The Best Place in America: Now It's Nashua, N.H., Magazine Says
Jul. 26, 1987
NEW YORK (AP) _ Yet another survey of the best places to live in America has concluded that Nashua, N.H., where jobs are plentiful and winters are cold, is the fairest spot of them all.
Flint, Mich., was deemed the worst metropolitan area to live in the United States in the survey issued Sunday by Money magazine.
Suburbs and smaller cities in the Northeast fared best in the survey of 300 metropolitan areas, in which only two Sunbelt cities placed in the top 10.
After Nashua, a town of 68,000 in the southeastern part of the state, the highest-ranking places were Norwalk, Conn.; Wheeling, W.Va.; Beaver County, Pa.; Danbury, Conn.; Long Island, N.Y.; Oxnard-Ventura, Calif.; Boston's North Shore; Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; and Anaheim-Santa Ana, Calif.
The results differed sharply from other ratings - most notably Rand McNally's ''Places Rated Almanac'' - mainly because Money based its criteria on a poll of a sample of its readers.
Those polled were not asked to rate the cities themselves but to weigh what they thought was most important in looking for a place to live.
The poll concluded that a low crime rate is most important, followed by a strong economy and affordable housing that is likely to appreciate in value.
Other highly weighted criteria included health care, climate, leisure activities, the arts and schools. Lowest on the readers' list of what they looked for in a town were proximity to Amtrak and bus terminals and the availability of household help.
The respondents had a median age of 42 and a median household income of $56,000, making them older and considerably more affluent than most Americans.
In the 1985 ''Places Rated Almanac,'' Nashua placed 139th out of 329 metropolitan areas, while Pittsburgh was the top-rated spot in the nation. In the Money survey, however, Pittsburgh ranked 43rd.
The only two places to make the top 10 in both surveys were Norwalk (second in the Money survey, ninth in ''Places Rated'') and Long Island (sixth in both). Both are suburbs of New York City that scored points for being close to the city's cultural attributes but removed from many of its disadvantages.
New York was ranked 82nd on the list, smack between Dallas and Cleveland - an indication of how the nation's largest cities fared in the rating. San Francisco was the highest-rated big city, coming in 12th. Los Angeles ranked 17th; Chicago, 48th.
Although Money surveyed 300 metropolitan areas, it listed only the top 100 places and the bottom 10, which was dominated by the state of Michigan.
The bottom 10 were Mansfield, Ohio; Saginaw, Mich.; Wilmington, N.C.; Jackson, Mich.; Odessa, Texas; Rockford, Ill.; Atlantic City, N.J.; Benton Harbor, Mich.; Muskegon, Mich.; and Flint.
Money said the Northeast scored well in the survey because of the strength of its economy. Pennsylvania had more spots - 13 - in the top 100 than any other state; California, with 12, was next.
Nashua, which got low scores for housing, weather, leisure, arts and transit, got high scores in the crime, economy, health and education categories.
The magazine praised Nashua's extremely low unemployment rate, saying that ''practically anyone who wants a well-paying job can get one,'' and quoted one local resident as saying that she leaves her pocketbook overnight in her unlocked car without fear of theft.