What to Know When Choosing a City

What to Know When Choosing a City

There are various reasons why people pick up their roots and move to a new city.  Today, with vastly different economic and social situations in various American cities, making that move is becoming increasingly common.  We’re moving to improve our job prospects.  We’re moving so that our kids can get a better education.  We’re moving away from urban decay.  We’re moving to improve the quality of our lives.

Whatever the reason for moving, it’s important to look at the picture that certain data paints of the cities you’re considering.   Most people won’t look at these statistics, but if you do they will help you to make an informed decision.


Property Crime Rates

These days, violent crime is down in most cities, and in areas with high levels of violent crime it is usually centered in the worst neighborhoods.  The problem that is most likely to impact average citizens these days is property crime, driven in part by economic desperation and in part by surging methamphetamine use.  Property crime trends can tell you where a city or neighborhood is and where it’s going.


High School Graduation and College Conversion Rates

Whether or not you have kids, the high schools in the area you move to are going to have an impact on your life.  The kids dipping your soft serve at DQ, bagging your groceries at the Co-Op, sudsing up your car at the carwash, and running in groups around your neighborhood park are all going to be products of that high school environment.  In areas where high schools graduate a high percentage of students, of whom a healthy number go on to higher education, kids make a productive and positive contribution.


Incidence of Civil Action

It is usually possible to get general statistics on civil actions from county superior courts if they aren’t published online.  Why should you?  Because civil action is one important test of an area’s culture.  Where civil actions tend to happen very frequently, it’s safe to assume that providers (like mechanics, doctors, accountants, etc.) are exploiting their clients and/or that those clients are trying to get something for nothing.  In areas where civil action tends to be infrequent, one can assume that providers and consumers behave more honorably and get along better.


Municipal Debt

Municipal debt is a problem all across the country, and it’s unlikely that you’re going to find a city that is completely debt free.  However, municipalities that have excessive debt are probably in that situation because of a culture of overspending.  In the long run, those cities will find it harder to provide basic services as more of their resources are taken up with debt service.  If you’re just moving in and haven’t benefited from all the free money, why plant your roots where you’ll have to pick up part of the tab?

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