Study: Carmel No. 1 small city in U.S. to live in

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Staff report

When a consumer advocacy website set out to find the best small cities in the United States that are not only thriving economically, but also are places that provide an affordable lifestyle for residents, Indiana’s cities stood out.

The study found that Indiana had some of the best places to live, with the vitality and growth of big cities combined with affordability and income equality.

And compared to the best small cities in the country – none could compare to Carmel.

This is the third time in the past 12 months that Carmel had been named the best in a NerdWallet survey, being named the No. 1 Indiana city for job seekers in January and the best city in Indiana for young families in November. But this the first time it has topped the list in a national analysis.

An analyst with the website said that its studies are completely data-driven – with no massaging of numbers and no input from cities prior to the release of the results.

The survey noted that Carmel residents earn relatively high median incomes — workers make an average of $53,228 a year — and incomes have grown by a whopping 15.5 percent during a three-year period. It also found that poverty has decreased in recent years, with only 2.5 percent of the population falling below the poverty line.

“While we do not actively seek such recognition, it benefits Carmel whenever an outside analysis results in the city earning some accolades for wonderful attributes we have worked so hard to build and preserve,” Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said. “Our hope is that the more Carmel earns recognition for being an excellent place to live, work and raise a family, the more chance we have to attract more jobs and more corporate headquarters.”

For the jobs study, NerdWallet factored:

● Whether the city is poised to grow in terms of incomes and population

● Whether the city is affordable to live in (cost of home ownership divided by median income)

● What percent of the population lives in poverty

● What percent of the population has health insurance

The study also noted Carmel had the highest percent income growth of small U.S. cities from 2009 to 2012 at 15.5 percent. It was also among the top for attracting new residents, recording 20 percent population growth during the same time period.

No other factors such as time of commute, access to parks or nearby activities were considered.

“The factors that weigh on the minds of people moving to any city typically include the question of excellent schools, public safety, a good transportation network and having local opportunities for recreational activities and entertainment,” Brainard said. “In all that we do, we bear in mind these factors so that we can be among the top choices for the best and brightest people.”

He also noted that Carmel public schools are ranked among the best public school systems in the state.

“In the past two decades, our local parks and trail system has grown to more than 500 acres, which includes a dozen parks,” Brainard said. “We have also added the Monon Center with an outstanding indoor facility with pools, a gymnasium and workout areas; along with an outdoor water park.”

The results of the study can be found here:

http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/cities/economics/best-small-cities-live-in/

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