Monday, July 17, 2006

Best Place to Live? Fort Collins, Colorado

by Osman Parvez


Hmm... A few months ago, Louisville, CO was rated as the Best Place in America to Raise a Family. Now, Fort Collins, Colorado is ranked the Best Place to Live according to CNN and Money magazine. Well, I guess it's not a secret that the Front Range as a whole is one of the most attractive, enjoyable place to live in the country. The accolades just keep rolling in.

According to the CNN's Money Magazine,

Great schools, low crime, good jobs in a high-tech economy and a fantastic outdoor life make Fort Collins No. 1. Situated 5,000 feet above sea level in the Rocky Mountains, the city offers restaurants, night life and culture, plus natural attractions like nearby Horsetooth Reservoir for boating and swimming. There are 60 miles of hiking and biking trails, and most major roads have bicycle lanes. The place took off in the '90s as companies moved from high-priced California.

Pros: Outdoors lovers' paradise; good schools; very little stress
Cons: Tech-dependent economy

As it happens, this past weekend I was helping clients who are relocating from Virginia learn about luxury homes and golf course neighborhoods in Fort Collins. At the moment, their preference is for the Fort Collins Country Club and having seen the facilities and the neighborhood, I understand why.

On that note, I should take a moment to thank Linda Hopkins and her colleagues at The Group Real Estate for being so helpful in arranging showings on short notice, entertaining my clients, and confirming key neighborhood information in Fort Collins. Their professionalism was outstanding and I look forward to working with them.

I discussed the article this morning and it was agreed that if we weren't so in love with Boulder, Fort Collins would be a strong second choice. It's a great place to live.



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3 comments:

  1. How much do you trust a site that says Boulder has a 6.70% Sales Tax and the State thinks it has a 7.86% rate? We are talking about a "survey" that claims 8 "ski resorts" within 100 miles of Santa Clarita, California. Did you know that if you use their "survey" and set "crime" as your only issue all the suburbs of NYC show up as your best bet? No mention of the two cities consistently in the top three of the FBI Uniform Crime Report; Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks California.

    Ft. Collins is truly a superior place to live but don't believe the hype unless you are willing to defend the claims aginst the true data.

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  2. Thanks again for posting Robert. I always appreciate your contrarian point of view and your encouragement to probe beneath the surface.

    First, it almost goes without saying that buyers should take the time to fully explore and learn about a community in person. Careful due dilligence on the property and the community in which it resides is so important, yet I'm surprised by how few take it seriously.

    I took a number of classes over the years that dealt with statistics and surveys and I agree there are often problems with the underlying methodology. But in this case, I'm still a little surprised by what you've found.

    On the Find Your Best Place screen I tried setting crime as "Very important" and ignored everything else. Sure enough, it ranked Wayne, NJ as the best place to live. Back when I lived in New York, I spent a fair amount of time visiting a friend in Cedar Grove (bordering Wayne), and it didn't strike me as an especially safe place. Then again, I don't remember crime being an issue there either.

    So I dug a little deeper. Here's the methodology for the Find Your Best Place feature. Looks as if crime is based on the risk of violent crime as determined from FBI reports over the past 7 years. Here's even more information on Onboard's methodology.

    Is Wayne, NJ the safest city over 50,000 people? It may not pass the "sniff test" but Onboard's methodology seems reasonable and without personally reviewing their database, I don't see anything off base.

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  3. If criticized Onboard for years over the crime issue. So much so that they've been forced to admit to their "adjustment" to the "raw" FBI UCR data. The adjustment? Aye, there's the rub. The b@st@rds remove one of the most important indicators of crime; "density and degree of urbanization" from the data. Here's their whitewash apology; "The average for urban areas is closer to 150 and the average for rural areas is closer to 50." Thus reducing the relative crime penalty for urban v. rural by a factor of 4.

    And I'm still trying to find those 5 other ski areas within 100 miles of Santa Clarita.

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