Nearly every city in the United States has a few residents who claim that their city is the best place to live. The media seems to be constantly coming up with lists designating the cities or towns that have what it takes to be a best place to live. The number of lists of best places can be a bit overwhelming to the average person researching a city or town, so it is smart to keep in mind one’s priorities when choosing a place to live.
There are almost endless possibilities of what combination of factors to consider when designating a best place to live. Is low crime most important? What about the number of art museums or galleries? How about education, cost of living and weather? All of these are contributory factors in the quality of life, but to some, certain factors rate higher than others.
The Kiplinger’s Personal Finance list ranks the “smartest” places to live, considering the housing prices, cost of living, access to health care, economy and quality of life in a particular city. In 2006, the list named Nashville, TN as the smartest due to its affordability, temperate climate and entertainment. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN was second due to its progressive atmosphere, Midwestern ethics and culture. Albuquerque, NM, Atlanta, GA, Austin, TX, Kansas City, MO, Asheville, NC, Ithaca, NY, Pittsburgh, PA and Iowa City, IA rounded out the top ten smartest places to live.
The American City Business Journals try to quantify quality of life based on affluence, the number of large houses, college degrees, racial diversity, short commute times, earning power and cheap housing. Their list names Los Alamos in NM as the best county in which to live and includes Olmsted County in MN, Pitkin and Douglas Counties in CO and Loundoun County in VA as the best places to live.
Another list considers safety as the determining factor, specifically, safety from natural disasters. Forbes and Sperling’s Best Places considered weather and disaster statistics to determine that the safest place to live is Honolulu, HI. Boise, ID, Santa Fe, NM and two cities each in Oregon and Washington are in the top five.
Money Magazine considered cost of living, schools and crime statistics in determining their own best places to live list. Fort Collins, CO won the top spot, and Naperville, IL, Sugarland, TX, Columbia-Ellicott City, MD, Cary, NC, Overland Park, KS, Scottsdale, AZ, Boise, ID, Fairfield, CT and Eden Prairie, MN make up the top ten. Other lists consider top earning power and job growth. Some lists determine the best places to live based on how many expensive homes there are, how cheap the city is, how educated the population is, how many singles there are, who is the youngest or the hottest and even who gets the most sleep.