Best Places to Live for Those Who Like to Live Best

Money magazine recently released its annual evaluations of America’s best places to live. Upon seeing such ambitious meatloaf manufacturing, I immediately turn to the fine print. It was as revealing as I presumed.

To create MONEY’s Best Places to Live ranking, we looked only at places with populations between 10,000 and 100,000. We eliminated any place that had more than double the national crime risk, less than 85% of its state’s median household income, or a lack of ethnic diversity.

Did you notice that? A lack of ethnic diversity meant cities were simply dismissed out of hand. I wonder what precise petri-dish ratios were required for consideration. Given that diversity means non-white, I assume foreign versions of this exercise would include Luanda, but not Prague. Though likely the former would find itself snagged on the crime cap, alas.

Regardless, the result in this instance was that those vanishing American Mayberries don’t appear in the tabulations because they were consciously excluded. I’m sure you can understand. After all, do you want to be the one explaining to your wife why her new neighborhood doesn’t have a single Nigerian? Money magazine thought not. So the horror of that possibility has been filtered from the outset.

But do you think Money’s motivation is to actually provide their readers with a thoughtful diversity indemnification service? If but for us, you may have found yourself brazenly surrounded by friendly white families. Or do you imagine the “lack of ethnic diversity” was an eliminating factor due to the awkward conclusions that might have been reached without it? I suppose all we can do is speculate.

In any event, the 10 best places–by whatever arcane formulae–were presented as follows:

1. Fishers, Indiana
2. Allen, Texas
3. Monterey Park, California
4. Franklin, Tennessee
5. Olive Branch, Mississippi
6. Dickinson, North Dakota
7. Lone Tree, Colorado
8. North Arlington, New Jersey
9. Schaumburg, Illinois
10. Bozeman, Montana

Yet before calling the moving trucks, I decided to extinguish an evening creating a similar list, using dissimilar social pieties. If I were going to move anywhere within America, and bore no geographic preference, what criteria would I use to cull the field? I started with a recent list of 2017’s top 100 safest cities with over 25,000 population. Crime isn’t a frequent occurrence in most people’s lives, even those who live in its megalopolis maw. However crime prevalence is an extremely useful proxy for a broad range of life quality elements, both large and small. For instance, I recall my amazement as a young man entering an Atlanta liquor store for the first time only to realize the entire inventory was secured behind bullet proof glass. In low-crime environs patrons can actually fondle the merchandise before purchase. The disparity in one’s sense of satisfaction, safety, and well being between these two versions of society is not insubstantial.

And so I began my city filter with only the low-crime best. From there I ran an economics calculation comparing both the median family income and cost of living in the subject city to the national averages of these two metrics. Essentially, I wanted to know how much sweet cream cheese each city had to offer between what most people earned and what they paid to live compared to the country as a whole. I rejected any cities that did not have a significant positive spread over the national average in income over living costs.

To be a bit more precise, high cost of living areas were acceptable if they had even higher average incomes (these being the California entries). Just as relatively low income areas were desirable if they had even lower costs of living. Though obviously retirees would focus more on the latter, as ambitious young executives would on the former.

Finally, in perhaps the most critical filter of all for a sane man’s psyche, I dismissed every town that votes majority democrat. This may or may not be of importance to many readers, but I have traveled long enough to assure myself that safety and prosperity do not entirely compensate for feeling like the only human on The Island of Doctor Moreau. Only at gunpoint would I move to a Portland, Seattle, Boston, or Berkeley.

But where I would start to think about moving are the locations below. And for those wondering about another certain demographic data point, I’ve intentionally not even looked. Are there any surprises?

Laguna Niguel and Yorba Linda, California
Chaska, Minnesota
Keller, Flower Mound, Colleyville, Cibolo, Friendswoods, Wylie, and Little Elm, Texas
Bella Vista, Akansas
New Berlin, Wisconsin
Madison, Mississippi
Brentwood and Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Lake in the Hills and Huntley, Illinois
Fishers/Carmel/Zionsville (northern satellites of Indianapolis), Indiana

As an aside, and with no prior research at all, I suspected some of these names would emerge from simply having passed through them previously. Intuition can work fairly well when you don’t reject it out of hand.


19 thoughts on “Best Places to Live for Those Who Like to Live Best

  1. Pingback: Best Places to Live for Those Who Like to Live Best | Reaction Times

  2. Living in the Indianapolis area, I can assure you that while the other indicators are great, the Carmel/Fishers/Zionsville area needs to be marked down because of traffic. Some people take at least an hour to travel from or to downtown Indy to work, if not more, for what should be a 30 min. tops trip. It is atrocious.

    • Everywhere I go in America today, it’s absurdly crowded unless I’m nearly in the middle of nowhere. Every community or city of any size has doubled or quadrupled in the last 20 years and not a one of them added any lanes to any roads (or decreased the number of stoplights.)

      When this long boom finally ends and is reframed, the fears of the 1970’s will come back amplified, with pollution and overcrowding leading the Rage Parade. Anyone remotely seen as a “newcomer” will be lucky if they aren’t put in a shallow ditch face down. The USA of 1970 already had too many people. The 100 million added since then are just breathing my air.

      • I totally agree about the crowding of America–perpetually presented as “of course, we all want growth”
        The population of America feels more like half a billion.
        Nothing is quite as annoying to me as those who say everyone who wants to come is welcome. Ugh!
        Crowded roads and subways. Wilderness turned into apartments and Walmarts, while animals and Americans lose their habitat. Doesn’t that sound great. That’s what we all want, Money Magazine. I

      • If we stopped spending all our tax receipts on “entitlement” programs for deadbeat waves of immigrants, and useless zio wars, we might have had some money left to maintain and expand things like infrastructure. Instead our highways are crumbling, we haven’t built a new airport in decades, we still don’t have 1 bullet train in the entire country, and all the major engineering projects are being built in Asia or the Gulf. Not only did we not need 100 million extra mestizos and Indians, we don’t have the infrastructure to accommodate them all, even IF they contributed anything of value.

  3. Despite their attempt to celebrate “Diversity,” the photos accompanying the original story are an ocean of YT with few browns and almost no blacks.

    Diversity + any other metric will never equal peace/prosperity/happiness. And photos of peace/prosperity/happiness can never be majority black/brown unless the social prohibition of blackface makeup is eliminated (unless, of course, Time/Money/CNN simply begin photoshopping white people into black the same way they tried to photoshop George Zimmerman’s skin pigment toward the albino.)

  4. Practically everything we see and hear today purveyed by any media or data collection bureau is a lie. Unless you’re inoculated against it, it has the potential to snag a body, maybe even crucify if it’s race-related.

    As a trivial example, I clicked onto the ‘100 safest cities’ link. If you’re morbid like me ;^), click on the link at the bottom of the page ’25 most dangerous neighborhoods in America’.

    The interest is in the last heading for these dangerous neighborhoods, not the neighborhoods themselves which are the usual suspects. The heading reads “My Chances of Becoming a Victim Here in One Year”. You catch that? “Your” chances. hahahahahaha.

    This sort of twinkle-dust incidentally has been pushed relentlessly for decades through various corporate channels. Over a generation ago when my wife and I were looking to buy our first house, a realtor tried to convince us of the value of buying into a “rapidly gentrifying area”. We declined and I noticed over the next few years on the evening news constant reports of break-ins and shootings in this area. I’m certain looking back the level of hostility and aggression was being underreported if anything.

  5. New Berlin, Wisconsin

    A little too close to Milwaukee to suit me. I live halfway between the twin hells of Milwaukee and Madison. It’s only been in the last 8 years or so that we have become suddenly and startlingly ‘diverse’.

  6. I find it interesting that Money Mag had somewhat specific numerical boundaries:
    –Populations between these numbers
    –More than double the crime risk
    –Less than 85% of median income
    Until it got to diversity–“lack of”

    It was likely confusing to have 2 exactly opposing metrics (high diversity and low crime rate) so they had to be purposefully vague.

    How obnoxious to assume that lack of diversity is a negative.
    I saw this information in college rankings, also, where low diversity appeared as a negative. Although, in that case the data was useful, even if the conclusion was not.

    Madison Mississippi is an interesting choice. I wonder to what extent its Mayberry-esque feel is hampered by its proximity to the Jackson Metropolitan area.

    • At least there won’t be pressure to change its name anytime soon, although Jackson might be up for a name change, judging by present trends… maybe Tubman?

    • I’m pretty sure in those southern cities diversity = black, rather that the cosmopolitan mystery meat diversity on the 2 coasts. Not that either one of them is much better than the other.

  7. I drew the same conclusion as you, before I got to the point in the article: the reason they had to insert the ‘diversity’ requirement is that every single one of the top places would exhibit lily white demographics. It is startling to me that the number of white people who would forego moving to a place because it lacked diversity is anything over “0”. Especially those with kids. Heaven forbid your child grow up without the cultural experience of having multiple black kids in their classes that constantly disrupt and hinder the learning environment. Its tough in the south to find a place that lacks this, you really have to look hard. I will give you guys a good tip, though. If you are thinking about buying a long term home in an area, before you do, take a trip by the local elementary school. Thats your town’s teenagers and young adults in 10 years. Then, try to see what gets off the bus in your particular neighborhood, as that is what your kids will be growing up next to.

  8. Monterey Park, Klownifornia? Seriously, Money Mag? Bordered on the south by both East Los Angeles and Montebello. Do not want.

    • Pretty much anyplace around LA with “Park” or “Heights” in its name is more undesirable than LA in general.
      All the #realbestplacestolive are grateful to Money Magazine for including that diversity criterion. Best to keep off the radar, and keep your streets safe from the Safe Skreets Seekers.

  9. Hamilton county new york. Give it a look see. We need carpenters, and building trades, along with mechanics of all stripes. Nice demographics.

  10. Ozarks, baybee. North Central Arkansas or south central Missouri. Two hours from the nearest interstate. White as the wind-driven snow, but not much snow. Mountain Home, AR, nice place, 12,000 people, two Chinese restaurants.

    • I lived in Mtn Home for 12 years while working in the marine industry. Never locked the house – keys in the vehicles. Two lakes, endless cold water streams and snow every third year. Impossible to get to and built to stay that wat

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