100 best towns to raise a family

If you can move any place in the United States to raise yourfamily, first read “Best Places to Raise Your Family,” by BertSperling and Peter Sander. This unique book reveals the top 100 best towns forfamilies, based primarily on standard of living, education, lifestyle, andhealth and safety considerations.

However, if you think you will find the perfect place forfamilies, you will be disappointed. Even Sperling and Sander admit, “Thereis no perfect place,” that appeals to everyone. As their profiles of 100towns explain in great detail, every place has its pros and cons.

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Although there are many authors’ opinions throughout the 100reports on the best U.S. family-friendly towns, most of the best places arebased on facts and lots of statistics. Subjective evaluations are extremelydifficult, even for the expert authors. For example, I grew up in Edina, Minn.,so I was especially interested in the authors’ recommendations for that state.Their first choice was Rochester, Minn., primarily for its superb Mayo Clinicmedical facility and the excellent public schools. I agree. But their secondMinnesota choice was Lakeville, a distant Minneapolis suburb. With thatselection, I respectfully disagree because there are far better located, betterquality of life, and more affordable towns (such as Edina!) close to employmentcenters.

This is a fantastic book to read when you want to dreamabout where you would like to live. If you are self-employed, and can liveanyplace, this is the perfect book for you. Or if you are an employee beingtransferred, this is a great book to determine which is the best town near yournew employment location to select.

For statistic-minded individuals, especially engineers, thisbook is a dream come true. It is filled with tables, maps, statistical charts,and just about every way to analyze a town for prospective relocation. If thebook has a fault, it is information overload with too many statistics and notenough subjective opinions about what it is like to live in a specificrecommended town.

As I poured through all the information, I was impressedwith the many towns that are “near” a big city and its specialattractions. Of the list of ideal places to raise your family, shockingly thereare no large cities. I suspect the reason is most big cities have poor-qualitypublic schools, which is a major disqualifier.

Even if you are not considering moving, this new book is agreat book to read for possible future relocation. But remember the emphasis ison the best places to raise a family, not the best places to retire, find ajob, or anything else.

Surprisingly, some states have no recommended places toraise a family. Those few states are Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, Mississippi,Louisiana, and Maine. Many states have only one “best place” forfamilies.

Others have several towns, many of which are relativelyunknown. To illustrate, have you ever heard of Getzville or Pittsford, N.Y? Meneither, but they are on the top 100 list.

Although I am familiar with many of the towns recommended bySperling and Sander, I wonder if they thoroughly investigated all theirsuggestions. For example, where I live in northern California, the authorsrecommend living in Winters and Folsom, Calif. I’ve been to both places. I’msure the residents are happy there, but from the descriptions, they seem likeboring places without much to do.

Where do these expert authors live? Based on the vaststatistical information they produced for this outstanding book, you wouldthink they live someplace exotic, with near-perfect weather, affordable, withexcellent educational and medical facilities, in a top employment center.Wrong. Co-author Peter Sander lives in Granite Bay, Calif., while co-authorBert Sperling resides in Depoe Bay, Ore.

Chapter topics include: “Finding Your Best Place”;”Today’s Families and Trends”; “What Makes the Best PlaceBest?” “A Closer Look at the Facts”; and “NeighborhoodProfiles of the Top 100 Places.”

Just in case you absolutely must know the top 10 best placesfor families to live, as selected by Sperling and Sander, they are Louisville,Colo.; Gaithersburg, Md.; Roswell, Ga.; Lakeville, Minn.; Flower Mound, Texas;Fort Collins, Colo.; Cary, N.C.; Sugar Land, Texas; Columbia, Md.; andNoblesville, Ind.

Creating a great book like this is a monumental achievement.But it is based mostly on statistics, not the reality of families who live inthe recommended towns. Interviews with local residents would have added realismto reveal what they like best and least about their towns.

Obviously, none of the 100 recommended places are badlocations to raise a family. But statistics alone can be very misleading. On myscale of one to 10, this unique book rates an eight because it is more like adull textbook rather than a resource with subjective opinions from trustedadvisers.

“Best Places to Raise Your Family,” by BertSperling and Peter Sander (Wiley Publishing, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, 2006, $24.99,414 pages; available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, publiclibraries and www.amazon.com.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center

Copyright 2006 Inman News

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