The benefit -- and cost -- of living here

albany skyline obstructed smallThe Albany metro area ranked #18 for quality of life in an analysis by of the nation's 67 biggest metros.

Albany was just behind San Francisco and just ahead of Worcester. Raleigh was #1.

The metros were ranked on 20 criteria. Most of the categories are economic indicators such as household income -- but the set also includes categories such as commuting time and new home stock. Albany scored very well for jobless rate (3rd) and commuting time (7th). (The numbers were pulled from 2006-2008 Census Bureau figures, so many have probably since changed.)

The selection of categories highlights how tricky it is to figure something like "quality of life." Sure, people are probably happier when they have a short commute and don't have to scrape to pay the mortgage. But stats like that don't necessarily catch other important elements -- like weather, cultural opportunities or restaurant quality.

Cost of living: a coalition of local development groups has posted a cost of living calculator that compares other metro areas to the Capital Region. The calculator provides an overall cost comparison -- and it also breaks out individual items.

[via @techvalleyny]

Earlier on AOA: Misconceptions about Albany?


I've spent more time looking at the source numbers than any reasonable person should. What can I say, I'm just a data junkie.

Here is what I don't understand (and it is a bit of a departure from my usual Albany area rant): if our metro has significantly less poverty, significantly more high school graduates, and significantly less unemployment why is crime such a scourge in our downtown areas?

I mean, how many people have mentioned being deterred from spending time in downtown Albany, Schenectady or Troy especially at night. How many people have moved out of these cities because of safety concerns?

Why is this such a big problem in our community when the major factors of income, education and opportunity don't seem to be an issue?

Maybe the answer is obvious, and I'm just too new here to know.

The only way I can think to address Daniel's dilemma, would be to simply say that no cities are without crime, even the best of them. Every city has its unfortunate part of town that the residents in the nicer neighborhoods choose to pretend don't exist. Because our city is quite small by comparison, it makes these bad parts seem more expansive. The truth: anyone who has lived here since the 60's-70's (both of my parents) can tell you how much worse it was, especially in the 70's. I keep hearing stories about how Lark Street was scary, and Center Square wasn't even nice back then. That seems incomprehensible to me, but that's how it was. In the 10 years or so that I've lived here, I have noticed improvements, particularly in the Madison-South Pearl area. These neighborhoods are evolving, improving and always changing the fabric of our city-- any city, really, but there will always be a stain somewhere.

Daniel, you talk about scouring the data, and then your counterpoint is anecdotal. There's an obvious answer for you.

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