We opened our mailbox yesterday and the front cover of Money magazine declares "AMERICA'S BEST PLACES TO LIVE" & Cincinnati magazine's cover also features "BEST PLACES TO LIVE".
Please note, Money's cover doesn't qualify the story in any way. BEST places to live! But flip to the cover story on page 64 and you find there IS more to the story. Best places this year is only their best rated SMALL cities! And then to this engineer's delight, page 69 details their process! You KNOW how we engineers like to know the process!
So step 1, start with 746 small cities with populations of 50,000 to 300,000. Dang, I wanted to live some place with 49,843 people! Guess it can't be a BEST place to live!
Step 2, "Exclude places where median family income is more than 200% or less than 85% of state media AND (I add the emphasis here) those more than 95% white". Okay, can understand you want a place where the average family can afford to live, but the diversity requirement? Why is 5% the tipping point and based on whose expertise? We can't talk about racial composition as a Realtor, but obviously the magazine still wants it to be an important criteria, and perhaps deservedly so! Okay, 555 places left!
Step 3, Screen out retirement communities, towns with job loss, poor education, high crime scores, then rank based on housing affordability, schools, arts, safety, health care, diversity and other unnamed ease of living criteria. Down to 322. Sorry Prescott AZ, you're off the list! Too many retirees! No community theater for "Hello Dolly"? You gotta go too!
Step 4, Factor in additional economic data (including government strength), jobs, housing and schools. Heaviest factor is economic. Sorry if your local government is populated with knuckleheads! 100 left!
Step 5, Visit towns and interview residents, assess traffic, parks, gathering places and consider intangibles like community spirit. 30 candidates. I hope they didn't talk to Firecracker Francis or Weird Uncle Al! Do you need cheerleaders with pompoms for the community spirit competition?
Step 6, Select the winner based on the data and reporting. Congratulations to Eden Park, MN! (No disrespect, sure you love it there, no insults meant!!!) Packers Fans probably need not apply for residency?
While this is a nice exercise and it obviously sells magazines, there are some fundamental flaws in this entire process!
They say home is where the heart is! Well, where's your family? Maybe that is YOUR BEST place to live, regardless of the other data!
Furthermore, we're not dogs with shock collars and invisible fences that are going to "correct" us as soon as we hit the city limit sign!
We live in an area and take advantage of a region's offering, so it's arbitrary and short sighted to only think of a particular small city's offerings. Look at Money's top 5, and none are further than 70 miles from a major city!
We live in Warren County, Ohio and have access to both Cincinnati and Dayton, and within a two hour drive, Columbus, Indianapolis, Lexington and Louisville. What any one small area might lack in arts, or fine dining, or any other criteria of choice, others will more than compensate.
And our needs may be totally different at different times of our lives! Someone just starting out may yearn for the Big Apple or LA or Tokyo, someone else for the quiet of Maine (thanks Andy and Kristen!).
Some people are hot weather people, others cold! Mountains or Ocean? Distance to commute? Political leaning? Religion? Shopping? Cell phone coverage? The list goes on and on.
Different styles for everyone, my Nirvana might be your personal piece of the Underworld! So while these best place lists may be fun to read, I wouldn't put much practical value in their guidance!
Personally, we'll take the sun breaking through the morning fog over a green soybean field!
If you need help finding YOUR best place, please contact The Liz Spear Team of RE/MAX Elite. We'll be happy to help!
Liz & Bill
Serving Warren County Ohio & Adjacent Areas
The Liz Spear Team of RE/MAX Elite
Elizabeth Spear, ABR, CRS, Ohio License SAL.2002007747
William (Bill) Spear, CRS, Ohio License SAL.2004011109 Kentucky 77938
Ask for us by name if you visit the office!
Two locations: Lebanon & Mason, OH
Bill Direct: 513-520-5305
Liz Direct: 513-265-3004
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