Monday, July 17, 2006

 We're #1 

Well, at least that seems to be the opinion of the brains behind Money Magazine, in their most recent rating of the Top 10 Places to Live in the U.S..

I'd love to take full credit for this, considering that the anointment of Fort Collins to Best Small City status coincides quite nicely to my first full year of living here. And indeed, Fort Collins is a very nice place to live, on many levels - affordability, low crime, proximity to the mountains and other outdoor activities, a well-educated populace, a nice downtown, and so on. However, one look at the difference between the 2006 results, and the 2005 results, and you may be scratching your head, wondering just what the previous year's winners did to fall so competely of the charts in so short a time.

Last year's #1? Moorestown, NJ. This year, they didn't even make the Top 90. Did Moorestown suddenly become a crappy place to live? And how about last year's sole Colorado entrant, Louisville (down near Boulder)? They too disappeared - and yet Fort Collins, which didn't even muster a blip on Money's radar in 2005, skyrocketed to become the best small town to live in. If these kinds of chart movements make you a tad skeptical, then you're not alone.

So yes, it's just plain rankism. Although it may be that even Money Mag doesn't take these rank numbers all that seriously - I doubt they do, since surely even they recognize that something like "livability" doesn't change that markedly from year to year. Rank numbers are applied merely to supply cachet - it's what makes their readers pay attention. I suspect that what most of the time, Money doesn't even know about many smaller cities in the country to begin with, and in the case of Fort Collins, for them it became the "it" town of 2006, when all its legitimate noteworthy attributes were brought to their attention a year ago (apparently at the expense of poor ol' Moorestown). By next year, Fort Collins will likely disappear off their rankings once they become aware of yet another great small city that no one had told them about earlier. (To their credit, Naperville, IL remained in the top 5 - although whether that has to do with a sustained true livability quotient or just good marketing by the Naperville C of C, remains to be seen).

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It's pretty clear to me that the people at "Money" have been reading my blog. After all, I just visited FC and described it as "a happy hip college town, eco-friendly and beery, Boulder lite."

Who knows where I'll visit next summer?
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