July 30, 2007

Money Magazine's annual Top 10 Towns America's Best Places to Live (small town version). What do you think?

This year they focused on small towns, which I agree are getting more and more attractive in today's America of over-consumered, over-retailed, housing-bubbled, poorly-planned, illegal-immigration-run-amok big-city shallowness. Now if these small towns can just get rid of Wal-Mart and cookie-cutter homebuilders, they'd be OK.

Here's the Top 10 and full article. Do you agree? What makes a great town? I've added my two favorite books on geo-arbitrage and moving to a small town...


Batman said...

Hmmm, none of them in the SW... conincidence?

Anonymous said...

We now have a list of the next places targeted for destruction by developers,
corruption and over-development.
The smart money will start buying there NOW.

foxwoodlief said...

Small towns are great if you have a job. They don't offer much in that department and home prices to incomes are still high. The small towns that have any chance of providing a quality of life are near/commuting distance to a major metropolitan area for jobs but you still have to contend with high gas prices (buy a Prius).

As long as America has nothing to sell to the world, exports jobs, keeps wages low, thinks a "service economy" is a mature economy, spends more than it earns, will only lead to ghetto cities and abandoned small towns as we become illegal immigrants to Europe or China.

Anonymous said...

Put me in a city, near concert clubs, art galleries, and ethnic dining. I love the bustle of thousands of little capitalists racing about their business on a daily basis. I love skyscrapers and the feeling of being amidst something big and seemingly important. I want gays, punks, intellectuals, militant bike messengers, and all the other squares in the human tapestry.

It doesn't have to be a huge city, just big enough to attract some national attention.

skedgjhsdfk said...

Louisville is now just another Denver suburb. "Old town charm" is RE.Agent code for "$500,000 McMansions or condos, and the chain stores that sell shiny things to furnish them with." It used to be a small town surrouded by farms back in the early-mid 80s.

Yeah, there's a lot of tech. Great place to work for the remnants of StorageTek or Sun for a little while until you find stable employment in Denver.

Cate said...

To me a great town is comprised of decent wages, affordable housing, good schools including universities or colleges, cultural attractions like theaters (not movie) and museums, etc., and plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. Any ideas where that might be?

Of the places on the list, I have only been to Lake Mary, FL. It is a good place to live if you are an affluent retiree but not so much for younger people with families. The cost of living is not really affordable for the average American. There is really no industry there outside of hospitality so most people would have to commute to Orlando and it is a lot more than 30 minutes to the parts of Orlando where higher paying businesses are despite what the article says. I found the place to be kind of boring.

Anonymous said...

Lake Mary, FL is commuting distance from Orlando. Suwanne, GA is an exurb of Atlanta. Same with Milton, MA. These are not small towns.

keith said...

Haven't been back for awhile but here's my top 5 US towns, regardless of housing prices

1) boulder
2) boise
3) ann arbor
4) santa barbara
5) portland

1) denver
2) salt lake
3) seattle
4) san fran
5) new york

1) detroit
2) houston
3) new orleans
4) miami
5) pittsburgh

Dolph said...

I disagree with some of those...

Where is Saratoga, NY? That is a great little city.

Anonymous said...

Keith the socialist likes socialist towns...shocking

Dolph said...

To run with Keith's post I vote:


1) Saratoga
2) Boulder
3) Boise
4) Austin
5) Omaha


1) San Diego (regardless of housing prices, I love SD)
2) Seattle
3) New York
4) Dallas
5) Denver


1) Detroit (no question there!)
2) New Orleans
3) Miami/Ft Lauderdale
4) Washington DC (too crowded, too hard to navigate)
5) Los Angeles (I used to live there for many years, sorry the place has gone downhill fast)

Anonymous said...

Missoula, MT is my favorite city.

If there was anything to do there other than forestry or teach at the university I'd move in a second.

K.W. - Southern Ca. said...

Too many small towns, have a "small town" mentality.

Often very close-knit, bigoted, politically one-sided and often over religious.

Having a good job and extra cash on-hand means nothing if you can't find some commonality in the surrounding community.

keith said...

I like towns with educated people, culture, local businesses, natural beauty and a soul

Anonymous said...

keith said...
I like towns with educated people, culture, local businesses, natural beauty and a soul

July 30, 2007 7:24 PM


Below is a list of most educated cities in the US based on % with a degree. Looks like educated people is not really your criteria, only how far to the left are the residents.

San Francisco
Washington, DC
Atlanta, GA
Boston, MA
San Diego, CA
Lexington, KY

Anonymous said...

We gotta define small here. Austin/Round Rock, at 1.5M in the metro area, is not a small city. Boise - 560K. Portland metro - 2.2M.

The article uses 7-50K. I'd say a micro city is 25-100K in the area. Anything below is a town these days, and in many areas of the country wouldn't have its own movie theater or a bookstore. A small city is 100K to 500K, medium is 500K to 1.5M, and everything else is large.

K.W. - Southern Ca. said...

So true.

We can see the effects on living standards in countries where the economy is based on the service sector - a few very wealthy, and
the masses are poor.

Without actually creating something, we're very much dependent on the rest of the world ... a very bad place we've put ourselves in.

foxwoodlief said...
"As long as America has nothing to sell to the world, exports jobs, keeps wages low, thinks a "service economy" is a mature economy, spends more than it earns, will only lead to ghetto cities and abandoned small towns as we become illegal immigrants to Europe or China."

dual resident said...

I own a home in a small town and rent in a big city much of the year. I like some aspects of both and dislike others. Lately, I see more diversity in the small town. In the city, it's about 90% yuppies, 5% non-yuppies and 5% bums. I guess all the punks and intellectuals are commuting these days.

In the small town, I like having hummingbirds, deer, horses, lizards and all kinds of other wildlife around. Getting to see the stars in the night sky makes you feel a part of something truly important. Knowing all of your neighbors and having a voice in town planning is nice. Being able to travel often because housing and food are still affordable is great (I pay twice my PITI just to rent a much smaller place in the city). Having local, non-chain retail and dining with good service is another plus that is disappearing from the city.

In the city, I like being able to walk everywhere. I like street musicians. I like the parks and museums, though I get tired of the constant crowds and tourists. I like always having something fun to do nearby. Architecture is great (though it only really exists in a couple of big US cities). If it were cheaper and less crowded, I might buy.

Anonymous said...

Over the past 10 years I have spent significant periods of time all over the country. Putting aside things like housing prices, taxes, availability of good jobs etc and just looking at places I enjoyed the most while there, these are my top picks in no particular order

San Diego
Phoenix (yes Phoenix)
Orlando (downtown not WDW)

Anonymous said...

Often very close-knit, bigoted, politically one-sided and often over religious.

July 30, 2007 7:19 PM


Right. Like San Francisco is very politically divided and people who disagree with the political views of the mainstream are respected. Get a clue dude.

There is more racism in San Francisco than your typical small town in Alabama. Only differene is in SF there are 20 races each hating each other vs only 2 races in Alabama.

keith said...

source the % with degree list. I'd imagine my top 5 are high on the list if not the very tops

I also like university towns, even if a good percentage don't hold degrees, they benefit from having the resources, events, sense of pride and community that the universities lend

Meanwhile, attacking anyone's list is silly. This is a list of what you like - take it or leave it

And enjoy your time in Detroit

keith said...

My top 5 european cities for living (need to travel more though, stay longer, experience smaller towns and villages, especially in eastern europe, nordics and italy)

1) london
2) florence
3) stockholm
4) paris
5) amsterdam

coffee is for AHM closers said...

You must have missed the link in the slideshow that goes along with the story that says "find homes in this (town name).

Keith don't promote stories affiliated with the REIC...


Anonymous said...

Sure, great towns...if you're a red neck or a hick.

Anonymous said...

IMHO, best according to my experience living in those cities:

1. San Francisco
2. Vancouver, BC
3. Seattle
4. Santa Monica, CA
5. Montreal
6. Portland, OR
7. Florianopolis, Brazil
8. Paris
9. Curitiba, Brazil
10. Stockholm (mainly for the hot girls)

Burn AHM Burn said...

I like number 86: North Haven, Conn.

Now read this statement:

"North Haven is less than 10 miles north of New Haven."

Now read this recent news article:

"NEW HAVEN, Conn. - This city is becoming the first in the nation to offer identification cards to illegal immigrants, trying to bring them out of the shadows even as many municipalities crack down on them."

"Beginning Tuesday, New Haven will offer the ID cards to all of its 125,000 residents, including some 10,000 to 12,000 illegal immigrants."


So our so-called top 100 town has 12,000 illegal immigrants within 10 miles of it.

What kind of fuktards wrote this piece?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Sure, great towns...if you're a red neck or a hick.

July 30, 2007 8:13 PM


Please kill yourself.

Anonymous said...

I live in Marietta, GA. I am about 15 miles from downtown Atlanta yet feel like I live in a small town. There is a town square that has things like a farmer's market, Friday night concerts, etc a mile away from me. All around the square there are mom and pop shops/restaurants. I own a home built in 1922 with an acre of land and surrounded by similar homes on streets lined with pine and oak. You'd never know I'm 1/2 an hour away from the busiest airport in the world. I have the best of both worlds.

bearmaster said...

I grew up in Pomona, just south of Claremont, CA. This is an area east of Los Angeles in east L.A. County, and back when I was a kid it wasn't uncommon for adults to commute to Los Angeles to work. A longish drive, but quite doable.

I recall Claremont as being a really lovely town, with lots of shade trees. I used to hang out in the colleges area in my teens. I have not visited the area in 25 years.

Driving back from vacation the other day, along the 210 freeway, we passed through Claremont, and we noticed a Centex development advertised. Though I didn't actually stop and visit the town, I suspect it's now as infected by the housing bubble as any other place.

My trip through Bishop/Big Pine, Carson City, Reno-Sparks, Elko, Ely, St. George, Kanab, Flagstaff, Williams, and Las Vegas has shown me that nothing has been immune to the bubble - whether trashy places or nice places or nice places that have been trashed due to overdevelopment.

mrmx said...

I ride my bike through Chaska, MN. It's nothing special as far as I can tell... just part of the western Minneapolis' pleasant sprawl.

My favorites: "stanley, ID or boise, ID." I'll take "God's Country" over intelligent sheeple any day of the week.

Anonymous said...

"I grew up in Pomona, just south of Claremont, CA. "

Exactly..POMONA, murder capital of SoCal, is just south of Claremont. We are talking about 3-5 miles. A lot has changed in 25 years TRUST ME. That is why I am baffled why Claremont is up on that list?

Anonymous said...

I was in Kanab about 5 years ago and it was very nice. Hard to imagine it having been run over by developers.

Anonymous said...

Aren't the "best places" tag a kiss of death?

Anonymous said...

Top 20 edumacated cities:

Number is % of residents with a 4 year college degree.

For all you LA/NY snobs out there who think everyone in the South or flyover country is beneath you take a close look where NY is and oops LA isn't even in the top 20. Yet what do you know dumb redneck cities like Lexington, Charlotte, Raleigh and Atlanta are. And what do you know flyover country cities like Pittsburgh, Denver, Minneapolis and St.Paul are also there.

1. Seattle, WA 52.7
2. San Francisco, CA 50.1
3. Raleigh, NC 50.1
4. Washington, DC 45.3
5. Austin, TX 44.1
6. Minneapolis, MN 43.2
7. Atlanta, GA 42.4
8. Boston, MA 40.9
9. San Diego, CA 40.4
10. Lexington-Fayette, KY 39.5
11. Denver, CO 39.0
12. Charlotte, NC 38.8
13. Portland, OR 38.8
14. St. Paul, MN 36.5
15. San Jose, CA 36.1
16. Colorado Springs, CO 34.9
17. Honolulu, HI 34.7
18. Oakland, CA 33.8
19. Pittsburgh, PA 32.3
20. New York, NY 32.2

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Aren't the "best places" tag a kiss of death?

July 30, 2007 9:41 PM


You're thinking of SI's cover.

bearmaster said...

I wouldn't call Kanab run over by developers. St. George is, but Kanab isn't.

However, EVERYTHING is overpriced.

charlatan said...

nowt wrong with small towns: often offer great bargains in comparison with big cities.

i would suggest that they either haven't factored weather in enough in this survey or they have very poor taste in weather.

imo the coastal areas of wa, or and northern ca (befere you get to near to sf and prices go bonkers) are the top places mainly for that reason.

weather not a big deal and you want a real bargain (if you treat a house as a home not an investment), i.e. a minimal cost of living? some ok places outside pittsburgh....near enough to the big city to commute if you have to as well (until it snows and things get a bit tricky).

Anonymous said...

Any town/city can look good on paper. These best of lists are useless since they don't take into account things like % of population that is illegal, % of homes where there are 5+ cars parked in the driveway, scale of 1-10 on how likely it is you will wait for 3 hrs in an ER as Juan, Jose, Diego, Maria and Jesus get treated for a cold while you wait or how likely is it that a public school will have a Mexican flag in a classroom.

But we can't ask about those numbers, oh heaven no, that would be racist of course. Nope we'll just keep our MSM heads in the sand and claim Claremont to be simply wonderful and um "rich in diversity" instead of the cesspool it has become.

Anonymous said...

london? you must be mad keith! the city is more up itself than anywhere else bar maybe nyc. it's ok for a few days until it dawns on you that these people don't know how to relax. then it becomes depressing very quickly.

portland is a wonderful place, but it ain't a small town. i liked ann arbor, but you have to write off six months a year to the weather in the midwest.

charlatan said...

oh, and how can pittsburgh be worse than cleveland? i've lived in cleveland and had more than my fair share of rough luck in pittsburgh (fingerprinted by the fbi, involved in a car crash, etc.), but the two don't compare. pittsburgh is nicer on the eye, has better culture and a friendlier atmosphere (more provincial city than postmodern hellhole).

Joe Schmoe said...

Claremont is not far from Pomona, but Claremont is still an idyllic town. The homies from Pomona really don't come around very much, surprisingly, even though Pomona has been a ghetto slum for quite a while now.

Claremont is interesting because it is almost exclusively inhabited by 60-ish, hippie Boomers. We went to downtown Claremont a few months ago to buy some Birkenstock sandals, and it was like taking a trip back through time.

A guy we ran into on the street actually used the word "groovy" when saying hello to my youngest son, and I overheard someone else use the expression "far out" while waiting in line at the coffee shop.

I am a GOP-voting Gen-X'er, so Claremont would not normally be my kind of place. However, I have to admit that I loved it. The greying hippies were warm and friendly, and the center of town really did have an old-fashioned, small town feel. It even had a REAL old-fashioned, small town feel, not the manufactured and overpriced "down home" atmosphere that you find on a lot of upper-middle-class main streets these days.

Since Claremont is in LA, housing prices are outrageous, but it is a really, really nice town.

Anonymous said...

Claremont, Ca. ???

I grew up in San Dumass (Dimas) and Claremont is not a safe area anymore! Lots o' gangs and drugs and crime!

Agent #777 said...

Lake Mary is kind of a small town, but does have at least 3 golf courses and numerous lakes in the city limits, as well as the most sought after school districts in the county, perhaps the whole Orlando area. The Mall about a mile from my house and Lake Mary is maybe 15 years old, but very nice. However, you might as well call it Sanford-LakeMary-Heathrow-Longwood. It is about 18 miles to downtown Orlando, 40-60 minutes to the theme parks. And there are jobs - rumor has it that by 2012 there will be more office space in this area than in downtown Orlando.
I sold my house in Lake Mary, and rent in Sanford now. Did I sell too low? Maybe, but when by the equivalent rent rule I made 75% extra, I thought I did OK. In any regard, I think the mountains are calling me...
But to answer the question - I don't think it really qualifies as a small town.

Antonio VivaLaRaza said...

Claremont is not a small town; it's an outlying suburb of LA. Claremont itself seems to be relatively nice, but, as others have pointed out, it's got the problem of being right next to Pomona (mostly a sh!thole) and the greater IE (Inland Empire) in general. It's hot and smoggy, though the shade trees in the college area seem to help a bit with that.

Oh, and of course anyone living in SoCal has the problem of desperately trying to scramble to high ground to escape the rising tide of illegals and the congestion and crime that they bring.

Anonymous said...

Claremont is a cute little town but surround by a big s hole. The price of a house is crazy. Better places to live. Poulsbo Wa great place and nobody knows.

Anonymous said...

keith i'm suprised you like salt lake. I purchased a house around salt lake as a back up plan to renting in Maui.I like park city and parts of salt lake the mountains by the pollution i feel is to much for me. Same with denver to much smog. Santa babara overated. san luis obispo ,ca and bainbridge island wa, some of the best small towns if you can afford. Also where i live Maui hi awesome just expense. Going for a run right know through the pineapple field to the ocean at world's biggest surf, JAWS. That my daily job. Enjoy

Bitter Renter said...

The places on their bogus list aren't small towns, they're bedroom communities of larger cities. Without their proximity to the bigger cities these "small towns" would be unlivable and unbearably boring.

Money mags rankings are bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Hanover, NH is a nice place, college town with a lot of good food, entertainment, etc but (like a lot of other places in New England) it is very awkward for people who haven't been there a long time and know everybody and are related to everybody. I was there for 7 years and even after that didn't even feel I was part of the "in crowd". It doesn't matter if you're a student I suppose. Politics leans to the left but not as much as other college towns.

Anonymous said...

"he places on their bogus list aren't small towns, they're bedroom communities of larger cities. "

That's right. I lived in Suwanee, GA and even though the official population was 12K, there were over 100K people living within a ten mile radius. Every one of them gets into a car every morning and drives to work clogging the roads and polluting the air. What was once a slow-paced rural area is now a maze of banal subdivisions filled with FBs and medicated minivan moms.

I moved away in '02 and now I live in paradise. Where is it you ask? Piss off -- I'll never tell!

Anonymous said...

are there really any true small towns left? I'm not talking rural North Dakota towns of 100 people that are only there to tun a post office and grocery store for farmers. I mean the 20K city with a main street, couple of high schools, the one or two good restaurants, etc.

The way cities have grown over the past 20 years, they have swallowed up what I am describing. Between NoVa and Southern NH, there are no small towns, just suburbs of DC, Philly, NY, Hartford and Boston. Within 50 miles of Atlanta any small town is a suburb now with cokkie cutter subdivisions everywhere. Same with Dallas. You can drive from the US/Mexico border over 3 hours north and see nothing but suburb after suburb until you get north of SB and then before you know it, you hit the southernmost exurbs of San Jose....well OK not quite, but give it another 20 years and 10 million more illegals and that will the case.

Just seems to me like your only option today is city or out in the middle of nowehre. The small town an hour away from the "big" city no longer exists.

ChantCd_com said...

What, no towns in Texas?

Texas has some charming small towns -- and a very low cost of living.

If any place in the USA was considered to have escaped the housing bubble, it would be Texas. There is plenty of land, so it can never get very expensive.