Designing the best 'Best Places to Live' list
There's no perfect best-of list, especially if you're ranking communities. Go to any neighborhood and chances are the people who live there don't all agree about whether it's a nice place or not, let alone the people who don't live there.
So I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that Money's most recent ranking for best small towns has drawn "you gotta be kidding" comments from readers who don't agree with the three Maryland communities the magazine included on its list.
"I wouldn't ask my worst enemy to move there," Geoff wrote of Montgomery Village.
JD commented, "This makes me laugh - I lived in Crofton for 7 years and HATED every minute of it!"
"As for Eldersberg, except for some defense facilities nearby that are cutting back, nothing is close for commuting," wrote didactic1.
Some readers had good things to say about the communities, naturally. Some suggested other places for an ideal best-of list.
But all this got me wondering: Setting aside the fact that no list would be met with universal approval, what would make a pretty darn good list? What statistics would you look at? How would you try to account for hard-to-measure qualities that make a place livable?
When I picked the hidden-gem neighborhoods in 2009, I didn't try to make it a top-10 list. They weren't a best-of, just examples of nice places where average prices were under $250,000 and name recognition wasn't (as far as I could tell) especially high.
I understand the appeal of ranking, though. After all -- thousands of you stopped by to look at yesterday's post about someone else's ranking. Imagine how many hits Money is getting.