This is the time of year when online publications like Money, Kiplinger and Business Insider update their lists of the Best Places to Live around the country. I'm always astonished at how boring some of those places can be. Many of the results are bedroom communities that benefit from close proximity to large cities. Obviously, their ratings are based on statistical data such as crime rate, access to good hospitals, employment centers and parks. It seems the result of such mathematical analysis can leave something less empirical to be desired.
So, an unofficial, totally subjective poll was taken in the office to determine what cities we think are the most attractive to live in. I shouldn't say this is a totally subjective list. We each have our reasons which range from "it has a good vibe" to "I can see myself enjoying life in this city". In general we all agree that a city should have at least 100 years of history - history provides a visual and emotional tie to our culture. The city should have a substantial degree of urbanism and be a pleasure to walk though. There should be a reasonable mix of diversity on many levels; not only having people of diverse backgrounds, income levels and ages but having a diversity of transportation options and housing types. Finally, there should be access to higher education because we all need centers for learning.
So, in no particular order, here is our list of the ten best places to live in the US:
10. Charleston, SC - "What a great urban core, history and wonderful place to walk around."
9. Newport, RI - "A broad range of income levels, history and proximity to the sea."
8. Asheville, NC - "For such a small town there exists a dense, historic downtown that nestles in the mountainous terrain."
7. San Diego, CA - "Big, with more diversity and edgier than you might think."
6. Boulder, CO - "A major college town that leads the way in environmentalism. Urban and natural environments are easily accessible."
5. Raleigh, NC - "In many ways the epicenter of research and academics, the city has a manageable urban core and a temperate climate."
4. San Francisco, CA -"It's just so pretty!"
3. Portland, OR - "One of the best public transportation systems in the country and a leader in green building. Can't beat the natural surroundings either."
2. Grand Rapids, MI - "Beer brewing capital of the Midwest, with a lively downtown and beautiful river running through it."
1. Austin, TX - of course!
Honorable Mention: Chatanooga, TN; Portland, MA; Durango, CO, Milwaukee, WI. We haven't spent much time in these cities but from what we hear they show good potential.