Claremont Insider: More on Claremont as the Fifth Best Place to Live

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

More on Claremont as the Fifth Best Place to Live

We don't really understand Money magazine's methodology. If any reader can fathom it, an explanation would be very much appreciated. In all, it seems to be a list of towns you never heard of.

The Insider can read the Money FAQ as well as the next guy. Here is Money's explanation with our comments:

First, "start with places that have populations above 7,500 and under 50,000."

[OK, that may give us the "best places" with populations between these somewhat arbitrary and capricious limits. You now have 2,876 towns]

Next, "screen out retirement-oriented communities, places where income is less than 90% or more than 180% of the state median and towns that are more than 95% white."

[How did Claremont make this cut with Pilgrim Place, the Gardens, the Manor, Sunrise, and the Village? The Insider isn't going to touch the racial bit. Now we have 974 towns.]

Third, "eliminate towns with low education scores, high crime rates, declines or sharp increases in population, projected job losses or lack of access to airports or teaching hospitals."

[OK, now we have a more or less mainline stable population of smart working non-criminals at least 6% of color who either take airplane trips or frequent nearby teaching hospitals...that must be us alright. Well, there are 678 total towns now.]

From these towns, "rank remaining places based on job, income and cost-of-living data; housing affordability; school quality; arts and leisure opportunities; ease of living; health-care access; and racial diversity."

[These all sound good. It would be interesting to compare Claremont's housing affordability with that of others on the list. "Ease of Living"? Sounds like Peter Yao's first campaign with the "good life"--notably absent from his second. And the Insider is beginning to think this "racial diversity" thing is a surrogate for "lots of nearby ethnic restaurants." Now we have 466 towns; must've lost a few in the ranking.]

From here, the researchers "gather more data on job markets, housing prices, schools and ambience. Interview community leaders and residents by phone."

[Here's where the "Kentucky windage" is put in. We wonder what data are available on "ambience". Did you get a phone interview? The Insider regrets to report he is "out of the loop." Now they have 70 towns.]

Next, the protocol demanded that they "visit and do more interviews. Assess the sense of community, vibrancy of town center, natural surroundings, amenities, real estate and congestion."

[More subjectivity. All we can say is that they must not have visited during rush hour on the 10 or 210. And let's have a look at the "sense of community data". They are down to 25 towns now...]

Finally, "give [Potemkin Village] the nod, based on data and qualitative findings."

[More of those pesky subjective slippery squirmy qualitative findings. And now the towns are one...]

In all, we find the methodology pretty useless, but then we have never been accused of being the sharpest tool in the shed. Probably its as accurate as the apparently-spiked Forbes article on crime at Pomona College would have been. For your information and a little context, herewith the top 10 "Best Places to Live":

1. Potemkin Village
2. Stepford
6. Pleasantville
7. Oz
8. Greensburg, Kansas
9. Jonestown
10. Port Moresby