A Guidebook that Hits You Right Where You Live

Copyright Oct. 18, 1981  For an interesting comparison with today, please visit city-data.com/toplists.html

By Bob Schwabach 

All right, we know it. You’ve been thinking on and off for years about what it would be like if you moved to another city.

Would the food be the same? Do the people talk funny? Do they speak English? Three psychologists at C.W. Post College on Long Island have been wondering the same thing and they have put out a book on the subject, “Finding Your Best Place to Live in America” (Red Lion Books).

The thesis here is: “We have discovered that where a person lives dramatically affects his happiness and success in life.” We all suspected as much.

But what they have done is put together in a reasonably conveinent way a list of pluses and minuses for various places so you can figure out what bothers you most where you are now, and where to go for less of it, and what you like best and where to go for the most of that.

For instance, if you like sunshine, it will come as no surprise that there is more of that in San Diego or Honolulu than in Rochester, N.Y. Some of the other things are equally obvious: There are more tornadoes in Kansas City than Philadelphia; you’re going to get more snow in Cleveland than you will in Tampa, and more crime in New York than Burlington, VT.

But many things are not so obvious, for example, while there is more snow in Cleveland than Tampa, there also is more snow and more snowy days in Buffalo and Rochester than there are in Anchorage, Alaska – quite a bit more, in fact.

If you’re into  violent crime,  and would like to get out, it probably will come as no surprise that New York is not the place to go. It has the nation’s highest incidence of assaults. But your chances of being attacked is less in Chicago and Philadelphia, for instance, than it is in the golden city of San Diego.

If you’re really paranoid oh this point, the least likely place to be attacked is Fargo, N.D.

If burglary bothers you, you are safest in Pittsburgh and worst off in Las Vegas. San Francisco has twice as many burglaries per thousand populantion as Philadelphia, and your chances of being ripped off – though you’re goihg to have trouble believing this – are greater in Salt Lake City than they are in New York or Chicago.

If you like bourbon, the place to go is Houston, because it has the most polluted drinking water in the country. The purest water is in Fresno, Cal.

The highest average income is in Anchorage ($32,861 a year), but so is the highest cost of living (about 40 percent above the rest of the country). Other high income places are Washington, D.C.; Detroit; and Chicago. If  money means nothing to you, the low-end towns are Birmingham, Ala; Biloxi, Miss.; and Tampa.

If you’re a computer programmer or a secretary, you’ll make your best money not in the Sun Belt or Silicon Valley but Detroit. You’ll make least in San Antonio.

Ole San Antonio also si the lowest paying place for truck drivers and car mechanics—about half of what they can make in Seattle, Sacramento, or Chicago.A janitor will do best in San Francisco, worst in Washington.

If you  must have a house or die, the average home will cost your $45,000 in Portland, Ma.; $109,000 in San Francisco.

Of course youre electric and heating bills will be lower in San Francisco. The highest electric bills in the country, on average, are in New York and Philadelphia, the lowest, in Seattle.

The highest heating bills are – not surpising—Anchorage; Fargo, N.D.; and Minneapolis; the lowest is Honloulu (with an average annual haeting cost of zero).

You like sunshine? Phoenix has the most sunshine. Pittsburgh has the least.

But you don’t like the heat when it’s humid. Stay away from Yuma, Ariz.; Tampa; San Antonio; and New Orleans.

The winter lasts longest in Anghorage. But only a shade longer than it does in Casper, Wyo.; or Great Falls, Mont.

You like old people? You’ll love Florida. Want young people? It’s Alaska and Hawaaii.

Want to get married? If we ignore Nevada, which is a special situation in thsee matters, you’re most likely to feel the urge in South Carolina, South Dakota, or Wyoming. If you don’t want to get divorced, move to New Jersey—that’s where you’ll find the lowest rate.

New Jersey also is the most densely populated state in the country –nearly a thousand people to the square mile. Alaska has fewer than one person a square mile, but that is deceptive because much of the state is uninhabitable, and Wyoming has only four people a square mile.

If you want to know where the girls are, it’s Portland, Ore., which has a huge surplus of women. If you’re lookihg for the boys, the right place is San Diego, which has a huge surplus of men over women. Maybe these people should talk to each other?


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