Rating the Small Towns 2010
(To check out our ratings for the larger cities, click here.)
What do people find so appealing about small-town life in Connecticut? It’s not easy to say because there are so many variables involved, not only in the towns, but in the people who live there. Some like a place within commuting distance of a city, others prefer the deeper country of woodpiles and dirt roads. Some seek the easy neighborliness that can be hard to find in a city or suburb, others just want to be away from people, period. Many enjoy things that are hard to quantify, like community spirit or the nearness of family and friends.
But quantify we must. This ranking of Connecticut’s smallest towns, our first since 2007, compares the quality of public schools, the state of the local economy, the cost of living, the crime rate and local leisure and cultural resources. Although “Rating the Small Towns” is not meant to be the last word on a town, it can be a good place to begin your thought process if you’re thinking about moving or merely seeking comparisons with like-sized places around the state.
To help make things easier, we’ve sorted the towns into three population groups, then collected all the data we could find in the areas that seem to be most important to most people. Finally, we crunched the numbers, and present on the pages that follow the rankings for towns in each population group.
Of course, we understand that there are lots of reasons for loving a place—or not loving it—that go beyond test scores at the local public school or how much money gets spent on the library. For that, we leave it to you to do your own due diligence.
THE NUMBERS WE USED
EDUCATION: This category combines five elements: the 2007, 2008 and 2009 Mastery Test results for 4th, 6th and 7th grades; results of the 2007, 2008 and 2009 Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT); local SAT scores for 2007, 2008 and 2009 and the percentage of 2007 public high school graduates who went on to two- and four-year colleges. Test scores are weighted more heavily.
ECONOMY: The strength of the local economy was determined by the 2009 Public Investment Community score, compiled by the Office of Policy and Management, which rates all Connecticut towns under a formula based on population, per capita income, the adjusted equalized grand list per capita, the unemployment rate, the equalized mill rate and per capita aid to children.
COST OF LIVING: This category includes the median price of a house purchased from January 2008 through June 2009, a figure that predicts many other local expenses.
CRIME: This category is based on major crimes (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor-vehicle theft) committed in 2004, 2005 and 2006—the most recent statistics available—per 1,000 population.
LEISURE/CULTURE: This category includes local library expenditures per capita in 2008 (an important factor in small towns), the number of theaters, museums, festivals, concert venues, historic sites, colleges and universities, golf courses, local newspapers, radio stations, state parks and forests, voter turnout in the 2008 election and good local restaurants.Rating the Small Towns 2010