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Cities Ranked & Rated: More than 400 Metropolitan Areas Evaluated in the U.S. and Canada Paperback – March 30, 2004

31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The Latest Facts & Figures on the Best Places to Live in North America!

For anyone thinking about relocating–or interested in the demographics of American life–Cities Ranked & Rated offers unbeatable insights into more than 400 metropolitan areas in the United States and Canada. Data is provided by Bert Sperling, creator of Money magazine’s original "Best Places to Live" list.

This unique guide combines honest opinions and objective facts to help readers compare cities quickly and comprehensively.

  • Data on the 45 fastest growing U.S. cities
  • Seperate rankings for Canadian cities–and comparisons to their U.S. equivalents
  • Easy-to-read charts showing the best and worst U.S. cities in over 50 categories
  • State-level comparisons of population densities, taxes, government expenditures, educational testing, and more
  • Details on how to find more information at

Highlights Include:

  • The strongest job outlook
  • The lowest cost of living
  • The most days of sunshine
  • The best educational opportunites
  • The best air and water quality
  • The lowest healthcare costs
  • The lowest crime rate
  • The shortest daily commute
  • The lowest automobile costs
  • The most leisure amenities

About the Author

Bert Sperling has been choosing our country’s Best Places for 20 years. He created Money magazine’s original “Best Places to Live” list, and his work continues to appear in the media on a monthly basis. His studies have become part of our national culture, appearing in The Simpsons, Jay Leno jokes, and questions on Jeopardy. His website, Sperling’s BestPlaces (, has become a popular Internet resource, and provides content to other sites such as Yahoo!, MSN, eBay, and the Wall Street Journal.
Annually, his “Healthiest Cities for Women” study is featured in SELF magazine. Other recent projects include “Best Places to Retire” (MSN), “Best Cities for Women” (Ladies’ Home Journal), “Great College Towns” (Newsweek), “This Town Rocks! Best Cities for Teens” (Seventeen), “Best Places to Buy a Second Home” (Smart Money), “Best Places to Raise an Outdoor Family” (Outdoor Explorer), “Hot Dating in Small Towns (MTV), “America’s Best City to Live” and “Most Energetic City” (USA Weekend) and features in Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, and Kiplinger’s.
Bert currently makes his home in Portland and Depoe Bay, Oregon, after living in Kodiak (Alaska), Carmel Valley (California), Key West (Florida), San Diego (California), Brooklyn, Hempstead, and East Meadow (New York), Norfolk (Virginia), and Oslo, Norway.

Peter Sander is a professional author, researcher, and consultant in the fields of business and personal finance. He has written eight books including Value Investing For Dummies, The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Living on a Budget, Everything Personal Finance, and Niche and Grow Rich. His educational background includes an MBA in Logistics Management from Indiana University and a BA in Urban Affairs and Administration from Miami University of Ohio, and professional training and examination as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP™). His career includes 20 years as a marketing and logistics specialist for a major high-tech firm. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and now living in Granite Bay, California, he has traveled in all 50 U.S. states.


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Product Details

  • Series: Rated (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 22, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076452562X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764525629
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.6 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,726,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

146 of 150 people found the following review helpful By Karyl on October 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is a knockoff of PLACES RATED ALMANAC, a superior book that has gone through several editions since 1981. The authors obviously weren't speaking to each other when they wrote this turkey. There are too many incredible mistakes and contradictions. Previous reviewers here have had a good time pointing out many. Let me weigh in with more.

Rochester, Minnesota feels like a small town, "although the population exceeds 1 million." Huh? Rochester's metro population is 130,000 according to the book. Could they have meant Rochester, New York? For Rochester, New York, we do see that its metro population is 1.1 million and that one of its big negatives is cost of living. Yet the book rates cost of living there at 90 percent of the US average of 100. How is that a negative? Could they have meant Rochester, Minnesota? They also say Rochester, New York is the "fourth rainiest place in the country," yet the book's data show annual precipitation there to be well under the US average.

You want rain? Let's travel to the Gulf South. Houston's annual rainfall is well above the national average, which the book notes. But it also notes that greater Houston "covers 900 miles, more than twice the size of Rhode Island." Could they have meant "more than half the size of Rhode Island?" Look it up: Rhode Island covers 1,545 square miles. Further east on the Gulf, New Orleans has annual rainfalls well above the national average, too, and the book notes the area's flood-prone conditions and hurricane risk. Yet the New Orleans's "inland water" is just 10 sq. miles, according to the book. New Orleans was just drowned by 600 sq. mile Lake Pontchartrain, an inland body of water that is completely surrounded by New Orleans's parishes.
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139 of 143 people found the following review helpful By Big Tony on November 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book rates cities by several livability factors, then adds the ratings to determine who's #1 (it's Charlottesville, VA), who's #2 (Santa Fe, NM) . . . all the way down to who's #331 (Laredo, TX), dead last.

In doing so, the authors have inadvertently switched the ratings of cities with the same name: Columbia (Missouri and South Carolina), Columbus (Georgia and Ohio), Decatur (Alabama and Illinois), Florence (Alabama and South Carolina) Jackson (Michigan and Mississippi), Lafayette (Indiana and Louisiana) and Springfield (Illinois and Massachusetts).

For example: Florence (Alabama) gets Florence (South Carolina's) rosey score for employment, while the latter is saddled with the former's rather grim employment score. Or, Jackson (Michigan) receives Jackson (Mississippi's) milder weather rating, while the latter is stuck with the former's rotten climate rating.

Since a city's ranking depends on the rankings of other cities, these astounding errors affect the final results of every other city listed in the book. You can verify this yourself by comparing ratings summarized in the beginning of the book with ratings in each city's profile.

This book is a fraud. If this had happened in health care or financial services, the authors would have been fired and their study withdrawn.
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149 of 157 people found the following review helpful By Jerry on June 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
As a former reviewer mentioned, the methodology used for determining the best places to live in the U.S. in this book is utterly bizarre. The most obscure, po-dunk towns all get top rankings while Portland Oregon is the only city of any size that appears in the top twenty or so listings. Now, Portland is a great city, but you'll find Seattle, New York, Los Angeles, Boston and San Francisco all down below the obscure places. The bottom line is that everyone has different things they are looking for and a city slicker like myself would never, ever be truly happy in a city under a certain size or in a highly 'red' political climate. Why oh why Wiley publishers chose to replace the excellent Places Rated Almanac (published since 1981) with this new book is a mystery! Get the 2000 edition of Places Rated Almanac for a more practical look at the best cities in America.
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101 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Tom on October 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
I move around a lot so I always enjoy reading books like this. I've been using the Places Rated Almanac for years and was excited when I found this book, but unfortunately it's not the magnificent piece of work that I hoped it would be. I will mention one very good thing about the book and that's the "introductory sections" for each city, where the authors write a short description about the city and list a few "pros and cons" of living in that particular city. These introductions usually give you a good overall impression of what the city is like, and you can learn things that you wouldn't be able to by just looking at the statistics. That's about the only improvement over the Places Rated Almanac that I can think of. Now for the bad stuff.

This book is very politically correct. One of the ways that this is obvious is that they consistently list "low ethnic diversity" as one of the "cons" of living in a particular city. I suspect that when the authors were trying to decide which city should be ranked number one, they automatically eliminated from consideration any city that had a very high percentage of white residents. They say that Charlottesville is the best place in the country to live, but in the most recent Places Rated Almanac Charlottesville wasn't even ranked in the top one hundred.

This politically correct bias is sometimes evident in the way the authors describe crime rates. Take a look at the three Jacksons, one in Michigan (MI), one in Mississippi (MS), and one in Tennessee. Keep in mind that the average U.S. violent crime rate (VCR) is 456, with a higher score indicating more crime. Jackson MI is 95 percent white and has a VCR of 555. Jackson MS is 54 percent white and has a slightly higher VCR of 561 (and a much higher property crime rate).
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