Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, October 01, 2021

Sprawl is All: Money Magazine Best Places to Live annual list

Every year Money Magazine publishes a list of communities under 500,000 population that it deems the "Best places to live," based on the following factors:

  • Cost of Living 
  • Economic opportunity 
  • Diversity 
  • Education 
  • Fun (aka amenities) 
  • Health & safety 
  • Housing market 
  • Income & personal finances 
  • Quality of life
The 2021 Best Places to Live list strongly leans to sprawl and automobile dependence, even if many of the communities on the list, like Franklin, Tennessee (#3), are more traditional towns with a Main Street like core.  

And Boise, a larger city with a nice core, is #10--it's the rare example of a state capital that is actually nice.

Rushton Meadows subdivision, South Jordan, Utah.  Photo: Rick Egan, Salt Lake Tribune, from "Some homeowners are at the mercy of unmonitored and predatory management companies."

"Ashburn" Virginia is listed as #5.  Is that a community or just a sprawl of subdivisions?  Same with Syracuse, Utah (#6), South Jordan, Utah (#27)  or Mission Viejo, California (#48).  

These places are textbook examples of the sprawl land use and transportation planning paradigm.  (Even though Mission Viejo is gross, it is Southern California!)

For me, I'd be much more interested in the neighborhoods identified in the lists that were once published by This Old House Magazine.  Sadly, they stopped publishing this feature in 2014.

And looking at amenities in terms of some of the elements identified in "8 Components of Housing Value" and "Revisiting factors influencing housing purchase."

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