Do you love where you live? If you had to make a list of the 100 best small towns to live in, would your little community in the greater Southern California area make the list? Well Money magazine's list is out ... and the news for us isn't good. Unless you look on the bright side: we'll have the whole place to ourselves, soon.
If you've noticed more moving vans in your neighborhood taking people away, rather than bringing new folks in, there's a reason for that. California is no longer the "golden state" when it comes to new opportunities and jobs and the American dream. We know people are re-thinking living in California as the cost of living remains higher, and the quality of public education remains lower than much of the rest of the country.
And as far as new people coming in? Unless there's a great reason to move here, like a job transfer or family situation, people across the country seem to have such disdain for our state. There are so many California haters out there! As I was looking for California perspectives on this new list (which I promise I'll get to!) I just ran across this bit by a Philip Greenspun called "Why you shouldn't move to California." In it, he mocks a sign posted at a city plaza with a bunch of rules on it, and comments:
Why do Californians need so many rules? Because they all moved there to enjoy the land, the climate, to take a job. They did not move there in order to become part of a community. In fact, they might very well hate all the people around them but still choose to live in California. This does not happen in northern Michigan or central Massachusetts. If you don't like the community, you move. There is no other reason to be there.
If Californians did not have myriads of carefully set forth rules, they would simply kill each other.
My friends in California mostly have contempt for their fellow citizens. I ask them "today you're going to run into a person on the street that you've never met before. I'm not going to tell you anything about this person. The person could be of any age, sex, or economic class. Do you think you will enjoy meeting this person?" The response is always "I think the person will have the wrong political beliefs" or "the person will probably be a smoker" or "I bet the person won't be a vegetarian, so I can't talk to him" or "I doubt that this person will be educated or intelligent."
One of the comments on his post argues some of his generalizations. David Longerbeam wrote:
What's so great about Walnut? The Money summary likes its small-town feel with easy access to big cities:
Residents of this San Gabriel Valley suburb prize it for its easy access to both Los Angeles and Orange County. Freeways run around Walnut rather than through it, so traffic is minimal.
Home prices are slightly higher than in neighboring cities due to the town's renowned school district. Although Walnut is almost entirely residential, commerce is nearby -- such as the curious commercial-only City of Industry, which provides many jobs for Walnut residents.
Why it's 70th becomes obvious when you hit the button that compares Walnut to the list's top 10.
Number 1 is Louisville, Colorado. That city has half the crime, less than half the sales and state income tax, an easier commute, and the same house you get in Louisville for $310,000 will cost you $588,000 in Walnut.
What else is so great about Louisville? The first line triggered a thing in my head that said, aha yes, exactly what's NOT so great about a lot of California:
Some towns nestled along the Rockies are full of pretentious eco-hipsters. Not Louisville. Ice cream shops dot the historic downtown. Families grab burgers at the cozy Waterloo Café. A Friday-night street fair, with a beer garden, live music, and games for the kids, runs all summer. No wonder this down-to-earth town has appeared high on Money's Best Places list before--and on many others.
It's also weathering the economic downturn well. Robust industries in the area, such as high tech, energy, and health care, make county unemployment among the lowest in the state.
But the top reason residents give for moving here? The great outdoors. Louisville is laced with nearly 30 miles of trails, Rocky Mountain National Park is less than an hour away, and eight world-class ski resorts are within two hours. The town's schools are highly rated as well.
Add in dry, clear weather, little crime, good health care, and low taxes, and Louisville is pretty tough to beat.