Saturday, March 25, 2023

Another national cities ranking, another good finish for Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH —  Before you start reading this, make sure you have a grain of salt available to take, because there’s another ranking of American cities and Virginia Beach is on it.

This one, WalletHub’s 2018 Best Big Cities to Live In, used a variety of metrics to compare a sample of 62 cities with a population of 300,000 or more. Virginia Beach comes in second, just behind Seattle, Washington.

The city did very well in a number of areas: No. 1 in the lowest percentage of people living in poverty; No. 1 in home ownership rate; No. 2 in Air Quality; No. 3 in highest percentage of people 25 and older with a high school diploma or higher; No. 3 in overall affordability; No. 4 in safety; and No. 7 in education and health.

To help their readers “find the best big city to call home” WalletHub used “56 relevant metrics” and divided them into five “key dimensions:” Affordability, economy, education and health, quality of life, and safety. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with the various metrics weighted.

The key dimensions used were:

  • Affordability, which included housing, property taxes, a cost of living, median household income, and homeownership rates;
  • Economy, which looked at rates of unemployment, underemployment, debt, poverty, and population growth;
  • Education and health included quality of public schools, graduation rates, insured populations, premature death rates, life expectancy, and more;
  • Quality of life took into consideration hours worked, average commute times, access to public transportation, and walking and biking opportunities;
  • Safety looked at violent crime, property crime, traffic fatalities, and law enforcement employees per-capita.

So what does all of this mean as far as retaining residents or attracting new ones?

“The most critical effort policymakers can do to attract and retain new residents is to protect and expand the existing stock of affordable housing in an area,” said Clara Irazabal-Zurita, a professor of Urban Planning at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. “They should also promote mixed-use and mixed-income neighborhoods. Neighborhoods that are safe, pedestrian friendly, and supportive of multimodal transportation usually offer high quality of life and are thus attractive to old and new residents.”

In the five key dimensions, Virginia Beach fared worst in quality of life, coming in at No. 47, and in economy, ranking No. 25.

A few of the specific areas where the city didn’t do as well include: Job opportunities (33rd, which is below average); affordable housing (27th, still above average); and quality public hospital systems (23rd, which is well above average).

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