When contemplating the "city," one often imagines the iconic megalopolis of their respective culture - Americans draw upon New York, Francophiles refer to Paris, etc. To our benefit, many of these cities even conveniently resemble each other! All displaying characteristic dense, walkable downtown areas including skyscrapers, public transit, and mixed use development. However, urban data today shows suburban residency claiming the majority of American households. From cheaper initial living expenses, the characteristic calm and safety of fenced housing lots, and the mass migration of corporations to these low-tax havens, there are many superficial benefits to families and professionals.
However, Plano, a medium-sized suburb north of Dallas, TX, has taken top spot in terms of best managed cities to live. The study bases its premise on the increasing competitiveness of cities to draw businesses and residents and the statistical trend of population growth in urban areas. Rating municipalities’ ability to compete against other urban areas in terms of quality of life, it accounts for “the strength of the regional economy, the level of state funding, and the presence of major corporations or industries” among other variables. Levels of income and poverty, along with proportion of violent crime are also included to capture the livability of each city.
Plano took first place by claiming a high proportion of households earning above $200,000 (14%), and a low proportion earning less than $10,000 (1.9% - the second lowest of all the cities). The number of violent crimes was noted as less than two per 1,000 people, and the city seemed unaffected by the housing crisis -- with median home prices rising, as the nation’s fell.
While suburban development faces criticism for its unsustainable use of resources, isolationist culture, and auto-dependency, Plano, along with many of the "best run" cities fall outside major hubs. Recognition for Plano's excellence in providing a safe and prosperous place to live is well deserved, but it's lack of resources to connect communities, provide means of equalizing mobility, and public space are difficult to ignore. I hope this city will continue to grow to meet these residents' needs.
What do you think about these statistics? What’s life like in your city?
Credits: Images by Christine Cepelak. Data linked to sources.