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December 30, 2003

MONEY Cites Stepford As "Best Place To Live"

Matt Yglesias was more clinical in describing the "best places to live" selected by MONEY as soulless exurban sprawl zones. I think "Stepford" hits the mark much better.

Remember that X-Files episode where Mulder and Scully posed as "The Petries" (pronounced "pee-tree")? They took up residence in a sterile planned community where residents who dirtied up their pristine lawns with plastic pink flamingos and Shabby Chic windmills mysteriously vanished? The dreaded Community Association was akin to The Skull and Bones?

It's for real. I used to live in one of the cities on the A List.

What were the defining characteristics of MONEY's selections? Good schools? Low crime rates? Exciting local culture? Fun things to do locally that didn't cost a mint? Not a chance. The main characteristic was "those towns with demographics that closely mirrored that of the typical MONEY reader: college educated, working professional, well-above average median income."

As Kevin Drum pointed out, MONEY selected places most similar to its own circulation demographics.

I guess MONEY readers also have higher rates of depression and weigh more. Not long ago, the American Public Health Association released a report citing a link between urban sprawl and depression and obesity - but only for whites. The layout of these Stepford clones discourages walking because everything is too far away. You need a car. Some of these towns do not know the meaning of the word "sidewalk." Large cities are much more contained. Then again, large cities have higher crime rates and more pollution.

The town I live in now didn't even register on MONEY's "Best Towns" search engine. I guess no one who lives here is a subscriber.

Posted on December 30, 2003 at 11:26 AM | Permalink


I consider it a badge of quality of life not to live in a "desirable" city. A few years ago, I was in Toronto (the centre of the known universe) and someone asked me where I was from. "Regina", I replied. "How big is it?" asked he. "About 200,000." Pause. "Well, what's it NEAR?" he asked.

Posted by: Jane at Dec 31, 2003 11:01:37 AM

I'd rather live in a desirable city than a "desirable" city any day. :) No one has ever heard of this town, either. I live on the Massachusetts coast, two blocks from the ocean. I get the same stumped look you got in Toronto. When people ask me, "Well, where IS it?" I just say. "Drive towards Massachusetts. When you hit water, turn left."

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Dec 31, 2003 11:07:29 AM