BusinessWeek’s Top 25 “Best Affordable” Suburbs
A recent article in BusinessWeek discusses the “best affordable” suburbs among the largest U.S. metro areas.
BusinessWeek put their list together with the help of Sperling’s Best Places. Their methodology for reconciling “best” with “affordable” seems equal parts art and science, balancing “affordability” (median home prices relative to the metro region and cost of living index relative to the national average) with other factors such as “academics” (student test scores in public schools relative to state average), “safety” (violent crime index relative to national average) and indicators of “culture” (special sauce).
Here in the Boston area, the winner was Sharon, Massachusetts, which also appears to have the distinction on this Top 25 list as having the second lowest violent crime index on the list (19, versus 17 in Elkhorn, Nebraska… highest was 282(!) in Sugarland, Texas… and they say guns don’t kill people). Boston’s Sharon also had the second highest cost of living index on the list (165.6, versus 172.1 in West Nyack, New York… lowest was Coralville, Iowa at 96.9… considering the national average is indexed at 100, none of these are “cheap” places, relatively speaking). The article also singled out Sharon, Massachusetts for its natural resources and religious/cultural diversity.
As for the Sperling website, I found it pretty opaque when it came to their stats. However, they do seem to have a decent bizdev/ infotainment private labelling program for their demographic data.
Here’s the Top 25 list:
|Albuquerque||Sandia Heights, N.M. 87122|
|Atlanta||Roswell, Ga. 30075|
|Baltimore||Columbia, Md. 21045|
|Boston||Sharon, Ma. 02067|
|Charlotte||Matthews, N.C. 28105|
|Chicago||Lake Zurich, Ill. 60047|
|Cincinnati||Evendale, Ohio 45241|
|Dallas||Flower Mound/Lewisville, Tex. 75028|
|Denver||Castle Rock, Colo. 80104|
|Fort Lauderdale||Weston, Fla. 33326|
|Houston||Sugarland, Tex. 77479|
|Indianapolis||Noblesville, Ind. 46060|
|Iowa City||Coralville, Iowa 52241|
|Kansas City||Shawnee, Kan. 66216|
|Los Angeles||Santa Clarita, Calif. 91354|
|Minneapolis-St. Paul||Lakeville, Minn. 55044|
|Newark||Livingston, N.J. 07039|
|New York||West Nyack, N.Y. 10994|
|Omaha||Elkhorn, Neb. 68022|
|Philadelphia||West Chester, Pa. 19382|
|Sacramento||Folsom, Calif. 95630|
|Salt Lake City||Kaysville, Utah 84037|
|Seattle||Mukilteo, Wash. 98275|
|St. Louis||Saint Charles, Mo. 63304|
|Washington||Herndon, Va. 20170|
Looking at this list, though, I see that there are a few “largest U.S. metro areas” left out. For example, Detroit and San Francisco are the tenth and eleventh largest metro areas, respectively, yet don’t appear on the radar here. Do you suppose there was nothing “good” or “affordable” (again, respectively) to be found in those places? A tempting theory, but it probably has more to do about getting a more diverse and entertaining range of places on this list, eg, include Omaha (metro pop. 754,722) but not include Pittsburgh (metro pop. 2,370,776).
So I guess the significance of this list is pretty low. In terms of infotainment however, it’s pretty good… but I do scratch my head on the choice of Newark and Sacramento… I mean, yeah, they’re big, but not as big as Phoenix and San Diego. Maybe this was one of those “cultural” calls?