San Diego called 8th finest big city to live in
At least one study finds San Diego way ahead of Los Angeles.
A new ranking from WalletHub puts San Diego eighth nationally as the best large city in which to live, while L.A. ranked 38th.
But let’s not pat ourselves on the back too vigorously.
San Diego ranked 30th out of 62 metro areas in terms of local economy and taxes – a category that includes job prospects and income levels.
WalletHub, which specializes in helping consumers track and improve credit scores, has published other rankings but this is the first time it has pulled together all its findings. The company plans to revisit the subject annually.
“I think what’s interesting for this report is so many categories are very much linked together,” said WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez.
For example, a strong local economy needs good job growth, quality education and appropriate tax levels.
“You get what you pay for,” she said.
The company based its rankings on four categories that counted for 25 points each toward a maximum score of 100: livability, education, health, taxes and local economy.
San Francisco ranked first with 71.56 points and San Diego racked up 65.48 points. San Jose, the only other California city in the top 10, ranked sixth with 66.59 points. Detroit had the lowest score of 31.32 points and ranked 62nd.
San Diego’s highest ranking among the four categories was in livability at third, followed by sixth in health, 11th in education and 30th in economy and taxes.
Gonzalez said San Diego was penalized in the economic category because its income was not high enough to counteract a relatively high cost of living. San Francisco ranked 17th, even though its cost of living was higher.
“In San Francisco, yes, it’s certainly not the most affordable place to live,” she said. “It’s very expensive in terms of housing. At the same time, the incomes are bigger as well. There’s definitely a wealth gap there. It’s large and more pronounced there, but we are seeing for the most part a lot of people can afford to live in San Francisco.”
Howard Blackson, a San Diego urban designer and national consultant, had some issues with elements of the rankings – such as Bakersfield ranking No. 1 in terms of family activities and fun.
“We have all these great outdoor recreational activities – I’d say we’re tops in the world – and yet we’re 48th,” Blackson said.
Gonzalez said Bakersfield scored high because of its quality of playgrounds, skate parks, parkland acreage and other recreational amenities relative to other cities.
Still, Blackson said the ranking displays how San Diego measures up against its peer cities.
“Those are the cities we’re competing with for jobs, for brains, for federal funding,” Blackson said. “It’s a good indication of where we stand for people choosing to relocate. Anybody who wants to live in a great city, they’re going to make a decision with San Diego being in the top 10, especially in the West.”
Gonzalez said the timing of the survey also was tied to a time of the year when families and individuals decide if it’s time to move for a better job and better life.
“People are seeing where to put down roots, where to raise a family, if they’re concerned about a job,” she said.
Visitors to WalletHub’s website are “obsessed” with getting data on the best places to live and work, Gonzalez said, and the compilation helps people narrow down their choices.
She said cities that want to improve their scores can’t do anything dramatic overnight, but she agreed with Blackson that improving mass transit and building more middle-income housing would help improve life in a big city. Improving education and health care also helps.
Next up on WalletHub’s look at America is politics. Gonzalez said researchers will be analyzing voting patterns and correlating them with socio-economic factors, including credit scores.