Friday, 30 December 2016

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Best Places to Live

best place to live
U.S. News & World Report's inaugural Best Places to Live rankings are intended to help readers make the most informed decision when choosing where to settle down. The metro areas included in
the rankings are evaluated using data from trusted sources like the United States Census Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Labor and U.S. News' own internal resources. This data was categorized into the five indexes listed below and then evaluated using a methodology determined by Americans' preferences. The percent weighting for each index follows the answers from a public survey in which people from across the country voted for what they believed was the most important thing to consider when thinking about moving.

Job Market Index 20 percent

The Job Market Index measures the strength of each metro area's job market. To do this, we've assessed the following two factors to determine how likely residents will be to find employment and what their earning potential will be:

  • Unemployment Rate (50 percent): We've calculated the 12-month moving unemployment rate using data from the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This represents whether or not the job market is growing, struggling or remaining stable.
  • Median Salary (50 percent): The median salary, as calculated by the BLS, is the best indicator of earning potential in a metro area.

Value Index 25 percent

The Value Index measures how comfortably the average resident of each metro area can afford to live within his or her means. To accomplish this, we compared the median annual household income to the cost of living in that metro area. The Value Index is determined by dividing the blended median annual household income by the blended annual cost of living for each metro area.
  • Blended Median Annual Household Income: Using data from the U.S. Census, we determined the percentage of the national population that owns a home and the percentage of the national population that rents a home. Using those percentages, we calculated a blended median annual household income for each metro area.
  • Blended Annual Cost of Living: To determine the annual cost of living for homeowners in each metro area, we consulted the U.S. Census, which collects data on the amount homeowners pay for housing (including mortgage, utilities and taxes). We then extracted an estimated monthly cost for utilities, as well as the average rent, and added that to the median for each metro area to determine the cost of living for renters. We multiplied the cost of living for both owners and renters to get the annual cost, and then using our ratio of renters to owners, we calculated the blended annual cost of living.

Quality of Life Index 30 percent

The Quality of Life Index measures how satisfied residents are with their daily lives in each ranked metro area. To calculate the Quality of Life scores, we evaluated the following aspects of life in each metro area using a weighted average. To determine the weightings, we surveyed people across the U.S. to see how important they considered each of the aspects evaluated in the index. The Quality of Life Index takes into account:
  • Crime Rates (30 percent): We've compared each metro area's violent and property crime rates per 100,000 people to the national rates, as determined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports.
  • Quality and Availability of Health Care (10 percent): Using data from the U.S. News Best Hospitals rankings, we measured the availability of quality health care by determining the quantity of ranked facilities within 100 and 250 miles of each metro area.
  • Quality of Education (25 percent): Using data from the U.S. News Best High Schools rankings, we determined the availability of quality education by calculating the average college readiness score of all schools in the metro area and comparing it to that of all the other ranked metro areas.
  • Well-being (15 percent): We use the composite score from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (which analyzes resident satisfaction in the following areas: purpose, social, financial, community and physical) as a representation of whether or not residents of each metro area are generally happy with their day-to-day lives.
  • Commuter Index (20 percent): The Commuter Index uses the U.S. Census' calculation of average commute time, which is a composite of the time spent traveling door-to-door, whether by foot, public transit, car or bicycle.

Desirability Index 15 percent

The Desirability Index measures whether or not people want to live in a given metro area. To determine this, we asked people from all over the country to tell us where they'd prefer to live.
  • Desirability Survey: Using Google Consumer Survey, we polled people across the country to find out in which of the ranked metro areas they would most like to live. The metro areas were then ranked according to the percentage of the total votes they received.

Net Migration 10 percent

Net Migration measures whether people are moving to or away from each of the metro areas. While the Desirability Index measures whether or not a metro area is appealing, Net Migration represents whether or not a metro area is actually attracting new residents.
  • Net Migration: Using data from the U.S. Census – and eliminating any fluctuations caused by births or deaths – we've determined how many people are moving to or away from each metro area.
Note: If a piece of data is not available for a given metro area, we adjust the weighting of the other scoring categories for which we had data on a pro rata basis with the aim that no city benefits or suffers from missing data.

How We Did the Math

The data we collected from each of our sources came in a variety of forms, from flat numbers to negative numbers to percentages. Before imputing each data point into our equations, we had to standardize it so that it could be compared on an apples-to-apples basis with other data points we evaluated.
In order to balance these metrics, we used a standard deviation (or Z-Score) calculation to determine each data point's differentiation from the data set's mean, and then used the Z-Score to create a standardized U.S. News score using the method outlined below:
  • Calculating the Z-Score: The Z-Score represents a data point's relation to the mean measurement of the data set. The Z-Score is a negative when the data point is below the mean and positive when it's above the mean; a Z-Score of 0 means it's equal to the mean. To determine the Z-Score for each data point, we calculated the mean of that same data point across all ranked metro areas. We then subtracted the data point from the mean and divided it by the standard deviation.
  • Calculating the T-Score: We used a T-Score calculation to convert the Z-Score to a 0-100 scale by multiplying the Z-Score by 10. To ensure that the mean was equal across all data points, we added our desired scoring mean (between 0 and 10) to the T-Score to create an adjusted T-Score.
  • Calculating the U.S. News Score: To calculate the U.S. News Score, we divided the adjusted T-Score by 10 to create a 0-10 point system across the board that would allow us to accurately apply our methodology.


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