Working for Smart Growth:
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What makes a great place to live?

August 19th, 2011 by

What makes a great place to live?

What makes a great place to live is certainly debatable and depends a lot on your perspective.  CNNMoney has released its list of the top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S., using their particular value equation.  Five New Jersey towns made the list: Montville (no. 17); South Brunswick (22), Ridgewood (26), Madison (33) and Hillsborough (53), and we congratulate each of them.

 As a smart growth, land-use organization we like that the CNNMoney list included elements such as median commute times, the number of people who walk or bike to work, and what amenities are reachable by a short drive.

However, we don’t think the CNNMoney criteria set the bar high enough.  We’d like to see the magazine include such measures as the number of job opportunities within a short drive, something that would further reduce the need for long commutes; an indicator of traffic congestion within and around the towns; a Walk Score showing how easily residents can get around without a car; information on the range of housing prices and options available; and an indicator of the “greenness” of the community that would include a measure of tree canopy cover and open space.

While many of these “best of” lists are often two-dimensional, they do represent an attempt to measure the things that we care about.  We’re glad to see some smart-growth criteria making their way into these lists, but we still have a long way to go.

What criteria would you include to determine a “great place to live?”


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