A ranking to ignore

Tribune Staff • Apr 9, 2018 at 1:00 PM

There are lists that rank the top places to vacation, to live, to raise a family, to retire, to spend your money, and on and on. You’ve seen them. We’ve reported on some of them in the past.

Sure, they’re fun. But sometimes they’re just plain irrational.

One that recently caught our eye was the “2018 Best Places to Live” by Niche, a website that ranks neighborhoods and schools as a way to tell us where we should be living.

According to an article on the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s website (March 29), Niche used data from more than 15,000 cities, towns and neighborhoods across the country. They factored in things like the cost of living, how good are the schools, public safety, amenities and the local weather.

So, it got us to scratching our heads as to how Okemos came up as the best place to live in Michigan.

Have you ever been to Okemos? A fine town, but it’s really just a developed array of former farm land next to East Lansing, off I-96. Certainly nothing special. The closest body of water is Lake Lansing, which isn’t saying much.

Only one West Michigan community made the state’s top 10: East Grand Rapids. Again, a fine town, but it’s not exactly known as affordable, so maybe Niche’s cost-of-living factor rates “high” as a good thing.

The list’s top 10 places in West Michigan also included Grand Haven Township. Not the city of Grand Haven. Not Spring Lake. Just Grand Haven Township. Huh?

By the way, Carmel, Indiana, was the top place to live this year, according to Niche. Okemos was fifth. Birmingham, Michigan, was No. 9.

The reports we’ve made when Grand Haven is named the best so-and-so routinely quote local tourism and chamber of commerce officials, who say national recognition brings the area into the spotlight when people decide where to vacation, visit and maybe even live or retire to. We get that. It’s a good thing.

But there should be some moral obligation in coming up with these kinds of lists and rankings. And too many frivolous ones are diluting the market for the ones with substance.

It’s our opinion that the Niche “Best Places to Live” ranking should be euthanized.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Matt DeYoung, Mark Brooky, Alex Doty, Josh VanDyke and Duncan MacLean. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to [email protected] or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

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