We live in a world of lists, don’t we?
These days you can’t turn on the television, browse the Internet or have a conversation without a list being introduced or referenced. Let’s face it, lists get people’s attention. I wish there was scientific evidence why this is, but they just do. I can’t walk by a newsstand without browsing a magazine that proclaims to have “The 5 Best Foods To Blast Your Belly,” or change the channel without hearing a television announcer say, “Coming up on our countdown, our No. 1 Hawaiian hotel.”
Is it because lists can be controversial? Is it because they are a convenient tool for communicating a point of view, or that they can be applied to almost anything? If you think I’m kidding, I encourage you to check out (and by check out, I mean waste hours upon hours) TopTenz.org. There you can find anything from the Top 10 Dumbest Song Lyrics (sorry, Milli Vanilli) to the Top 10 Celebrity Train Wrecks and Tragedies (Lilo still hasn’t caught up to Elvis). Or do we love lists because we just like reading things in bullet points?
Whatever the reason, our media-crazed, sound-bite, social-media culture devours lists and always comes back for more.
Last year, in honor of The Blade’s Best Of issue, I looked high-and-low at different lists to see where our great city of D.C. ranked. We were the top-ranked “City Where the Recession is Easing” (Forbes) and “Healthiest U.S. City” (American College of Sports Medicine), third on Kiplinger’s “Best Cities for the Next Decade” list and graded as The Daily Beast’s 15th ranked “Gayest City” in the nation. Not too bad.
This year, while doing research for this column and seeing various Top Tens and Best/Worst groupings, one particular list jumped out to this always-proud-D.C.-resident. According to a Gallup survey, Washington, D.C. ranked as “The Happiest Large City in the United States” for 2011. Does it get better than that?
To come up with its rankings, Gallup conducted daily interviews throughout 2010 with a total of 352,840 Americans, and asked them a series of questions grouped into six broad categories: life evaluation, physical health, healthy behavior, emotional, work and basic access (i.e. medical related questions, general satisfaction/dissatisfaction questions).
While there may be some of you who disagree with this ranking, because you think it’s impossible to be happy while fighting D.C. traffic and dodging that texting driver in the other lane (we did rank No. 1 for worst traffic in the country according to a study by Texas A&M University, and also topped the list of least safe driving city in the United States in Allstate Insurance Company’s “Best Driver Report”), I found the result of “Happiest Large City in the United States” to make a lot of sense when seeing where we ranked on some of the other lists out there.
For example, Washington, D.C., was awarded the top spot in Parenting Magazine’s 2011 “Top Cities for Families” because of its “great schools, affordable homes, low crime rates, state job market and vast parkland.” We also had high showings in The Daily Beast’s “Greenest Thinking Cities” (fourth), The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Most Energy-Efficient Buildings” (second) and Scientific American’s “Top Ten Overall Green Living Cities” (third).
Not only were we recognized for our family-friendly and eco-friendly ways, publications took notice of D.C.’s health-conscious citizens. Walk Score listed us as the seventh “Most Walkable City” and The American Fitness Index, an annual report from the American College of Sports Medicine, ranked D.C the second “Fittest City in America.”
Finally, when you are busy with a family or work, doing your part to keep Mother Earth beautiful and green and making sure to still get your workout in, it is a must to take some time to unwind and let loose. Luckily for us, D.C. has more than its share of entertainment options and on U.S. News’ list of “Best Night Life Scenes”, we rank 11th (I’d argue for a top-five finish, but obviously I’m biased).
All of this adds up to what I am always preaching; Washington, D.C. is a great place to live. And word must be spreading because in the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices Report (the leading measures for the US residential housing market), home prices in our area have increased on both a monthly and annual basis, and we are one of only two cities in their 20-city index that has shown a year-over-year home price increase (take that New York and Chicago).
I encourage you to keep this issue of The Blade on your coffeetable, and use the lists it provides as a guide to find a new restaurant, bar, theater or park. Get out, explore everything this fantastic city has to offer, and find the areas that suit you best. And, of course, when you find that area where you want to live, don’t forget to contact me and I’ll find you the best place available.
Kevin McDuffie is senior vice president and managing broker for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Dupont Office, 1606 17th St., N.W. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.