Money Magazine: Chanhassen #2
I don’t put much stock in the “Places Rated” literary genre.
Like college rankings, which have become a full-blown industry, the various self-anointed “place raters” (Money Magazine, USA Today, etc.) are mostly interested in selling ads or books — and providing fodder for local chambers of commerce.
Maybe that’s why the lists seem so formulaic, shuffling some combination of the usual (admittedly desirable) criteria: plentiful jobs, safe streets, good schools, nice physical setting, access to culture and entertainment.
Places such as Gary, Indiana, and Detroit obviously don’t score well on the foregoing criteria, but at the top, any number of cities and towns could stand in for one another — and do (note the year-to-year rotation).
Case in point: Chanhassen, Money Magazine’s #2 small city this year, is certainly a very nice place to live, but exactly what differentiates it from Eagan, Maple Grove, Woodbury or any number of other appealing Twin Cities suburbs?
So I skip the lists, right?
Well, actually . . no.
Like People magazine or a bag of potato chips, they’re pretty hard to ignore — that’s the point.
So, if such lists are going to proliferate, it’s at least good to see Minnesota cities and towns get their due.
In fact, they seem to be.
Besides Chanhassen’s selection this year, Plymouth was Money’s top pick in its “weight class” (cities around 50,000 people) last year.
One of the nice things to see is an end to what could only be called “weather chauvinism”: until recently, cities had to have a mild climate to score well.
It still helps, but besides Minnesota’s rotating representatives, Madison, WI and the suburbs around it — not exactly tropical — also seem to get recognized frequently.
P.S.: Personally, I’m waiting for the list of “Most Unheralded Places in America.”