This week, the city of Grand Rapids made the headlines of USA TODAY. The online version of the magazine/newspaper reported on a recent index created by 24/7 Wall Street, which lists the “50 best places to live in the US.”
Cities that made the list vary in size and location and include places like Beverly Hills, Calif., Bozeman, Mont., and Whitefish, Wis. There are no big cities that made the list but some are located near major metropolitan areas. At the top of the list is West University Place, Texas. And, at No. 50, is Grand Rapids - no, not Grand Rapids, Michigan - but Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
As USA TODAY introduced the list, “living in the United States by no means guarantees a good life, but in some parts of the country, a vast portion of residents live a highly prosperous lifestyle.” The publication further explained “certain attributes that some communities share are almost universally desirable, including safe streets, a strong economy, affordability and a range of entertainment options.”
"We are proud to be identified as the best cities to live in the United States. We agree that Grand Rapids has a wide range of amenities to offer those that want to live, work and play here," shares Megan Christianson, Executive Director, Visit Grand Rapids, the destination marketing organization for the Grand Rapids area. "There is a halo effect of tourism, that I believe has had an impact on people moving here, starting businesses here and owning second homes here. We hear of many stories of people who first came here as visitors before relocating here."
According to Explore Minnesota Tourism (state of Minnesota tourism agency), people who visit Minnesota are 76% more likely of relocating to Minnesota to live, 54% more likely to start or relocate a business in Minnesota, and 106% more likely to start a career in Minnesota. Minnesota offers a wide diversity of amenities which leads to quality of life.
"Grand Rapids offers many of the qualities that people and businesses look for in these quality of life amenities: work life balance, art and culture, history, outdoor recreation, entertainment, safe community, good schools, cost of living balance, and more," added Christianson.
24/7 Wall Street created the list using a weighted index of more than two dozen measures from the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI, and other sources to identify the best city to live. All cities, towns and villages with at least 8,000 residents were considered.
The full listing on USA Today can be viewed online at 50 Best.
The listing for Grand Rapids shows No. 50:
5-year population change +2.2%
Median household income $44,514
Five-year unemployment rate 0.6%
“Grand Rapids, located in northern Minnesota, is one of several cities in the state to rank on this list. With a staggeringly low unemployment rate of just 0.6%, virtually anyone in the city who wants a job can get one. Grand Rapids residents also benefit from a low cost of living, as goods and services in the city are about 8% less expensive on average than they are nationwide. Quality of life in Grand Rapids is also supported by easy access to a wide range of amenities. The city has a far greater than typical concentration of restaurants, bars, hotels, fitness centers, museums, and movie theaters on a per capita basis.”
Listed just above Grand Rapids is No. 49 Durango, Colo., and No. 48 Traverse City, Mich. Several Midwest cities made the list including No. 21 Bismark, N.D., No. 22 Rochester, Minn., No. 39 Stevens Point, Wis., and No. 41 Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
According to the report, 24/7 Wall Street used 25 measures to create four categories to identify the best cities to live in including affordability, economy, quality of life and community. For affordability, the ratio of median home value and median income was given full weight. More affordable cities ranked higher. Cost of living was determined by the average cost of goods and services in the area relative to average prices across the nation as a whole. Property taxes accounted to one-quarter of the weighting for affordability.
With economy, the unemployment rate was given full weight. The index considered the five-year average unemployment and employment growth during the same time, favoring areas with growing job opportunities.
In the quality of life category, the poverty rate was given full weight. Also considered was the city’s mortality rate which was calculated as the number of people who died while in hospital care. Drug overdose mortality accounted for one-quarter of the weight as was hospital readmission rate (those released and readmitted within 30 days). Distance from the center of the city to the nearest hospital was also given full weight.
Measures used in the community category included average travel time to work with share of commuters either walking, cycling or taking public transit. Also considered was violent crime and property crime rates and total number of restaurants, bars, museums, theater companies, movie theaters, libraries and parks per capita.
All information used for the index came from five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey for the 2013-2017 period. Violent and property crime rates were taken from the FBI’s 2017 Uniform Crime Report. Drug overdose mortality rates came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the years 2014 and 2016. Mortality rates and hospital readmission rates are from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as of June 2015.
24/7 Wall Street is a USA TODAY content provider which is produced independently of USA TODAY.
The following photo of No. 50 Grand Rapids, Minn., is included with USA TODAY’s publication of the “50 best cities to live in the US.”