happy to see a new edition. it is the best of the bunch because of the amount of data it uses. The book rates metro areas, not their central cities as such. That is appropriate because most Americans live and work in the suburbs of major metro areas. As a practical matter in undertaking an exercise of this sort, most of the relevant data are available only for the county level.

What I like about the book is that they gather data from a variety of sources, not just the Census, to tease out factors like cultural amenities, transportation access, etc. All these data are displayed in the book along with explanations of their provenance and the reasons for their inclusion. One can spend hours, days, weeks, browsing them. I disagree with their ratings, anyone would. They use many factors and weight them. I don't play golf, but they use golf courses per capita (or something like that, maybe it is holes per capita) as a criterion. So a metro area that has no golf courses would be fine for me, but would come out pretty low on their list. I hope that this new edition will include a cd or something with data tables so that the reader can assign his or her own weights.

Catholicgauze said...

Oh okay, thanks for the clarification. Metro areas would make a lot more sense.

subadei said...

I'm a bit surprised San Diego didn't make the list.

And to think VT was completely ignored! Why, the nerve...

Eddie said...

Seattle, WA?

I'm none too impressed with the area... traffic is horrendous (worse than Miami!), weather is foul, people are rude and obnoxious, homelessness is rampant throughout both Seattle and the suburbs, price of living is skyrocketing, (gas prices are $3.45 a gallon and rising) etc. etc.

Cary, NC & Pittsburgh seem reasonable though.

natalie said...

There's absolutely no way Cary, NC should be on the list...next to Charlotte, it's the most hated city in the state.

Tom said...

Cary, or as NC natives like to call it, "Concentration Area (for)Re-located Yankees."

Catholicgauze said...

I take it Cary is not too popular with my North Carolinian readers

Anonymous said...

Washington DC and San Francisco are known for how expensive they are. Surprised they are on the list.

MMM

Anonymous said...

I hope people continue to flock to these "best" places so that the rest of us can enjoy the hidden jewels that exist elsewhere.

Hi6uera said...

EEUU is not America!, don´t be stupid, EEUU is just a north america's country!