The real estate website Estately.com just came out with an unconventional listicle that, like some cowboy-hatted, flag-shirt-wearing country singer, initially used the word “America” as a verb, i.e., “Which U.S. State ‘Americas’ the Hardest?” Now, before you flee for some David Foster Wallace-dotted hills in search of depth and substance, let me qualify this listicle by saying it was written by Ryan Nickum, who—despite turning out such blog posts regularly—is smart and funny and wise. (He also has a keen understanding of Philadelphia even though he lives in Seattle, hence his short-lived Tumblr Philly’s Basement Bars.) Readers weren’t totally understanding the use of America as a verb, so Nickum changed the title to the more palatable “Which U.S. States Are The Most ‘American’?” But that doesn’t convey the same flushed-faced patriotic fervor, if you ask me.
So there’s this website, NerdWallet.com, that’s ostensibly a personal finance site but which often sends out press releases ranking cities compared to this or that criteria designed to make those cities feel smug and secure in themselves — or, you know, the opposite.
The latest ranking involves a straightforward comparison of Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia — and as you might guess, Pittsburgh comes out on top. Why? Well NerdWallet has a list of criteria. But really, it’s because NerdWallet says so. So we say NerdWallet is wrong — or, at least, not nearly as right as it presents itself:
Wasn’t it just last month that Niche had us scratching our heads with its “Best Suburbs in America” list? If you recall, they ranked Narberth as the 10th best ‘burb in the country, ahead of the likes of Beverly Hills, Manhattan Beach, and even Lower Merion Township. Now, they’ve caught us just a teensy bit by surprise yet again with their recently released “Best Suburbs to Buy a House in America” compilation.
The ‘burb honored with the no. 1 spot on the ranking? West Conshohocken.
They say this city can kill you. Well now we have proof.
The Social Science Research Council’sMeasure of America project has released a report called “Geographies of Opportunity: Ranking Well-Being by Congressional District” in which they measure health, access to knowledge and living standards within the country’s 435 congressional districts as well as Washington, D.C. Only a few states get called out for special notice, and wouldn’t you know it, Pennsylvania is one of them.
There’s a special section called “A Tale of Two Districts: Life Expectancy in Pennsylvania.” The reason the state gets special attention is because it’s an outlier in terms of the health metric, and not in a good way. “Only four districts outside the South have life expectancies of less than 76 years,” the report reads, and one of those is Pennsylvania Congressional District 2, shown at left, which covers much of West Philly, and other surrounding neighborhoods. The average life expectancy in this district is 75.6 years, to be precise, which is several years below the national average. Read more »
Is this even a list you want your town to be on? Unlike their “10 Best Philadelphia Suburbs” list, which inspired a lot discussion some weeks ago, Movoto has taken a dollar centric approach with their latest catalog: the 10 most expensive Philadelphia suburbs.
Movoto’s Cassie Sheets says data examined included median home values, cost of living, affordability ratio (that is, “median home value divided by median household income”), and the percentage of income spent on rent. Much like their “10 Best,” AreaVibes was hit up for help in narrowing down the list, as was data from the U.S. Census. All this info was then averaged “into one overall Big Deal Score where the lowest scores were our most expensive Philadelphia suburbs.”
You can see the full list below, but here are the top 10–do you see your ‘burb on the list?:
Would Philly even be on here if it weren’t for Nashville, Kansas City, Little Rock, New Orleans, and others being knocked off for lack of sufficient data? Who knows, but as it stands, it’s in at no. 24 on Forbes’ “America’s Most Overpriced Cities In 2015″ list.
According to writer Erin Carlyle, the list was compiled after singling out the largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas and Metropolitan Divisions (i.e. “cities and their surrounding suburbs as defined by the Office of Management and Budget”), and then examining their most recent housing stats (in this case, 2014’s fourth quarter), as provided by the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo. “The quarterly index weighs median prices for homes sold against median income levels to determine the percentage of homes that are affordable to residents making the median income,” writes Carlyle.
1. Devon, PA
2. Blue Bell, PA
3. Wyncote, PA
4. Bryn Mawr, PA
5. Flourtown, PA
6. Berwyn, PA
7. Swarthmore, PA (tie)
7. Haddonfield, NJ (tie)
9. Narberth, PA
10. Fort Washington, PA
So what do you think? Any ‘burbs the Movoto list overlooked? Which would you take out and which would you replace it with? Keep in mind that business listings and AreaVibes were used to shape the list, and criteria examined were things like amenities per capita, median home price, median rentals, standard of living, overall crimes, weather, and more.