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Tempe and Scottsdale Named Among Top 100 Places to Live

Homes in north Scottsdale, near Pinnacle Peak.
Homes in north Scottsdale, near Pinnacle Peak.
Heather Tawes Nelson via Flickr

By one measure, Tempe and Scottsdale are among the top 100 places to live in the United States.

According to Livability.com, Tempe is 43rd, and Scottsdale's 89th.

To give you an idea of which cities topped this list, Palo Alto, California was first, Boulder, Colorado was second, and Berkley, California is third.

Immediately, we're skeptical, since we'd guess that more people would rather live in Scottsdale than Tempe.

The website scored each city on eight categories, including things like healthcare, in which Tempe scored a 61, and Scottsdale scored a 49. Never mind that the Mayo Clinic is in Scottsdale.

Understandably, Scottsdale didn't do so well on the "demographics" category, which takes diversity into account.

Tempe probably gets an edge due to Arizona State University. It also got a relatively high score on "infrastructure," likely due to its light rail hookup and proximity to the Sky Harbor airport, among other things.

You can click here to check out all the rankings.

An explanation of the methodology can be found on the next page.

 

We analyzed data on more than 1,700 cities throughout the United States. For our ranking, we focused in on the small to mid-sized cities with populations between 25,000 and 350,000. The results were then weighted based on the priorities set forth by you and your fellow citizens based on our 2,000-person, demographically-balanced survey.

We wanted the list to celebrate cities that were livable for everyone. We know any list like this is going to create some argument. You'll wonder why your city isn't on the list or why it isn't ranked higher - unless you live in Palo Alto. Those 65,000 people will be very happy with their ranking. No one can make an unassailable methodology, but we want ours to be as transparent as possible. Let us know what you think.

We focused on four guiding principles:

Access

Start with the basics: A city needs good schools, hospitals, airports and infrastructure, low crime, and a good climate. Then add amenities like parks, golf courses, farmers markets, and arts and culture. Finally, the natural and built environment come into play as well.

Affordability

Affordability is about more than just cost. Income comes into play as well. We factored in a series of variables about spending on broad categories like housing, transportation, health care and food, as well as data about income to ensure we were finding cities where livability isn't a luxury but is the norm.

Choice

The more options a city offers, the more they can be livable for everyone. For example, by looking at the percentage of commuters who don't drive alone, you can gauge if there are transportation options. Broadband access is almost universal among U.S. cities, but in some there aren't many options for providers. We rewarded cities that offer residents the most flexibility.

Utilization

Finally, having all of these great things is important, but so is using them. Esri provided us with lifestyle variables that allowed us to see which residents were making the most of their opportunities in their cities.

The data we measured across eight pillars of livability included:

1. Amenities

Access to parks, farmers markets, golf courses and natural amenities, as well as the weather and the role of arts in the community.

2. Demographics

Immigration and diversity of race, ethnicity and age.

3. Economy

Income, income growth, income disparity, employment, population growth and the share of the population working in what Richard Florida refers to as "Creative Class" jobs.

4. Education

Great Schools rankings, colleges and universities, and percentage of people with high levels of education.

5. Health care

Access to hospitals and average spending on health care and related items.

6. Housing

Housing costs, affordability, age of the housing stock, percentage who own vs. rent and percentage of vacant property.

7. Infrastructure

Broadband providers, commute time, Walk Score, transportation costs and affordability, and the percentage of people who get to work by some means other than driving alone.

8. Social and Civic Capital

Crime rates, air quality, community involvement, and the percentage of people who vote and take part in organized religion.


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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.


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