Get Your Own Best Places List

Last week the big top ten lists came out. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Louisville, CO was #1. Another list showed Douglas County as #5 for job growth.

Though I’d agree Louisville is a really nice town, it seems a bit much for it to be #1 in the country. CNN says that their selections came from a database of 1,800-plus U.S. cities includes towns with populations 8,500 to 50,000 with satisfactory education and crime scores, where income is below 200% of the state median, and that are no more than 95% white – as well as cities with populations 90,000 and up. So, just because they list a place as great doesn’t mean it is ideal for you. To find your #1 location, you’ve got to create your own judging criteria.

You might start by taking an online quiz. Just for fun you can try a quiz on Facebook. For me this recommended I move to Dublin. I do like FindYourSpot, it seems less idealistic. You might also like HGTV’s Frontdoor that gives some good facts. For example, one thing that shocked me when I moved to Colorado was how early everyone went to work. When I left the East it was inconceivable to arrive at the office before 9:00 a.m.
Once you’ve picked a place or two, it’s time to go for a real visit—make that several visits. The first time go as a tourist; see all the stuff that travel guides and chambers of commerce recommend. Then go home. You can do some more virtual research.
For family activities look to GoCityKids.com.You’ll see list of free and not-free activities every day.
Watch the weather. Don’t rely on chambers of commerce or other sites that give generalizations of the weather. One site I found described Denver’s weather as harsh winters and cool summers—maybe in the mountains, but I wouldn’t describe the low lands this way. Get real weather facts at weather.gov. Continue to watch the weather daily through as many seasons as you can.
Get familiar with local maps. Learn the lingo of what areas are called. Study the maps for parks and things to do. Even look at routes to various places.
Start job shopping. Make a plan and begin making contacts. What happens if you don’t find a job? Would you still move? Would you settle for something else while you’re looking?
Now if you still want to move—go for another visit. This time, before you leave, find an insider with like interests who can show you around. Ask your friends and colleagues if they know anyone in your city of interest. Chances are somebody can connect you to even a friend of cousin of a friend.
During this visit go to the places you are likely to use in your daily life: the grocery, shopping mall, post office, library, etc. Check out locations for things you like to do for fun. If you like hiking visit the local outdoor supply store and talk to them about where to go, clubs, and activities. If you like to go clubbing or live music, pick up the independent paper then check out the locations during the day to get a feeling for the area’s vibe.
Be sure to pick up a local paper, don’t just read an online version. You’ll learn about local news, see the type of advertising, get listings of events…and don’t forget the police blotter. The police blotter will show you the smaller less media grabbing crimes that occur.
Once you’ve done all of this you’ll have a gut feeling about the place. Even if all the criteria on your list don’t get top rating you’ll be comfortable with your decision.
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