Monday, July 23, 2018

Detroit once again ranks as the worst big city to live in. We're calling bullshit

Posted By on Mon, Jul 23, 2018 at 3:23 PM

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Another day, another headline where Detroit fails to measure up to national standards. Except for this time, we're calling bullshit.

A recent report by WalletHub puts Detroit dead last in a ranking of 61 major U.S. cities based on factors of livability. It's important to note, however, that WalletHub, a financial wellness service that provides free credit reports and loan offers, can benefit by publishing "studies" that drive traffic to its website from communities in poor financial health. In the past few weeks, WalletHub has also ranked Detroit as the country's most stressed city and as the worst US city to drive in.

Although the report released by WalletHub uses relatively simple methodology — comparing weighted factors under the constructs of affordability, education and health, quality of life, safety, and economy — the decision of how those factors weigh is subjective and often results in Detroit falling short. Key dimensions like safety are weighted for 20 total points across 4 categories: violent crime, property crime, traffic fatalities, and law enforcement per capita; giving each category a weight of 5 points each. Other dimensions like quality of life see 20 points distributed across 24 different categories that include things like bike score and traffic congestion.

Even focusing on the dimension of affordability does favors for popular metropolitan hubs. In five categories, which include housing affordability, median annual property tax, cost of living, median household income, and homeownership rate, the cost of living receives a heavy-handed 9 points, where the remaining categories each earn 3 points respectively. Although it's important to mention that Detroit is unlikely to rank spectacularly high in all of these categories, it gives cities like San Francisco an even greater advantage by downplaying each city's lack of housing affordability. This subjective weighting gives Detroit much less opportunity to outperform other cities in areas where we shine.

So instead, let's talk about what Detroit does great in. For one, we've got seriously enviable architecture. In 2015, Detroit received the first-ever US 'City of Design' distinction from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Housing costs are also relatively low compared to the national average, which is one of the reasons Detroit is attractive to young professionals. And most importantly, we're known for having pretty damn good pizza.

To hear about what other Detroiters like about living here — check out our recent post, "Report names Detroit worst city in country — Detroiters disagree."

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