Top "Small Towns" in America
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Roger Z
July 21, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Don't know if y'all will be able to access it, but the Business Journals (it's an affiliated brand around the country) just ranked the top micropolitan (basically towns with 10,000-50,000 residents) in the country, according to a whole slew of criteria (and no, percent voting Republican was not one of the criteria ;\) ). Here's the article:

http://www.bizjournals.com/edit_special/68.html

If you can't read it, I'll post it below. Interestingly, Lexington Park, MD came in number three! I was surprised about that, but happily, as I grew up in Upper Marlboro and have an affinity for southern MD (and the Northern Neck in VA).

Rounding out the top 10 are THREE towns in Montana, and two in New Hampshire, so there looks like there's something for everyone! Torrington was number one- in the lovely, rolling, placid northwestern corner of the Nutmeg State. From number 11-20 were three towns in Michigan, Wisconsin also did well (no surprise if you've ever been to a small town in Wisconsin- I was thrilled to see Steven's Point on there. Actually, there's not much at the top of the list that doesn't appeal to me, so I should stop waxing on right about... two paragraphs ago.

Hope y'all can see the list, it's here:

http://www.bizjournals.com/specials/pages/181.html

Here's the lead article in case the link doesn't work:

 Quote:
Dreamtowns that offer refuge from big cities and congested suburbs
bizjournals - July 14, 2008 by G. Scott Thomas

America may be a metropolitan nation, but most of us don't seem very happy about it.

A total of 252 million people -- 83.5 percent of all Americans -- live in metropolitan areas. That includes 164 million in the 51 biggest metros, the ones with populations above 1 million.

Yet a substantial number of these residents of big cities and inner-ring suburbs don't have their hearts in it. They would prefer to live on the suburban fringe or in small-town America, as repeatedly shown by surveys during the past decade:

-- A 2005 poll by Where to Retire magazine found that only 8 percent of respondents were planning to spend their golden years in urban centers. The other 92 percent were opting for retirement in rural towns or suburbs.

-- Thirty-nine percent of Americans surveyed by Adweek in 2002 chose small towns as the best places to live, citing "sense of community" and "friendlier people" as the key reasons. Suburbs and big cities were picked by 27 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

-- A 1998 poll by Professional Builder magazine asked participants to select the ideal site to build a home. Two-thirds said they would break ground far from any major city.

Most people never follow through with these impulses, of course, which is why metropolitan areas continue to dominate America.

But some do manage to escape congested cities and sprawling suburbs. The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported that 235,000 families moved from metropolitan areas to nonmetropolitan regions in 2006 -- an average of 640 families per day.

But where's the best place for them to go? The answer is provided by a new bizjournals analysis of 140 micropolitan areas. It identifies America's 10 "dreamtowns," the small towns that offer the best quality of life without metropolitan hassles.

Topping the list is Torrington, Conn., which is tucked in the hill country in the northwestern part of the state. Its residents enjoy high income levels and a strong educational system that would be the envy of most suburbs. Only 36,000 people live in the city of Torrington itself, 190,000 in its entire region.

Here are the top three small towns:

1. Torrington, Conn.

2. Bozeman, Mont.

3. Lexington Park, Md.

Bizjournals highlighted the 10 dreamtowns with the highest quality-of-life rankings are here, including dreamtown honorble mentions -- cities.

Bizjournals compared 140 micropolitan areas in 20 statistical categories, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. A micro consists of a central community with 10,000 to 50,000 residents, along with the surrounding countryside. It is, in effect, a small-scale version of a metropolitan area. (Methodology)

The study was inspired by the heavy public interest in small-town life. Its aim was to identify communities that would be most attractive to people considering such a move. The highest scores went to well-rounded places with light traffic, healthy economies, moderate costs of living, impressive housing stocks, strong educational systems, and easy access to big-city attractions.

This year's 10 dreamtowns fit into four clusters, reflecting their shared geographic characteristics. Two are regions (New England and the Midwest), one is the state of Montana, and the fourth is a pair of small towns that are both near large bodies of saltwater:

-- New England: Torrington, Conn.; Lebanon, N.H.-Vt.' Concord, N.H.

-- Midwest: Mankato-North Mankato, Minn.; Stevens Point, Wisc.

-- Montana: Bozeman, Mont.; Helena, Mont.; Kalispell, Mont.

-- Seaside: Lexington Park, Md.; Oak Harbor, Wash.

These 10 dreamtowns also differ in important ways. Two of the most prominent are population and proximity to big cities.

Torrington, with a micropolitan population of 190,119, is the largest community in the top 10, though still small by metropolitan standards. Stevens Point is the tiniest dreamtown at 67,484, about one-third of Torrington's size. (Both population figures encompass residents of the central city and the surrounding region.)

Distances to big-city attractions vary by an even more substantial margin. Oak Harbor is just 40 air miles outside of Seattle, while Bozeman is 517 miles away from any major metropolitan area -- in its case, Denver. (A major metro is defined as one with at least 2.5 million residents.)

The 15 runners-up in bizjournals' rankings have qualified for the honorable mention list, a step below dreamtown status. This group ranges from No. 11 Midland, Mich., to No. 25 Watertown-Fort Atkinson, Wis.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
July 22, 2008
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,726 posts
Always interesting to see how/why places pop-up on these kinds of lists. Didn't we have one a couple years ago saying Davis WV was the greatest?
Just in Lexington Park last week, go there occasionally on business. Positives: for a rural area it has good gov and defense sector jobs due to nearby Naval Air Station, nice sailing/fishing/seafood due to nearby river and bay, housing is cheaper than around the Capital Beltway, conservative lifestyle may be good for families. Negatives: far from skiing, not much culture, strip mall shopping, tough weekday traffic if you have to go to DC area, waterfront real estate is expensive, not so great lifestyle for singles.
Murphy
July 22, 2008
Member since 09/13/2004 🔗
618 posts
Davis probably doesn't qualify as a micropolitan. They list the criteria as:

"Each micro consists of a central city, town or village with 10,000 to 50,000 residents, surrounded by a county or cluster of counties that are economically dependent upon it. Bizjournals analyzed all 140 micros that had 2006 populations of 65,000 or more (encompassing the central community and surrounding area). Statistics cited in this study cover all portions of micros, not just their central communities."
JohnL
July 22, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
Torrington, CT?

I grew up nearby. I'm pretty skeptical about that choice. I think some of the rural country villages in the nearby Litchfield hills are boosting that ranking substantially.
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Roger Z
July 22, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
I'm using the list to think of where I want to apply (and where Sandra will let me apply) for my next job! Bozeman, Kalispell, Helena... sounds good to me! \:\)
JohnL
July 23, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
Hey, all "statistical" studies should be misused to justify what you're hoping for in the first place.
comprex
July 23, 2008
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
 Originally Posted By: Roger Z
I'm using the list to think of where I want to apply (and where Sandra will let me apply) for my next job! Bozeman, Kalispell, Helena... sounds good to me! \:\)


Get out while you still can.

Literally:
http://www.examiner.com/a-1498385~Midwest_Airlines_cutting_flights_in_Kansas_City.html
fishnski
July 23, 2008
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
You that much of a land lubber roger that you wouldn't consider any towns within a days drive to the sea? Oregon comes to mind as well as the golden Triangle(area) in north Carolina NH could work very well...Keep ya on the east Coast Homey!
David
July 23, 2008
Member since 06/28/2004 🔗
2,444 posts
 Originally Posted By: fishnski
You that much of a land lubber roger that you wouldn't consider any towns within a days drive to the sea?


Hey, there's nothing wrong with a land "lubber"! What fun is it anyway to live right beside a big puddle of saltwater? (Especially one that tends to get angry every summer..) All you really need in a home is one that is located in the mountains. If you can't ski it, fish is, mt. bike it, AND hike it, then IT is just boring...
Roger Z
July 23, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
JohnL- hahahah lol. Great point! Yes, I need statistics to justify my biases. \:\)

Andy- nope, Oak Harbor Washington and Bellingham Washington, I'd move there tomorrow except Midwest just cancelled all my flights, so I'm stuck for a while yet. ;\)


SO, A QUESTION FOR EVERYONE (who's tired of reading about oil, at least):

What other "great towns" would folks consider- not including big cities?

I'd list Roanoke and Blacksburg, Davis WV, and a town I won't name up in northern CA as other places I'd love to move. And for seafaring, if I were rich, it'd be hard to beat Carmel/Monterey, CA.
fishnski
July 24, 2008
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
David..I could take you on a tour around here in the cape fear region..Hollywood east we call it (tons of movies filmed here)..Take you to some undeveloped & slightly developed(Subtropical) Islands With some carolina blue & green water spilling over white sandy sandbars with porposes frolicking in the background & yes to the dark pine tanned waters of the cape fear river waters (watch out for the Gators!)...all the way out say to 20 miles offshore to a couple of sea wrecks where you will be in crystal clear water & it will feel like your looking down from the boat into an aquarium full of 6 foot Barracudas,Sharks & schools of bunched up cigar minnowes & other types of bait pods...& some more stuff....down below under the water if you feel the need to go further & get certified as a diver you will feel as if you are in the caribbean with tropical fish & corals...thank god for the Gulf Stream!...get the pic?...& you do live only a days drive to this Paradise Light..took me only 7 hours & 35 min to get back from Canaan the other day......I have worked long & hard for this dream & the likes of you & roger are in your own process right now...GOOD LUCK!!!!

PS. Roger..I was thinking that Sandra & you will be able to visit some Beautiful beaches Down in her motherland.. so you got that covered as well!

My Girl debbie has her parents living in the springs/Gulf area of north Tampa Fl..Natures Coast..Another Paradise that will have to be talked about later....
bawalker
July 24, 2008
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
I get the feeling Wardensville doesn't qualify for that list? lol
David
July 24, 2008
Member since 06/28/2004 🔗
2,444 posts
Andy, sounds beautiful. I'm graduating in December so I will have the rest of the Winter/Sring/Summer to explore. What time is breakfast served?? Do you guys serve sausage?? (sorry, wrong thread).
fishnski
July 24, 2008
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
breakfast depends om a lot of factors...are we fishin that day..or just beachin.....everything also depends on the tides...the tides & how much beer & redbull & Vodka was consumed the night before!...Carolina is Hog Country so the Sausage is cheap & Good....spiced shrimp fresh off the boat & crabs out of the Whisky creek Caught in my crab pots for dinner...add some clams & corn to the pot & we can sleep happy!
comprex
July 24, 2008
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
Nothing wrong with a bit of pan fish for breftist.
Roger Z
July 24, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Yes, you're right Andy- the El Salvadoran beaches are quite nice, plus we're going to Belize for our honeymoon, where the water is crystalline. But the Pacific Coast... man, I have yet to see a stretch of Pacific coastline that wasn't gorgeous. El Salvador is no exception.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
July 24, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
Only problem, the Pacific is a cold water ocean.
I remember my first trip to LA, went to the beach (wow was it huge), ran to the surf and into the water....came out fast. The air temp was in the 90s, the water temp a little below 60. Not for me, I like bathtub temp water like at VA Beach and NC during August.
The Colonel \:\)
fishnski
July 25, 2008
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
East Coast Rules!
bawalker
July 25, 2008
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
I've never actually set food on beach sand or in the ocean before...
fishnski
July 25, 2008
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
 Originally Posted By: bawalker
I've never actually set food on beach sand or in the ocean before...



You've never set food on sand??!..unbelievable...ive (dropped)set more sand gritted burgers & Wiennies on the beach not to mention all the Brewskies ive set & then released into the sea!...You got to try it..
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
July 25, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
Besides scuba diving, which I absolutely love, the beach is overrated. Sand gets into everything including... yes, there... and everything corrodes. Cars, windows, your steel frame eyeglasses...

The mountains are my choice.
fishnski
July 25, 2008
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
Salt may corrode...but it also heals...Breathe it in Mr Ibotta..Smell the Air & remember your roots..you came from the Sea..You love it deep down inside... Your just trying something different right now..you will return.
comprex
July 25, 2008
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
 Originally Posted By: bawalker
I've never actually set food on beach sand or in the ocean before...



\:o \:o
JimK - DCSki Columnist
July 31, 2008
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,726 posts
Here's a place I hadn't thought of before, anyone have first hand experience?
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/19/realestate/greathomes/19havens.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
scootertig
July 31, 2008
Member since 02/19/2006 🔗
365 posts
Funny, I was just re-reading an old Ski magazine from last season, and they mentioned it as an "up-and-coming" ski town. Looks nice!


aaron
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
July 31, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
I've been there and skied the mountain bearing its name. I found it as as friendly as they come. And besides its small town charm, it has a really upscale atmosphere. It has some of the old charm of its Coal industry days and their libertarian locals, a growing and upscale California population with their own needs, wants, and stores, and a growing Eastern influx adding a little of Vermont to it.

I stayed at the Pollard Hotel right in downtown, and that was our four-day home to ski Red Lodge Mountain. The Pollard is a wonderfully renovated hotel evoking the days when railroad was king.

Our tour company is based out of Red Lodge and we went from there to Big Sky.

I really liked the town. Charming, liberal, educated, and friendly.
comprex
July 31, 2008
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
Roger Z
July 31, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
It's a shame Red Lodge is liberal, I wanted to go there until I heard that. ;\)

Forest fire? Eh, no big thing, wildfires come with the territory. I drove through a burn not far from Salmon, Idaho some years back. It was the remnants of the 2000 burn, which until Colorado and Arizona conflagrated two summers later was the largest recorded forest fire out west (the one that gave us this very famous photograph). There was one very nice cabin that somehow made it through it all. We were talking to some forest rangers after what could only be described as the Hike from Hell (but it was still a blast!), and they were friends with the owner. They pointed something out that we didn't realize until it was pointed out to us: no trees within 50 yards of the house.

Take heed if you ever build out west, if you get fussy about the local code or real estate recommendations to clear the trees from around your abode, it's not because they hate nature, it's because it's the best way to protect your house from becoming a glamorous and oversized piece of charcoal. Either that or live in town, but then you've got those dang neighbors to deal with. Think I'd prefer to take my chance with a forest fire. \:\)
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