Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Nashville Ranked 61st best place to live. Score dropped from previous years. Knoxville and Chattanooga ranked higher.

by Rod Williams, May 24, 2023 - U.S. News analyzed the 150 most populous metro areas to find the best places to live. The report does not clarify if by "metro area " they mean the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) or not; I assume they do.  While in a MSA the actual city of that name may be a terrible place to live, it may have some wonderful bedroom communities and small towns within the area. This makes it hard to generalize about an MSA. Remember that the Nashville MSA includes Brentwood and Franklin. And it includes the Williamson County schools which are some of the best in the State, and Nashville Schools which are some of the worst. So, keeping this in mind, a comparison of populous metro areas is still informative.

"To make the top of the list, a place had to have good value, be a desirable place to live, have a strong job market and a high quality of life," U.S. News reports. Much of the criteria is certainly subjective. Look at the methodology, however and the subjectivity may be in the weight given to the individual factors A lot of data goes into determining the factors. I don't think even the data-driven factors tell the whole story.

What the factors cannot measure objectively is what your priorities are. While Knoxville is 90 minuets away from the Smokies, Chattanooga is right in the middle of beautiful mountains. That would be a plus for me. It would boost Chattanooga's score. In looking at the whole list, I would rate cities near an ocean higher than a comparable city inland. These factors, of course, are subjective.  One person may give a city a plus for being close to the ocean another would give it a minus for the threat of hurricanes. 

Nashville's ranking has fallen. Nashville had a score of 25 last year and a score of 30 in 2021. I don't know that Nashville is worse than a year ago or two years ago.  Maybe it is but maybe all cities are getting worse and other cities are getting worse at a slower rate.  

I have always been bullish on Nashville. One of the things I like about this city is the opportunities for political engagement. There are interesting speakers appearing somewhere in town on a regular basis and being the capital there are advocacy groups and think tanks. You can find opportunities to learn, engage, and socialize with people who care about public policy. That is a factor that is hard to meassure.

Another factor that is high on my list is the creative vibe and opportunities to enjoy music. To me things like, Musician Corner, Full Moon Picking Party, WMOT's Finally Friday, various writers' nights, and great shows at the Ryman and other venues add to the desirability of Nashville. That is hard to quantify.

What I do not like about Nashville is the local effect of the national polarization and intolerance. I do not like that Nashville is a city that embraces woke progressive policy positions. If not for the State keeping Metro on a short leash, we would have much worse governance. We missed by one vote last year massively cutting the police budget. The city attempted to become a sanctuary city a few years ago. Also, the Council attempted to impose a scheme called "inclusionary zoning" that mandates developers build affordable housing.  This policy has been shown to actually increase housing cost and reduce housing supply but if not for the State, the city would have adopted it. Metro's School Board almost always opposes school choice and excellence in education. We have the worse graduation rates in the State. Nashville has always been a liberal Democrat city, but in recent years a new breed of liberal favors the latest trends in radical woke governance. 

Another thing that I do not like but is hard to measure is the greater stress of a bigger city. The measurable factors may be door-to-door commute time and that may not be that bad, but driving on multi-lane roads with complicated intersections and fire department sirens blaring while a homeless person tries to sell you a newspaper detracts from the quality of life. Also, life was more pleasant when you could find a parking spot. 

I know there are advantages to growth, but there are also cost.  Growth rarely pays for itself. The cost of providing services and dealing with more social problems exceed the new tax revenue from growth. Growth gave us more major league sports, finer dining, more choices in entertainment and shiny new buildings, but also higher taxes, more crime, and more stress. I wish Nashville would have stopped growing about fifteen years ago.

Below are excerpts from the report showing the ranking of our four largest cities. It is also interesting to see which cities are ranked better or worse than your city. See the full report at this link

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