Both Livability.com and Niche have included West Hartford in their most recent rankings of best places to live.
By Ronni Newton
The Town of West Hartford is no stranger to receiving accolades, and just this week has been recognized as a great place to live on two different lists – ranked no. 67 on the Livability.com fifth annual national Top 100 Best Places to Live, and as no. 1 on Niche’s 2018 Best Places to Live in Connecticut.
“It’s always nice to achieve this type of recognition, and serves to reaffirm the investment you make in the community,” Town Manager Matt Hart said Friday.
“This type of news is good news, it’s positive news, and it helps affirm that we are on the right track with what we offer the community and taxpayers,” Hart added. “I’m very proud.”
West Hartford is the only Connecticut community to earn a spot on Livability’s list, which included an examination of 2,300 cities throughout the United States with populations between 20,000 and 350,000. More than 30 states are represented on the list, which ranked Ann Arbor, MI, as no. 1.
The communities rankings were based on 40 data points related to economics, housing, amenities, infrastructure, demographics, social and civic capital, education, and health care.
As part of the analysis, global market research firm Ipsos Public Affairs conducted a survey specifically for Livability, asking respondents about factors that make their communities great places to live, as well as the factors they would consider in selecting another city in which to live. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Walk Score, GreatSchools.com, and Esri were also incorporated.
Hart said he is very impressed by the methodology that Livability used in its analysis, a process developed by working with urban theorist Richard Florida. Hart said he is familiar with Florida’s work. “I think he’s got his finger on the pulse of what’s happening,” Hart said, not only in the U.S. but throughout North America.
“Home to the University of Hartford and the University of Saint Joseph, West Hartford is an affluent suburb of Hartford and features a median income of more than $110,000 for families. West Hartford earns high marks in education, healthcare and technology, and the city is becoming a summertime tourism destination with excellent restaurants and high-end shopping choices,” Livability noted in its description of West Hartford.
“The downtown district has been a gathering place since the late 17th century and is known as ‘The Center,’ and transportation assets in West Hartford include Interstate 84 running through town while Bradley International Airport is only a 15-minute drive away. Local residents take pride in their community and are always working to improve the city in big and small ways,” Livability also noted.
Livability changes its methodology from year-to-year, and also updates the sources it uses. The addition of a new data point, or a shift in values among survey respondents, can make a big difference in ranking.
Last year West Hartford was no. 30 on the list, and Norwalk was included at no. 90. This year West Hartford is the sole Connecticut community to make the cut.
“The difference between no. 1 and no. 100 is miniscule. These are all great places,” Hart said.
Livability noted that “all 100 are really A-level cities. The difference between no. 1 and no. 100 is kind of like: Did you get the 98 percent A or the 96 percent A? They’re all great places. Best places, in fact!”
Niche’s ranking, also released this week, gives West Hartford an A-plus overall and an A-plus for public schools, and places the town in the no. 1 spot on its 2018 list of “Best Places to Live in Connecticut.” Avon and Simsbury are no. 2 and no. 3 respectively.
Niche, according to its website, “is a platform that helps you discover the schools and neighborhoods that are right for you. We rigorously analyze dozens of public data sets and millions of reviews to produce comprehensive rankings, report cards, and profiles for every K-12 school, college, and neighborhood in the U.S.”
Hart said that he appreciates that Niche uses reviews from residents and visitors in compiling rankings.
Niche has also ranked West Hartford on a variety of other lists, which can be found here.
More information on Livability’s methodology can be found here and the list of the top 100 cities featured on Livability.com, along with their LivScore and information about the qualities and amenities that helped them make the list, can be found here.
Receiving top rankings is not the “be-all-and-end-all,” Hart said, but it’s definitely a positive. “It’s also nice from a marketing perspective” for people looking to buy houses or businesses looking to move into town or expand.
Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!