An interesting article on CNN's Money, on Sept. 19, 2014
Money's 15 best places to live
1. McKinney, Texas
2. Maple Grove, Minn.
3. Carmel, Ind.
4. Castle Rock, Colo.
5. Kirkland, Wash.
6. Cloumbia & Ellicott City, Md.
7. Clarkstown, N.Y.
8. Ames, Iowa
9. Rochester Hills, Mich.
10. Reston, Va.
11. Eagan, Minn.
12. Woodbury, Minn.
13. Centennial, Colo.
15. Newton, Mass.
IRVINE – Sue Snyder has lived in Irvine 39 years. She is glad she picked this city over others because she enjoys the closeness with neighbors.
“I live on Mariposa Street, the best street in the county,” she said. “We have block parties. We have this sense of neighborhood and community that I think is very, very special.”
On Monday, CNN’s Money Magazine announced it’s top 50 Best Places to Live 2014, and Irvine was the top California city on that list at number 14. No other Southern California city was to be seen on the list. The two other California cities that made it were two cities in the San Francisco Bay Area – Milpitas at 29 and Pleasanton at 31.
This is the third time in the nine years the magazine has compiled the list that Irvine has landed in the top 15. In 2008, Irvine ranked fourth, the first time an Orange County city was included. In 2012, Irvine ranked sixth. Last year, although Irvine did not make the top 50, La Palma was ranked 31st. This year, McKinney, Texas, was ranked number 1.
The Money Magazine article praises Irvine for its strong economy, “incredible schools and acres of green space.”
The magazine describes its selection of Irvine as one of the top cities with the following explanation: “One of the largest master-planned communities in the country, the city is organized around 24 ‘villages’ complete with parks, pools and shopping centers. While Irvine has historically lacked a central spot for locals to gather, that’s beginning to change. Now, residents are congregating at the 1,300-acre Orange County Great Park, home to gardens, a weekly farmers market, and arts complex, or the Irvine Spectrum which is being transformed from a shopping center to a walkable complex of apartments, outdoor restaurants, specialty shops and entertainment.”
The only downsides to Irvine, the magazine says, are the high home prices (median home price of $650,000) and the brutal rush hour traffic.
Mayor Steven Choi said it’s an honor for Irvine to be repeatedly named as one of the best places to live in the nation.
“This selection reinforces and validates our belief that Irvine is a great place to live,” Choi said. “Among our top attractions are our safe streets, beautiful parks and trails, outstanding schools and our cultural diversity.”
This list recognizes Irvine as a master-planned community and reinforces the wisdom of people who live here, said Mike Le Blanc, senior vice president, entitlement, at the Irvine Co.
“It’s really good to see this recognition,” he said. “Irvine has a balanced community in terms of housing and employment opportunities. It is one of the safest cities in the country. It has a variety of housing from rentals to for-sale homes. In addition to its excellent schools, it also has a major university campus in UC Irvine.”
The city has been an excellent steward of the city’s master plan, Le Blanc said.
“This is not just a bunch of tract housing, but a master plain that sets aside land for open space,” he said, adding that about a third of Irvine is open space, which enhances residents’ quality of life.
Irvine has set the “gold standard” for a planned suburb with all those things most people want – good schools, public safety and recreational opportunities, said Joel Kotkin, Hobbs Fellow in urban studies at Chapman University.
“The median home price can be a major hurdle for Irvine,” he said.“But, it is important to note that Irvine has a range of housing. You don’t have to rob a bank to live in Irvine.”