Livability, a website that “explores what makes small-to-medium sized cities great places to live” has published its annual ‘Top 100 Best Places To Live” list. The list examined places with populations of 20,000 – 350,000 residents. The top two places to live turned out to both be in Wisconsin: Madison and Rochester. After that, Arlington VA; Boulder, CO and Palo Alto, CA rounded out the top 5. Cambridge was there too, at #40. Noticeably absent from the ‘Top 100’ list was any town from New Jersey. What is going on?
Some New Jersey towns missed out because they have a population of less than 20,000. But the Garden State has no less than 130 places with the right-sized population to make the list. Most likely, the reason none of our towns ranked is because we scored badly on one of the scoring criteria. Each place was scored for amenities, inclusivity, economy, schools, health care, housing affordability, ‘social and civic capital’ and transportation. These seem like reasonable categories, although it’s surprising that crime wasn’t included. We have pretty excellent healthcare provision in New Jersey, but we suffer a lot from bad traffic and transit options.
Beyond that, few New Jersey places are going to score well on all the scored criteria. Our local towns usually are either affordable with crappy schools, or expensive with good schools. many places lack amenities. There’s almost nowhere that offers the right blend of affordability with great amenities, schools and jobs. That’s one reason why a lot of us spend a lot of time driving- we need to use the car to get from the place with the good schools to another place with the jobs and amenities. It’s a tiring business though, and it’s worth noting that Americans are flowing out of New Jersey to other states.
What New Jersey Towns do you think should be in a ‘Top 100 Most Livable Places’ list? Why do you think our towns didn’t make the most recent list? And what factors do you think make a place ‘livable’? Let us know in the comments section below.
After living in the Mountain West for a year and then in Seattle for 3 months I’ve come to realize that New Jersey should be called the “State of Low Expectations.” Nobody (outside of Princeton notably) knows what an architect is when they build or so it seems. “Garbatecture” is what we get instead. Beyond that I was amazed at how clean places were out West and how much they embraced walking and BIKING in particular.
As I search for a possible place to move after spending most of my working years in NYC, it’s disappointing and bizarre that I almost have to write off the entire state of New Jersey. I lived in Jersey City for a while. It was one of the most disappointing places I’ve ever lived. The garbatecture (what a perfect term for it, by the way!) is a big factor throughout the state (of course there are pockets of exceptions) and, as the article points out, there just seems to be no place that has plusses on all the key parameters. Some areas seem so utterly devoid of anything approaching charm or even livability, it’s just remarkable. And sad.