The Ups and Downs of Livability Rankings

When housing markets heat up, livability ratings help guide demand—but not all assessments are worth their salt, and some are, frankly, rank.

The felonious Goldilocks, who broke into an unoccupied home and ranked the temperature of porridges and the comfort level of mattresses, might have avoided a lot of trouble by consulting livability lists, the popular rankings meant to help people decide where to take up residence. Such lists stoke ire, excitement, and debate on social media, inspiring impassioned articles in response. They also provide a boosterism bonanza by bestowing metropolitan areas with lofty titles (like The Best City for Singles) that amp up local economies and real estate markets.

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