Our friend Dan Chmielewski over at The Liberal OC wrote an interesting story about how CNN voted Irvine the number 6 “Best Small City in the Nation to Live“. Even though I happen to think Tustin is the best place to live, alas, we did not make it in the top ten, or even the top one hundred. Go figure.
But, Dan’s crowing about his own city got me to thinking, how does Tustin stack up to the best or, in this case, the nicest cities? I took a look at the numbers and, unsurprisingly, they look pretty good. The only reason I can think that we didn’t make it in the top one hundred was just the bias of those darn CNN folks. Does Larry Agran know someone at CNN?
Topping the 100 list was Carmel, Indiana, with a population of 80,100. And, while it is the number one pick by CNN, face it… it’s in Indiana. It might be nice but they don’t have surf and sand and they don’t have Disneyland and Knotts. Only five California cities made the top one hundred list, with all of them being in the top 50 All but one are in SoCal. In ranked order, they are:
Irvine – 6
Cupertino – 27
Chino Hills – 34
Diamond Bar – 41
Yorba Linda – 42
Ranking was based primarily on housing, financial and quality of life. As expected Irvine, was not the priciest (that went to Greenwich, CT at $1.9 million), they were quite reasonable with a median price of $522,500. Tustin housing comes in just below that with a median price of $400,000.
As far as median family income, nearly every one of the top ten came out ahead of us. The average in the Top 100 was, $96,825. Tustin came in below that at $82,790. And, while Tustin had a modest job growth of just under 8%, Irvine had a whopping 41.58% increase in jobs. The Top 100 average was 25.01%.
In education, Tustin faired pretty well, in my view. The city had 87.9% of students attending public schools and 12.1% attending private schools. Irvine had 96.3%/3.7% and Top 100 average was 91.5%/8.5%. There were similar numbers of colleges and universities in the Tustin-irvine area and we beat the average by 1 school.
How about quality of life? How does that get measured? At CNN, they used several factors that made for some interesting outcomes. These, to me, are the most important numbers. So, here they are side by side (apologies if the numbers don’t line up):
factor Tustin Irvine Top 100
Air Quality 69.5% 69.5% 77.3%
Personal Crime 2 1 2
Prop. Crime 20 13 20
Median Commute 19.8 18.5 22.2
45 Min. or Longer 10.9% 11.5% 14.9%
In leisure and culture, CNN looked at what is around us in regard to movie theaters, restaurants & bars, libraries and museums. It is safe to say Irvine and Tustin both share similar numbers in all categories and exceeded the Top 100 average in every category except muesums, where the average is 10.
CNN also had a “Meet the Neighbors” category which shows some pretty enlightening numbers. For example, Tustin and Irvine both share the average of just over 35 for median age. And, although Irvine has more folks who have completed some college, we can boast our Divorce rate is a full 2 percentage points higher. Oh…. well, I guess that’s not much to crow about. Seriously, marriage is lower and divorce is higher in both towns than the Top 100 cities. We are in California, after all.
Overall, in the grand scheme of things, I think Tustin fares pretty well. If there was a category for hometown feel, I think we would have taken honors, at least here in California. Where else can you get concerts in the park, movie nights, free fireworks (both on and off the dais) and a city whose streets are filled with trees? Our Old Town is being revitalized with new businesses (if you haven’t been there in awhile, check it out) and we have residents across the city who take an avid interest in how our city is run. I’ll stack that up against Irvine any day.