Best places to live? Auburn toils in quality of life quest

Money Magazine is out with its list of the best places to live in the United States. The financial magazine, part of the CNN, Time Warner corporate behemoth, may be best known for this annual summary.

  • Monday, July 21, 2008 8:27pm
  • Opinion

Money Magazine is out with its list of the best places to live in the United States. The financial magazine, part of the CNN, Time Warner corporate behemoth, may be best known for this annual summary.

Of course the list, plus $3 dollars will get you a skinny single tall latte, but it makes for good water-cooler fodder while you sip that latte.

This year’s top 10 small towns are:

1. Plymouth, Minn.

2. Fort Collins, Colo.

3. Naperville, Ill.

4. Irvine, Calif.

5. Franklin Township, N.J.

6. Norman, Okla.

7. Round Rock, Texas

8. Columbia/Ellicott City, Md.

9. Overland Park, Kan.

10. Fishers, Ind.

Where is Auburn, you ask? Not on the top 100, though browsing the cnn.money Web site, I was a few clicks away from seeing how Auburn fares in the criteria used by the magazine to determine quality of life in American small towns.

First off, they did not list the current population, which is now over 66,000, and was listed at 48,800. Certainly the recent annexations are not considered in Money’s figures, so next year the ranking is likely to change.

Right off the bat you see Auburn does not do well against the average of the “Best Places” in terms of the top two categories: median family income and family purchasing power. Residents here are at only 62 percent of the median income and have only 57 percent of the best places purchasing power.

Other areas of concern include: job growth (less than half), test scores in reading and math (very poor in comparison), property crime and almost all the leisure and culture categories, which include access to movie theaters, restaurants, golf courses and the arts. Auburn spends half per capita on arts funding, though this apparently is a statewide statistic.

Auburn is about average in health concerns, less educated, less racially diverse with a higher divorce rate and slightly better than average percentage of residents who walk or bike to work.

We do a little better in the median home price and, believe it or not, in property tax rate. The air quality is significantly better here in Auburn, but crime is a serious problem, according to the statistics, in terms of personal crime and property crime incidents.

The Auburn ranking is linked at: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bplive/2008/snapshots/PL5303180.html

Paul Nelson, M.A., is

the founding director of www.GlobalVoicesRadio.org


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