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Places Rated Almanac (Special Millennium Edition) Paperback – November 15, 1999

3.8 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Looking to live somewhere where houses are cheap? Head to Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa, where the average home costs $75,700, and annual property taxes for that home are about $960. Perhaps a good job market is a higher priority. In that case, pick Phoenix, Arizona; Las Vegas, Nevada; or Riverside, California, as they top the list of places projected to have the highest-percentage increase in new jobs by 2005. Most of those jobs, by the way, are expected to have above-average pay. This and other detailed information can be found in the sixth edition of Places Rated Almanac, a helpful resource for people thinking of relocating as well as those with a desire to learn about cities and towns. Metropolitan areas are rated in nine categories: costs of living, job outlook, transportation, education, health care, crime, the arts, recreation, and climate. But don't go looking for statistics on Podunk--the focus remains on 354 metro areas, metro defined as a city or urbanized population of at least 50,000, located in a county with a total population of at least 100,000.

Places Rated is laced with intelligent and, unexpectedly, witty writing. The whole concept of judging places, the author notes, may seem the utmost of brass. "Yet everyone does it, privately. Some suspect that culture in Omaha or Des Moines or Saskatoon is a contradiction. Others surmise that daily life in Miami consists of surviving drug-trade shoot-outs..." Organized intelligently, Places Rated acknowledges that "livability" and "quality of life" are moving targets. Livable for whom? The artist who wants mountain vistas? The entrepreneur who wants low taxes and no red tape? With these limitations in mind, the book ends with a chapter titled "Putting It All Together," where the reader is invited to rate cities with a customized list of priorities. Arriving at your customized list, however, requires answering 72 questions that force you to decide once and for all what you value most--a low cost of living or good school districts or mild winters or some other criterion. And should you find that climate matters most, head for Santa Barbara, California, where winters and summers are mild and natural hazards are few, and stay away from Rochester, Minnesota, unless you're willing to endure 35 days when it's 0 degrees Fahrenheit, and 165 days of 32 degrees Fahrenheit, annually. --John Russell


"Part fodder for trivia contests, part handbook for people and businesses seeking new homes, this perennial best seller offers everything."   —The New York Times

"A ratings bible for companies and people looking to move to America's nicest cities."  —Denver Post

"[Rating places] goes back to the venerable Places Rated Almanac, which has surveyed metropolitan areas since 1981."  —Los Angeles Times

"The most famous of the 'quality of life' guidebooks."  —Orange County Register

"One of the most well-established and popular sources for measuring quality of life."  —Newsday

"Every two years the publication of Places Rated Almanac sets off a round of preening from mayors of winning cities and huffing and puffing from the losers.”  —The Times

"A splendid compendium of facts about nearly every urban area in the United States. The armchair geographer can spend hours, perhaps days, browsing through this statistical smorgasbord and uncovering nuggets such as those mentioned here."  —Omaha World Herald

"Place ratings can be traced to the publication in the U.S. of Places Rated Almanac (1981). This best selling publication . . . appealed to companies interested in business or family moves."  —Urban Studies
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Rated (Book 9)
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (November 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0028634470
  • ISBN-13: 978-0028634470
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 1.6 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,923,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Laurence J. Stybel on January 3, 1998
Format: Paperback
or a senior executive contemplating relocation, this is an outstanding reference book---with one caveat. WHAT IS GOOD ABOUT THIS BOOK 350 statistical metropolitan areas are compared on such issues as job markets, cost of living, housing markets, educational standards, crime rates, health care, recreational facilities, climate, etc. The information is presented in an unbiased manner. ONE CAVEAT The last chapter of the book sums up all the different factors and statistically derives the top ten areas to live. The assumption behind the last chapter is that all people will give all factors equal weight. That assumption is bogus, to say the least. For example, with a sixteen year old daughter we would rate educational facilities higher than transportation. On the other hand, an 80 year old retiree might rate transportation and health resources higher than education! Skip the last chapter and focus on the facts in the rest of this great reference book. If you order this book, make sure you are getting the latest latest edition of PLACES Laurence J. Stybel Board of Directors Resource Center
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Format: Paperback
I've used the Places Rated Almanac (PRA) for my last two moves. It is well worth a purchase, especially for people who may be moving to areas that are totally unresearched.
The problem that I have with PRA is the lack of an index on the culture or "mood" of the cities involved. There certainly is a difference in culture between, Charleston S.C., Joplin, MO., and Phoenix, AZ. even if the score the same on the other indices.
Moving to a new city is, in some ways,like marrying another person by mail. It's great to know the age, weight, IQ, favorite hobbies of the individual, but not knowing their behavior or quirks can be disastrous. In my case, even with the last two PRA highly rated cities that I moved to, adverse culture was among the top reasons why I ended up leaving.
What would I recommend to the publishers of PRA? Hire a part time anthropologist. Look for possible indices (such as population inflow vs. outflow, town hall meeting topics, newspaper headlines, suicide rate, major religious activities, etc.). Scale the cities based on parameters such as "citizen involvement", "cohesiveness", "tolerance", and "skeletons in the closet". This is not as "tangible" as the elevation or average temperature, but it sure would help users of the PRA match their own cultural values with candidate cities.
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Format: Paperback
This is an outstanding book that's filled with tons of useful information. It's probably the best out there. Overall, it does a great job. Seattle, Winston-Salem, San Francisco, and Minneapolis-St. Paul are better places to live for most people than Waco, Stockton, Macon, and Lawrence-Haverhill. (Eden Prairie, MN, a suburb of the Twin Cities, was listed in 50 Great Places to Live, by the way.)
It's nice to see the truth accurately told. For example, Florida is not the sunshine state. It rains there a lot. There are more lighting strikes in Florida than any other state. Minneapolis-St. Paul is a fabulous place to live, but few people know about the tremendous quality of life there. Salt Lake City is another example of a quality, but unknown, city. And most Deep South cities get bad scores for education and quality of life.
But, as other reviewers pointed out, there are ommisions that you need to compensate for. First, the book is a statistical summary and does not mention the intangibles, such as character, for each area. These intangibles need to be considered. For example, I would never live in highly-rated Los Angeles because my experience is that the people there are rude and selfish - the land of lawsuits, the LAPD, the O.J. murders, and divorce. Yet, that may be just the lifestyle you may be looking for. Maybe you are a single, litigation lawyer. But you will not find those tidbits mentioned in the book.
Personally, I would like to know those tidbits. They may be most important. Where are the people most friendly? Is Philadelphia the City of Brotherly Love? (The answer is no.) Which suburbs of a major city are best for families? It would be nice if some essays are included, covering these intangibles.
Second, you need to adjust these scores for your own preferences. There is a chart to use for that. Young graduates might have different preferences than young families and retirees.
Finally, no matter where you are from, there's no place like home.
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By A Customer on August 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is just great. I have bought every retirement-places-rated type of book that I can get my hands on and this author is by far the best. The millennium edition is twice as big as the last edition and every subject is covered that anyone would want to know about an area; cost of living, transportation, jobs, education, climate, crime, the arts, health care, recreation. I can't wait for the next edition to come out! We're not retiring any time soon so it's helpful to really be able to study and evaluate where we are going to want to retire.
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Format: Paperback
Most complete book we've seen. Every question I've had so far has been answered. I found the 4TH. Edition (1995) in a used bookstore and this caused me to want the most recent publication. What we know about the area we're interested in for retirement has been confirmed by this book. David Savageau thinks like we do in planning and we appreciate all his work in the writing of this book.
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